By Zachary Laven and Federico Santi

In response to the sovereign debt crisis in Europe the Fiscal Compact was signed in March by every EU member state except the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom. The fate of this Compact has been made uncertain by the elections in France and Greece, which are seen as a popular rejection of its terms and effects. Inspired by Germany and other proponents of fiscal discipline in Europe, the pact aims to prevent excessive deficits requiring bailouts like the ones needed by Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Hungary. It requires national budgets to be in balance or in surplus, the EU’s new “golden rule.” The treaty will enter into effect on January 1, 2013, if by then twelve out of the 17 members of the Eurozone will have ratified it.

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On December 7, 2010, The Honorable Maroš Šefcovic, Vice President of the European Commission, responsible for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration offered his assessment of the transformative changes in the European Union’s governance since the Treaty of Lisbon came into force and outlined the key challenges that lie ahead in the EU’s quest for an "ever-closer union."

The European Parliament has agreed to a new deal giving U.S. agencies access to bank data about Europeans' international transactions in order to combat terrorism. An earlier version of the accord between the U.S. and the European Commission had been blocked by the Parliament exercising its new authority under the Lisbon treaty. So the resolution now reaffirms a broader institutional accord on transatlantic cooperation to fight terrorist networking.

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The European Parliament seems set to approve the so-called “Swift Pact” this week in a second vote. The Parliament had rejected an initial deal between Washington and the European Commission on U.S. access to financial transactions – ostensibly on grounds that it violated privacy rights but also, as parliamentarians avow, because the parliament wanted to assert its new authority gained in the Lisbon Treaty.

Now, after some changes in the Commission’s terms with Washington, the pact seems set to go through. Passage will activate provisions for the U.S. Treasury to get access to data about financial transfers (often via the system known as SWIFT) for the purpose of identifying terrorists’ financial activities. In February, the Parliament rejected the initial SWIFT pact on grounds that it did not include enough measures for privacy protection.

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On February 1, 2010, The European Institute convened a conference to discuss current questions of European foreign policy in light of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, a sweeping policy framework entered into force on December 1, 2009. On hand to discuss the significance of Lisbon was Stefan Lehne, the Political Director of the Austrian Ministry for European and International Affairs.  Mr. Lehne’s presentation addressed a wide range of contemporary questions on EU foreign policy and the EU’s role on the diplomatic world stage.

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