EU summit in Brussels is to decide on starting trade negotiations
The latest round of Brexit talks in Brussels ended last Thursday without tangible results, with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier assuming that the sides have hit a dead-end over money, news wires reported. Such a development rules out discussions on future trade being allowed to start by EU leaders when they meet at a summit on 19-20 October. Nevertheless, according to Barnier, there was some progress on other elements of the divorce deal, which could make possible acceding, in the next two months, to British demands for talks on a trade pact and a transition period after withdrawal in March 2019, if the political will was there, Reuters reported. Brexit Secretary David Davis insisted the UK was still pushing for EU leaders to give a green light to those talks on the future relationship when they meet PM Theresa May at the summit.
European citizens and businesses will only benefit from deeper financial integration
In order to make European citizens and businesses further benefit from deeper financial integration and a more stable financial system, the Commission plans to accelerate the completion of the Banking Union, the EU press service reported. Building on the significant progress already achieved, the Commission published last Wednesday a Communication that set out an ambitious yet realistic path to ensure agreement on all the outstanding elements of the Banking Union, based on existing commitments by the Council.
 
Madrid poses ultimatum on Catalan independence act
The outbreak of the crisis in Spain, surrounding the Catalonian referendum, was postponed for at least a week, it became clear last week, with Madrid posing an ultimatum to the separatists in Barcelona after their "tacit" independence declaration. Catalan Premier Carles Puigdemont announced last Tuesday independence but immediately placed it on hold and demanded talks.
 
Trust fund for Eastern partners
The November 2017 Eastern Partnership Summit should pave the way to set up a trust fund for Eastern partners and reward reforms by offering them customs union, Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs recommended last Tuesday. They welcome the significant progress made since last Eastern Partnership Summit, held in Riga in 2015, and stressed that some Eastern partners have made major reforms. Moreover, countries such as Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova now benefit from free trade and visa-free regimes with the EU. “The Eastern Partnership is about more than signing agreements at biannual summits. It is about supporting the EU's Eastern European partners in implementing reforms in the areas of democracy, rule of law and fundamental freedoms. We want to see more progress on reforms,” co-rapporteur Knut Fleckenstein (S&D, DE) said.
Gas supply placed under monitoring
The European Council adopted on 9 October a revised regulation concerning measures to safeguard the security of gas supply, said a message on the Council’s website. “The general purpose of the regulation is to reinforce the EU energy security, reducing its dependency on others for energy supplies and enabling it to deal more quickly and efficiently with any gas supply crises,” said the message.
Cities, regions try to fill digital gap
Maria Koleva, Brussels
A joint platform that will shore up accessibility of high-speed internet across all European cities and regions, even in the rural areas, was kicked off on 12 October by the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions.
Lawmakers insist for new law on dual quality goods
Maria Koleva, Brussels
A debate that addressed the issue of the unacceptable practice in the EU of selling products of dual quality under the same brand and packaging, depending on the country, was held by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) members with a representative of the Commission.
Political corrida riles business
European markets took relief from Catalonia stopping short of declaring immediate independence from Madrid while Spanish stocks and bonds rallied and the euro hit a two-week high last Wednesday, news wires reported.
Sofia seeks EU-wide consensus on priorities
There is no better place than the EU - neither to the east nor to the west, and we will work towards its success, towards a more united and stronger bloc, said Prime Minister Boyko Borisov before members of the Supreme Political Consultative Board for Bulgaria’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. During a session at the Lozenets Residence in Sofia, the Board was presented with the presidency programme and the priorities outlined in it.
International law failure
Prof. Mihail Konstantinov
The events that have transpired in the Spanish autonomous region of Catalonia since 1 October shook Spain and sent shock waves across Europe and other corners of the world. As a result, some have been prompted to predict violent clashes with the central power in Spain, while others hope for a civilised solution to the crisis.
No-deal Brexit: badly calculated gamble
Panicos O. Demetriades
I couldn’t help feeling a sense of deja vu when I heard the news that Theresa May’s government has started preparations for a no-deal Brexit. For the notion of a no-deal Brexit resembles the thinking of those politicians who, in March 2013, argued that Cyprus should reject the Eurogroup’s bailout offer – because they thought the conditions involved were unfair – and prepare to abandon the euro, and consequently the EU. I was governor of the central bank of Cyprus at the time. “If we show our readiness to turn down their offer,” these politicians argued, “the Eurogroup will come to its senses and will then offer us a better deal, as they wouldn’t want to face a disorderly unravelling of the euro.”
NATO sets Black Sea force
The Multinational NATO South-East Brigade, headquartered in Craiova, southern Romania, and aimed at countering Russia's increased threat to the Black Sea region, was officially inaugurated last Monday, news wires reported. At the Annual Plenary Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly held in Bucharest Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the Alliance is increasing its land, air and naval presence in both Romania and Bulgaria.
US-Turkey tensions boil over visa ban
The US and Turkey suspended non-immigrant visa services at their respective consulates days after the arrest of a consulate employee in Istanbul over alleged ties to Fethullah Gulen, the exiled Islamist cleric who Turkey says orchestrated a failed military coup in July 2016.
IEA: Renewable power capacity in extreme rise
Renewable energy sources capacity is growing with extreme speed, with solar power leading the race, according to the International Energy Agency annual report, released last Monday. Solar capacity grew by 50% last year, with China accounting for almost half that expansion.
Bombardier presents new business jet
Bombardier largest business jet made its debut last week in Las Vegas at a time of sluggish industry sales and as it fights a trade battle over a separate jet, news wires reported. The new Global 7000, the industry's largest jet designed for private or corporate use, was on display at the National Business Aviation Association's industry trade show on 10-12 October.
Wonders of Indonesia
Paintings, sculptures, textiles and artefacts from the world’s largest archipelago, are on display at the National Art Gallery in Sofia. The 2017 Wonders of Indonesia Festival will introduce the visitors and residents of Bulgaria’s capital to the cultural and historical heritage of the tropical-climate country. From 6 October to 12 November the gallery is presenting paintings and sculptures by Indonesian authors on loan from the National Gallery of Indonesia.
I yearn for perfection
Diyana Tusheva, BGNES News Agency
If one lives long enough, however good that life is, one turns 70 and that fate has befallen me. Certain things follow from this fact. First, the past starts to stretch longer and the future ominously shrinks.
Works by Stoilov join Tretyakov Gallery
Prints by Stoimen Stoilov have been added to the collection of the famous State Tretyakov Gallery. Established in 1856, today the museum is among the world’s leading visual arts spaces, with a collection of over 180,000 works.
Most beautiful edifice in Sofia
Adelina Lozanova
Downtown Sofia features a building that many consider to be the most beautiful in the capital, if not the entire country. It is the “Ivan Vazov” National Theatre, which was modelled after the best European architectural traditions of the early 20th century and first opened its doors to visitors some 110 years ago, in the now distant 1907.
In Brief
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EU public prosecutor to fight fraud
 
