Tag Archives: Politics

Madrid and Barcelona are taken over by radical left #Spain #politics

colau_carmena_noticia

Last Saturday in Madrid, which was being ruled a quarter of a century by the right (The Popular Party), the leftist Manuela Carmena has been named mayor of the capital. The civic platform for which she was nominated is inspired by the “outraged”, including Podemos.

The group of Manuela Carmena was not the most voted, however, she had to ally with PSOE to achieve the necessary votes that now have made Carmena achieve the mayorship.

Moreover in Barcelona, Ada Colau, supported by socialists and republicans including also the support of the separatists Esquerra Republicana is now the new mayor.

The election result, which resulted in a highly fragmented scenary and without absolute majorities seems a preview of what could happen in the general elections scheduled at the end of the year.

Patricia Fernández Ruiz.

Cameron and Juncker meet: Cameron wants the EU to be reformed #cameron #juncker #eu #uk #ec

cameronThis Monday, David Cameron Monday met with his former ennemy, Jean-Claude Juncker, before starting a delicate tour through Paris and Berlin this week-end, to promote his idea of reforming the European Union before the UK takes part in it.

The talks went over an EU reform and a renegociation of the membership of the UK with the latter, said David Cameron’s spokesman after the meeting.

Cameron thinks that the EU does not fit with british standards and that it should encounter the desires and the needs of the british population more in order for them to be part of it.

Cameron also aspires to bring home a few fundamental powers given to the EU back to the UK, on behalf of the sovereignty of the British Parliament, and wants to tighten the conditions of access to social benefits for EU citizens, especially those from the eastern countries.

 

Shervin LABANI

Bulgaria to adopt systematic approach to corruption prevention among MPs, judges and prosecutors #bulgaria #corruption #prevention

The Council of Europe’s Group of States against corruption (GRECO) has published today its Fourth Round Evaluation Report on Bulgaria dealing with corruption prevention in respect of members of Parliament, judges and prosecutors.

GRECO concludes that Bulgaria has, overall, a reasonably good legislative framework and that many institutions and tools are in place to deter corruption. Yet the complex regulations and the abundance of reporting instruments and oversight bodies have failed to bring in the desired cumulative effect or help attain qualitative changes in corruption prevention efforts. Scrutiny, if it is effected at all, is cursory and in the absence of any discernible results in detecting and punishing violations of the conflicts of interest and asset disclosure rules, transparency is perceived as ostensible. This has not been conducive towards boosting public confidence in the three institutions, judges being most vulnerable to public mistrust. conseildeleurope

 In GRECO’s opinion, independent evaluation of the effectiveness of the systems of disclosure and verification of assets, ascertainment of conflicts of interest and of their impact  on the prevention and detection of corruption amongst MPs, judges and prosecutors, as well as undertaking appropriate corrective action are of primordial importance.

 GRECO also recommends that the private interests of MPs, judges and prosecutors be made subject to substantive and regular checks. With regard to MPs, the transparency and inclusivity of the law-making process must be increased and adequate timelines introduced for considering bills within the Assembly, so as to secure meaningful and effective engagement by all interested parties. As for the judicial system, its vulnerability to undue political interference remains significant. Also, since the effectiveness of enforcement of integrity standards within the judiciary has been called into question, its strengths and weaknesses and its impact on corruption prevention need to be analysed. Furthermore, implementation of the principle of random case allocation in the courts and prosecution offices has to be realised in practice and made subject to more stringent controls.

NEW TRADE AGREEMENT EU-MYANMAR

As of 19 July, Myanmar/Burma is set to benefit once again from a special, advantageous trade arrangement with the EU after the country’s recent efforts to improve the political, social and labour environments there. The EU will bring the country back under the so-called ‘Everything But Arms’ preferential trade regime which will grant duty-free and quota-free access to the European market for all products except for arms and ammunitions.

Burma

The trade preferences for Myanmar/Burma will be applied retroactively as of 13 June 2012, the day when the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conference first recognised progress in the labour rights situation in Myanmar/Burma. The EU’s trade preferences had been suspended in 1997 as a result of the country’s serious and systematic violations of core international conventions on forced labour.

‘Everything But Arms’ is part of the EU’s ‘Generalised Scheme of Preferences’. It is important for helping developing countries boost their economy by providing them with tariff preferences for their exports to the EU. Myanmar/Burma will benefit from the ‘Everything But Arms’ scheme because the United Nations classifies it as a ‘Least Developed Country’ (LDC).

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said: “Trade is fundamental to supporting political stability and the EU’s trade preferences mean we will give this reform-minded country priority access to the world’s largest market. This has the potential to make a huge difference to the country’s economic development and to bring real benefits to the people there. The EU is also going to help Myanmar boost the capacity of both public and private firms to make use of these new opportunities.”

