The way ahead should be paved by converting research investments into innovative business ideas
Maria Koleva, Brussels
The new industrial strategy - with a huge scope that prompts new impetus in circular economy, mobility, intellectual property, public procurement, skills and sustainable finance, in addition to the proposals on trade, investment screening and cybersecurity - was explained by the Commission in the beginning of the week. In his State of the Union address on 13 September EC President Jean-Claude Juncker specified that this strategy “will help the EU industries stay or become the world leader in innovation, digitisation and decarbonisation.” Putting the focus on how concretely this plan will boost the industry up to this mark, Jyrki Katainen, EC vice-president in charge of jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness explained that there are “so many mega-trends which will challenge our existing industry.”
The agreement removes duties on 98% of products that the EU trades with Canada
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada entered last Thursday into force provisionally, the EU press service reported. Its application follows the approval by Member States, expressed in the Council, as well as by the European Parliament. It will only enter into force fully, however, when all Member States have ratified the Agreement. The Commission will now work with Member States and Canada to ensure its smooth and effective implementation. “This agreement encapsulates what we want our trade policy to be - an instrument for growth that benefits European companies and citizens,” EC President Jean-Claude Juncker said.
 
New certificates will ensure the reliability of the billions Internet of Things devices
Maria Koleva, Brussels
With two key proposals on stepping up the EU's cybersecurity capacity and on ensuring the free flow of non-personal data across the Union, presented by the Commission on 19 September, the EU executive is taking a decisive step to make the digital single market “a reality on the ground”.
 
Reforms to deepen financial integration
The Commission proposed last Wednesday reforms in order to pave the way for further financial integration and a full Capital Markets Union, to promote jobs, growth and investments in Europe and to strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union, the EU press service reported.
UK business asks for transition period
British business leaders last Monday urged PM Theresa May to seek a three-year transitional period after Brexit, warning failure to secure more time would jeopardise “our collective prosperity,” British media reported. In a letter organised by the Confederation of British Industry, executives from 120 businesses with more than one million employees again warned of a so-called “cliff edge” in which Britain leaves the EU in March 2019 without a new trade deal or enough time for companies to adjust.
Recording energy performance contracts in national accounts
The Statistical Office of the European Commission, Eurostat, published last Tuesday an updated guidance note on the recording of energy performance contracts (EPCs) in government accounts, the EU press service reported. The revised guidance clarifies the accounting rules applied to the treatment of energy performance contracts. It follows up on the work already undertaken by Eurostat to clarify the accounting rules for various types of public investment. The full guidance note is available at the Eurostat webpage.
Seeking local gain of clean, smart mobility
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Dedicated to clean, shared and intelligent mobility, this year’s Commission campaign European Mobility Week, a 16th in a row, inspired from 16 to 22 September over 2,000 cities across the EU to stage performances, design vibrant happenings and announce car-free days to encourage its citizens of all ages to take part in developing sustainable urban mobility in their own towns.
EIB opens first office in Sofia
Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Werner Hoyer officially opened an office of the bank in Sofia on 18 September, BTA reported. This is the first Bulgarian representation of the financial institution, which now has offices in 21 EU Member States and 22 countries outside the bloc. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov welcomed the opening of the EIB office in Bulgaria as it is expected to significantly facilitate Bulgarian businesses in presenting projects applying for European funding. In his view, the bank’s presence in the country will provide valuable support to the Bulgarian economy, including to private companies, by placing a direct point of contact with European financial vehicles, as well as consultancy services, at their disposal.
Former US governor produces fake news
The now retired former governor Bill Richardson has found a ridiculous way to justify $5m in grants his affiliated NGO Atlantic Council received from Tsvetan Vassilev by using his media platform in the US to disseminate outright falsehoods in the banker’s support.
Demographics of illiteracy
Krasimir Valchev, Minister of Education of Bulgaria
In this day and age, a sizeable portion of humankind has moved past food supply issues. The deadliest epidemic diseases have been completely eliminated or significantly curbed. Those two developments allow for the physical survival of large families, even if they are uneducated or, more specifically, even if they do not need the higher pay that comes with being educated. A Polish scientist identifies uneducated mothers as the biggest threat to humanity’s future. It is not a potential nuclear war, a meteorite striking the Earth or even climate change.
Wanted: New approaches to migration for Europe
Lush gardens and gold-festooned state rooms were the setting for the leaders of France, Italy and Spain, and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, to gather and talk migration with the presidents of Chad and Niger and the prime minister of Libya's unity government. The proposals in the Paris meeting's official declaration, released after the conclusion of the joint sessions, contain promising language about local economic development and the need to promote retraining and alternative livelihoods for smugglers and others involved in the movement of migrants. Additionally, Emmanuel Macron's government appears keen to look more closely at integration between the Maghreb and the Sahel. The declaration repeatedly referenced not just the need for economic development in the region, but also the necessity of providing economic alternatives for migrants as well as local communities that have benefited from smuggling economies that have grown along with the recent wave of trans-Saharan migration.
Trump calls for UN reform
President Donald Trump used his United Nations debut on 18 September to prod the international organization to cut its bloated bureaucracy and fulfil its mission. But he pledged US support for the world body he had excoriated as a candidate, and his criticisms were more restrained than in the year past. The US president urged the UN to focus "more on people and less on bureaucracy" and to change "business as usual and not be beholden to ways of the past which were not working."
Iraqi Kurdistan's referendum waited with fear and hope
Iraq's Supreme Court last Monday ordered the suspension of the referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan, set for 25 September, saying it had to examine whether such a poll would be constitutional.
Swiss fake E-Coin provider shut down
Switzerland’s financial watchdog has closed down what it said was the provider of a fake cryptocurrency and is investigating around a dozen other possible fraud cases, in the latest clamp-down on the risks involving virtual money. The country’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) has targeted unlicensed providers of fake crypto currency “E-Coin”. The move comes on the heels of Chinese authorities’ ordering Beijing-based cryptocurrency exchanges to stop trading and immediately notify users of their closure.
Thyssenkrupp, Tata Steel ink Europe merger deal
Germany’s Thyssenkrupp and India’s Tata Steel inked a preliminary deal last Wednesday to merge their European steel operations in a 50-50 joint venture. The merger will create the continent’s No. 2 steelmaker after ArcelorMittal, news wires reported.
Ryanair falls victim of flight cancellations
Ryanair shares fell seriously last week after the Irish budget airline disrupted the plans of hundreds of thousands of travellers by cancelling flights to cope with pilot shortages and improve its punctuality record.
In the shadow of the Orient
In the Shadow of the Orient exhibition is the first-of-its-kind international project organised by a Bulgarian institution and its goal is to construct a visual story with artworks by some of the most renowned Bulgarian, Greek, Romanian and Serbian artists of the late 19th and early 20th century. Focusing on the unique development of art on the Balkans under the shadow of the Orient, the exhibition’s research team offers visitors an encounter with artists and pieces that have become emblematic for the four countries’ art history.
I do only what I believe in
Irina Gigova
There is no dramatic composition in the traditional sense of the word. The scenes comprising the show are connected by various things - from texts by Brecht and works by Theodor W. Adorno and Erich Fromm, some of the great German philosophers, to notes documenting the case against Georgi Dimitrov in Leipzig, to contemporary newspaper clippings and TV reports.
Inspired by nature
Veselin and Monika are siblings, he is an engineer and she is a financier. What else do they have in common? Their love for nature and art.
Cloister, camp, vacation centre
Adelina Lozanova
Some 50km west of Sofia, nestled in the hilly Graovo area, sits one of Bulgaria's lesser-known cloisters – the Giginski Monastery, also known as Tsarnogorski Monastery. Devoted to the healer saints Cosmas and Damian, it is located at the foot of the Kitka Peak (1,118m), part of Mount Tsarna Gora. The monastery's relative obscurity is partly due to its turbulent history, especially in the 20th century.
In Brief
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Borisov welcomes Szydlo
 
