Member States will be obliged to exchange relevant information on terror offences proceedings in order to prevent future attacks
Maria Koleva, Brussels
For the first time, Member States will be obliged to exchange relevant information in relation to criminal proceedings on terrorist offences as soon as possible if the information could be used to prevent future attacks or assist other ongoing investigations. With an overwhelming majority of 498 votes to 114, with 29 abstentions, MEP approved on 16 February in Strasbourg a new directive on combating terrorism that is stepping on the currently used EU framework rules on terrorist offences, widening their scope to include emerging threats. The legislative text was informally approved by Parliament and Council last November.
The deal is to save EU businesses over €500m a year, paid now in tariffs on goods
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Members of the EP finally propped up on 15 February the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, known as CETA, which will scrap the trade barriers between the businesses of the two parties. The deal was passed by 408 votes to 254, with 33 abstentions.
 
The protesters have a falling out over candidate lists
The Yes, Bulgaria coalition, consisting of the party of failed minister of justice Hristo Ivanov and oligarch Ivo Prokopiev and its two crutches - the Greens and the Movement for European Unity and Solidarity (MEUS) - seems on the verge of disintegrating before the early general elections. The coalition partners have had a falling out over candidate lists. Petko Kovachev, one of the Greens activists, broke down social media with a Facebook post, lifting the curtain on relations between the coalition’s members.
 
High uncertainty clouds EU outlook
The European Commission has raised its outlook for the EU's economic growth, saying Europe's recovery remains on track but is vulnerable to the "exceptional risks" of Brexit and the new US administration.
Stricter shields against foreign fighters crossing EU borders
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Systematic checks against databases of lost and stolen documents will be introduced for each person that crosses external borders of the Union, including third country nationals.
EU urged to spend more on military
European NATO members must spend more on defence or risk losing US support. The ultimatum came last Wednesday during US Defence Secretary James Mattis's first visit to the NATO headquarters in Brussels since he was sworn in last month.
Brussels proposes changes to EU decision-making process
The Commission pro­posed last Tuesday changes to the EU's decision-making process, in a bid to increase transparency and accountability in procedures for implementing legislation, the EU press service reported.
Protect whistle-blowers across Europe, MEPs urge
An “effective and comprehensive European whistle-blower protection programme” should be proposed immediately by the Commission, Parliament urged in a resolution voted last Tuesday, the EP press service reported.
CorpBank Robbery II
Monitor Agency
Some BGN 33m worth of machinery of the Rousse shipyard have been acquired for chickenfeed by a newly founded firm. The scandalous case, one of the many machinations through which CorpBank is being robbed for the second time, is described in the analysis that the bankruptcy administrators of the failed bank published on 9 February.
Global Britain and EU's future
Zinaida Zlatanova
The initial impression that London has no idea how to go about its exit from the European Union, or at the very least what its consequences will be, is quickly being dispelled. According to diplomats, London has been devising a strategy and mobilising resources, both human and diplomatic, over the past few months in order to gain the upper hand in the divorce proceedings.
Ukraine's unimplemented anti-corruption reforms
Hrant Kostanyan
Almost three years after the Euromaidan revolution, Ukraine's leadership has fallen woefully short in delivering on its promises to fight against corruption within the judiciary, clean up political party financing and decentralise government functions. The customs service has yet to be reformed, property rights are far from being ensured and state-owned enterprises have not been privatised. Major reforms aimed at combating corruption have consistently been resisted or appear on paper only. The country's elite must produce more tangible results in order to earn the trust of the citizens and ease the growing fatigue among Ukraine's international partners. Over the last decade, Ukraine has rarely had a problem with accepting and institutionalising European norms and rules.
New global order in sight
With the rise of populism threatening the current global order through a power vacuum caused by a possible US withdrawal from the global stage to the heightened threat of military escalation, the world is heading towards a post-Western age and is experiencing an “illiberal moment”. That is the essence of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) annual report published last Monday.
Timid optimism about Libyan unity
Controversial information arrived last week from Cairo where leaders of the two hostile camps were invited to find a solution to the turmoil in the country.
Trump appeases Canada on NAFTA
The future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is not endangered, as it seemed during the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. Meeting last Monday in the White House with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, the US President told him he wants relatively minor changes to the NAFTA, noting that most of the problems involve the deal's third partner Mexico.
Virtual currency invades new spaces
Austria’s capital Vienna has its first Bitcoin bank, located on the popular Mariahilfer Strasse shopping street, the Austrian media reported last week. The bank exchanges Bitcoin for euro, and vice versa.
Ford bets on self-driving cars future, invests $1bn
Ford is betting on the world's self-driving car future through a major investment of about $1bn in a small start-up company specialised in robotics, news wires reported.
Master of artistic unexpectedness
For over 40 years, Prof. Ivan Gazdov from the National Academy of Arts has been moulding the analytic and creative outlook of young poster-makers. Now, the esteemed Bulgarian master of etching is being presented at the halls of the National Art Gallery with over 100 works, including posters, drawings and metal sculptures in an array of themes. The exhibition is the artist’s way of celebrating the 35th anniversary of the “graphicature” genre, his trademark, born from the flight of his own imagination.
The violin took away my childhood
I have a lot of friends from the realm of classical music. I had the honour of knowing personally Alexis Weissenberg. From the world of folklore, I know Theodosii Spasov. Speaking of sports, everyone in Spain knows who Stoichkov is, and from the 1990s, I remember the Maleev sisters tennis players.
Queen of Trumpet competes in Sofia
Ekaterina Tomova
The winners of the world’s largest brass instrument festivals will be sharing a stage in a spectacular music competition - Balkanitsa. The four best Serbian brass bands will show their unparalleled skills with the trumpet, baritone, tuba and drum.
The King's monastery over Sofia
Adelina Lozanova
Set deep into thick beech woods on the northern slope of Mount Vitosha, and yet only a half-hour drive from downtown Sofia, the Dormition of the Theotokos Dragalevtsi Monastery has been unofficially recognised as the principal monastery of the string of monasteries around Sofia better known as Sofia’s Mount Athos.
In Brief
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Merkel welcomes Trudeau
 