The Council and the European Parliament signed the legislation on the re-admittance of trade preferences on 12 June. The agreement came on the heels of the Council’s earlier decision on 22 April 2013 to lift all sanctions against Myanmar/Burma, except for the arms embargo. The Commission believes that, despite the many structural constraints the country continues to face, under the ‘Everything But Arms’ preferential trade regime Myanmar/Burma should see an increase in exports to the EU.

What is next?

The legal act to re-instate the trade preferences was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 29 June. This legal act stated that the preferential trade scheme enters into force twenty days later, i.e. on 19th July.

As the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conference officially recognised progress in the labour rights situation in Myanmar/Burma’s on 13 June 2012, the trade preferences for Myanmar/Burma will be applied retroactively as of that date. It was the ILO’s decision which allowed the EU to launch its reinstatement procedure (IP/12/971).

Subject to the retroactive submission and approval of the relevant certificate of origin, exporters in Myanmar/Burma will be able to claim back the import duties paid since 13 June 2012.

EU-Myanmar/Burma trade in facts and figures

Myanmar/Burma exports to the EU totalled €164 million in 2012 —this is approximately 3% of the country’s total exports to the world, and 0.01% of the EU’s total imports. These limited exports to the EU are concentrated on clothing.

Historical Background

Since 1971, the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) has allowed developing countries to pay lower import tariffs on some or all of their exports to the EU.

There are three main variants (arrangements) of the scheme:

  • the standard GSP scheme, which offers generous tariff reductions to developing countries. Practically, this means partial or entire removal of tariffs on two thirds of all product categories.
  • the “GSP+” enhanced preferences means full removal of tariffs on essentially the same product categories as those covered by the general arrangement. These are granted to countries which ratify and implement international conventions relating to human and labour rights, environment and good governance;
  • Everything but Arms” (EBA) scheme for least developed countries (LDCs), which grants duty-free quota-free access to all products, except for arms and ammunitions.

The EU has adopted a reformed GSP law on 31 October 2012 – (IP/12/1168) which provides additional export opportunities to those most in need, amongst which LDCs feature prominently. In order to allow ample time for economic operators to adapt to the new scheme, the new preferences will apply as of 1 January 2014.

Preferential access to the EU market can be suspended if beneficiary countries engage in serious and systematic violations of core human rights or labour rights conventions, as established by the competent monitoring bodies of the United Nations or the International Labour Organisation.

AGREEMENT EU-GEORGIA SIGNED IN TBILISSI

The European Union supports Georgia with a new € 16 million programme on Border Management and Migration.

Georgia

Georgia

On Thursday 11 June, 2013 the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle, and the State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Alexander Petriashvili, signed the financing agreement for a four year programme totalling € 16 million: “Enhancing Georgia’s Capacity for Border Managements and Migration”.

Good governance and respect for human rights are integrated into this new programme, which will:

  • Improve Georgia’s border management, by supporting agencies active in this field, encouraging the exchange of data and providing modern equipment for the monitoring of borders in line with the EU-standards;
  • Strengthen the government’s capacity to coordinate and manage migration through technical assistance. In particular, it will support Georgian authorities to implement their Migration Action Plan, and therefore reduce irregular migration in line with human rights principles as well as with the needs of the national labour market;
  • Enhance the government’s capacity to fight against cross border crime and against trafficking in human beings by supporting the State Migration Commission and the State Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings.

Border management and migration are key areas in the dialogue on visa liberalisation between the EU and Georgia, and integral part of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan.

At the occasion of the signature, Commissioner Füle pointed out: We welcome the measures taken by Georgia to improve proper management of borders and to promote legal migration, two key aspects in our dialogue on visa liberalisation. This is the largest programme so far in these fields and it will accompany Georgian efforts for the next four years.

Background

This is a concrete initiative which translates the principle of “More-for-More “ launched in the frame of the Eastern Partnership Integration and Cooperation programme (EaPIC): the more and the faster a country progresses in its reforms on democracy and human rights, the more support it will get from the EU.

In this context, Georgia benefited from additional EU support of € 22 million in 2012. The funds were used to scale up an existing programme supporting Criminal Justice Reform, with a specific focus on human rights (€ 6 million) and to prepare a new project on “Enhancing Georgia’s Capacity for Border Managements and Migration” (€ 16 million). The budget will be used for providing grants to civil society, working with International Organisations, supporting Georgian institutions and purchasing specialised equipment.

YEKATERINENBURG ON ITS WAY TO 2020

Yekaterinenburg, the fourth largets city in Russia in candidate to obtain the world expo in 2020.

view of yekaterinenburg

view of yekaterinenburg

Yekaterinenburg is the fourth largest city of Russia, with more than 1300000 inhabitants. it is situated in the Oural district, between continental Europe and Asia. it’s the door to Asia. The city is booming and qickly changing these last times. yekaterinenburg will bear the candidacy of Russia for the 2020 world expo. They’ve already passed a first step and the next step will be decided .

site of the world expo candidate

 

Miguel D. DESNERCK

ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT EU-UKRAINE UNDER CONDITIONS

Without prejudice to a future political decision on possible signature, the Commission adopted yesterday  the proposals for Council Decisions on  the signing and provisional application as well as  the conclusion of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, which will be transmitted to the Council for further processing. The Commission accompanied the two proposals with a political statement.