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov (R) welcomes Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo (L), during their official meeting in Sofia, 20 September. Polish PM Beata Szydlo arrived on a two-day visit to Bulgaria. Photo: EPA 

International Day of Peace
 
Some of 7,000 drawings made by students from 30 nations are displayed during the exhibition Colours of Peace outside the Colosseum in Rome on occasion of the UN International Day of Peace, 21 September. Photo: EPA 

French unions stage national day of protest
 
Demonstrators take the streets in Marseille on 21 September during a national day of protest, called by trade unions against the French government’s labour reform law. Photo: AP

Path towards digital economy fair taxation set out
 
The Commission launched last Thursday a new EU agenda to ensure that the digital economy is taxed in a fair and growth-friendly way. In a communication the EC sets out the challenges Member States currently face when it comes to acting on this pressing issue. “Digital firms make vast profits from their millions of users, even if they do not have a physical presence in the EU. The goal is to ensure that companies pay their fair share of tax where they generate profits,” Economic Commissioner Pierre Moscovici stated.

Juncker Plan to trigger €236.1bn in investment
 
The Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called Juncker Plan, is now expected to trigger €236.1bn in investments, the EC said. The operations approved by the EIB under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) now represent a total financing volume of €46.5bn located in all Member States. The EIB has approved 312 EFSI-backed operations, supported by €36.1bn in EFSI financing. The European Investment Fund (EIF) has also approved 306 SME agreements worth €10.4bn. 

EU says US, others see no Iran nuke deal breach
 
The EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said all parties to the Iran nuclear deal agree that the accord is being implemented as planned, and US complaints about other Iranian behaviour should be discussed outside the context of the agreement. Her comments on 20 September followed a meeting at the UN that was also attended by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Mogherini stressed that the EU is committed to preserving it. 

Mexicans race to save buried by quake
 
The death toll of the Mexican earthquake rose to 237, including at least 30 children who died in a school collapse. It’s expected to climb higher. More than 50 survivors have been plucked from several disaster sites since the afternoon on 19 September when 7.1-magnitude quake rattled the country’s capital. It came exactly 32 years after a devastating quake killed an estimated 9,500 people in and around the city in 1985. Mexico is still recovering from a magnitude 8.1 quake that hit earlier this month.

Beer flows at Oktoberfest
 
Visitors cheer a young woman standing on a table and drinking from a Mass (1-litre) beer glass inside the Hofbraeu tent during the opening of the 184rd edition of the traditional Oktoberfest in Bavaria's capital city of Munich. The festival runs from 17 September to 3 October. Photo: EPA

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