Post-2020 budget must match ambitious policy goals, MEPs claim
The EU next long-term budget should match political priorities and address some of the new challenges facing all Member States, be they migration, defence, security or climate change, MEPs said last Wednesday during a debate on Parliament's budget position. In order to fill the shortfall caused by Brexit, MEPs considered that the current limit on EU expenditure needs to be raised from 1% to 1.3% of EU GNI. Thus most of the new priority areas should be properly funded without sacrificing Europe's poorest regions or farming communities. The EP plenary adopted two resolutions on the expenditure and revenue sides of the next multi-annual financial framework (MFF), to apply from 2021. The resolution by co-rapporteurs Jan Olbrycht (EPP, PL) and Isabelle Thomas (S&D, FR) for the post-2020 EU long-term budget was adopted by 458 votes against 177. The resolution by co-rapporteurs Gerard Deprez (ALDE, BE) and Janusz Lewandowski (EPP, PL) on the reform of the EU's system of own resources was adopted by 442 votes against 166. MEPs warned that “no agreement can be concluded on the MFF without corresponding headway being made on own resources” - i.e. the revenue side of the EU Budget. Expenditure and revenue should thus be treated as a single package.
These editors polish the image of Capital circle’s leader, whose media group has been directly linked to the IP address of at least one contributor
Imposters pretending to be Bulgarian representatives of Wikipedia have been filling articles in the so-called free encyclopedia with talking points formulated by the Fake News Factory of the indicted dubious businessman from Razgrad Ivo Prokopiev and his oligarchic cronies Tsvetan Vassilev, Ognyan Donev and Sasho Donchev. These imposters are individuals who have registered as Wikipedia editors with the sole purpose of cleaning up the image of their behind-the-scenes mentors and disparaging those mentor’s foes at their own request.
The real problem is actually the overcapacity in the steel sector, MEPs claimed in a debate
The EU will focus on securing an exemption from US metals tariffs rather than provoking a trade war, Commission VP Jyrki Katainen told European Parliament last Wednesday. “This is not a dispute between Europe and the US as such. That's why the Commission will concentrate on problem-solving, instead of provoking further problems,” he said in a debate about the tariff threat. “What we want to do is clear up this mess. I think there are good reasons why both sides will accept, at the end of the day, that we don't need a trade war.
Capital Markets Union in making
The Commission outlined last Monday yet another step towards the development of the Capital Markets Union (CMU) by promoting alternative sources of financing and removing barriers to cross-border investments, the EU press service reported.
Combating fake news in a way that protects media freedom
Maria Koleva, Brussels
A Code of Practices that online platforms, print and broadcast news media organisations, journalists, fact-checkers and the advertising industry, to commit to, was proposed by the High-Level Expert Group on Fake News and Disinformation in its report.
EP set its stance on future EU-UK ties
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Even closely aligned third countries with identical legislation cannot enjoy similar benefits or market access to those of EU Member States, said MEPs in their position on a possible framework for EU-UK future relations, backed on 14 March during the plenary session in Strasbourg. Free trade deal, internal security, cooperation in foreign policy and defence, plus thematic cooperation, like such on cross-border research and innovation projects, are the pillars on which the post-Brexit ties could be based. The resolution was endorsed by 544 votes in favour, 110 votes against, with 51 abstentions.
Steps toward strengthening rights of posted workers
The European Commission is taking more concrete new initiatives to further deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights. On 13 March, the EU executive body presented its plans to set up an European Labour Office beginning in 2019 to ensure and control the minimum wage and social standards for those that start work in another Member State or who work in a third country inside the bloc.
Boosting food quality, countering food fraud
In attempt to respond and calm down consumer concerns across Europe about food quality and fraudulent practices concerning food, the Commission launched last Tuesday a Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality, operated by the Joint Research Centre, the EU press service reported. The Centre, a network made up of experts in and outside the Commission, will support EU policymakers and national authorities by providing access to, and sharing up-to-date scientific knowledge on food fraud and food quality issues. The Centre's launch was followed by the opening of the exhibition “Putting science at the heart of European policymaking”.
MEPs revolt over Juncker close aide's elevation to top EU post
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's close aide and chief of staff since 2014, Martin Selmayr, fell last Monday into the eye of a political storm after the Parliament decided with an almost unanimous vote to launch a probe into his promotion to EC Secretary General, news wires reported. Juncker announced in late February that Selmayr would take over the Commission's top civil servant post from Alexander Italianer, who is retiring. MEPs, however, revolted over the German-born official promotion raising questions about the decision's integrity and transparency.
