Organized crime in Bulgaria, EU 2020 Strategy… What else in Europe? A Euro roundup

The euro pact and Germany: Triumph or a coming bust-up?

by Open Europe blog team

The Telegraph‘s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard describes the weekend deal at the EU summit as a “total German triumph”. He paraphrases Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that “whoever wants credit must fulfil our conditions”.

2011-03-18 Bulgarian Organized Crime Uncensored

from WL Central by ?tanas

2011-03-17 Unredacted cable from Sofia shows the total invasion of the state by organized crime (Update: Cable Comparison)

from WL Central by ?tanas

A third way to bail out struggling countries

from Open Europe blog by Open Europe blog team

Much was discussed and a little agreed during Friday?s eurozone summit, but it was enough to give the euro a bit of a boost. Investors – going into the weekend with exceptionally low expectations – seemed pleased with the news that anything was agreed at all.

What cuts in US defence budget will mean for the transatlantic alliance

by Centre for European Reform

by Tomas Valasek

The US defence budget seems set to fall as Washington begins to restore order in its finances. Spending on the military has reached such heights ? $700 billion, or 20 per cent of the US federal budget ? that it has become too large for deficit-cutters to ignore. Even traditionally pro-defence Republicans now argue that military expenditures need to be reduced along with other government expenses. Europe, too, will feel the pinch: many of the American soldiers currently based on the continent seem certain to go, and some joint weapons programmes will be cancelled. In case of future crises in Europe, NATO?s and the EU?s ability to respond will be tested. The US will expect Europe to lead but European allies themselves have been reducing forces and budgets.

France’s far-right leader rides on anti-migrant wave

The head of France’s far right National Front party, Marine Le Pen, criticised yesterday (14 March) what she described as slack controls that had allowed tens of thousands of clandestine immigrants into Europe through Sicily. 


The Arbitrary World of EU judges

by Open Europe blog team

As we’ve noted before, the EU is in desperate need of a single patent – virtually overnight, such a patent would boost competitiveness and growth and attract innovation, not least by cutting costs for SMEs. It’s currently around 15 times more expensive to obtain a patent across the EU than obtaining patent protection in the US. Or to illustrate using other estimates: a patent validated in 13 EU countries costs as much as ?20,000, of which nearly ?14,000 arises from translation alone (according to the European Commission).

Europe 2020 strategy: Regions challenge central governments

by Grahnlaw

The regional and local authorities challenge the central governments of the member states of the European Union by demanding equal partnerships and ?territorial pacts? when the National Reform Programmes (NPR) are devised and implemented, in order to achieve the headline targets of the Europe 2020 strategy for growth and jobs.

The real Europe 2020 summit?

by Grahnlaw

In a few days, the political leaders of the EU member states meet to assess progress towards the strategic economic goals of the European Union and to inspire improved performance on the reform trail.

The ideal of multiculturalism: Rest in Peace?

from Ideas on Europe by European Student Think Tank

Author: Christopher Houtkamp (Board-member & Web-editor European Student Think Tank)

Multiculturalism is dead. At least, according to many prominent EU-leaders. It?s a shame though, that they didn?t present a feasible alternative to the multicultural society. Should we say our permanent farewells to the multicultural ideal, or should we instead try to reform it, giving it a chance to survive? I?ll try to answer that question below.


EU summit: Sarko stands alone?

from Brussels Blog by Peter Spiegel

Today?s back-to-back European Union summits in Brussels kick off with a discussion on Libya, and it?s sure to be dominated by Nicolas Sarkozy?s unexpected decision to recognise the opposition Libyan National Council as the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people.

Spanish downgrade is a timely warning shot for EU leaders

from Brussels Blog by FT

Moody?s decision to downgrade Spain?s sovereign credit rating from Aa1 to Aa2 was very unwelcome to the Spanish government yesterday, but it may have come as a timely reminder to other European leaders, meeting in Brussels today, that they are still a very long way from solving the sovereign debt crisis. Ever since the beginning of the year, the markets have been willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the European negotiators, believing that the Germans and the French had finally come to the view that some form of fiscal burden sharing was a better alternative, for themselves as well as for the troubled economies, than the risk of sovereign defaults, or worse still the break up of the euro.

How the European Citizens? Initiative will shake up the Brussels bubble

from Public Affairs 2.0 by fhbrussels

The European Citizens? Initiative (ECI) is a new instrument whereby the European Commission has to put forward legislative proposals to respond to a petition that has gathered one million signatures within a year coming from at least 7 EU Member States. Although some organisations such as eBay or Greenpeace have already started ECI-like petitions, the first ?official? ECIs are expected as of February 2012 in order to allow Member States to take the necessary measures to implement the new scheme.


