January - June 2010

New Czech Prime Minister Is Named
27 June, 2010- New York Times-Dan Bilefsky
Ending a long period of instability in the Czech Republic, President Vaclav Klaus appointed Petre Necas, a center-right leader, as the country’s new prime minister. Necas is expected to lead a pro-American government seeking closer ties with the Obama administration and to focus on fiscal austerity. Necas is also committed to the European Union and NATO.
(Read More)

Ashton to Take Command of US-type Situation Room
27 June, 2010- euobserver.com-Andrew Rettman
Discussions on a “single crisis response center” under Ms. Ashton’s command are at an advanced stage. Ms. Ashton is committed to the construction of the European External Action Service (EEAS). The plan is to create a system that allows the EU foreign relations chief a “powerful asset” when she deploys EU battle-groups or sends as EEAS diplomat on a peace mission, bypassing the current bureaucracy that takes places between the 27 EU ambassadors before tasking the EU Council’s Joint Situation Center.
(Read More)

Obama and Medvedev hail "re-set" US-Russia ties
25 June 2010 - BBC News
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev made his first visit to the White House yesterday on his way to the G8 and G20 summits taking place in Canada this weekend.  President Obama wanted to strengthen U.S.-Russia ties, and said that the two leaders had "succeeded at resetting [their] relationship."  For the first time, President Obama said that the U.S. would back Russia's accession to the WTO.  He stressed that such a discussion between the U.S. and Russia would not have been possible until recently, but his detractors accuse him of being too yielding.
(Read More

Second Open Skies Deal Signed

24 June, 2010- BBC News
EU transport ministers and US officials in Luxembourg signed a second “open skies” agreement, allowing US and European airlines more leverage to buy each other. Although the new levels have yet to be agreed upon, they are expected to be higher than current levels, which allow European carrier to own up to 25% of US airlines and US carriers up to 49.9% of European airlines. Congress has yet to approve the new legislation, but the agreement is seen as a step forward in the US-EU aviation relationship, as well as a very significant step to European economic recovery. The agreement also includes provisions for closer environmental cooperation, such as carbon trading.
(Read More)

Turkey sounds upbeat about joining EU
24 June, 2010- Associated Press
Abdullah Gül, President of Turkey, sounded optimistic at the prospect of Turkey joining the European Union on Wednesday at the Balkan summit in Istanbul. An EU official in charge of expansion noted the country’s progress: cultural rights granted to the Kurdish minority and a decreasing military influence on politics. However, the issue of Cyprus still remains key; Turkey has yet to recognize its independence. Turkish officials regard EU membership as a top priority for the country, but enthusiasm remains low in many EU countries, worried about accepting a poor Muslim nation. Turkey is not alone; Serbian President Boris Tadic asked the EU to openly tell his country whether or not it wants Serbia to join the EU.
(Read More)

Iceland gets EU green light, but Dutch PM warns of 'hard demands' ahead
17 June 2010 - EU Observer - Leigh Phillips

The European Council approved the beginning of accession talks with Iceland today, considering that Iceland meets the Copenhagen criteria.  However, there is a major banking dispute with the UK and the Netherlands that must be resolved before Iceland can become the 28th member state.  In 2008, the Icelandic internet bank Icesave collapsed, and Dutch and British depositors were compensated €3.8 billion by their respective governments.  These governments were now demanding that Iceland repay its debts.  Reykjavik has currently negotiated an agreement to repay the debts with interest over 15 years.  Dutch Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkanende considers this to be a very important "whole-of-EU issue," while still stressing that he will not block negotiations.  The UK position states that it is not necessary for Iceland to repay the debt in full before joining the Union, but that it will make the process more difficult by having this outstanding debt.  Iceland is very pleased and optimistic with the opening of talks, but the rest of the member states emphasize that Iceland must take care of its debts before acceding.  Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission President, sums it up by saying: "We are ready to begin negotiations with Iceland provided that Iceland wants to join the community."
Read More)

EU Resolution on North Korea to Seek Cooperation of China, Russia
16 June 2010 – Bernama
The European Parliament has plans to adopt a resolution this week condemning North Korea for the sinking of a South Korean warship in March and advocating cooperation in this effort from Russia and China.  Since the attack on March 26, South Korea has been trying to persuade the U.N. Security Council to formally censure North Korea, but China and Russia have been impeding such an action.  In a show of support for South Korea, the European Parliament recently called off a trip to Pyongyang.  The draft resolutions support South Korea as well as peace on the Korean peninsula and urge China and Russia to do the same.  This resolution is expected to be adopted on June 17.
(Read More)

