Eight small European Countries are the happiest on Earth

Just in time for the UN General Assembly, the UN secretariat has published the second World Happiness Report. On the basis of extensive polls in 156 countries it assesses how people rate their overall happiness in life.

German election: don’t forget the Turkish vote(s)!

There are about 3 million German Turks living in Germany. Where does the country’s largest immigrant group stand in the upcoming German election?

Germany?s election is vital to Europe

If the SPD and Greens won the elections outright, they would move faster than Merkel on crisis management

EU Prepared to Impose Sanctions on New Member State Croatia

According to numerous Croatian and international news outlets, as well as the conversations brewing on social media sites, the European Commission is likely to punish Croatia in an ongoing row over extradition rules that has left a stain on the former Yugoslav state’s first months as a member of the European Union and may endanger EU aid for border control improvements. Sanctions would threaten the EU’s aid program for Croatia, notably for border control improvements vital to the country’s bid to join the bloc’s passport-free Schengen zone.

Germany’s anti euro party clashes with major pollster ahead of election

As we have noted in the past, it is possible that Germany?s anti-euro party, Alternative für Deutschland,  has a wider support base than polls suggest.

Police Arrest Protesters Protecting Macedonian City Park from Destruction

Eleven protesters who were demonstrating with several hundred others in Bristol Park, one of Macedonia’s capital city of Skopje’s few remaining parks, to save the green space from the construction of a government building, were arrested on the night between September 11 and 12.

Croats in Vukovar Protest Use of Serbian Cyrillic on Government Buildings

In Vukovar, Croatia, Serbs comprise about 35 percent of the city’s population, and have thus been granted the right for official use of their native Cyrillic script according to Croatia’s constitution. A part of the ethnically Croat population of Vukovar has objected, however, staging protests this week and destroying bilingual signs that had been freshly placed on state buildings. The protests against Cyrillic script in Vukovar started on Monday 9 September 2013 after the placing of name plates in both Latin and Cyrillic scripts on public buildings. A peaceful protest was also held in Zagreb that day.

 

New technologies are key to foster EU transparency and participation

The EU should make better use of new technologies to improve its democratic decision making, transparency and participation. This is key in an election year, at a time when the sense of trust among citizens in its institutions is at an all-time low, writes Marietje Schaake.

Marietje Schaake is an MEP for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and member of the Dutch social liberal party D66.

Whether or not governments embrace the digital era, technology influences democracy. New technologies have empowered people and have raised expectations of openness and interaction. Horizontal and hierarchical structures of power are challenged by vertical networks of empowered individuals all over the world. Governments are best advised to actively shape and reform the role they play in a digitized world. However, too often they fall behind in terms of delivering. A social media strategy alone won’t do when dealing with government requires waiting in line and drawing a number at the same time.

Germany’s anti euro party clashes with major pollster ahead of election

As we have noted in the past, it is possible that Germany?s anti-euro party, Alternative für Deutschland,  has a wider support base than polls suggest.

EU concern about Ukraine?s trade barriers growth

Ukraine has purposefully imposed the utilization duty since September 1 2013 and by doing so drew critics on the part of the EU, which was heard in the European Commission report dedicated to trade barriers. But what could Ukraine have done? Since September 1 2012 Russia has introduced the utilization duty on its territory and in this way caused problems for Ukraine?s export of motor cars to Russia. The utilization duty basically placed Ukrainian cars in unfavorable competitive conditions compared with the same makes manufactured in Russia which were not deducted the utilization duty. All attempts to reach an agreement with Russia on the issue of the utilization duty deduction were crushed by the Russian leadership?s intractability. At the same time neither the EU nor the WTO managed to achieve the cancellation or the easing of the conditions of the utilization duty deduction in Russia. Russia simply took a firm stand and showed that it will not make concessions either to Ukraine or to the EU and will not fulfill the WTO?s requirements. In such conditions Ukraine had to make a countermove. In any case Ukraine gave Russia the whole calendar year to annul the discrimination of Ukrainian cars.

 

Lawmakers accused of rushing EU data protection law

Industrialists and diplomats have accused MEPs of rushing through data protection laws that they say would boost their electoral chances more than Europe?s economies, ahead of next year?s parliamentary elections.

At a data protection and privacy conference in Brussels Tuesday (17 September) organised by Forum Europe, policymakers and the information technology industry clashed over the timeline of the draft EU data protection law.

Berlusconi?s ?crazy idea?: Running for the EU elections in Estonia

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is considering running for election as a member of the European Parliament for Estonia, a country where Italian laws prohibiting him from running for office do not apply, according to press reports.

According to Il Messaggero, the ?crazy idea? that Berlusconi could seek a seat as MEP from another country is finding more and more support among his entourage.

Dwindling EU aid spurs UN ?global governance? calls

SPECIAL REPORT/ The imminent breach of a promise by EU states to spend 0.7% of their gross income on overseas aid by 2015 is sparking calls for the UN to be given ?coercive? powers to force rich nations to honour future aid pledges.

The secretary-general of the Africa-Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states, Alhaji Mumuni, and the chairwoman of the European Parliament?s development committee, Eva Joly, both told EurActiv that they favoured giving the UN stronger policy-setting powers.

cant support amongst German voters to slim down the EU.

2013 Sakharov Prize finalists unveiled

Edward Snowden, the US privacy whistleblower is among the finalists for the prestigious European Parliament human rights award, but Pakistani girls’ rights hero Malala Yousafzai has won the broadest support from EU political parties.

The seven final nominees for the European Parliament?s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought were presented on 16 September in Brussels.

As EurActiv wrote last week, the former CIA and NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, was nominated by the Greens and the United Left political groups in Parliament.

Assembling the Policy Pieces to Keep Nuclear Power?s Needed Place in Europe

In a matter of weeks, the European Commission is expected to roll out new guidelines around state aid for energy and environmental matters that may, through verbal gymnastics, green-light Member States? legal ability to put financial support behind nuclear power.

Funding research in Europe: New horizons for social sciences and humanities?

Next week, September 23-24, the Lithuanian EU Presidency will host a conference on ?Horizons on Social Sciences and Humanities? in Vilnius. While it is not the first gathering to discuss the role of Social Sciences and Humanities in Europe, this conference is certainly unique, for it combines several features. For the first time, a consultation process has been conducted in preparation of such a conference, collecting diverse positions and opinions within European Social Sciences and Humanities communities. A steering committee of eminent scholars has put together an ambitious program that combines general reflection with operative goals. Most significantly, European Commission officials will discuss on an equal footing with representatives from the Social Sciences and Humanities. But why is bringing those two groups on the table so important at this point?

Hungary amends its constitution to appease EU

Hungary’s parliament has approved changes to the constitution, removing restrictions on political media campaigns ahead of next year’s election and backtracking on other legal aspects the European Union has said may conflict with its principles.

The EU, the United States and human rights groups have accused Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government of using constitutional amendments to limit the powers of Hungary’s top court and weaken democracy in the former Soviet satellite

New OE/OEB poll: Significant support among German voters to slim down EU

There is no doubt that Germany is strongly wedded to the idea of ?more Europe? — at least rhetorically. But when it is boiled down specific EU policies, as the new Open Europe, Open Europe Berlin and YouGov Deutschland poll shows, there is signifi

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