Tuesday

6th Jun 2023

Romania sees biggest protest since 1989 over austerity measures

  • Dominique Strauss-Kahn, IMF chief, addressed the cavernous Romanian parliament in March (Photo: IMF)

In some of the largest demonstrations Romania has seen since the ousting of Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989, tens of thousands of workers and pensioners have taken to the streets to protest the swingeing austerity measures the government is imposing at the behest of the International Monetary Fund.

Between 30,000 and 60,000 mostly public sector workers and retirees on fixed incomes descended upon the capital, Bucharest, on Wednesday (19 May), having been bussed in from across the country, and called on the government to resign.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

In a worrying sign for the government, even police joined in the protest, with Marian Gruia, head of the policemen's union, calling fellow citizens to unite, "as we did in 1989, when we overthrew the dictatorship," according to a number of local media reports.

The centre-right coalition government of Emil Boc has announced public sector wage cuts of 25 percent and pension and unemployment benefit cuts of 15 percent in an attempt to bring down the country's budget deficit and assuage the concerns of markets. The measures come atop job-benefit reductions in some civil service sectors in 2009.

The Labour Ministry has announced job cuts of between 60,000 and 80,000 positions, including 15,000 teachers, meaning the likely closure of a number of schools in villages.

Additionally, a scheduled increase in the minimum wage has been postponed.

The government is imposing the cuts in order to be able to access another tranche of a €20 billion loan from the IMF. Earlier this month at an auction, the government was unable to attract sufficient takers for public debt.

Already last year, a loan installment from the international lender was delayed following the collapse of the government.

The administration has a small majority in the parliament and has said that it will seek a vote of confidence from the chamber over the measures.

Meanwhile, trade unions have warned they will step up their actions and plan to hold a general strike later this month.

MEPs to urge block on Hungary taking EU presidency in 2024

"This will be the first time a member state that is under the Article 7 procedure will take over the rotating presidency of the council," French Green MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, the key lawmaker on Hungary, warned.

European Parliament scales back luxury MEP pension fund

The European Parliament's Bureau, a political body composed of the president and its vice-presidents, decided to slash payouts from the fund by 50 percent, freeze automatic indexations, and increase the pension age from 65 to 67.

WhoisWho? Calls mount to bring back EU directory

NGOs and lobbyists slammed the EU commission for removing contact details of non-managerial staff from its public register, arguing that the institution is now less transparent.

Exclusive

MEP luxury pension held corporate assets in tax havens

While the European Parliament was demanding a clamp down on tax havens, many of its own MEPs were using their monthly office allowances to finance a luxury pension scheme that held corporate assets in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and elsewhere.

Latest News

  1. EU political ads rules could be 'hotbed for retaliatory flagging'
  2. Final steps for EU's due diligence on supply chains law
  3. Top EU court rules Poland's court reforms 'infringe law'
  4. Sweden's far-right is most anti-Green Deal party in EU
  5. Strengthening recovery, resilience and democracy in regions, cities and villages
  6. Why Hungary cannot be permitted to hold EU presidency
  7. Subcontracting rules allow firms to bypass EU labour rights
  8. Asylum and SLAPP positions in focus This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us