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from Global News Journal:

EU delivers its own “State of the Union” address

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The European Union talks frequently about wanting to be a bigger player in the world, about making its political influence match its economic weight and the need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States.

And at least in one respect it can now say it's America's equal -- both have a State of the Union address.

Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, delivered his inaugural State of the Union speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday, a sweeping assessment of where the bloc of 27 countries stands and what it needs to do to be better in the future, tapping a similar vein to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address to Congress in January.

But beyond the matching titles, and some common themes, there were few similarities, at least from a rhetorical point of view.

Relaxed Brown up for election fight

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brownHe’s 10 points behind in the polls but Gordon Brown is clearly not going down without a fight.

With an election likely in less than 90 days, the Prime Minister seems to be relishing the prospect of taking on the Conservatives and he thinks he can win.

from Global News Journal:

Does Washington care about the EU?

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Try as it might, the European Union's efforts to act like a bigger player in world affairs keep running into obstacles.

The latest setback is a report that President Barack Obama won't be able to make it to the annual EU-U.S. summit this year, pencilled in for Madrid in May. A hectic domestic agenda and the fact the U.S. president made 10 foreign trips last year -- more than any other president in his first year in office -- means staying at home is the priority and the Europe Union will have to wait.

from Global News Journal:

EU’s Ashton seeks stronger ties with U.S.

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EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton

Catherine Ashton has signalled her intention of giving the European Union's relationship with the United States more prominence in her new role as the EU's high representative for foreign affairs.

How productive that relationship proves to be depends largely on how much Washington believes it needs the EU and how much it deals with the European Union as a whole, rather than with its member states one-to-one.

from Global News Journal:

EU catches up in race to help Haiti

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OUKTP-UK-QUAKE-HAITI-UNIn the six days since a powerful earthquake struck Haiti, the world has responded with vast amounts of aid and promises of long-term reconstruction, something the Caribbean country's creaking infrastructure desperately needs.

The World Bank and the United States pledged $100 million each, the United Nations promised $10 million and announced a "flash" appeal for $500 million more, and dozens of companies including Google, Microsoft and Bank of America committed $1 million a piece. Hollywood stars, rap singers and tennis champions all immediately raised money themselves or lent their support to encourage donations to the relief effort.

Is Blair the man for the EU job?

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BLAIR/Once he was regarded as an obvious front-runner for the job of EU president, then it was pointed out that it was unlikely anyone would be chosen from a country that is not in the eurozone, not in the Schengen border-free area and which has an exemption to the bloc’s charter of fundamental rights.

Ah, but if you don’t choose someone with proven political clout to fight Europe’s corner, a G2 of China and the United States will have things all their own way soon, declared Foreign Secretary David Miliband over the weekend.

A limited EU referendum?

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eu.jpgIreland is the only EU member holding a referendum on the treaty.

A “No” vote would topple a Europe-wide project designed to replace a rejected constitution and end years of diplomatic wrangling over institutional reform.

Yet Ireland accounts for less than 1 percent of the bloc’s 490 million population.

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