One of the main jobs for parliament in the last was the draft budget proposal. The plan for 2013 spending received government approval and was passed onto MPs ahead of a parliamentary discussion on February 5. The budget proposal includes increases in pensions, minimum wage and unemployment insurance.
Romania’s President Traian Basescu has had somewhat international week; first up, the meeting with the heads of the diplomatic missions on his home turf, the Cotroceni Presidential Palace, where the President reasserted Romania’s commitment to NATO and pledged to continue support in Afghanistan. he also took the opportunity to comment on the attack at the gas plant in Algeria, in which Romanian workers died. Next, he was off to Chile for an EU and Latin American countries summit. There were media suggestions that he received something of a cold shoulder from his European counterparts, but with much of the meetings behind closed doors, the reports could be dismissed as speculation backed by little evidence.
Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean was in the news again. This time he was in The Hague talking to the Dutch about Romania’s Schengen accession. The Dutch have proved to be among the staunchest opponents of Romania’s accession to the open border area.
The size and composition of Romania’s parliament has come under scrutiny in the last week. The ruling Social Liberal Union (USL) put forward a proposal to limit the number of MPs in the next parliament. The 588 MPs make the current parliament the biggest ever in Romania, but the new proposal would reduce the number to 300 with a maximum of two senators per county. A report was also published in the last week on the composition of Romania parliament. The report showed that the re-election rate is low and that women are under represented in Romanian politics.
It wouldn’t be a week in politics without some friction between President and PM. After the arguments over who should represent Romania at EU summits last year, which ended with Constitutional Court rulings that were then ignored, PM Victor Ponta proposed a clarification of the situation. His idea was to enshrine the PM’s right to represent Romania in Europe in the Constitution. And President Basescu’s reply? “You can do what you want when I’m gone.”
Arguably the most important political event of the last week was the IMF/European Commission delegation’s visit (in picture) for the seventh and final review of Romania’s Standby Arrangement. Unlike in previous visits, unmet objectives could not be postponed and questions over the pace of public sector reform had to be answered. Romanian authorities asked for an extension of the current agreement to allow the country’s objectives to be met. The IMF delegation agreed “in theory.”