Merkel and Macron open new chapter for the currency union
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron opened a new chapter in the EU currency union by agreeing that, from 2021 on, the Eurozone would have a common budget, news wires reported. Meeting at the Meseberg palace outside Berlin last Tuesday, the two leaders stressed that such a budget would boost the bloc's economic competitiveness. Still, the agreement is vague in details as Merkel and Macron pointed out that the framework would be worked out later with the participation of other Eurozone members. The meeting in Meseberg was aimed at preparing a common German-French position for the EU summit on 28-29 June.
Agent Academician writes paid-for fake news items; dreams up millions spent on US lobbyists
Ognyan Stefanov, a loyal footboy of the scammer Tsvetan Vassilev, has concocted the latest fake news item targeting our publisher, MRF lawmaker Delyan Peevski. Agent Academician, as was Stefanov's alias while still with the communist State Security agency, has been using for years his website Frognews as an informal press office for the fugitive banker hiding in Belgrade. In the Fake News Factory, coordinated by oligarch Ivo Prokopiev, Frognews plays the role of an on-the-fringe website disseminating the most absurd of fables.
 
Contrary to published accounts, BGR Government Affairs does not work – and has never worked – for the government of Bulgaria or any of its ministries. BGR proudly works for Mr. Delyan Peevski and is paid by him for its services.
 
EU consolidates Pacific ties
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.
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.
Bulgarian Madoff exposes his Russian ties
The financial scammer hiding in Serbia is issuing instructions to his people in Bulgaria with hand-written notes delivered by messenger. Telegraph came into possession of some of the correspondence and published it on 18 June. A package sent anonymously to the newspaper’s editorial office contained a letter and several hand-written notes. According to the letter, the notes detail instructions from Tsvetan Vassilev (it claims that the handwriting is assuredly his) and were composed in Belgrade and sent to some unspecified recipients in Bulgaria
Stop the whining and start rethinking global rulebook
Shada Islam
Enough tears have been shed, egos and emotions shaken and obituaries written about the transatlantic relationship. It’s time to move on. So wipe the tears, stop the whining and turn over a new page. The US has embarked on a new journey. The EU should do the same. Europe has already started to woo new partners, tackle fresh challenges and explore roads less-travelled. But more can be done.
At 6 months, Austria's coalition support remains stable
Manes Weisskircher
Six months ago, on 18 December, the new Austrian government was sworn in. Its composition guaranteed international media attention: First, the 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz, leader of the conservative People’s Party (OVP), became chancellor. Second, the radical right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) returned to power. Its long-term leader Heinz-Christian Strache became Austria’s vice-chancellor. Last year, not only the FPO, but also the OVP put restrictive positions on immigration and integration at the centre of its electoral campaign. The parties of the left proved unable to respond effectively – the Social Democrats (SPO) lost the chancellorship, while the Greens were voted out of parliament completely. The OVP and FPO agreed on a coalition agreement that focuses on liberal economic policies and measures to reduce immigration.
US quits UN human rights body
The United States has withdrawn from the United Nations' top human rights body accusing it of “chronic bias” against Israel, in a move that was criticised by human rights groups and described as regrettable by foreign leaders. The decision to pull out of the UN Human Rights Council was announced on 19 June by Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN. “We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organisation that makes a mockery of human rights,” she said alongside US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington.
Greece, Macedonia sign deal to change country's name
Setting aside almost three decades of confrontation, Greece and Macedonia signed on 17 June an agreement on the new name of the former Yugoslav republic, thus paving the way for its possible accession to the EU and NATO, news wires reported.
Modest boost of oil output agreed
Oil prices headed lower last Thursday, after media reports said Iran might accept a modest increase in production at the OPEC summit later on Friday, summoned in Vienna with the participation of a group of non-OPEC countries led by Russia. The main issue was the future of their output target, which has been in place since January 2017. Ahead of the summit, Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world's largest oil producers, pushed for an increase in production, and Iran in particular was a vocal opponent of such plans.
China, US on the brink of an all-out trade war
Even after months of negotiations, China and the United States sank into a rapidly deepening trade conflict that roiled financial markets last Tuesday.
Linde, Praxair propose merger concessions
German industrial gases company Linde and US peer Praxair have offered concessions in a bid to address EU antitrust concerns and secure approval for their merger. The companies submitted their offer on 20 June, according to a filing on the European Commission website. The EU competition enforcer extended its deadline for a decision to 24 August, without providing details of the concessions.
Artist or technician? Simply Vasarely
The Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Spain is presenting a retrospective of the life and work of Victor Vasarely that will remain open until 9 September. Op Art (from optical) emerged onto the artistic landscape almost simultaneously with Pop Art in the late 1950s and forever remained in the shadow of its near-namesake. Perhaps the explanation is that op artists experiment with shapes, colours and spaces, which is closer to design than to fine arts.
Less rules means happier people
It was really beautiful and quiet, actually the perfect environment to grew up as a child. I was constantly biking and hiking through the forest, hanging out at the see, playing soccer from the age of 8, building our own skate ramps and all that stuff. I am really happy that I didn’t grow up in a big city.
Photographer of luminaries
The 5th edition of the Fotofabrika festival will be closed with the exhibition of Felix Nadar, world-known French photographer of the turn of the century period. The exhibition was organised in cooperation with the French Institute in Bulgaria and the National Art Gallery - The Palace in Sofia and staged by Jeu de Paume museum, Mediathek for Architecture and Cultural Heritage, and France's Ministry of Culture.
South Bulgaria's Black Sea heart
Adelina Lozanova
Surrounded by three lakes and the Black Sea, Burgas has rightful ownership of the name “coastal capital of South Bulgaria”. Even though the area was first populated during the pre-historic times, solid evidence of the existence of a settlement situated in the heart of the modern city dates back only to the period of the Ottoman occupation. It is believed that the name of the city is derived from the Latin word for tower “burgus”, often used in its Greek version “pyrgos”. The latter is the name used by the Byzantine poet Manuel Philes (14th century) to refer to the city.
In Brief
.
Radev meets with Vucic
 
