Tag Archives: Romania

MEPs demand  full EU-US visa reciprocity

MEPs call on the European Commission to take the measures foreseen in EU legislation to guarantee full visa reciprocity between the EU and the US.

“The discrimination that Bulgarians, Croatians, Cypriots and Romanians experience when travelling to the US is unacceptable. Respecting the fundamental principle of solidarity among EU members, we call on the Commission to act as established in European legislation and table a proposal to suspend the visa waiver for US nationals. It will then be up to the Parliament and the Council to assess the political consequences of this move”, said Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES), Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee and rapporteur.

With 376 votes to 269 and 43 abstentions, the Chamber adopted on Thursday a resolution urging the Commission to present a legal act suspending the visa waiver for US nationals for twelve months, as established in the so-called reciprocity mechanism.

Bulgarian, Croatian, Cypriot and Romanian nationals are still required to hold a visa to enter the US, while all other EU citizens are exempt from that requirement for short-stays (up to 90 days in any 180-day period), as are US nationals when they visit the European Union.
According to EU legislation, if a third country does not lift visa requirements within 24 months of being formally notified of a situation of non-reciprocity, the EU Commission must adopt a legal act suspending the visa waiver for its nationals for 12 months. Both the European Parliament and Council could object to such an act (Article 290(2) of the Treaty).
The situation of non-reciprocity affecting Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania was formally raised on 12 April 2014 (at the time, Poland was also affected, but since last year Polish citizens can travel to the US visa-free), so the deadline for the Commission to act expired on 12 April 2016.
Parliament already asked the Commission to comply with the rules in a plenary resolution adopted in March 2017.

(Image below: MEP Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES), Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee and rapporteur,  archive).

€10M worth Romanian traffic gang arrest

An unprecedented law enforcement operation involving five countries has resulted in the takedown of one of the most active networks of cargo thieves operating across Europe. Composed of over 100 members, this organised crime group is believed to have committed over 150 acts of cargo theft for a total estimated damage worth in excess of €10 million. (Image: illustration).

The coordinated actions took place under the umbrella of a joint investigation, code-named ‘ARROW’, coordinated by Europol at the international level.

The latest phase of Operation ARROW has resulted in the arrest today in Romania of 37 members of this highly professional criminal syndicate. 73 house searches were carried out in the early hours of the morning across the country by the Romanian National Police (Poliția Română) and the French National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale) with the support of Europol on-the-ground.

These arrests this week in Romania follow those in other European countries of other members of the same criminal group. 10 suspects were arrested in France earlier this year by the French National Gendarmerie as part of a parallel action. A further 10 suspects were arrested in Spain, 6 in the Netherlands and 5 in Sweden. European arrests warrants have been issued for the remaining members at large. 

The arrested individuals, who are originally from Romania, are suspected of carrying out thefts from moving lorries, even as the drivers continued to drive – obvious to the crimes – at high speed on motorways. 

Executing such thefts requires a high degree of sophistication. One car would start to drive slowly in front of the lorry while two other cars held up the other traffic. A fourth car would drive up close behind the lorry. One of the criminals would climb out of the car’s sunroof onto the bonnet and break open the lock on the lorry with an angle grinder. The valuable cargo would then either be transferred to their vehicle, or thrown on the side of the road to be picked up later. The driver of the lorry and other road-users were often completely unaware of what was going on.

Involved from the very onset of the investigation in December 2016, Europol brought together the different police forces involved to help them connect the dots between their own national investigations and provided analytical support before and during the action days. 

#QueenHind shipwreck “Commission failure”

‘Two days after a tragedy where over 14,000 sheep perished during transport by sea, the outgoing Commission sent us an insensitive response to a complaint regarding an Irish livestock vessel’ reads the statement of the Compassion in World Farming organisation.

This is clear evidence that the outgoing Commission failed in its duty of care for animal welfare; that the Commission tore up its own words about animal welfare being a ‘priority’. The time for duplicity is over. The new Commission needs to deliver on the aspirations of EU citizens and put an end to the cruel and senseless long-distance trade in live animals for slaughter or fattening” Philip Lymbery, CEO of Compassion in World Farming said.

‘At the time of the complaint which we made in August this year, the Irish livestock vessel, the Express 1,did not have a valid certificate of approval – this is legally required by Article 7.2 of Council Regulation 1/2005. In addition, the average mortality rates were much higher than usual, with 23 animals dying on the three journeys. The letter of complaint included details stating that the Express 1 had been used as a livestock vessel three times between 7 March and 9 May 2019 – whilst it had an expired certificate of approval. The animals on board were being transported from Ireland to Turkey.

