VENICE COMMISSION – The Venice Commission on Friday presented its preliminary report on the modifications brought to the justice laws in Romania, following notifications filed by the Romanian President and the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly Monitoring Committee. The report urges Bucharest authorities to reexamine the manner in which high-ranking prosecutors are appointed and dismissed, including by revising key provisions in the Constitution, in the sense of ensuring neutral procedures that should maintain the role of the country’s president and the Superior Council of Magistracy to counterbalance the influence of the Justice Ministry. Other recommendations are related to removing or clarifying provisions seen as ungrounded, lifting restrictions regarding the freedom of expression of judges and prosecutors. The Commission will publish a final report in October, when it will also present its opinion on the modifications brought to the Criminal and Criminal Procedure Codes.
ANALYSIS – Romania’s Prosecutor’s Office on Friday announced it finalized its analysis on the modifications Parliament has brought to the Criminal Code, finding a total of 21 unconstitutional articles, and recommending a referral to the Constitutional Court. According to an official press release, the aforementioned articles include provisions which lack clarity, coherence and predictability or blatantly violate Constitutional stipulations. Some of them refer to influence peddling, abuse of office, extended confiscation, first-degree murder, false testimony or the setup of an organized crime group. The Prosecutor’s Office also states that a series of modifications have been brought to criminal legislation without taking under advisement the observations and recommendations formulated by the Superior Council of Magistracy and judges and prosecutors’ associations, also without consulting and cooperating with the related institutions in the system.
SUMMIT – Romania has fulfilled its set targets for the NATO summit in Brussels, the most important of which regards Romania hosting a three-star NATO command, whose future structure will be decided by autumn this year, Defense Minister Mihai Fifor announced on Friday. By hosting this NATO structure, Romania proves it is one of the most important players on the NATO eastern flank, Minister Fifor said.
US SUPPORT - Washington supports the territorial integrity and political sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia and reiterates its support for the democratically elected governments and people of those three countries, shows a US Congress resolution. The document shows the US’s commitment to supporting the three former Soviet republics on their way to European integration, and to obtain energy security and intensify commercial cooperation. The resolution also condemns the Russian aggression in the region, and calls for the withdrawal of Russian troops and ammunition which are illegally deployed on the territory of these three states. The resolution asks the allies from the EU and the UN to continue to put pressure on Moscow for it to comply with its international commitments and calls on the US Department of State to have a full-fledged and active dialogue against Russia’s interference in the democratic processes of the three sovereign nations. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has recently reiterated the need for a complete withdrawal of foreign armed forces from the territory of the Republic of Moldova, and NATO called for the pullout of Russian troops stationed in the three states, without their consent, in line with international commitments.
LOANS – The Parliament in Chisinau on Friday ratified a loan agreement with the European Investment Bank worth 80 million euros for the interconnection of Romania and Moldova’s electricity grids. Covering a period of 25 years, the money will be used to build the first link from Isaccea to Vulcanesti, which will provide an alternative energy source to the Republic of Moldova. Construction works are due to complete in 2022. Moldova will receive a second loan, also worth 80 million euros from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, a third loan worth 70 million euros from the World Bank and a 40-million-euro grant from the European Commission.
REFERRAL – Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis has referred to the Constitutional Court the latest modifications Parliament has brought to the law on local public administration. The president claims the new law allows the possibility for the transfer of assets with unclear property documents into public domain, through a simple statutory declaration of the secretary of the administrative-territorial unit in question. The president also criticized the instatement of certain procedural exemptions under which the concession of assets from the private domain of local municipalities no longer requires a public tender.
PROSECUTION – Anticorruption prosecutors have indicted 90 people, including leaders of the National Health Insurance Authority, the Health Insurance Agency of Bucharest and public officials from the two institutions, but also private health providers, in a case of health insurance fraud. According to the National Anticorruption Directorate, some 4,5 million euros were embezzled by illegally refunding home-based medical care services by the Bucharest Health Insurance Agency.
TRUMP – Great Britain and the United States will try to further post-Brexit cooperation, British Prime Minister Theresa May told a press conference held on Friday jointly with US President Donald Trump. On a visit to London, the White House leader said relations between the two countries are very strong, just hours from harshly criticizing Prime Minister May’s Brexit strategy. The British Government on Thursday outlined its plans on future UK-EU relations after Brexit, which provides for the setup of an area of free trade with the 27 EU Member States. With simplified customs procedures, the accord would also prevent the creation of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The proposals have stirred harsh reactions from Euroskeptics, while Foreign Minister Boris Johnson and Brexit Minister David Davis resigned, unhappy with London’s approach to negotiations.
(Translated by V. Palcu)