German Green finance politicians call for swift reform of EU debt rules

Berlin (dpa) – Green Party finance politicians in Germany have called for a swift reform of the EU’s strict rules on government deficits and debt, indirectly criticizing Germany’s liberal Finance Minister Christian Lindner. “A delay from Germany causes justified irritation among other member states. And it weakens the EU’s ability to act at a time when we cannot afford a European inability to act, due to the horrific war of aggression on Ukraine,” German member of parliament Jamila Schäfer said on Wednesday.

Lindner had pushed through amendments to a joint declaration on the Stability and Growth Pact at the meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels. Among other things, the demand was added that the European Commission should engage in a close exchange with the Member States before it submitted its reform proposals. This is to take place in the coming weeks.

Green Party budget expert Sven-Christian Kindler warned against delays: “It is in the interest of all member states that we reform the EU fiscal rules by the end of the year at the latest,” he said. The new rules would have to make investments into the climate-neutral transformation of the European economy a condition for extended debt reduction deadlines.

The Stability and Growth Pact imposes a debt ceiling of 60 percent of annual economic output and a maximum budget deficit of 3 percent. The rules were suspended because of the Covid-19 crisis, but the exceptions are set to expire by the end of this year. (March 16)

Commissioner Thierry Breton gets impression of Bulgarian military-industrial complex

Sofia/Sopot (BTA) – European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton visited Bulgaria to learn about the capabilities of the local military-industrial complex against the backdrop of Ukraine’s growing ammunition needs. He discussed the need to increase production to replenish stocks with Bulgarian interim Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov. The European Union is expected to provide funds to upgrade the production base.

“Bulgaria has a long history in the defence industry and is a very important partner for that industry in Europe,” Breton said.

“The Bulgarian military industry needs targeted assistance to transform and increase production to NATO standards,” Bulgarian interim Deputy Minister of Economy and Industry Irina Shchonova stated.

This week, the European Commission clarified that in the EU, 15 companies in 11 countries are producing ammunition that Ukraine needs right now. Commissioner Breton is scheduled to meet with representatives of all these companies to find out what is needed to boost production. (March 15)

Military representation of Slovak Republic to NATO and EU bodies to expand

Bratislava (TASR) – In 2023, the military representation of the Slovak Republic to the European Union and NATO bodies will be expanded from 94 to 107 members of the Slovak Armed Forces (SAF). The increase is laid out in a Defence Ministry update on military representation which was approved by the National Council, Slovakia’s parliament, on Wednesday.

“The update of the military representation is proposed in response to changes in the global security environment, reflecting the needs of the Slovak Republic in the process of implementing transformational changes, valid international commitments to NATO and EU allies and bilateral agreements with partners,” the submitted material reads.

The expansion of the military representation is also related to the implementation of defence and deterrence measures on NATO’s eastern flank. The material suggests that, following parliamentary approval, Slovakia could add military representation at the Joint Support and Security Command in Ulm, Germany, at the US Joint Special Operations University in Tampa, as well as at the Special Operations Command Europe in Baumholder, Germany. Slovak soldiers could also serve at the Special Operations Forces Command in Krakow, Poland, as well as at the US Divisional Command in Romania. (March 15)

Slovenian PM pledges assistance to help BiH on its European path

Sarajevo (STA) – Slovenia wants to be Bosnia and Herzegovina’s greatest ally and will therefore provide it with all possible assistance on its path towards the European Union, Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob announced in Sarajevo on Monday, after meeting the Chair of the BiH Council of Ministers, Borjana Krišto. Slovenia will allocate an additional 1 million euros from its state budget for technical assistance to BiH.

Golob also said that a strategic discussion was taking place within the EU on how best to link the EU with its neighbors. One possible scenario, which is also supported by Slovenia, is that of a phased enlargement. This, he said, means that the candidate country would already benefit concretely during the process of European integration. Krišto said that the BiH Council of Ministers had already taken certain steps in the area of reforms and stressed that they should also pay special attention to the internal political dialogue.

The impact of the war in Ukraine has, in Golob’s view, contributed significantly to a change in atmosphere in Brussels when it comes to the enlargement of the Union to the Western Balkans. “The change is historic. For 20 years, the enlargement process was in fact stalled by so-called technical-administrative issues. Today, EU enlargement has become a political issue, and this moment must be seized,” Golob said. (March 13)

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.