President Juncker floated his idea that the EU would be easier to understand if one captain steered the ship
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Delivering the State of the Union speech at the European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg on 13 September, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker stressed that “the wind is back in Europe's sails.” Europe's economy is finally bouncing back, let us make the most of the momentum, catch the wind in our sails, he invoked in his annual message, adding that this was “a window of opportunity but it will not stay open forever.” In his 50-minute address, President Juncker provided an ambitious to-do list for the year to come and traced out how in his vision the European Union could become “more united, stronger and more democratic” by 2025.
The Commission will analyse direct flows and identify strategic concerns and solutions
The Commission unveiled last Thursday proposals to set up a European framework for screening foreign direct investment into the EU. In parallel, the Commission will start a detailed analysis of the foreign direct investment flows into the EU and set up a coordination group with Member States to help identify joint strategic concerns and solutions in the area of foreign direct investment, the EU press service reported. The idea was firstly presented by EC President Jean-Claude Juncker in his State of the Union speech a day earlier.
 
Mogherini wants safe channels for those in need of protection to come to Europe
The EU is planning to present by the end of the month new proposals on how to speed up sending illegal migrants back to their home countries and at the same time creating new legal routes for those requiring international protection.
 
Sharing gas to ensure it for all
An EU country facing urgent or unexpected gas shortages can trigger cross-border assistance from its neighbours, under new cooperation rules approved last Tuesday by Parliament. The rules establish four risk groups of Member States, which will take part in “risk associated cooperation” and undertake joint risk assessments and joint preventive and emergency measures.
EU repeal bill wins first vote challenge
The British government's bid to lead the UK out of the EU has passed yet another parliamentary test, news wires reported. Last Monday, MPs backed the EU Withdrawal Bill by 326 votes to 290 despite critics warning that it represented a “power grab” by ministers, according to the BBC.
Parliament adopted EU-wide free WiFi hotspots scheme
Maria Koleva, Brussels
In a few months, municipalities and other public sector bodies from across the Union will be able to apply for EU-funded WiFi hotspots scheme, the so called WiFi4EU initiative. High-quality internet can be provided by 2020 to main public places such as town halls, museums, stations, libraries, hospitals and parks, covering about 6,000-8,000 local communities. The total budget of the programme will be €120m.
MEPs unravel egg scandal across EU
Maria Koleva, Brussels
A criminal act resulting in food fraud, but the risk to human health remains very low. In such a way named Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, during a debate at a plenary in Strasbourg on 12 September, the scandalous contamination of eggs with the insecticide fipronil that was revealed last month.
Engaging more in healthcare
Patients should not pay the cost of non-Europe in healthcare, a group of over 70 lawmakers from the main political families in the European Parliament warned in a statement sent to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker a day before he delivered the State of the Union address at the European Parliament in Brussels.
Juncker: It is time to accept Bulgaria to Schengen
We need to open the Schengen area of free movement to Bulgaria and Romania immediately, said President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker in his State of the Union Address. Juncker mentioned Bulgaria multiple times in his speech before the EP in Strasbourg. The EC president called for all Member States to shoulder some of the responsibility for the protection of the bloc’s external borders. Bulgaria, Italy and Spain cannot be left alone in providing border security, he noted.
Brexit reveals EU's value
Giles Merritt
EU policymakers and officials are returning to their desks with a spring in their step. This summer has seen the ‘Brexit effect’ quietly gathering momentum, so much so that it's shaping into one of the most spectacular own-goals of European history, on a par with Germany's Third Reich or the Russian Revolution. Thanks to Brexit, the value of the European project is now coming into full view. For the average European, the technical details of economic integration have been invisible to the naked eye. But now, with Brexit under way, the European Union's many virtues are being laid bare for all to see.
Catching wind in our sails
Jean-Claude Juncker
When I stood before you this time last year, I had a somewhat easier speech to give. It was plain for all to see that our Union was not in a good state. Europe was battered and bruised by a year that shook our very foundation. We only had two choices. Either come together around a positive European agenda or each retreat into our own corners.
Aurora 17 rises Russia tension
Non-allied Sweden launched last week its largest military exercise in over two decades, in cooperation with several NATO members, prompting criticism that such drills could lead to tension with Russia, news wires reported. The three-week-long war games, dubbed Aurora 17, involve a simulated attack from a foreign power. It is carried out in the Stockholm region in eastern Sweden, in Gothenburg on the west coast and on the Baltic island of Gotland, according to the Swedish Armed Forces' website.
North Korea defies new UN sanctions
North Korea waited just days to defy new UN sanctions by sending early on Friday morning a missile over Japan, where millions of people watching breakfast television saw their screens suddenly turn black aside from two ominous words in white: “Missile Launch.”
Turnover tax for digital giants sought
The EU’s major economies are calling for tax reform across the bloc that responds to where tech platforms generate revenue, not just where they book profit - arguing that the current system allows digital giants to minimize tax liabilities by using subsidiaries in low-tax countries such as Ireland. According to Reuters, finance ministers in France, Germany, Spain and Italy have written a joint letter calling for digital multinationals such as Amazon and Google to be taxed in Europe based on their revenues.
Experts find it difficult to calculate hurricanes costs
For the first time the US was hit simultaneously by two extremely strong hurricanes, which made it difficult for experts to calculate the real economic costs. As Irma continued to rumble last week in Florida, the various specialised companies competed in their preliminary assessments of the consequences.
Carmakers go electric at Frankfurt auto show
Major car makers from around the world gathered last week in Germany for the Frankfurt Motor Show, running from 14 to 24 September, with focus on the future of the automotive industry - electric cars.
Wagner's Parsifal opens Sofia Opera season
Richard Wagner’s famous opera Parsifal is kicking off the Sofia Opera and Ballet’s season on 1 October. The choice is no coincidence after the German composer’s last work was put on for the first time in Bulgaria in July to rave reviews. Opera connoisseurs from across the world flocked to Sofia to watch the show produced by maestro Plamen Kartaloff.
I choose fame before money
Leo Bogdanovski
I found out the same day that the news broke, I was on vacation. Bulgarian music is very popular - not only the folk genre but the classical too. Foreigners are typically more impressed with our authentic songs because they represent something unusual.
Muhammad Ali revived at One Dance Week
The unforgettable Muhammad Ali will be brought back to life on 8 October with the Spitfire Company’s champion’s show One Step before the Fall, part of the 10th edition of One Dance Week in Plovdiv.
Vacationing among a sea of sculptures
Are you a fan of late-summer sea holidays? You know, when the weather is pleasantly warm instead of stifling hot, the sea water is the temperature of lukewarm tea and the throngs of tourists have waned a bit. Well, then Art Complex Anel is just the place for you.
In Brief
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Germany, France in new EU dialogue
 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and French PM Edouard Philippe discussed the new European politics, proposed by France, Berlin, 15 September. Photo: EPA 

