While the naval mission in the Mediterranean was easily approved, Member States opposed the asylum seekers quota
The EU made a big step last week in resolving the migrant crisis across the Mediterranean with approving the naval mission aimed at fighting human traffickers responsible for a migrant wave crossing the sea from Libya. The scheme, which will be called EU Navfor Med and will be operational in the coming months, will involve European warships and surveillance aircraft. The decision for launching the force was taken by the EU foreign and defence ministers last Monday, but the EU is still waiting for a UN resolution that will allow it to destroy boats that belong to people smugglers in Libyan waters.
Merkel: The initiative is neither directed against Russia, nor an instrument of EU expansion
European Union leaders met six ex-Soviet neighbours last Thursday at a two-day summit in Riga, urging them to move closer to the 28-nation bloc as a way to resist Russia's "bullying tactics", news wires reported. EU President Donald Tusk warned Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Belarus they had little to gain from falling back into Moscow's orbit instead of deepening their partnership with the West. "The Eastern Partnership isn't a beauty contest between Russia and the EU," Tusk said.
 
An interinstitutional accord on regulation is urged
Maria Koleva, Strasbourg
At its meeting on 19 May in Strasbourg, the College of Commissioners adopted a better regulation package that reflects the political priorities of the Juncker Commission.
 
Making funds work for Greece
A Joint Working Group between the Commission and the Greek authorities will be created in order to help Greece improve its implementation capacity of the European Structural and Investment Funds and seize the investment opportunities.
New rules will stop profits from conflict minerals
Maria Koleva, Strasbourg
With over 150 amendments to the original proposal, Parliament backed the EU certification system for smelters and refiners of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, attempting to break the link between mineral extraction and trade and the financing of armed conflicts in high-risk areas.
Naval mission to fight human traffickers approved
The EU foreign and defence ministers approved last Monday plans for an unprecedented naval mission starting next month to fight human traffickers responsible for a flood of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya, news wires reported.
Qatar interested in Kozloduy NPP
Qatar is interested in investing in Kozloduy NPP’s 7th Unit, it was revealed during PM Boyko Borisov’s meeting with Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family, on 18 May in Doha. The prime minister explained that Bulgaria had already signed an agreement with US company Westinghouse as a provider of the nuclear reactor and is now looking for a strategic investor. For his part, Sheikh Al Thani expressed interest in Bulgaria’s energy strategy and asked for a detailed presentation of the project’s specifications.
Failed bombing of bus full of Bulgarians near Budapest
A bomb was found on a bus full of Bulgarian citizens just outside of Budapest on 16 May. By sheer chance, the explosive device, which had been hidden in a sack in the luggage compartment of the vehicle travelling from Prague to Varna didn't go off.
Young people caught in vicious circle
Tomcho Tomov
There are many different reasons for youth unemployment, but I am disinclined to describe young people as indifferent or idle. I rather think they need to be incentivised. It has to do with wages and the perception that they are being offered a low pay for the work that is expected of them. Besides, young people lack the internal stimulus for self-improvement because even if they get a university degree, the labour market often prevents them from finding employment. This means that they are forced to either accept a position requiring less skills or go for professions that are more in demand.
In search of modus vivendi with Russia
Piotr Buras
If the main flaw of the European security order after 1989 was that it was unsuited to incorporating Russia in the long term, isn't it high time for a deal that rewrites the rules and takes account of Moscow's concerns? No. The West would prematurely compromise fundamental values in doing so. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has shaken the West's faith and fuelled its self-doubts.
Setback in war against IS
Islamic State extremists captured the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra on 20 May, a stunning triumph for the group only days after it captured the strategic city of Ramadi in Iraq, news wires reported. Activists and the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the Syrian army has collapsed and IS has taken over the city. A large number of families are currently fleeing from town. Syrian state TV acknowledged later that pro-government forces had withdrawn from Palmyra.
Macedonia divided: leaders fail to solve political crisis
After a 12-hour eme­r­gency meeting in Strasbourg on 19 May, Macedonia's rival political leaders agreed to lower the tension in the uprising country and extend talks in Skopje and in Brussels this week.
Major banks fined on forex rigging
Four major banks pleaded guilty last Wednesday to trying to manipulate foreign exchange rates and, together with two others, were fined nearly $6bn in yet another settlement in a global probe into the $5 trillion-a-day market, news wires reported. Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, UBS and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) were accused by the US and UK authorities of brazenly cheating clients to boost their own profits using invitation-only chat rooms and coded language to coordinate their trades, according to Reuters.
China's PM visits LatAm: Trains, planes and copper
China's Premier Li Keqiang and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff agreed on 19 May to embark on studies for an ambitious railway linking Brazil's Atlantic coast with a Pacific port in Peru, and announced billions in other investments and trade deals.
Alitalia divorces Air France-KLM in 2017
Italy’s Alitalia announced it will not renew its partnership and joint venture agreements with Air France-KLM, when the current contract expires in January 2017. Alitalia says that the original agreements were made in “a very different economic environment”.
Bulgarian script wins in Cannes
The Bulgarian project for a feature film Nanook won the Krzysztof Kieslowski Scrip­Teast award for the Best Eastern and Central European Script, Bulgarian National Television reported. The award was presented during a ceremony at the Producers Club in Cannes on 19 May by the Independent Film Foundation.
Three princesses of thin string
Elena Krasteva
Three princesses of the thin string, who grew up under the same roof. The story of Mila, Kristina and Anna Georgiev might be told like a fairy tale.
The magic of dolls
Mladena Germanova
The Museum of Dolls in Sofia contains exhibits that are the size of a human finger nail. The collection numbers more than 3,000 items.
In Brief
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Bulgaria meets Georgia
 
