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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

17.01.11: Poland: Elections will not disrupt EU presidency - 0 views

  • The Polish junior minister for EU affairs, Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, has promised that upcoming elections will not disrupt Poland's EU chairmanship and defended Hungary over its controversial media law. Speaking to EUobserver ahead of a visit by EU Council head Herman Van Rompuy to Warsaw on Monday (17 January), Mr Dowgielewicz predicted the election will take place in the second half of October - slap-bang in the middle of Poland's EU presidency - but said the vote will be separated from its EU activities by a "Chinese wall".
  • The latest poll, by GfK Polonia in December, indicated that centre-right Prime Minister Donald Tusk will sail through to a second term on 54 percent, leaving behind the main opposition party, Law and Justice, on 26 percent. Even if the situation changes drastically, Law and Justice' bull-in-a-china-shop boss, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, is unlikely to turn up at any EU summits in 2011. "The presidency has been set up in such a way as to allow the old government to continue running things until late December, until the last session of the European Parliament, no matter what happens," Mr Dowgielewicz noted.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

12.01.11: Kroes: Commission 'not shy' on Hungarian media law | EurActiv - 1 views

  • Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said yesterday (11 January) that the European Commission would not make any compromise and would make sure EU law is implemented fully in the case of the controversial Hungarian media law.
  • But Kroes made clear that the directive was "an instrument to find the issues to tackle" and that if problems were identified, Reding would be called into play, in respect of Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty. Article 7 reads that after a reasoned proposal by one third of EU member states, by the European Parliament or by the European Commission, the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a member state of the EU values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

06.01.11: Prospects for EU-Croatia enlargement negotiations in 2011 - 0 views

  • But European commission president José Manuel Barroso has been more cautious, saying that the end of 2011 is more likely while EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Füle warns that Croatia's last leg to accession "would be the hardest".Good progress was made in December in closing three more negotiating chapters.But the difficult chapter eight, concerning competition, still remains. Along with the fight against corruption and judicial reform, it is seen as a key test for Croatia's accession.Many believe Croatia may have to close some of its five shipyards if it is to be successful in convincing the commission that it is serious about eliminating unnecessary state aid for its shipbuilding industry.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

05.01.11.: France blasts Hungarian media law - 0 views

  • France said yesterday (4 January) that a new media law passed by Hungary, which took up the EU's rotating presidency on 1 January, violated EU laws on press freedom, and called on other members of the bloc to take action against it.
  • In France, the law has drawn criticism from across the political spectrum, with the main opposition Socialist Party labelling it "a very bad sign for Europe and for the liberty of the press". The controversy over the media law has contributed to a growing cloud over Hungary's EU presidency. Budapest and Brussels have clashed several times since Prime Minister Viktor Orban rejected austerity measures, cut ties with the International Monetary Fund and opted for unorthodox fiscal steps to cut the budget deficit and boost economic growth. The European Commission announced on Monday that it was investigating the legality of crisis taxes imposed by Hungary's centre-right government on the telecoms, retail and energy sectors.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

31.12.10. European Parliament urged to pass resolution condemning Hungary's new media law - 0 views

  • Despite unanimous opposition from leading media freedom organizations, the Hungarian parliament has adopted a controversial law overhauling the state-owned media and creating a Media Council with utterly disproportionate powers. The law was passed by an overwhelming majority of votes (256 to 87) on 21 December. Appointed directly by the government, the Media Council’s five members will not only have a right of oversight but also the authority to impose heavy fines (of up to 700,000 euros for a TV station and 89,000 euros for an online publication) for content that is “not politically balanced” or “violates human dignity.” The council can also punish offences against religion and the nation, while journalists can be forced to reveal their sources when national security is involved. Although the government intends to ensure “fair balance” in the media, it has not respected this principle in its choice of Media Council members, who all belong to the ruling Fidesz party. The council is supposed to enforce “balance” but it will have no opposition representatives. “Our organization, a 2005 Sakharov Prize laureate, urges the European Parliament’s president and bureau to make discussion of this law an emergency item on the next plenary session’s agenda,” Reporters Without Borders said.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

01.01.11: Hungary's Democratic Credentials In Doubt As It Assumes EU Presidency - 0 views

