Budget bill – Romania’s 2021 budget bill has been put up for public debate on the Finance Ministry’s website. It is based on a deficit of around 7% of the GDP and an economic growth rate of 4.3%. Under the draft budget, child allowances remain unchanged, pensions increase only from January 1, 2022, holiday vouchers are no longer granted this year, and students will only benefit from a 50% discount on rail transport. Also, investment is estimated at 5.5% of the GDP, which is more than last year. The leftist opposition as well as employers’ associations and trade union federations criticize the austerity measures proposed by the Government.
State of alert – The state of alert in Romania has been extended by 30 days, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Among the measures in place are compulsory mask wearing, travel restrictions during the night, special conditions for cultural and sports events and for activities in tourism and the hospitality industry. For both tourism and hospitality industry there are exceptions or special implementation conditions. The way of calculating the number of infections, based on which restrictions are set for regions and localities, will be changed.
Visit – The Romanian PM, Florin Cîţu, on Friday met with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leye. The two senior officials addressed issues such as managing the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic recovery process and the goals of combating climate change and the digital transition. The Romanian PM presented the stage of the vaccination campaign at national level, which places Romania on one of the first places among the EU member states. In his turn, the President of the European Commission thanked for Romania’s decision to donate up to 200 thousand vaccine doses to the Republic of Moldova (an ex-Soviet, with a majority Romanian-speaking population). On the other hand, the PM Cîţu mentioned the priority given by Romania to fulfilling the recommendations of the European Commission in order to finalize the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. He also reiterated Romania's priority objective of joining the Schengen area. We remind you that the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism was established upon Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession to the EU, on January 1, 2007. As regards Romania's accession to the Schengen area, it was initially scheduled for March 2011, but was repeatedly postponed due to the opposition of some member countries that invoked the lack of reforms in the judiciary. The two topics were approached, on Friday, during the meeting of the Romanian PM Florin Cîţu with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. The European official expressed his support for Romania's efforts in the two cases.
Vaccination - In Romania continues the anti-Covid-19 vaccination campaign. More than one million vaccine doses have been administered so far. Most people have been vaccinated with Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines are also being administered to the population. More than 2,550 new cases of coronavirus infection were reported nationwide on Friday. Most of them were registered in Bucharest. The total number of cases exceeded 757,000, with the death toll exceeding 19,270. About 1,000 people are in ICUs. On the other hand, Romania has reintroduced quarantine measures for people arriving from several countries, including Hungary. The list includes a total of 66 states, which the Romanian authorities consider to have a high risk from an epidemiological point of view. Exempted from the two-week quarantine measures are those people who have recovered from COVID-19 in the last three months or have already received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
Tennis - The Romanian tennis player, Simona Halep, world’s no. 2, qualified, on Friday to the eighth finals of the Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. Halep defeated the Russian player Veronika Kudermetova 32nd seeded in the third round, 6-1, 6-3. Also on Friday, another Romanian, Sorana Cirstea, was defeated by the Czech Marketa Vondrousova 6-2 , 6-4, in the third round of the Australian Open in Melbourne. Cîrstea (68 WTA) conceded defeat after 1 hour and 25 minutes to the Czech player, seeded 19th and ranking 20th in the WTA classification.
MAE – The Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu hailed the adoption on Friday of the Declaration of the member states of the Governing Council of the Community of Democracies on the situation in Myanmar. Romania holds the presidency of the Community of Democracies for the period September 2019 - September 2021. According to a MAE communiqué, the declaration, supported by Romania and other states including the US, Canada, Great Britain, Finland, Norway, expresses deep concern about the situation in Myanmar where, as of February 1, 'the democratically elected government has been toppled by the military forces'. The document calls for military leaders to observe democratic norms and the rule of law, asking for the establishment of a legitimately elected Parliament, as well as for the release of unjustly detained persons and the observance of the freedom of expression. (tr. L. Simion)