Dombrovskis: Bulgaria may join the euro area from 1 January 2025

Sofia (BTA) – European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis visited Sofia for meetings with President Rumen Radev, acting Prime Minister Galab Donev and government ministers. Last week, Bulgaria had said it would not be ready to introduce the single European currency from 2024 because of its inability to meet inflation requirements.

“A possible date for Bulgaria to join the eurozone is January 1, 2025. The inflation requirement is subject to assessment by the EC experts. This assessment shows that the requirement cannot be met. Bulgaria must also adopt important laws in the fight against money laundering,” said Dombrovskis.

According to him, the first step to curb inflation is to calm energy prices. In Dombrovski’s words, this is a problem not only for Bulgaria but for the whole of Europe. Second are measures to support the economy. Fiscal policy must be stable, so support measures must be temporary and targeted, he added. (23 February)

Macedonians speak more foreign languages than the European average

Skopje (MIA) – North Macedonia is above the European average in terms of foreign language skills. Accordingly, 68.3 percent of Macedonians speak a language other than their mother tongue.

According to Eurostat data published by Euronews on the occasion of International Mother Language Day, about 65 percent of the population in Europe know at least one foreign language. By comparison, in the United States only about 20 percent of the adult population speak another language.

There are considerable variations between the European regions. In the Nordic countries, a large percentage of people know at least two languages, while in Southern Europe this is not the case.

In Great Britain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Albania, Hungary and Bulgaria, less than 50 percent of the people are multilingual. (23 February)

Slovenia is preparing an international treaty on cooperation in criminal law

Brussels (STA) – Slovenian Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon has presented an initiative to ministerial colleagues from other EU member states to sign an international treaty on cooperation in the field of criminal law. If signed, this would, among other things, enable cooperation in the prosecution of war crimes in Ukraine.

The treaty aims to establish a mechanism for law enforcement authorities from EU member states and third countries to cooperate and exchange information more easily. It would allow cooperation in the prosecution and investigation of crimes against humanity, war crimes, other international crimes and genocide.

“This shows that Slovenia has a very clear policy of investigating accountability, including when it comes to war crimes in Ukraine,” Fajon said of Slovenia’s participation in drafting the treaty. At the end of May, Slovenia will host an international conference on this initiative, which has so far been joined by 77 countries.

At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Fajon also supported joint procurement of ammunition to be sent to Ukraine. Ukraine is facing a huge need for ammunition, especially artillery shells. (20 February)

Germany appeals to China: Do not supply weapons to Russia

Brussels (dpa) – On the sidelines of an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels on February 20, Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that she had appealed to China not to supply Russia with weapons for its war against Ukraine. In talks with the Chinese delegation at the Munich Security Conference during the weekend, she had emphasized that China, as a member of the Security Council, was responsible for world peace. Baerbock added, “Of course, this also means that China must not supply weapons – and that includes dual-use goods – to Russia. I have underlined this intensively in my talks.”

The US government has recently expressed concern about possible arms deliveries from China to Russia. The US had information that China was “considering providing lethal support” to Russia, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on US television on 20 February. When asked what he meant by that, Blinken replied, “weapons, primarily weapons.” Ammunition would also fall into this category, he added.

Blinken had met with China’s top foreign policy official Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference. He said afterwards that he had made it clear to Wang that such assistance would pose a serious problem for US-China relations. Blinken stated that Chinese companies were already known to have supported Russia with “non-lethal” equipment. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, these included, for example, commercial drones from manufacturer DJI. Such drones can be classified as so-called dual-use goods – meaning products that can be used for civilian and military purposes. (20 February)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Tuesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.