July - December 2011

EU Leaders Set to Push Greece on Bailout in Emergency G-20 Talks
3 November 2011 – Bloomberg Businessweek – Rebecca Christie and Simon Kennedy
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou visited European leaders before the upcoming G-20 Summit, where he was told that his country has no alternative to the budget cuts agreed upon in the recent bailout package. Papandreou looks very weak at the moment after he announced a surprise referendum on the bailout package. Some are saying that without the bailout package, the future remains entirely uncertain, leaving a poor climate for countries to create cash in order to help the most debt-ridden members of the eurozone. (Read More)

Papandreou Ready to Step Down, ECB Man Likely to Replace Him
3 November 2011 – EU Observer – Leigh Phillips
George Papandreou appears ready to step down soon as the Prime Minister of Greece, less than a week after he called for a referendum on the recent bailout package. It appears his successor will be the former vice president of the ECB, Lucas Papademos. He is known for being a strong supporter of the austerity measures that have caused uproar in Greece. The Commission has said that if Greece does not vote to keep the euro, it should leave the EU as well. (Read More)

Bloomberg – Berlusconi Arrives at G-20 ‘Empty-Handed’ After Revamp Vote
3 November 2011 – Bloomberg – Lorenzo Totaro
Days after vowing to speed up Italy’s implementation of reforms, PM Silvio Berlusconi is arriving at the G-20 conference “empty-handed.” The Cabinet agreed upon a “mini-plan” to help fight the current debt crisis, but fell far short of the economic revamp most feel Italy needs. Unable to put forth the unpopular reforms needed to restore market confidence, Berlusconi will likely be forced to resign. It is even more evident that Italy needs to lower debt and promote growth now that the potential for Greece leaving the eurozone is possible. (Read More)

Jailed Ex-PM Asks EU to Cooperate with Ukraine
2 November 2011 – ABC News
In a letter written from her jail cell, former Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko pleads with EU leaders to continue cooperation with her country. She hopes the EU will still signed the Association Agreement with Ukraine, which was put on hold and may not be signed at all as a result of her imprisonment. Tymoshenko may be released from jail if Parliament passes legislation that turns her crime into a misdemeanor, but that could take months. (Read More)

Papandreou’s Call for a Referendum is No Greek Tragedy: View
2 November 2011 – Bloomberg
Prime Minister George Papandreou’s call for a referendum on the recently approved Greek bailout package as well as a confidence vote was the right thing to do, this editorial argues. The Greek citizens deserve a say in this important matter, and this could actually improve the debt situation moving forward. The bailout that was recently created by European leaders falls short of what is actually necessary, and needs improvements. This referendum will likely be more about whether Greece will want to stay in the eurozone, which probably is the case. (Read More)

EU Observer – As Government Verges on Collapse, Papandreou Fires Military Chiefs
2 November 2011 – EU Observer – Leigh Phillips
Sarkozy of France and Merkel of Germany, just two European leaders shocked by the recent call for a Greek referendum on the recent bailout package, are going to meet with Prime Minister Papandreou. They will insist that this package be implemented. Meanwhile, Papandreou’s call for a confidence vote, if lost, threatens to topple his entire government, as party members are calling for the PM to step down. Papandreou has also fired the entire command of his armed forces, inviting criticism from his opposition and claims that the move was “undemocratic.” (Read More)

Crisis Mounts around Italy’s Berlusconi
2 November 2011 – Reuters – James Mackenzie
Silvio Berlusconi of Italy met with his ministers in order to try to calm market turmoil, which has severely damaged Italian bonds and bank shares. Greece’s surprise decision to hold a referendum on the bailout package has thrown markets into chaos, threatening the stability of Italy’s struggling economy. There have been great amounts of pressure on Berlusconi from both sides, and calls from many to see him pass reforms. (Read More)

UN Calls for Cyprus ‘Peace Summit’
2 November 2011 – EurActiv
The UN has called for a meeting in January between leaders of the ethnically divided Cyprus, a country divided by predominantly Greek and Turkish halves. Only the southern, Greek half of Cyprus adheres to the rules and receives the benefits of EU membership. Officials hope that the meeting will bring an end to a few outstanding issues between the two sides. For years, the UN has tried to reunite the island country, as domestic issues have hurt EU-Turkish relations. Cyprus will hold the rotating EU presidency in the latter half of 2012. (Read More)

Fury in Germany after Greek Referendum Call
1 November 2011 – Reuters – Erik Kirschbaum and Noah Barkin
Less than a week after European leaders agreed on a second bailout for Greece, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced a referendum on the latest aid package. This comes as a shock to international leaders, infuriating from many who feel they have been sacrificing for the sake of Greece. Some have suggested that Greece is trying to avoid the harsh austerity cuts that have been tied to the bailout package. "If the Greeks say no, then it means bankruptcy. It would be a clear 'no' to the euro," said one economist.  (Read More)

