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Posts Tagged ‘EU Foreign Policy’

Eurosphere agenda: “Ukraine slides into full-blown dictatorship with brutal new law…”The European elections in May, 2014…

In Uncategorized on January 22, 2014 at 14:47

Media preview

 

Ukraine will draw on new law anti-protest law to use force against demonstrators in Kiev, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said yesterday (21 January). Special ‘Berkut’ forces began their crackdown on Kyiv’s EuroMaidan square at 8 a.m., according to reports, with the first victim confirmed.

“If provocateurs do not stop, then the authorities will have no other choice but to use force under the legislation and protect our people,” Azarov said, speaking to the Russian TV channel “Vesti 24″. Azarov added that he hoped that common sense would prevail.

 

After the street fighting on the weekend, there were new clashes between government opponents and security forces on Monday. President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko both warned against an escalation of the situation. Commentators call for the stricter anti-protest laws to be repealed, and urge the West to impose sanctions

Ukraine slides into full-blown dictatorship with brutal new law

(click for full)

Despite the valiant efforts of the motley opposition in Ukraine, the tame Ukrainian Parliament has passed a brutal law that slides the country into full-on dictatorship. Forbidden under the new law on penalty of high fines and imprisonment: driving cars in columns that are more than five vehicles long; setting up an unauthorized sound system; distribution of “extremist opinion”; “mass disruptions” (10-15 years imprisonment!); collecting information on police or judges; and more.

Germany’s FDP launches pragmatic Europe campaign

After being ousted from the parliament at the general elections last year, Germany’s liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) has selected Alexander Graf Lambsdorff as its top candidate for the European elections, adopting a sober and Europe-friendly position, EurActiv Germany reports.

A big name is meant to pull the FDP out of a crisis. At the FDP convention in Bonn on Monday (20 January), 86.2% of the party’s delegates voted for MEP Alexander Graf to be the FDP’s top candidate in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

European Citizens Call for the Protection of Media Pluralism

Website: MediaInitiative.eu. For updates follow @MediaECI on Twitter and ‘like’ the Facebook page European Initiative for Media Pluralism.

 

 

The European Commission decided yesterday (21 January) that it would be postponing negotiations on an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism in the context of the EU-US trade and investment partnership (TTIP), with a view to launching a public consultation.

 

“I know some people in Europe have genuine concerns about this part of the EU-US deal,” said EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht, adding that the decision reflected the EU executive’s determination to secure the right balance between protecting European investment interests and upholding governments’ right to regulate in the public interest

52% of Brits would vote to leave EU tomorrow

The latest Opinium/Observer poll published on Sunday (19 January) suggested 52% of the British public aged over 18 would vote to leave the EU tomorrow, a small increase since last November when 50% said they would vote to leave.

Sunday’s poll, carried out by Comres for the Independent on Sunday newspaper, also suggests the anti-EU and anti-immigration policies of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) remain popular even though Cameron has already deployed tougher rhetoric on both issues.

ECJ rules against the UK in landmark short-selling case

The ECJ this morning rejected all the UK’s claims against the EU’s short selling regulation. The result was surprising given that the Court’s Advocate General Niilo Jääskinen issued an opinion supporting the UK’s position last September – court rulings often, but not always, follow these opinions.

Commission says Bulgaria broke partners’ confidence

EXCLUSIVE / The European Commission monitoring report on Bulgaria, which it will publish tomorrow (22 January), will be heavily critical, with the EU executive going so far as to say that the Bulgarian authorities broke confidence with its European partners over the appointment of a controversial media mogul as chief of the national security agency, EurActiv has learned.

The report under the Cooperation and Verification mechanism (CVM), seen by EurActiv, highlights a major scandal which has triggered street protests asking for the resignation of the government.

 

Kosovo’s spectre looms over EU-Serbia talks

Serbia officially started its accession talks with the EU yesterday (21 January), but the path to membership is lined with obstacles as the country faces new procedural rules and its relations with Kosovo remain an outstanding issue.

“Serbia will be the next member state of the European Union,” Ivica Dačić, the prime minister of Serbia, confidently concluded his address to the press, after having officially launched accession negotiations for his country with the EU.

France’s European spleen

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As is now common in France, the biggest shock in the Euro elections will come from the far-right Front National, emboldened by a change in perception towards the party from many French voters. Euro elections landscape, 2014.

Election time: How to improve debates on Europe

It’s just five months until the next European Parliament elections. As with every European Election, both eurosceptics and europhiles face a key difficulty: getting people to vote. Both sides will stress how much, for better or for worse, Brussels matters in the life of European citizens. Over the coming months, we’re likely to hear politicians claim that “80% of our legislation is decided in Brussels”. Although numerous articles and think tank reports have thoroughly debunked this figure, the myth endures. It endures because it’s easy and simple to use. The widespread use of this figure matters as it frames the debate on European governance between national sovereignty and subsidiarity versus integrated European decision-making power. We argue that this frame is unhelpful, as it shapes the debate along whether the EU should or shouldn’t be instead of discussion what it should or shouldn’t do. We suggest that the 2014 European elections should be about debating different policy alternatives – and letting go of the wholesale 80% figure.

The EU is betraying its climate policy

The EU executive is staking every last bit of political capital on a 2030 energy policy gamble that could cost us the earth, argues Brook Riley.

Brook Riley is the campaigner for Friends of the Earth, an environmental pressure group.

You might not picture European Commission President José Manuel Barroso as a gambler, but on climate change he’s the most reckless of them all.

Bulgaria admits Schengen entry is now a long-term goal

Bulgaria admitted yesterday (20 January) that its accession to the EU’s borderless Schengen area was likely to take place in 2017, one year before the country is expected to take over the rotating EU Council presidency.

Foreign affairs minister Kristian Vigenin said he expected the decision concerning Bulgaria’s bid to be taken in the course of 2014.

Asked by EurActiv to elaborate, Vigenin explained that under the scenario, air borders would be opened in 2015, with land borders opening in 2017, when Bulgaria becomes a full member of the Schengen area

The European elections in May, 2014

How to make European elections coverage less boring than usual? Here is openDemocracy’s Can Europe make it? take.

These elections may be more interesting than usual for our European and global readers alike, given polarizations more dramatic across the continent than there have been for decades. The EU, originally billed as offering a new model to replace the chaos of the Westphalian system, is itself in chaos. Instead of burdensharing or offering joint multilateral efforts to mitigate severe financial, economic and social pain, EU governments have introduced various methods of punishment under the auspices of ‘austerity measures

Efficiency and renewables make Europe competitive, EU study says

55 EurActiv.com 4h  //  keep unread  //  hide  //  preview

 

EXCLUSIVE / European industry has maintained its global market position thanks to relatively low energy intensity levels and high renewables penetration, according to a study into the continent’s competitiveness due to be released by the European Commission as part of its clean energy package today (22 January).

