14th May 2008 - n°347
Quelle situation en Biélorussie ?
Interview with Alexandre Milinkievitch, Mathilde Durand
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From 5th to 9th May the Robert Schuman Foundation welcomed the head of the democratic opposition forces of Belarus, Aleksander Milinkievich. Together with Jean-Dominique Giuliani, chairman of the Foundation and Alain Barrau, chairman of the French Information Bureau at the European Parliament he held a conference on 6th May on the situation in Belarus. On 8th May Aleksander Milinkievich was interviewed on Euronews. On 9th May he met French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The 3rd Meeting of the "Club rhénan", a Franco-German forum on the future of Europe created by Joachim Bitterlich and Jean-Dominique Giuliani will take place on 14th May in Paris. The main themes will be: the European Union's energy policy and the European Security and Defence Policy. This meeting has the support of the Robert Schuman Foundation and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
Elections Monitor - Serbia
In view of the French Presidency of the European Union that will start on 1st July 2008 the Robert Schuman Foundation and the association "Femmes, Débat et Société" with the support of the European Commission have released a flyer on 7th May entitled "Europe concerns us all!" as part of the communication project "Women for Europe". This document above all designed for women presents the advantages provided by the construction of Europe to our daily lives; it presents the European institutions, your rights, Europe's main policies and Europe in the world.
The coalition "For a European Serbia-Democratic Party-G17+-Boris Tadic" rallying the Democratic Party, the G17+, the Democratic Party of Sandzak, the Movement for Renewal (SPO) and the League of Social Democrats of Voivodina (LSV) easily won the general elections that took place on 11th May in Serbia winning 38.7% of the vote and 103 seats in the National Assembly, the only Chmaber in Parliament. The ultra-nationalist Radical Party (SRS) won 29.10% of the vote and 77 seats. The Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) led by the outgoing Prime Minister came third winning 11.3% of the vote and 30 seats. The Socialist Party led by Ivica Dacic won 7.9% of the vote (20 seats). The coalition rallying the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the Civic Alliance and the Social Democratic Union won 5.20% of the vote and 13 seats. Finally the parties representing the country's minorities won 7 seats. The Democratic Party came out ahead in the local elections in three of the largest cities: Belgrade, Novi Sad and Nis.
The EU Presidency was delighted with the clear victory for the pro-European forces in the general elections that took place in Serbia on 11th May. It was glad that the occasion was peaceful, that there was no conflict and that the elections were free and democratic. It hopes that a new government will be formed rapidly with a clear European programme.
On 6th May the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the European Union published a declaration on behalf of the 27 Member States with regard to the tension between Russia and Georgia. On 12th May in Tbilissi a ministerial mission represented by the Slovenian, Swedish, Polish, Latvian and Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Ministers expressed its support of the sovereignty of Georgia and its territorial integrity, whilst tension grows with Russia. "The European Union repeats its support of the sovereignty of Georgia and its territorial integrity within its internationally acknowledged borders," declared the Slovenian Foreign Minister, Dmitrij Rupel whose country is chairing the European Union at present.
The Presidency of the Council, the European Commission and Lithuania came to an agreement on 11th May during the European Union-Russia troika with regard to the launch of negotiations on a new partnership and co-operation agreement with Russia. The agreement that has just been settled will be approved during the next session of the General Affairs Council on 26th May. The draft negotiation mandate with Russia includes three points that Lithuania believes to be vital : "the attitude towards "latent conflicts" particularly in Abkhazia and Transnistria, legal and police co-operation with Russia and issues of energy security. "This text takes into account the vital interests of Lithuania as well as those of the European Union," declared Dimitrij Rupel, head of Slovenian diplomacy, who called on Lithuania to act in solidarity with other Member States.
The European Union Ministerial troïka meeting took place on 6th May with Turkey; the meeting was chaired by Dimitrij Rupel, Slovenian Foreign Minister. The meeting focussed on the evaluation of progress achieved by Turkey in the negotiation procedure with the European Union and the implementation of the Accession Partnership priorities. The Slovenian Presidency said that it would work towards opening up two new negotiation chapters with Turkey during the conference planned for June.
