14.12.2007

A French-inspired idea to sketch the best political recipe for how to deal with Europe's future challenges - the EU reflection group - will be chaired by Spain's former prime minister Felipe Gonzalez.

Latvia's former president Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Nokia's chief Jorma Ollila will be the group's vice-chairs. According to Czech deputy prime minister Alexandr Vondra, the group of about nine members, including the three top figures, is expected to start its work during the French presidency in 2008.

It was German Chancellor Angela Merkelwho suggested the time frame in order to avoid the group interfering with the upcoming ratification process of the Treaty of Lisbon, formally signed off on 13th December.

The panel is expected to report its findings in June 2010, although it should avoid discussing "the EU's finances, enlargement and institutional issues", according to Mr Vondra. One diplomat noted, however, that the mandate also…

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The European Commission's plan to attract non-EU workers has run into difficulties, as several member states question whether Brussels' bureaucracy should play a role in the area. On Thursday (6 December), interior and employment ministers from the 27-nation bloc failed to give complete backing to a set of ideas tailored to tackle one of Europe's major dilemmas - how to fulfill its economic need for guest workers, while alleviating the pressure of illegal migration. The biggest controversy centers around an EU work permit - dubbed the blue card - allowing employment to non-Europeans in any country within the 27-nation block. "We have 3.5 million unemployed, which means that companies can find workers within Germany", the country's employment minister Olaf Scholz said, according to AP, adding that a European initiative into a purely national matter was not needed. Berlin fears that the blue card would be the first step towards Brussels…

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As published on the www.cor.europa.eu, the EU needs to focus much more on regional-level partnerships if it wants to create a more business-friendly environment for small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe.  This was one of the key messages to emerge at the "SMEs and Entrepreneurship Conference", organized by the European Commission and Portuguese Presidency, in association with the Committee of the Regions (CoR), in Porto on 6-7 December.

Leading CoR member David PARSONS, representing President Michel DELEBARRE at the event, praised the Commission for its efforts in support of small business but said it could achieve more by doing less more effectively. “At the moment the Commission is trying to do too much on its own. We appreciate its goodwill, but we’d like to see it tapping into resources like the Committee of the Regions much more than is the case now. If it really wants…

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It will be a "quite nice Christmas gift", as the EU home affairs commissioner Franco Frattini said,  which will allow people from Central and Eastern Europe to move freely across the rest of the EU bloc. Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic - which all joined the EU in 2004 - are part of this latest enlargement. Checks at internal land and sea borders will be abolished on 21 December, with air borders to follow in March 2008. The Schengen area - established in 1985 in a small Luxembourg village at the geographical meeting-point of Germany, the Benelux countries and France - currently consists of thirteen EU states, plus Norway and Iceland. The UK and Ireland have chosen to stay out and participate only partially in police and judicial cooperation. Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania are yet to meet necessary requirements, while Switzerland is expected…

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In his interview with EUobserver (EUobserver.com), the EU's commissioner for culture, Jan Figel, outlines, using a popular German expression for multi-ethnic communities, that: “After enlargement, and in times of globalization, in times of growing migration, so-called 'multi-culti' realities are very visible.”

"The EU is the only 'geopolitical innovation' based on the respect for cultural diversity in the world, and, as such, is an attractive model to share," the Slovak commissioner said ahead of the official presentation of the "European Year of Intercultural Dialogue" on 4 December.
With a budget of €10 million, a series of community programmes involving culture, education, youth, sport and citizenship will be initiated throughout 2008. The aim is to create closer links between European peoples themselves and between their respective cultures.

"The European Union today is a more mature community, we all agree that market or business is not enough to keep people together,"…

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As published on the EUobserver.com, Bosnia and Herzegovina is due on Tuesday to initial an agreement seen as the first step towards the EU membership talks. BiH is the final  Western Balkan country to fully set off on the European path.
‘’I have decided to initial the Stabilization and Association agreement (SAA) with Bosnia and Herzegovina tomorrow," EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn said on Monday (3 December) in Sarajevo. His announcement came after the Serb, Bosnian and Croat leaders agreed on the integration of the country's police forces - one of Brussels' conditions for moving ahead with its EU plans.

"I am very pleased that I did not come in vain since leaders of the country have convinced me of their commitment to finish the job concerning police reform," Mr Rehn said. The country has a bright future on its road towards the EU which is supporting such economic…

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This event will be held in Brussels, on 4th December, in organization of  The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) and the European Federation of Journalists. As outlined on the europeanagenda.eu,  this year you can enter nominations for two categories: 1.the "Worst EU Lobbying" Award for the lobbyist, company or lobby group that in 2007 has employed the most deceptive, misleading, or otherwise problematic lobbying tactics in their attempts to influence EU decision-making; 2.the special "Worst EU Greenwash" Award for the company whose advertising, PR and lobbying lingo is most at odds with the real environmental impacts of their core business activities. From the nominations, two shortlists of five nominees were selected, followed by an on-line vote from 15 October to 24 November.

According to the www.worstlobby.eu:

“Worst EU Lobbying” shortlist:

  • BMW, Daimler and Porsche for their full-scale lobbying offensive to water-down and…

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On 3rd December, from 11:00  - 16:00, a conference with the theme: "Can we risk stopping the future enlargement of the European Union? Are there limits of the EU’s mission to bring peace and stability to Europe? " will be held in the Committee of the Regions, in Brussels, on the invitation of the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung. As announced on the europeanagenda.eu, experts of European institutions and organizations are going to discuss the EU’s mission to create a zone of peace and stability in Europe. By analyzing the developments of the relevant political instruments, the discussion is going to focus on the Western Balkans, the Black Sea region and the Southern Caucasus. Registration required.

Contact: FNS Brussels Office, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.…

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