A review of the week's main stories.
Romanian Laura Codruta Kovesi, validated by the EU Council for the post of European Public Prosecutor’s Office
The former head of the National Anticorruption Directorate, Laura Codruta Kovesi, has received the backing of the Council of the European Union in her race for the position of European chief prosecutor. On Thursday the Committee of Representatives of European Union Member States gave Kovesi 17 of the 22 votes in favour. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) will be founded next year and start its activity in 2021. According to European law, the European prosecutor is jointly appointed by Parliament and the Council for a one-time seven-year term in office. Having spearheaded the fight against corruption for years, but also believed to have instrumented an abusive prosecution system, Kovesi has often been labelled as Romania's most powerful woman. According to Mrs. Kovesi, the vote is also the result of the civic actions and street protests staged by ordinary citizens, who have constantly supported her ever since she was sacked from the helm of the Directorate, believing, as she often said, that “corruption can be defeated, never give up!”
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis hailed Thursday’s vote, saying it is an important victory and a confirmation of the appreciation that Kovesi enjoys. In turn, PM Viorica Dancila, who did not support Kovesi’s candidacy, has said it was a majority vote in the Committee of Representatives of European Union Member States and the majority must be respected.
Preparations for voting abroad
Romanian diplomatic missions may request the Foreign Ministry the setup of polling stations abroad, a process due to conclude on October 19. The presidential election is drawing close, and the Romanians living abroad had an extended deadline, September 15, to announce how they intend to vote. By filling in an online form on www.votstrainatate.ro, prospective voters could choose between postal voting and voting in person at a polling station set up abroad. The first round of the presidential election is due on November 10, and the runoff is scheduled on November 24. The Romanians who live abroad will be able to vote by post during a 3-day period. Candidacies can be submitted until Sunday at 12 pm. The election campaign starts on Saturday, October 12. Among the candidates are the current president, Klaus Iohannis, supported by the Liberals, the current PM Viorica Dancila, Supported by the Social Democrats, Dan Barna, who supports the USR-PLUS alliance and the representative of the People Movement’s Party, Teodor Paleologu.
The European Parliament condemns the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact
80 years since the start of WW2, the European Parliament has passed a resolution condemning a secret agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that paved the way to the horrors of World War II. The resolution says that on August 23, 1939, “the communist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a Treaty of Non-Aggression, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and its secret protocols, dividing Europe and the territories of independent states between the two totalitarian regimes and grouping them into spheres of interest, which paved the way for the outbreak of the Second World War.” The resolution calls on the European Commission to decisively counteract “efforts by the current Russian leadership to distort historical facts and whitewash crimes committed by the Soviet totalitarian regime.”
The resolution marks the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, a conflict that “led to unprecedented levels of human suffering and the occupation of countries in Europe for many decades to come.” The document warns of “extremist and xenophobic political forces in Europe” that it says “are increasingly resorting to distortion of historical facts and condemns “all manifestations and propagation of totalitarian ideologies, such as Nazism and Stalinism, in the EU.”
The European Parliament expresses, through this resolution, its deep respect for each victim of these totalitarian regimes and calls on all EU institutions and actors to do their utmost to ensure that horrific totalitarian crimes against humanity and systemic gross human rights violations are remembered and brought before courts of law, and to guarantee that such crimes will never be repeated. It stresses the importance of keeping the memories of the past alive, because there can be no reconciliation without remembrance, and reiterates its united stand against all totalitarian rule from whatever ideological background. In Bucharest, President Klaus Iohannis hailed the resolution. Romania lost, in 1940, under the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, which at present form part of Moldova and Ukraine.
Plans to levy taxes on high pensions
The Senate's budget and finance committee has given green light to a bill to levy a 30% tax on special pensions amounting to between 7,000 lei, the equivalent in lei of 1,480 euros, and 10,000 lei, which is 2,115 euros. Pensions higher than 10,000 lei are to be subject to a 50% tax rate. This measure, proposed by Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici, initially formed part of a package discussed during a budget adjustment made at the beginning of August. The budget and finance committee also adopted a bill under which the pensions of former presidents of the country should be subject to the same tax rate system. Minister Teodorovici has said that the impact of this measure on the state budget is around 105 million euro for next year. The measure has triggered harsh criticism from the magistrates, who say it is a violation of the independence of justice. The average pension in Romania at the end of July amounted to the equivalent in lei of around 251 euros.
The George Enescu International Festival comes to a close
The 24th edition of the Geroge Enescu International festival ends on Sunday. Apart from concerts, the festival also hosted a competition in which 180 visual artists have reinterpreted in images music composed by George Enescu. The winner of the competition is graphic artist Adriana Pop from Cluj. The George Enescu festival began on the 31st of August and will come to an end on the 22nd of September. This year, it has brought together more than 2,500 of the world's greatest musicians in 84 different concerts and recitals. Events as part of the festival are held in Bucharest and other cities in Romania as well as in Germany, France, Italy, Canada and the Republic of Moldova.
(Translated by Elena Enache)