A roundup of domestic and international news.
MOLDOVA - The EU and international organisations should closely monitor the situation in the Republic of Moldova, a country with a majority Romanian speaking population, as the presidential elections due on November 1 in this former Soviet state will be a test for democracy and the rule of law, the European Parliament has said in a release on Wednesday. The European Parliament adopted on Tuesday the implementation report on the EU-Moldova Association agreement. MEPs have called on the Chisinau authorities to make sure that the presidential elections are free and fair and to further improve electoral legislation. These aspects are a must in order to guarantee the right to vote, the fairness of election campaigns, the transparency of the election process and a democratic monitoring, that is a proper public control of the governmental and parliamentary activities, the report reads. Moldovan authorities should not modify norms and regulations for political reasons, which may lead to political turbulences and instability, that affect the country’s commitment to implement structural reforms, the report reads. Moreover, the European Parliament has voiced its concern as regards the slow pace of reforms in terms of rule of law and the fight against corruption in Moldova.
CORONAVIRUS – A record 4,848 new coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Romania on Wednesday, out of more than 37,000 tests. Over 10,250 people are treated in hospital, of whom 766 in the ICU. 69 deaths have also been reported, bringing the death toll in Romania to almost 6,065. Last week’s Public Health Institute report confirmed the upward tendency in terms of new infections, but at a slower pace. One in 32 cases is a healthcare worker, while over 95% of the people who died had underlying health problems. Health Minister Nelu Tataru has announced that the number of ICU beds and medical staff in the front line will be supplemented. The capital Bucharest has entered the red scenario, having over 3 coronavirus cases per 1 thousand people in the last 14 days.
PANDEMIC – The total number of Covid-19 cases worldwide has exceeded 41 million and the death toll exceeded 1.12 million. Over 30.6 million people have recovered, according to Worldometers.info. The US, India and Brasil have half of the global infections. Europe has toughened restrictions against a surge in infections with the novel coronavirus which has so far killed over 250 thousand people, most of them in the UK, Italy, Spain, France and Russia. Ireland has imposed a lockdown for six weeks while Wales declared a lockdown on Friday, for the next 17 days. The Spanish region of Navarra is partially in lockdown, just like a number of Spanish cities, including Madrid. In Belgium, coffee shops and restaurants are closed for at least a month, while Switzerland banned gatherings of more than 15 people, making mask wearing compulsory in bus and tram stations. In its turn, Austria has banned public gatherings of more than 6 people in enclosed spaces and more than 12 people outdoors, with the exception of funeral ceremonies.
POLLUTION – Bucharest is second in Europe in terms of social costs generated by pollution, according to a report made public today, that examined the costs of premature death, medical treatment, and lost working days in 432 European cities. The report shows that air pollution costs Europe 166 billion euros per year. In Bucharest, the annual cost of air pollution is 6,3 billion euros - the second-highest after London with 11,4 billion euros. Berlin with 5,2 billion euros and Warsaw with 4,2 billions are 3rd come 4th in the classification. The report compares the three main air pollutants - particulate matter, ozone, and nitrogen dioxide - and their social costs. Air pollution in urban areas is generated mostly by transport, heating and industrial and farming activities. Air pollution is responsible for 480,000 premature deaths per year in Europe, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA), a figure that could be underestimated.
EU POLICY - EU agriculture ministers have today reached an agreement in Luxembourg on reforming the Common Agricultural Policy, intended to take better account of environmental and climatic challenges. Talks focused particularly on eco-schemes, a system of bonuses paid to farmers to support participation in more demanding environmental programs. Romanian Agriculture Minister Adrian Oros said Romania does not agree to a compulsory quota for eco-schemes, especially for the member states whose direct payments are below 90% of the European average payment. While France and other member states would like to make eco-schemes compulsory for all members states, many states in Eastern Europe are fearing to lose European funds if an insufficient number of farmers participate in environmental programs. The guidelines adopted by the member states must now be the subject of negotiations with the European Parliament, for entry into force from January 2023.
HANDBALL – The Romanian handball team Dinamo Bucharest was defeated on Tuesday evening on home turf by Sporting Lisbon of Portugal, 27-25, at its debut in Grup B of the EHF European League. The Romanians will next be up against IFK Kristianstad of Sweden away from home, on October 27. Fuchse Berlin of Germany, Presov of Slovakia and Nimes of France are also part of Group B. The first four teams of each group qualify to the next stage. In the previous edition of Champions League, Dinamo defeated Sporting in the play-off, but the rest of the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Translated by E. Enache)