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SecurityEmboldened by the Lisbon Treaty, Brussels is making an ambitious grab for more surveillance powers, writes Stephen Gardner. Plans for amassing data on individuals and making it available across the continent are contained in an "internal security strategy for the European Union," which has been approved by justice ministers.

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European ParliamentThe European Parliament's secretive secretariat is having a new and uncomfortable experience. The Parliament's budgets committee is asking probing questions about its management of the Parliament's budget, writes Stephen Gardner.

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European ParliamentDocuments published by the European Parliament's budget committee have revealed a final sum for the amount spent by the Parliament on advertising the 2009 European elections: €21.4 million, writes Stephen Gardner.

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Every Brussels policy edict comes with green edging nowadays, writes Stephen Gardner. So, when in September Monaco suggested that the best way to conserve the highly endangered and emblematic Atlantic bluefin tuna was to ban international trade in it, the European Commission was quick to lend its support – only to huff and puff when Spain and other Mediterranean countries declined to back it up.

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Will the new European Commission spend its time coping with crises, or will a Barroso II Commission set out a revised sustainable economic and environmental vision for Europe, asks Stephen Gardner.

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In March, the European Parliament proudly inaugurated two new Brussels buildings, needed to house the ever-expanding travelling circus of members, assistants and bureaucrats. But the Parliament is less happy to talk about some of the financing arrangements behind the buildings' construction, writes Stephen Gardner.

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PolicemanThe European Commission has no direct powers over criminal law and policing, though that is no block to the flood of proposals, so far mainly aimed at getting member states to coordinate on organised crime and terrorism. But with its latest plans, the Commission may have over-reached itself, writes Stephen Gardner.

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The European Commission and big member states like France and Germany are planning a crack down on tax havens (while Britain is pretending to). So it might come as a surprise that the EU's house bank, the European Investment Bank (EIB), is busily lending to companies established in, er, tax havens. In some cases, senior EIB officials sit on the boards of those self-same tax haven-registered companies, writes Stephen Gardner.

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Nathalie Vandystadt writing in Le Figaro during August 2009:

L'Europe à l'aide de Malte submergée par ses immigrés
Depuis son entrée dans l'UE en 2004, la petite île méditerranéenne de Malte (400 000 habitants) demande à ses partenaires européens une «répartition du fardeau» que représente l'arrivée croissante, sur ses côtes, de migrants venus en majorité de la Corne de l'Afrique via la Libye.

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Brussels has gone all cagey about the judgement of Germany's highest court on the recycled EU Constitution, now known as the Lisbon Treaty, writes Stephen Gardner. The first reaction of the Eurocrats was a round of backslapping, because the court said the Treaty was in compliance with Germany's Basic Law, and could thus be adopted by the EU's biggest country.

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