In the era which restored Europe whole and free, Vaclav Havel bears comparison with Nelson Mandela as a leader whose stature was crucial in obtaining a worthy place for his liberated nation. "His role brought Czechoslovaka into NATO and into the EU much faster than world otherwise have been the case," Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Jiri Schneider said in his tribute to the Czech playwright and president who died this weekend. The comparison is only a loose approximation, with some caveats. The towering resistance figure, of course, is Poland's Lech Walesa, not only in his own country but across eastern and central Europe. A difference between the two hereos is that Havel remained a powerful international voice in the ensuing decade.
Croatia's leaders signed an EU accession treaty on December 9, putting the country on course for a referendum next year and then full membership in July 2013. Marking the EU’s expansion into the Balkans, the step (after seven years of negotiations) was hailed by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy: “Croatia is a pioneer, demonstrating in a tangible way that the future of the western Balkans as a whole lies in the European Union.” Marking the event, “European Affairs” put three questions to Vice Skracic, Chargé d'Affaires in the Croatian embassy in Washington.
The outcome of the Brussels summit on December 8th and 9th is a disaster for the UK and also threatens the integrity of the single market, says a well-reported article by Charles Grant, head of the Centre for European Reform, a European-minded but independent think-tank in London.
The most significant result so far in the crucial euro summit has been British Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to opt out of a proposed agreement on national budgets that would have involved some forfeit of national sovereignty. The plan is aimed at restoring future credibility to the euro and, although Britain never adopted the euro and is therefore not in the eurozone, the proposal was desigend to cover all EU member states.
The fate of the euro and all it implies seems to be at stake in the EU leaders' summit meeting opening Friday. A successful meeting -- meaning one that advances the agenda to create supranational oversight of member states’ budgets -- will keep alive prospects for a reversal of recent market trends and a revival of credibility for the euro.
The neuralgic international dispute on emission fees for airlines has finally jumped to the top of the “transatlantic” in-boxes in Washington and Brussels. The issue has been venomously deadlocked for months, as described in a recent article in European Affairs (which sparked feedback, public and private, from both industry and regulatory circles). But the long-simmering dispute is now approaching a January 1 deadline – trigger date for the EU to start its program on airliners for their carbon emissions over their entire flights anywhere in the world if they use an EU airport.
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