Multiple Challenges for Bulgaria (8/8)

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By Kelsey Fraser, Editorial Assistant

The EU’s poorest member state, Bulgaria, has been buffeted by serious economic and political issues this year-- the ongoing battle over the status of the Bulgarian portion of the South Stream pipeline, a renewed banking crisis and the recent resignation of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski on July 24. President Rosen Plevneliev has called for a snap election on October 5th of this year.

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The EU’s Newest Association Agreements – Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine (8/5)

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By Kelsey Fraser, Editorial Assistant

The recent signing of association agreements between the European Union and the nations of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia signal a serious commitment by these former Soviet bloc countries to become more politically and economically aligned with the west.

All three of the agreements include the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTA) which will open up markets for most goods and services. In order to facilitate sustainable growth, the EU will provide frameworks for improving the current trade situation, modernizing the agricultural sector and providing guidance for better regulation of the financial sector in these countries.

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A Social Media First—Presidential War Threats via Twitter (8/8)

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By Armen V. Sahakyan

In what will go down in cyber history as a social media first— president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev threatened Armenia and Nagorono-Karabakh Republics with resurgence of war via Twitter. Screen shot of actual message is below:

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Russian Sanctions Pose Particular Strains on Aspiring EU and NATO Candidate States (7/3)

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By Lauren Gieseke, Editorial Assistant

When the European Union imposed sanctions on Russia on March 17, Catherine Ashton announced that Montenegro, Iceland, and Albania—all EU candidate or potential candidate states—would also participate with the EU and three other non-EU European nations (Norway, Lichtenstein, and Moldova) in imposing targeted restrictions upon certain Russian and Ukrainian individuals. Brussels encouraged participation from other nonmember states, but the invitation for cooperation on this issue was not universally accepted. For example, Serbia an EU candidate state, did not join the EU sanctions restrictions.

 

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New U.S. Ambassador to EU Anthony Gardner Lays out Priorities (6/26)

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By Lauren Gieseke, Editorial Assistant

U.S.  Ambassador to the European Union, Anthony Luzzatto Gardner gave a major speech (full text) last week in Brussels, outlining his four top priorities in furthering relations between the United States and the European Union.  The first two require immediate focus, he said, while the latter two have a longer term perspective.

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Google Prepares to Comply with ECJ’s “Right to be Forgotten” (6/25)

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By Kelsey Fraser and Lauren Gieseke, Editorial Assistants

Within 24 hours of the European Court of Justice’s ruling on the so-called “right to be forgotten,” Google received over 12,000 individual requests for the exclusion of links to personal data from search results. EU citizens can now request the removal of such information via an online form (found here).

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Luhansk Appeals for “Recognition” (6/20)

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By Lauren Gieseke, Editorial Assistant

The self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) has taken a bold and defiant move in its drive for independence from Ukraine by issuing letters to 15 states and entities seeking acknowledgment of LPR “as a sovereign independent state.” This follows a similar request sent to the UN in mid-May which was summarily denied.
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Unusual Voting Rules for Scottish Independence Referendum (6/12)

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By Kelsey Fraser, Editorial Assistant

The upcoming referendum on Scottish independence comes with some unusual rules on voter eligibility.

Under the Referendum Franchise Bill which governs voter eligibility in September’s vote, the voting age for the referendum, and only for the referendum, has been lowered from 18 to 16. [1] The pro-“yes for independence” leaders support the younger age eligibility and say that young people, younger than the usual voting age, have the most at stake in determining the future of Scotland.

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Schedule of Events After the Election of a New European Parliament (6/11)

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By Véran Bérard-Quélin, Editorial Assistant

Last month’s European Parliamentary elections (May 22nd-25th) have triggered changes at the top of the European Union’s governing institutions, including the Presidency of the European Commission, the Presidency of the European Council, as well as the Presidency of the European Parliament.
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‘Super Mario’s’ New ‘Big Bazooka’: ‘Negative’ Rates and Credit Easing (6/5)

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By James D. Spellman, Principal, Strategic Communications, LLC

Telegraphing for months the likelihood of an unprecedented “pre-emptive” strike against deflation, the European Central Bank president today (June 5) finally announced one unorthodox step: widely anticipated “negative” interest rates to weaken the Euro. He also introduced targeted measures to boost cheap credit for small and medium-sized businesses, the EU’s locomotives for growth, pledging interest rates will remain low "possibly for longer than previously seen."

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EU Election --Something Good Out of Something Bad (5/27)

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By Jacqueline Grapin, Founder and Co-Chair of The European Institute 

The arrival of the Front National (FN) led by Marine Le Pen in first place (24.9 %) among the choices of the French electorate in the European elections is not an earthquake, but it is disturbing. 