 

Renewable energies “help reduce fuel import costs and contribute to improving the energy trade balance,” says the report by the EU’s economic and financial affairs directorate (DG Ecfin), which EurActiv has seen.

Day 2 of the #EUReform conference: Powerful debate on all levels

Day two of the Open Europe / Fresh Start #EUReform conference saw a thriving exchange of reform ideas between panelists and conference delegates, viral Twitter action for #EUReform via the Twitter wall, as well as numerous media interviews

 

French MEPs acclaimed for EU parliamentary work

While political parties in France show little interest for European matters, French MEPs usually show a good level of parliamentary activity, according to the Robert Schuman Foundation, an EU think-tank.

French MEPs were surprisingly absent from the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg last Thursday (16 January).

A new agenda for a Smarter Europe

 

2014 is the year in which the EU must speed up its effort towards building a Smarter Europe and the Greek presidency work on the mid-term review of the “Digital Agenda for Europe” will offer a unique opportunity to set an ambitious vision for the future, writes Luigi Gambardella.

Luigi Gambardella is the executive chairman of ETNO, an association representing EU’s biggest telecoms operators.

IP traffic is booming at an unprecedented pace, and it is expected to grow even more over the coming years. In 2017, it will reach 1.4 zettabytes per year, according to Cisco’s figures.This means, for example, that the gigabyte equivalent of all movies ever made will cross Western Europe’s backbone IP networks every 21 minutes.

EU ministers to back sending forces to Central African Republic

European Union foreign ministers are expected to agree on Monday to send up to 1,000 soldiers to help stabilise Central African Republic, the EU’s first major army operation in six years, EU officials said on Friday (17 January).

The intervention by the 28-nation bloc comes after a senior UN official warned on Thursday of the risk of genocide in Central African Republic without a more robust international response to communal bloodshed.

 

In an EU election year, the current polutics of France is always an important factor in predicting the futre makeup of the European Parliament. Not only is France one of the largest countries, so with one of the largest delegations of MEPs (meaning its politicians quite often can dominate, or at least strongly influence, the two big political groups, the PES on the left and EPP on the right) but it also has always has a special place in the EU’s makeup

 

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Eurosphere agenda: Euro elections 2014… Horizon 2020 ….

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2014 at 17:30

 

What is Europe for you? What does it mean to be young and European in 2014? An exchange of views between bloggers across the continent. Can Europe make it? has the pleasure of introducing you to our guest columnists for the run-up to the European elections 2014.

Europe and me: imagining community

Where is Horizon 2020 leading us?

As the year 2014 gets underway, the Europe of Knowledge also begins a new phase with the launch of Horizon 2020. Now that the budget wrangling is over and the calls for the first grant proposals have been published, we will finally begin to discover what Horizon 2020 does to reshape the research environment in Europe. While we do have clear statements (Commission 2011c) about its bringing together the instruments for research and innovation funding under a single umbrella which covers the complete innovation cycle; simplifying and unifying many of the administrative rules and procedures; and seeking to promote the competiveness of the EU with a strong linguistic flavoring from the Innovation Union discourse; still, there are far more questions than answers

 

EU election fault lines: The free movement of labour

Cutting across concerns about immigration, wages and social dumping, the issue of free movement of labour is a hot topic not only in the UK, but also in most of the old EU 15 countries, and that will have a serious impact in the upcoming European elections, writes Julian Priestley.

Julian Priestley is a former secretary general of the European Parliament and co-author of ‘Our Europe, Not Theirs‘.

Eurostat to revise EU’s annual GDP figures higher

The European Union’s statistics office will revise upwards the EU’s annual gross domestic product figures by 2.4 percentage points when it switches to a new accounting standard in September, the European Commission said on Thursday (16 January).

The change will affect all past GDP figures and future data series, the EU’s statistics agency Eurostat said.

The switch to the European System of Accounts 2010, replacing the old ESA 1995, is part of a worldwide move to a new accounting system called System of National Accounts 2008, already implemented in the United States last August.

 

MAIN FOCUS: Opinion divided on Hollande’s reform plans | 16/01/2014

 

French President François Hollande has received the support of the European Commission for his reform plans. Praise also came on Wednesday from the French employers’ associations, while the unions remained sceptical and some voiced harsh criticism. Commentators are also divided: while some hope Hollande will give the French new confidence, others fear he will bleed the country dry

Migration adds to UK-Polish gulf

 

Cameron comment on not repatriating child benefit stokes scepticism of many Poles who doubted the UK’s commitment either to Poland or the EU

 

Parliament seeks tougher controls on Troika

MEPs have opened an investigation into the role of the Troika in the debt crisis with a view to strengthening its democratic legitimacy and the involvement of the European Parliament in its work,EurActiv France reports.

Four years after the start of the debt crisis in Europe, the economic and financial committee of the European Parliament has started a series of hearings of the main actors of the Troika – the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – who will have to explain how they managed the crisis in the four countries where they were the primary lenders, Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Cyprus.

 

Greece and the European elections: a preview

 

What is to happen in Greece in the forthcoming European elections, which, not without a certain irony of history, will take place while this country holds the EU presidency? Euro elections landscape, 2014.

Euro elections 2014 bloggers introduce themselves: Part Two

 

What is Europe for you? What does it mean to be young and European in 2014? An exchange of views between bloggers across the continent. Can Europe make it? has the pleasure of introducing you to our guest columnists for the run-up to the European elections 2014.

 

Hollande brings Europe back to top of France’s priority list

European issues occupied a great deal of François Hollande’s long-awaited speech to the press yesterday (14 January), with the restart of the EU’s Franco-German engine and strengthened fiscal and social convergence in the eurozone at the centre of the French president’s reform agenda.

Although the press conference was mostly expected because of his alleged love affair with French actress Julie Gayet, Hollande’s speech nonetheless focused almost exclusively on the economic reforms awaiting the country.

Germany: sleepwalking into Europe?

The much needed debate on Europe is unlikely to happen in the German run-up to the European elections. But instead, a controversy pro or against the Euro might well take place, should the new right-wing Alternative for Germany prove effective. Euro elections landscape, 2014.

How European? France, ahead of the European elections

European elections have never really been about Europe. Case in point: France, where the electoral campaign reeks of popular resentment, personal ambitions and widespread misconceptions. Euro elections landscape, 2014

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Eurosphere agenda: “Hollande in double trouble…”France evicted record number of Roma migrants in 2013…

In Uncategorized on January 15, 2014 at 15:38

 

MAIN FOCUS: Hollande in double trouble | 14/01/2014

 

France’s President François Holland is under considerable pressure as he prepares for his third major press conference today, Tuesday. He plans to explain the country’s futurereform programme just as reports about an alleged affair are focusing attention on his private life. Commentators scoff that the rumours are tantamount to an accolade and are struck by the simultaneous changes in Hollande’s policies and private life.

