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September 28, 2010 | EU aims for budget that 'national politicians can defend'
With the economic crisis having made voters much more sensitive to how their money is being spent, Brussels is promising to craft a long-term budget that national politicians can defend. "We should structure the flows in and out in such a way that domestic politicians can defend the future budget of the European union," EU budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski said on Tuesday (28 September). The pragmatic approach comes in the wake of a recent EU survey showing record low support for the Union in many member states and grumbling by some national politicians about how much their country has to pay into the common pool of European resources.
September 27, 2010 | EU enters crucial week for budget rules
Europe is set to enter a crucial stage in its efforts to overhaul government spending rules this week, with talks in Brussels likely to produce several clashes between member states amid growing unrest from EU citizens over recent austerity measures. Political negotiations on ways to prevent a repeat of this spring's fiscal crisis will take place on Monday (27 September) when EU finance ministers meet as part of European Council President Herman Van Rompuy's 'taskforce' on economic governance.
September 24, 2010 | Surprise Irish contraction adds to woes
New figures released by the Irish statistics office have shown a surprise contraction in the country's growth during the second quarter of this year, a further difficulty for Dublin which is already struggling to cut a large public deficit and revive an ailing banking sector. Despite a surge in exports, Thursday's (23 September) data from the Central Statistics Office indicated Irish gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 1.2 percent in the three months up to the end of June when compared to the previous quarter. This contrasts with eurozone figures which show growth as a whole of 1 percent to the end of June, with Ireland and Greece the only members recording a downturn.
September 23, 2010 | Group of 17 ex-EU-commissioners on double pay
Seventeen former members of the European Commission get at least €96,000 per year in transitional allowances, money intended to help them ease back into the labour market, despite the fact that some of them already work as politicians or lobbyists. The top earners in the group are former internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy and ex-fisheries chief Joe Borg, the Financial Times Deutschland reported on Wednesday (22 September).
September 22, 2010 | MEPs agree anti-gas-crisis package
The European Parliament by a whopping majority on Tuesday (21 September) backed measures designed to mitigate the impact of any future Russia-Ukraine-type gas cut-offs. The draft gas law was adopted by 601 votes against 27 and is to be rubber-stamped by EU countries in October. The bill foresees that by the end of 2014 member states will have to guarantee at least 30 days' worth of supplies to households under normal conditions and seven days' worth if winter temperatures fall to extreme lows.
September 21, 2010 | EU sued over lack of transparency
A group of environmental lawyers are suing the EU over alleged attempts to restrict access to information and a lack of transparency in the bloc's biofuels policy. On Monday (20 September) ClientEarth filed a lawsuit against the European Commission in the EU's General Court in Luxembourg, charging the executive body with having failed to release "documents containing previously undisclosed information on the negative climate impacts of widespread biofuels use." The case, taken jointly with Transport and Environment, the European Environmental Bureau and BirdLife International, focuses on a controversial study of biofuel use which the four groups claim was manipulated by the commission.
September 20, 2010 | EU to extend aid for Greece, reports say
Reports suggest EU officials are considering an extension to financial support for Greece, as analysts increasingly question to country's ability to stand on its own feet by 2013. In May the EU and IMF agreed to provide Greece with a three-year €110 billion loan after weeks of spiraling borrowing costs on international capital markets, on condition that the government implements a tough package of economic reforms. Over the weekend (18-19 September) the Greek Ta Nea newspaper reported that EU officials are considering an extension to the country's aid package, due to doubts over investor appetite to return to Greek bond purchases.
September 17, 2010 | Ashton designates six new 'strategic partners'
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has indicated that Egypt, Israel, Indonesia, Pakistan, Ukraine and South Korea could join the EU's existing list of privileged or "strategic" partners. Ms Ashton put forward the new names in a powerpoint presentation at a meeting of EU leaders and foreign ministers in Brussels on Thursday (16 September). The roll-call of six countries ended with a "..." to indicate that the club remains open to other up-and-coming powers, an EU diplomatic source said.
September 16, 2010 | Brussels to tame 'Wild West' derivatives and short-selling
In the latest part of its endeavour to bring an end to the light-touch regulatory climate that produced the economic crisis, the European Commission has proposed a series of rules intending to shine a light on the until-now murky trading in some of the market's more complicated financial practices: derivatives and short-selling.
September 15, 2010 | EU bid for more rights at UN suffers surprise defeat
The European Union suffered a defeat at the United Nations on Tuesday (14 September) in its attempt to win most of the rights enjoyed by fully-fledged UN members after other regional blocs said it was unfair that Europe would get a boost in its standing at the global body but not them.
September 14, 2010 | MEPs to set up anti-intergovernmentalism group
Alarmed at what they see as a rise in the European Union of 'intergovernmentalism' some euro-deputies are mounting a counter-offensive to promote the importance of the EU and its institutions. To be known as the Spinelli group, after the Italian political thinker Altiero Spinelli and one of the "founding fathers" of the EU, the idea is the brainchild of Guy Verhofstadt, the head of the liberal group in the parliament, and his Green counterpart, Daniel Cohn-Bendit.
September 14, 2010 | EU set to take France to court over Roma policy
In a rare outburst of criticism against France, the EU commission said it will take Paris to court after leaked documents proved that French police were instructed to specifically target Roma in the accelerated expulsions which took place last month.
September 13, 2010 | EU urges Turkey to go further with internal reforms
Turkish citizens on Sunday (12 September) approved a constitutional reform that would weaken the influence of the military, but the EU has warned it will keep a close watch on the implementation of the changes and urged further fundamental rights reforms. The proposed changes, passed with an estimated 58 percent in favour and 42 against, would allow civilian courts to try military personnel for crimes against the state and opens the way to prosecuting those involved in the country's 1980 military coup.
August 10, 2010 | Budget reform debate
The first shots have been fired in what is likely to be a bitter debate over reforming the EU's budget, with Germany and the UK already coming out strongly against tentative plans by Brussels on an EU tax. EU budget commission Janusz Lewandowski is towards the end of September due to table proposals for overhauling the way the EU finances itself and how the money is spent.
August 09, 2010 | Brussels plans EU Tax
As the economic downturn sees many member states seek ways of cutting back on public spending, the European Commission believes the time is right to put the thorny idea of the EU raising its own taxes back on the table. EU budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski told German daily Financial Times Deutschland that the feelings on the idea of an EU tax had changed in national capitals.
July 28, 2010 | Brussels worried about falling support for EU in Iceland
The European Union formally launched negotiations with Iceland on Tuesday over the north Atlantic island's accession to the bloc even as negative opinion towards the EU mounts, a development that has not gone unnoticed in Brussels and other national capitals.
A member of a German quintet of professors that is currently challenging the legality of Europe's recently-devised support measures has said they threaten to create enormous tensions between EU citizens if allowed to stand. In a telephone interview with EUobserver on Thursday (22 July), Wilhelm Nolling, professor of economics at the University of Hamburg, said the idea that Greece would be able to pay back its loans to EU states was simply "ridiculous," given the country's level of indebtedness and lack of competitiveness. As a result, EU citizens in lender countries would increasingly begin to question the merits of this implicit system of wealth redistribution, he predicted. "A transfer union will destroy the social peace in Europe," he said. "Do you think the Germans will be able to keep quiet?"
July 22, 2010 | France and Germany to coordinate defence spending cuts
France and Germany are intending to co-ordinate defence spending cuts in a bid to ensure that joint programmes are not endangered by unilateral moves to rein in monies spent on military issues.