European Council

EU trade deals sought with Korea

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EU leaders are pushing ahead for bilateral deals with Korea while Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson keeps up the fight for a multilateral trade pact.High-level EU representatives met with Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun in Helsinki to...

EU health Ministers warned on medicine supplies

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“The European association of pharmaceutical full-line wholesalers (GIRP) and its member companies are committed to ensuring that even the most isolated patients can have access to seldom used, but vital medicines wherever and whenever...

EU wary of energy dependence on Russia

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The European Commission on September 26 hailed Russia’s plans to redirect part of production from the Shtokman gas condensate field, one of the world's largest, to the European market in the near future but,...

Impetus for EU constitution after veto failure

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The EU last Friday appeared to be gearing up for a fresh drive to reach agreement on a EU constitution after a majority of member states rejected a Finnish proposal to end veto rights...

The Resurrection of Finlandisation

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The central European administration is a political entity and all facets related to its operations and functions are secondary. This political entity consists of three institutions: The Council with the Courts of Justice and...

Presidency threatens EC jobs

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Nearly 2,000 European Commission employees may find themselves without jobs if the ambitious plans of the European Council get the go-ahead later this year. The Finnish Presidency which runs from July to December this...

The Services Directive splits again the EU

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The Services Directive continues to split the European Union. Readers may recall that the first draft of it, under the name of “Bolkenstein Directive,” split France in two and set off general mistrust in...

Anti-terror measures won’t target race, religion

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The European Union last week - in a statement marking the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US - said that while the fight against terrorism is a priority for...

Presidency “Finnish” on jobs

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 Nearly 2,000 European Commission employees may find themselves without jobs if the ambitious plans of the European Council get the go-ahead later this year. The Finnish Presidency which runs from July to December this...

EU basks in growth delight

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The European Union rejoiced last week over the recovery of its economy after several years of sluggish performance. “Based on the data for the six largest member states, the growth rate for the EU...

Parliament wants deal on Passenger Name Records

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The European Parliament last week adopted a report calling on the European Council to ensure the US offers adequate protection of European passenger data and that sufficient safeguards are in place. The Council needs...

Montenegrins support EU membership

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Many Montenegrin adults would like their country to become a member of the European Union (EU). A poll by Cedem shows that 76.5 percent of respondents believe Montenegro should join the continental alliance, while...

Council of Europe urges a halt to mistreatment of prisoners

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Europe’s top human rights watchdog on September 6 urged Turkey to halt all mistreatment of prisoners, saying that the conditions in Turkish detention centres were not “reassuring,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported.Turkey has made progress...

ASEM summit to focus on Myanmar, Asia-Europe ties

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Global security issues, including joint Asia-Europe counter-terror measures, nuclear tensions with North Korea and failed international efforts to end military rule in Myanmar will head the agenda of the  Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) to be...

Halonen wants new initiative on Mideast peace

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Finnish President Tarja Halonen on Sept. 5 set out an agenda for stronger European Union efforts to end the Middle East conflict and said Israeli and Palestinian women should be encouraged to work for...

EU transport security plan may cripple small business

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A European Commission proposal to improve protection of freight transport against terrorist attacks could put many small enterprises out of business, the European Small Business Alliance (ESBA) said Sept. 5. Since 2001, terrorist attacks have highlighted the...

Annan and EU set the tune in the Middle East

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    As European Union foreign ministers last week backed a diplomatic plan aimed at clinching long-sought recognition of Israel by the Palestinian militant group Hamas and talked about ways to end the nuclear stalemate...

EU leaders line up behind Hamas recognition plan

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European Union foreign ministers have lined up behind a diplomatic formula aimed at clinching long-sought recognition of Israel by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Ministers, meeting in the Finnish city of Lappeenranta as part...

Troop contingent heads for UNIFIL mission

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A first contingent of 1,000 Italian soldiers departed last Tuesday to participate in the UN Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) ceasefire mission in southern Lebanon. Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, seeing the soldiers off at...

New EU reconstruction aid package for Lebanon

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The European Commission this week unveiled an aid package worth 42 million Euro (about USD 54 million) for rebuilding Lebanon following a 34-day devastating confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah fighters in the south of...

EU provides 11 million to support economic reform in Georgia

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The European Union has provided Georgia with the first tranche totalling 11 million Euro of a 33.5 million-Euro grant under a financial aid programme for 2006-2007, a representative in the country's Finance ministry told...

Boost in ties with Arab states

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Prior to Egypt and Libya, Amado held negotiations with his Jordanian counterpart. The main aim of his visit is to demonstrate Portugal’s desire to intensify dialogue with Arab countries as it readies its EU...

EU agrees to Lebanon job

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Annan, Solana find harmony as member states commit troopsEuropean Union foreign ministers last Friday gave United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan a lot to smile about as it became clear that Europeans have decided...

Presidency says Africa summit likely in 2007

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Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country holds the European Union presidency, said last Thursday he expected an EU-Africa summit to be held next year, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported. ?We have the problem with...

Europe leads Lebanon force

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European Union foreign ministers last Friday gave United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan a lot to smile about as it became clear that Europeans have decided to take part with significant troop contributions to...

Dozen countries ready for Lebanon force

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A dozen of the 25-member nations of the European Union (EU) declared last week their readiness in principle for their countries to contribute troops to a UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, diplomats in Brussels...

New EU rules imminent on health and nutrition

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The European Union plans to adopt new rules on health and nutrition, according to news reports on Saturday before last. The new rules would shortly be adopted regulating the use and substantiation of health...

“Permanent cessation” of hostilities in Mideast sought

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EU members last week called for an “immediate cessation of hostilities to be followed by a sustainable ceasefire,” in Lebanon and the Middle East, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country holds the bloc’s...

Frattini more positive on country’s EU accession status

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“I am a little bit more optimistic after my last visit here that Bulgaria will be an EU member as of January 1, 2007,” European Commission Vice President Franco Frattini, who is responsible for...

Solana goes solo in Middle East

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The European Union’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana for once last week came out with some frank opinion instead of diplomatic statements. Travelling extensively in on fire the Middle East, he was candid in...

Outrage against North Korea missile tests

The European Union last week joined international condemnation of North Korea’s launch of seven missiles and said it was consulting its key partners on an “effective response” to the crisis. Earlier in Brussels, NATO...

Iran says “serious” nuke talks set to happen

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said last Thursday he was prepared to open “serious” negotiations this week on EU and international efforts to defuse the current nuclear standoff with Tehran. Larijani, who met...

Stop navel-gazing, take “painful decisions”

The European Union must stop navel-gazing and instead speed up work on pressing challenges such as globalisation, Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency for the next six months,...

Austrian EU presidency was costly

The recently-ended Austrian presidency of the European Union Council cost about 86.5 million Euros, said Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser on Tuesday. This sum was composed of 70 million Euro spending by the state, and...

Austria finds problems in Romanian justice

Visiting Austrian President Heinz Fischer warned last Wednesday in Bucharest that there remained problems in the Romanian justice sector. In comments coming two weeks before the European Union Commission is to issue a decisive...

Oman important partner for EU

Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, President in office of the Council, had a last week with her Omani counterpart, Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah. Their discussions centred on EU relations with the Gulf region...

EU presidency “very concerned” on Myanmar

The Austrian EU Council presidency said last Wednesday the European Union is “very concerned” about a current offensive by the Myanmar army against the “Karen National Union” (KNU). The offensive had forced large numbers...