Eyeing democratic reforms
 
First VP Frans Timmermans announced last Friday the Democracy Package, which includes reform of Citizens' Initiative and political parties funding. Photo: EPA

Eurogroup tackles EMU
 
Eurogroup finance ministers met last Friday in Tallinn for a meeting devoted to increasing economic resilience in the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Photo: EPA

Improvised bomb explodes on London train
 
A home-made bomb exploded on a packed rush-hour commuter train in London injuring 22 people on 15 September, police said, in what was being treated as the fifth terrorist attack in Britain this year. Passengers on board a train heading into the capital fled as fire engulfed a carriage at Parsons Green underground station in West London after the explosion at 7.20 GMT. In Paris, a man was arrested after attacking with a knife a soldier who was part of an anti-terrorism operation. 

Brussels unveils new progressive trade policy
 
The Commission unveiled last Thursday a package of trade proposals which includes opposing the creeping protectionism across the globe and opening talks for trade deals with Australia and New Zealand. In a move aimed at making the EU's trade policy the most transparent and inclusive in the world, the Commission announced the setting up of an Advisory Group on EU trade agreements. Soon it will also publish a draft mandate to start negotiations towards the creation of a multilateral investment court.

New EU measures against cyber threats tabled
 
In a joint Communication, published on 13 September, the European Commission and EEAS put forward a series of measures to strengthen the EU's ability to prevent, deter and respond to cyber threats. All proposals will be presented in more detail next week in Brussels. Meanwhile, the Estonian Presidency hosted last week in Tallinn a conference, where cybersecurity leaders from across Europe discussed ways to better protect people from this kind of crimes. 

Bulgarian tourism centre opens in Shanghai
 
The first-ever Bulgarian tourism information centre in China was opened in the megalopolis Shanghai with a glitzy ceremony on 14 September. Launching the information centre in China’s financial capital was made possible after Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova, on behalf of her department, signed an agreement in support of the idea and efforts undertaken by ACN Worldwide and its founder Nelson Wong, aimed at setting up an office namely in Shanghai. 

We all want to be cleaned
 
Children look at an artwork titled We All Want to Be Cleaned by Czech artist Kristof Kintera at his exhibition Nervous Trees at Rudolfinum Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic, 13 September. Photo: EPA

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