MAIN FOCUS: Hollande embarks on reforms | 15/01/2014

 

French President François Hollande wants to revive the country’s flagging economy with a reform package. At his press conference on Tuesday, he announced business-friendly measures and cuts in public spending. The president has become a fighting social democrat, some commentators applaud. Others believe Hollande hasn’t got what it takes to be a true reformer.

 

Defiance against the EU reaches record levels in France: Poll

Trust in national and European institutions has hit a record-low in France, according to a recent poll, leading to a feeling of “gloom” among a growing number of citizens, and perhaps even a rise in support for the reinstatement of the death penalty, EurActiv France reports.

“It’s not a confidence but a defiance poll this time,” said Pascal Perrineau, director of SciencesPo University’s Centre of French Political Studies (CEVIPOF).

MEPs to slam Malta’s plan for EU passports

Starting in February, Malta is planning to sell EU passports to foreigners, but a European Parliament vote on Thursday (16 January) is unlikely to overturn the decision, as the country has a long track-record of handing out citizenship for a price, EurActiv Germany reports.

Malta will sell passports to foreigners allowing them to travel through all 28 EU member states and/or reside in any of these countries. In contrast to other EU member states, Malta does not require investment or the establishment of a company to receive the document. New citizens do not even have to reside on Maltese soil.

 

France evicted record number of Roma migrants in 2013: study

 

France forcibly evicted a record 19,380 Roma migrants in 2013, more than double the figure the previous year, two rights groups said in a joint report on Tuesday.

 

Greek socialists to form new leftist alliance for EU elections

Greece’s once-mighty socialist PASOK party will team up with a new centre-left group to contest European Parliament elections in May rather than run alone, after its support was decimated by the country’s debt crisis.

The party, a junior partner in the coalition government led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, has been fighting to survive as a political force since backing austerity cuts and is hoping the new alliance will help revive its fortunes.

 

Candidates for President of the European Commission – where we stand in January 2014

Back in the early summer of 2013 I wrote a detailed series of blog posts about the future President of the European Commission. There were posts about EPP, PES and othercandidates. Overall those posts have stood up well over the last 6 months. But with the EP elections just over 4 months away, and with the new Commission to be decided shortly after, and with more and more jostling for top positions being covered by the newspapers (see FT earlier in January and FAZ today for example), it’s time to update the state of play.

AUDIO: Are affairs accepted in France?

 

French society may be becoming less tolerant of affairs, a news correspondent has said

What the 2014 elections will mean for EU public affairs professionals

All eyes are on the EU institutions this year given the upcoming European Parliament elections and the subsequent change of top officials. But the stream of analyses and conferences fail to address a vital question: what will these changes mean for the business community, NGOs and the wider public affairs world, András Baneth writes.

András Baneth is the managing director of the Public Affairs Council’s (www.pac.org) European office.

 

German banks too slow to cap bonuses, says watchdog

Germany’s banks have made little progress on efforts to curb bonuses of top managers ahead of new European rules designed to control the type of risky behaviour that fuelled the financial crisis, the country’s financial watchdog said on Monday (13 January).

Only four of the 15 banks that Bafin examined last year capped bankers’ bonuses at the level of their base salaries, in line with the European Union-wide rule that came into force this year.

 

IMF adds four European countries to financial risk list

The International Monetary Fund on Monday (13 January) added Denmark, Finland, Norway and Poland to its list of countries that must have regular check-ups of their financial sectors, under an effort to prevent a repeat of the global financial crisis.

The International Monetary Fund in 2010 had identified 25 other countries where financial sector evaluations will be mandatory. These reviews had been voluntary prior to the 2008-2009 financial crisis, which showed how quickly financial problems in one country could spread to its neighbors and the rest of the world.

EU freedom of movement. This actually matters.

Here I sit writing this blog entry on a Sunday night in Berlin. The Kreuzberg streets outside my window are quiet now; earlier today they were thronged with people in the January sun. I do not know where those people were from who were passing outside my window – Berlin, Germany, who knows where else. But those were my people. This is my city.

EU aims to clarify migrant rules

New EU guidelines are aimed at minimising disputes between EU states about migrants’ rights to welfare benefits

Scotching the Eurozone

 

Conventional wisdom suggests that Scottish independence is possible, albeit not very likely, while any country’s departure from the eurozone is fanciful. But the monetary decisions that a newly sovereign Scotland would have to make are at least as likely to be faced by some eurozone countries over the next couple of years.

Migrants contribute more than they take, fears unfounded: EU

 

Migrants contribute more than they take in their new countries, the EU said Monday, adding there has been no massive influx from Romania or Bulgaria this year as feared in Britain

EU Offers Public a Chance to Fix Copyright Law

Year after year there are cries that copyright law is not only unfit for purpose in the digital age, but also heavily biased towards the entertainment industries and their corporate masters. Many feel that such laws are simply imposed but in reality the people can have their say, if only they can make their voices heard. That chance is here.

EU and Ukrainian business: Double standards?

 

The same European politicians who try to boost their image by appearing at the pro-European protests in Kyiv deliberately ignore the Ukrainian interest in economic relations, writes Boris Kushniruk.

Boris Kushniruk is a Ukrainian economist.

Social and political events in Ukraine which took place last year can become determinative for the policy of the future EU enlargement. In 2014 the EU-integration prospects of Ukraine as well as the Union’s image will depend on the readiness of official Brussels to reconsider the EU enlargement policy.

 

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Eurosphere agenda: “Buses, planes, Bulgarians, Romanians and The Daily Mail…”Athens says crisis is ending…

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2014 at 18:07
The Daily Mail: Buses and Planes – full or not?

On 31 December 2013 the UK’s Daily Mail published a story claiming that buses and planes to the UK from Bulgaria and Romania were sold-out, fully-booked, and single plane tickets were selling for up to £3,000 each. The story carried the bold headline:

 

One of the criticisms that still gets leveled at the EU is that the Common Market is a rich kids club, and that the Common Agrigultural Policy and free movement of goods and services within the EU puts non-EU (and especially poorer / developing countries) at a disadvantage.

The European Parliament’s LIBE Committee’s Inquiry into the Electronic Mass Surveillance of European Citizens is not due to be published in March, and the Committee has voted to question the whistle-blower Edward Snowden via video-link. However The Guardian hasseen a draft of the report in which the Inquiry says the actions of the NSA and the UK’s GCHQ “appear illegal”.

The Greek government launched its European Council presidency on Wednesday with a hopeful message. The country will leave the recession that has plagued it for six years behind in 2014, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said at the official ceremony in Athens. Commentators, however, remain concerned about Greece’s future in view of record unemployment and the rise of radical political forces

 

Not all EU heads of state and government mentioned the European Union in their yearend messages, but a lot of them did. The EurActiv network brings you an overview.

 

The tradition of Christmas or New Year messages varies in EU countries. In most, it is the head of state who delivers the message, most frequently on New Year’s eve.

 

As populists gather more and more support in several EU countries, the responsibility of politicians is to limit those trends and establish a truly European debate ahead of the European elections, writes Kristian Vigenin in an exclusive op-ed he contributed to EurActiv.

