A roundup of domestic and international news.
ECONOMY - In the second quarter of 2020, still marked by COVID-19 containment measures in most Member States, seasonally adjusted GDP decreased by 11.8% in the euro area and by 11.4% in the EU compared with the previous quarter, according to an estimate published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. These were by far the sharpest declines observed since the time series started in 1995. In the first quarter of 2020, GDP had decreased by 3.7% in the euro area and by 3.3% in the EU. Among Member States for which data are available for the second quarter of 2020, Spain (-18.5%) recorded the sharpest decline of GDP compared to the previous quarter, followed by Croatia (-14.9%), Hungary (-14.5%), Greece, Portugal, France, Italy and Romania. The lowest declines of GDP were observed in Finland, Lithuania and Estonia followed by Ireland, Latvia and Denmark. In Romania, according to the national Statistics Institute, the GDP in the second quarter was by 12.3% smaller than in the first quarter of the year. Finance Minister Florin Citu has reminded that in Q2 economy was severely affected, for almost two months, by the state of emergency. However, he said investment had a positive contribution to the economic growth.
DIPLOMACY - The Romanian Diplomacy Annual Meeting continues in Bucharest in a digital format. On the sidelines of the event, Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu has met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba. The two officials have announced that a working group on energy issues was set up, and that there are “ambitious” joint projects ahead. The Ukrainian official thanked Romania for supporting his country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and highlighted the importance of security at the Black Sea. On Monday, Aurescu announced that a plan for the setting up of a more effective early alert mechanism for emergency situations, such as the coronavirus pandemic, was being worked on. He made it clear that adjustment does not mean changing the essential coordinates of the Romanian foreign policy, which are consolidating Romania’s role within the EU and NATO and the strategic partnership with the US.
CORONAVIRUS – Romanian authorities are making the latest assessment of the situation so that they can announce by Thursday how the school year begins on September 14 in every school. The National Institute of Public Health presented on Monday the epidemiological situation across the country for the past 14 days. Results show that in most of Romania, classes can be held with the students present at school or a combination of normal school attendance and online classes. Health Minister Nelu Tataru has said that the next few weeks will be critical due to the beginning of the school year and the local elections of September 27th. However, in his opinion, if rules are observed, the number of coronavirus infections might decrease as of mid-October. The most recent report shows a total number of confirmed infections in Romania of 97 thousand and almost 4 thousand deaths. 460 patiens are in intensive care.
CAMPAIGN - The campaign for the local election due on September 27 continues in Romania with the observance of measures aimed at preventing the pandemic from spreading. According to the Interior Ministry, face masks are compulsory, while all people attending election events and meetings will undergo triage and will have to sanitize their hands. Access rules and individual health safety measures will be publicly displayed. Participants will also have to observe the minimum 1-meter distance. A maximum of 50 people are admitted for indoor activities for a maximum duration of 2 hours. In the case of outdoor events, the participation is limited to a hundred people. Candidates are vying for one of the 41 positions of presidents of county councils, 3.200 mayor seats, 1.300 county councilmen and 40.000 local councilmen. Originally slated for June, the local election was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, while the mandates of local officials were extended by another six months.
FOOTBALL - Romania's national side on Monday evening won the match against Austria, 3-2, a Nations League Group 1B match. On Friday in Bucharest, the Romanians drew 1-all against Northern Ireland. Norway is also part of the Group. Romania will also be playing a 2020 EURO qualifying match against Iceland. If it qualifies, Romania will be up against the winner of the match between Hungary and Bulgaria. (Translated by Elena Enache)