School - More than 2.4 million school students out of Romania's almost 3 million returned to school on Monday for the second semester. Students and teachers will have to wear face masks in classroom at all times and children have to sit within at least 1 meter of each other. Education minister, Sorin Cîmpeanu, on Saturday told a TV station that education during the pandemic has been of low quality, largely because of on-line teaching, but also because of poor access to technology in some places, especially in rural areas. The education minister has also added that that there are big gaps between different schools and children, and that it will be difficult for them to catch up with the information lost. He has also said that his ministry will closely monitor the recovery scheme, which benefits from 30 million Euros worth of funding.
Budget - The 2021 state budget will be on Parliament’s agenda this week. According to the Government, the budget is based on a deficit of around 7% of GDP and aims to boost economic recovery and to put an end to excessive and unjustified public spending. Liberal Prime Minister Florin Cîţu has said the budget also takes into account restructuring loss-making state companies, which will be denied funding unless they carry out reforms. The government plans to cut bonuses in state-owned companies, which amount to 120 million Euros. The prime minister said that while staff expenses doubled in the last four years, public administration did not become more efficient. The Social Democratic Party in opposition has come up with its own budget bill, saying its goals are healthcare, education, economic recovery and raising people's living standards.
Film - The film ‘colectiv’ by Alexander Nanau - a Romanian-born German director- was designated the best documentary at this year's edition of the London Critics' Circle Awards, held on Sunday in virtual format. The film follows a journalistic investigation into the corruption of the Romanian healthcare system, after the 2015 devastating fire in a Bucharest club called Colectiv in which dozens of people died. This is also Romania's nomination in the "Best International Feature Film" category of this year's Oscar Awards. In December 2020, 'colectiv' was nominated Best Documentary at the European Film Academy Awards. The main trophies of the Critics' Circle Awards were won by the American feature film "Nomadland" by Chloé Zhao and the British horror film "Saint Maud" by Rose Glass.
COVID-19 – Another 1,319 new cases of infection with the new coronavirus have been reported in the last 24 hours in Romania, after more than 9,500 tests were made. The total number of cases exceeded 746,000, according to data provided on Monday by the Strategic Communication Group. Also, 80 deaths were registered, which brings the death toll to almost 19,000. Almost one thousand people are in intensive care. On the other hand, the eighth tranche of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has no longer arrived in Romania on Monday as scheduled, because the flight was canceled due to bad weather in Germany. The tranche consisting of almost 164 thousand doses, will arrive on Tuesday by air at the airports in Bucharest, Cluj (northwest) and Timisoara (west). The vaccination process continues both in the centers from Bucharest and from across the country. According to the delivery schedule, the next tranche would be brought to Romania in a week’s time. As for the delivery schedule of the doses, Pfizer has announced that it will increase their number around February 15. As the new tranches arrive in Romania, the registration application is being updated, allowing for the registration process to continue, which has been stopped for the time being. So far, in Romania, over 656,000 people have been vaccinated, mostly with Pfizer / BioNTech doses. For a week people in Romania have also been vaccinated with Moderna doses. On Sunday, a first tranche of over 80,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses were distributed in Bucharest and other cities of Romania. The vaccine will be given in Romania only to people between 18 and 55.
Visit – The Romanian Prime Minister Florin Cîţu will pay a working visit to Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday, during which he will have a series of meetings with EU high-ranking officials, including the presidents of the European Council and of the European Commission, Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen. According to the Government, the PM’s schedule also includes meetings with the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, as well as with the Executive Vice-Presidents of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis. The Romanian PM is also going to have official meetings with the European Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, and with the NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana. The agenda of his visit also includes meetings with representatives of the political groups within the European Parliament.
Chisinau - The Prime Minister designate of the Republic of Moldova, Natalia Gavriliţă, presented, on Monday, in Parliament, the government program and the executive membership. Advisers to the pro-Western President Maia Sandu and deputies from the Action and Solidarity Party which she founded, have been nominated for several key portfolios. Like the Moldovan president, the prime minister designate is in favor of early legislative elections, stating that the new government is professional and ready to be voted by the future parliament. According to the legislation of the Republic of Moldova, if the government is not invested after at least two attempts, the Parliament will be dissolved. Maia Sandu states that Natalia Gavriliţă is a person she trusts and an "honest and responsible professional", from whom she expects a government program focused on economic development and cleansing the state institutions of corruption. An economist by profession, Natalia Gavriliţă is the general manager of the Global Innovation Fund (GIF), based in London. She also holds a master's degree in public policies from Harvard Kennedy School. Since 2017 she has been a member of the Action and Solidarity Party – PAS and in 2019, she was finance minister in Maia Sandu’s government. The Moldovan government is currently led by an interim PM who is also the acting foreign minister, Aureliu Ciocoi, after the former Prime Minister, Ion Chicu, resigned on December 23, 2020, on the last day of the term in office of the former pro-Russian President Igor Dodon. (tr. L. Simion)