Despite this clear breach of legislation, the letter of response from the outgoing Commission that Compassion received stated: “the allegations as presented in your complaint do not appear to show indications of a general practice, a problem of compliance of national legislation with EU law or a systemic failure of the Irish authorities to correctly comply with provisions of the EU legislation in relation to the implementation of the protection of animals during transport.” 

“The letter from the outgoing Commission is extraordinary in its crass insensitivity – it comes just two days after thousands of sheep died in a disaster at sea and appears to imply that using a livestock vessel without a certificate of approval is not a matter of any real importance” said Peter Stevenson, Compassion’s Chief Policy Advisor.

 ‘The disaster at sea referred to is the incident in which over 14,000 sheep died on 24 November, when the Queen Hind overturned after leaving the port of Midia, off the coast of Romania. Despite the best efforts of rescuers on site, it has been reported that only 32 sheep were saved.”

 

Romania promises bear protection

The Ministry of the Environment in Romania promised to keep the brown bear under strict protection by carrying out a national strategy that deals with the threats affecting them: habitat destruction, climate change and human conflict.

Four bears were hit by car recently, with the last such an incident occurring on November 21 in the evening, on the E60 road in the Gaiesti village in Mures county.

On November 16 another bear was hit by a car, and then shot dead after a day of agony on the road. His injures did not allow him to move, and local authorities were unwilling to transport him to veterinarians.

The cruelty caused public outrage.

However the huntering lobby strated to ciruclate the information insisting there is overpopulation of bears in Romania. Claiming that three people were killed by bears in separate accidents. The scientific community has not stepped forward with their opinion so far.

Romania’s road safety performance improved by 4% between 2017 and 2018. However, Romania is still at the bottom of the EU performance list, with 96 deaths per million inhabitants last year.
In year 2017 1951 persons lost life in car accisents in Romania, among them 733 pedastrians.
Is the population of pedastirans in Romania also “overcrowded”?

Climate change on top of EU agenda

Climate change, the rule of law and search for a modernized model for growth should be on the top  of the European Union’ agenda, the bloc’s leaders concluded at informal Summit in Sibiu meant to demonstrate unity and optimism amid Brexit crisis.

However, their informal Summit in the Romanian town of Sibiu did not propose any action plan on how to achieve the ambitious goals.

The leaders of all members except the UK met on Europe Day in Sibibu, in historical center, which has been recently renovated with aid of the EU funds, creating an optimistic backdrop for the Informal Summit, and also underlining the positive impact of the EU on development of the Eastern Europe.

However the EU realities are less optimistic, because the Europeans are no so much impressed by the symbolism of stars, blue flags, photo sessions and handshakes. They are waiting for tangible results, including economic growth, rising of living standards, and security.

According to latest Ipsos polss Marine Le Pen party RN is leading in upcoming European elections with 22% of votes.

 

 

Italian chopped alive by Nigerian migrants

Italian teenager Pamela Mastropietro who was murdered by Nigerian migrants last year was likely dismembered alive media reports.

The gruesome details occurred in  the testimony from Vincenzo Marino, a key witness in the trial of Nigerian drug dealer Innocent Oseghale accused of murdering the girl.

Mastropietro had become estranged from her family addicted to drugs after a brief relationship with a man from Romania her mother claims.

Marino claims to have overheard Oseghale  admitting the murder during the detention.

The dismembered corpse of the 18-year-old Mastropietro was found in a number of suitcases last February and psychiatrist and criminologist Alessandro Meluzzi has alleged that the murder was associated with Nigerian organized crime gangs.

An extraordinary cruelty of killing of the girl led to allegations of ritualistic cannibalism that is known to be practiced by Nigerian crime gangs that are operating across Italy and Europe.

Today at the ministry I met Alessandra and Stefano, the parents of Pamela Mastropietro. The process in which the Nigerian Oseghele is accused is under way. I ask justice for this poor girl, those who committed such a hideous crime must rot in prison, without concessions.” wrote Interior minister Matteo Salvini in his Twitter micro blog.

Romania chairs EU for next six months

From January 1, 2019 Romania will takeover the Presidency of the European Union from Austria to chair the bloc for upcoming six-month. During this 6-month period, the Romanian presidency will chair meetings at every level in the Council, helping to ensure the continuity of the EU’s work in the Council.

Earlier European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he doubted whether the Romanian government fully understands what it means to take the chairmanship of the Council of the European Union for six months.

In an interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Juncker said that despite being technically well-prepared the “Bucharest government has not fully understood what it means to chair the EU countries.

Prudent action requires a willingness to listen to others and a strong desire to put one’s own concerns to one side, Juncker explained, adding that he had doubts that this is the case with Romania.

In November, a European Commission report said that Bucharest had significant deficiencies in implementing the rule of law and defeating corruption.

The developments over the last 12 months sadly have called into question and sometimes even reversed the progress made over the last 10 years,” Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans told reporters.

Juncker expressed concern that Romania’s political instability would not project an image of a united entity on the European stage.

A united front is needed at home in order to promote the unity of Europe during the presidency of the Council,” the commission president told Welt am Sonntag.

Last month, Romania’s centrist president, Klaus Iohannis, admitted that his country was not ready assume the EU presidency.

The Commission’s report and the European Parliament’s resolution address the same things,” he said. “They tell us Romania has gone back in time to before its 2007 EU accession.”

MEPs stand for Schengen enlargement

The enlargement of the Schengen area to Bulgaria and Romania is in focus of the Bulgarian presidency of the EU, and the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

Despite Bulgaria and Romania fulfilling the necessary criteria and repeated calls from the MEPs to let them join, the Schengen area has not been expanded to these two countries yet as EU national governments have to unanimously agree to allow new states to enter the border-free zone.

The process regarding Croatia’s entry is ongoing, while Cyprus has a temporary derogation from joining the Schengen area.

“We pushed you. You did your homework but the problem is the unanimity in the Council” –  Portuguese MEP Carlos Coelho said. Romanian S&D MEP Emilian Pavel said: “Prolonging this situation, this uncertainty, brings a negative image of the EU, people see that we are treated as second class citizens.”

“The Commission has repeatedly said that both Romania and Bulgaria have fulfilled all technical criteria but because some countries object, we are not members. It is sad that we allow politics to stand in the way of rules” – Bulgarian EPP member Emil Radev added.

Fellow Bulgarian Asim Ademov, also a member of the EPP group, regrets “a lack of solidarity” and “double standards”.

Portuguese EPP member Carlos Coelho wrote Parliament’s report on the revision of the Schengen Information System. However there is also an ongoing debate on corruption and organised crime in both countries, casting the shadow of doubt on the possibility to join Schengen without delivering convincing evidence of the defeat of the organised crime.

NATO counters Russia in Black sea

NATO launched a new multinational force in Romania this week to counter Russia along its eastern flank and to check a growing Russian presence in the Black Sea related to the Crimea, being not recognised by the West as part of Russian Federation.

The force will initially be built around a Romanian brigade of up to 4,000 soldiers, supported by troops from nine other NATO countries, and complementing a separate deployment of 900 U.S. troops who are already in place. The plans are to include additional air and sea assets to give the force greater capabilities.

“We are sending a very clear message: NATO is here, NATO is strong and NATO is united,” Stoltenberg told assembled Polish, Romanian, Spanish and Portuguese soldiers.

Russia accuses NATO of trying to encircle it and threatening stability in Eastern Europe, which NATO denies. Around the Black Sea, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey are NATO members while Georgia and Ukraine aspire to join.

Swiss restrict Bulgarian and Romanian labor

Switzerland will restrict Bulgarian and Romanian citizens’ access to its labor market within one year  amid increased migration from those countries after limits were lifted last June.

The Swiss cabinet, whose problems with immigration from the European Union have been at rise since  2014 referendum demanding quotas to be imposed for foreign labor, will limit the number of five-year residence permits for Romanians and Bulgarians to level of one thousand (996).

While free movement of workers between Switzerland and the European Union is ensured by bilateral agreements, a special “safeguard clause” allows the Swiss to impose unilateral limits.

Migrant workers from Romania and Bulgaria, who have enjoyed freedom of movement since June 2016, exceeded the threshold last year, with their numbers in Switzerland rising by a net 3,300, about double the increase from 2015.

“Since introduction of full freedom of movement, Romanians and Bulgarian workers have been increasingly coming for seasonal jobs in sectors with higher-than-average unemployment rates,” the Swiss cabinet said. “The government is employing one of the tools at its disposal to control migration.”

Around 14,330 Romanians and 8,112 Bulgarians live in Switzerland according to the official data. Switzerland’s population of 8.4 million is about a quarter foreign.

PHOTO: illustration

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