Borisov: Balkans should build, not repeat past mistakes
We, on the Balkans, should build, make strides towards a better system and be careful not to repeat the mistakes from 20 years ago, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said on 12 March in Skopje, where, together with his Macedonian and Bosnian counterparts, Zoran Zaev and Denis Zvizdic, respectively, he attended a commemorative ceremony for the 75th anniversary from the deportation of Jews from the territory of modern Macedonia.
How to cut the tangled knot of EU politics
Giles Merritt
Here's a sharp knife to cut through the tangled knot of Europe's politics - let's hold all national parliamentary elections on the same day as voting for the European Parliament. Last week's Italian election results look like being indigestible for weeks to come, perhaps months. Meanwhile, Europe can look forward to five more national polls - Hungary, Latvia, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Sweden - before the autumn. Next year there are six - Estonia, Finland, Belgium, Denmark, Greece and Poland - as well as the mid-year European elections.
Searching new place under Sun
Jeremy Shapiro
Geopolitical competition has made a roaring come back in recent years. Russian President Vladimir Putin, always on the cutting edge of new fads, welcomed the new era with flair last week by introducing an entire new generation of nuclear weapons aimed at the US. But despite Putin's nostalgia for the bipolar arms race of the Cold War, US-Russian rivalry is just one example of the new era of great power competition. Indeed, the US, under its mercurial president and a hawkish Republican administration, seems to be at odds with a growing array of powers.
Macedonia faces new crisis
Macedonia faces a new political crisis as president Gjorge Ivanov refused again to sign legislation to make Albanian the country's second official language, news wires reported. Ivanov, a close ally of the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party, which is in opposition, had refused to ratify the law in January, but last Wednesday lawmakers approved it for a second time amid protests inside parliament and outside the building. Under Macedonia's constitution, the president can't veto legislation approved in two separate votes. But Ivanov said in a statement, cited by AP, that proper parliamentary procedure hadn't been followed.
Britain blasts Russia over involvement in spy poisoning
Relations between Britain and Russia cooled to a level not seen since the Cold War, news wires reported last week. PM Theresa May announced on 14 March that the UK will expel 23 diplomats and freeze high-level contacts, blaming Kremlin for the poisoning of a former spy on Britain's land.
China will further centralise power
China is merging its banking and insurance regulators, giving new powers to policymaking bodies such as the central bank and creating new ministries in the biggest government shake-up in years. The revamp is a cornerstone of President Xi Jinping's agenda to put the leadership of the ruling Communist Party squarely at the heart of policy with Xi himself at the core of the party, Reuters comments. On 11 March, presidential term limits were removed from the state constitution.
France seeks to offset UK as India's door to EU
French President Emmanuel Macron made a four-day trip to India following his long-term strategy that France must supplant Britain as New Delhi's partner of choice in Europe, news wires reported.
Trump blocks Broadcom acquisition of Qualcomm
US President Donald Trump on 12 March has blocked a planned take­over of chipmaker Qualcomm by Singapore-based rival Broadcom on national security grounds, ending what would have been the technology industry's biggest deal.
High society in full length
More than 35 life-size portraits of powerful princes, eccentric aristocrats and fabulously wealthy burghers by the great masters of art history, including Cranach the Elder, Veronese, Velazquez, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Sargent, Manet and Munch, are presented by the Dutch national museum Rijksmuseum in the High Society exhibition.
I love what I do
Of course I am. All my previous concerts in Bulgaria are great memories. I always enjoyed the concerts in Bulgaria. And I look forward to seeing the Bulgarian audience on the Camouflage World Tour, which is a new show, consisting of my new songs, but also the songs the audience knows from my previous albums.
Metamorphoses of love
Penka Momchilova
The play Hooked - with Humour, Sadness and Lots of Music, is a deeply-rooted-in-reality exploration of the metamorphoses of love caused by growing communication over the internet.
Baths of kings and emperors
Adelina Lozanova
The Aquae Calidae Thermopolis archaeological complex near the city of Burgas (today's thermal baths of Burgas) has concentrated evidence of the evolution of hot springs on Bulgarian lands over millennia (Aquae Calidae is Latin for “thermal water”). The artefacts found on the site show that the local thermal baths were visited and used by Philip II of Macedon, the Byzantine emperors Justinian I and Constantine IV Pogonatos, Bulgarian Khan Tervel and Sultan Suleiman II, the Magnificent. The medicinal properties of the hot springs were known back in the Neolithic period, while the ruins of three settlements dating back to 6th-5th millennium BC were found in the area.
In Brief
Borisov meets with Kurz
PM Boyko Borisov met with the Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz (L) on 15 March in Sofia. The two officials discussed the cooperation between Bulgaria and Austria. Photo: BGNES

