Backing Sofia summit agenda
Maria Koleva, Brussels
The leaders of EU28 had all-inclusive debates on their agenda at the spring European Council that took place in Brussels on 22-23 March. Kicking off with economic matters mainly, and focusing on transatlantic trade, they also had on the plate issues such as taxation and external relations, and in EU27 format they discussed Brexit.
Tech giants will pay digital tax where users are located
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Every 24 hours 20bn emails are exchanged across the globe, and in the same time 800m videos are uploaded and 150m posts published. According to Pierre Moscovici, EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, behind these figures stays a flourishing business.
Asylum seekers in EU go down
The first-time asylum seekers who applied for international protection in the EU Member States in 2017 were significantly less that those a year ago, according to the Eurostat data released last Tuesday.
Thousand dedicated jihadists waiting to return to Europe
More than 1,000 dedicated IS jihadists could be waiting to return to Europe, according to a stark warning from the continent's policing boss. Rob Wainwright, executive director of Europol, was in Bulgaria's capital on 19 March for a meeting of members of committees of European parliaments that monitor the work of Europol (JPSG). The head of the EU's law enforcement agency said that up to 6,000 EU nationals are thought to have gone to join the militant group since 2014, and a third are still unaccounted for.
Free wi-fi hotspots to spread across Europe
The Commission launched last Tuesday the WiFi4EU web portal aimed at helping local authorities to set up wi-fi hotspots in public spaces, the EU press service reported. With the launch, municipalities across Europe are invited to register their details ahead of the first call for projects in mid-May in order to benefit from EU financing to build free public wireless internet hotspots.
EU regulation on gas pipelines to and from third countries tightened
All gas pipelines coming from third countries into the EU must comply fully with EU gas market rules on EU territory, according to amendments to the EU gas market directive, which was last Wednesday approved by the Industry and Energy Committee. Any exceptions must be strictly time-limited, and the Commission and Member States affected must be involved in deciding them, MEPs insisted.
Borisov: Dialogue EU - Turkey should continue
The upcoming meeting between the leaders of the European Union and Turkey in Varna is necessary for the normalisation of relations between the bloc and Ankara, commented Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov at a meeting with President of the European Council Donald Tusk in Brussels, cited by the cabinet’s press office. The two officials agree that the conversation between the European leaders and the president of Turkey to be held in Varna is necessary in the effort to restore dialogue with Turkey.
EU to take the lead on global trade
There's nothing like a trade war, or even the possibility of one, to get the juices flowing: tit for tat tariffs, restrictions on imports and tough talk of retaliation and sanctions. All those shrill headlines and endless to and fro of tantalising tweets. What more could a red-blooded leader ask for? US President Donald Trump may believe that “trade wars are good and easy to win” but his plans to slap tariffs on steel and aluminium imports have triggered strong fears of a bruising global trade war.
Is the West too soft on Putin
Russian presidential 'elections' lack any element of suspense. By preventing the only credible opposition candidate, Alexei Navalny, from standing, Vladimir Putin won a fourth term with more than 75% of the votes cast, 11% higher than in the 2012 election. Turnout was also higher than last time, thanks at least in part to blatant ballot stuffing.
Putin wins by big margin
Vladimir Putin will lead Russia for another six years, after an expected victory in 18 March presidential election. Putin, who has ruled Russia for almost two decades, recorded his best ever election performance with more than 76% of the vote, official results show. Speaking to reporters after the results announcement, he laughed off a question about running again in another six years. “What you are saying is a bit funny. Do you think that I will stay here until I'm 100 years old? No!” he said.
Facebook scandal mounts like avalanche
The snowballing scandal over the hijacking of personal data from millions of Facebook users, forced Mark Zuckerberg to admit last Wednesday that his social media network “made mistakes” and was involved in a “breach of trust”. Meanwhile, the Facebook co-founder and CEO faced more calls from politicians in the US, Britain and across Europe to testify in front of them to explain the data breach.
G20 defends free trade to raise growth
Finance ministers and central bankers of the world's 20 biggest economies, gathering in Buenos Aires, Argentina last Monday and Tuesday, rejected protectionism but failed to defuse the threat of a trade war, days before Washington is to announce measures against China, news wires reported. The final declaration only urged for more “dialogue and actions” in defence of a multilateral trading system. The joint statement also said that “the global financial system must remain open, resilient and supportive of growth, and grounded in agreed international standards.”
Trump slaps China with $60bn tariffs
President Donald Trump announced on 22 March a series of trade enforcement actions designed to punish China for years of widespread violations of US intellectual property rights.
Google to fight fake news by boosting subscriptions
Google made last Tuesday a big step in fighting fake news by announcing that it will invest $300m over the next three years to help “strengthen quality journalism,” news wires reported. The internet giant presented a whole new programme called the Google News Initiative, which includes several brand new tools and partnerships with newsrooms, all aimed at dismantling the fake news network and helping news organisations to grow their businesses.
Images from the film set
Penka Momchilova, BTA
Images from the sets of Apocalypse Now, Sleepy Hollow, Satyricon, Tootsie, Planet of the Apes, Babel and other films will be presented in the first Bulgarian exhibition by Mary Ellen Mark - one of the most prominent names in documentary and portrait photography. For the past 50 years, she has been travelling the world, capturing some of the 20th century's most important cultural and subcultural phenomena through the prism of humanism.
Make music, not war
How wonderful it would be if such things actually happened! All I can say is that I was born on 1 October 1949 under the zodiac sign Libra. In astrology, Libra is the symbol of harmony and I believe this meaning reflects reality, even though I do not read daily horoscopes all that often.
Golden fleece quest
A collection of 62 artefacts of extremely high cultural value were presented last week in the National Gallery in Sofia under the title The Golden Fleece. The Quest of the Argonauts.
Monastery that was sanatorium
One of the lesser known Bulgarian monasteries, the Batkun cloister “Sts Peter and Paul” is nestled between the northern slopes of the Rhodope Mountains, some 12km southwest of Pazardzhik. Believed to have been established in the 12-13th century, the monastery shared the fate of most Bulgarian spiritual centres in the late 14th century when it was destroyed during the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans.