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How Viktor Orban sells to Hungarians the illusion he has resolved the import of gas from Romania Hungary will soon sign an agreement that will allow it to import 4 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Romania annually for the next 15 years, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced last week. It is, in fact, an agreement on the use of the future gas pipeline BRUA, which does not guarantee that the entire quantity of 4 billion cubic meters of gas will be exported to Hungary. Once Romania is linked to the West European market via Hungary - Austria, the Romanian gas will be bought by the consumer who will provide the best conditions.
Darius Valcov, seen as maker of Romanian governing party's economic program, receives 8-year sentence for corruption The man seen as the brain behind the economic governance program of Romania's governing Social Democrats (PSD), Darius Valcov, was sentenced to 8 years in a traffic of influence case on Thursday. The sentence given by the High Court of Justice can be appealled. Valcov is currently serving as an aide for PM Viorica Dancila.
US publication: Company owned by lobbyist who invited Romanian governing party officials to Trump inauguration has opened offshoot in Romania US publication McClatchydc.com has published an investigation into the businesses of American lobbyist Elliot Broidy, suggesting that his invitation to top Romanian officials to attend the inauguration of President Donald Trump is linked to the expansion of his business to defense contracts.
OPINION Governing Social Democrats' plan of total power seizure in Romania has been set in motion The leader of the governing Social Democratic Party (PSD) Liviu Dragnea has realized that he is fighting the justice system in vain unless he first controls the institutions of force. For that reason, with his crony Viorica Dancila being appointed Prime Minister, he quickly moved to the plan of total power capture. I wrote on Friday that the PSD leader will capture the last unconquered institutions of the state, the intelligence and security-related bodies and services DOS, DGPI, SPP, SRI, SIE and obviously the anti-corruption prosecutors office, the DNA. Only three days after the new government took office, the balance looks bad. Three key institutions are already being taken in sight and pressed to surrender to the new master.
Juncker's warning: If Romanian laws of Justice remain as voted by the Parliament, talks about CVM and Schengen will be put in different terms / Klaus Iohannis: The independence of justice is intangible European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker warned on Wednesday that should the attempts to change Romanian Justice laws remain as voted by the Parliament, talks on the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism - a key Justice monitoring instrument applied on Romania when it joined the EU - and Schengen membership would be put in different terms. Juncker also said in a joint press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in Brussels that the EU will not accept Romania to take steps back on the rule of law.
Juncker, asked if activating Article 7 for Romania is considered, dismisses any talks about it now European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker said in a joint press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday that he did not believe "under any circumstances" that we can speak of the activation of Article 7 of the European Treaties in the case of Romania. Article 7, triggered in the case of Poland for the risk of a serious violation of the rule of law, may end up with the suspension of the country's voting right.
Governing PSD party leader Dragnea announces intention to change laws on Romanian intelligence services ​Romanian House of Deputies speaker Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the governing Social Democratic Party (PSD), said on Wednesday that amendments to the national security laws should be initiated in the upcoming parliamentary session. According to Dragnea, Romanian intelligence services SRI and SIE (the foreign intelligence service), "two highly respected structures," need new and more modern legislation.
Romanian Parliament approves highly criticised third Social Democratic government in less than a year Romania's Parliament on Monday passed the third Social Democratic Party (PSD) -led government in less than a year. The vote comes despite criticism that the new PM, Viorica Dancila, who is the first woman to serve in the job, is just a dummy for PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, who can't stand for PM due to a sentence for electoral fraud. And many of the ministers have also caused stupefaction with their poor use of Romanian grammar and controversial statements during parliamentary hearings.
UPDATE It's official: Full list of new Romanian government led by Viorica Dancila. Who are the new ministers? Romania's nominated prime minister Viorica Dancila presented on Friday the full list of ministers due to take part in her future government. Her team, decided by the governing Social Democrats (PSD) in marathon leadership talks today, includes both members of the previous government, and new faces who would replace ministers seen as close to deposed PM Mihai Tudose.UPDATE See who the new ministers in the proposed government are
Romania's Constitutional Court makes first decision on controversial laws of justice. Some provisions of the Law on Judicial Organization – unconstitutional. Disputed special office to investigate magistrates - constitutional The Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) on Tuesday declared unconstitutional a series of provisions of the controversial Law on Judicial Organization, which passed through Parliament late last year. It also decided to postpone the debate on the other two disputed pieces of justice legislation which sparked public outcry over the past several months, namely the Statute of Magistrates and the Organization of the Superior Council of Magistrates, for January 30, according to News.ro news agency. In the case of the Law decided upon today, the CCR considered that a key provision which caused a lot of criticism, the establishment of a special body to investigate magistrates, was constitutional.
