Talks for comprehensive trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand launched
The EU officially launched last week negotiations for comprehensive trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand in the presence of Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom, who visited Canberra and Wellington. The aim of the talks is to remove barriers to trade in goods and services, create opportunities for small and large companies, as well as setting ambitious rules in line with other trade agreements of the EU, contributing to shape global trade, the Commission press service said.
Athens will receive a tranche of €15bn, 10-years repayment period
After a marathon session last Thursday extended through early Friday, Eurogroup reached a deal on the end of the Greece's bailout programme, news wires reported. The deal also guarantees the sustainability of the country's debt.
Bavaria's CSU head demands the right to turn away already registered asylum seekers
Germany's ruling coalition was last week at the brink of collapse after Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU) head and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer presented an ultimatum, under the form of a “migration masterplan”, to Chancellor Angela Merkel, on curbing migration flow to the country.
May wins Brexit vote, beats rebels
Britain managed to keep up on its plans to quit the EU in March 2019 after last Wednesday PM Theresa May won a crucial Brexit vote in parliament, news wires reported. After pro-EU Conservative lawmaker Dominic Grieve said he would support the government's proposal for a “meaningful vote” in parliament on Britain's exit, a potential rebellion that could have undermined May's authority was averted.
Debate on cohesion policy is indicator for EU future
The final event within the Parliamentary Dimension of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU was the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC) on 18, 19 June in Sofia. Delegations of the Member States' national parliaments and observers from EU partner countries took part.
New copyright rules stir up sturdy rows
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Legal Affairs Committee MEPs backed in a tight vote an update of EU copyright rules that better fit to the nowadays digital shift. The new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, proposed by the European Commission back in 2016, tackles the issue known as 'value gap' in which internet platforms bear no legal responsibility over the copyright-protected content that has been uploaded to their website by users.
Future ACP-EU relations agreed
The 35th session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) was held from 18 to 20 June in Brussels, bringing together 78 MEPs and their counterparts from 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. During the debates, lawmakers mapped the future of the partnership after the expiration of Cotonou Agreement.
Numbers of asylum seekers in EU continue to decrease
Last year there were 728,470 applications for international protection in the EU, which was a significant drop of asylum requests, showed the 2017 Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum in the European Union, released on Monday by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).
Sweden Democrats call for referendum on EU membership
The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats (SD) called for Sweden to hold a referendum on the country's EU membership after the 2018 Swedish general election, news wires reported. SD party leader Jimmie Akesson told newspaper Dagens Industri last week that the EU is a “large web of corruption where no one has control over anything”.
Italian far-right minister plans to expel illegal Roma
Italy's far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini (pictured) last Monday announced plans to count the Roma community living in the country and deport those without Italian nationality, news wires reported. “As for the Italian Roma, unfortunately one has to keep them at home,” Salvini told a regional TV station in Lombardy, his home region in northern Italy.
Hungary's parliament blesses 'STOP Soros' law, defying EU
Hungary's parliament last Wednesday approved a package of bills that criminalise any aid to illegal migrants, defying the EU and human rights groups, news wires reported.
Hauliers threaten to stage protests in Brussels
The Bulgarian Union of International Haulers (UIH) is considering protests in Brussels if the European Parliament rejects the demands of the industry on the contentious texts in the EU Mobility Package.
Fingerprinting database rules get update
Migration and asylum authorities will identify persons entering or staying irregularly in the EU more easily under new rules informally agreed last Wednesday, the EU press service reported.
Deal on energy savings, governance confirmed
Decision-makers have reached agreement on energy savings by 2030, as well as a new instrument to help EU Member States deliver on Europe's energy and climate goals, the EU press service reported. A first informal deal by Parliament and Council negotiators sets a 32.5% energy efficiency headline target at EU level, to be reviewed by 2023 to take into account significant cost reductions resulting from economic or technological changes. Then the target can only be raised, not lowered.
In Brief
EU extends sanctions over Crimea and Sevastopol by one year
The Council of the EU last Monday extended the restrictive measures in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia until 23 June 2019. Applied to EU persons and EU-based companies, they are limited to the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol. The sanctions include prohibitions on imports into the EU of products originating in Crimea or Sevastopol, as well as investment and financing there. Exports of certain goods and technologies to Crimean companies or for use in Crimea, as well as supplying tourist services there, are also subjected to sanctions.

Germany, France request 5% ceiling on EU banks' bad loans
The banks in EU should reduce the stock of bad loans to a maximum of 5% of the loans they hold, Germany and France said in a joint document, recommending a ceiling that would force Italy and other EU countries to hasten offloading plans. “There should be an aim of a 5% gross NPLs and 2.5% net NPLs for all SRB (Single Resolution Board) and all other banks,” said the document adopted before an EU summit this week in Brussels. SRB banks are all large Eurozone lenders and are under the watch of the EU agency responsible for resolving ailing banks.

EC opens investigation into gas free flow restrictions
The Commission opened a formal investigation to assess whether supply agreements between Qatar Petroleum companies, exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG), and European importers have hindered the free flow of gas within the European Economic Area (EEA), in breach of EU antitrust rules. “Energy should flow freely within Europe, regardless of where it comes from. We have opened an investigation to look at whether there are problematic territorial restriction clauses in gas supply contracts with Qatar Petroleum,” Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

Negotiations on pan-European pension scheme set to start
Member States have asked the EU Presidency to start negotiations with the Parliament on a proposal for a pan-European pension product that would make it easier for people to put money aside for their old age. The draft regulation would provide greater choice for people who wish to save for their retirement, according to the Commission. The pan-European pension product will “promote competition amongst pension providers, enabling them to sell pension products outside their national markets,” Bulgaria's finance minister Vladislav Goranov said for the EU Presidency.