  • Just over 50 years ago, Hungary fought back against a bloody invasion by the Soviet Army. Just over 20 years ago, it hastened the fall of the Berlin Wall, granting East German refugees free passage to West Germany.Now, Hungary marks another achievement in its transformation from a communist satellite to democratic republic as it assumes the presidency of the European Union on January 1, for the first time since joining the bloc in 2004. Speaking recently in Budapest following a meeting with EU officials, Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orban, said a key priority for his country's presidency would be enlargement, which he said had given countries like his own the motivation to get their domestic affairs in order."We would like to return the impetus for EU enlargement," Orban said. "Enlargement will help solve the internal affairs [of new members], because those who enlarge, grow, and extend themselves believe in their future prospects. And what the European Union really needs today is to believe strongly in its own prospects."
  • But many in the EU are worried the "special flavor" that Hungary brings to the EU Presidency will come with a bitter aftertaste. Van Rompuy's words of support came as the Hungarian parliament was passing new media legislation that critics say will return the country to communist-era levels of state control.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

31.12.10: Hungary Risks Image at EU Helm as Orban Increases Power Over Courts, Media - Bloomberg - 0 views

  • The European Union’s charter calls for respect for the rule of law, human rights, economic progress and media freedom. Some in Brussels are wondering whether Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose country takes over the rotating EU presidency on Jan. 1, has read it. In the seven months since Orban came to power with a two- thirds parliamentary majority, he has implemented retroactive taxes in violation of the constitution, curbed the Constitutional Court’s power, effectively nationalized private pension funds and put ruling-party allies in charge of at least four independent institutions, including the audit office.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

Hungary outlines EU presidency priorities (SETimes.com) - 0 views

  • Hungary, which is due to replace Belgium at the EU helm on January 1st, has said that further consolidation and enlargement of the 27-nation bloc will be among the key priorities of its six-month chairmanship of the Union.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

16.11.10: Hungarian Presidency eyes Schengen and EU enlargement - 0 views

  • Bulgaria and Romania's accession to the Schengen area and Croatia membership of the European Union are among the top priorities of the incoming Hungarian EU Presidency, government officials told EurActiv in Budapest ahead of the executive's official visit to the European Commission on Wednesday (17 November).
  • Hungary will assume the EU presidency for their first time in January 2011. Budapest is keen to do well, especially on EU enlargement, which could impact upon the sizeable Hungarian minorities who live beyond national borders.
  • The enlargement of the Schengen area to include Romania and Bulgaria is on top of the presidency's agenda. However, the admission date of March 2011 "is likely to be delayed," admitted a Hungarian government official. Nevertheless, the presidency will work to help facilitate the accession of both Southern Balkan countries to the area of free movement of citizens within the EU.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

Power/Sorroza (2010): The area of Freedom, Security and Justice: a New Horizon for European Integration (ARI) - 0 views

  • Summary: The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, after a tortuous ratification process, has opened up new vistas, marked by two factors that will affect the Trio Presidency (Spain, Belgium and Hungary) with regard to Justice and Home affairs (JHA). First, the application of the Lisbon Treaty; second, the completion of the Hague Programme will give way to a new project, namely the Stockholm Programme. Another challenge to be tackled by the Trio Presidency will be to ensure the coherence and unity of the internal and external dimensions of the JHA field.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

Morlino/Sadurski (2010): Democratization and the European Union: Comparing Central and Eastern European Post-Communist Countries - 0 views

  • This book examines in depth the impact of the EU on aspects of the quality of democracy in eight selected post-communist countries. Considering both the political and legal aspects of the dynamics among institutions and focussing on inter-institutional accountability, the book analyses how constitutional designs have been effectively implemented to achieve this, and to what extent this was the result of EU action. In order to make a comparative assessment of the EU on democracies, the book features detailed case studies according to their different status vis-a-vis the EU, including older new member states: Poland and Hungary; newer new member states: Romania and Bulgaria; potential candidates: Albania and Serbia; and neighbour and remote neighbour states: Ukraine and Armenia. Each chapter addresses a range of dimensions and most relevant domains of inter-institutional accountability, that is: executive-legislative relationships; constitutional justice; decentralisation and regionalism; and the role of ombudsman or other relevant authorities. Seeking to assess how important the role of the EU has been in influencing the modes and characteristic of democracies and fundamental rights established in these regions, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of comparative politics, EU politics, Post-communist studies and democratization studies.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