Sarkozy: EU Should Welcome Chinese Bail-out Money
28 October 2011 – EU Observer – Andrew Rettman
Nikolas Sarkozy of France says the EU should welcome China if it decides to help bailout the eurozone, saying “our independence will in no way be put into question by this.” One source has suggested that China may spend above $100 billion. Sarkozy’s French opposition has suggested that China may seek to influence domestic politics if it becomes involved in the bailout. China and the EU have had a history of disagreeing on both economic and human rights issues. (Read More)

Sofia, The Hague Postpone Landmark Visit
31 October 2011 – EurActiv
A meeting between Dutch and Bulgarian authorities has been cancelled, emphasizing the countries’ disagreements and the Netherlands’ recent veto against permitting Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen zone. A spokesperson for Bulgaria has said that the current atmosphere between the two countries is not conducive to bilateral talks, but hopes that a meeting will occur before the end of the year. A Dutch spokesperson said that the meeting’s cancellation had been a mutual decision and hopes the two sides will meet soon. (Read More)

European Parliament Stands Up for Christians in Egypt and Syria
31 October 2011 – Euro Med
The European Parliament has condemned the killing of peaceful protesters and the persecution of Christians in Egypt and Syria, including recent instances where Coptic Christian women in Egypt have been forced to convert to Islam. The EU has called upon the Supreme Council of Armed Forces in Egypt to stop its imposed military law as well, and reiterated its demand for President Assad of Syria to step down. The MEPs also emphasize the need for the EU to further support democratic opposition groups in Syria.  (Read More)

The Country of “NO”
29 October 2011 – The Economist
While the German Bundestag voted in favor of boosting the powers of the EFSF last week, support for Germany’s helping of other eurozone states is fading. While some of that has to do with the country’s increasing unwillingness to pay for other struggling states’ failures, there are also many who do not believe these bailouts or further reliance upon the ECB are the best routes for strengthening the eurozone. There is hope that these current bailouts will stop fear from spreading across the zone, and allow countries, particularly Italy, to reform and fix their own problems. (Read More)

Russia says ready to aid euro-zone through IMF
31 October 2011 – Reuters
Russia says that it is willing to meet with individual euro zone states about financially supporting them through the IMF. A representative said that the EU has not made any formal request for aid, but if there was one, Russia would be willing to discuss future options. That representative has said that Russia may be willing to lend up to $10 billion, and that Russia was looking into purchasing Spanish bonds. (Read More)

Higgins Triumphs in Irish Presidential Race
31 October 2011 – EurActiv
Labour candidate Michael D. Higgins, a former culture minister, poet, and human rights advocate has easily won the Irish Presidency. A member of the government’s junior-coalition party, Higgins persisted over an ex-IRA member who has steadily gained political legitimacy over the years. Meanwhile, one of two referendums on the day narrowly failed, which would have boosted the power of parliamentary committees. Another, which allows the government to lower the pay of judges, has passed. (Read More)

Bulgarian Ruling-Party Nominee Leads in Presidential Runoff
31 October 2011 – Bloomberg – Elizabeth Konstantinova
Rosen Plevneliev of Bulgaria’s ruling party, Gerb, will win the runoff election for the country’s Presidency. Bulgaria, which is the poorest country in the EU, has struggled to combat corruption and organized crime. Gerb politicians see this victory as a vote of confidence for their party and its recent policies. “Our cause is a modern Bulgaria fully integrated in the EU,” Plevnelieve said. “We’ll have to work day and night to achieve that.” (Read More)

European Parliament: Democratic Ownership and Local Procurement are EU Priorities for Busan Aid Effectiveness Forum
27 October 2011 – Eurodad
The European Parliament has adopted a report on aid effectiveness that looks for more reforms than the Commission has currently proposed. The report demands more progress to empower developing nations’ democratic institutions and reform donors’ procurement practices. The report identifies the lack of democratic ownership as problematic, which means “development strategies must be driven by the countries themselves” and that the role of parliaments and civil society organizations in the execution process need to be strengthened. (Read More)

German Court Suspends Key Parliament Committee
28 October 2011 – EU Observer – Honor Mahony
A special 9-person committee dedicated to speeding up Berlin’s decision-making process with regard to the eurozone bailout fund has been suspended due to questions of its constitutional legality. The Bundestag had decided that the special committee would oversee 211 billion euros in German taxpayers’ money used for the bailout fund. The committee had been created in response to fears that the decision making process for these issues was too slow. There may be a decision made regarding the special committee before the New Year.  (Read More)

