The new EC president pledged to table the €300bn investment package before Christmas
Maria Koleva, Strasbourg
On 3 November, the College of Commission­ers, 9 women and 18 men led by the new EC President Jean-Claude Juncker, will start its new job in the Berlaymont building in the European quarter of Brussels. On 22 Octo­ber, MEPs with the greatest majority backed the team. It was confirmed by 423 votes in favour, 209 against and 67 abstentions. In fact, it happened with the crucial contribution of the so-called pro-European coalition comprised of MEPs from the EPP, S&D and ALDE groups. Unlike the vote in July, when the Greens supported Juncker in this vote, they said 'no' to the Juncker Commission. The ECR group abstained. The nonplus after the hearing of the first Slovenian candidate on 6 October, rejected by the two EP committees, brought the feeling that the approval of the new Commission will drag on for at least a month. The situation calmed down after the smooth performances during the hearings held on Monday of the new Slovenian nominee Violeta Bulc, who will be responsible for the Transport portfolio.
82 shell companies extended loans amounting to BGN3.4bn and have the financial capacity to repay no more than 2%
CorpBank’s liquidity gap is a staggering BGN4.2bn, established the audit carried out by Ernst & Young Audit, Deloitte Bulgaria and AFA in the lender placed under special supervision by the Bulgarian National Bank. The results of the auditor firms’ reports were announced by the central bank on 22 October. It was revealed that CorpBank, whose majority shareholder is Tzvetan Vassilev, extended loans against all good banking practices and responsible risk assessment as a result of which only 13% of the loans on the bank’s books are actually secured debt.
The European Council agreed on at least a 40% shrinkage of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Besides giving its consent to the appointment of a new EC, the EU leaders agreed on energy and climate targets for 2030 at their meeting in Brussels on 23 and 24 October. Up till the last moment, some governments had a different view on this topic, but the secret recipe of the outgoing EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy to again reach a difficult consensus late at night produced an affirmative outcome.
Government deficit decreases, debt rises
The government deficit of both the euro area and the EU28 decreased in absolute terms in 2013, compared with 2012, while the government debt rose in both zones.
MEPs urged for boosting growth, halting piles of bills
Maria Koleva, Strasbourg
Parliament expects obdurate negotiations with the Council on the EU budget for 2015 in the next weeks. With 464 votes to 186, and 46 abstentions on 22 October at the plenary session in Strasbourg, the MEPs approved their stand on the draft 2015 budget.
Implement reform agenda, MEPs call
Maria Koleva, Strasbourg
In a resolution adopted by a large majority at the plenary session in Strasbourg, MEPs claimed an inconsistency between European commitments and national implementation of the country-specific reform recommendations (CSRs) by Member States.
Fees, grants and loans highlight stark differences
Levels of student tuition fees, grants and loans continue to highlight stark differences across Europe, according to a report published on 21 October by the European Commission's Eurydice network.
Data protection watchdog supervisors voted by MEPs
Giovanni Buttarelli was voted top candidate for the post of European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) last Tuesday by the Civil Liberties Committee after three and a half hours of hearings on Monday evening, the EP press service reported.
Baker named UNESCO Living Human Treasure
Bogdan Bogdanov from Stara Zagora was declared a UNESCO Living Human Treasure because of his skill to make bread using an old-time Bulgarian recipe.
Ten exceptional and challenging years
Jose Barroso
That these have been exceptional and challenging times. Ten years of crisis, and response of the EU to this crisis. Not only the financial and sovereignty debt crisis – let's not forget at the beginning of my first mandate we had a constitutional crisis, when two founding members of the European Union rejected, in referenda, the Constitutional Treaty.
Erdogan's Kobani quagmire
Emil Tsenkov
Observers of Turkish politics have a hard time following Ankara’s volte-face on allowing help to reach the Kurdish defenders of Kobani. A day after Erdogan accused the Party of Democratic Union (PYD) of terrorism, whose military arm is credited with resisting the ISIS assaults on Kobani, Turkey permitted the Kurdish fighters to use its territory as a short cut itinerary to the besieged city. The surprising move came four weeks after the start of the town’s blockade by Jihadists. During this period, the luckiest of its inhabitants fled their homes and found a temporary refuge on Turkish territory, while many others were slain or enslaved by the black-flag bearers. Still, despite the mounting toll and the international chorus of indignation, Erdogan kept its neutrality and Turkish tank crews turned into dispassionate observers of the massacres a few kilometers away.
Russia-Ukraine dispute falters
EU-brokered crunch talks to resolve the bitter gas price dispute between Russia and Ukraine failed on 21 October, as a new meeting was set for 29 October amid fears Moscow could halt crucial energy supplies to Europe this winter. European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said, however, that "significant progress" was made, AFP reported. According to Oettinger and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, there was agreement on the price of gas, at $385 per 1,000 cubic metres of gas for deliveries guaranteed through the end of March.
Canada in terrorism grip, two attacks in a week
Canada suffered two terrorist attacks last week that took the lives of two soldiers. A masked gunman killed a soldier standing guard at a national war memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday, then stormed parliament in an attack that was stopped cold when he was shot to death by the ceremonial sergeant-at-arms.
Libor rigging leads to fines for three banks
European Union antitrust regulators fined JPMorgan, UBS and Credit Suisse collectively last Tuesday over $115m for rigging Swiss franc Libor benchmark interest rates, the EU press service reported. The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which alerted the Commission to the wrongdoing, would not be penalised for its own role in the cartel.
Italy breaks up vast corporate fraud ring
Italy's financial police boasted that it had broken up a ring of companies last Tuesday, which had used false accounting to defraud the state out of €1.7bn of tax, news wires reported.
Ikea aims to double in size by 2020
The Swedish company IKEA, the world's largest furniture retailer, expects to increase revenue as much as 85% by 2020 generating between €45bn and €50bn in annual revenue, up from an estimated €26.9bn in the most recent fiscal year ended 31 August, WSJ reports.
Over 60 new films at Cinemania
Some of the biggest hits showcased at the film festivals in Berlin, Cannes, Venice and Toronto will have their first screenings in Bulgaria at the Cinemania Film Festival that will see in November its 28th edition at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia. The audiences will have the chance to watch potential Oscar nominees. For example, The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, which was screened at the Toronto International Film festival. It tells the true life story of British mathematician Alan Turing.
The magic lies in the tiny details
Lilyana Karadzhova
I began working in the mid-1980s without any clear idea of what the outcome would be. It was then that I decided to use elements of my closest surroundings.
Lord of caricatures
The old saying, “He who laughs last laughs best” is proven true once again at the Credo Bonum Art Gallery in Sofia with the Caricatures of the King exhibition, featuring pieces inspired by His Majesty’s term as prime minister.
Priceless church treasure on display
Adelina Lozanova
A multi-million dollar gold crown, priceless medieval mantles, gold crosses that are placed on church thrones and unique reliquaries (containers for relics) are among the many remarkable artefacts shown as part of an exhibition at the National Museum of History.
In Brief
EU raises Ebola aid budget to €1bn
European Union leaders, who were at the Brussels summit, agreed on Friday to roughly double their financial support to 1 billion euro for efforts to fight the deadly Ebola epidemic in Africa. “Total contributions from the 28 nations had been running at about 500 million euro and there had been criticism that the wealthy Europeans were not doing more,” the European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said in a Twitter messsage. A day earlier, the EU announced that it would provide 24.4 million euro for research to develop a vaccine against Ebola.