Sweden to host Trump-Kim meeting
Sweden emerged as a possible venue of Trump-Kim meeting in May as Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem (pictured) welcomed last week her North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho for consultations. Photo: EPA

Street vendor's death sparks riot in Madrid
Migrants clash with Spanish Police in Madrid on 15 March after a CD and DVD illegal street vendor died during a police control. Photo: EPA

Franco-German dialogue restarts with EU overhauls
Right after securing her fourth term as Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel headed to Paris on 16 March for talks with President Emmanuel Macron, who is eager to push ahead with EU overhauls. For his major reform plan, which includes a common Eurozone finance minister and budget, Macron needs the support of Europe's biggest economy. Before the meeting that was expected later on Friday, observers noted that finding common ground is likely to prove elusive on several key issues, even though the two want to project a sense that EU reform is moving forward.

Barnier: Leaving EU, UK could not retain privileges
Michel Barnier, the EU Brexit negotiator, insisted last week that once leaving the Union, Britain would not retain its current privileges, including on trade. His stance came ahead of the final push to seal a deal on a transition period after Brexit. But mounting differences over the divorce led the EU to warn repeatedly that time was running out and the post-Brexit transition could not be considered given.

Tax firms where they earn their profits, MEPs said
A harmonised system to tax digital firms where they earn their profits and to calculate their tax bills according to their online activities was last Thursday approved by the EP. The plan is part of a wide-ranging proposal to create a single, clear and fair EU corporate tax regime. According to rapporteur Alain Lamassoure (EPP, FR), the plan is a great opportunity “to make a giant leap in the field of corporate taxation.”

MEPs vote resolution calling Turkey to withdraw from Syria
The European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution on 15 March calling on Turkey to withdraw all its troops from northern Syria. The Turkish military invaded Syria in January to fight the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which it has labelled a terrorist group. Turkey responded angrily to the resolution, saying it demonstrated “clear support” for the militants. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan commented on the country's ongoing Olive Branch operation, saying that it would not be suspended.

Finland is world's 'happiest country', according to report
This year's happiest place on Earth is Finland, according to an annual UN report - toppling Norway from the top spot. The World Happiness Report measures “subjective well-being” - how happy people feel they are, and why. Nordic countries regularly appear in the top five, while war-hit countries and a number in sub-Saharan Africa regularly appear in the bottom five. Burundi was the least happy, taking over from the Central African Republic.

First sightings of storks back
With the equinox (marking the official beginning of spring) drawing close, we have the first sightings of storks returning to Bulgaria. Photo: BGNES

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