2,280 questions asked about Albania's EU readiness - 0 views

  • Albania on Wednesday (16 December) took another step towards EU membership when the European Commission sent Tirana a voluminous questionnaire about its readiness to join the bloc.
  • Helmuth Lohan, head of the EU mission in Tirana, handed the questionnaire – a 384-page document with 2,280 questions – to Prime Minister Sali Berisha, the EU Delegation in Albania announced on its website. 
  • "The questionnaire attaches particular importance to the 'Copenhagen political criteria' for EU accession. Good governance, the rule of law, judiciary reform, the fight against corruption, media freedom – these are all key issues which will form the core of our assessment," read a statement from the EU delegation. 
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  • Although Albania has changed enormously since the Communist period, when it was a unique case of autarchy vis-à-vis not only the West, but also the rest of the Communist bloc except China, it still remains a poor country. A recently published Eurostat survey puts Albania at the very bottom in Europe in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per inhabitant, expressed in purchasing power standards.  With an EU-27 average of 100, Albania comes last with 26% of this indicator. Another candidate country, Croatia, stands much higher with 63%, a rate similar to that of EU member Hungary, at 64%. Turkey stands at 46%, which is higher that the rate of EU member Bulgaria (41%).  Iceland, the Nordic EU hopeful, stands above the EU average, at 121% - higher than Sweden, which has 120%. The highest wealth per habitant is registered in Luxembourg, with 276%, followed by Ireland, a long way behind with 135%. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

22.06.09: EU parliament sees birth of new right-wing group - 0 views

  • A new European Parliament group that is pro-free market and anti-EU integration unveiled its membership list on Monday (22 June), bringing together 55 MEPs from eight EU states. Calling itself the "European Conservatives and Reformists Group," the new faction lists "free enterprise," the "sovereign integrity of the nation state" and "probity in the EU institutions" among its principles.
  • The British Conservative party dominates membership with 26 MEPs, followed by Poland's Law and Justice with 15 deputies and the Czech Republic's ODS party with nine members. The other five MEPs come from the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Hungary and Latvia.
  • The group's three main parties are united in their opposition to the Lisbon treaty, which augurs further EU integration. But there is plenty of potential for internal squabbles. The Polish and Latvian parties have protectionist wings that do not welcome Tory and ODS-style free trade. The British Conservatives also have a prominent pro-green and civil liberties agenda. Meanwhile, ODS founder Vaclav Klaus denies that human action impacts climate change. And Mr Kaczynski has Roman Catholic views on gay rights. "I'd be surprised if they survive two years," one EU parliament official said. "A lot depends on the British Conservatives and how embarassed they might be by the antics of the eastern European members."
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

25.03.09: Serbia regrets EU's lack of solidarity with Balkans - 0 views

  • Serbia's Deputy Prime Minister Božidar Ðelić said yesterday (24 March) that the EU had gone "a bit too far" by giving five billion euro for the stimulus plan to its member states, and "not a single euro cent to any of the south-east European countries".
  • Many of the Western Balkan countries have already been exposed to the effects of the crisis. Industrial production and foreign direct investment are slowing down, and most countries are resorting to international loans that will put an additional burden on their balances of payments. A few weeks ago, the Serbian Central Bank (NBS) governor still hoped that growth could reach 1.5 -2% in 2009. But the government of Serbia was last week forced to negotiate a new agreement with the International Monetary Found (IMF) for a loan worth around €3bn ($3.88bn).
  • According to the deputy PM, "there is too much difference between being in or out" of the EU. "If you are in, like Latvia or Hungary, you get 10 billion, but if you are a clear future member but still not formally in, it is very difficult to access resources, to go around the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) limitations, to go around the European Central Bank regulations or even the structural funds in the area of infrastructure and social cohesion," he said (EurActiv 10/02/09).
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

16.06.08: Sarkozy heads to Prague for emergency EU treaty talks - 0 views

  • French president Nicolas Sarkozy will today (16 June) fly to Prague for emergency talks on the Lisbon Treaty with the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, with Czech president Vaclav Klaus declaring the treaty dead after the Irish No vote. "The project is over in its entirety," Czech president Vaclav Klaus said after the rejection of the EU pact by Irish voters last week, AFP reports. "It makes no sense to continue the ratification of a dead document."
  • The Czech Republic will take over the EU's rotating presidency from France on 1 January 2009. So far, parliaments in 18 EU member states have approved the Lisbon treaty. The UK has also indicated it would proceed with the document's ratification.
  • Meanwhile, an adviser to Polish president Lech Kaczynski – who still has to complete Poland's ratification by signing the document – has said that Mr Kaczynski should know whether the Lisbon treaty exists before he goes forward. "For now, there is a strong suggestion the treaty may have ceased to exist as it was rejected by one [EU] country," the presidential aide, Michal Kaminski, told Polish daily Rzeczpospolita. The Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, is strongly pro-ratification, however. A TNS OBOP opinion poll over the weekend said 71 percent of Poles would back the treaty if there was a referendum in Poland.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

