The Commission tabled a set of measures for stepping up counter-terrorism across the Union
Maria Koleva, Strasbourg
The European Agenda on Security, which will help Member States in tackling new security threats and strengthen the fight against terrorism, organised crime and cybercrime for the next five years, was adopted by the Commission on 28 April. It was part of the 10 priorities that EC President Juncker highlighted in the political diary of his Commission, but most recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Copenhagen and Brussels made it increasingly urgent. The new agenda, which is practically a shared agenda between the Union and EU countries, replaces the EU Internal Security Strategy adopted in 2010. The Commission also tabled new proposals to strengthen the link between security and development in the EU external actions to help partner countries and regional organisations.
At a summit in Kiev, Brussels reiterated its generous financial support for the country
European leaders ruled out Ukraine's demands for peacekeepers last Monday during the first formal EU-Ukraine summit since Russia annexed Crimea a year ago. At the same time, they may use the event to pressure Ukraine's government to speed up reforms in return for closer ties with the bloc. "We know about Ukrainian expecta­tions today, but it's impossible to send a military mission," Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said in Kiev.
 
MEPs call for a binding quota for distributing asylum seekers among all EU countries
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told the European Parliament last Wednesday that the response to the Mediterranean migrant crisis agreed at last week's summit was “insufficient”, ANSA reported. Juncker also said that it had been a “serious mistake” to allow Italy's Mare Nostrum migrant search-and-rescue operation to end last year.
 
Greece to present reforms to lenders
Eurozone officials were ready last Wednesday to discuss Greece after Athens said it would finally present a list of reforms for legislation to show it is serious about acting on pledges to secure aid, news wires reported.
Cap on biofuels from food crops
Maria Koleva, Strasbourg
A legislation that proposes a ceiling on biofuels that are derived from food crops, such as sugar, starch and vegetable oils, and hastens up the advanced biofuels from waste or residues, as well as new sources such as seaweed, was voted on by the full chamber in Strasbourg on 28 April.
Part-time workers in the EU would prefer to work more
Among the 44.1 million persons in the EU working part-time in 2014, 9.8 million were underemployed, meaning they wished to work more hours and were available to do so, according to the latest Eurostat European Labour Force Survey.
New plan to curb harmful drinking
Maria Koleva, Strasbourg
Europeans are the world champions in consumption of alcohol, amounting to approximately 10 litres per capita a year. Excessive drinking has harmful consequences in many aspects.
Forget light plastic bags, turn green
Maria Koleva, Strasbourg
The new rules obliging EU governments to act to drastically curb the use of plastic carrier bags were backed by the MEPs during the EP plenary in Strasbourg on 28 April. These rules were already informally agreed with the Council.
Hewlett-Packard opens technological lab in Sofia
Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Iravan Hira, general manager of Hewlett-Packard Bulgaria, inaugurated the company’s technological laboratory in Sofia on 29 April, BTA reported. Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications Ivaylo Moskovski and the US Ambassador to Bulgaria H.E. Marcie Ries also attended the ceremony.
Migration needs principle approach
Dick Oosting
With the emergency summit in Brussels the Mediterranean migrant crisis finally got top level attention. The intractable nature of the irregular migration problem never lent itself to decisive action let alone solutions. But the recurring drama is now fuelled by so much conflict and unrest around us that this is no longer an unfortunate 'side-show'. EU leaders responded to the drama with increased resources for search and rescue and strong language on countering the smugglers. This is both welcome and necessary, and the least that could have been expected.
Another Marshall Plan to save crisis-ravaged euro
Haider Khan
Just months since taking power in January, Greek’s Syriza coalition faces obstacles at every turn, from an intransigent European Central Bank to an unyielding European Council. The ECB in particular has rejected Greek proposals for short-term bridge financing to allow for more time to negotiate medium- to longer-term structural reforms. So once again, we’re on the cusp of crisis as Greece and its creditors struggle to find a deal before an upcoming June deadline, with the country’s exit from the eurozone a genuine possibility. Little help appears forthcoming across the Atlantic as well. During a trip to Washington earlier this month by Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, neither the International Monetary Fund or the US government offered much help, hope or new ideas. But as it happens, Europe has a solution in its hands: the European Investment Bank (EIB), the world’s biggest lender backed by more than one country. The EIB should use its financial firepower to make much-needed investments in infrastructure such as roads and schools.
Major reshuffle in Saudi rule
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz named his powerful interior minister as heir to the throne and a son as second in line, under a shakeup that also saw the world's longest-serving foreign minister replaced, news wires reported last Wednesday. Mohammed bin Nayef was named crown prince and deputy prime minister in a high-level reshuffle of the country's top jobs. Bin Nayef will replace King Salman's half brother Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz as next in line to the Saudi throne.
Baltimore erupts in protest, racial intolerance in US grows
Angry crowds swept through Baltimore last week - smashing windows, looting stores and setting fires - after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died after suffering a spine injury in police custody. Eyewitnesses said parts of the city were turned into a “war zone”.
Russia tightens ban on EU food imports
Russia is considering bolstering its ban on EU agricultural imports by restricting fruit and vegetable re-exports through European countries, amid alleged “numerous cases of document forgery”. The Agricultural Ministry in a statement said that it is already banning imports from countries like Bulgaria as many European countries are using the country as a base to export their produce into Russia.
China plans to merge big state firms to 40
China will likely cut the number of its central government-owned conglomerates to 40 through a series of mergers, as Beijing pushes forward a plan to overhaul the country's underperforming state sector.
Uber turns to multitask, delivers food, products
Uber is planning to launch a merchant delivery program that would allow online shoppers to get same-day delivery of goods through both UberRush couriers and Uber drivers. The company has been testing product deliveries with its UberRush bike couriers since last year.
Christo gilds Italian lake
Lora Rizova
For 16 days in the summer of 2016, Bulgarian artist Hristo Yavashev-Christo’s latest project will transform an Italian lake. Christo’s plan is to gild the piers of Lake Iseo in Lombardy, northern Italy, so that when viewed from a distance any stroller on the piers will appear to be walking on water. The Floating Piers project uses 70,000 square metres of shimmering yellow fabric carried by a modular floating dock system of 200,000 high-density polyethylene cubes, which will undulate with the movement of the waves. Visitors will experience this work of art by walking on it from the town of Sulzano to Monte Isola and to the privately-owned island of San Paolo. The mountains surrounding the lake will offer a bird’s-eye view of The Floating Piers.
Printmaking is the most intimate kind of art
Jean Solomonov, Lyon
It is natural that I have learnt a lot from my father, and most of all I have learnt his love of detail and his finesse of execution. I have to admit, I have tried many other techniques, such as oil, gouache, and watercolour, until I finally returned to the classical technique of working on a copper plate and my father’s press.
Sea allegories
Mariana Parvanova
Famous artist Stoimen Stoilov painted his conversation with the sea in the form of two large-scale allegorical paintings. The works were commissioned by the University of Economy in Varna. The two monumental works, The Allegory of the Sea and the Allegory of the Shore, have been placed in the central lobby of the university’s building.
The town of bear-wrestler
Located some 100 kilometres east of the capital Sofia and nestled in the Sredna Gora Mountain is the small town of Klisura, best known for its tragic role in the April Uprising of 1876 and the selflessness and grim resolve demonstrated by its residents.
In Brief
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Pope Francis welcomes Ban Ki-moon
 