The initiative report by Ingo Friedrich (EPP-DE, DE) asking for greater clarity with regard to lobbyist activities was adopted on 8th May by 547 votes in favour, 24 against and 59 abstentions. According to the report all players who "aim to influence the policy formulation and decision-making processes of the European institutions" will now have to appear in an obligatory public register at the Council, the Commission and in Parliament and they will be obliged to show clearly their financial sources. It was decided that lobbyists will have to obey a code of conduct which may lead to sanctions if it is not respected. The report includes another innovation. From now on every MEP, who writes a report will be able to mention groups who have been consulted in the elaboration of the report. Finally MEPs suggested the establishment of inter-institutional work that aims to implement a common lobbyist register by the end of 2008.
In a report by Véronique de Keyser (PES, BE) and José Salafranca (EPP-ED, ES) adopted on 8th May by 605 votes in favour, 11 against and 16 abstentions, MEPs stressed the importance of European Union electoral observation missions in terms of its visibility in the international arena. Thanks to its missions the Union plays a role in the pre and post-electoral phases, notably by supporting the enhancement of national parliaments' capabilities. However improved efficacy and co-ordination of election observation missions seems primordial. They have requested an annual report from European Parliament on these missions.
On 8th May MEPs approved Marco Cappato's (ALDE, IT) report, 533 votes in favour, 63 against and 41 abstentions on the Human Rights situation in the world. In this report MEPs examine some countries and condemn Human Rights' infringements observed in China, Iran and Russia. They invite the Commission, the Council and the Member States to come together in concerted actions in this area. With regard to the international community they welcome the new UN Human Rights Council believed to be a useful tool for the Union's multilateral initiatives. They are pleased with the adoption of a UN resolution on 18th December 2007 that requested a world moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Finally they recalled that it is a priority to take women's and children's rights into account.
The report by Manolis Mavrommatis (EPP-ED,EL) was adopted 518 votes in favour, 49 against and 9 abstentions. MEPs approved the establishment of clear guidelines with regard to the application of community law in terms of sport. One of their main concerns was to protect sport and sportsmen and women from racism and discrimination linked to nationality. They invited professional clubs and sports organisations to step up their fight against doping and call for a partnership between laboratories and the services in charge of implementing the law so that knowledge of illicit doping products can be improved. Finally other themes were addressed such as the danger of deregulating the gambling market, the need for greater solidarity in terms of access to the media and the need to respect legislation in the area of immigration.
Antonio Tajani was appointed by the Italian government led by Silvio Berlusconi to succeed Franco Frattini at the European Commission. The latter resigned from his position to become Italian Foreign Affairs Minister. The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso confirmed the appointment on 8th May of Antonio Tajani and gave him the Transport portfolio whilst Vice-President Jacques Barrot will take over that of Justice, Liberty and Security. In order to be appointed Antonio Tajani, MEP until now, is to be auditioned by his former colleagues.
On 6th May the European Commission presented its proposed budget 2009 for the European Union. Long-term economic progress and employment remain firmly at the top of European Union spending, taking the biggest share – nearly 45% - a 3% rise on 2008. The proposal also highlights the growing trend to gear policy spending towards the energy and environment, with a massive 10% of the budget going on environment. Money for agriculture will remain stable at 42.9 billion euros. All headings in the budget will grow, reaching a total of 134.4 billion euros in commitments and 116.7 billion euros in payments.
On the occasion of the euro's tenth anniversary the European Commission lauded the success achieved by the single currency but deplores that fact that the euro area is unable to speak with one voice in the international arena. At the same time the Commission adopted the Convergence Report on euro readiness which shows that the other nine countries with a so-called 'derogation' have made progress on the road to the single currency, but do not yet meet all the conditions for euro adoption (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden). It concluded that Slovakia meets the criteria for adopting euro and made a proposal to the Council to this effect. The Council of EU finance ministers (ECOFIN) will take the final decision on the adoption of the euro in Slovakia in July.