Belgium divide deepens after Flemish separatists win election
June 14-guardian.co.uk-Jenny Percival
With the increasing movement toward center-right political parties in Europe, all eyes were on the country whose capital is also the de facto capital of the European Union, Belgium. The New Flemish Alliance (NVA), led by Bart de Wever, is a rightwing separatist party that has called for the independence of the Dutch-speaking Flanders region, received about 29% of the vote in Flanders, according to early results. These results suggest that voters support increased regional self-rule. Once the NVA forms a coalition, however, its nationalist rhetoric will likely be toned down. The results of this election will have great impact on the future of the European Union, as Belgium will take over the EU Presidency in July.
(Read More)

Slovenia Backs Croatia Treaty to Ease EU Expansion
7 June, 2010- Businessweek
Croatia is even closer to becoming a member of the European Union as about 52 percent of Slovenians voted ‘yes’ to allowing international negotiators solve the 19-year dispute over an Adriatic Sea border. The treaty calls for an EU-led arbitration panel to determine the maritime border between the two countries. European Commission President Jose Barroso called the latest development as “an important signal for the region.” In order to join in 2012, Croatia must focus on fixing its judiciary, as well as its shipping industry, but a major risk to its EU entry has now been removed.

(Read More)

Pakistan, EU agree on 5-year plan
5 June, 2010- The Express Tribune
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso announced a five-year Engagement plan between the European Union and Pakistan. A joint-action plan, it stresses supporting law-enforcement and the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) to make it a more effective agency. The EU, as Pakistan’s biggest trading partner, also committed itself to support Pakistan’s economic and social development. Delegates also discussed the importance of ensuring the rights of women and minorities in Pakistan. Pakistan and NATO also agreed to bilateral cooperation, mainly military-to-military cooperation aimed at terrorist groups along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
(Read More)



Member States Agree Diplomatic Service Outline
27 April 2010 - EU Observer - Honor Mahony
On Monday the EU member states agreed on the future shape of the new diplomatic service, the External Action Service. Most of the discussion on Monday surrounded how to ensure fair representation between the commission, the Council, and member states. The parliament will have budgetary oversight and the power of the secretary general of the service has been diminished, both major points for the MEPs, it will be an independant service rather than the right hand of the commission. There remains only two more obstacles before the service is approved and put into action, it must face debate by the MEPs and then final approval by the member states.
(Read More)

Belgium's Five-party Coalition Government Collapses

26 April 2010 - The Guardian
There is much worry that fundamental issues will still exist come July, when Belgium takes over the EU's six month rotating presidency possibly without a functioning government.
After only five months in office Belgium's government collapsed after continuing to run into deep seated problems. The coalition was made up of Flemish Chrisitian Democrats, Dutch-speaking and Francophone centrists and liberals. King Albert finally accepted the PM's resignation after the Flemish liberals quit in protest to the failure to settle voting rights in Brussels and bitter linguistic problems.
(Read More)

Parliament Raises Pressure on EU Diplomatic Service
21 April 2010 – EurActiv
The deadline to agree on the function of the European External Actions Service (EEAS) – “a diplomatic corps with the objective of developing a genuinely European foreign policy” – is fast-approaching on April 30. The European Parliament’s (EP) three biggest groups, however, are warning against attempts to “put the future diplomatic service under the thumb of EU member countries.” While the EEAS will not be operated by the EP, it will be its biggest financier, making the EP a great player in the negotiations. EU foreign affairs ministers will meet with EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton on April 26 to discuss the process further. Also, the larger EU countries are pushing for their leaders to be in charge – Pierre Vimont, French Ambassador to the US, is currently the frontrunner.
(Read More)

European Parliament Opening a Farce as Ash Cloud Cuts Attendance
19 April 2010 – The Guardian – Mark Tran
The European Parliament had less-than-normal attendees because of travel problems caused by the Icelandic volcano’s ash.  Once every month, the 736-member Parliament moves from Brussels to Strasbourg, but the commute – already considered a nuisance by many MEPs – was made much more difficult.  Those that live on Europe’s fringes complained about the trip, whereas those near Strasbourg called on their colleagues to stop complaining and show up for the meeting.  France did not postpone the meeting because it wants to retain Strasbourg as the co-seat of the parliament, and postponing the meeting would demonstrate a lack of seriousness about meeting in the French city.
(Read More)

