Progress Report on the Priorities of the European Commission February 28 - March 7, 2018
One week before PSD’s National Congress (March 10), the SocDem leadership convened in a National Executive Committee (Monday, March 5). SocDems’ National Congress includes a reconfirmation vote for party chairman Liviu Dragnea as well as elections for party’s Vice-Presidents. SocDems agreed on the procedure for electing Vice Presidents, and there are 16 of them. The winning option, proposed by Liviu Dragnea is that VPs are locally elected by their branches; Dragnea proposed a system with two VPs (one man & one woman) for every regional branch, 16 VPs in total. The National Congress, Dragnea also highlighted, is also expected to provide a long-term roadmap for Romania’s development. In Bucharest, PSD Mayors Gabriela Firea and Robert Negoiță are running for the two VP positions.             The preparations for the National Congress are also permeated by internal quarrels and displays of power. On the one hand PSD’s county branches publicly endorse Liviu Dragnea for a revalidation voted in the Congress. Over the weekend county branches released endorsements for Dragnea’s revalidation vote: Hunedoara, Buzău, Botoșani, Dolj, etc.


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Weekly Political Report February 26 – March 5, 2018
First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans was in Bucharest on Thursday, March 1. FVP Timmermans had meetings with the President Klaus Iohannis, the two presidents of Parliament, and PM Viorica Dăncilă, and Minister of Justice Tudorel Toader. In Parliament, apart from meeting with Senate Speaker Călin Popescu Tăriceanu (ALDE) and Chamber of Deputies Speaker Liviu Dragnea (PSD), Timmermans also met with the members of the Special Committee for Justice, chair Florin Iordache. Given the meeting list and current legislative context, Timmermans’ visit focused on Romania’s reform of the judiciary and on the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). His visit also comes just days after the Minister of Justice started procedures for removing from office head DNA Prosecutor Laura Codruța Kovesi.


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Fiscal Policies Review, February 26 - March 5
Authorities estimate that 1 million taxpayers fall under the Single Statement on income tax and social contributions for individuals. The Single Statement comes into effect in 2019 and merged seven statements, including Form 600.             FinMin Teodorovici strongly rejected speculations over an economic crisis similar to that of 10 years ago; the FinMin also rejected the possibility of cutting down wages, arguing that recent pay rises are sustainable. Following unverified information published by online publication Hotnews.ro regarding a possible disbandment of the Pensions' Second Pillar, on February 28 Minister Vasilescu reassured the media and the public that the Second Pillar stays in place. However, the official said that the possibility to make contributions optional is currently under assessment with the Ministry of Labor.  In a press release issued on March 1, PNL informs that all legal instruments will be used in order to avoid the dissolution of the Pensions’ Second Pillar. Before sending the Pension Law in Parliament (no deadline), minister Vasilescu keeps bringing new details. On March 1, Minister Vasilescu stated that there will be two categories for pensions, one including individuals who paid contributions for less than 10 years, and another category for those who contributed for more than 10 years.


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Progress Report on the Priorities of the European Commission, February 21 - 28, 2018
On Wednesday, February 28, President Klaus Iohannis attended the public presentation of DNA’s 2017 Activity Report. This event came after the Superior Council of Magistracy issued a negative notice (non-binding) to JustMin Tudorel Toader's proposal to remove from office DNA head prosecutor Laura Codruța Kovesi. The event also gave Iohannis the opportunity to defend (once more) DNA's efficiency, as he put it, and its head prosecutor, Laura Codruța Kovesi. Similar to Kovesi's public position on this matter, Iohannis argued that DNA faces a campaign of denigration.


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Weekly Political Report February 19 - 26, 2018
Minister of Justice Tudorel Toader (independent, proposed by ALDE) started the procedure for removing from office DNA head prosecutor Laura Codruța Kovesi. Toader made the announcement on Thursday, February 22, in a press conference. The next day, Minister Toader sent the official request and his assessment report to the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) and to President Klaus Iohannis. CSM scheduled an official hearing of DNA’s Laura Codruța Kovesi for Tuesday, February. The procedure for removing from office head prosecutors is regulated by the Justice Laws and by the Constitution. The Superior Council of Magistracy has duties on issuing a consultative notice to the Minister of Justice’s proposal (Law No. 317/2004). In the current case, the decision is taken by the five prosecutors appointed in the Prosecutors’ Commission of the CSM. CSM has to decide whether DNA’s Laura Codruța Kovesi “no longer fulfils one of the requirements for appointment into a leading position; or if she had inappropriately exercised management duties related to effective organization, to behavior and communication, to the assuming of responsibilities and to management skills.” (Law No. 303/2004). CSM’s notice is consultative.


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