09.05.08: Lisbon-Treaty wins approval of Lativa and Lithuania - 0 views

  • The Lisbon Treaty yesterday (8 May) passed through the Latvian and the Lithuanian Parliaments by large majorities, increasing the number of countries having approved the text to 13 out of 27.
  • In Latvia, 70 out of 74 MPs voted in favour of the Treaty, while Lithuania's assembly approved it with an 83 to five majority amid 23 abstentions. The document now only requires the signature of each country's president to be finally adopted. 
  • For it to go into effect on 1 January 2009, the Treaty has to be ratified by all 27 member states. Ireland is the only country to hold a referendum on this issue, scheduled for 12 June (EurActiv 16/04/08). Apart from Latvia and Lithuania, the Lisbon Treaty has already been ratified by Hungary, Slovenia, Malta, Romania, France, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovak Republic, Portugal, Denmark and Austria. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

25.04.08: Clear votes for new EU Treaty in Denmark, Austria and Germany - 0 views

  • The ratification process for the new Treaty gained momentum yesterday (24 April) as the Danish and Austrian parliaments approved the text, which also easily passed Germany's lower House. The votes in Vienna and Copenhagen mean the Treaty has now been adopted in 11 out of 27 countries.
  • For the Treaty to enter into force, all 27 member states have to ratify it. Ahead of Austria and Denmark, nine countries had already given their approval to the next, namely Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Malta, Romania, Slovenia and Portugal. Ireland is set to be the only country to hold a referendum on the Treaty, which is scheduled for 12 June. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

11.04.08: Slovakia, Poland ratify Lisbon Treaty - 0 views

  • Slovakia has become the ninth country to ratify the new EU Treaty as deputies approved the text by a margin of 103 votes to five - after settling a dispute over a controversial media bill that had dragged on for months.
  • Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico expressed his relief following the vote, saying "with this document, the EU will be closer to Slovak citizens"
  • Meanwhile, Polish President Lech Kaczynski added his signature to the Treaty, clearing the final hurdle in the country's ratification process. It had already been approved by both chambers of the Polish Parliament last week (EurActiv 02/04/08).  The Polish president and his brother, former prime minister and current opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, had long delayed ratification, demanding legal guarantees that the new Treaty would not threaten Polish interests.  Ahead of Poland and Slovakia,  seven countries have ratified the Treaty, namely Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Malta, Romania, Slovenia and Austria, which was the most recent signatory (EurActiv 10/04/08). The text has to be approved by all 27 member states to enter into force. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

01.04.08: Polish parliament approves EU treaty - 0 views

  • The lower house of the Polish parliament approved the European Union's new treaty on Tuesday (1 April).

    The document, which EU leaders signed in December in Lisbon and which aims to revitalise the bloc's institutions and boost its efficiency, was approved by 384 deputies from the 460-seat lower house, the Sejm.
  • The Sejm's special session was convened after Liberal Prime Minister Donald Tusk (Civic Platform party) and conservative opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski of the Law and Justice Party struck a deal on Tuesday (31 March), lifting the threat of a block by the opposition.
  • The ratification bill is now expected to be approved by the Polish Senate on Wednesday (2 April). The process will then be finalised with a signature by the country's president. So far, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Malta, Romania, France and Bulgaria have approved the document. Ratification of the Lisbon treaty is expected to be finalised by the end of this year, in order that the treaty can come into force in 2009. So far, only Ireland is to hold a referendum on the treaty, expected in June.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

12.03.08: Ireland to hold EU treaty referendum im June - 0 views

  • The Irish government has indicated that the country's highly anticipated referendum on the EU treaty will take place in the second week of June.
  • Ireland is the only country to have a referendum on the EU treaty, meaning that between now and the poll, the government and Irish voters will be carefully watched by both politicians and media from around Europe. All 27 member states must ratify the treaty for it to come into force, with the goal for this to take place being the beginning of next year.
  • So far, five countries have ratified the treaty - France, Romania, Slovenia, Hungary and Malta. But in other countries, the treaty question is becoming tangled up in other issues. Slovakia was forced to put off a vote on the treaty due to an internal dispute over media law, while the Finnish media is reporting that semi-autonomous Aaland - an island between Finland and Sweden - is kicking up a fuss over snuff. Finnish state broadcaster YLE reports that the Aaland government may reject the EU treaty - and undermine the country's general ratification of the treaty, due to a row over the right to sell snuff, a smokeless tobacco.
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