Barack Obama to Attend Polish President’s Funeral
14 April 2010 – BBC
US President Barack Obama has confirmed that he will attend the Polish President Lech Kaczynski’s funeral. Obama will be accompanied by other confirmed attendees such as Russian, French and German leaders. The Polish head of state died last Saturday in a tragic plane crash caused by human error. Elections for a new Polish president are set to be held in June, but the date is still not certain (either the 13th or 20th). Kaczynski was divisive leader in his country; however, “the first lady was universally admired.” The first couple were among 96 people – many of whom were Polish officials – that died in the crash.
(Read More)

Nuclear Fallout
13 April 2010 – The New Republic – Michael Crowley
The 47-nation, US-led nuclear summit ended Tuesday with advances in world nuclear cooperation and reduction. US President Barack Obama, warning the world that “groups like Al Qaeda are trying to acquire nukes” that “would be a disaster for the world,” was successful in achieving his goal of world with a reduced number of nuclear weapons. However, the greatest victory may be in bringing 47 sanguine leaders to a negotiation table, starting an era of large-scale nuclear cooperation. By initiating a worldwide anti-nuclear coalition, Obama hopes to see his vision of a world without the threat of nuclear terror (Obama Doctrine?) come to fruition. If anything, Obama has signaled that a wish this great cannot be done alone; indeed, by calling on other leaders of the world, Obama has essentially said that only through cooperation can the world be a safer place. 
(Read More)

In Eastern Europe, Pact with Russians Raises Old Spectres
6 April 2010 – New York Times – Dan Bilefsky
One year after US President Barack Obama called for a world with nuclear weapons in Prague, he will find himself, on Thursday, signing an historic arms control treaty with Russia in the Czech capital.  Russian President Dmitri Medvedev will also be there to pen the global edict.  This treaty poses a chance for renewed relations with Russia, a mere twenty years after a standoff between the two powers.  The only hindrance of this deal is that many in Eastern Europeans are unsure as to Russia’s motivations for agreeing to this deal.  It is expected, however, that both countries’ leaders will attempt to quell these fears.
(Read More)

US, EU Committed to Balkan Democracy, Prosperity
5 April 2010 – Media-Newswire
Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg announced that the transatlantic community is committed to “supporting democratic institutions and revitalizing economic growth throughout the Balkans.”  Steinberg said that his administration has constant interaction with the region; indeed, Steinberg himself has been to the region at least a dozen times since becoming the Deputy Secretary.  Steinberg also named Slovenia as the Unites States’ greatest ally in the Balkans as their leaders meet constantly with US (and EU) officials to discuss democracy promotion.  The biggest problem, though, is the question of Kosovo’s independence.  Quelling this controversy in the region is paramount to increasing democratic stability.
(Read More)

Serbia Apologizes for 1995 Massacre
30 March 2010 – Reuters
The Serbian Parliament issued an apology for the massacre at Srebenica in 1995 where 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed.  While Serbian officials did not call it genocide, sympathy for victims of the tragedy was expressed.  The Serbian Parliament currently has a majority of pro-Western Democrats and Socialists; thus, it is believed that this political maneuver may have been made in “hopes to win favor with the European Union and Western investors.”  The debate on the vote lasted approximately thirteen hours and was broadcast on Serbian national television.
(Read More)

Europeans Reach Deal on Rescue for Greece
26 March 2010 – New York Times – Stephen Castle and Matthew Saltmarsh
The debate is over.  After many months, the sixteen countries of the eurozone have finally agreed on a financial plan to rescue Greece from financial ruin.  This plan includes loans from both the eurozone and the IMF.  European Council president, Herman Van Rompuy, stated in elation, “All member states of the eurozone declared that they are prepared to participate” in the relief effort.  Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, also went on record saying that this effort was “a success for the countries of the eurozone.”  The recovery plan shows that European countries are willing to compromise in the name of cooperation.  All countries now expect a turnaround in Greece’s financial prospects.
(Read More)

