Brussels/Belgrade (Tanjug) – Data from the European Commission show that inflation in the EU has reached historical record highs in 2022, increasing by 7.8% year on year in March and by 8.8% year on year in May. At the same time, the National Bank of Serbia points to an acceleration of year-on-year inflation in the country from 10.4% in May to 11.9% in June. In Brussels and Belgrade, it was noted that the record inflation this year has been driven by the increase in food and energy prices as a consequence of the war in Ukraine.
”Moscow’s actions disrupt the supply of energy and grain, increase prices and weaken confidence. In Europe, the momentum of reopening our economies will support annual growth in 2022, but for 2023, we have significantly revised our forecast. Inflation levels are expected to peak later this year and gradually decline in 2023,” says European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni.
Compared to the same month of last year, prices in Serbia increased by 15.4% in June for processed and by 25.4% for unprocessed food, while the oil price jumped by 4.7% in June alone. In its Summer Economic Forecast, the European Commission predicted that the average annual inflation will reach “historic highs” of 7.6% in the Eurozone and 8.3% in the EU in 2022, before they will decrease to 4.0% and 4.6%, respectively, in 2023. (July 14)
North Macedonia decides on EU negotiation framework as von der Leyen visits the country
Skopje/Brussels (MIA) – The French proposal for a negotiating framework will be presented in the parliament of North Macedonia today. Earlier, in the plenary session, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will address the parliament.
Ursula von der Leyen arrived in Skopje on Thursday morning. She will tell the legislative that it should support the French proposal. On Thursday morning, she wrote on Twitter that it was up to North Macedonia to take the “decisive step.”
North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski said yesterday that he expects the parliamentarians to think “as statesmen“ and representatives of the people, not just as party members. He said that the government will take “exceptional care that Macedonia’s red lines are not crossed,“ and that the national identity and Macedonian characteristics will be preserved during the negotiations. Parliament members are not voting on the proposal itself, but on the conclusions of the government of North Macedonia, giving it guidance on what it may or may not negotiate in the EU accession process.
Meanwhile, protests against the French proposal are taking place in front of the parliament building. The protests have been going on for 10 subsequent days. Demonstrators protest over the large influence of one member state, Bulgaria, in the proposed negotiating framework of the French EU presidency. (14 July)
EU Commission: Judges in Germany must be paid better
Luxembourg (dpa) – According to the EU Commission, judges in Germany must be paid better. In an investigation into the state of the rule of law presented in Luxembourg on 13 July, the Brussels authority points to challenges in hiring judges. With regard to the imminent retirements of judges, the attractiveness of the profession needs to be addressed as well. Efforts to “provide adequate funding for the judicial system”, including the judges’ salaries, must continue as part of the new “pact for the rule of law”.
The EU Commission also sees room for improvement when politicians switch to business, for example. The so-called “cooling-off period” for federal ministers and parliamentary state secretaries after their work in politics must be longer. The procedures for approving new jobs for high-ranking officials should also be more transparent. Efforts to make lobbying during the work on new laws more transparent also need to continue. Plans must be pushed forward to provide a legal basis for the press’s right to information from federal authorities and to adjust tax exemptions for non-profit organizations. Overall, however, the EU Commission rates the rule of law in Germany as good. The independence of the judiciary continues to be perceived as very high and Germany enjoys a high level of media freedom and diversity. (July 13)
ECB-President Lagarde welcomes Croatia in the eurozone
Zagreb (HINA) – Eurozone membership puts every member in a better position to deal with the crisis that the EU and the world are entering, stated Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank (ECB), in an interview with the national broadcaster HRT on the occasion of the EU Council’s decision to introduce the euro in Croatia.
“When we stand united against inflation, high energy and food prices. We are stronger, we are in a better position. The euro is the second largest currency in the world and is strong in itself. When you’re part of it, it’s certainly a shield for any member country,” Lagarde said.
Lagarde announced that inflation “will be high throughout the whole of 2022”, but noted that at the ECB they “firmly believe” that it will start to decline in 2023 and even further in 2024.
“It is our duty, it is our mandate, we are determined to reduce inflation to 2%. This will not happen overnight, we will have to increase interest rates over time. But in the medium term, we want to bring inflation back to 2%. And we’ll bring it back!” she asserted. Commenting on the fact that Croatian citizens will not, like those in other eurozone member states, immediately feel the reduction in interest rates as one of the positive effects of the introduction of the euro, Lagarde said that the measures taken by the ECB “will hurt for a limited time,” but that they will eventually “benefit all, and especially the most vulnerable.” (July 12)
Srebrenica: Memorial service in Potočari
Srebrenica (FENA) – Numerous domestic and international officials attended the 27th anniversary of the genocide against Bosniaks in the “United Nations Safe Zone” of Srebrenica on July 11. The commemoration ceremony took place in a pre-war Battery Factory, which during the war was the site of executions and mistreatment in July 1995, and today forms a part of the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Centre.
Numerous domestic and international officials gave speeches. President of the European Council Charles Michel said that this tragic anniversary is also a reminder to work together for peace in Europe and for Bosnia and Herzegovina to become part of the European Union. The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Policy, Josep Borrell, said that Europe shares the pain with the victims and their families, and that their struggle deserves nothing but admiration and respect.
“It is our common duty to remember the victims of the genocide committed in Srebrenica – one of the darkest chapters in the history of modern Europe,”Josep Borrell stressed, adding that the European Union stands firmly with Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans.
Secretary General of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić said that no two wars are ever the same, and that the causes and consequences of wars vary, but each carries pain and sorrow. “Often punctuated by crimes and events that are so terrible that their names and locations remain etched into our memory long after the weapons have died down,” said Pejčinović Burić.
The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) assisted in investigations into the Srebrenica genocide and provided irrefutable evidence of the identity of nearly 7,000 of the more than 8,000 people, whose remains were hidden in mass graves in eastern Bosnia. 826 children were killed in Srebrenica between 1992 and 1995, and 694 children were killed in one week in July of 1995 alone, said Dr. Sc. Zilha Mastalić-Košuta from the Institute for Research of Crimes Against Humanity and International Law of the University of Sarajevo.
6,671 victims were buried in farewell ceremonies, attended by the victims’ families, numerous citizens, political and public figures, as well as local and foreign delegations in Potočari so far. In total, the number of genocide victims who have found their peace is 6,721.
In July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces overran the U.N.-protected zone in the Bosnian town Srebrenica. Roughly 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys were killed. In 2004, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ruled that the mass killings of Bosnian Muslim men and boys from Srebrenica constituted the crime of genocide under international law. It is considered the largest post-World War 2 genocide in Europe. This year, after 27 years, the Dutch government apologized to survivors for the Dutch U.N. peacekeepers’ failure to prevent the killings. (July 11)
This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Wednesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.