Following Angela Merkel’s Bundestag victory in the euro bailout fund vote it was assumed that the rest of the votes required to approve the fund’s growth would be relatively smooth. However, the future of the fund’s expansion was thrown into turmoil after the Slovakian parliament rejected a bill to approve the expansion, which had been linked to a no-confidence vote, and brought down the government. However, after frantic negotiations the parliament is set to approve legislation backing a strengthening of the rescue fund after the centre-left opposition said it would back a fresh version of the bill in return for early elections.
The European Commission has published keenly awaited proposals to overhaul its farm policy from 2014, capping payments to single farms and obliging the EU’s 12 million landowners to become greener. Under the draft legislation, 30 percent of the direct payments will be dependent on the farmer growing at least three crops and putting aside seven percent of farmland for “ecological purposes.” The commission has also attempted to narrow the discrepancy between the subsidies that farmers in the west are paid and the aid given to farmers in the poorer eastern states that joined the EU in 2004.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has outlined a five-point “roadmap” aimed at bringing an end to the eurozone crisis. The roadmap calls for decisive action on Greece, a completion of the Euro intervention and a fully coordinated approach to strengthen Europe’s banks.
Greece has been told it will get its next instalment of rescue aid – a cash infusion that will allow it to stave off bankruptcy – but not without further austerity measures. The measures – to be passed by parliament over the next 10 days – come on top of stinging losses that have seen people’s purchasing power drop massively over the past 18 months. In a country heading for a fourth year of recession, the idea of yet more austerity has prompted forecasts of further protests in Athens.
Former Ukraine leader Yulia Tymoshenko has been jailed for seven years. A judge ruled the ex-prime minister had criminally exceeded her powers when she signed a gas deal with Russia in 2009. The EU said it was disappointed with the verdict, and that Kiev’s handling of the case risked deep implications for its hopes of EU integration.
Inspired by the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests, campaigners in Dublin have been camped out in front of Ireland’s central bank since Saturday. The activists stress that their protest is entirely peaceful. The organisers have banned alcohol and drugs from it and will help the police to extract anyone breaking that rule.
Finally, the Académie Française, the watchdog of the French language, has finally gone online. A new section of the academy’s website will provide lessons on how to speak correct French without slang or common mistakes or, worst of all, anglicisms. The backroom staff, which helps to compile its never-finished dictionary, will also provide rapid responses to questions or suggestions sent in by email.