U.S. and E.U. Agree to Expand Open Skies Accord
25 March 2010 – New York Times – James Kanter and Nicola Clark
The EU and the US have agreed to a deal that allows for more fluid air transport across the Atlantic.  This now allows more access “to each other’s markets and narrow differences over environmental regulations.”  Siim Kallas, the EU transport commissioner, said that this agreement is a “major step forward” for the development of the “most important aviation market.”  Also, the US has agreed to ease the restriction on foreign ownership capabilities for American air carriers.  Congress, however, is skeptical of the deal, fearing that this agreement may affect too many aspects of what is a very important sector of the American economy.
(Read More)

Election of EU Commissioners Proposed
23 March 2010 – UPI
The leader of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, has stated that he believes that future European Union commissioners should be elected. This competition in Europe-wide elections, he says, would enhance the EU as a democratic entity. Electing commissioners, instead of appointing them, would “create a European identity of citizens, a new sense of belonging,” he said. The current practice is that the commissioners are selected by the EU’s national governments. "This would not just be of symbolic importance," Buzek said. "The commission would have stronger democratic legitimacy and would be strengthened as an institution."
(Read More)

Could Greece Get Kicked Out of the European Union?
23 March 2010 – Foreign Policy Magazine – Annie Lowrey
The civil unrest in Greece has certain European commentators saying many things, but one that has taken on a bit of steam as of late is whether or not the EU can actually expel Greece from the union. Quite simply, the answer is “no.” Indeed, “EU bylaws provide no mechanism for expelling a member state.” Thus, even a country wants to leave and others want it out, there is nothing in the written agreement that says a country can just immediately leave the EU. In other words, the EU’s laws are “conciliatory,” not “punitive.” However, based on Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (enacted Dec. 1, 2009), a member can withdraw after a long process where the country has to say it is withdrawing and why to the European Council, have the proposal accepted by a “qualified majority” in the EC, and then negotiate the terms of the withdrawal with the European Parliament.
(Read More)

Canada and G20 Struggles to Deal with China, U.S.
23 March 2010 – The Canadian Press
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is worried that the differences between China and the US may undermine the G20 summit in June.  As the summit’s host, the group’s nations are looking to Canada – “seen as an honest broker” – to quell the “rapidly escalating” differences.  As Harper said in a statement in Ottawa last week, the main focus of the summit is to “stabilize the global economy.”  Thus, the G20 have called for China to do les global selling, and for the U.S. to do less buying and borrowing.  Both countries, however, are reluctant to install changes to their current practices, as the G20 community wants them to.  This will be one of Harper’s main focuses throughout the meetings.
(Read More)

IMF Exec Warns of Spiraling Deficits for G7
22 March 2010 – Corporate FX – Zeb Bham
John Lipsky, the first deputy managing director of the IMF, said in a statement at the China Development Forum in Beijing that the G7 – except Canada – should expect budget deficits in excess of 10% by 2014.  He believes that the national debt ratios will appear similar to “postwar-slump” numbers circa 1950.  Lipsky attributes this pessimistic outlook to the “surge in government debt…at a time when pressure from rising health and pension spending is building up.”  Other commentators have echoed Lipsky’s sentiments, such as Mohammed El Arian and Nassim Nicolas Taleb.  In a statement just last week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that he hopes addressing the budget deficit issue will be a major theme in the G8/G20 meeting in Toronto in June.
(Read More)

EU Should Be More Pragmatic, US More Romantic – Buzek
17 March 17, 2010 – EurActiv
Jerzy Buzek, the European Parliament President, said that the EU needs to become “more pragmatic” and the US should be “more romantic” in order to take steps toward one another.  According to Buzek, the union should be focused on the American approach of a “result-oriented partnership.”  Buzek presented this idea in a new concept paper entitled Reshaping EU-US Relations.  This partnership, he believes, would begin a push for “responsible global governance” and the start toward world unity.  While the US will always have a role to play in the world, Buzek believes that the EU is now equipped to help it in its global endeavors.  Thus, the union would start a new multipolar regime.
(Read More)