Macedonian Film Infuriates Bulgaria
28 October 2011 – EurActiv
Bulgarian MEP’s are furious that a Macedonian film currently in production depicts wartime Bulgarians as fascists and anti-Semites. The MEPs, from different parties, have sent a letter to enlargement commissioner Štefan Füle, stating that the film attempts to “manipulate Balkan history.” The letter references different aspects of the acquis, and claims that Macedonia is breaching European values with this film. The film has the support of Macedonia’s Prime Minister. (Read More)

Czech PM Mulls Euro Referendum
28 October 2011 – EU Observer – Valentina Pop
Recent bailout funds for eurozone members like Greece have led to the euroskeptic ruling- party in the Czech Republic to call for a referendum on whether the country should join the eurozone. Czech leaders believed the rules have changed since 2003 when the country agreed to enter the EU and eventually the eurozone, and the country should have the chance to once again decide for itself if they want to adopt the euro. Opposition leaders fear this will hurt the country’s influence in Europe. (Read More)

Barroso: Europe ‘Closer to Resolving Eurozone Crisis’
27 October 2011 – BBC
Europe has agreed to a deal that will move the region closer to resolving its debt crisis. European Commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso announced that there will be a new Commissioner dedicated solely to the euro. Meanwhile, leaders agreed on three key policies: banks holding Greek debt will endure a 50% loss, there will be a mechanism to boost the bailout fund at 1.4 trillion euros, and banks will now have to raise about 106 billion euros in capital by June 2012 in order to protect against losses from any future government default. (Read More)

EU Summit Raises Fears of ‘Two-Speed’ Europe
26 October 2011 – EurActiv
Many non-eurozone countries are worried that the EU will develop into a ‘two-speed’ system where non-eurozone members will be left out. A meeting of seven non-members, mostly Eastern European states, voiced concerns that money from structural and cohesion funds will be used to help struggling eurozone members. While leaders may find the idea of a new commissioner dedicated to the euro necessary, one official said “we need to ensure that the idea can work effectively within the wider EU 27, without impinging on the EU’s broader decision making powers.” (Read More)

Reuters – Italians, Greeks Skeptical over Euro zone Rescue Plan
27 October 2011 – Reuters – Catherine Hornby
Some leaders from Greece and Italy, the two countries under the greatest spotlights right now, are skeptical about the new eurozone deal. Members of the Greek opposition question the decision for banks and insurers to endure a 50% loss on Greek government bonds. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Berlusconi of Italy has submitted a new list of reforms intended to boost growth and lower debt, but few are confident that the reforms will pass. Berlusconi’s government has had trouble passing reform, and their main coalition party seems unwilling to budge on certain reform issues. (Read More)

EU Parliament Hails Arab Spring Self-Immolation
27 October 2011 – EU Observer – Andrew Rettman
The EU Parliament has given out the Sakharov Prize to five activists for their role in promoting the Arab Spring. The most notable recipient was Mohammed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street trader who lit himself on fire in protest to corruption, an act that immediately inspired a popular revolution that eventually led to Tunisian elections on Sunday. Taking place less than a year after Bouazizi’s self-immolation, the Tunisian elections were the first post-Arab Spring elections, and a signal of hope for democracy in the region. (Read More)

EU Officials Do Not Rule Out Third Summit This Weekend
26 October 2011 – EU Observer – Leigh Phillips
With some fearing that today’s second EU summit will not produce tangible results, EU officials may call another emergency meeting for this weekend. While leaders have converged on a bank bailout of roughly 110 billion euro, the two unresolved issues left are: the size of the haircut on Greek bank holdings of public debt, and how to boost the firepower of the EFSF. The Institute for International Finance is reportedly refusing to budge on a Greek haircut of over 40% while the EU is pushing for one closer to 50 or 60%. Meanwhile the IMF is not ruling out a haircut of closer to 75%. (Read More)

Croatian Leader Tries to Ease Tensions over War Crimes Law
26 October 2011 – EurActiv
Croatian President Ivo Josipović is looking to forge an agreement with Serbia with regard to war crimes, hoping to defuse tensions between the two neighboring states. Earlier this month, Croatia quickly passed a law voiding all war crime indictments after Serbia indicted high-profile Croatians for crimes from the 1990s. Josipović believes that working out an agreement with Serbia is a better solution to this issue, and one that will garner support from the EU. The President is at odds with the Prime Minister, who supports the law.  (Read More)

German Parliament Passes Bailout Bill before EU Summit
26 October 2011 – Reuteres – Thorston Severin
The German Bundestag has voted overwhelmingly in favor of expanding the eurozone bailout fund, giving Chancellor Merkel support as she hopes to broker a deal at the EU Summit. Merkel addressed the Bundestag, stating "The world is watching Germany and Europe to see if we are ready and able to take responsibility. If the euro fails, Europe fails.” Prospects for creating a comprehensive package at the EU summit are not high, but Merkel is hoping to push for an even larger bailout fund than the one that has already passed. (Read More)

