MEPs asked the Council to back with money its policy pledges
Maria Koleva, Strasbourg
MEPs made it clear that cuts in the EU budg­et 2015 will have a neg­a­tive impact on growth, jobs and com­pet­i­tive­ness, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the con­text of post-cri­sis weak eco­nom­ic recov­ery. Dur­ing a debate in Stras­bourg on 16 Sep­tem­ber they sharp­ly crit­i­cised the Coun­cil's posi­tion on the 2015 EU budg­et pre­sent­ed in ple­na­ry by Enri­co Zanet­ti, Ital­ian State Sec­re­tary for Eco­nom­ic Affairs and Finance, on behalf of the Pres­i­den­cy. Coun­cil set on the table a budg­et of €145.077 bil­lion in com­mit­ments and €139.966 bil­lion in pay­ments.
The association agreement was ratified simultaneously in Strasbourg and in Kiev
Maria Koleva, Stras­bourg
At their first post-sum­mer ple­na­ry ses­sion in Stras­bourg, MEPs gave the green light to the EU-Ukraine asso­ci­a­tion agree­ment, which was backed by 535 votes to 127, with 35 absten­tions. The accord is expect­ed to cre­ate deep polit­i­cal ties and eco­nom­ic inte­gra­tion between EU and Ukraine, and to pro­vide free mar­ket access for both sides and great­er mobil­i­ty of work­ers.
 
The UK promised new powers to autonomous regions
Scot­land spurned inde­pend­ence last Thurs­day in a his­tor­ic ref­er­en­dum that threat­en­ed to rip the Unit­ed King­dom apart and dimin­ish its glob­al clout, news wires report­ed.
 