New EU states make bid for more diplomatic clout
10 March 2010 - EU Observer - Andrew Rettman
The European Union's smaller members are pushing for an open process in appointments to the new diplomatic corps, hoping to ensure that they are adequately represented. The so-called Visegrad states warn that they could lose interest and disengage from EU foreign policy if they did not a fair share of power. Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia made the case for "geographic balance" in an informal paper circulated in Brussels last month. A number of other small EU members support the position. Only a small number of the European Commission's current foreign relations officials, which will be transferred to the new European External Action Service, come from the countries that most recently joined the EU. One solution proposed by Malta, the smallest member state, would have all EEAS posts from head-of-unit level up open to competition among EU diplomats and officials, with foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton having the final word. The structure of the EEAS was supposed to be determined by April, but EU leaders are now looking at July as more realistic.
(Read More)

Croatia faces 'demanding' membership negotiations
5 March 2010 - European Voice - Toby Vogel
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told Croatia's new president that the country faces a "very demanding" process in joining the European Union. Croatia's hope to join in 2012 was realistic, Barroso said, but negotiations in some areas would be difficult, especially judicial reform. Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, who took office on February 18, was making his first official visit to Brussels. In addition to judicial reform, stepping up the fight against corruption and full cooperation with the Hague war crimes tribunal would also be necessary for Croatia's accession, Barroso said. He and Josipovic also discussed the situation in Bosnia, where political reform has been at a stalemate. Croats in Bosnia have Croatian citizenship and voting rights, but this may soon change.

(Read More)

Kosovo problem will be solved after Serbia joins EU,' diplomat says
3 March 2010 - Euractiv
The dispute over the status of Kosovo can be resolved after Serbia becomes a member of the European Union, according to Belgrade's ambassador to Germany. In an interview with Euractiv, Ivo Viskovic said that Serbia was prepared to compromise, but could not accept anything based on the current state of affairs. A resolution was not a condition for accession to the EU, he stressed, asserting instead that "The Kosovo situation could be resolved fully after we have entered the EU." A ruling from the International Court of Justice on the legality of Kosovo's declaration of independence is expected in June. Viskovic mentioned 2014 as a target date for Serbian accession, and said the process should not be delayed by the Kosovo issue or any external issues. "The accession of Serbia to the EU has to lie on the achievements of Serbia alone," he said.
(Read More)

Brussels Rolls Out Red Carpet For New Ukraine Leader
1 March 2010 - Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty - Ahto Lobjakas
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych visited Brussels on his first foreign trip since being sworn in Thursday. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told Yanukovych he was "among friends of Ukraine, committed to supporting [the] stability and prosperity of your country." The EU was pleased that Yanukovych chose to make his first presidential visit to Brussels, rather than Moscow. He sought to reassure Ukraine's Western backers, saying that integration with the EU was still a key priority. While setting aside ambitions to join NATO, Yanukovych said he would not withdraw from any existing agreements with the alliance, which include contributions to the NATO Response Force. His stance of balancing Ukraine's relationships with Russia and the West were met favorably by EU officials, and the country's difficult economic situation gives him strong incentive to maintain friendly ties to Europe.
(Read More)

Anti-EU sentiment hardening in Iceland
1 March 2010 - EU Observer - Leigh Phillips
Opposition to European Union membership is increasing in Iceland, days before a referendum on an agreement between the government and two EU countries to repay assistance they gave during the banking crisis. Britain and the Netherlands compensated account holders who lost their deposits in the online bank Icesave. While the government had agreed to repay the money, much of the public was angered, believing the deal would burden them and undermine social program funding. The recent poll showed 56 percent against EU membership, with 33 percent in favor. This represents a sharp drop since the height of the financial crisis, when a majority favored joining. Last week, the European Commission endorsed beginning accession talks with Iceland.
(Read More)

EU Ministers Want to Try Again for EU-US Bank Data Deal
25 February 2010 – EU Observer – Valentina Pop

European interior ministers announced that they want to negotiate a new agreement with the US on bank data transfers, since the European Parliament struck down a previous deal on 11 February. “We see this as being a fundamental element of our cooperation in attempts to combat international terrorism,” said Spanish interior minister Alfredo Rubalcaba. He noted that Washington also seems to be in favor of a new deal with the EU. However, in the past the US has indicated that it could instead opt to negotiate bilateral deals with Belgium and the Netherlands – the countries which host the data bases of the main bank transfer companies – which would likely offer less data protection guarantees. Mr. Rubalcaba stressed that “we want something for Europe as a whole, an agreement that includes restrictions and allays concerns of the European Parliament.” The European Commission is therefore drafting a negotiating mandate that would include some of the MEPs’ concerns. “The interim agreement was not perfect, we’ll come up with something better,” said home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom.
(Read More)

