More net money for youth and migration, less for cohesion
Maria Koleva, Brussels
The EU budget for the next year was finally approved as the very last of the long sequence of procedural steps was completed on 1 December with Parliament’s plenary vote and the signature of EP President Martin Schulz. EU’s spendings for tackling youth unemployment, migration and security issues, and for supporting small business and research endeavours were backed by 438 votes to 194, with 7 abstentions.
The process will boost growth, investments and create jobs
The EU has to lead the clean energy transition, not only adapt to it, the Commission said last Wednesday, presenting a package of measures in that direction. The Commission's “Clean Energy for All Europeans” proposals have three main goals: putting energy efficiency first, achieving global leadership in renewable energies, and providing a fair deal for consumers.
 
The message is that Europe wants to pay for its own security in response of Trump’s criticism
The European Union unveiled its biggest defence plan in more than a decade on 30 November to reverse billions of euro in cuts and other actions, supporting Member States' more efficient spending in joint defence capabilities, strengthening European citizens' security and fostering a competitive and innovative industrial base.
 
New legal battle over Brexit looms
British PM Theresa May is facing the prospect of another legal battle over whe­ther the government has the power to take Britain out of the single market when it leaves the EU, news wires reported. British Influence, a pro-EU thinktank, announced last week it will launch a judicial review into the government's assumption that membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) automatically ends after Brexit.
Geo-blocking barriers to e-commerce put to end
European ministers agreed last Monday to ban barriers to e-commerce known as 'geo-blocking' which prevent online customers from buying products or services from a website based in another Member State, news wires reported.
Brussels media hub turns 15 amid debate
Maria Koleva, Brussels
The International Press Centre (IPC) Residence Palace in Brussels turned 15. Its official launch was in 2001 with the start of the Belgian Presidency of the Council.
Shaping digital future
Maria Koleva, Brussels
The Think Digital Summit that was held in Brussels Egmont Palace on 29 November put as a central point of its debate how the digital future of Europe can be shaped and what the impact of the digital single market is for industries and for citizens as already all sectors are becoming digital.
President spins cabinet mandate wheel
President Rosen Plevneliev put the cabinet mandate merry-go-round into motion on Friday, 2 December. At a ceremony at the presidency, he presented the largest political party in parliament, GERB, with a mandate to form a government. As anticipated, however, the party’s leader and outgoing Prime Minister Boyko Borisov returned the mandate immediately. The socialist BSP is expected to follow suit.
Students offer unconventional solutions for refugee crisis
Solutions to the refugee crisis and efforts to prevent mass migration triggered by climate change were discussed by students of five of the most prestigious high schools in Sofia during a seminar organised by the European youth initiative My Europe.
Governance as silver bullet
Mark Galeotti
European security co-operation has never really been off the EU's agenda, but controversy, political divisions and expense have for many years kept it well away from the top. Donald Trump's election, along with concerns of a potentially emboldened Vla­dimir Putin, will likely ensure that this changes. The question now is, what form should enhanced European security co-operation take? The nation state remains the fundamental building bloc of international security. Given this reality, a useful step forward would be if more NATO members met the 2% of GDP target set by the alliance as the notional minimum budget for defence expenditure.
Brexiters get wake-up call
Simon Tilford
Brexiters assumed that Britain would face a benign international environment once freed from the EU. They took for granted that the UK would be able to rely on the key global public goods underwritten by the US: the global trading system, the international financial system and international security. They argued that Britain would be able to leave the EU, but take advantage of open markets elsewhere. Bri­tain's financial services industries would profit from being able to sell into US dominated global financial markets.
Kiev plays on Moscow nerves
Ukraine`s missile tests closely to the Russian-annexed Crimea provoked a fresh escalation in tensions between the neighbours and one-time allies, a few days after Minsk talks in Normandy format on ending the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine finished without a breakthrough.
Aleppo exodus intensifies
Exhausted parents clutching terrified children in their arms, young people pushing the old in wheelchairs and families pulling overstuffed suitcases: the scenes from east Aleppo are those of a new exodus.
OPEC agrees slight output cut by 4.5%
The oil-producing countries, grouped as OPEC, agreed last Wednesday at a meeting in Vienna the first limit on oil output since 2008, news wires reported. The oil cartel accepted an Algerian proposal to reduce production by around 4.5%, or about 1.2 million barrels per day. The deal pushed up crude prices by around 10% in early trade last Thursday.
Swiss reject proposal to close nuclear plants
With a majority of 54%, Swiss voters rejected last Sunday a proposal to speedily close the country's five nuclear power plants, news wires reported.
Boeing hit by WTO ruling over unlawful tax breaks
The US planemaker Boeing received a serious blow last Monday after a WTO panel ruled that a tax break from Washington State to help Boeing develop its new 777X jetliner was a prohibited subsidy.
Beauty weaved from imperfection
What is the reality behind the label contemporary Austrian art? The phrase invites us to formulate ‘Austrian’ and ‘translate’ it into a language that the international audience would understand. Finding an unequivocal definition of nationality, while introducing it in an international context is a challenging task. The exhibition staying at the National Art Gallery until 11 December analyses some of the glitches, holes and DNA-failures in the cell structure of beauty. The show features works by artists such as Andreas Fogarasi, Olivier Holzl, Bernd Oppl, Markus Krottendorfer and Katharina Swoboda and is curated by Boris Kostadinov.
Salvation lies in music
Penka Momchilova, BTA
I am related to folk music through my family. I was brought up with it. My father used to play the accordion. I am fascinated by the ‘diminished seconds’ Bulgarian female folk singers can sing. Bulgarian folklore is unique in the world in that respect, and this is probably where the mystery of our music lies.
Ghiuselev festivities
The December cultural programme will be marked by a series of events in honour of the 80th anniversary from the birth of the great Bulgarian bass Nicola Ghiuselev. An exhibition, new CD releases and books, a big concert and opera films are among the events planned as part of the celebrations for the occasion, which also coincides with the 50th anniversary from the start of Ghiuselev’s stellar career as an opera singer.
The town of schoolmasters
Adelina Lozanova
The town of Elena, which has guarded to this day the better part of its National Revival Period charms, is located almost 40 km away from the Bulgarian medieval capital of Veliko Tarnovo, in the heart of the eastern part of the Balkan Range. In the 19th century the local artists and craftsmen spread Elena’s fame far and wide.
In Brief
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Bulgarian PM awarded Hungarian order
 
Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov (R) was awarded by his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban (L) with the Grand Cross Order of Merit during his visit to Budapest, 30 November. Photo: EPA

Schulz awarded high German order
 
German President Joachim Gauck (L) awarded last Friday EP President Martin Schulz (R) with the Knight Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit at the Bellevue palace in Berlin. Photo: EPA

Pope welcomes Scorsese
 
Pope Francis (R) welcomed last Wednesday at the Vatican US director Martin Scorsese (L), whose film The Last Temptation of Christ 28 years ago was deemed “morally offensive” by the Roman Catholic church. Photo: EPA

Europol: Islamists likely to attack across Europe
 
The IS is likely to carry out terror attacks in the EU in the “near future” as jihadists consider car bombings, chemical weapons and other methods to maximise casualties, Europol said in a report. "EU Member States that participate in the anti-IS coalition are regarded by IS as legitimate targets," it said, pointing to particular risk in France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.

Med dialogues summit suggests new post-IS order
 
Opening the three-day-long Mediterranean Dialogues Summit in Rome last Thursday, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni (pictured) urged the participants from 55 countries to start thinking about post liberation order after the defeat of IS, which could happen in 2017. He gave as an example the Helsinki model, referring to the 1975 conference that aimed to alleviate tensions between the East and the West during the Cold War through dialogue.

Online tools for centralising migration data launched
 
The Commission is to launch on 3 December two new tools - the Migration Data Catalogue and the Dynamic Data Hub, aimed at centralising data to better understand migration trends and their impact on societies across the EU. The first one will classify datasets on legal migration and integration, asylum-seekers and irregular migration, while the second one will provide direct access to single datasets through interactive mapping.

Germany and Commission seal road toll reconciliation
 
The EU and Germany struck a deal on controversial plans to introduce tolls on the autobahn network. It ends a two-year dispute over Berlin’s proposals to impose a charge on motorists using non-German registered vehicles, which the Commission said discriminated against foreigners. In the newly agreed toll plan, rates will be cut for short-term vignettes typically used by foreigners.

Cyprus reunification talks to resume in early January
 
Greek and Turkish leaders agreed last Thursday to resume talks on reuniting the divided island of Cyprus in January. At a UN-hosted dinner, Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci agreed to a time frame for talks in the next few months. The talks will start on 11 January with both sides presenting maps on how much territory their federal zones should comprise, followed by a wider meeting on the next day.

Beer culture in Belgium included in UNESCO heritage list
 
The UNESCO added the beer culture in Belgium among other new items to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during their 11th session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that runs from 28 November to 2 December. Photo: EPA

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