 

Kristian Vigenin is the foreign minister of Bulgaria. He was appointed in May 2013 and was before that a member of the European Parliament for the group of the Socialists and Democrats.

 

The German government established a new committee yesterday (8 January) to investigate the effects of immigration on the Federal Republic. The resolution came amid rising conflict within the ruling coalition over so-called  “poverty immigration” from Bulgaria and Romania and complaints from overburdened cities. EurActiv.de reports.

 

In its first meeting on Wednesday (8 January), Merkel’s new cabinet has established a committee to investigate immigration and the effects of freedom of movement in Germany. According to government spokesman Steffen Seibert, the group will root out possibilities for abuse in Germany’s social welfare system.

 

Aware that some European countries do not view a common migration policy as an immediate priority, Greece is making a point to push for a single asylum system and a more coordinated management of illegal migration flows into Europe during its six-month EU presidency. EurActiv reports from Athens.

 

“Without safety and security we cannot have an economic recovery,” Nikolaos-Georgios Dendias, Greek minister of public order and citizen protection, told reporters in Athens.

Social issues divide France and Germany on agriculture

The German Minister of Agriculture paid a visit to his French counterpart in Paris yesterday (7 January) in a show of unity between the two sides. But divisions remain deep on social dumping, an issue that is expected to become hotter in France as the EU elections approach. EurActiv.fr reports.

Hans-Peter Friedrich, the new German minister of agriculture, met his French counterpart, Stéphane Le Foll, yesterday (7 January) in Paris to prepare the forthcoming Franco-German summit, scheduled for 19 February.

Greece bets on EU presidency to help regain credibility

Strained by a long-lasting economic crisis, Greece aims to use its presidency of the EU to regain European partners’ trust and credibility, as the country is slowly creeping along the path to recovery.

In a city blocked by police and security forces, the Greek government readied itself today (8 January) to launch its fifth presidency of the EU at an official ceremony in the Athens Concert Hall, in the presence of the college of EU commissioners.

Greece to formally assume EU rotating presidency

 

Authorities shut down roads and deployed riot police in central Athens Wednesday as Greece prepared to formally assume the European Union’s rotating six-month presidency

MAIN FOCUS: Migration debate: Tusk criticises Cameron | 08/01/2014

 

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has criticised the UK’s approach to dealing with Eastern European labour migrants. He announced that he would make a telephone call to his counterpart David Cameron to speak about the matter today, Wednesday. According to some commentators Cameron is using populist slogans to divert attention from domestic problems. Others stress that the British are genuinely concerned about the country’s economic difficulties

European Parliament Elections 2014 – Commission President

 

One of the big outcomes (supposedly!) from this years European Parliament Elections will be the nominated by the winning European Parliament Grouping in the Elections. While some believe this will lead to deadlock and confrontation, other believe it is the start of a truly democratic European Union.

So who are the European Parties nominating?

 

 

The European Commission has rejected a German plan to introduce road tolls that would provide discounts for German drivers, resulting in higher costs for foreigners. German conservatives insist that such a plan is “fair”.

 

Under the coalition agreement of the new cabinet of Angela Merkel, Germany is to introduce for the first time a road tax for cars through vignettes. But the form it will take is still unclear.

 

 

The European elections on 22 to 25 May 2014 are an event whose importance is in strict proportion to the multifaceted crisis currently affecting the construction of Europe. This great democratic rendezvous must prompt us to address three complementary political challenges, write Jacques Delors, António Vitorino and others.

 

This opinion is based on the final declaration of the Notre Europe-Jacques Delors Institute’s steering committee, from the end of November 2013. The full list of signatories can be found below.

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Eurosphere agenda: “Italian navy rescues over 1,000 migrants in one day… Merkel injured…

In Uncategorized on January 6, 2014 at 18:04

Italian navy rescues over 1,000 migrants in one day

The Italian navy said on Friday (3 January) it had rescued more than 1,000 migrants from boats trying to reach Europe, as an immigration crisis that killed hundreds in the last year showed no signs of easing.

Italian navy helicopters spotted four overcrowded boats struggling to stay afloat south of Sicily on Thursday and ships were sent to save them, authorities said in a statement.

The 823 men, women and children aboard the four vessels were from countries including Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq and Tunisia.

 

Morning Brief: Angela Merkel Injured in Skiiing Accident

Angela Merkel Injured in Skiiing Accident

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkelfractured her pelvis in a cross-country skiing accident, forcing her to cancel meetings for the next three weeks. The fall occurred over the Christmas holidays when Merkel was on vacation with her family in Switzerland.

Is there now a European Public Sphere?

 

The lack of a clear public sphere or demos across the EU has long been used as a stick to beat down any suggestion that there could one day be proper pan-European democracy, as well as to decry the EU’s supposed lack of legitimacy. (Here’s an article on the EU demos from 2005, and one on the public sphere from me from 2007.)

 

Black, male, care leaver, seeking asylum: access to higher education in Britain

 

Despite their determination and aspiration, many young asylum seekers are being barred from higher education by multiple discriminations. The current inquiry on Race and Higher Education must recognise this fact.

In November 2013, the story of Yonas and Abiy Admasu Kebede hit the front pages of national and local press in the North East of England. The two brothers had recently left care in Newcastle, having arrived in Britain nearly 10 years ago from Ethiopia seeking asylum.

Experts show cautious optimism for the eurozone in 2014

Last year was the least tumultuous for the eurozone since Greece revealed a vast hole in its books back in 2009. The consensus is that 2014 will be just as calm, a view held by some who were predicting the currency bloc’s demise little more than a year ago.

The political will to keep the show on the road has held firm, the European Central Bank’s pledge to underpin the euro continues to stave off bond market pressure and there is the prospect of economies growing at least a little.

Bulgaria’s first seven years in the EU

 

On 1 January Bulgaria has marked its first seven years of EU membership. There is a saying in Bulgarian about the first seven years of a human being: “either you have them or you don’t”. Either during your first seven years you have learned something that will make a man out of you, or you will be a burden to society.

Ten Reasons to Demonstrate: Criminalisation of Hungarian homeless

 

In 2010, a Hungarian Law was amended to allow municipalities to ban homeless people from public spaces. Although this law was ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court, the Consitution has been modified to allow prohibition of homelessness in 2013. I’ve collected 10 reasons why is it totally contrary to European laws and values.

Economies of Britain and France have more similarities than differences

 

Despite politicians’ rhetoric, the fight to survive in the global economy is a shared experience for the two historic rivals

As British crowing about last year’s return to growth increasingly irks the struggling administration of François Hollande, it is worth remembering that London and Paris have more in common than they care to admit.

Greek Presidency offers no perks for visiting civil servants

Crisis-ridden Greece took over the reins of the European Union on Wednesday (1 January) with a record low budget dedicated to its EU presidency of €50 million set as the “absolute maximum” the presidency is planning to spend in the forthcoming six months.