On 8th May EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva published the mid term report on an EU wide enforcement investigation - involving 15 EU national authorities as well as Norway – against misleading advertising and unfair practices on airline ticket selling websites. The report shows that there are "serious and persistent consumer problems" throughout the airline industry as a whole. 1 in 3 websites surveyed (137 out of 386 originally checked by the 13 reporting countries) have had to be followed up with enforcement action over the last 7 months for breaches of EU consumer law. Over 50% of those websites have been corrected during this time. The overall trends of problems within the sector are as follows: misleading pricing has emerged as the biggest problem, found in 58% of the sites under investigation; Problems with non-availability of advertised offers appeared in 15% of the sites. The problems persist amongst a wide range of companies. The 137 websites under investigation represent about 80 companies – including large brand names and lesser known companies.
On 7th May the European Commission invites feedback by industry, consumers and other interested stakeholders to review the functioning and effectiveness of the EU Roaming Regulation, which entered into force on 30th June 2007. According to the provisions of the Regulation, the Commission must report to the European Parliament and the Council in 2008 about the functioning of the new roaming rules and their effects. The public consultation aims to gather responses from mobile operators, businesses, consumer associations and any interested party by 2nd July 2008. The Commission will then be able to evaluate whether it should limit tariffs applied to SMS and mobile internet abroad. The consultation will enable a review of the eurotariff (which obliges European mobile telephone oeprators to apply a maximum tariff of 0.49 cts VAT excluded with regard to calls made from abroad and 0.24 cts on calls received). The Commission also wants to see whether it is necessary to extend this regulation or not beyond 30th June 2010.
On 8th May the European Commission launched the fourth phase of the Tempus programme designed to support the modernisation of teaching in higher education in the 28 partner countries of the Western Balkans, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Northern Africa and the Middle East. A conference organised in Cairo on 7th and 8th May focussed on the issue of quality and the role played by the Tempus programme since it was launched in 1990. It was also the occasion for dialogue between universities, experts and students from the 27 Member States of the EU and the 28 partners of the Tempus programme.
Court of Justice :
As part of the informal meeting of the 27 transport ministers on 5th and 6th May a conference entitled "The European European and South East Europe: a common vision for connecting people" focussed on the activities planned as part of the "transport community" associating the European Union and South East Europe which aims to establish a single market for road, rail, maritime and inland waterway transport with the countries of South-East Europe. The Council gave a mandate to the European Commission to open negotiations leading to the conclusion of an EU 'Transport Community Treaty' with the countries of South-East Europe. Ministers stressed the consequences of activities in the area of transport on the environment.
On 1st December 2005, the Council adopted a directive on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status. The directive states that the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after consultation of the European Parliament, is to adopt a minimum common list of third countries which are to be regarded by Member States as safe countries of origin, and a common list of European safe third countries. After the Parliament brought an action for annulment the court was invited to answer the question of whether the Council could legally plan for the adoption and modification of the lists of safe countries by a qualified majority on the proposal of the Commission and after consultation with Parliament. The Court answered on 6th may that the Council had exceeded the competence conferred on it by the treaty by introducing derivated legal notions into the directive and that it should respect the procedures established by the treaty.
On 8th May the European Central Bank decided not to change its key interest rate leaving it at 4%. The main rate therefore remains the same as it was in June 2007. During a press conference Jean-Claude Trichet, Chairman of the ECB explained the decision that was taken unanimously by the council of governors. Commenting on the economic situation in Europe he again said that he was relatively confident in the euro area's economic health. "The economic fundamentals are still sound," he said. He stressed the unusally high degree of "uncertainty" that weighed on growth prospects due to turmoil on the financial markets where there was still a great amount of tension.
On 7th May Giove-B the second test satellite for the future European positioning system Galileo transmitted its first navigation signals. According to a press release by the European Space Agency this "was an historic stage in satellite navigation." Indeed if Giove-B is succeeding in transmitting its high performance signal in space this means that Galileo can provide the best possible satellite positioning services and yet be compatible and interoperable with the American GPS system.
For the second year running a day dedicated to Europe (EU-Projectday) took place on 6th May in German schools. This educational day was established on the initiative of the Chancellor and was celebrated for the first time on 22nd January 2007 during the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union. During her visit to one Berlin school the Chancellor declared "that she hoped they would now be aware that we can only rise to the challenges of our time - climate change, globalisation, the fight against terrorism - by means of the European alliance."
In an interview given on 7th May the German Home Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble spoke of Germany's security strategy after the initiative put forward by the CDU-CSU group in the Bundestag. From now on international terrorism, cyber wars, criminal States, asymetrical wars and migratory flow, not forgetting energy and environmental issues, are the main threats. Germany has to rise to these challenges and implement a strategy whilst co-operating with its European partners.
On 9th May during the debate on the Immigration Report 2006 German Home Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble spoke to the Bundestag. After having briefly mentioned some migration analysis results he turned to the issue of integration which is one of the government's priorities and which remains a problem. He notably stressed the responsibility of the media and rejected the idea of parallel societies in Germany. He believes that integration is achieved by a reciprocal process and that it should lead to the examination of the issue of citizenship. He called for the creation of a joint European policy dedicated to the fight against illegal immigration.
Rasmussen for President?
Belgian Prime Minister, Yves Leterme travelled to France on 5th May where he spoke with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, notably with regard to the merger of Suez-Gaz de France. They also spoke of the Common Agricultural Policy, environmental issues and European Defence. With regard to the last point they agreed that "the enhancement of European Defence was not contrary to NATO". The following day Yves Leterme travelled to Berlin to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel. After their meeting they held a press conference.
According to an article published in the Times on 6th May Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen would be the best candidate for the Presidency of the European Union. A high-ranking European executive confirmed this idea explaining that few European leaders had anything to reproach him with.
On 9th May the European Affairs Commission discussed Finland's position with regard to the Lisbon Treaty and notably issues relating to the European institutions. Finland's opinion is that the key roles of the institutions and division of duties between them must be specified before the entry into force of the Treaty planned for 1st January 2009 if the Treaty has been ratified by all Member States. The Lisbon Treaty will introduce two new high level actors: the permanent President of the European Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The Commission indicated that Finland will improve its relations with the European Parliament whose role will be strengthened by the new treaty.
As part of the French Presidency of the European Union, French Prime Minister, François Fillon travelled on 8th and 9th May to Malta and Cyprus, two islands that joined the European Union in 2004 and the euro area in January last. He spoke with his Maltese counterpart Lawrence Gonzi and mentioned the issue of immigration, a sensitive subject in Malta and one of the priorities of the French Presidency. They also discussed the fight against global warming, Europe's energy security, the boosting of European defence and the modernisation of the Common Agricultural Policy. On 9th May the head of the French government travelled to Cyprus where he spoke with Cypriot President Demetris Christophas and Chairman of the Chamber of Represenatatives Marios Guaroyian.
After the resignation of Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern on 6th May a new government led by Brian Cowen was appointed on 7th May. This government comprises 14 Ministers including three women and four Secretaries of State.
The referendum on the Lisbon Treaty will take place on 12th June in Ireland, the only country in the European Union to be organising a consultation on the subject. The Irish Minister for the Environment and Local Authorities Brian Gormley signed the decision which made the date official on 12th May.
On 7th May the new president of the Italian Council, Mr Silvio Berlusconi formed a government comprising 21 members (including four women). Amongst the most important positions were that of Economy Minister which went to Giulio Tremonti. Franco Frattini, who has been a European Commissioner until now was appointed Foreign Minister. Ignazio La Russa will be the new Defence Minister. The Northern League, a populist party allied to Silvio Berlusconi which more than doubled its score during the general elections (rising from 3.9% to 8.3%) has been given four ministerial positions. Its leader Umberto Bossi is now Reform Minister, Robert Maroni will be Home Minister. Agriculture and the simplification of the legislation will be taken care of by Luca Zaia and Roberto Calderoli respectively. On 8th May the new head of the Italian government, together with his 21 ministers were sworn in before the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano.
After having issued a warning, that still has not been answered, to Italy in January the European Commission announced on 6th May that it was going to take action against Italy in the European Court of Justice because of the waste processing crisis in Naples where piles of rubbish have been accumulating in the streets over the last few months. The Commission is also sending a first written warning to Italy for not having obeyed a Court decision with regard to the Latium area (Rome) - after it was observed that it had not adopted regional waste management plans.
On 8th May Latvia became the 13th country to have ratified the Lisbon Treaty. The text was approved by a wide majority: 70 MPs out of 100 voted in favour, three voted against and only one abstained. The Robert Schuman Foundation updates a map detailing the ratification results by country on its internet site.