Is France, the country of human rights and universalism, properly represented by a neo-fascist movement, particularly as it coincides with the arrival of a populist wave of Eurosceptic parties in the European parliament? The truth is that the vote is mostly a protest against the inability of the socialist and the conservative governing parties to provide the solutions to existing socio-economic challenges, and a revolt against the inability of the European Union to properly protect its citizens against immigration and wild international trade movements.

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Ukraine Crisis Moves OSCE Out of Shadows (5/19)

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By Michael D. Mosettig, former Foreign Editor of PBS News Hour

For two decades its 2,800 employees have toiled in relative obscurity, working on projects from democracy building to press freedom in the outer reaches of Europe and Central Asia. Now, thanks to the Ukraine crisis, the  Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) with a budget of 144.8 million Euros finds itself playing a key role in trying to defuse Europe's most dangerous confrontation since the end of the Cold War.

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EU High Court Ruling for Privacy Sends Shock Waves through Internet (5/14)

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By James D. Spellman, Principal, Strategic Communications, LLC

Europe’s highest court has strengthened privacy safeguards by requiring Google to remove when requested Web links for individuals, setting a precedent that gives credence to the “right to be forgotten” on the internet, a right the European Commission wants to introduce explicitly into law.[1]

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Ukraine Has Forced Russia to Regard the EU as Strategic Rival (5/2)

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By Mike Mosettig, former Foreign Editor of PBS News Hour

In the U.S. press there has been an undertone of commentary that missteps by the European Union helped provoke the Ukraine crisis that has now engulfed the trans-Atlantic alliance. The gist of the criticism is that the EU leadership, handling accession negotiations with Ukraine, failed to foresee how its accession offer would provoke an aggressive Russian response.

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Settlement Talks Perking in Cyprus (4/11)

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By Hannah Morris, Editorial Assistant

Serious settlement talks are underway to finally resolve one of Europe’s most intractable disputes: the Cyprus Problem.

Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis, lead negotiator for the Greek-Cypriot community, came to Washington last week with what he called “a new story to tell,” one that just may result in a united Cyprus as a bi-zonal bi-communal federal state. The cautious optimism that permeated Mavroyiannis’ demeanor stems from his perception that after forty years of false starts, all the relevant parties – Cyprus, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), Turkey, the US, Greece, and the EU appear to be ready to search again for a settlement that has proven so elusive over the years.

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UPDATE: ECB Holds Key Rates Steady but Open to “QE” (4/3)

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By James David Spellman, Principal Strategic Communications LLC

Although pressure has been rising to address the perils of low inflation, the European Central Bank held rates steady (April 3) at its meeting, but its president, Mario Draghi, emphasized the bank stands united in taking steps, including unconventional ones that include asset purchases, to combat inflation.

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Obama Trip to Europe—Crimea Creates Need for Brussels “Reset” (3/24)

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By Michael D. Mosettig, Former Foreign Editor of PBS News Hour

When first announced earlier this year, President Obama's trip to Europe, and especially his first ever stop over in Brussels, appeared to be more a mission of gestures than substance. Now, with the Russian annexation of Crimea, a courtesy call has become something of a crisis meeting with a suddenly crammed agenda.

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"Wake Up Call" for NATO (3/20)

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By Michael D. Mosettig, Former Foreign Producer at PBS News Hour                        

 

The words from the Secretary General of NATO were strong and bracing. The question on the minds of most of his Washington audience: was anyone in Moscow listening?

Anders Fogh Rasmussen wrapped up two days of talks with Obama Administration officials with an appearance at the Brookings Institution. The title of the speech, submitted in advance, was, "The Future of the Atlantic Alliance: Revitalizing NATO for a Changing World." Its original purpose was to describe how NATO would handle its summer withdrawal from Afghanistan and its plans for a September summit in Wales.

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Germany’s View (2/28)

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By Michael Mosettig, Former Foreign Editor, PBS News Hour

For German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, his major public appearance in Washington was billed to be an uplifting speech on engaging the next generation in trans-Atlantic solidarity. But thanks to one new crisis and a lingering one, much of the minister's Washington visit became an exercise in walking on eggs.

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Illegal Immigration and the EU – Action on the Horizon? (2/21)

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By: Hannah Morris, Editorial Assistant

During the first week of February, Italy’s navy rescued over one thousand illegal migrants from boats just southeast of the island of Lampedusa in a period of just 24 hours. In January alone, two thousand illegal migrants landed in Italy, ten times the number of arrivals in January 2013. In the third quarter of 2013, a total of 42,600 illegal immigrants arrived in the EU, almost double the number compared to 2012.[1] Unsurprisingly, the swelling numbers of illegal immigrants, whether coming from North Africa or the Middle East, is causing great concern among EU lawmakers, member state leaders and their citizens.

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