Aided by a shorter calendar due to the European Parliament elections in May this year, the Greeks are nonetheless making a few significant cuts, hoping to “set a trend” for future presidencies.

What 2014 holds for eurocrisis watchers

 

This is the year when the emphasis shifts from the policy choices of eurozone leaders to their consequences and what they mean for people

Italian coalition eyes speedy electoral reform

Italian centre-left leader Matteo Renzi called on Thursday (2 January) for swift reform of an electoral system blamed for the country’s bouts of political deadlock and said he expected an agreement could be completed within weeks.

Renzi is not in the government but as head of the Democratic Party, the biggest party in Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s left-right coalition, he will have a decisive role to play in shaping the agenda and has already called for quicker action on reforms.

Europe’s leaders divided on EC presidency

Idea is to use European parliamentary elections to select next president of European Commission and give more democratic legitimacy to executive arm

Interactive: The race to replace Barroso

Profiles of the leading contenders to be the new president of the European Commission

Lessons from writing about the Habsburgs for writing about the EU

A review of a book I’ve been meaning to pick up (Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe,  by Simon Winder)  has some useful passages:

European Parliament Elections 2014 – Ireland

 

This year will see the 28 member states of the European Union going to the polls between the 22nd and the 25th of May to elect a new European Parliament. In Ireland this years elections will see a big change on the 2009 elections due to boundary changes and the change in the Political landscape since that election.

 

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Eurosphere agenda: “Ukraine’s point of no return…”2014: Europe’s year of decision

In Uncategorized on December 30, 2013 at 16:35

 

The Euromaidan activists continue to protest throughout Ukraine, despite considerable pressure from the authorities. A young journalist was recently beaten within an inch of her life, cars are set alight and there have been many other acts of provocation. But the protesters are resolved not to yield, reports Iryna Solomko

 

2014: Europe’s year of decision

European elections make 2014 a big year for the EU

 

PHOTOS: Humans of Portugal

 

Following the worldwide trend of sharing portrays and stories of humans from all corners of the world, inspired by the work started by Brandon Stanton in 2010 with Humans of New York (HONY), Portugal also has a share of its people from several cities around the country represented on different collections on Facebook.

 

Ireland’s Model Crisis

Ireland has now left the clutches of the bailout-for-austerity framework created by the Troika (the European Commission, the ECB, and the IMF) for indebted eurozone countries. But the the monetary union’s other distressed countries cannot replicate Ireland’s success – nor should they want to.

 

EuroMaidan: a Facebook revolution in the streets of Kiev

 

Editor’s note: Daniel Kovzhun is a Ukrainian Boing Boing reader who has been present through the turmoil in Kiev over the ruling party’s plan to sign a Customs Union agreement with Russia. In this piece, Daniel provides a first-hand account of the terminally corrupt political scene that put over a million people into the streets of Kiev, the brutal police violence that ensued, and the ineffective, fragmented opposition coalition that is meant to be at the head of the uprising.

 

MAIN FOCUS: New enthusiasm despite the crisis | 27/12/2013

 

The euro crisis continues, the Syria crisis remains unresolved, and the citizens of Eastern Europe are taking to the streets and discovering a new sense of self-assurance. Commentators look back on a turbulent year and see Vladimir Putin, Edward Snowden and Pope Francis as the people who left their mark on 2013.

 

Ukraine, and a Europe-Russia crack

The conflict in Ukraine is part of a wider tussle over eastern Europe’s political orientation. The European Union remains pivotal to progress, says Krzysztof Bobinski.

In the good old cold-war days when divisions in Europe were clearer, popular upheavals in Soviet-run eastern Europe were met with a measure of consternation in western capitals and some sympathy among western populations. At that time, everyone knew that freedom was at stake – and also that the demand for freedom couldn’t be fulfilled.

Voices: Bulgaria and Romania working rights in EU

 

Bulgarian and Romanian views on job-hunting in EU

 

Sizing up Ukraine’s Euromaidan

Mass protests against President Yanukovych and his government are continuing in Kyiv and throughout Ukraine. Ivan Katchanovski assesses their size and the likely outcome.

 

Who is the biggest supporter of Ukraine?

Oleh Kotsyuba (Krytyka, Ukraine) speaks with Sławomir Sierakowski (Krytyka Polityczna, Poland) about the events in the aftermath of Ukrainian President’s decision not to sign the Association and Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.

 

How Poland Became an Eastern European Education Powerhouse

The OECD’s test score rankings of 15-year-olds around the globe came out Tuesday, and, as usual a familiar set of faces tops the charts. Shanghai (which, as many have pointed out, is not a country), Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Korea, and Japan continue to dominate in math. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to stagnate and declinists continue to fret.

 

A Eurozone Report Card 2013

John Weeks

Three and one-half years ago the infamous Troika (IMF, European Commission and the European Central Bank, with the German government in close attendance) began its unsuccessful attempt to contain the crisis of the Eurozone, with a draconian austerity program for Greece. Subsequently, the Troika would add Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain to its list for the austerity medicine. At the end of 2013, what has austerity achieved?

Globalizing European Security

 

Global security – a safe and peaceful environment free of conflict – is a public good: all of the world’s citizens and countries benefit from it, regardless of whether they contribute to supplying it. But, when it comes to global stability, the world simply cannot afford a free-riding Europe.

Europe’s Societal Challenges

 

This report analyses key societal challenges for the EU until 2030 by exploring the evidence base and uncertainties underpinning global trends — in areas such as migration, employment, inequality or empowerment — and their impact on the EU.

 

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Eurosphere agenda: Merkel’s new government…EU hit with S downgrade…

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2013 at 21:34

MAIN FOCUS: Next pillar of banking union standing | 19/12/2013

The EU finance ministers agreed on a system for dealing with failing banks on Wednesday. Europe‘s financial institutes are to start building up a joint fund so that in future the owners and investors are the first to pay for bank bailouts. Europe is gradually learning the lessons taught by the crisis, some commentators observe. Others warn that the fund offers no security as long as banks remain too big to fail.

MAIN FOCUS: Merkel’s new government takes office | 17/12/2013

Three months after Germany‘s federal elections, Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s new cabinet starts work today. This marks the third time that Germany has been ruled by a grand coalition. Commentators discuss the government’s European policy and the women who will be in charge of defence and integration.

Commercialisation and nationalism in Polish football

Could there be a link between the increasing commercialisation of Polish football and the rise in far-right hooliganism?

Merkel: If you want more Europe, be prepared for EU treaty change

Angela Merkel this morning delivered her first Europe remarks at the helm of the new German Grand Coalition. It wasn’t a “Europe speech” per se but rather her usual pre-EU summit briefing in the Bundestag – although it undoubtedly had a bit more meaning since it is the first under the new coalition.

EU summit: Will anyone be signing contracts?

