EU leaders agreed relocation and resettlement 'quotas' to be voluntary for the Member States
Maria Koleva, Brussels
After long hours of arduous discussions, the EU heads of state and government reached an agreement on difficult issues on tackling the migration crisis. The meeting, which began on Thursday afternoon, June 25, ended at 2.30 am on Friday, something that happens for the first time under the lead of Donald Tusk, European Council President.
Athens and its creditors clash rival plans on reforms
With the debt deadline approaching fast, Greece still seems far away from an agreement with its creditors and is heading toward a default. The Eurogroup finance ministers talk last Thursday did not reach any positive results, while creditors set a sort of ultimatum for Athens.
 
The fund run by the EIB aims to attract more investment for economically viable projects
MEPs’ vote on 24 June on the establishment of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), should help implement the EU’s €315bn plan to overcome the crisis-induced shortage of investment in the European economy.
 
Providing jobs for migrants
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Migrants make an essential contribution to the EU, by working and paying taxes, by setting up companies and creating jobs, explained Christa Schweng, president of the Labour Market Observatory of the European Economic and Social Committee. She was among the organisers of a conference on “Integrating migrants in the labour market: a win-win situation for both migrants and society” held in Brussels on June 25.
Improving transport links across Europe
A series of projects for improved transport links across Europe were being pitched and discussed at a two-day meeting 22-23 dubbed TEN-T Days, in the Latvian capital Riga. Transport Ministers from 12 European Member States, CEOs and over 1000 transport stakeholders were looking at prospects for implementation and financing of future transport projects from Scandinavia in the north down to the Mediterranean.
Alliance for Apprenticeships set to provide jobs for youth
More than 40 companies and other organisations last Monday joined the European Alliance for Apprenticeships, coordinated by the Commission, and committed to providing more and better apprenticeships for young people in order to help the fight against youth unemployment across Europe, the EU press service reported.
Innovation urgently needs clock speed
Maria Koleva, Brussels
A new initiative for which the Commission is now preparing a call as to identify the possibility of creating a space with open access to research results, the so-called European science cloud. It will also work for setting standards for management, interoperability and quality of scientific data.
Bringing down grey economy to 12%
Paulina Yorgova
The government’s goal is to reduce the share of informal economy in Bulgaria by one-third from its current level of 32%, bringing it down to its average for the developed European Union Member States of about 12%. The proclamation came from PM Boyko Borisov during the Business to the Rules roundtable, held by the Association of Industrial Capital in Bulgaria on 22 June.
Migration wave increases human trafficking risk
The escalating refugee crisis in Europe requires better ties between the mechanisms for protection of human trafficking victims and the tools for granting asylum. An international conference to that effect took place in Sofia on June 23-24.
Is this the end of haters?
Emil Radev, MEP (EPP/GERB)
The European Court of Human Rights hears each of its cases on an individual basis. Its judgment on the Estonian online news portal regards Estonian legislation since the issue here is a ruling of the Estonian courts of justice which apply their laws. Therefore, we cannot say that we have a precedent. The ECHR does not argue the fact that the rulings of national courts constitute interference with the right to freedom of expression of the online news portal Delfi, but that the restriction was aimed at the protection of the reputation and rights of others as provided by Article 10 of the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Four horsemen of Apocalypse
Rem Korteweg
Four horsemen will be circling around this week's European Council. They represent four crises that threaten the EU: 'Grexit', the Mediterranean migration crisis, Russian aggression, and Britain's threat to leave if the club is not reformed. Any of these issues could dominate the Council's agenda: each could alter the fundamental character of the Union. While none of them is particularly new – Greece's economic and financial woes have troubled the EU for six years – they are circling together and affecting each other.
US snooping insults France
France reacted with outrage to revelations from WikiLeaks last week that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had eavesdropped on three French presidents - Francois Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac - between 2006 and 2012.The disclosed top-secret intelligence documents revealed that the NSA accumulated information on French positions on economic policy, UN appointments, the 2008 financial crisis and Middle East peace talks. Right away, the French President, Francois Hollande, met his top security officials and the French Foreign Ministry summoned the US ambassador, Jane Hartley, to discuss the disclosures.
NATO reinvents strategy to tackle Russia's threat
NATO is returning to its roots by re-focusing its strategy on tackling Russia's threat. Defence ministers from the Alliance's 28 Member States unveiled during their meeting in Brussels the biggest reinforcement of US forces in eastern Europe since the fall of the communism. According to a US defence official, the Pentagon plans to temporarily increase the 65,000 troops stationed in Europe.
EU imposes fines for running cartels
The European Commission has fined eight manufacturers and two distributors of retail food packaging trays a total of €115m for having participated in at least one of five separate cartels. The eight manufacturers are Huhtamаki of Finland, Nespak and Vitembal of France, Silver Plastics of Germany, Coopbox, Magic Pack and Sirap-Gema of Italy and Linpac of the UK. The two distributors are Ovarpack of Portugal and Propack of the UK. The companies fixed prices and allocated customers of polystyrene foam or polypropylene rigid trays, in breach of EU antitrust rules.
Foreign investors lift up Spanish property prices
Spain's property market is enjoying a foreign currency-driven recovery, new research has shown. The sector, one of the country's worst-performing areas since the real estate crisis of 2008 which dragged the Spanish economy into the doldrums, has received a new lease of life recently, thanks to wealthy foreign investors.
Supermarkets Delhaize, Ahold agree merger deal
Dutch-based supermarkets operator Ahold reached a deal last week to buy Belgian peer Delhaize, the companies announced on Wednesday, cited by news wires. The move will create the biggest food retailer in the Benelux region and one of the world's largest as well.
Bridge of light
A retrospective of 11 Bulgarian and 15 American artists who have crossed the cultural bridge built by US Poet Laureate William Meredith opened on 21 June in Norwich, USA. The display, mottoed Bridge of Light, contains 100 works and will be on until 28 August at the Slater Memorial Museum.
Music is deeply philosophical
Elena Krasteva
My opera is not set in a particular era, it could happen anywhere and in any time. I am fascinated by the whole idea of the hereafter, eternal life in a world of light, and my opera explores this theme.
Situation Sofia
The Situation Sofia 2015 project showcases Ivan Kyuranov and the Photography Studio with the National Art Gallery at the Goethe Institute in Sofia.
Embroidery's magic world
Embroidered traditional costumes, skirts resembling flower gardens and modern apparel with unique needle-work are shown as part of The Magic of Bulgarian Embroidery Exhibition by Stoyka Popova and Zlatka Popova in the Ethnographic Museum in Sofia.
In Brief
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Queen`s state visit to Germany
 
