The ECB will purchase sovereign bonds worth €60bn per month until the end of September 2016
The European Central Bank announced that it would inject billions of euro into the ailing Eurozone economy in the next year and a half. At a news conference, ECB President Mario Draghi pointed out that the huge buying programme would begin in March and would last until the end of September 2016. Under the plan, the central bank will purchase assets, including government bonds, worth €60bn per month. Countries, which are under a bailout programme, such as Greece will be included in the programme but with some additional criteria.
France will hire more intelligence agents for a new security plan
Last Monday, the Foreign Ministers Council called for a closer security partnership with Arab states including more information-sharing in the wake of the deadly attacks and arrests across Europe. The ministers will have to prepare full recommendations for the summit of the EU Heads of State on 12 February, which is focused on terrorism.
 
Parliament will adopt its recommendations to the Commission in May
Maria Koleva, Brussels
On 21 and 22 January, six European Parliament committees started to debate on the updated mandate for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks.
 
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
Krasimira Yaneva
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
Paulina Yorgova
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
Elena Krasteva
“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
Daniel Filipov
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
Adelina Lozanova
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.
In Brief
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NATO comes to Sofia
 
PM Boyko Borisov (R) in conversation with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, during the latter’s official visit to Bulgaria on 22 January. Photo: BGNES

Merkel praised reforms in Italy
 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L), who was greeted by Italian PM Matteo Renzi (R) in Florence on 23 January, said his structural reforms are `very ambitious`. Photo: EPA

Pernik prepares for Surva Festival of Masquerade Games
 
Some 85 masquerade performing groups from 11 countries are expected to show their skills in the Surva International Festival of Masquerade Games in Pernik. Photo: BTA

Parliamentary committee fails to vote on EU carbon rules
 
The European Parliament industry and energy committee failed last Thursday to agree on a date to reform the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). In an effort to bolster carbon prices and spur the industry to switch to greener energy, the Commission proposed a plan to remove hundreds of millions of surplus carbon allowances (EUAs) from the EU ETS from 2021. But Britain and Germany, which back a zero-carbon generation based on nuclear or renewable power, called to begin action by 2017.

Counterfeit euro banknotes slightly rose at 2014-end
 
The number of counterfeit euro banknotes withdrawn from circulation increased in the second half of 2014, the ECB announced. A total of 507,00 fake banknotes were removed from circulation in the period from July to December, a jump of 44% from the second half of 2013. “The number of counterfeits, however, remains very low in comparison with the increasing number of genuine banknotes in circulation, which are over 16 billion,” the ECB said.

Italian police recover 5,000 precious stolen artefacts
 
A record haul of 5,361 antiquities was recovered by Italian art police after a lengthy inquiry into a Swiss-based trafficking ring. The works, dating from the 8th century BC to the 3rd century AD, had been looted from illegal digs and sold abroad. They include vases, statues and frescoes, valued at up to €50m. The artefacts will be put on display in Rome, before returning them to the regions where they were looted from.

Doomsday Clock moved to 3 minutes before midnight
 
The Doomsday Clock, which represents a supposed global threat, was moved last Thursday and now stands at just three minutes before midnight. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the clock in response to concerns about global warming and nuclear proliferation. The clock was last moved three years ago in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the outbreak of the H5N1 flu and the state of nuclear arsenals around the world.

New Saudi king vows no abrupt policy shifts
 
As Saudis gathered on 23 January to mourn the death of King Abdullah, his half-brother and handpicked successor, Crown Prince Salman, moved quickly to establish himself as the new king, name his own successor and promise a smooth transition. King Salman promised in a nationally televised speech to continue the policies of his predecessors.

Berlin launches a campaign to host Olympic Games
 
'We want the Games - Berlin for the Olympics' was projected on the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on 23 January. Berlin wants to host the Olympic Games in 2024 or 2028. Photo: BTA

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