Merkel mentioned the “contractual arrangements” in maiden Bundestag speech of her third term

Although the two-day EU summit that begins today in Brussels is nominally about defence policy, the main event most delegations were watching was whether summiteers would sign up to a German-backed plan that would require all eurozone countries to sign annual contracts with Brussels obligating them to liberalise their economies.

German SPD backs ‘grand coalition’ government with Merkel

Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) voted overwhelmingly in favour of joining a “grand coalition” with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and have announced the list of ministers, clearing the way for a new right-left government that will take office on Tuesday (17 December).

Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), won the September 22 election but fell short of a majority. They needed a partner and spent much of the last three months negotiating a coalition deal with the arch rival SPD, which came a distant second.

EU divided over Ukraine crisis

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans sharply criticized EU enlargement chief Stefan Füle

What does Croatia’s same-sex marriage referendum mean?

The results of a referendum on the definition of marriage in Croatia were disappointing for those who hoped EU accession indicated a shift towards tolerance in the country.  But a conservative-created wedge issue might be the spark for progressive Croatians to push for more long-term change.

What Germany’s new coalition government means for the EU

Almost three months after the general election in September, Germany finally has a new government. In a grassroots referendum, members of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) voted to accept a coalition agreement that party leaders had drawn up with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and its smaller, more conservative sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU). The new government is unlikely to change EU policy a great deal.

Next Commission’s main concern will be inequality, analysts predict

Social inequalities will be the main challenge for future European leaders, according to an EU-commissioned report released on Wednesday (18 December). Europe’s economy is expected to continue its decline, and policymakers should focus on a ‘new growth paradigm’ centred on society – not growth – the report argues.

The report, conducted by the think tank RAND Europe, attempts to pinpoint issues that will most likely span the EU’s upcoming legislative term (2014-2020).

Commission warns Italy over degrading treatment of immigrants

The European Commission threatened Italy with legal action today (18 December) for possible breaches of the EU’s rules on granting asylum, over its treatment of migrants arriving from Africa on the island of Lampedusa.

A video showing migrants standing naked in the cold while being sprayed for scabies at a detention centre stirred outrage in Italy on Tuesday.

Bulgaria Marks Six Months of Continued Protests

December 14, 2013, marked six months of anti-government protests in Bulgaria, where protesters still gather daily in Sofia and other cities, demanding the resignation of the current government, led by the Socialist Party.

After the previous government stepped down after similar protests in February 2013, the new government, elected in May, soon met with similar citizen dissatisfaction and new protests began on June 14, 2013.

Victims no longer: Spain’s anti-eviction movement

For over four years, the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH) have responded to a national housing crisis through grassroots organising and direct action. To this day the movement has prevented over 800 evictions across the country. Here Carlos Delclós interviews PAH activist Elvi Mármol.

Austerity policies in Europe are fuelling social injustice – and violating human rights

A new report by the Council of Europe provides detailed evidence that austerity measures have corroded civil and political rights, made economic, social and cultural rights less attainable, and entrenched social injustice and inequalities.  Will the governments of Europe recognise the social cost of austerity – and can ‘human rights’ work as a tool of resistance?

Twitter diplomacy: Füle vs EU ministers on Ukraine

EU’s Füle, right, with Ukrainian president Viktor Yanikovich in Kiev earlier this year

Is Twitter the right place to announce major foreign policy changes?

While the spate of EU downgrades has slowed to a relative drip feed this year, it turns out there was at least one left in the locker – the EU, which Standard and Poor’s (S&P) this morning cut from AAA to AA+.
EU and US both threatened by secret trade talks

This week’s talks, like the previous rounds, will happen behind closed doors. The negotiating texts will be kept secret from the public but not from the ca. 600 corporate representatives who have been named ‘cleared advisors’ for the United States.

song soon considered as the “anthem of a generation” in Portugal asked what was wrong with a world where, “even to become a slave you have to study”.

Before the Eurozone crisis, “flexicurity” was the model to follow for all European countries. For those confronted with sluggish growth and high unemployment, the agenda promoted by European institutions was a combination of flexible labour markets with few restrictions on the ability of employers to hire and fire, an encompassing safety net with generous income support in periods of unemployment, and active labour market policies designed to get jobseekers back into employment through training and upskilling.

Where are Europe’s leaders?

How do we assess performance, visibility and power in a European context? And why has the EU’s leadership failed to engage with Europe’s citizens? (Video, 18 mins)
Lampedusa deaths: identification and families’ right to know

It is a principle that those who perish or go missing in humanitarian disasters should be identified. This principle should also be applied to migration tragedies, though it is infrequently acted on by governments.
Slovakia: right-wing extremism on the rise

Marian Kotleba, a well-known figure of the Slovak neo-Nazi scene, was recently elected as governor of the central Slovak region of Banská Bystrica. Is this the mere consequence of a protest vote, or the indicator of a much more disturbing trend?

Our Director Mats Persson writes on his Telegraph blog:

A deal between the EU and Ukraine involving a “deep and comprehensive” free trade area, finally seems to have the hit the wall, after weeks trying to reach an agreement.

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Eurosphere roundup: “France’s new surveillance law…EU bank bailout fight…

In Uncategorized on December 12, 2013 at 18:38

France’s new surveillance law creates a police state

Jeremie from La Quadrature du Net writes, “France just turned into a surveillance state, adopting a sneaky surveillance framework in article 13 of its Defense Bill (Loi de programmation militaire).

MAIN FOCUS: Final spurt towards banking union | 12/12/2013

 

The project of a banking union is taking shape. The EU finance ministers agreed on Tuesday night on a plan for closing down insolvent banks. A single resolution fund is to gradually replace national provisions over the next ten years. Berlin has once again got its way with this “banking union light”, some commentators grumble. Others express relief that one of the major problems of the crisis has been solved.

EU bank bailout fight: more leaked documents

Sweden’s Borg, centre, during last night’s meeting, where he sparred with his Dutch counterpart

It’s become something of a routine in the EU’s ongoing effort to build a “banking union” that finance ministers try to come to a deal at their normal Brussels meetings – only to fail and call a special emergency session at the 11thhour before a crucial summit.

 

Slovenia dodges bailout as it swallows cost of bank overhaul alone

The Slovenian Central Bank this morning released the long anticipated results of the stress test of Slovenian banks. The full results can be found here, while the press release is available here and a reader-friendly Q&A here.

 

US, EU chide Ukraine after police action against protesters

 

The United States and the European Union continued to increase diplomatic pressure on Ukraine over harsh police treatment against protesters

 

Energy bills: Who pays the most in Europe?

Who has the highest energy bills in Europe?

 

The ECB’s Bridge Too Far

Is Europe’s economic crisis mutating once again? If debt fears are now being superseded by the danger of deflation, as recent data suggest, the European Central Bank has its work cut out for it – and there is nothing to suggest that it is up to the task.

