⊂ EUROPE ⊃
Athens votes on crucial reforms: The Greek Parliament has voted for another reform package. 230 voted in favor, 63 voted against, and five abstained from the vote. On Wednesday evening thousands of people protested against the austerity policies in Athens. The ECB increased the so-called Emergency Liquidity Assistance by another 900 million euros. The American ratings agency Standard & Poor’s upgraded Greece’s sovereign credit rating to CCC+ from CCC-.
bbc.com, cnbc.com, theguardian.com
Juncker plan starts: The EU Commission has finalised an investment plan aimed at kick-starting economic investment across the EU. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, and President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Werner Hoyer, signed the EFSI agreement in Brussels on Wednesday. The EFSI will be set up within the EIB and aims to mobilise 315 billion euros in private and public investment.
EU Commission employment programme: The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) helped a total of 27.610 workers in 2013 and 2014 to find new job opportunities. The fund helps people who had been dismissed due to the economic crisis and the effects of globalisation. A report shows that the EGF provided more than 114.4 million euros to assist workers in 13 member states in their transition and towards new job opportunities.
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Judgement against Italy: The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Italy for failing to provide adequate legal protection for same-sex couples. The country is the only major western European state not to recognise either civil partnerships or gay marriage. The ruling comes after three gay couples took Italy to court complaining they were being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. Italian Prime Minister Renzi has said his government will introduce a law on civil unions by the end of the year.
ECB bond purchases are disputed: For about four months the European Central Bank has been buying bonds each month for around 60 billion euros, particularly government bonds. It is still too early, however, to discern the economic effects that will result from the ECB’s bond purchasing programme.
Commission wants to change rules for stability mechanism: The EU wants to change the rules for using the European Financial Stability Mechanism (EFSM) in order to protect non-euro states from risks, should Greece not repay its debt. The Commission announced that its proposal would guarantee full reimbursement for any financial losses for other countries if a state does not repay its debt.
Refugee policies in the EU states: 70,000 refugees have already arrived in Austria this year. The country claims that its capacities are exhausted. Now, Slovakia has offered to temporarily take in refugees to help the neighboring country. The German government plans to faster deport refugees from the Balkan states. Bavaria has stirred up a discussion in Germany with plans for special camps near borders.
Tax aid: EU Orders France to Recover State Aid From EDF wsj.com
Left parties in Southern Europe: Spanish philosopher Cesar Rendueles sees way out of European dilemma in Podemos and Syriza sueddeutsche.de
EU study: Trademark counterfeiting causes losses worth billions of euros euractiv.com
Ukraine: EU Commission disburses €600 million assistance to Ukraine europa.eu
Sanctions: Russia threatens import ban for flowers from Netherlands bloomberg.com
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“It is fear that made the deal possible.”
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker believes that the deal between Greece and its creditors was only reached due to fear of the consequences of a Greek exit from the eurozone.
“The transatlantic free trade agreement TTIP is an opportunity for Europe and the United States to show that free data traffic is good for innovation and economic growth.”
Dean Garfield, President and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, and John Higgins, Director General of Digital Europe, see TTIP as an opportunity for a true transatlantic digital economy.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Slowly merging: 25 years after the German reunification, differences between Germans in the former Communist East and the West persist. A study by the Berlin Institute for Population and Development found that half of the German population still sees large differences between Western and Eastern Germany. However, the populations in economically strong cities are growing both in the East and West.
PKK announces revenge for Suruc bombing: Kurdish militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have claimed responsibility for the killing of two Turkish police officers on Wednesday. They said the attack was retaliation for a suspected Islamic State suicide bombing which killed 32 mostly young students in the Turkish town of Suruc. Security sources earlier said the officers were found dead with bullet wounds to the head in the house they shared in Ceylanpinar, on the border with Syria.
Demilitarized zone in Eastern Ukraine: Ukrainan President Petro Poroshenko has announced plans to introduce a 30-kilometer demilitarized zone in Luhansk. The buffer zone, which was agreed between Ukraine’s warring factions under mediation of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and Russia, requires all tanks and artillery to be withdrawn from the region. Meanwhile, Interpol removed former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych, who was toppled and fled to Russia in February 2014, from its international most wanted list.
Farmers protest in France: There has been a mixed reaction to news that the French government has announced 1.1 billion euros worth of measures to support its livestock industry. The aim is to halt a wave of protests that have blocked roads in the north of the country. Blockades have been dismantled in the north of France, but are set to be installed around major cities further south, like Lyon.
Bosnia-Herzegovina presidency attempts to relax relations: Members of the Bosnia-Herzegovina government have met Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade. The visit by Dragan Covic, Bakir Izetbegovic and Mladen Ivanic was an effort to relax relations between the two countries after Vucic was attacked with stones during this month’s commemoration of the Srebrenica massacre.
Anniversary of attacks in Norway: Four years after the attacks on a government building and a youth camp on the island of Utoya, memorial services will be held across Norway throughout the day. The attacks claimed the lives of 77 people and changed countless others for ever. Opinion is divided over an exhibition in the same building where the first eight victims died. Planned with the help of survivors and relatives of those who died, there are those who say it will help people come to terms with what happened. But others fear it will become a “hall of fame” for the attacker, whom they would prefer to be forgotten.
Great Britain: Quran dating back to time of Mohammed found cnn.com
Greece: Warren Buffett denies buying Greek island nypost.com
Italy: Terror suspects arrested in Italy and Spain euronews.com
Romania: Mosque in Bucharest sparks resistance euobserver.com
Moldova: Pro-European government coalition has formed reuters.com
⊂ DATA ⊃
Government debt to GDP ratio in the eurozone stood at 92.9 percent at the end of the first quarter of 2015. In the entire EU, the ratio increased to 88.2 percent.
⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃
politjobs.eu: 350.org seeks campaigner *** Steltemeier & Rawe seeks Senior Associate (m/f) *** 1&1 sucht EU Public Affairs Manager VKU sucht Referentin/en *** Afore Consulting seeks Junior Consultants in European Public Affairs
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⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
World Santa Claus Congress: Santas from around the world have begun their annual World Santa Claus Congress in Copenhagen. The three-day congress event in the Danish capital hosts a range of activities including parades, a Santa Obstacle Course and shows at the Bakken amusement park. The Congress dates back from 1957.