EU Commission Backs Iceland Bid
24 February 2010 – BBC
The European Commission has recommended that the EU open membership negotiations with Iceland, saying the country already holds many of the EU’s common values and is “on the whole well prepared to assume the obligations of membership.” The Commission’s opinion still requires approval by all EU governments before talks can begin. The largest remaining obstacle is the lack of a deal to repay the UK and the Netherlands, which loaned €3.8 billion ($5.4 billion) to Iceland when its online back Icesave collapsed in 2008. Almost a quarter of the Icelandic population signed a petition opposing the repayment plan, prompting the president to veto the deal. Without British and Dutch support, Iceland will not be able to join the EU. Thus while Iceland is better placed than all other candidate countries to become the next EU member, the Icesave issue will have to be resolved first.
(Read More)

High Representative Ashton Visits Balkans
19 February 2010 – EU Observer – Andrew Rettman
New EU High Representative Catherine Ashton made her first visit to the Balkans this week. Speaking to a group of NGOs in Belgrade yesterday, Ms. Ashton took aim at Serbian nationalist tensions in the region. Addressing the risk of secession by the ethnic Serb enclave in Bosnia, she declared that “the EU will never accept the break-up of Bosnia and Herzegovina.” Ms. Ashton has named Bosnia as one of her top priorities, along with Iran and Afghanistan. She also alluded to Serbia’s support for ethnic Serb enclaves in Kosovo, and urged moderation and cooperation on practical issues despite differing views on Kosovo’s status. Overall, Ms. Ashton’s speech depicted the EU as a guarantor of security. “In this world, the small and medium-sized states of Europe cannot provide real security. That is why the European Union is essential for our future,” she declared.
Read More)

EU Appoints New US Ambassador
17 February 2010 – EurActiv

The European Commission confirmed the appointment of Joao Vale de Almeida of Portugal as the EU’s ambassador to the US. Vale de Almeida is a long-time member of Commission President José Manuel Barroso’s inner circle. He headed Barroso’s private office in Brussels from 2004-2009, then became director-general of the Commission’s external relations department (DG RELEX) in June 2009. Some journalists questioned whether this important appointment should have been made by Barroso, instead of the new EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton. However, EU officials noted that both Ashton and Barroso recommended Vale de Almeida’s appointment. Vale de Almeida will be expected to be the face of the EU in Washington and to shore up US-EU relations.
Read More)

European Parliament Rejects Deal With US on Bank Data
11 February 2010 – EurActiv

The European Parliament (EP) refused to approve the interim SWIFT agreement between the EU and the US on the transfer of EU citizens’ financial data. The vote dealt a blow to EU governments and US authorities using SWIFT – a company that handles the banking transactions of most European banks – to track terrorists’ finances in order to prevent terrorist attacks. The 378-to-196 vote was a predictable outcome, as many MEPs have been campaigning against the deal since it was agreed upon last November. The decision also demonstrated the EP’s increased influence over international agreements under the Lisbon Treaty. MEPs cannot write international agreements, but a “no” vote from the EP sends negotiators back to the drawing board. The US State Department expressed disappointment at the EP’s decision, saying that it “disrupts an important counter-terrorism program.” However, MEPs counter that the agreement fails to adequately protect the privacy rights of EU citizens. They also note that their decision will only prevent US authorities from transferring large swathes of financial data; it will not prevent them from accessing the data of particular individuals who may be involved in terrorism.
(Read More)

Greece and EU 2020 Strategy Will Dominate EU Summit
10 February 2010 – EU Observer – Andrew Willis
EU leaders will meet for an informal summit in Brussels tomorrow, with a number of weighty topics on the agenda. The meeting will focus first on the EU’s attempts to craft a new 10-year economic plan, the EU 2020 strategy, with the main objectives of improving competitiveness and creating jobs. Leaders will also discuss the market turmoil that has been plaguing weaker eurozone countries, in particular Greece. A debate about emergency plans and a potential bailout for Greece will likely take place. In addition, leaders will address a post-Copenhagen EU climate change strategy and the recent earthquake in Haiti. During the summit, all eyes will be on the new Permanent Council President, Herman Van Rompuy, assessing whether he is capable of making his mark on the newly-created post and tackling the numerous challenges facing the EU.
(Read More)