Reaping benefits from worker mobility across the Union
Maria Koleva, Brus­sels
Labour mar­ket and employ­ment pol­i­cy in Europe under­went a great change, due to the six years long finan­cial and eco­nom­ic cri­sis. Even the signs of recov­ery indi­cat­ed in the last 12 months are still tim­id.
Making European Youth Initiative work
Mem­ber States need to make more effi­cient use of €6bn in EU funds to ease the tran­si­tion from edu­ca­tion to jobs for young peo­ple and fos­ter entre­pre­neur­ship, MEPs urged last Wednes­day in a debate on the Euro­pe­an Youth Ini­ti­a­tive.
Better shape where we live
Over 2,000 Euro­pe­an towns and cit­ies joined in the 13th edi­tion of Euro­pe­an Mobil­i­ty Week, an annu­al Euro­pe­an cam­paign about get­ting around town in a sus­tain­a­ble way.
Europe: Let's embrace space
Last week Rome host­ed two Euro­pe­an Com­mis­sion-run events that proved that Europe deserved to be a lead­er in space research.
Bulgarians abroad vote in 59 countries
In the ear­ly par­lia­men­ta­ry elec­tions sched­uled for 5 Octo­ber Bul­gar­i­ans resid­ing abroad will have 427 poll­ing sta­tions in 59 coun­tries to cast their vote, announced Alex­an­der Andreev, spokes­per­son for the Cen­tral Elect­or­al Com­mis­sion (CEC), dur­ing an offi­cial press con­fer­ence on 17 Sep­tem­ber. As usu­al, the larg­est num­ber of for­eign sta­tions will be set in Tur­key - 136 in some 85 towns and vil­la­ges. Anoth­er 40 poll­ing posts will serve vot­ers in the Unit­ed King­dom, four in Spain, 19 in Ger­ma­ny and 42 in the US, add­ed Andreev. CEC has select­ed five con­stit­u­en­cies where exper­i­men­tal machine vot­ing will be used in 300 sta­tions. At its lat­est meet­ing CEC also agreed on the ways a bal­lot paper is to be fold­ed.
Gas supplies to last 2 months
The Bul­gar­i­an gas stor­age facil­i­ty in Chir­en has been filled to 75% of its capac­i­ty. Accord­ing to lat­est data of Bul­gar­trans­gaz gas oper­a­tor, it con­tains cur­rent­ly 412.9 mil­lion cubic metres out of the total of 550 mil­lion cubic metres of nat­u­ral gas it can hold. In the event of cri­sis, these sup­plies would serve the coun­try for two months.
NATO's new challenge: how to demonstrate unity
Chavdar Chervenkov
Now that the eupho­ria sur­round­ing the NATO sum­mit in Wales in the begin­ning of Sep­tem­ber has sub­sid­ed, it is time for us to try and assess the results. Opin­ions diverge wide­ly, with qual­i­fi­ca­tions about the meet­ing ran­ging from "his­tor­ic" to "rou­tine". It all seems to depend on the view­point, like in that anec­dote about the glass being half-full or half-emp­ty, the eter­nal dis­pute between opti­mists and pes­si­mists.
Look at NAFTA, think about TTIP
Petar Klisarov, political scientist
We should not for­get that the clas­si­fied Trans­at­lan­tic Trade and Invest­ment Part­ner­ship (TTIP), which the US and the EU are pre­par­ing to sign, start­ed as a US ini­ti­a­tive. In its doc­u­ments the US Depart­­ment of State has described in great detail the poten­tial ben­e­fits for the Amer­i­cans to be had from such a deal, but there is no men­tion of the advan­ta­ges the Euro­pe­ans can expect. Based on the scarce infor­ma­tion that is pub­lic knowl­edge, we have no rea­son to think that the two par­ties' inter­ests are equal­ly pro­tect­ed. On the con­tra­ry, the part­ner­ship is being forged under an extreme­ly hos­tile, demand­ing tone, which has gar­nered its own term in Europe, one describ­ing a sit­u­a­tion in which cor­po­ra­tions are giv­en too many rights. For­tu­nate­ly for us, a very inform­ing par­al­lel can be made with the his­to­ry of the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment (NAFTA) signed by the US, Cana­da and Mex­i­co in 1994.
Lustration hits million Ukrainians
Around one mil­lion peo­ple fall under the lus­tra­tion law passed by the Ukrain­i­an par­lia­ment to root out cor­rupt prac­ti­ces from the past, Ukraine's Prime Min­is­ter Arsen­iy Yat­sen­i­uk told gov­ern­ment last Wednes­day. The Ukrain­i­an par­lia­ment, Verk­hov­na Rada, adopt­ed the Lus­tra­tion Act on 16 Sep­tem­ber aft­er two fail­ed attempts. Fol­low­ing the fail­ure of the first vot­ing, activ­ists start­ed burn­ing tyr­es in front of the build­ing of the Ukrain­i­an par­lia­ment.
General spurs 'boots on ground' debate in IS fight
A com­ment by Amer­i­ca's top mil­i­tary offi­cer spec­u­lat­ing that US troops advis­ing and assist­ing Iraq's mil­i­tary may be deployed to fight remind­ed Amer­i­cans of the morass that was the war in Iraq but was quick­ly knocked down by the White House.
Global companies to feel the heat
Glob­al com­pa­nies such as Goo­gle and Ama­zon would not be able any­more to shave bil­lions off their tax bills to tax havens, news wires report­ed. The Organ­i­sa­tion for Eco­nom­ic Co-oper­a­tion and Devel­op­ment (OECD) announced last Tues­day a series of meas­ures that, if imple­ment­ed by mem­bers, could stop com­pa­nies from shift­ing tax­es via dubi­ous struc­tures.
China injects $81bn into top five banks
Chi­na's cen­tral bank is inject­ing a com­bined 500 bil­lion yuan ($81.35bn) of liquid­i­ty into the coun­try's top banks, the Wall Street Jour­nal, cit­ing an unnamed Chi­nese bank exec­u­tive, said.
Airbus to sell off defence and space business units
Air­bus Group last Tues­day unveiled plans to sell half a doz­en busi­ness­es with com­bined annu­al rev­e­nues of around €2bn, sim­pli­fy­ing its Defence and Space divi­sion to focus on war­planes, mis­sil­es, launch­ers and sat­el­lites, news wires report­ed.
Meeting the genius of Michelangelo
For the first time four draw­ings by Ren­ais­sance gen­ius Miche­lan­ge­lo will be dis­played in Bul­gar­ia. The exhi­bi­tion will take place at the Nation­al Muse­um of Bul­gar­i­an Vis­u­al Arts in Sofia (the former Roy­al Pal­ace) until 15 Decem­ber, cour­te­sy of Flor­ence's Casa Buon­ar­ro­ti Foun­da­tion.
Painting brings me back to my childhood
Jean Solomonov, Lyon
As you know, whale hunt­ing is banned, but the Jap­a­nese con­tin­ue to shoot and eat them. It is an abom­i­na­tion! I was vaca­tion­ing up north in Lil­le when I saw that boat and decid­ed to turn it into a mes­sage against this cru­el­ty.
World artists gathered in Berlin
For six days, Ber­lin became a world of art. The Ber­lin Art Week, held from 16 to 21 Sep­tem­ber, pre­sent­ed numer­ous high­lights, includ­ing the big open­ing of Akad­em­ie der Kuen­ste on Han­seat­en­weg, a con­fer­ence, an art fair, gal­lery nights, many exhi­bi­tion open­ings, spe­cial events, and art­ist talks.
Glorious city of seven hills
Ade­li­na Loza­no­va
To be select­ed as Euro­pe­an Cap­i­tal of Cul­ture is a great honour for every city. Earn­ing the pres­tig­ious sta­tus twice is noth­ing short of a feat. A feat Plov­div now has under its belt.
In Brief
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Fule welcomes new Turkish European Affairs minister
 