Queen Elizabeth II (R), who was on a state visit to Germany last week, was invited by Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) to the Federal chancellery on 24 June. Photo: EPA

Vatican signs first treaty with State of Palestine
 
The Vatican last Friday signed its first treaty with the State of Palestine, calling for a two-state solution to put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to an end. Photo: EPA

China, eastern Europe boost trade
 
An agreement aimed at facilitating and boosting trade between China and countries from eastern and central Europe was signed on 26 June in Sofia.Photo: BTA

Terror inquiry after factory attack in France
 
A man has been decapitated and several others injured at a factory in France in what President Francois Hollande has called a terrorist attack. Two men drove into the Air Products gas factory near Lyon, officials said, before several explosions were heard. One of the suspects, who was investigated by police in 2006, has been arrested. The dead man was found with Arabic inscriptions on him and an Islamist flag was found near the site.

Commission veteran to head UK negotiations
 
The EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker appointed last Wednesday Jonathan Faull, one of the most senior Britons in Brussels, to head a task force dealing with reforms demanded by PM David Cameron to keep Britain in the EU. Faull, 60, joined the European commission in 1978. After starting in antitrust policy, he has headed two departments, dealing first with internal affairs and now financial services, where Britain has often had complex negotiations because of its special status.

'Right2water' citizens initiative neglected
 
The European Commission’s weak response to the first EU citizens’ initiative (ECI) petition, on the “Right2Water”, could discredit the ECI system, the Environment Committee MEPs warned in a resolution voted last Wednesday. MEPs express regrets that the Commission communication responding to the “Right2Water” ECI and a European Parliament hearing in February 2014 “lacks any real ambition, does not meet the specific demands made in the ECI, and limits itself to reiterating existing commitments”.

2015 Junior Eurovision’s logo approved
 
The Bulgarian National Television presented the logo and slogan of the 2015 Junior Eurovision international song contest before the General Assembly of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The 13th edition of the most prestigious children’s song contest in Europe will take place on 21 November in Sofia. The management teams of all public television channels on the continent, represented at the 74th General Assembly of EBU in Prague, welcomed #discover as the logo and slogan of the competition.

Living statues in Rousse
 
Living statues flooded the centre of Rousse with a unique show. This is the first event of its kind in the city and it is all thanks to 24 actors from the Masca Theatre based in Bucharest who took on the roles. They are in Rousse for the European Theatre Workshop, hosted by the Sava Ognyanov Drama Theatre. Photo: BGNES

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