US Blames Lisbon Treaty for EU Summit Confusion
3 February 2010 – EU Observer – Andrew Reitman
The US State Department has said that President Barack Obama’s decision not to attend the Madrid EU-US Summit in May is due in part to confusion arising from the EU’s new leadership structure under the Lisbon Treaty. With the new Permanent President of the European Council joining the President of the Commission and the rotating presidency (currently held by Spain), it is now unclear who the US president should meet with, and when. “We are working through this just as Europeans themselves are working through this,” explained State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley.
(Read More)

Obama’s Madrid Snub Exposes ‘Excessive EU Summitry’
3 February 2010 – EurActiv
The announcement that US President Barack Obama will not attend the May EU-US Summit in Madrid took Spain and the EU by surprise, and was a particular blow to Spain after it fought to host the summit. Some EU analysts have concluded that President Obama’s decision is a result of the EU’s “excessive summitry.” The EU holds too many bilateral international meetings too often, sometimes with unclear agendas. Antonio Missiroli, director of the European Policy Centre, asserts that Obama’s decision should not be viewed as an affront to Europe or a sign of deteriorating transatlantic relations. However, he says it was not “entirely accidental,” either. The EU is still struggling to present a united front, and there have reportedly been tensions between the Spanish government (which holds the rotating EU presidency) and Herman Van Rompuy (the new President of the European Council). In addition, President Obama traveled to Europe more times last year than any other US president in a similar period. He is also bound by domestic priorities, particularly with the upcoming midterm elections. Still, Missiroli asserts that “Europeans in general tend to hold too many summits…Maybe focusing on fewer summits with more substance and more continuity in foreign relations in between summits is the way ahead.”
(Read More)

Finnish Foreign Minister Gives Speech on “The New Atlantic Decade”
27 January 2010 – Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
Alexander Stubb, the Foreign Minister of Finland, gave a speech on the importance of transatlantic relations at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. Likening the US and Europe to “a grumpy old couple that have lived, loved, and fought together,” Stubb asserted that they now need to “renew their wedding vows.” He noted that Europe and the US share fundamental values that provide a solid foundation to build upon, but that common history and values are not enough. While the Atlantic region is still the “most integrated, most advanced, and most influential region of the world,” the coming decade will bring challenges that “can only be tackled in the context of transatlantic solidarity.” “The emerging multipolar world requires a new type of transatlantic partnership,” Stubb claimed. He also noted the recent spate of think tank analyses on transatlantic relations which provide a wealth of practical proposals that policy makers should consider implementing —including the “Shoulder-to-Shoulder” report (see link under “What Others Are Saying,” on our homepage). Finally, Stubb endorsed five concrete proposals, many adopted from “Shoulder-to-Shoulder”: making a transatlantic solidarity pledge (in which the US and EU would come to each other’s aid in the event of a natural or man-made disaster), advancing a transatlantic green economy, creating a full-fledged free trade area, including other “Atlantic rim” countries in transatlantic cooperation, and setting up a group of experts to create proposals on how to reinvigorate the transatlantic relationship. “If we make the right choices now,” Stubb concluded, “in a hundred years from now we may be looking back at not just an Atlantic decade – but another Atlantic century.”
Read More)

US and EU Discuss Airport Security
20 January 2010 – EU Observer – Valentina Pop
US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will join EU interior ministers gathering in Toledo today to discuss increasing security in European airports, following the 25 December failed bomb attempt on a plane traveling from Amsterdam to the US. Ms. Napolitano supports the use of full-body scanners as a tool to enhance security, but will not try to “impose” this view on her European counterparts, a US government official said. The US has increased the number of body scanners in its airports, but the issue is divisive in Europe. Great Britain and the Netherlands have introduced such machines, but other countries are reluctant to approve their use due to privacy concerns. Incoming EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and Transport Commissioner nominee Siim Kallas have indicated opposition to the devices’ use without strict privacy guarantees. Spain, which holds the rotating EU presidency, is currently working on the formation of a common position among EU member states. The Spanish presidency is also proposing the creation of a new European “internal security committee” to facilitate the sharing of counter-terrorism intelligence between EU members.
Read More)

