A package of measures aims at making it more crisis-resilient
The Commission unveiled last Wednesday a wide-ranging plan to strengthen the Eurozone, betting on strong economy and bright perspectives, news wires reported. The proposals come amid a broader discussion across the currency union on ways to ensure it can better withstand future financial shocks. They set out the Commission's vision for the euro, including beefing up the bloc's bailout fund, creating a Eurozone line within the EU budget and a dedicated finance minister. The EU leaders will discuss the matter during the mid-December summit with the aim of reaching an agreement in June. “After years of crises, it's now time to take Europe's future into our own hands. Today's robust economic growth encourages us to move ahead to ensure that our Economic and Monetary Union is more united, efficient and democratic, and that it works for all of our citizens. There is no better time to fix the roof than when the sun is shining,” Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.
Litigation time limit for the plundering of CorpBank, Dunarit and Petrol is not up
Steered by its figurehead leader and failed Minister of Justice Hristo Ivanov, the political party Yes, Bulgaria is actively working to serve the interests of oligarchs Ivo Prokopiev, Tsvetan Vassilev and the latter’s henchman Grisha Ganchev. Pinocchio, as Ivanov has been dubbed because of his lies, recently put the party to use in the only way that benefits his behind-the-scenes masters – generating propaganda noise. To that end, he organised a pretentious event consisting of filing a request with the National Assembly for a probe into the Turkish security services’ report regarding the smuggling of tobacco products.
 
The media outlets serving the Bulgarian Madoff are diligently doing their part in lie machine of behind-the-scenes clique
Several negligible websites and a few programmes on an unwatchable TV channel spewing manipulations round the clock are the media weapons that fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev has given to the Fake News Factory on consignment. Despite their low confidence ratings, the Bulgarian Madoff’s media outlets are diligently doing their part as an important cog in the lie machine of the behind-the-scenes clique.
 
Just frank exchange of views
The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to reassure European allies in Brussels last Tuesday that the United States remains committed to Europe, but their concerns about President Donald Trump’s foreign policy have created a rift on a host of issues, news wires reported. “The partnership between America and the EU is based upon shared values, shared objectives for security and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic and we remain committed to that,” Tillerson said before a lunch with 28 EU foreign ministers. The US Secretary of State and Federica Mo­ghe­­rini, HR for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, addressed hot issues on the international agenda later in a bilateral meeting. On the Middle East peace pro­cess Mogherini stressed that the EU support the resumption of the talks.
Better tracking cash flows in-out Europe
Maria Koleva, Brussels
To put an end to the exploitation by criminals of different national rules related to cash controls, and to tackle money laundering and financing of illegal activities such as terrorism, Civil Liberties and Economic Affairs committees MEPs approved on 4 December tougher checks on cash entering or leaving the Union that are repealing regulation of 2005.
EU names 17 tax havens to counter unfair practices
The European Union has blacklisted 17 countries and territories as part of a crackdown on tax havens in an unprecedented step to counter worldwide tax avoidance. South Korea, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Bahrain, Panama and the United Arab Emirates are among the countries named on 5 December as "non-cooperative tax jurisdictions", agreed by the Finance Ministers of EU Member States during their meeting in Brussels.
EU, UK reach deal to move talks forward
Britain and the EU struck a deal on 8 December to move the Brexit talks on next stage - trade and transition period, after agreeing the outline of their divorce, news wires reported. The two sides worked through the night to end an impasse over the status of the Irish border that had scuppered an earlier attempt to clinch a deal. As a result, the Commission said enough progress had been made, thus easing the pressure on PM Theresa May.
All internet firms to partake in curbing terrorist content
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Reinforcing the work against terrorist content on the internet and making automatic the detection of terrorist propaganda online were the key items on the agenda of the third Ministerial meeting of the EU Internet Forum held in the European Commission’s Berlaymont Building in Brussels on 6 December. Representatives of major internet companies, among them Google/Youtube, Face­book, Microsoft, Twi­t­ter, officials from Member States, Europol, the EU Radicalisation Awareness Network, the European Strategic Communications Network, UNCTED, ambassadors, researchers from VOX-Pol, played part in the discussion.
Brexit deal final barrier
Andrew Hammond
Last Monday, a draft deal Theresa May brokered with Commission President Jean Claude Juncker on the Irish border issue was torpedoed by the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up her minority government in Westminster. The UK Prime Minister is now trying to pick up the political pieces from this humiliation before going back to Brussels for a last-gasp attempt to salvage “sufficient progress” from the first phase of the Brexit negotiations.
German politics at a crossroads
Tom Quinn
The collapse of talks to form a coalition government in Germany has left an unsettling sense of uncertainty in Europe’s biggest democracy. In a country where stability is valued above all else, no-one is sure what comes next. The election in September produced a fragmented result. The radical-right AfD made big gains and the two major parties, Angela Merkel’s Christian-democratic CDU/CSU and the social-democratic SPD suffered significant losses.
Trump's tax plan triggers mistrust
Russia was banned from participating in the 2018 Pyeong­chang Winter Olympics after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) found evidence of an “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of the anti-doping system that has led to a series of suspensions for the country’s athletes in recent months, news wires reported. The IOC said last Tuesday that the evidence unearthed by a special commission made the doping situation impossible to dispute. It therefore suspended Russia from next year's Games in South Korea that run from 9 to 25 February.
Trump buries the hope of peace in the Middle East
The US President Donald Trump opened the Pandora's box last Thursday and triggered a wave of sharp reactions from all world players, including UN, EU, NATO, the Vatican and others. He ignored all warnings from Western and Arab allies by announcing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, an act which will be followed by the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to this city.
Trump's tax plan triggers mistrust
The Republican-led effort to reform the US tax code, which would cut the corporate rate to 20% from 35%, has caused jitters beyond Europe’s borders, with Chinese officials expressing worries that a sweeping policy shift could negatively impact domestic markets. The topic was added to the EU finance ministers meeting's agenda last Tuesday after the US Senate approved the tax reform on 3 December. They expressed concern that the legislation would affect transparency and asked if the US would continue to share tax information.
Canada, China free trade talks fail to start
The widely anticipated start of formal free trade talks between Canada and China failed last week, despite being on the agenda of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau's visit in the Asian country. China cancelled a planned press conference after Trudeau's meeting with Premier Li Keqiang, news wires reported on Monday.
Apple agrees to pay back Ireland €13bn in lost tax
The US tech giant, Apple, will start paying Ireland up to €13bn in back taxes in the coming months, news wires reported, quoting Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. In his words, Apple will start sending money into an escrow account in the first quarter of 2018.
Spirit of Europe takes over Sofia
In the first hours of 2018, Hall 1 of the National Palace of Culture in Sofia will once again become a gathering place for classical music fans thanks to “The Spirit of Europe” New Year’s Day Gala Concert. The 31st edition of the festival will combine the glamour of tradition with the magical violin of Svetlin Roussev and the brilliant sound of the Festival Symphony Orchestra.
Sometimes we drop our heroes
Neyka Krasteva
When we started again at the end of 2008, we played our first NO MORE show after 22 years in Poznan in Poland. We've been on the road across Europe ever since.
Visegrad Quartet focal point of literary festival
The countries of the Visegrad Group (V4) - Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic, will be in the focus of the Sofia International Literary Festival, which will take place from 12 to 17 December at the National Palace of Culture.
Masterpieces of gold and silver
Adelina Lozanova
The ancient Thracians undoubtedly had loved luxury, as evidenced by the many gold and silver treasures found in the Bulgarian territories. Among the most impressive examples is the so-called Borovo Treasure dating back to the 4th century BC.
In Brief
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Macron welcomes Radev
 