Danish far-right resists EU immigration policies

from Hurriyet Dailynews by ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Danish nationalists have been angered by talk of bringing the country?s legal procedures toward immigrant families into line with EU policies, saying that recent EU rulings on the matter infringe on Denmark?s sovereignty. Right-wing politicians say Denmark should be allowed to make its own immigration laws


Some remarks on the Council briefing: Off the record!

from Ideas on Europe by Ronny Patz

This morning, thanks to my short-term blogger accreditation,  I?ve been at the off-the-record briefings on the upcoming Competitiveness Council (see my previous posts on my preparations for the Council here and here).


Islamophobia in Europe

from Hurriyet Dailynews by HDN
Forcing the small minority of Muslim Frenchwomen who wear the niqab is like trying to use a very large sledgehammer to crack a very small nut. 

EU EPSCO and Competitiveness Council: Annual Growth Survey is cornerstone

by Grahnlaw

You can discuss with @ronpatz on Twitter under #Eupilot and follow him blogging live from the EU Competitiveness Council on the blog.


The Robin Hood tax: take from everyone and give to the EU

by Open Europe blog team

The European Parliament today backed calls for an EU financial transaction tax (FTT). MEPs say that their version of the FTT comes with at least two great merits:

Where is the ?flagship? in the European Innovation Union flagship initiative

from Ideas on Europe by Ronny Patz

EU Council (EPSCO): EU2020 and March European Council

by Grahnlaw

How did the ministers for employment and social affairs in the EPSCO Council prepare the upcoming spring meeting of the European Council 24 to 25 March?

Here is a brief description of the subject matter (page 7):

EU green fatigue

by Open Europe blog team

An increasing number of countries in Europe are beginning to suffer from what can best be described as ‘green fatigue’. In fact, the mood has changed radically since March 2007 when EU leaders agreed to their ambitious green targets.

EU Joint Employment Report (JER) heading for spring summit

by Grahnlaw

Ahead of the EU’s economic and social summit, the European Council 24 and 25 March 2011, we return to the EPSCO Council, where ministers for employment and social affairs adopted the following general conclusions:

3073rd Council meeting Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs: Employment and Social Policy; Brussels, 7 March 2011 (Council document 7360/11; 20 pages)

25 countries give green light to European patent


Coveney, Creighton and Europe

from Stephen Spillane

Brussels vs Strasbourg: We?ll see you in court

from Brussels Blog by Stanley Pignal

It will be Luxembourg that will have the final say on Brussels versus Strasbourg, now that Paris has decided to sue under Lisbon.

In other words, the fight over the seat of the European Parliament has suddenly become a full-blown EU inter-institutional brawl.


Putting Germany in the jungle

from Ideas on Europe by European Geostrategy

By James Rogers

Last year, after the Greek bail out, Germany was accused of a haughty, arrogant demeanour. It hectored profligate southern European Union Member States for their spendthrift and unrestrained ways. As the European Union?s leading industrial power, and a relatively careful spender, the Germans responded: if the European Union and Monetary Union are to survive, the spenders need to buckle-up and take the medicine, even if tastes foul. And Berlin had an important point: why should German workers work harder and longer so that their southern neighbours could live a life of luxury and retire early?

MAIN FOCUS: Germany begins energy turnaround | 16/03/2011

from euro|topics

Prompted by the nuclear catastrophe in Japan, Germany will shut down its seven oldest atomic energy plants for three months. With this move the hitherto pro-nuclear government has ushered in a radical change to its energy policy, the press commends, and hopes the rest of Europe will soon follow suit.

Italy united, Italy divided: the nation at 150 , Geoff Andrews

from open Democracy News Analysis – by Geoff Andrews
Italy?s official celebration of its founding moment finds the country in a dark mood and a long way from home. Geoff Andrews marks the moment and looks for signs of hope.

On 17 March 2011, Italy celebrates its150th birthday. The movement for independence known as the Risorgimento – forged out of years of wars, revolutions and rebellions – led finally to the proclamation of an Italian nation in 1861, with its first parliament in Turin.

Should Britain work with ‘extremists’ to prevent terrorism? Where do we draw the line?, Jamie Bartlett

from open Democracy News Analysis – by Jamie Bartlett
The controversial ‘Prevent’ strategy, that aims to stop terrorism before it occurs by working with Muslim communities, is now under review. The government have signaled that ‘Prevent’ will no longer work with ‘non-violent extremists’, but who will they place under that category, and how will we know where the line is drawn?


EU2020 strategy: European Parliament feels abandoned

by Grahnlaw

On 17 February 2011 the European Parliament adopted a resolution ‘Europe 2020’ (P7_TA(2011)0068), which had been tabled by the EPP, S&D, ALDE, Greens/ALE and ECR groups.

Will this make countries keener on joining the euro?

by Open Europe blog team

Negotiations on the shape and form of the eurozone’s permanent bailout scheme – the “European Stability Mechanism (ESM)” – are entering a crucial phase. The fund is meant to be up and running by mid-2013 and is likely to have ?500bn available. Of this amount, between ?80bn and ?100bn will be up-front cash from member states – the rest will come in the form of guarantees.

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