Feb 102018

European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) summarized its primary areas of interest for the coming year in a work agenda revealed on February 7.

europe cryptocurrency

EU financial security agency to monitor cryptocurrencies in 2018 (pic: wikimedia)

One of the 2018 missions is to watchdog the evolution of financial innovations, which includes among others also the trendy cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

ESMA stated:
“Monitoring developments in financial innovation, in particular through the analysis of emerging and existing instruments, platforms and technology (new): ESMA expects the rapid pace of financial innovation developments across the EU securities markets to continue in 2018. These developments
influence the way in which securities are developed, traded and supervised. In turn, ESMA is undertaking material analysis on the emergence of such instruments as virtual currencies, such platforms as ICOs and such tools as the distributed ledger technology. Additionally, ESMA will analyse how market participants are embracing regulatory technology to comply with recently implemented regulation, and how supervisors are deploying supervisory technology to undertake what has become a data driven supervisory process. The remit of this analysis will include increased uses of cloud computing to efficiently employ such technologies and the potential cyber risk vulnerabilities
as firms and supervisors implement such methods.”

It appears to be for the first time when a EU agency included cryptocurrency in its supervisory convergence priorities, thus confirming the growing interest of the EU regulators into the fast development of cryptocurrency and ledger technology inside the European Union.
Photo credit: By Sébastien Bertrand [CC BY 2.0 or CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Apr 112016

The European Commission considers that Romania and Bulgaria meet all conditions to join the Schengen area, says Mina Andreeva, a spokesperson for the EU executive, adding that a final decision over the admission of the two countries in the free movement area must be taken by the Member States.

european commission building

EU Commission ready to welcome Romania and Bulgaria into Schengen (wikimedia)

“We believe that Bulgaria and Romania qualify for their entry into the Schengen zone. Now, it is only required a unanimous decision from the EU member states,” said Andreeva during a press brief in Brussels.

Romania and Bulgaria have been asking for many years for the permission to enter Europe’s Schengen space but despite meeting the technical requirements they constantly faced harsh opposition from the Netherlands and from time to time from Finland.

French President Francois Hollande, said in January after meeting with Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, that the Schengen system should be improved, given that its teardown would have extremely serious consequences for the EU. Hollande appeared to be quite open for Romania’s accession to free-movement area.

Furthermore, in mid-February, Dacian Ciolos conducted a visit to Brussels where he met with senior representatives of the European Commission and the European Parliament and discussed among others about Romania’s entry into the Schengen area.

Apr 032013

An unprecedented action is being prepared by six European countries against Google.

Google Brand Logo

Internet authorities in European Union threaten to take action against Google over data protection rules

Data protection authorities in 6 EU member states, including France, Britain and Germany have decided to engage in a joint action against Google, which has not responded to a request to change the rules of confidentiality, reports AFP.

In October, the 27 European authorities monitoring data protection demanded the Internet giant to change its new rules over confidentiality within four months, in order to comply with the European Directive on Informatics and Liberties. Therefore Google would have faced a “retaliatory action” if failing to do so.

“At the end of that period, Google has not taken any clear step,” said the French National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (CNIL), in a statement released on Monday.

On March 19, Google representatives were welcomed at their request, by a CNIL-led working group which gathered data protection authorities in Germany, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK.
“But, again, “at the end of the meeting, no changes were implemented,” claimed CNIL.

Therefore the European authorities decided to initiate today (Tuesday), April 2, 2013 various actions such as surveys, inspections and so on.

For its part, CNIL notified the Google of its decision to “begin the control process as well as a procedure for administrative cooperation with its international counterparts in the working group.”
A Google spokesman gave assurances that its data privacy rules “comply with European law and allows it to provide simpler and more efficient services.”

“We have been fully involved in the discussions with the authorities for personal data protection and we will continue to do,” added the spokesman in a statement.

As of March 2012, Google applies a new privacy policy, which gathers approximately 60 rules of use into one and regroups several services -previously separated- such as the electronic mail service Gmail or social network Google +.

At the end of 2012, after several months of analysis and discussions with Google, data protection authorities from 27 European countries called for “a more clear and complete information on the data collected” and especially the processing of such data which beyond user’s control.

