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MAIN FOCUS: France’s bold offensive in Mali | 15/01/2013

from euro|topics
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Monday welcomed France’s military intervention in Mali. The French armed forces joined the fight against the Islamist rebels on Friday at the behest of the Malian government. Commentators admire the courage of the French President but note that the intervention entails great risks.

Mali, dynamic of war

from open Democracy News Analysis – by Paul Rogers
The French-led military intervention in Mali both accelerates the war in the west African country and transforms its character. The prospect is of a long-term engagement that Islamist forces far beyond the region will see as an historic opportunity

Should Twitter allow al-Shabab to post photos of dead French soldiers?

from FP Passport by Joshua Keating
With the French government shocking many around the world by dispatching troops to push back Islamist insurgents in Mali, Somalia’s al-Shabab militants took to social media today to taunt the French government after a failed raid to rescue an intelligence officer resulted in the deaths of two French soldiers.

French widen bombing campaign, hit central Mali

from Hurriyet Daily News
French military forces on Monday widened their bombing campaign..

France upbeat on Mali campaign

from BBC News | Europe | World Edition
France says its military campaign against Islamist fighters in Mali is “developing favourably” but the situation in western areas is “difficult”.

Detention and human rights in the UK: maintaining the presumption of liberty

from open Democracy News Analysis – by Kate Blagojevic
Rigorous reviews by a genuinely independent panel could be a significant step away from the routine long-term detention of migrants in Britain, but only a time limit provides a sure safeguard, says Kate Blagojevic

On the streets in Spain: not only the homeless

from open Democracy News Analysis – by Liz Cooper
The monarchy, the political and economic systems, even the judiciary and the church appear to be failing the people of Spain as they face what amounts to a right-wing coup by a Government that legislates by decree. Their only option seems to be to protest on the streets, says Liz Cooper.

Why the future of Greece lies in the rise of a new civil society and education

from open Democracy News Analysis – by Yannis Theocharis
One of the biggest challenges for post-austerity Greece will be the rebuilding of a strong civil society. Future foundations are already being laid out through new and exciting citizen initiatives, but much is yet to be done.

MAIN FOCUS: Czechs for Zeman or Schwarzenberg | 14/01/2013

from euro|topics
The presidential election in the Czech Republic has come down to a race between left-wing ex-prime minister Milo? Zeman and the conservative Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. Schwarzenberg did surprisingly well in the first round on Friday and Saturday. According to commentators, the voters must now make their choice between two different types of politician, but whatever the outcome they will have a worthy president.

The rise of Catalonia: unravelling the debate on Catalan independence

from open Democracy News Analysis – by Pol Bargués
The Catalan separatists’ greatest achievement was perhaps to change the terms of the debate on independence, from an essentially legal question to a myriad of political, economic and social interrogations. Is ‘independence’ really the answer to all of these questions?

MAIN FOCUS: ECB keeps key interest rate at all-time low | 11/01/2013

from euro|topics
The Governing Council of the ECB dashed hopes for a further drop in the key interest rate at its meeting on Thursday. Central Bank President Mario Draghi was cautiously optimistic in assessing the effects of the ECB’s crisis policies, but warned against proclaiming the end of the crisis. Europe’s eagerness to reform must not slacken now, some commentators urge. Others warn that the Central Bank’s cash glut is only worsening the crisis.

Tax, hypocrisy and France?s Socialists

The ruling party has taken a tough line on tax, only to find itself caught up in controversy, writes Christopher Caldwell

MAIN FOCUS: Russia lures Depardieu | 08/01/2013

from euro|topics
The French actor Gérard Depardieu became the holder of a Russian passport last weekend. He was offered Russian citizenship by Vladimir Putin after protesting against the high taxes in France. Some commentators accuse Depardieu of allowing himself to be used by the Russian president. Others sympathise with the film star’s bid to escape the bloated French social welfare state.

MAIN FOCUS: Ireland’s presidency a chance for EU | 10/01/2013

from euro|topics
EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy visited Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny in Dublin on Wednesday. At the beginning of Ireland’s EU Council presidency both leaders spoke out against Britain leaving the EU and warned against reopening the discussion over the EU treaties. The negotiations on the EU budget have the potential to cause a great deal of conflict in the next six months, commentators fear, and pin their hopes on the mediating skills of the Irish.

Another unwanted record in the eurozone…

by Open Europe blog team
Yesterday?s unemployment figures from Eurostat made a surprisingly big splash in the European press today. We say surprising since for anyone following the crisis this has been a longstanding and deeply concerning trend in the eurozone.

MAIN FOCUS: Unrest in Northern Ireland continues | 09/01/2013

from euro|topics
For the sixth night in a row clashes raged between pro-British demonstrators and the police in Belfast last night. The violence was triggered by a decision of the city council to restrict the flying of the British Union Flag on Belfast City Hall to special occasions. Commentators see the violent dispute over the flag as behind the times, and stress that the wounds of the Northern Ireland conflict are far from having healed.

France: the spider in Europe?s web?

from Ideas on Europe by Luis Simón

Scotland and the EU: The borderline issue

by Open Europe blog team
Not that we ever intended to wade into this debate, but how various separatist/independence discussions interact with the EU treaties has always fascinated us.

How can the EU influence China?

by Centre for European Reform
For the EU, China matters more than any other emerging power. Two-way trade in goods between them amounted to ?429 billion in 2011. Diplomatically, the Europeans and the Chinese meet in scores of summits, dialogues and working groups. Yet the EU and its member-states have a poor record of getting China to do what they want.

Demonstrations and Counter-demonstrations Surrounding Same-Sex Marriage in France

from Global Voices Online by Joel Gilbourd
For several months, debate about ?universal marriage’ (i.e. same-sex marriage) has been a raging debate in France. The proposal to legally recognize same-sex marriage constitutes Commitment 31 of the 60 Commitments for France [fr], made by the government as part of the campaign platform on which François Hollande was elected on May 6, 2012.

Merkel’s rival Peer Steinbrück offers the alternative Germany needs | Henning Meyer

from Global: Henning Meyer | guardian.co.uk by Henning Meyer
Rather than challenging Merkel’s economic record, the German media focus on attacking her social democratic challenger
2013 is now upon us and when it comes to German politics it is already clear what the climax of this year will be: the federal elections in September. As 2012 drew to a close, the election campaign was already well under way. But rather than focusing on the policies needed to overcome the many issues Europe faces, the focus has been on Peer Steinbrück, Angela Merkel’s social democratic challenger. And given the general lack of scrutiny of Merkel’s politics one cannot help but feel that large parts of the German media landscape have a much too cosy relationship with the incumbent chancellor.

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