EU ministries caught in China cyber attack

 

Cybersecurity group alleges state-backed Chinese groups accessed EU foreign ministries before G20 amid struggle for global dominance in cyber intelligence

Q&A: EU banking union

 

Brussels closer to agreeing new system to avoid repetition of the eurozone crisis, seen as biggest shift in sovereignty since the creation of the euro

 

MAIN FOCUS: Situation escalates in Kiev | 10/12/2013

 

Security forces stormed the headquarters of Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party in Kievon Monday. At the same time President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition politician Vitali Klitschko have signalled their willingness to commence a dialogue. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is due to arrive in the country on Tuesday to act as mediator. Commentators fear that the situation will nonetheless escalate and warn against putting too much hope in boxing champion Klitschko.

 

Auditors slam EU for paying Gaza officials who don’t work

The European Union should stop funding Palestinian civil servants in the Gaza Strip because money is going to officials who do not work, European auditors said on Wednesday (11 December).

As the biggest aid donor to the Palestinian territories, EU taxpayers pay a fifth of the salaries of teachers, doctors and bureaucrats in the small coastal territory, which has been governed by the Islamist group Hamas since 2007.

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Eurosphere agenda: “Renzi wins Italian centre-left leadership…”Escalating protests in Ukraine… “How Internet Tools Turned Ukraine’s #Euromaidan Protests Into a Movement

In Uncategorized on December 10, 2013 at 12:00

Renzi wins Italian centre-left leadership

 

Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi won a primary vote to become leader of Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD), preliminary results showed on Sunday (8 December), giving him influence over the fragile coalition government and the timing of the next elections.

Primary elections held yesterday for the Democratic Party have been regarded by pundits as a major turning point for the Italian left. The country is now facing a major challenge in terms of a domestic reappraisal of the principles which lead its policies throughout the post-Cold war years. Will the new leader manage to deliver a real “change”? This word has acquired a new meaning after the elections in February, when the “joyous war machine” of PM in pectore Pierluigi Bersani crashed against the army of voters lead by former PM Berlusconi.

Gazprom Pushing for Peace With EU

While Ukraine’s European fate may be dominating the headlines as tens of thousands of pro-European demonstrators flood Kiev’s public spaces, a deeper source of tension looms beneath the surface, largely outside the eye of the non-financial media. At the heart of the tensions are accusations by the EU’s competition authorities that Gazprom has abused its market position. If EU regulators are successful, they could deal a serious blow to the company’s modus operandi in Eastern Europe, a cornerstone of Russia’s geopolitical strategy.

The EU’s PR problem

 

As a media trainer and committed European I despair that an organisation as valuable as the EU is too timid to employ the basic principles of good communication.

Economic imaginary of the European knowledge economy – ideas and discourse

 

After being in the back front of higher education policy making for a good decade – between 80s and 90s of the past century (Corbett, 2006, 2011), the European Commission got a new opportunity to establish itself as an influential actor in the European higher education sector.

 

Too many acronyms, not enough heads: EU’s image problem revisited in Berlin debate

Criticism of Europe has become a recurrent feature in the media with the eurozone debt crisis. But German media received a slap on the back for its quality coverage of EU affairs at a debate in Berlin last Monday (2 December).

The media plays a central role in the perception of Europe, which also explains why they are such an easy scapegoat when it comes to public scepticism towards Brussels.

Ukraine: Translators Organize on Facebook to Provide Live #Euromaidan Updates

 

Volunteer translators following the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine have organized on Facebook, setting up pages like Maidan Needs Translators and Euromaidan Translators where urgent news from the protests that require translation to reach a wider international audience are shared and Euro-Maidan As It Is, where translated content is published.

A Protest of Historic Proportions: 15 Photos From Kiev

Protests in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, have evolved over the past week from groups of chanting citizens to demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of people, some of whom are demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych after he refused to sign free trade and political agreements with the European Union.

 George Clooney Supports Ukraine Protests

American actor and political activist George Clooney has sent a message of support for the Ukraine protests via YouTube. In the video, he explains how the US has achieved its democratic system by a process of trial and error and encourages the protesters in Kiev’s Independence Square to continue their struggle.

How Internet Tools Turned Ukraine’s #Euromaidan Protests Into a Movement

As Euromaidan protests enter their third week in the Ukraine, social media and technology still play a key role in their organization. As the government violently cracked down on peaceful protesters on November 30, the eight day of the protests, this has turned into a mass anti-government movement in the country and has begun to resemble the 2004 Orange Revolution in many ways.

 

Reasons Behind Ukraine’s Protests Run Deeper than “Pro-EU” or “Anti-Russian”

 

What most media and people following the recent developments in Ukraine know as “pro-EU” or “anti-Russian” protests after the Ukrainian government backed out of a historical agreement with the European Union that was to bring Ukrainians one step closer to Western Europe, are in fact protests that seem to have been in the making for the past several years.

 The Eastern Partnership: The road from Vilnius leads to …?

The EU’s Eastern Partnership has run out of steam. It was launched in 2009 with the stated goal of creating “the necessary conditions to accelerate political association and further economic integration” between the EU and its partners. But of the six partners, one (Belarus) was already under EU sanctions in 2009; and one (Azerbaijan) has shown little interest in the partnership – particularly those aspects which would require it to improve its governance and human rights record.

9 Essential Twitter Sources for Ukrainian Conflict News

Events in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev have moved rapidly over the past week or so. Not surprisingly, Twitter and other social channels have often been the most up-to-date sources of information on the unfolding conflict.

 

MAIN FOCUS: Opposition ups the pressure on Yanukovych | 03/12/2013

 

The opposition in Ukraine now hopes to topple the government of President Viktor Yanokovych with a vote of no confidence. The members of parliament will debate the vote in Kiev today, Tuesday. The EU should offer the demonstrators its unconditional support, some commentators demand. Others don’t believe Ukraine will change its pro-Russian course now.

As Ukraine’s Protests Escalate, #Euromaidan Hashtag Lost in a Sea of Information

Protesters gathered under flags in Kyiv to demand that the Ukrainian government reverse its policy decision and sign a landmark agreement with the EU. Photo by Sergii Kharchenko. Copyright Demotix.

 Ukraine’s choices

The current conflict in Ukraine tends to cast the country’s future choices in terms of membership of either the EU or the Russian Customs Union. The former is unlikely and the latter unworkable. But there could be other ways forward, contends David Marples

 

As secretary of the PD, the brash 38-year-old will likely have to tone down the rhetoric calling for the ouster of the party’s top brass that has helped make him one of the country’s most popular political figures in the past two years.

Provoking the Euromaidan

Far-right agents provocateurs have been infiltrating the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine, and provoking the police and protesters to violence. Anton Shekhovtsov reports

 EU-Morocco fish pact: Fish before peace?

The proposed EU fisheries agreement with Morocco is undermining UN efforts to make Morocco enter into serious peace talks, writes Erik Hagen.

