Progress Report on the Priorities of the European Commission, May 31 - June 8, 2017
The topic of a potential Government reshuffling reemerged this week within the ruling coalition, as the gap between PM Sorin Grindeanu and party leader Liviu Dragnea seems to deepen by the day. On Sunday, June 4, Bucharest Mayor Gabriela Firea openly criticized the Cabinet led by Sorin Grindeanu, and did not shy away from labeling it as "worse than the technocrats." More so, Firea also gave an insight into the relationship between Dragnea and Grindeanu, highlighting that the Prime Minister does not seek advice from the party "as much as he used to." Firea's statements brought a new chapter to the reshuffling affair, and put pressure directly on PM Grindeanu, kindling speculations over his possible replacement. On Wednesday, PSD's Niculae Bădălău stated that he does not exclude the prospects of Grindeanu being replaced. In response, PM Grindeanu stated that he fails to grasp the reasons behind such internal tensions.


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Progress Report on the Priorities of the European Commission, May 24-31, 2017
At this point, the reshuffling proposed by Dragnea meets the reluctance of PM Grindeanu, who would not replace members of the cabinet just six month into the term and after the reshuffling that took place after the February street protests. Sources from PSD stated for Adevărul daily that Dragnea and Tăriceanu proposed a shortlist which includes: FinMin Viorel Ștefan, MoH Florian Bodog, MinEdu Pavel Năstase, MinDef Gabriel Leș, as well as Ministers of Justice and Energy, Tudorel Toader and Toma Petcu. Quoted political sources stressed that the reshuffling has become a bone of contention in the relationship between PM Grindeanu and the PSD-ALDE ruling coalition. On the other hand, the same political sources brought president Klaus Iohannis into the picture, arguing that the PSD-ALDE majority would be unable to replace PM Grindeanu unless Iohannis accepts it, and there are signs that the President would not.


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Progress Report on the Priorities of the European Commission, May 17 -24, 2017
At the beginning of last week, as well as this week, Liviu Dragnea brought up the subject of a potential government reshuffling. On Monday, May 22, Dragnea announced that he would discuss with PM Sorin Grindeanu and ALDE President Călin Popescu Tăriceanu this week on this topic. The head of the Government is to meet with the leaders of the ruling coalition to assess the way in which the Government is enforcing the Governing program.     Last week, Dragnea was the one to put the prospects of a Government reshuffling on the table, while PM Grindeanu appeared rather supportive of his Cabinet’s activity and reluctant towards a reshuffling. Also aided by the positive economic results during his term, PM Grindeanu stated on May 17, referring to the reshuffling, that ‘no one changes players 15 minutes into the game when you are leading 3-0.”


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Progress Report on the Priorities of the European Commission, May 10-17, 2017
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker held a discourse in the Romanian Parliament on Thursday, May 11, on the occasion of Europe Day. Juncker's first visit to Romania comes at a time when a series of crucial developments in the EU-Romania relationship are at play: anti-corruption and lifting the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), joining the Schengen Area, a multi-speed Europe, in the context in which Romania in preparing for the 2019 presidency of the EU Council. Jean-Claude Juncker assured Romanian MPs that the CVM would be lifted during his term, yet this does not automatically mean that reforms are halted, on the contrary. Apart from assurances about Romania having the CVM lifted, the President of the EC also underlined that Romania has to join the Schengen area 'as soon as possible'. On the other hand, Jean-Claude Juncker advocated for a multi-speed Europe, where member states work and develop at different speeds, a less appealing prospect for Romanian politicians.


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Progress Report on the Priorities of the European Commission, May 3-10, 2017
The Draft Pardoning Law continues to shake things up in Parliament, as well as within the Social Democratic Party. Recent tensions at a party level resulted in the sanctioning of PSD Senator Șerban Nicolae, who lost his position as Chairman of the Committee for Legal Affairs, being replaced by former Minister of Justice Robert Cazanciuc. The decision was made during PSD's Executive Council (CExN) held on Wednesday, May 1. Also, Șerban Nicolae was also replaced from the position of leader of the SocDem Group in Senate by Mihai Fifor. PSD Chairman Liviu Dragnea said on Wednesday that "we have to seriously consider whether the Draft Pardoning Law is still opportune", given that PSD's priority is the Governing Program, not pardoning acts of corruption. Dragnea also said that he "does not care" how the Draft Pardoning Law leaves the Senate, adding that he does not intend to allow the Draft Pardoning Law to be debated in the Chamber of Deputies until he has received assurances from the Government and the Ministry of Justice that the bill is part of a legislative package that can solve the problems in the penitentiary system. Dragnea also made "a last call" to the Government and to JusMin to present the draft bills "in a reasonable amount of time".


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