German minister in clear TTIP support
A free trade deal between the EU and the US could boost legal and environmental standards worldwide, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) poses a “giant geostrategic chance,” he pointed out after meetings with US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Vice President Joe Biden in Washington. Biden and Gabriel agreed on the strategic importance of the TTIP for supporting economic opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic. The treaty is to be finalized by 2016.

Green Capital 2017 candidates unveiled
Twelve cities from eight countries have submitted entries to become European Green Capital 2017. The winner will be chosen in June 2015 among Essen (Germany), Lahti (Finland), Pecs (Hungary), Umea (Sweden), Cork (Ireland), Lisbon, Porto, and Cascais (Portugal), Nijmegen and  's-Hertogenbosch (the Netherlands), and Bursa and Istanbul (Turkey). “The European Green Capital Award is a mark of excellence for cities cherishing their environment. I wish all the applicant cities the very best of luck,” Commissioner Janez Potocnik said.

Kosovo minister pays landmark Serbia visit
Enver Hoxhaj has become the first minister from Kosovo to officially visit Serbia since his country unilaterally seceded in 2008. The Kosovan foreign minister hailed warmer ties between the two sides, and urged his hosts to agree to a peace treaty that would recognise Kosovo's independence.  His visit, which was to attend a regional conference organized by the EU, came after violence marred a football match between Serbia and Albania a week ago.

Happy Anniversary!
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