27 August 2010
Can we really talk about a return from the easy, slow-news days of summer holidays at a time when it seems that the whole of Europe was unable to shut down for even a weekend? Between saving Greece, the government negotiations in the Netherlands and Belgium, the debate on the proposed energy tax in Gemany, the raging fires in Russia, the floods in Central Europe and Pakistan (where the EU was very last at jumping in to help, unusually), and of course the issue of the "voluntary repatriations" of Romanian and Bulgarian Roma from France, this summer has been anything but idle. Except, perhaps, in the case of European Council president Herman Van Rompuy, from whom we have heard nothing for the last month, notes La Stampa.
And things might well continue at the same pace. Following the summit of the "Big four" European powers set for 6 September – that the Belgian EU presidency threatens to boycott, fearing that its real purpose is to legitimise France's expulsions of the Roma – there will be a meeting of foreign ministers, who are to discuss, among other topics, the issue of Kosovo (Berlin has suggested to Serbia that they would have an open door into the EU if they recognised Kosovo's autonomy). There is also the (less than inspiring) state of justice in Bulgaria and Romania, both trying to be a part of the Schengen zone. Next up are the referendum on the presidential election in Moldavia (a requisite condition for pursuing negotiations toward an eventual membership in the Schengen area), as well as one on Constitutional reforms in Turkey (ditto), not to mention the legislative elections in Sweden. Which leaves a lot on the plate of the Union's unusually quiet Belgian presidency, whose first hundred days will soon be coming to an end.