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) during the official welcome outside the Chancellory in Berlin, Germany, 17 February. Photo: EPA

Juncker: Europe must not bow to US spending demands
 
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said last Thursday that Europe must not bow to US  military spending, arguing that development aid could also count as security. Photo: EPA

Romanian PM Sorin Grindeanu on visits Brussels
 
Romanian PM Sorin Grindeanu (L) is welcomed by European Council President Donald Tusk (R), prior to their meeting in Brussels on 17 February. Photo: EPA

Investment in energy infrastructure approved
 
European Commission announced last Friday that Member States agreed on its proposal to invest €444m in priority European energy infrastructure projects. The 18 selected electricity, smart grids and gas projects will contribute to achieving the Energy Union's goals by connecting European energy networks, increasing security of energy supply, and contributing to sustainable development by integrating renewable energy sources across the EU.

Italy debates prison terms and fines on fake news
 
A bill was presented in Italy's Senate last Wednesday aimed at introducing fines and prison sentences for those behind fake news reports or hate campaigns. The bill proposes a fine of up to €5,000 for anyone who publishes or spreads “false, exaggerated or biased” news reports and does not remove them within 24 hours of being notified. Only online news organisations would be subject to the fines, while those responsible for misinformation would face prison terms if the fake news “damage the public interest”.

Hundreds of migrants storm Spanish enclave of Ceuta
 
Several hundred migrants stormed last Thursday night a security fence that separates Morocco from Ceuta, a Spanish territory in North Africa. Police said around 600 migrants, some with shears and clubs, broke through one of the gates. More than 300 made it across the razor wire barrier. Dozens were later on celebrating in the streets, with some shouting “freedom”, TV footage showed. But as a rule, most of the migrants entering Ceuta illegally are intercepted and returned to Morocco.

France eases rules for police to open fire amid protests
 
Amid fury over a violent arrest in Aulnay-sous-Bois in which a police officer was charged with raping a young man, clashes and rioting broke out around Paris leading to over 250 arrests. The French senate on 16 February passed a law widening the circumstances in which the police may legally open fire, four months after a firebomb in Paris injured two officers. Police may now shoot, after giving two warnings, at fleeing suspects or detainees who pose a threat to life.

Fake pesticides cost EU businesses €1.3bn
 
The production of fake pesticides costs EU businesses €1.3bn each year, a report from the  EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) shows. Some 13.8% of legitimate revenues are lost due to counterfeiting of pesticides in the EU-28. “Our study outlines the economic effect of counterfeiting on sales and jobs, and how legitimate producers are impacted by counterfeit products in the market,” the Executive Director of the EUIPO Antonio Campinos said.

Ruined sculptures back to life
 
A view of a missing part of a limestone male bust, dated between the 2nd and the 3rd century A.D. that was damaged during the Islamic State occupation of the Syrian city of Palmyra, in Rome, Italy. Two damaged sculptures from the National Museum of Palmyra were restored in Rome and will be brought back to Syria at the end of February. Photo: EPA

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