European Parliament Still Supports Deepening of Ukraine-EU Relations
26 October 2011 – Kyiv Post
The European Parliament has drafted a resolution calling for deeper bilateral relations between the EU and Ukraine, and recognition of Ukraine’s willingness to join the EU. The document recognizes the need for Ukraine to reach European standards on a number of issues, especially democratic values like the rule of law and human rights. This comes after the EU denounced Ukraine’s conviction of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, which the draft still recognizes as a “violation of human rights.” (Read More)

In Hungary, a Worrisome Trend Toward Repression
25 October 2011 – Montreal Gazette – Andras B. Gollner
Hungarians taken to the streets in protest to accuse of their democratically elected government of drifting toward authoritarianism.  One of the most admired and respected anti-Communist warriors of Eastern Europe, and the first president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, three years ago forecasted this drift among Central and Eastern European states. PM Victor Orban’s government, despite the fact that there are economic challenges and political shortcomings, has instituted economic policies that penalize the less privileged. Canadian and U.S. scholars have warned Hungarian government and other would-be autocrats to think about their actions. (Read More)

Time to Lean on Russia
24 October 2011 – New York Times – Guy Verhofstadt and Mikhail Kasyanov
20 years after the Soviet Union’s demise, Russia is still not working towards basic freedoms and human rights, and it is still not the ‘federal democratic state committed to the rule of law’ that it has claimed to be. Today, court decisions are subjected to the interests of the authorities, democracy in Russia is in retreat. As Russia plays a major role in global security, business and economic relations, it is now time to admit that Russia is not a democracy, but rather an autocracy. In November 2011, a new Helsinki process will be initiated by opening a discussion on Russian democracy again in Helsinki. Cooperation with Russian leaders should be initiated according to their compliance with international conventions, and Russian officials should be exposed to sanctions.  (Read More)

Shall I Kill Him?
24 October 2011 – The Economist
With much of the debt discussion in Europe involving the future of Italy, there is a sense among European leaders that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is unable to make the necessary changes to move the region forward. If debt contagion spreads to Italy, massive amounts of money will be needed to keep the country afloat. Yet Berlusconi seems unwilling to enact the reforms that are needed at a time like this, constantly providing an excuse for why his country is not up to the task. As a result, European leaders have had to chastise him in a public ways. (Read More)

German Parliament to Vote on Euro Measures Ahead of Summit
25 October 2011 – EU Observer – Valentina Pop
The German Bundestag will vote upon the government’s negotiating mandate for the eurozone bailout fund, powers recently granted by the German constitutional court. While the vote has been criticized by some for slowing down an important measure, others believe it is a necessary step in preserving the democratic nature of these bailouts. The bill, which will include an EU-wide bank recapitalization for 100 billion euro, haircut for Greek bondholders, and a possible expansion of the firepower of the EFSF to one trillion euro, is expected to pass. (Read More)

UK Parliament Rejects Referendum on Country’s EU Membership
24 October 2011 – CNN – Jonathan Wald
British lawmakers will not hold a non-binding referendum on whether the country should leave the EU. The vote for the referendum failed 111-483, but still served as a shot against support for EU membership. The vote for the referendum was highly discouraged by Prime Minister David Cameron, who said that it was not the right time to hold a referendum on such an issue. 81 members of the Conservative Party voted for the referendum, roughly a quarter of the party. (Read More)

EU Parliament Passes Regulation, Granting Access to All Labor Markets for Bulgarians and Romanians by End-2011
25 October 2011 – Business Review
The European Parliament has passed a regulation allowing citizens of Romania and Bulgaria to freely enter the labor market in all EU states. The regulation will go into effect at the end of the year. Official data shows that workers from Eastern Europe did not add to unemployment but rather helped the GDP of the destination countries they worked in. Those Member States that still have restrictions on allowing workers from these countries to enter the labor market must remove said restrictions under this regulation. (Read More)

EU States to Speed Up Austerity, Embrace ‘Limited’ Treaty Change

23 October 2011 – EU Observer – Leigh Phillips
European premiers and leaders met this weekend, agreeing to “limited” treaty changes that will create stronger convergence for eurozone members by tightening fiscal regulations and create deeper economic integration. Leaders also agreed to speed up the austerity and structural adjustment measures that have already been signed. But the leaders also failed to agree on some large issues, particularly the creation of a comprehensive debt package that will prevent contagion to Spain and Italy. More meetings will occur later this week on Wednesday. (Read More)

Bulgarian Ruling-Party Candidate Leads in Presidential Vote
24 October 2011 – Bloomberg Businessweek – Elizabeth Konstantinova
The candidate for Bulgaria’s ruling party Gerb has received the most votes in the country’s Presidential election. Rosen Plevneliev received 42.8% with the second-place candidate receiving 30.47%. Plevneliev is expected to win a runoff vote on Oct. 30. The party came to power 27 months ago, pledging to end corruption and organized crime, two of Bulgaria’s biggest governance problems. “The fact that our candidates gained such good results in a situation of a severe financial crisis is a vote of confidence in our policies” Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said. There have been allegations of vote-buying in small villages. (Read More)

EU Lawmaker Urges Turkish Cypriots to Repeal Anti-Gay Law that Led to Former Official’s Arrest
20 October 2011 – Washington Post
An EU legislator is urging the northern, Turkish part of Cyprus to repeal an anti-gay law that led to the arrest of a former Greek Cypriot minister. The island is separated by a Turkish northern region and Greek southern region and, while the entire island joined the EU in 2004, only the southern region enjoys the benefits of membership. The former minister was accused of having gay sex in the north. The law states that this is a felony punishment that could receive up to 5 years in prison. The Turkish Cypriot leader, a top government official, agrees that the law should be repealed. (Read More)

Papandreou Prevails in Greek Austerity Vote as One Dies
21 October 2011 – Bloomberg Businessweek – Maria Petrakis and Natalie Weeks
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou successfully pushed a new round of austerity cuts through the Parliament. Meanwhile, protesters and strikers who opposed the new legislation turned violent in response to the vote, leaving one person dead. The 53-year old construction worker went into cardiac arrest after being struck in the head by a rock. More strikes came today as the population prepares for the cuts, and municipal workers planned another 24-hour walkout. The new austerity package will increase taxes, cut pensions and wages, and dismiss up to 30,000 state employees. (Read More)

EU to Cut Food Aid for the Poor
21 October 2011 – EU Observer – Valentina Pop
The 500 billion euro renewal plan to aid food to the poor has been blocked by six Member States. The plan will be cut by three quarters on January 1. Polish farm minister Marek Sawicki criticized the six states, commenting “If we show solidarity with the banks, we need to show solidarity with the poorest.” Most food charities rely upon this money from the EU budget to provide meals to 18 million poor people. A German agricultural minister said “we don’t want a social policy made at an EU scale…this is a national government’s duty.”  (Read More)

Paris and Berlin Announce Second EU Summit
21 October 2011 – EurActiv
Germany and France have announced that there will be a second eurozone summit on Wednesday, which will follow the EU and eurozone twin summits this weekend. Policy makers are hoping that France and Germany will work out their differences and come to agreement this weekend before signing those agreements on Wednesday. The two countries have a few key disagreements with regard to implementing the EFSF bailout fund, recapitalizing Europe’s banks, and the implementation of economic governance as well as increasing EU integration. (Read More)

Poor Governance Sinks ‘Europe: 2020’ Strategy: Report
20 October 2011 – EurActiv
A report by Green MEPs says that EU governance has brought the EU off-track from accomplishing its ‘Europe 2020’ strategy goals. By emphasizing economic growth at the expense of the citizens, the report says that the EU is behind its goals related to employment, expenditures on research, and energy efficiency. The report criticizes the Commission’s Annual Growth Survey, stating that it utilizes too many benchmarks and inconsistencies. Furthermore, the plan is not implemented by any parliamentary officials, resulting in a democratic deficit. (Read More)

Protest Against Greek Austerity Turns Violent
20 October 2011 – Reuters – Renee Maltezou and Harry Papachristou
Protests before the Greek Parliament and further austerity cuts turned violent after a young group of protesters threw stones and bombs at other peaceful groups on Wednesday. Greece had been in the middle of a 48-hour strike that was organized by union groups. The number of protesters before Parliament peaked around 100,000. The Greek Parliament expects to pass the austerity cuts that the protesters are attempting to prevent. Some officials who have recently switched their vote in favor of the cuts say they will comply, but will not tolerate any further austerity measures. (Read More)

Euro Crisis to Smother Growth in Eastern Europe
18 October 2011 – EU Observer – Valentina Pop
A study by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development indicates that growth has slowed in a number of Eastern European states, where Greek banks play an important role in the financial sector. Just a few months ago, growth forecasts were predicted to be 3.4% for some states, but are now down to 1.7%. Other states, especially Southeastern states, have even bleaker predictions. The EBRD says that if the current crisis spreads to core eurozone states, a recession will likely hit the global economy. (Read More)

Russia and Ukraine Make Nice after EU Snub
18 October 2011 – EU Observer – Andrew Rettman
Russian President Dimitry Medvedev says that Ukraine’s conviction of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is none of his business, and had “respect” for the “independent” court’s decision. The meeting in Ukraine included gas company CEO’s, with the two countries supposedly close to a deal on gas prices. A Ukrainian spokesperson said that Ukraine may look to joining a Customs Union with Russia and several Eurasian countries, a troubling prospect for many in the West. (Read More)