 

“This week-end more than 20 people were injured by Moroccan police as they protested peacefully against the EU’s plans to fish in Western Sahara. Videos of Saharawis being beaten while shouting slogans against the EU plans are now all over the internet. These Saharawis have a right to be heard. A people’s right to self-determination is explicitly carved out in Article 1 of the UN Charter. Today, on the International Day of Human Rights, the European Parliament will decide whether or not to ignore that right for the people of Western Sahara through a controversial fisheries agreement. Do Human Rights and international peace mean anything for the EU when the Union’s own short-term interests are at stake?

Are Ukraine’s Protests About to Turn Very Ugly?

The massive pro-European protests in Ukraine’s capital have all the makings of a picture-perfect revolution: a square filled to the brim with demonstrators around the clock, a toppled statue of a former dictator, and riot police shields adorned with flowers provided by protesters.

The Bulgaria and Romania debate is mired in cynical fantasy

Politicans are stoking fears and tensions because they are powerless to do anything of substance. This is the worst of all worlds. It is cynical, irresponsible, inflammatory and exposes a major democratic deficit.
MAIN FOCUS: WTO agrees on trade deal | 09/12/2013

The World Trade Organisation signed its first ever global free trade deal on Saturday. At their meeting in Bali, the 159 member countries agreed on a large-scale reduction in customs duties and subsidies, among other issues. Some commentators talk of a paragon multilateral agreement and are confident that it will benefit all parties involved. Others believe that once again the exporting nations will get the best of the deal.

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Eurosphere agenda: “EU imposes record fine on major banks…

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2013 at 14:20

 

MAIN FOCUS: EU imposes record fine on major banks | 05/12/2013

 

In the scandal over the manipulation of international interest rates, the European Commission has imposed a record fine. Six major banks are to pay a total of 1.7 billion euros, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia announced on Wednesday in Brussels. Commentators welcome this hard line against cartel agreements but also call for further reforms in the financial world.

 

Why Ukraine’s Revolution Won’t Spread to Russia

An anonymous image comparing the Ukrainian way of protesting on the left, and Russian on the right. (Reference to “Scrotum Revolt“)

Greece’s million unpaid workers

The million Greek workers who get no wages

EU threatened by ‘rampant right-wing populism’, warns German think tank

 

Right-wing populist parties have established themselves with solid electorates in almost all European countries, representing a growing threat for next year’s EU elections, according to a study by the German Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.

 

Almost everywhere in Europe, right-wing populist parties have “established themselves as relevant political forces”, says a study released on Monday (2 December) by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, a foundation associated with the conservative political party the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

20 Incredible Images of Massive Protests in Ukraine

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Over the last few days, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have swarmed the streets of Kiev and other cities to protest against the government’s decision to back away from a deal with the European Union on Nov. 21. The deal would have established political and free trade agreements between the EU and the Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, and it faced strong opposition from Russia.

Q&A: Why Ukraine protests matter

 

What’s driving Ukraine’s street protests?

 

MAIN FOCUS: Mass protests against Yanukovych | 02/12/2013

In protest against President Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Russian course the opposition in Ukraine on Saturday announced that it would be holding a general strike. The move came after security forces took brutal action against pro-European demonstrators. The mass protests testify to the Ukrainians’ desire for closer ties to Europe, commentators point out, and call on the EU to come up with a new strategy for Eastern Europe.

 

Ukraine: Hackers Disable Government Websites in Protest of Crackdown on #Euromaidan

 

There has been a series of cyber attacks on Ukrainian government websites after policebrutally dispersed peaceful Euromaidan protests in Kyiv in support of Ukraine’s European integration on November 30. On December 1, many of the government websites in Ukraine were hacked and blocked , including the official website of the President of Ukraine, Ministry of Interior of Ukraine and the official Government portal. As of 10:00 am CET, December 1, the Presidential website and the website of the Ministry of Interior’s were still down, while the Government portal is accessible again.

 

#Euromaidan Protests: ‘We Fight to Remain Ukraine’

After police brutally beat and dispersed protesters in Kyiv on the eight day of #Euromaidan protests and Ukrainian authorities banned peaceful protests and citizen gatherings until January 8, 2014, protesters regrouped and gathered again, this time in larger numbers, to protest in Kyiv and several other Ukrainian cities.

350,000 Kiev citizens take to streets after Yanukovich’s EU U-turn

Ukrainian opposition leaders at a pro-Europe rally of about 350,000 people called yesterday (1 December) for President Viktor Yanukovich and his government to resign. Violent clashes marred the the rally between protesters and riot police.

A prominent MEP, European People’s Party Vice-President Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, tweeted that never in history had so many people taken to the streets fighting for Europe.

In defence of freedom of expression

openDemocracy Russia joins Europe’s leading journals in condemning the ongoing violence and provocations in Ukraine.

Croatian referendum to introduce discrimination in their constitution

 

Croatia, the newest member of the EU, is today having a referendum that aims to modify their constitution for the first time in 22 years. The change in constitution is to include a sentence that specifies that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. and it is a clear attack to the movement for equal marriage that has been gaining battles all over Europe.

Croats reject gay marriage in referendum

Croats voted overwhelmingly in favour of defining marriage in the constitution as a “union of man and woman” yesterday (1 December), a move initiated by Roman Catholic groups but criticised by opponents as discrimination against homosexuals. The Commission declined to comment, saying that the issue of marriage is of national competence.

Almost 66% of those who voted in the referendum in the new European Union member endorsed the initiative, launched by the Catholic group “In the Name of the Family”, according to preliminary results on Sunday night. Turnout was 37%.

 

Elections 2014: Liberals vow to stand-up for Europe, keep UK ‘in’

Gathering in London for a three-day Congress over the weekend (28-30 November) to set the tone for the European election campaign, European liberal democrats have promised to crusade against the “cheap” populists and stand up for a united Europe, with the UK ‘in’.

Liberal leaders made the case for a change in Europe, underscoring the need for a forceful campaign that would present the party’s vision for the future, showcase its recent achievements and rebuff populistic claims.

Latvia: From Soviet Union to European Union

 

In 1999, I visited the Baltic State of Latvia in the north-east part of Europe. It was eight years after the collapse of the Soviet Union that Latvia had been forced to join in the 1940′s. And it was five years before Latvia chose to join the European Union.

My visit was a snapshot of a country between Unions – Soviet and European. The story of my personal journey to Latvia appears on my other blog at Jon Danzig’s World: ‘Latvia between Unions (Soviet and European)’. (Link to follow shortly)

Europe’s Red-Tape Economy

Over the past 60 years, the great project of European integration has overcome many challenges: post-war economic hardships, communism, and post-Cold War uncertainty. But now the EU faces an equally important challenge: reducing the burden of regulation weighing down its major industries.

Trapped in the Eurozone – the deep nature of Spain’s economic woes

The logic behind tax avoidance is the lack of trust. If you do not trust your fellow countrymen (and particularly the state) and think they will cheat on their taxes, then there is no point in you paying at all.

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