Bilateral cooperation between Bulgaria and Georgia was discussed between PM Boyko Borisov (L) and his Georgian counterpart Irakli Garibashvili during the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga on 22 May. Photo: BTA

BND boss defends cooperation with NSA
 
Gerhard Schindler, chief of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND), testified before Parliament that cooperation with the NSA keeps the country safe. Photo: EPA

Ireland votes on gay marriage
 
Carmelite sisters cast their vote at a polling station in Malahide, Ireland, on 22 May in a referendum on gay marriages which will require an amendment to the Irish constitution. Photo: AP

ECB's Draghi: Don't wait to fix economy
 
The Eurozone economy is in better shape than it has been since the beginning of the financial crisis, but political leaders need to overhaul their chronically poorly-performing economies, the president of the ECB, Mario Draghi, told a gathering of the world's central banking elite in Sintra, Portugal, on 22 May. Although this is not the first time he has made such an appeal, his argument in favour of reform underscores concerns that governments may be wasting the time that ECB money-printing has bought them.

David Cameron starts talks with Brussels
 
UK Prime Minister David Cameron is going to visit Berlin and Paris next week for talks on European Union reforms. Meeting fellow EU leaders last Thursday in Riga, Cameron acknowledged that discussions on renegotiating the terms of Britain’s membership would not be easy. “There will be ups and downs – you’ll hear one day this is possible, the next day something else is impossible,” he said. But he stressed that he was determined to give voters a “proper choice” in the in/out referendum.

Gear up for new security challenges, MEPs say
 
The unprecedented level of instability at EU borders demands that the Union and its Member States shoulder more responsibility for their security and defence now, MEPs said in a resolution voted last Thursday. They urged Member States to use Common Security and Defence Policy tools more effectively, improve the fit between external and internal security measures, and share resources to counter terrorism and organised crime. The resolution was drafted by Arnaud Danjean (EPP, FR).

Throwing a lifeline to struggling companies
 
Struggling companies across the EU will be given a second chance to improve their financial situation under new rules on cross-border insolvency approved by MEPs on 20 May. Under the new legislation, companies in financial difficulties but otherwise sound are given another opportunity to turn the situation around. Out of the 200,000 EU businesses facing insolvency every year, 50,000 owe money to someone abroad, which complicates legal proceedings.

Boscoreale Treasure displayed in Sofia
 
The Boscoreale Treasure, one of the largest treasures of silverware from Roman times and part of the Louvre collections, is currently being displayed at the National Archaeological Museum in Sofia, where it will remain for nearly three months. Photo: BTA

Sts. Cyril and Methodius
 
Sts. Cyril and Methodius. Rila Monastery, 18th century. Magdalena Georgieva

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