Greek Protesters Clash with Police at Austerity Strike
19 October 2011 – Reuters – Lefteris Papadimas and Yannis Behrakis
A 48-hour strike and violent protests before Parliament in Athens have brought Greece to a halt. The strike and the protests come as Greek politicians debate about passing legislation that will lay out new austerity cuts. “Who are they trying to fool? They won’t save us. With these measures the poor become poorer and the rich richer” one protester said. More than 7,000 police officers were brought to Athens to prepare for the protests. There were no serious injuries. (Read More)

Spain Downgrade Ups Pressure on EU to Act
19 October 2011 – EurActiv
Moody’s has given Spain’s credit rating a double downgrade, one day after warning France that it may downgrade their ratings in the following months. The rating agency said that there is no credible resolution to the debt crisis available, dropping the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy to an Aa2 rating. Investors are hoping for a solution to the eurozone crisis this weekend at the upcoming EU summit, but some have hinted that the event will not produce such a solution. (Read More)

Markets Plunge as Germany Dampens EU Summit Expectations
18 October 2011 – EU Observer – Valentina Pop
German officials lowered expectations for a comprehensive solution to the eurozone debt crisis, sending stocks and the euro plunging on Monday. Many had expected that the upcoming EU summit would produce a resolution to the crisis, specifically a plan for a partial Greek bailout and a way to prevent contagion to Spain and Italy. A spokesperson for Chancellor Merkel of Germany stressed that the upcoming summit will be an important step in the long journey of ending the current crisis, but not the immediate solution. (Read More)

French Debt Rating at Risk as Germany Warns There is No Quick Fix for Crisis
17 October 2011 – The Guardian – Phillip Inman
Moody’s has warned France that it could lose its Aaa credit status in a few months. While France’s economy is strong enough to handle normal shocks, the ratings agency said, the financial system has been weakened as a result of the eurozone crisis. As German officials lowered expectations for great results from the upcoming EU summit, this warning to France shocked markets and added more uncertainty. Still, the German financial minister put forth a four-point plan that he believed would help resolve the situation. (Read More)

Changing Tack on Austerity Would be ‘Irresponsible’ Says EU Presidents
17 October 2011 – EU Observer – Leigh Phillips
The EU Presidents believe that austerity cuts are an essential part of the solution to the current eurozone debt crisis. EU Council chief Herman van Rompuy says that he understands the concerns of the young people and the ‘indignados’ in Spain who are protesting the large austerity cuts across the region. But, he believes, the cuts are necessary to restoring equilibrium within the economy. Brussels will also put forth proposals for penalties against ‘market abuse,’ a nod to the hopes of those protesting austerity cuts. Today’s youth generation is the first to grow up only knowing the Single Market. (Read More)

EU ‘Postpones Milestone Yanukovych Visit
18 Otcober 2011 – EurActiv
The EU has postponed its upcoming meeting with Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych in the wake of the recent conviction of Yulia Tymoshenko. The meeting was expected to be a significant step in cementing an EU-Ukraine Association Agreement as well as a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement in December. A spokesperson for the EU said that the meeting had been postponed not solely because of the Tymoshenko trial but for a wider context of concerns over the rule of law in Ukraine. (Read More)

EU’s First ‘Competitiveness Report’ Exposes Shortfalls
17 October 2011 – EurActiv
The inaugural ‘competitiveness report’ came out recently, revealing weak performance by some states under the newly agreed rules for budgetary surveillance. Not surprisingly, Eastern and Southern states performed below Northern and Western states. With this new surveillance mechanism, the Commission can observe macroeconomic performances of Member States, and propose economic sanctions on those who are failing to stay on track. In this first report, the Commission has looked at three economic indicators: labor productivity, innovation, and bureaucratic burdens for enterprise. (Read More)

Change EU Treaty to Stabilize Bloc: Trichet
16 October 2011 – Reuters – Geert de Clercq and Gus Trompiz
European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet revealed in an interview that he believes the EU must make changes to its treaties to prevent one state from hurting the entire bloc. He said that some states not following the stated rules of the EU has helped create the current crisis. Even if there are no treaty changes, Trichet expects the rules to be enforced more strictly in the future. He said that the ECB has done all it can to help the crisis, and that it is now up to national governments to handle the ongoing struggle.  (Read More)

Cracks Show in EU Austerity Doctrine
14 October 2011 – EU Observer – Leigh Phillips
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso suggested that the path for economic recovery in Europe will not rely on austerity cuts, signifying a change in rhetoric in Europe. While Brussels has been using austerity as a plan for recovery, many leaders are suggesting that the strategy is hurting growth. As Barroso emphasized the need for investment in energy, transport, and digital sectors, employment commissioner Lazlo Andor said that Greece needs a massive bailout program with a “reconstruction plan” rather than simply making more austerity cuts. (Read More)

