Capping card-based payment fees agreed
The Council and Parliament reached a compromise last Wednesday on regulating capping interchange fees for card-based payments.
Sefcovic: Gazprom breaches accords
The European Commission intends to discuss shortly Russia's scrapping of the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline and the new project called Turkish Stream.
New advisory service on financial funds launched
The European Commission, in partnership with the European Investment Bank (EIB), launched a new advisory service on financial instruments last Monday for the European Structural and Investment Funds, the EU press service reported.
EU working for you
Maria Koleva, Brussels
How did the EU help Elena from Spain to start up and develop her own company for eco-cosmetics that soon boosted the local economy? Or how did the EU give new life to remote areas in Poland, supporting the modernisation of farms through investment in agriculture and rural development?
Government approves programme to 2018
Borisov’s second Cabinet adopted its programme on 21 January, a little over two months after it took office. The document covers 21 areas, 423 goals and 1,155 measures. The government’s programme for the stable development of Bulgaria between 2014 and 2018 was drawn up by a team led by Deputy Prime Minister for Coalition Policy and Public Administration Rumiana Bachvarova.
BGN 1.4bn subsidies for farmers in 2015
This year’s budget for direct payments to farmers amounts to BGN 1.4bn, announced Minister for Agriculture and Food Desislava Taneva at a press conference on 20 January.
War for civilisation
Prof. Mihail Konstantinov
The most important war is the war for human civilisation. Of course, as any other war in the history of humanity, this one is also ultimately about gaining control over resources. But this time it is the ultimate resource of Earth. Of course, we are talking about the war of radical Islam against everyone else, including the less radical movements of Islam. The situation is touchingly reminiscent of the religious wars of 16th-17th century Europe when the two branches of the western Christian civilisation (Catholicism and Protestantism) very nearly destroyed each other, which would have given all the power in the region (and the world) to the still rising Ottoman Empire.
Greece will remain in the euro, for now
Christian Odendahl, Simon Tilford
Greece will hold a snap election on 25 January, after the country's parliament failed to elect a new president with the necessary majority. Syriza, a left-wing party led by Alexis Tsipras, currently leads the polls. Given Syriza's outspoken criticism of Greek economic and social policies over the last four years, and its confrontational statements vis-a-vis the Eurozone, some fear that Greece might quit the single currency. This prompts several questions: is it in Greece's interest to leave? What would be the consequences for the Greek economy and that of the Eurozone? And is the rest of the Eurozone willing to let Greece go? Are there any benefits of Grexit for Greece? Greece would regain autonomy over its monetary policy – the most effective tool for maintaining demand in an economy. An independent Greek central bank, if it were able to control inflation, could raise those expectations, leading consumers and investors to spend and invest. The Bank of Greece would also be in a position to ensure that real interest rates were low enough to stimulate investment.
Obama turns recession's page
With his clout fast diminishing in Washington, and Republican and Democratic candidates gearing up for the White House race, President Barack Obama did his best in his State of the Union address to set the agenda for potential successors wooing voters, Reuters reported. His vision of a stronger and more expensive safety net for middle class and poor Americans stands little chance of becoming law this year, but it could shape the debate for the 2016 election.
Ukraine war gets bloodier
Last Thursday was one of the deadliest days of the nine-month war in eastern Ukraine, news wires reported. The shelling of a bus and clashes in Ukraine's separatist east left 34 people dead a day after the crisis meeting in Berlin of foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France.
Swiss franc swing claims casualties
Global markets were stunned last week when Switzerland unexpectedly abandoned its currency peg against the euro. In one of the most damaging currency swings in the modern era, the Swiss franc soared in value, leaving investment banks across the world with big losses and hitting foreign exchange brokers and thousands of mortgage owners especially in Eastern Europe, news wires reported. Alpari, a leading European foreign exchange broker, filed for administration last Monday, while Danish Saxo Bank admitted it had suffered heavy losses. Other brokers such as IG Group, CMC Markets, Swissquote, Oanda and Interactive Brokers, survived the swing, but also sustained losses.
Davos predicts: 2015 brings opportunities
A number of pressing crises loomed over this year’s World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos - including the tumbling price of oil, the upcoming election in Greece that could deliver a blow to a still fragile European Union, and the recent terrorist attacks in Paris - but the event also provided the world’s thought leaders with an opportunity to discuss reasons to be hopeful in the coming year.
Schlumberger buys $1.7bn stake in Eurasia Drilling
Oil services giant Schlumberger plans to buy a 45.65% stake in Eurasia Drilling, Russia’s largest onshore drilling firm, for about $1.7bn, potentially paving the way for it to become the sole owner of the company.
Bible museum opens in Varna
A museum of the Bible has opened up in Varna, reported BGNES. The owner of the rare collection is German collector Stefan Piltz, who has been living in Bulgaria for the past several years. Until 2009, the unique exhibition was a travelling one, regularly shown in different cities around the country. Currently, the various Bible copies are part of a museum collection, with the smallest existing Scripture one of its most valuable exhibits.
There is a crippling deficit of empathy
“I are” is the key to empathy, plain and simple. Compassion, empathy and sympathy are the most basic human qualities and they are in shortage nowadays.
Discovering Boyan Raynov
A sculpture by Boyan Raynov graces a square in the Antony commune in the southern suburbs of Paris. Another of his plastic arts is on display at Musee de La Poste in the French capital. You can find reminders of Raynov’s talent all over France.
Bulgaria's proud winter capital
Houses looking more like fortresses hidden behind high walls; narrow cobbled lanes reminiscent of a bygone time; local traditional specialties, having strange names: all of this is Bansko, Bulgaria's most popular winter resort, nestling in the foothills of the northern slopes of the Pirin Mountain at an altitude of almost 1,000m at about 130km south of Sofia.