UPDATE ​Massive protests take place in Bucharest on Saturday against governing coalition plans to subdue justice and harsh economic changes Massive protests in the making for more than a month are due to take place in Romanian capital city Bucharest on Saturday evening. Demonstrations, gathering local people as well as protesters from around the country, are aimed against government plans to subdue the judiciary politically, to put an end to the fight against corruption, as well as a series of government measures including changes to the fiscal code, which are seen as burdening the economy.UPDATE 9.30 p.m. The latest estimates say some 100,000 people attended the protests across the country, 70,000 in Bucharest.UPDATE 8.00 p.m. Somewhere between 40,000-55,000 are estimated to have taken part in the first two hours of protests in Bucharest starting 6 p.m. on Saturday. Many thousands more attended protests in other cities across the country, including Iasi, Cluj, Sibiu, Timisoara. In Bucharest, incidents between protesters and gendarmes were reported in the first phase of the protest, before gendarmes dropped attempts to contain the march and check participants pouring into University Square.
EXCLUSIVE OMV CEO Rainer Seele: It makes no sense and we have no interest in Petrom-Gazprom cooperation / Petrom has to go abroad / Big volumes coming with Neptune project will be exported Major Romanian energy company Petrom "has to go abroad" in order to secure new reserves and Kazakhstan and Bulgaria are possible targets, OMV CEO and Petrom supervisory council chairman Rainer Seele says in an interview with HotNews.ro. Seele says it makes no sense for Petrom to cooperate with Gazprom when it comes to business or shareholders. Seele lauded the performance of Mariana Gheorghe, who has managed Petrom for the past 12 years. He says new Petrom CEO Christina Verchere Christina Verchere understands especially the development of gas fields and gas projects.
OPINION Anger vs. rational thinking. Two perspectives on President Klaus Iohannis decision to quickly accept the PSD proposal for prime minister Romanian President Klaus Iohannis' decision on Wednesday to quickly announce that he accepted the PSD proposal for prime minister, MEP Viorica Dancila, just one hour after the conclusion of the consultations with the parties, raised an unprecedented wave of public indignation. Rightly, in the absence of more detailed arguments and explanations, the feeling of abandon without fighting has revolted even the most infamous supporters of the president. Once the wave of emotion slowed down, we can go through both perspectives with calm. There are a number of arguments from the president. Few have seen or accepted them. So what are the two perspectives?
Romanian President Iohannis accepts PSD nomination and designates Viorica Dancila as prime minister Romanian President Klaus Iohannis announced on Wednesday that he decided to accept Social Democratic Party's (PSD) nomination for prime minister, MEP Viorica Dancila. He said he made the decision considering the Constitution, the decisions of the Constitutional Court and the fact that the PSD and their allies held a majority in the Parliament.
​​OPINION The hardest moment of Romanian President Iohannis's career: The "Dancila test" Any move made by Romania's President Klaus Iohannis must be judged by two filters: 1) public interest; 2) his political interest in being re-elected in 2019. Faced with the test put up by the governing Social Democrats led by House speaker Liviu Dragnea, after their nomination of MEP Viorica Dancila for the seat of prime minister, Iohannis knows perfectly well that the public interest is for him to refuse the proposal. Electorally speaking, however, the interests of the president are different: he wants the PSD not to give a prime minister that can become a strong counter-candidate in 2019 and, moreover, he wants the PSD to settle the critical situation in public finances.
Romania's ruling Social Democrats nominate MEP Viorica Dancila for prime minister The leadership of Romania's governing Social Democrats (PSD) on Tuesday nominated Viorica Dancila, a MEP since 2009, for the seat of prime minister, in the wake of PM Mihai Tudose's withdrawal on Monday. Dancila is a politician who has grown in local politics in an area long ruled by current PSD leader Liviu Dragnea.
Romanian President names Defense minister Mihai Fifor interim prime minister in wake of PM Mihai Tudose's resignation Romanian President Klaus Iohannis named Mihai Fifor, who has served as Defense minister in Mihai Tudose's government until now, as interime prime minister on Tuesday. Iohannis said in a press statement that he would start consultations with parliamentary parties for the nomination of a prime minister starting Wednesday.
BREAKING Romanian PM Mihai Tudose resigns Romanian PM Mihai Tudose informed the leadership of the governing Social Democratic Party (PSD) on Monday evening that he would resign, according to Agriculture minister Petre Daea. Political sources quoted by TV news channels had previously said a resignation was submitted at a party leadership meeting. Sources have also told HotNews.ro that several of his ministers would also resign.UPDATE PM Tudose has confirmed his resignation, saying he would not serve as interim head of government until a replacement was found.

OPINION Conflict on repeat at the leadership of Romania's governing PSD party. What are the assets of rivals Dragnea and Tudose and who is the third way

The second conflict between Liviu Dragnea, the leader of Romania's governing Social Democratic Party (PSD), and PSD's PM Mihai Tudose comes in less than a year and throws PSD back into the crisis. The confrontation between the two has a new episode today, under the eyes of the so-called barons - influential local PSD leaders across the country - who want more power. The discussion is based on a different reality from the previous conflict with Tudose's deposed predecessor, Sorin Grindeanu: now, Liviu Dragnea no longer has the parliamentary majority to beat the Government, nor is it certain that Iohannis will appoint a new PSD prime minister. TOP PSD figures such as Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea and minister Lia Olguta Vasilescu, allied so far with Dragnea, also see the opportunity of the moment.
THURSDAY ROUNDUP Romanian justice laws: President, ambassadors, investors speak out against governing coalition attempts to subdue the judiciary European ​Ambassadors, international investors, President Iohannis are among those who have risen their voice for the past two days against attempts by the Romanian governing coalition to bring down the Romanian judiciary and the fight against corruption. Meanwhile, the coalition gives no sign of slowing down or stepping back in face of criticism. Here is the latest roundup.

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