Mar 162013

European Parliament Building

UKIP MEP Nigel Farage protests against Romania and Bulgaria in European Parliament

“Romanians and Bulgarians do not belong to the European Union!” This is the statement made from the rostrum of the European Parliament by Nigel Farage, the leader of the Eurosceptic political group UKIP (scroll down for video).

Nigel Farage said that Bulgaria and Romania would not be worth it to become member states of the European Union and accused the corruption and crime in both countries.

“Romania and Bulgaria, these two countries are racked with corruption and organized crime. They should never have been allowed the join the EU since early stage. I want to make it absolutely clear, that we, the UKIP, do not believe that is right and fair to have totally open borders from next year, for an unlimited number of people from those countries to come to Britain to work but also if they want, to claim benefits,” said Farage.

Farage’s criticisms were rejected by Ivaylo Kalfin, former Bulgarian foreign minister and current MEP. Kalfin said that many of the statistics used by UKIP leader are exaggerated and in fact the British get benefits from Romanian and Bulgarian workers as well as students from both countries, who pay taxes worth 30 million pounds each year.

It is not the first time that Romania and Bulgaria are attacked by Nigel Farage. The president of the right extreme party fights to maintain restrictions against Romanian and Bulgarian workers and determine the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

Video: Nigel Farage criticizes Romania and Bulgaria in the EP

Feb 112013

Poland is very pleased with the new multi-annual budget of the European Union. Although the union budget saw a reduction for the first time in history, the country is gonna receive more money in the next few years.

The Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk speaks of “one of the happiest days of my life.”

Poland gets from Brussels 106 billion euro for the period 2014-2020. Nation’s previous budget (2007-2013) was 102 billion euro therefore now “Poland is the biggest winner in the EU,” said a delighted Tusk on the agreement.

President Bronislaw Komorowski was so happy with the messages from the Polish negotiating team, that he publicly confessed on Friday that he kept the champagne already cold.

Jun 302012

The harsh disputes between President Traian Basescu and Prime Minister Victor Ponta seemed to monopolize the public opinion in Romania, moving country’s important economic issues on the background.

victor ponta

Victor Ponta appears to focus more on his personal fight against Basescu than country’s problems (public domain)

And all these happen in a period when the last thing Romanians need is a new episode of political instability, claims The Economist.

“A new period of political instability is the last thing the Romanians need now. Romania has changed government twice this year. Thousands of people took to the streets in January to protest against the austerity measures and denounce the living standards”.

“President Traian Basescu and Prime Minister Victor Ponta attack each other without remorses. The battle started a month ago, when Ponta announced his intention to replace the president at the European Council summit,” notes financial journal in a paper called “Victor Ponta at war “, recalling that the Romanian Prime Minister continued the disputes, suggesting the initiation of suspension of President Basescu.

“The fight between the Romanian top political leaders monopolized the public debate; the main issues of Romania’s agenda at the European Council – such as the access to structural funds and the Schengen accession – are not important anymore for the public debate. Even Foreign Minister Andrei Marga was unable to present country’s official agenda for the European summit. When asked by Romanian media about Bucharest’s position at the Brussels summit, his spokesman said that Mr Marga did not have enough time to “process information”, says The Economist.

“Why is it so important who represents Romania at the European Council? Actually Brussels, does not really care if Romania is represented by the President or Prime Minister, given that fact that the country does not have a great influence on the European Council decisions,” added the financial magazine.

The Economist points out that Ponta was recently accused by the journal Nature for plagiarising significant that parts of his PhD thesis, but the Romanian Prime Minister rejected the allegations stating as usually that President Basescu is behind scandal. Apparently there is a new absurd trend in Romania at this moment: for any mistake made by politicians, Basescu is to blame.

In an interview with The Economist, Ponta admitted that Romania is currently experiencing a crisis of international credibility. According to The Economist, the high-level disputes do not help the nation at all. Ponta believes that disputes will be over only after the parliamentary elections in autumn, when Romania could change the government again, but till then it might be too late.

“Meanwhile, how does this crisis affect Romania? The nation currency dropped to a record level against the euro. The political disputes can influence also Romania’s chances to become a member of the Schengen passport free area this year. Political leaders in Bucharest seem to have forgotten already the thousands of people who protested in the cold early this year,” concludes The Economist blog.
Sources: The Economist.