President Obama in his weekly video address said that because Republicans in Congress allowed a series of harmful, automatic budget cuts—called the sequester—to take effect, important programs like Head Start are now forced to reduce their services.

New rules to ensure that chemicals used in industrial processes, such as manufacturing plastics, textiles, aspirin, flu and allergy remedies, dyes and perfumes, are not diverted to the illegal production of heroin, speed or crack were adopted by the Civil Liberties Committee on Wednesday and by the International Trade Committee on Thursday.

On the 25th of April 2013 the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Lithuania and the Netherlands and the Minister of European Affairs of Denmark visited Kyiv, Ukraine. They held talks with president Yanukovych and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kozhara. They also met with members of the opposition and representatives of the civil society.

More people and regions will benefit from the EU Youth Employment Initiative thanks to amendments voted by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee on Tuesday. This initiative is to give effect to the "youth guarantee", whereby any young person in the EU who has been unemployed for more than four months is to be offered a job, training or an apprenticeship.

EP president Martin Schulz paid tribute to the victims of German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau during a visit on 20 April. "The visit to Nazi German death camp Auschwitz changes you. It changed me," he said. "There are no words to describe the enormity of this crime. We must never, ever forget." During his first official visit to Poland, Mr Schulz also took part in the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising and met with Polish politicians.

The Cyprus bailout package and changes to Hungarian constitution were in the spotlight at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg from 15 to 18 April. MEPs also took important decisions concerning the trading of CO2 emissions and adopted a comprehensive reform package of banking regulations to ensure the stability of the European financial system.

Travel to the EU is set to become easier for people from Ukraine and Moldova after MEPs approved plans for visa exemptions for holders of biometric service passports and a simplification of requirements demonstrating the purpose of their journey.

After considerations by the Espoo Convention’s Implementation Committee for nearly two years, the Committee issued a report on 15 April, finding that Belarus was not in compliance with the requirements of the Espoo Convention. The Committee found that Belarus had not informed in a timely manner the Lithuanian public and experts on the planned construction of a nuclear power plant.

On April 15 an unidentified explosive device detonated under a HMMWV armoured vehicle of the Lithuanian Military Advisory Team (MAT) as they were driving to a firing range at about 10.00 a.m. (local time) in the capital of Ghor province, Chaghcharan. Except for the damage done to the military vehicle, no harm has been inflicted on the patrol staff in the incident.

The 2014 European Parliament elections should be held from 22 to 25 May, instead of 5-8 June, says a draft decision backed with an overwhelming majority by the Constitutional Affairs Committee on Monday. This will give the new Parliament more time to prepare for the election of the European Commission President in July 2014.



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