The Week in Review 6-12 December

the week in review 6-12 december A look at the main stories in Romania this week.

The political scene after the parliamentary elections

The future Parliament after last Sunday's elections will include the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the National Liberal Party (PNL), the USR-PLUS Alliance, the Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR), who will be in Parliament for the first time, the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) and the group of national minorities other than Hungarian. 

The recent elections saw the lowest voter turnout in parliamentary elections in Romania's democratic history, with a little over 33%. The coronavirus pandemic was one of the explanations proposed for this situation, as thousands of new infections are reported every day and the daily death toll hasn't dropped below 100 in a long time. This is in fact the reason why the government has decided to extend the state of alert for a further thirty days, a measure that has been in place since mid May. The decision was taken by the defence minister Nicolae Ciucă, who is also acting as interim prime minister following the resignation of Ludovic Orban as a first political consequence of the elections. The latter chose to step down and lead as president of the Liberal Party the negotiations for the creation of a parliamentary majority to support a centre-right government. 

President Klaus Iohannis has invited the representatives of political parties to consultations on Monday. The talks will begin with the Social Democratic Party, which obtained the highest score in the elections, 30%. The surprise was the result obtained by the Alliance for the Union of Romanians who, one year after it was founded, managed to win more than half a million votes to become the fourth largest party in Parliament. Its leaders describe themselves as radicals, supporters of values such as the traditional family, the nation and the Christian faith. Abroad, where Romanian nationals were able to vote over the course of two days, some 265,000 people cast their votes.

Romanian president attends European Council meeting

President Klaus Iohannis attended a meeting of EU leaders on Thursday and Friday where an agreement was reached over the EU budget for the 2021-2027 period and the post-Covid 19 economic recovery fund of more than 1,800 billion euros. The deal had previously been blocked by Poland and Hungary, who were opposed to making EU funding conditional on the rule of law. The compromise reached implies the involvement of the European Court of Justice. Under the deal, Romania is entitled to 46.7 billion euros to fund various policies, from agriculture, cohesion and rural development to infrastructure and transport. It also benefits from 33.5 billion euros under the recovery fund in the form of grants and loans. 

President Iohannis said Romania was ready to use the money for reform and investment in key sectors. Another subject discussed by the European Council was the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. The Romanian president called for the creation of a flexible framework allowing all member states to meet efficiently their climate change goals. EU leaders also agreed that the epidemiological situation remains worrying despite the prospect of vaccination, so efforts must continue to prevent a new infection wave.

Romania to host EU new cyber centre

Romania will host the European Union Cybersecurity Competence Centre aimed at developing high technology and innovation. The centre will distribute EU and national funds for cybersecurity research projects around the Union. Seven states were in the race to host the centre, with Bucharest being chosen over cities like Munich, Warsaw, Vilnius and Luxembourg. Romanian foreign minister Bogdan Aurescu said Romania's hosting the EU cyber centre is a success and the result of intense diplomatic efforts, including at top level. This is the first EU agency to be hosted by Romania.

Romanian-American cooperation in the energy field

An agreement was signed on Wednesday between Romania and the United States about cooperation on nuclear-energy projects in Cernavodă (south-east of Romania). The terms of the agreement were established in October during a visit to the US by the economy minister Virgil Popescu, when a memorandum of understanding was also signed with the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Eximbank). To reach its low-carbon and energy security targets, Romania wants to modernise one of its nuclear reactors in Cernavodă and build another two, a project estimated at 8 billion dollars. Eximbank is to provide up to 7 billion worth of funding for this project which, when in operation will be able to supply around 40% of Romania's energy demand, double than at the moment. The US may also finance the Black Sea gas extraction. Following the unblocking of Black Sea investment, Romania may become the biggest gas and energy producer in Europe. (CM)
Publicat: 2020-12-12 14:00:00
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