Germany and Spain Hit Back at Critics of Eurozone Debt Strategy
14 October 2011 – The Guardian – David Gow
In response to criticisms from US and UK leaders regarding Europe’s debt strategy and proposed financial transactions levy, Angela Merkel of Germany and Elena Salgado of Spain have fought back. Minister Salgado responded to Spain’s recent credit rating downgrade by insisting that Spain would hit its deficit targets. Chancellor Merkel could not explain how leaders from around the world who have demanded action from Europe in fighting this crisis then criticized the proposed solutions to the region’s problems. She emphasized that solving the current crisis must be a cautious process.  (Read More)

Slovakia Completes EFSF Reform, Spain Downgraded
14 October 2011 – EurActiv
Slovakia’s Parliament has agreed to back the eurzone’s bailout plan, becoming the 17th and last eurozone country to do so. While this came as a delight to most in Europe, the news was coupled with the announcement that Standard and Poors had downgraded Spain’s credit rating by one notch to “AA-.” S&P said that the country’s slow growth and weak banking system were mainly responsible for the downgrade. The EU will hold a summit on Oct. 23 to discuss the regional crisis, and settle differences on how to go forward with implementing the newly-approved EFSF and recapitalizing the banking sector. (Read More)

Ukraine Ignores EU Outcry, Opens Second Case Against Tymoshenko
14 October 2011 – EU Observer – Andrew Rettman
While the EU continues to condemn the recent conviction and seven-year sentencing of Ukraine’s Yulia Tymoshenko, the country has filed another case against her that could see her jailed for 12 years. The new case is investigating an alleged embezzlement at the now-defunct company Tymoshenko used to work for. Some close to Tymoshenko are describing the case as “absurd.” The new allegations will likely reinforce claims that Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych is attacking his political rival through the court system, and weaken the case for the EU signing an association agreement with Ukraine. (Read More)

Italy’s Berlusconi Narrowly Wins Crucial Confidence Vote
14 October 2011 – The Globe and Mail – Eric Reguly
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has narrowly won a confidence vote in the Italian Parliament, 316 to 301. Berlusconi is in the midst of several court cases, one of which alleges he had sexual relations with an underage prostitute. An increasing number of MP’s in Berlusconi’s party would like someone else in their party to take over his position. While Italy does not have a high budget deficit, the country has the second largest national debt in the EU behind Greece. (Read More)

EU Concerned About Innovations of Belarusian Parliament
14 October 2011 – Telegraf
The EU has taken issue with a number of recent bills adopted by Belarusian MP’s that, according to the EU, “are directed against the international support to Belarusian civil society and political oppositions.” Some of the bills are said to discourage public gatherings and the freedom to assembly. There are also great restrictions on Belarusian organizations from receiving funding from abroad. Meanwhile, state security agencies are to be strengthened. The US has not changed its stance toward Belarus, and maintains that it is not against the country joining Russia’s proposed ‘Eurasian Union.’ (Read More)

Slovak Parties Reach Deal on EU Bailout Fund
13 October 2011 – EU Observer – Leigh Phillips
Shortly after failing to approve the 440 billion euro bailout plan that resulted in the collapse of the government, the Slovakian Parliament appears to have the votes to pass the plan in the next day or two. Robert Fico, the leader of the opposition party, says that the bill will have enough votes now that his party will support it. He had said that his party would only support the bill if the government agreed to hold early elections. Those early elections will be held in March, and Fico’s part is expected to come out on top. (Read More)

Parliament Hails Barroso’s Eurozone Plan
13 October 2011 – EurActiv
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has released a plan to help cope with the eurozone crisis. The plan has five interdependent elements that Barroso says need to be implemented simultaneously. Those elements are: the debt of Greece, the weak state of the eurozone, the need to strengthen banks through recapitalization, the need to pursue growth policies, and creating stronger economic governance. This plan has support from the four largest Parliament groups, but may face resistance from Member States. (Read More)

Serbia, Montenegro Take Step Toward EU Membership
12 October 2011 – RFERL – Rikard Jozwiak
The Commission has released its annual progress reports on those countries hoping to join the EU. It has recommended that Serbia become an official candidate state, but will demand improved relations between Belgrade and neighboring Kosovo. While Serbian officials recognize the need for normalized relations with Kosovo, the Serbian Foreign Minister said that the country’s policies toward Kosovo will not change because of the Commission’s opinions. The Commission has also recommended that Member States set a date to begin accession talks with Montenegro, saying the small country has made much progress in recent years. (Read More)

