Romania is ready to take over the EU Council presidency
Prime Minister Viorica Dancila and her cabinet were in Brussels this week to meet the European Commission in the run-up to Romania’s taking over the presidency of the Council of the European Union on the 1st of January 2019. Dancila spoke about how Bucharest sees its 6-month term, a busy time with 257 files to be addressed, including Brexit and the multiannual financial framework.
Viorica Dancila: “Romania wants an ambitious, but also realistic presidency. Ambitious in the sense of carrying through as many issues on our agenda as possible and of reaching at least a political agreement around the multiannual financial framework. Realistic, in the sense that we know Romania will play the role of an impartial observer and a facilitator of equilibrium and consensus among member states around important issues. Europe is divided and it won’t be easy to achieve this.”
Contradicting some harsh home-grown criticism of the government formed by the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said the former is well-prepared to take over the EU presidency. However, there are still differences between the government and the Commission with respect to the rule of law, but they are not connected with the presidency, but the bilateral relation. Some of the Romanian ministers have already taken over some of the responsibilities. The minister for labour and social justice Marius Budai has symbolically taken over the presidency of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council and has presented the priorities of his term: labour mobility, healthcare and safety at work in the context of new forms of occupation and reducing the gender pay gap.
The interior minister Carmen Dan has spoken to her European colleagues about the continuation of important files such as migration, the management of the EU’s external borders and consolidation of the Union’s internal security. The healthcare minister Sorina Pintea met the EU commissioner for health and food safety Vytens Andriukaitis. The agenda of the Romanian term in this area will be dominated by antimicrobial resistance, vaccination, equal access to medication for all patients in the European Union, patient mobility and E-health.
The Educated Romania project – three months of public debate
A single type of examination for high-school admission, more flexible transitions between learning cycles, developing vocational and dual education and performance-based remuneration for teachers are some of the first proposals of the Educated Romania project launched by president Klaus Iohannis this week and now in public debate. The project aims to make the Romanian education system compatible with the challenges of the future, so that Romania itself can make progress. The president has stated that the project is also aimed at contributing to the creation of a stable, sustainable and high-performing education system.
Klaus Iohannis: “Educated Romania is a strategic project that wants to design the foundation of the education system for Romania in the 21st Century. Educated Romania is not a draft law. Educated Romania is not a simple recipe and is not my electoral programme. Educated Romania is our Romania, for the generations to come.”
The Educated Romania project is the result of wide-scale consultations involving more than 10,000 persons and public and non-governmental organizations involved in the education system. It will now be subject to public debate for the next three months.
One year without King Michael
Romanians commemorated their former sovereign, King Michael I, who passed away on 5th December last year at the age of 96. A religious service was held in Curtea de Arges, the burial place of all of Romania’s kings. Coinciding with the commemoration of the king’s death, the writer and political commentator Stelian Tanase launched a book entitled “Conversations with King Michael”, which consists in the faithful transcription of Tanase’s dialogues with the king from 2005, divided into 12 episodes.
Stelian Tanase: “I’m glad the book was published in time for the commemoration. I have never admired and respected anyone like I admired and respected the king. I first met him in Paris in 1990, at Easter, having been recommended to him by Alexandru Paleologu, Romania’s then ambassador to Paris, and I have stayed close to the royal family and the king ever since.”
Romania pulls off sensational handball win
Romania won Group D to advance to the main round at the European Women’s Handball Championship under way in France. In their final group match in Brest, Romania pulled off a categorical win, 31:23, against the strong Norwegian side, who are defending European champions as well as many times world, European and Olympic champions. This is the first time Romania defeated Norway at a final tournament in the last 18 years. They next play against the Netherlands on the 9th of December, followed by Spain on the 11th and Hungary on the 12th. The two best ranked teams in each of the two main round groups go into the semifinals.