Pope Francis (L) welcomed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (R) last Tuesday in the Vatican. The leaders discussed the latest migration crisis in Europe and the measures needed to resolve it. Photo: EPA

Annual Benelux summit
 
The PMs of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel; Belgium, Charles Michel; and the Netherlands, Mark Rutte; (L-R) held the regular annual summit of the Benelux countries in Brussels on 29 April. Photo: EPA

Waiting for royal baby
 
Royal fans wait outside the Lindo Wing at St. Mary's Hospital in north London, where Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, is expected to deliver her second child. Photo: EPA

In April, Eurozone finally exits deflation
 
The Eurozone finally exited four months of spiralling deflation, according to official data released last Thursday. Inflation in the 19-nation single currency bloc hit zero percent in April, after a drop of 0.1% in March, with low energy costs still impacting the cost of living, the Eurostat announced. The news revived hope of a stable economic recovery in Europe and was welcomed by the ECB, which in March launched a historic round of monetary stimulus to fight falling prices across the Eurozone.

EU chief warns Orban on death penalty revival
 
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker issued a strong demand to Hungarian PM Victor Orban last Thursday to drop his suggestion that the country might reintroduce capital punishment. Juncker noted that the EU's fundamental charter "forbids the death penalty". "Mr Orban must immediately make clear that this is not his intention. If it would be his intention it would be a fight," the EU chief told reporters. Hungary abolished capital punishment after the fall of communism in 1990.

Albania, Bosnia urged to step up political efforts
 
Political wrangling held back the reform progress in Albania and Bosnia in 2014, MEPs said in two separate resolutions voted last Thursday. Both countries need to strengthen their democratic processes, tackle corruption and put in place depoliticised public administrations in order to step up efforts. “The government is currently working on key reforms and they need to be debated broadly in parliament but also with civil society,” rapporteur on Albania Knut Fleckenstein (S&D, DE) said.

France plans rehabilitation unit for jihadists
 
France will open a centre late this year to help reintegrate young French citizens who return from conflict zones such as Syria but are not subject to prosecution, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on 29 April. Young French Muslims who have become radicalised will be given individualised help and psychological support so they can fully re-join society. France is a top Western source country for jihadi volunteers and more than 100 have returned home after fighting in Syria and Iraq.

Students' protests at Expo 2015
 
Two students climb on the statue of Garibaldi holding a banner reading in Italian, `the city of students, not of the Expo`, in Milan, Italy, on 30 April. According to reports, students planned to take to the streets of Milan for several days. Expo 2015 was opened on 1 May. Photo: EPA

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