The trial of Geert Wilders on the charge of "inciting hate" resumes in Amsterdam amidst the controversial decision by France to ban the wearing of a burqa. While the European Union mulls extending the single market across the Mediterranean, the drawing power of membership begins to wane as many in Croatia see the topic as relevant as "last year’s snow." NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs begin their two day meeting tomorrow looking to discuss the way forward in Libya as well as other transatlantic concerns (live streams available from NATO).
Even after weeks of NATO air strikes, the conflict in Libya appears no closer to being resolved. SPIEGEL spoke with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen about whether bombs can lead to democracy, the possibility of Libya becoming a failed state and Germany’s reluctance to get involved.
Lukashenko flays opposition over Belarus bombing (Radio Netherlands Worldwide)
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko on Wednesday accused the opposition over the bombing of the Minsk metro, raising fears of a new wave of repression after the worst attack in its history.
In strongly worded comments on state television, Lukashenko said that suspects arrested over Monday’s bombing that killed 12 and wounded 200 had already confessed but admitted their motive remained unclear.
British Strategy in Libya (Defence Professionals)
The war in Libya is at a stalemate. Britain should avoid becoming beholden to the rebels and shun regime change, but ensure that any settlement is a self-enforcing equilibrium. The essence of war is mutual optimism. In any conflict, each side has a finite chance of winning. So in theory, even the stronger party (today, Qadhafi) would do better to make negotiated concessions – commensurate with the opposition’s chance of victory – than to endure the cost, bloodshed and risk of losing everything entailed by war.
France and Russia have agreed that the Mistral-class helicopter carriers France will build for Russia will be fully equipped with the communication and control systems, a senior official in Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.
Rising to meet an historic challenge, the European Union should offer its southern neighbours the chance to participate in its single market and join the European Economic Area, which currently includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, Enlargement and Neighbourhood Commissioner Štefan Füle told EurActiv in an exclusive interview.
EU – what’s it in aid of? (TPORTAL)
"For or against joining the EU?" Between now and the end of the year, the citizens of Croatia will be called on to answer a question they increasingly see as irrelevant. Having overcome many obstacles on the road to accession, they are no longer interested in a Europe that is strongly associated with their country’s discredited political elite.
EU imposes full oil and gas embargo on Libya (Euractiv)
The European Union agreed yesterday (12 April) to extend sanctions against Libya, imposing an asset freeze on all of the country’s energy companies, in its effort to force Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to relinquish power.
The Amsterdam trial of the leading Dutch politician Geert Wilders on charges of inciting hatred against Muslims has resumed.
Revival of the single market (La Tribune)
"Brussels relaunches single market," headlines La Tribune on a day when European Commissioner for Internal market and Services Michel Barnier is to present 12 priority measures to create a regulatory, financial and legal environment to encourage competitiveness. The goal of the measures is create five million new jobs in the EU and to increase growth by four percentage points over the next ten years. “For at least two decades,” remarks La Tribune, “growth in Europe has consistently been much lower than it has been in the United States or emergent economies in Asia (…) The single market commissioner aims to start over and to develop one of Brussels greatest successes: the single market, which in the wake of the adoption of of an ambitious white paper in 1985, went from strength to strength." This time around, the daily reports that the "the 12 priority measures will focus on intellectual property, streamlined administrative procedures, and employee mobility…" (Full Article in French)
Troika demands likely to target Portuguese workers (EUobserver)
Experts from the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund descended upon Lisbon on Tuesday (12 April), set to begin rapid work on the technical details of the austerity and structural adjustment requirements of an estimated €80 billion bailout.
Despite some confused reports to the contrary, this weekend’s Icesave referendum result does not mean Iceland will withhold refunds to the British and Dutch governments for the money they lost bailing out Icesave account holders in 2008.
EDITORIALS AND COLUMNS:
Two visions for Bosnia (The Economist)
ON APRIL 12th Paddy Ashdown wrote [paywall] in The Times that that the West was suffering from “attention hyperactivity disorder”. Lord Ashdown, a former high representative of the international community in Bosnia, said that maximum activity was being applied “to prevent Libya becoming another Bosnia”, but that “inaction born of fatigue, somnolence and simple bad judgement" was the response to Bosnia.