Romanian authorities call for public responsibility against the coronavirus
As coronavirus infection cases are on the rise, head of state Klaus Iohannis on Thursday called on all state institutions to work together for protecting the health of all Romanians. As he pointed out, “The virus is real, it knows no politics, cannot be outlawed, and it will not disappear by denying its existence”. PM Ludovic Orban also called for general mobilization within institutions that are in charge of enforcing measures against the spread of the virus, given the recent rise in confirmed cases. Physicians blame this on non-compliance with protection rules, resulting in the head of the government calling on a crack down on violators. Medical personnel also emphasized the importance of observing the three golden rules: masks, social distancing, and hand washing. In the meantime, MPs focused this week on debating and voting on a bill previously issued by the government for taking public health and safety measures for epidemic situations.
The senior MP in the Chamber of Deputies judicial committee said that the bill needed to be in agreement with the ruling of the Constitutional Court, as well as with a context that can always present us with risky situations. Majority National Liberal MP Ioan Cupsa said that passing the bill is a sign of bilateral agreement in Parliament. Save Romania MP Ionut Mosteanu said that Romania needs a political class that works together, instead of fighting over votes. The bill was also agreed upon by minority parties and coalitions. Attending the debates in Parliament, undersecretary Raed Arafat, the foremost expert on the current epidemic, said that the scope of the current bill is protection of the community, public health measures, and combating the epidemic. Among other measures, the bill allows for treatments to be applied only based on individual consent. Quarantine in designated areas by the authorities shall be applied only in case patients sign a statement according to which they cannot enforce their own self-isolation.
At the same time, the bill provides for the alternative appointment of physicians during state of alert conditions, as well as being able to challenge imposed quarantine or isolation. On Monday, the government passed another bill related to public health, pursuant a ruling of the Constitutional Court declaring unconstitutional the laws on compulsory quarantine and isolation, claiming lack of clarity and predictability, and lack of predictable outcome, with a view to fundamental rights and freedoms. The Constitutional Court also ruled that lockdown by executive order is a privation of freedom and fundamental rights.
The Romanian economy slated to drop by 6%, with an anticipated bounce back next year, the EC said
The Romanian economy may drop by 6% this year, with a comeback next year with a growth of about 4%, according to the European Commission in its summer economic forecast, reserving the possibility of an adjustment pending further data. A second wave of infections in Romania or one of its main trade partners are factors taken into account when considering a regress in economic growth. In addition, a major factor is the way in which the authorities deal with fears of the evolution of fiscal policy adopted before the pandemic, which may undermine the confidence of investors, leading to increased lending costs and slower growth.
As for the rate of inflation, it is expected to be at an average of 2.5% in 2020, going up to 2.8% next year, against a rise in demand. The new forecast indicates that the European economy will shrink by 8% this year, with a partial recovery next year. European commissioner in charge of the economy Paolo Gentiloni said that a major drawback is the lack of confidence in the future. He also said that the political response across Europe buffered the shock for all citizens of the EU, but that this situation continues to foment dissent and increasing lack of security.
Romania claims unfair competition under the Mobility 1 package rules issued by the European Parliament
The authorities in Bucharest called out as discriminatory for Romanian transportation companies a number of provisions in the Mobility 1 package of norms passed by the European Parliament pursuant negotiations with other European institutions. The EC announced that there would be impact studies on these provisions, although it is slated to go into effect soon, after official endorsement.
European commissioner in charge of transportation Adina Valean said that the Romanian authorities have a right to challenge the provisions that have an environmental impact, as well as competition on the single market. More countries, such as Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Hungary, pointed out that the norms under review discriminate against these states in favor of central and western European states. According to the Mobility 1 normative package, trucking companies have to have their vehicles return to their base of operations every eight weeks, irrespective of cargo.