Two people died of flu in Romania/ 9 EU member states summoned in Brussels on January 30 to discuss air pollution
Air quality. In a final push to find solutions to address the serious problem of air pollution in the European Union, Commissioner for Environment, Karmenu Vella has invited ministers from 9 Member States to convene in Brussels on Tuesday, January 30, the European Commission announced on Friday. The 9 Member States, namely the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and the United Kingdom, face infringement procedures for exceeding agreed air pollution limits. The meeting gives an opportunity to Member States to prove that additional adequate steps will be taken to redress the current situation without delay and comply with European law. EU legislation on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe, sets air quality limits that cannot be exceeded anywhere in the EU, and obliges Member States to limit the exposure of citizens to harmful air pollutants. Despite this obligation, air quality has remained a problem in many places for a number of years. In 23 out of 28 Member States, air quality standards are still being exceeded – in total in over more than 130 cities across Europe. The 9 Member States invited to the meeting are those, which have already received a Reasoned Opinion and for which the next stage in the infringement procedure would be a referral to the Court of Justice.
Flu. The Romanian healthcare minister Florian Bodog called on family doctors to continue to monitor the situation of flu vaccination in January, particularly in the case of people at risk, given that the flu season has begun later than last year. Florian Bodog says over 700,000 people have received their flu vaccines so far, with almost 300,000 free doses still being available. Two people have died this year because of flu, a teenager and a 69-year-old woman.
Government. The executive committee of the Social Democratic Party, the senior partner in the ruling coalition in Romania, is to meet on Monday to form a new government. President Klaus Iohannis has accepted the proposal of the Social Democratic Party and their ruling partners, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, to task the Social Democrat MEP Viorica Dancila with the formation of a new government. The Social Democrats' leader Liviu Dragnea says Parliament will meet in extraordinary session so that the new cabinet can be sworn in on the 29th of January. Early this week, the Social Democrat Prime Minister Mihai Tudose resigned after losing his party's political support. On Friday, the Minister for European Funds, Marius Nica, decided to also tender his resignation.
Social media. 47% of enterprises in the European Union used at least one type of social media in 2017, the highest percentage being recorded in Malta, with 74%, according to Eurostat data published on Friday. 35% of Romanian enterprises used social media in 2017, more than in Poland, 27%, Latvia, 30%, and Bulgaria, 34%, and slightly less than in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Across the European Union, the percentage of enterprises using social media went up from less than a third in 2013 to almost half in 2017. Eurostat notes that social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn are the most widely used by EU enterprises.
Australian Open. The Romanian pair Irina Begu and Monica Niculescu reached the third round in the women's doubles at the Australian Open, after a 3-set victory over the Australian pair Jessica Moore and Ellen Perez. The Romanian-Ukrainian pair Raluca Olaru and Olga Savchuk lost, however, to the all-Czech pair Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova. In the men's doubles, the Romanian-Dutch pair Horia Tecau and Jean-Julien Rojer are still in competition. On Saturday, Simona Halep and Ana Bogdan play in the women's singles third round. Halep, who is world no. 1 and first seed in Melbourne, faces the American player Lauren Davis, while Ana Bogdan takes on another American player, Madison Keys.
Weather. Tens of thousands of homes, mostly in south-eastern Romania, are without electricity following a snowfall in recent days. Tens of schools have been closed in several counties in the south and east. The sea ports of Midia and Mangalia and the river port of Constanta South-Agigea and Bara Sulina have been reopened for navigation. Precipitation, mainly rain, is reported in the west, north and centre of the country, and snow in the mountains, as well as wind at high altitudes. (Translated by Elena Enache)