EU meeting on energy
Speaking for the European Council in Brussels, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said that solutions must be found to supply enough energy at decent prices. The Romanian head of state said that the EC proposal to counter an increase in prices for energy is good, specifying that Romania agrees with the newly proposed measures. In this context, he mentioned diversifying energy sources, including green energy, and gas extraction from the Black Sea. EC President Ursula von der Leyen is in favor of European joint acquisition of natural gas, possibly setting a price ceiling, and forming consortia of gas companies, signing energy solidarity agreements between neighboring countries. Also on the agenda of the meeting was an analysis of the evolution of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, as well as the EU's commitment towards continued aid towards this country in all areas, politically, financially, militarily, and in humanitarian terms.
Europe helps Romania cope with rising energy prices
Europe will provide Romania with 2.2 billion Euro in order to help the vulnerable population and companies cope with rising energy bills. The EC decided that 10% of European funds earmarked for the 2014-2020 period that have not been spent yet may be allocated to other forms of aid. PM Nicolae Ciuca said that, in addition to subsidizing families in need, or issuing vouchers, the money will be earmarked for supporting SMEs and creating jobs.
Trade union protests across the country
Several rounds of protests took place around Romania. Trade union members took to the streets, unhappy about small wage and rising prices. On Monday, several unions under the Cartel Alfa banner formed caravans that started from various cities, going to Bucharest. The caravans met on Thursday in the capital city, where they held a huge meeting, followed by more protests. Trade unionists are calling for price controls and taxing excess profits, for higher wages and pensions, unblocking collective bargaining, and the full and non-discriminatory enforcement of the law on public wages, as well as that on the status of railroad workers.
Justice legislation passes Parliament
The Romanian Senate, the decision making forum in this case, has passed three laws introduced by the Ministry of Justice in Bucharest. They are aimed at the Higher Council of Magistrates, judicial organization, and the status of judges and prosecutors. The opposition, headed by the USR party, criticized the bills on grounds of faulty debate, as well as on the fact that the ruling coalition did not wait for a green light from the Venice Commission. In reply, the majority coalition claimed that the texts were written in observance of recommendations from relevant European institutions. MPs from opposition parties USR, AUR, and the Force of the Right filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court.
Simple motion in the Chamber of Deputies
The Chamber of Deputies, the lower chamber of Parliament in Bucharest, rejected on Monday the simple motion to dismiss Minister of the Interior Lucian Bode. The move was made by opposition party members from the USR and the Force of the Right, who want Bode removed for his alleged failure to reform the institution. The MPs referenced the non-transparent way in which a bid was conducted to purchase 600 BMW vehicles for the Romanian police. At the same time, they accused Lucian Bode of making secret his PhD paper right before its publication. The minister rejected all accusations, claiming that the text of the motion is full of lies.
Romania's road to Schengen
The European Parliament voted a non-binding resolution on Tuesday, with a wide majority, in support of Romania and Bulgaria joining the Schengen area. This move was saluted by the authorities in Bucharest, the fourth made by the European body. At the same time, on Thursday the parliament of The Netherlands passed a resolution calling on the government to be cautious regarding said move. The document appeals to the Mark Rutte government to avoid making a decisive step regarding this expansion, calling for additional investigations regarding the security of the borders of the two countries. Right now, the Schengen space includes all EU states, with the exception of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, and Romania. The Romanian authorities reaffirmed that Romania meets the technical criteria, and that the country is ready to join the European free circulation area. Schengen expansion requires a unanimous vote in the EU Council, set to meet on December 8.
Ample military exercises at the mouth of the Danube
Over 300 Romanian soldiers went on training near the Danube Delta and Snake Island, as part of the Danube Protector 22 exercise. The River Fleet is the only one of its kind in NATO, and is a first response unit in case of attack in the Danube area. In another move, the first military technology convoys sent by France will reach Romania, going to the Cincu test area, in the center of the country. Recently, France decided to strengthen the Romanian NATO contingent, sending over Leclerc battle tanks and armored carriers. Right now, France is in charge of NATO forces in Romania, and the base at Cincu is host to a few hundred French servicemen. The war in Ukraine caused NATO to beef up its eastern flank with four new fighting groups in Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania.