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Iceland postpones withdrawal of EU application

13 May, 2014 - 07:10

Iceland has postponed plans to withdraw its application for European Union membership, the government said on Monday (12 May), after protesters called for a referendum.

The government drafted a bill earlier this year to withdraw Iceland's 2009 EU membership application without holding a public vote, but thousands of protesters gathered in March and April outside parliament, calling on the ruling parties to honour election promises to put the EU issue to a referendum.

Poll: Most Europeans believe ‘the worst is still to come’

13 May, 2014 - 07:03

With the European elections opening next week, a new survey shows that most Europeans believe the crisis is not over yet and that “the worst is still to come”, although the trend is slightly improving.

Will Flemish separatists save the Tories in Europe?

13 May, 2014 - 06:38

The Flemish separatist party N-VA is once again set to make big gains in Belgium’s triple elections this month, but they remain undecided about which group to join in the next EU Parliament. Could they become the much-needed new member of the ECR group, led by the British Conservative Party?

Swedish feminist party tipped for first EU Parliament seat

12 May, 2014 - 16:46

The Feminist Initiative (FI), a Swedish party, may win its first seat in the European Parliament, according to the latest opinion polls published in the national press.

FI is currently polling at 4.3% of votes in Sweden, just above the 4% threshold required to win one of the country's 20 seats in the parliament. In 2009, the party got 2.2% of votes.

Fact-checking: French development aid dropped in 2013

12 May, 2014 - 16:39

French development aid decreased by almost 10% in 2013, according to the OECD, a surprising drop which runs contrary to governmental declarations, EurActiv France reports.

The French Treasury expected only a small cut to the development aid budget, reducing it to 0.46% of GDP in 2013 compared to 0.47% in 2012. OECD figures put it now at 0.41% of GDP in 2013.

Factchecking: French development aid dropped in 2013

12 May, 2014 - 16:39

French development aid decreased by almost 10% in 2013, according to the OECD, a surprising drop which runs contrary to governmental declarations, EurActiv France reports.

The French Treasury expected only a small cut to the development aid budget, reducing it to 0.46% of GDP in 2013 compared to 0.47% in 2012. OECD figures put it now at 0.41% of GDP in 2013.

Business leaders want Europe’s Russian gas addiction reduced

12 May, 2014 - 15:55

Efforts to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas must be intensified even if it means raising energy prices, European business leaders have said.

More than two thirds of respondents (72%) of a survey,  conducted by EurActiv and the European Business Summit, agreed that action had to be taken to prevent Russia holding the EU to ransom by threatening to turn off the tap. But more than half (57%) said that enlargement should not be offered to Ukraine or other countries of Europe in the east and south.

Why sexual and reproductive rights can’t be taken for granted

12 May, 2014 - 14:54

The 'I decide' campaign being launched today aims to put sexual and reproductive health rights at the heart of development policy and mobilise the majority of Europe's citizens against those who would take us back to the Middle Ages, writes Michael Cashman. 

Michael Cashman is a Labour MEP and member of the European Parliament's Development Committee.

French CO2 emissions increased in 2013, study finds

12 May, 2014 - 12:43

France saw its CO2 emissions increase by 0.6% in 2013, despite EU28 emissions decreasing by 2.5%. EurActiv France reports.

IEA: Coal use is spiking climate mitigation costs

12 May, 2014 - 12:39

The global cost of pegging global warming to 2 degrees Celsius has risen by $8 trillion in the last two years, due to soaring coal use which has eclipsed the roll-out of renewable energies, according to a new International Energy Agency (IEA) report released today (12 May).

A top IEA official told EurActiv that there should be a halt to the commissioning of sub-critical coal plants with no potential for retroactive fitting of carbon, capture and storage technology (CCS) that may one day pipe CO2 emissions for storage in geological formations.

EU prepares first 'social monitoring' report

12 May, 2014 - 08:37

As the European Commission prepares to issue its first-ever social policy recommendations in the framework of the strengthened European Semester of economic policy coordination, there are lingering questions as to what the whole process will actually achieve, with critics branding it a "communications exercise".

As announced last October, the EU executive will publish its assessment by next month on five "key social indicators", together with its usual macro-economic recommendations.

EU foreign ministers to raise pressure on Russia over Ukraine

12 May, 2014 - 07:45

The European Union is set to step up pressure on Russia today (12 May) by taking a first cautious step towards extending sanctions to companies, as well as people, linked to Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.

Discussions among EU foreign ministers in Brussels will again be dominated by the Ukraine crisis after pro-Moscow rebels held a referendum on self-rule in parts of eastern Ukraine on Sunday and fighting flared up again.

Juncker: Merkel promised to give me Commission presidency if EPP wins

12 May, 2014 - 07:25

Jean-Claude Juncker said on Sunday (11 May) he had won assurances from German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he would become the next European Commission president if their centre-right bloc wins the European parliamentary elections on May 22-25.

Juncker's comments, made in an interview with Bild am Sonntag, contrasted with Merkel's own suggestion on Saturday that the real choice might be made - as in the past - only after prolonged horse-trading between national governments.

Durant: The hybrid game of engaging EU citizens

12 May, 2014 - 07:08

Selecting top candidates for Commission president is a ‘hybrid’ game that will not deliver any result as long as there are no transnational lists. The exercise will not galvanise the attention of EU citizens, said European Parliament Vice-president Isabelle Durant in an interview with EurActiv.

Isabelle Durant is a Belgian Green MEP and one of the European Parliament's fourteen vice-presidents in the past legislature. She previously held the position of transport minister in Belgium (1999-2003) under Guy Verhofstadt's first government.

UN official: EU needs to encourage social movements

12 May, 2014 - 06:48

The European institutions need to break out of their “formalist” approach to governance, instead facilitating diversity and collective learning, if they wish to gain the trust of citizens and build sustainable societies, argues Olivier de Schutter, the winner of last year’s Francqui Prize, one of Belgium’s most prestigious science awards.

UN official: The EU must build upon social movements

12 May, 2014 - 06:48

The European institutions need to break out of their “formalist” approach to governance, instead facilitating diversity and collective learning, if they wish to gain the trust of citizens and build sustainable societies, argues Olivier de Schutter, the winner of this year’s Francqui Prize, one of Belgium’s most prestigious science awards.

Eastern Ukraine drifts away from Kyiv in controversial referendum

12 May, 2014 - 06:13

Pro-Moscow rebels declared a resounding victory in a referendum on self-rule for eastern Ukraine held Sunday (11 May), with some saying that meant independence and others eventual union with Russia, as fighting flared in a conflict increasingly out of control.

Organizers in the main region holding the makeshift vote said nearly 90% had voted in favor.

The intergovernmental drift has weakened the EU, says Parliament's VP

12 May, 2014 - 06:04

The Lisbon Treaty paradox, under which more power was given to the European Parliament, but EU leaders have gained in prominence, has undermined Europe and paved the way for growing Euroscepticism, said European Parliament Vice-president,  Isabelle Durant, in an exclusive interview with EurActiv.

This legislature has been a disappointment, said Isabelle Durant, making an assessment of the past five years since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009 and ahead of the European elections next May.

Second EU presidential debate ends with ‘no winner’

10 May, 2014 - 09:45

Hosted by the European University Institute in Florence, candidates for the European Commission president left many of the observers in the audience wondering what the real political message of the four contenders actually was.

Front-runner German Social Democrat Martin Schulz, and Luxembourg Christian Democrat Jean-Claude Juncker, were joined by the Belgian Liberal Guy Verhofstadt, and French Green José Bové, for the second presidential debate in the run-up to the EU parliament elections in two weeks  (22-25 May).

EU Exit: Deception and Exaggeration

9 May, 2014 - 16:52

Eurosceptics lose the in/out debate because they don’t deploy the correct arguments and Europhiles, meanwhile, don't take them seriously. But a referendum will be fought on facts and those facts don't support our continued EU membership, writes Alan Murad.