Enlarge­ment Com­mis­sion­er Ste­fan Fule (L) wel­comed last Thurs­day in Brus­sels new Turk­ish Min­is­ter of Euro­pe­an Affairs Vol­kan Boz­kir to exchange views on EU-Tur­key rela­tions. Pho­to © Euro­pe­an Com­mis­sion

Pope Francis visits Tirana
 
A wom­an dis­plays T-shirts with Pope Fran­cis pho­to­graph in Shkod­er, Alba­nia. Pope Fran­cis is poised to make his first jour­ney to a Mus­lim-major­i­ty coun­try on 21 Sep­tem­ber - a one-day trip to Alba­nia. Pho­to: EPA

Police protest in Brussels
 
Ten thou­sand Bel­gian police­men attend a pro­test against chan­ges in their pen­sion plan and the obli­ga­tion to work longer before retire­ment, 18 Sep­tem­ber. Pho­to: EPA

MEPs urge Brussels to cut off IS funding resources
 
The Euro­pe­an Par­lia­ment on 18 Sep­tem­ber urged the Euro­pe­an Union to enforce sanc­tions against busi­ness bod­ies relat­ed to the Islam­ic State (IS) in a bid to cut off its resour­ces. The cre­a­tion and expan­sion of the so called Islam­ic cal­i­phate and the activ­i­ties of oth­er extrem­ist groups in Iraq and Syr­ia, are a direct threat to the secu­ri­ty of the Euro­pe­an coun­tries, MEPs said in a state­ment aft­er a res­o­lu­tion vote. They called upon the EU to use all pos­si­ble means to help Ira­qi nation­al and local author­i­ties com­bat the IS, includ­ing appro­pri­ate mil­i­tary assist­ance. To stem the flow of mate­ri­al and finan­cial resour­ces to the IS, MEPs urged that the UN arms embar­go and asset freeze be enforced more effect­ive­ly.

EIB does not promise much to revive the EU economy
 
Euro­pe­an Invest­ment Bank chief Wern­er Hoy­er adviced EU pol­i­cy­mak­ers not to place exag­ger­at­ed hopes in the len­der's abil­i­ty to boost growth in Europe and called for budg­et­ary com­mit­ments, Bloom­berg reports. So Hoy­er answered Ger­ma­ny's Wolf­gang Schae­u­ble and his French coun­ter­part Michel Sapin joint pro­pos­al to EIB to "increase, on its own bal­ance sheet, its risk-tak­ing will­ing­ness." EU finance min­is­ters and cen­tral bank gov­ern­ors met in Milan last Mon­day to dis­cuss ways to stim­u­late pri­vate invest­ments in an effort to revive the econ­o­my and cre­ate jobs.

King Ferdinand's carriage on a tour in Sofia
 
The car­riage King Fer­di­nand I and Prin­cess Mar­ie Lou­ise used on their wed­ding day was brought out for a tour of down­town Sofia for the first time in 120 years as part of the cel­e­bra­tions for the cap­i­tal's offi­cial hol­i­day, 17 Sep­tem­ber. Pho­to: Krum Sto­ev

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