Serbia Loses International Court Appeal Against Kosovo's Independence -- in Verdict that Backs U.S. and European Stance

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled Thursday that Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 does not violate any international law.

The verdict – that the step was legal – is a victory for U.S. and European policies and actions that led to Kosovo’s independence. This outcome has never been accepted by Russia or by Serbia, whose foreign minister reacted immediately with a vow that Belgrade would “never” recognize Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia.


Barroso Says Economic Crisis Calls For Intensified EU-U.S. Coordination Now

Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, appealed Thursday for closer EU-U.S. ties in the wrenching economic crisis engulfing both sides of the Atlantic. “The transatlantic community is not living up to its potential. I think we should do much more together,” he said.


French Parliament's Ban on Full-Face Veils is Popular In EU, But Controversial In U.S.

The French law banning Muslim full-face veils from anywhere outside private homes and mosques was passed by the lower house of parliament Tuesday, with only a single dissenting vote. The ban is a move supported by a large majority of people in other west European countries, polls show. But the measure is seen as controversial and intolerant by Americans.


EU Diplomatic Service to Start in December on Schedule; Parliamentary Hurdle Cleared

The planned EU “diplomatic service” won final formal approval by the European Parliament in a landslide vote on July 8, clearing the way for the new corps – officially known as the European External Action Service -- to start work on December 1. This date means that the service will be set up within one year of its authorization by the Lisbon Treaty, sooner than many skeptics had predicted. This track record may bode well for the future of the service and its head, EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, who has emerged with fresh stature after her success in speedily establishing this new corps.


EU Parliament Approves U.S. Access for Counter-Terrorism to SWIFT Financial Data

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.


U.S. Seems Set, Finally, to Get Access to EU Financial Data Against Terrorism

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.


Polish Presidential Outcome Produces Warsaw Team Bent on Better EU Ties

The prospect of more cooperative relations between Poland and the rest of the EU is a widely-noted highlight of the election of the country’s new president, Bronislaw Komorowski.

His victory creates a tandem at the top of Poland’s leadership since he and Prime Minister Donald Tusk are political allies. Both are leaders of the Civic Platform, a party that stands for center-right free-market economics and warmer relations with its EU partners, particularly neighboring Germany.

Often at odds with the previous president, Tusk shares much with Komorowski: “They are pragmatists rather than ideologues, reserved not blustering, and open to the world,’’ commented Spiegel, the magazine in Germany, which welcomes the outcome. Komorowski, 58, was an anti-communist dissident, imprisoned in the crackdown on Solidarity and subsequently a prominent member of parliament.