French President Emanuel Macron (R) welcomed last week his Bulgarian counterpart Rumen Radev (L), who was in Paris for a two-day visit. Photo:EPA

Tajani addresses Cypriot Parliament
 
EP President Antonio Tajani addressed a special session of the Cypriot Parliament in Nicosia on 8 December during one-day official visit to the country. Photo: EPA

Supporters of Catalan independence protest in Brussels
 
Thousands of people took to the streets outside EU institutions in Brussels on 7 December in support of Catalan independence. Photo: EPA

Bulgaria inspires Western Balkans integration
 
Sofia hosted last week high-level Conference on speeding up the EU integration of Western Balkans. The World Bank announced that the institution will finance a $200m Trade and Transport Facilitation Project, designed to streamline border crossings, deploy modern smart technologies to improve freight and passenger transport and get goods to customers faster. Bulgaria, which takes over the EU's rotating presidency next month, makes the Western Balkans' integration a priority.

Verbal sparring over historical grievances
 
Greece and Turkey squared up over old disputes last Thursday during a state visit to Athens by President Tayyip Erdogan, which was the first one of a Turkish president in 65 years. Meeting Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Erdogan said the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, that settled Turkey's borders after World War One was not being applied fairly. Pavlopoulos rejected any change to the treaty. Erdogan and Greek PM Alexis Tsipras publicly aired grievances later at the joint press conference (pictured).

Schulz bets on United States of Europe
 
The leader of Germany’s Social Democratic party Martin Schulz has sketched out red lines for talks to form another coalition government with Angela Merkel. In a speech at the SPD’s party conference in Berlin that called for the creation of a United States of Europe by 2025, as well as a more robust social security net and a phasing out of coal power, Schulz made the case for entering open-ended talks with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Polish ruling party elects new PM
 
Poland’s governing Law and Justice (PiS) party has named finance minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, to replace the PM Beata Szydlo, who tendered her resignation on 7 December. Morawiecki, 49, who has made a name for himself by taking on tax evasion, takes the job at the beginning of what is expected to be a broader government reshuffle to prepare the right-wing party for votes due in the next three years - next year’s local elections are followed by a parliamentary poll in 2019 and a presidential election in 2020.

Pizza enters UNESCO list
 
A pizza is placed on Plebiscito Square in Naples, Italy, 7 December. UNESCO announced the art of the Neapolitan 'Pizzaiuolo' (pizza making) has been put on its Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Photo: EPA

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