Twenty one EU countries have agreed to set up Prosecutor’s Office to investigate potential fraud and protect the taxpayers’ money, said Vera Jourova, the EU Justice Commissioner. 

Fico hosts food summit
 
Slovak PM Robert Fico (R) hosted on 13 October in Bratislava a mini-summit of food standards attended by his Visegrad Group counterparts and EC representatives. Photo: EPA

New election law in Italy faces protests
 
Supporters of the Italian anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) staged a protest outside the Lower House in Rome against the vote of a new election law on 12 October. Photo: EPA

Schengen suspensions for another six months
 
Denmark, France and Germany have notified the EC of their intentions to extend control of their borders for another six months beyond November. Berlin and Copenhagen reinstated border controls almost two years ago due to the risks posed by the migrant influx coming from the Western Balkans, while Paris took that step in light of serious terrorist threats. The need for new Schengen rules was among the topics discussed by EU Justice and Home Affairs ministers on 13 October in Luxembourg. 

Mogherini: Iran pact holds despite US decision
 
Iran nuclear deal will remain valid regardless of US decision, said Federica Mogherini, foreign policy chief for the EU and one of the nuclear deal’s chief negotiators. US President Trump was expected last Friday to decertify Iran’s compliance with the international nuclear agreement struck in 2015. "The deal doesn’t belong to one country or another. The message that US would send to the rest of the world is that America cannot be trusted upon," she added. 

MEPs urge for taking up to 250,000 refugees
 
LIBE Committee MEPs demanded last Thursday the EU to agree on new laws providing common rules on the admission and transfer of non-EU nationals who seek humanitarian protection and to better its resettlement schemes. They want the EU to take on at least 20% of the people who need to be resettled. In 2017, this would amount to around 250,000 people. MEPs called on Member States to increase also the number of resettlement places in order to shoulder a fair share of global responsibility.

Position on climate finance ahead of COP23
 
EU finance ministers agreed last Tuesday common position on climate finance, ahead of the next climate summit COP23 in Bonn in November, committing to increase their public finance contributions over the next few years. They also called for the participation of a broader range of contributors, urging other developed countries to meet their commitments. The conclusions will serve as a mandate for the EU's negotiators on the financing aspects of the Paris global agreement on fighting climate change.

Prague shines under lights
 
Visitors observe the light mapping on a church in Prague during the Signal Festival, which features international and local artists presenting new technologies and lighting design through video mapping projections and audio-visual installations. Photo: EPA

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