On 8th May Lithuania ratified the Lisbon Treaty. The text was adopted by 83 MPs out of 141 who sit in the Seimas (Parliament) in comparison with 5 against and 23 abstentions. This is the twelfth country to have ratified the Lisbon Treaty (after Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia). The Robert Schuman Foundation is updating a map which details the ratification results per country on its internet site.
Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva chose the symbolic date of 9th May, Europe Day, to declare the decision to ratify the new European treaty during a solemn ceremony. The ratification was approved on 23rd April by a very large majority in the Portuguese parliament.
On 9th May Romanian President Traian Basescu made an official speech to celebrate Europe Day. He paid tribute to all the personalities who had helped in making the European project a reality, notably Robert Schuman. The President also declared that "Romania would only be a performant European State if it reformed its institutions." In conclusion the President spoke to the young Romanian generation which has to take the construction of Europe forwards.
On 8th May British and French European Affairs Ministers, Jim Murphy and Jean-Pierre Jouyet spoked during a round table entitled : "Towards a Green Collar Europe - jobs and growth in a low carbon economy". During the conference many leaders from the economic world, civil society and the unions looked into how Europe can encourage employment and prosperity in the 21st century by showing its leadership in terms of climate change. The reform of th Union's budget that has to take on board improvements in employment and growth as well as post Lisbon Strategy actions were under discussion.
The Slovakian President Ivan Gasparovic signed the Lisbon Treaty in Bratislava on 12th May - this signature completed the ratification process. The text was ratified by the Slovakian parliament on 10th April. The Robert Schuman Foundation keeps an updated table of the ratification results per country on its internet site.
The Swedish government put forward a draft law to the Riksdag on 8th May suggesting new rules with regard to work immigration in Sweden. This proposal attempts to create more opportunities for work immigration and to facilitate the recruitment of people from countries that are not within the EU, the European Economic Area or Switzerland. It also suggests an agreement between the government and the Green Party.
On 6th May Georgian Deputy Prime Minister Georgui Baramidze repeated his country's request of MEPs of the Foreign Affairs Commission at the European Parliament for them to "think about sending an assessment mission and a police force to Abkhazia to replace a Russian contingent there which is far from being "neutral". Relations between Russia and Georgia have continued to deteriorate since Moscow's announcement on 16th April that it was enhancing its relations with the two separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Over the last few days Moscow has sent hundreds of back up forces to Abkhazia.
On 8th May the European Commission provided Macedonia with a roadmap on the liberalisation of visas. A visa facilitation agreement targeting company directors, students and journalists came into force in January 2008 but this has now been extended to the entire population. Macedonian Foreign Minister, Antonio Milososki welcomed this initiative which clearly shows the measures to take for the visa system to be totally liberalised. He believes that conditions could be fulfilled during 2008.
On 7th May Dmitri Medvedev became the third president of the Federation of Russia after Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. He took his oath on the Constitution during the investiture ceremony in Kremlin.
On 8th May Vladimir Putin was appointed Prime Minister of the government led by the new President Dmitri Medvedev. The Douma, the Lower Chamber of Parliament confirmed this choice by an overwhelming majority. The new Prime Minister spoke of the general policy he intends to undertake as head of government focussing his ideas on the stimulation of oil production, the reduction of taxes and the improvement of living standards. On 12th May he announced that Foreign Minister, Serguei Lavrov and Defence Minister, Anatoli Serdukov were to continue in their positions within the new government.
The Serbs chose integration to the European Union when they provided President Boris Tadic with victory in the general elections that took place on 11th May. The Democratic Party (DS) led by President Boris Tadic won 38.75% of the vote (102 votes) in comparison with 29.22% for the Radical Serb Party (SRS) led by Tomislav Nikolic (77 seats), 11.34% to the DSS led by outgoing Prime Minister (30 seats), 7.57% to the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), ie 20 seats and 5.3% for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) ie 14 seats. International observers lauded the freedom and the efficient organisation of the general and municipal elections in Serbia on 12th May.
On 7th May Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Justice, Liberty and Security presented the roadmap for greater flexibility in the visa regime with regard to Serbia. The document indicates clearly what measures the Serb authorities have to take so that Serb citizens can travel without a visa. A joint release signed by 17 countries (France, Slovenia, Germany, Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Sweden, Czech Republic and Norway) called for "greater flexibility" with regard to the granting of visas to citizens from the Western Balkans.
According to figures published by Eurostat on 6th May in March 2008 compared with February 2008, the industrial producer price index rose by 0.7% in the euro area and by 0.6% in the European Union. In February prices increased by 0.7% in both zones. In March 2008, compared with the previous month, prices in total industry excluding the energy sector rose by 0.3% in both the euro area and the European Union. Prices in the energy sector increased by 1.8% and 1.5% respectively. In March 2008 compared with March 2007, industrial producer prices gained 5.7% in the euro area and 6.7% in the European Union. In March 2008, compared with March 2007, prices in total industry excluding the energy sector increased by 3.7% in the euro area and by 3.9% in the EU27. Prices in the energy sector rose by 12.7% and 15.2% respectively.
According to Eurostat figures published on 6th May the gross saving rate of households in the euro area and the European Union had risen in the fourth quarter of 2007. The seasonally adjusted gross saving rate of households was 14.3% in the euro area in comparison with 14% in the 3rd quarter of 2007. In the European Union the household saving rate was 10.6% in the fourth quarter of 2007, compared with 10.4% in the third quarter of 2007. In addition to this business investments were up in both areas in the fourth quarter of 2007. It rose to 23.1% in the euro area and to 22.8% in the third quarter of 2007. In the European Union the investment rate was also 23.1% in the fourth quarter of 2007, compared with 22.8% in the third quarter of 2007.
According to Eurostat figures published on 8th May in the European Union, social protection expenditure accounted for 27.2% of GDP in 2005. In the European Union of 25 this ratio was 27.4% in 2005, compared with 27.3% in 2004 and 27.4% in 2003. Social protection expenditure as a percentage of GDP was above 30% in 2005 in Sweden (32.0%), France (31.5%) and Denmark (30.1%), and below 15% in Latvia (12.4%), Estonia (12.5%), Lithuania (13.2%) and Romania (14.2%). These disparities reflect differences in living standards, but are also indicative of the diversity of national social protection systems and of the demographic, economic, social and institutional structures specific to each Member State.
The Foundation for Strategic Research has published a study by Hélène Masson entitled "Union Européenne et Armememnt: des dispositions du traité de Lisbonne aux propositions de directive de la Commission européenne." (The European Union and Arms: from measures included in the Lisbon Treaty to the European Commission's draft directive.) The author reviews the new measures in the Lisbon Treaty with regard to defence and arms and analyses the effects of the 2007 Defence Package put forward by the European Commission on 5th December last.
The Centre for European Policy Studies has published a report on the European Union's budget and on the measures that have been planned to modify its structure. The three authors, Alfonso Iozzo, Stefano Micossi and Maria Teresa Salvemini believe that the European budget no longer represents the Union's political priorities. They suggest a structural change to the budget with specific, clear sums for each of the Union's activities and call for modifications in decision-making procedures. These changes would provide an opportunity to place the European budget at the heart of a political debate as part of the upcoming European elections.
Alexander Rahr and Stefan Meister have published an article on behalf of the DGAP (German Foreign Policy Society) on 'Medvedev's innovations'. The new Russian President will have to face several major challenges. He will have to take care of the social and economic situation and try to reduce Russia's energy dependency in terms of its gas and oil exports. In addition to this he intends to create innovative industries and reform the areas of research, education and technology so that they are more competitive on a world scale. The focus of Mr Medvedev's strategy is his will to make Russia the 5th world economy by 2020. As he took over power on 7th May Medvedev announced that he would look into the development of SME's and the effective running of civil society.
Clarus Press (Ireland) has released a book by Laurent Puech entitled: "The European Union and its constitution : From Rome to Lisbon". It is dedicated to the study of the new European treaty and the institutional system of the European Union. The author analyses the contradictions and criticism which have been brought against the Lisbon Treaty.
Agenda : 13th May
Eurogroup Council14th May
Meeting 'General Affairs and External Relations'
'Economic and Financial Affairs' Council
3rd Meeting of the Club rhénan, Paris19th - 20th May
Agriculture and Fisheries Council21st May
"Education, Youth and Culture" Council