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev (L) meets with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on 21 June. The two heads of state discussed bilateral relations. Photo: BGNES

Visegrad Group to boycott informal migration meeting
 
Visegrad Group PMs, Andrej Babis, Viktor Orban, Peter Pellegrini and Mateusz Morawiecki, announced they will not attend the informal meeting on migration in Brussels on 24 June. Photo: EPA

Anti-corruption protest in Bucharest
 
Thousands of Romanians protested on 21 June in Bucharest against the revisions to anti-corruption laws pushed in parliament by the leftist ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD). Photo: EPA

EU retaliatory tariffs on US goods came into force
 
The European Union has introduced retaliatory tariffs on US goods as a top official launched a fresh attack on President Donald Trump's trade policy. The duties on €2.8bn worth of US goods came into force on 22 June. Tariffs have been imposed on products such as bourbon whiskey, motorcycles and orange juice. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said duties imposed by the US on the EU go against “all logic and history”.

Italy vows to impound two German NGO ships
 
Italy has refused on Thursday port to the foreign rescue migrant ships Lifeline and Seefuchs, of the German NGO Mission Lifeline, over doubts that they were "illegally" flying the Dutch flag. "Foreign NGO boats will never touch Italian soil again," warned Italy's far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini later that day. The decision came a week after Rome sparked an EU migration row, following its refusal to take in the Aquarius rescue ship, carrying some 630 migrants.

Ville Itala will be OLAF's new Director-General
 
Ville Itala from Finland will take the helm of EU's anti-fraud office (OLAF) as of 1 August. The EU Commission has appointed him on 20 June as Director-General of OLAF following a selection procedure involving the European Parliament and the Council. Mr Itala is a lawyer by training and has been a Member of the ECA since 2013. Before that, from 2004 to 2012, he was an MEP and Minister of Interior in Finland between 2000 and 2003.

Revised rules for posted workers get approval
 
The Council of the EU adopted on 21 June the revision of the posting of workers directive, aimed to facilitate the transnational provision of services, whilst ensuring fair wages and a level playing field between posting and local companies in the host country by maintaining free movement of services. The new rules guarantee that posted workers are paid at least the minimum wage of the country in which they are working.

New tools to combat VAT fraud across Europe
 
Member States reached last Friday an agreement on new tools aimed at closing loopholes in the EU's VAT system. The new measures will help countries exchange more information and boost cooperation between national tax and law enforcement authorities. “The EU is making real progress on VAT reform, towards a system that is fit for purpose and that stops criminals,” Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said.

Montmartre revived in Rousse
 
An international living statues festival in Rousse features actors performing as statues-come-to-life in 16 short shows dedicated to the forgotten crafts of Paris and the atmosphere of the Montmartre area of the late 18th century. Photo: BTA

Most viewed
.