EU President Wants Rapid-Reaction Aid Team
20 January 2010 – BBC
President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy said the EU should consider creating a “humanitarian rapid reaction force” to respond to future emergencies like the recent earthquake in Haiti. Speaking after talks with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Van Rompuy also said that an international conference on rebuilding Haiti would be necessary. On Monday the EU pledged over €400 million in aid for Haiti, and EU member states pledged an additional €92 million. However, BBC Europe editor Gavin Hewitt pointed out that “the EU may be most effective at coordinating medium- and long-term development,” rather than immediate emergency aid.
Read More)

New EU High Representative Tests Powers in Earthquake Response
14 January 2010 – EU Observer – Andrew Rettman
The European response to the earthquake in Haiti has provided a first glimpse at how the EU’s new foreign relations structure (established by the Lisbon Treaty) will work in practice. The new foreign policy High Representative, Catherine Ashton, is still waiting for European Parliament approval of her appointment, but she immediately jumped into action as news emerged of the worst natural disaster since the 2004 Asian tsunami. Ms. Ashton chaired a meeting of European Commission officials from the external relations, development, and environment departments and experts from the Council and the Situation Centre. They agreed to give €3 million of emergency aid and to explore the possibility of more. Ms. Ashton also attended a meeting of EU member states’ ambassadors, and may even travel to Haiti in the future. “It’s the first time in such a situation that we have brought all these various actors together. …She is acting as the overall coordinator on this,” said Ms. Ashton’s spokesman, Lutz Guellner. However, EU member states have meanwhile been carrying out a large bulk of Europe’s response on a bilateral basis with Haiti. France, Spain, the UK, and the Netherlands in particular have sent a great deal of experts and equipment to the country.
Read More)

EU “Citizens Initiative” Will Require One Million Signatures from 9 Countries
14 January 2009 – EurActiv
Spain, current holder of the rotating EU presidency, has obtained the agreement of all EU member states that the million signatures required to trigger a “citizens’ initiative” must come from a minimum of nine EU countries (one-third of the 27 member states). The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) is one of the major innovations introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. It was designed to enable European citizens to directly influence the political agenda of the bloc for the first time in history. The text of the treaty, however, specified only that an initiative would require signatures from “one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of member states.” Speaking at an informal meeting of his fellow EU affairs ministers, Spanish State Secretary for European Affairs added that the EU’s members had also agreed to proceed with implementing two other initiatives contained in the Lisbon Treaty—the EU’s adherence to the Council of Europe’s European Convention on Human Rights, and the Solidarity Clause, which obliges all members to aid each other in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster.
Read More)

Iraqi Invasion Violated International Law, Dutch Inquiry Finds
12 January 2010--Guardian--Afua Hirsch
A Dutch report published today and executed by a former Dutch Supreme Court Judge, Willibrord Davids, concluded that the Netherlands' 2003 decision to support the US and UK 2002 Iraqi invasion violated international law. United Nations resolutions passed in 1991 did not give any authority to the invasion, nor was there any sound basis allowing this in international law. The report suggests that the intelligence on the presence of WMDs and the legality of the invasion were considered "subservient." The article has implications for the UK and it's weighting of WMD intelligence, experts say.

Read More)

Delayed Galileo Navigation System to Take Off in 2014
7 January 2010 – Associated Press
The EU executive has given German company OHB System AG a €566 million contract to build the first 14 satellites for the EU’s new space-based navigation system, Galileo. The executive also announced that the much-delayed rival to the American GPS navigation system should begin operating by 2014. The EU claims that Galileo could more than double the navigation coverage provided by GPS and improve coverage in high-latitude areas and big cities. EU Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani also noted that Galileo will “help ensure Europe’s political independence in an area which has become very important from an economic, social, and security point of view.” The total cost of setting up the system is expected to be around €3.4 billion.
Read More)

Zapatero Outlines Goals for the Spanish EU Presidency
4 January 2010 – eGov Monitor
With the beginning of  the new year, Spain has taken control of the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Spain's Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has indicated that his country’s portfolio will consist of four main concerns. One of the primary goals is for Europe to emerge from the economic crisis utilizing balanced and sustainable growth that takes social and environmental interests into account. Another pressing goal is to bring about rapid and complete application of the Lisbon Treaty. Zapatero also is keen on better encouraging participation of citizens in the EU. Lastly, Zapatero plans to ensure that Europe remains a player in the global arena by developing a "global, responsible, and supportive" foreign policy; (Read More)

Previous page: July - December 2009
Next page: July - December 2011