France placed under watch over deficits
The Commission placed France last Wednesday under close watch over its failure to rein in its deficit, warning that this could hamper Europe's economic recovery, news wires reported.
Bridging the innovation gap with the US, Japan
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Sweden, followed by Denmark, Germany and Finland are the EU leaders in innovation. This was what was shown by the analyses of the Innovation Union Scoreboard 2014, carried out by the Commission, which was presented together with the Regional Innovation Scoreboard on 4 March.
Violence affects one-third of EU women
The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) released on 5 March the first-of-its-kind study on violence against women across the 28 Member States of the European Union.
Ukraine aid to be provided, sanctions on Kremlin mulled
At the emergency summit in Brussels held on 6 March, the EU leaders decided to take actions envisaged by the Foreign Affairs Council on 3 March to suspend bilateral talks with Moscow on visas and the negotiations on the New Agreement with Russia.
Crimea votes to join Russia
Crimea's parliament voted last Thursday to join Russia and its Moscow-backed government set a referendum within 10 days on the decision in a move that is supposed to dramatically escalate the crisis over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula, news wires reported.
Kozloduy NPP Unit 7 building starts in 2016
Tanya Kirkova, Teodora Todorova
More than 2,000 people will be hired for the construction of Unit 7 of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant, the US-based Westinghouse, contractor of the project, has announced.
Eurosceptic and populist MEPs may be just what the EU needs
The barbarians are at the EU's gates! Scarcely a day goes by in Brussels without a conference speech or high-profile article warning of the legions of eurosceptic populists who will be invading the European Parliament after this summer's elections.
Time to end the European illusion
The European Foreign Policy Scorecard is an outstanding feat. But in order to understand why the EU is failing to perform better in the world, we need to go beyond questions about people and process. We also need to ask ourselves some profound psychological and even existential questions about the role Europe wants to play in the world. It is of course true that the EU needs to get its external capabilities right - the institutions, the personnel, the decision-making procedures - if it is to raise its game as a global actor. But they are no substitute for the political will which needs to underpin any credible foreign policy posture. Building the political will to pursue our European (or Western?) interests means several things. The first priority is to scrap the narrative of 'Western decline' where this has come to mean an excuse for scaling back our geopolitical ambitions as though this follows axiomatically from economic rebalancing in favour of the East.
Tough decisions are needed
The US President waded into the tricky waters of Middle East diplomacy on 3 March when he welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House. Obama urged the Israeli PM to back a US-drafted framework for a peace deal with the Palestinians, saying "tough decisions" are needed to forge a new Palestinian state. In a nutshell, Netanyahu responded: "Israel has been doing its part, and I regret to say that the Palestinians haven't". Ahead of the three-hour meeting in the White house, which was overshadowed by the Ukraine crisis, the two leaders dodged a direct clash during their appearance before reporters but failed to veil the division of opinion over problems hampering Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to re-galvanize the peace process.
China boosts defence budget by 12.2%, worries Japan
China plans to boost its defence budget by 12.2% this year to 808.23 billion yuan ($131.57 billion), causing concern in Japan and other countries in the region. Speaking at the opening of China's annual session of parliament, the National People's Congress, on 5 March, Premier Li Keqiang said the government would "strengthen research on national defence and the development of new- and high-technology weapons and equipment" and "enhance border, coastal and air defences".
Eurozone business growth accelerates
Business growth in the Eurozone accelerated last month to its fastest pace since June 2011, according to a closely watched survey. The final Markit Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for February was 53.3. This was higher than an earlier estimate of 52.7. Any figure above 50 suggests an upturn while one below shows a decline. Markit said the figures indicated the Eurozone is set to grow by 0.4-0.5% in the first quarter of 2014, which would be the best growth for three years. Official figures, released last Wednesday, confirmed that the Eurozone grew by 0.3% in the final three months of 2013.
Berlin fair: tourist trends of tomorrow
The Berlin International Tourism Fair (ITB), the world's leading travel trade fair, which ended on 9 March, was more international than ever this year. More than two-thirds of the exhibitors in the 26 fully booked halls were from abroad. The number of international trade visitors (40% in 2013) at this year's show rose significantly, too, with 110,000 people overall attending the event, organised by Messe Berlin.
Glencore Xstrata set for a Russneft deal
The world's biggest commodities and mining group Glencore Xstrata is set to strike a near-$1 billion deal in Russia despite the threat of war in Ukraine, news wires reported.
Countess Maritza 90 years later
Ninety years after its world premiere on 28 February 1924 in Vienna, the most Hungarian of Imre Kalman's operettas, "Countess Maritza", is back on stage at the National Musical Theatre in Sofia. This is the fourth version of the famous musical piece at the theatre, its new director Mario Nikolov reminded journalists. The first two shows are on 7 and 8 March.
My life is one never-ending work on canvas
I donated the money to the gallery in Kyustendil, named after the Maystora, because it needs the financial support, mostly to take care of its paintings.
Lush icons come to life in new gallery
With the help of a new three-dimensional technology, called 3D mapping, images of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ were brought to life during the opening of the Nuance Gallery in Sofia.
Hidden among cliffs and rocks
The "Vavedenie Bogorodichno" Razboishki Monastery is located on the bank of the Nishava river not far from the village of Razboishte, some 70 kilometres northwest of the capital Sofia.