EU Parliament Hammers Ukrainian Authorities Over Tymoshenko, But Will Keep Talking
13 October 2011 – Kyiv Post – Yuriy Onyshkiv
The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton condemned the recent jailing of Yulia Tymoshenko, but also signaled that the EU is not giving up on the association agreement with Ukraine. While Ukraine needs to improve its level of transparency and democratic governance, Ashton made it clear that the EU will continue to work with its neighboring country. Similarly, officials from Ukraine agreed that they were optimistic about signing the association agreement with the EU in December. (Read More)

EC President Barroso Outlines Plan to End Debt Crisis
12 October 2011 – BBC News
The European Commission President Manuel Barroso has laid out a five-point plan as a “comprehensive response” to the European debt crisis. The plan includes decisive action in Greece, increasing the size of the European Financial Stability Facility, strengthening European banks by setting more of their assets aside, speeding up economic policies, and increasing economic integration. Barroso says the plan will “break the vicious circle” of debt and increase the EU’s economic stability. (Read More)

Slovakian Politicians Work Toward OK of Bailout
11 October 2011 – Bloomberg Businessweek – Karel Janicek and Don Melvin
The Slovakian Parliament rejected the Eurozone bailout plan on Tuesday, dissolving the country’s government that tied the vote on the bill to a confidence vote on the government. Nonetheless, many are confident that Slovakia will pass the bill. The primary opposition party in Slovakia agreed with the bill, but would only vote in favor of it if the government agreed to call early elections. All of the other 16 Eurozone countries have approved the bill. The slow process to pass the bill has led many to call for a change, so that in the future these types of decisions do not lag so far behind the actions of the market. (Read More)

Commission to Unveil Bank Bail-out Plan
12 October 2011 – EU Observer – Leigh Phillips
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will announce new plans to bailout the banks of Europe. For months leaders had confidence in the strength of the banks, but with the eurozone crisis continuing to affect the region, they have now begun pushing for coordinated bank recapitalization. Calling for more discipline, Barroso said that for the first time, the Commission will back the Netherland’s idea for a ‘super-commissioner’ who will have the power to take over the economic policies of those countries with the worst levels of debt.  (Read More)

Ukraine-Slovenia: European Integration Continues
12 October 2011 – Market Watch
Shortly after the guilty verdict of former Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko, the Presidents of Ukraine and Slovenia have signed bilateral agreements, including the Protocol to increase relations between Ukraine and the EU. The biggest area for improvement is Ukraine’s criminal legislation, which is far behind EU standards. The two countries signed agreements with regard to tourism, customs affairs, and, of course, cooperation in combating organized crime. President Yanukovych acknowledged the need for updating the country’s criminal legislation, which has been in place since 1962. (Read More)

Brussels Launches Toothless Inquiry into EU Press Freedoms
11 October 2011 – EU Observer – Leigh Phillips
Though the Commission is launching a high-level inquiry into press freedom in the EU, it also admits that the investigation is partly for show. This comes after the controversy related to a phone-tapping scandal at the now-defunct ‘News of the World’ tabloid. The investigation will look be looking for “quality journalism” as much as it will for attacks against journalistic freedoms. EU digital affairs commissioner Neelie Kroes said “member states have primary responsibility for policing freedom of the press ... What we lack is further competence to impose binding rules.”  (Read More)

EU May Cancel Top-level Ukraine Meeting After Tymoshenko Verdict
11 October 2011 – EU Observer – Andrew Rettman
Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Prime Minister of Ukraine, was convicted of abusing her office and sentenced to seven years in prison. As a result the EU, which as widely condemned the trial against Tymoshenko as politically-motivated and undemocratic, may cancel a meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. A political rival of Tymoshenko, Yanukovych was expected to come to Brussels later this month to negotiate a trade and association pact between his country and the EU. That treaty is likely in jeopardy after Tymoshenko’s verdict. (Read More)

‘Arab Autumn’ Disenchants EU

11 October 2011 – EurActiv
The EU is expressing concern over recent events in North Africa that suggest the Arab Spring has led to discrimination and violence rather than free democracy. Recently, at least 25 people were killed and hundreds were injured in Cairo when protests of Coptic Christians were broken up by the military. State media has reportedly blamed the violence upon the Christians, who were protesting because radical Muslims demolished par t of a church. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, expressed concern about the lack of religious tolerance in the country. In Tunisia, a TV station was attacked after it showed the movie ‘Persepolis.’  (Read More)

Slovak Government Hangs by a Thread Ahead of Crucial EU Vote
11 October 2011 – EU Observer – Renata Goldirova
Shortly before the Slovakian Parliament will vote upon whether to approve the eurozone bailout plan known as the EFSF, PM Iveta Radicova said that she will tie the bill’s vote to a confidence vote on the government. This will put the Freedom and Solidari

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