Kiev, capital of Ukraine

Kiev, capital of Ukraine

With today’s decision, the EU is taking a necessary preparatory step in order to be technically ready for the possible signing of the Association Agreement (including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area – DCFTA) at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in six months from now. The EU has underlined that it will only sign if Ukraine creates the necessary political circumstances.

Today’s adoption of the two proposals for Council Decision technically enables the EU to move ahead with the required preparatory arrangements without pre-empting any decision: the signing of the Agreement remains conditional on determined action and tangible progress by Ukrainian authorities on the benchmarks set out by the Council conclusions of 10 December 2012 and to be assessed by the Member States before the Vilnius Summit later this year(follow-up actions from the October 2012 parliamentary elections; addressing the cases of selective justice and preventing any recurrence and moving ahead with the jointly-agreed reform agenda).

Before authorising signature, Member States must be allowed sufficient time for their internal procedures, including consulting of national parliaments. Taken into consideration the length and complexity of the Agreement, this process will take a minimum of six months.

Background

The Agreement is the first of a new generation of Association Agreements between the European Union and the Eastern Partnership countries. It aims at deepening political and economic relations between Ukraine and the EU, as well as at improving Ukraine’s access to the EU Internal Market, including through a DCFTA, thus providing better conditions for economic cooperation between the EU and Ukraine.

The Association Agreement negotiations were finalised in 2011 and on 30 March 2012, the chief negotiators of the European Union and Ukraine initialled the text of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.

On 10 December 2012, the Foreign Affairs Council adopted Conclusions on Ukraine, expressing the EU’s commitment to the signing of the Association Agreement, including the DCFTA, as soon as the Ukrainian authorities demonstrate determined action and tangible progress in the three areas (elections, selective justice, and overall reforms as set out in the Association Agenda), possibly by the time of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November 2013. It also stressed the necessity for Ukraine to improve its business climate. The Council also indicated that the signature of the Agreement could be accompanied by opening for provisional application of parts of the Agreement.

As requested by the 10 December 2012 Council Conclusions, the High Representative and the Commission are monitoring and keeping the Council informed about progress achieved by Ukraine in meeting the requirements set out by the Council conclusions, including in the context of the preparations of the June 2013 EU-Ukraine Cooperation Council and November 2013 Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius.

Negotiations of this comprehensive and ambitious Agreement between the EU and Ukraine were launched in March 2007. In February 2008, following the decision of accession of Ukraine to the WTO, the EU and Ukraine launched negotiations on the DCFTA, as a core element of the Association Agreement.

The Association Agreement aims to accelerate the deepening of political and economic relations between Ukraine and the EU, as well as Ukraine’s gradual access to the EU Internal Market including by setting up the DCFTA. It is a concrete way to exploit the dynamics in EU-Ukraine relations, focusing on support to core reforms, on economic recovery and growth, governance and sector co-operation. The Agreement also constitutes a reform agenda for Ukraine, based on a comprehensive programme of approximation of Ukraine’s legislation to many EU norms, around which all partners of Ukraine can align themselves and focus their assistance. EU assistance to Ukraine is linked with the reform agenda as it emerges from the Agreement. The Comprehensive Institutional Building Programme is particularly important in this regard.

MEPs DISCUSS CYPRUS BAILOUT WITH TROIKA MEMBERS

The confusion and delay that surrounded decisions on the Cyprus assistance plan were not only due to Cypriot intransigence. Rather, they reveal a need to radically rethink Eurogroup and Troika working methods, argued Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs in Wednesday’s debate with Commissioner Olli Rehn and ECB Executive Board member Jorg Asmussen.

creditmarket

Core concerns

In the second of three committee meetings being held to dissect the Cyprus plan, Messrs Rehn and Asmussen fielded questions on the positions taken by the various players in negotiations for an agreement on the Cypriot package, on the ECB’s controversial emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) to Laiki bank, on why the Commission had not identified Cyprus’ bank sector as a problem, and on the exact amount needed for bank recapitalisation.

Messrs Rehn and Asmussen both affirmed that a large part of the blame for the confusion lay with the Cypriot authorities themselves. However Mr Rehn also admitted that the workings of the Eurogroup were far from perfect. “If the IMF takes decisions with 80% majorities, why on earth should the Eurozone decide with unanimity?”, he asked. Mr Asmussen, for his part, accepted that the Troika was a “crisis mode setup” which in the long term would need to be replaced by a more transparent system.  He also sought to justify the ECB’s continued ELA to Laiki bank, but MEPs did not seem to be convinced.

Optimistic forecasts

MEPs also voiced concerns that the ECB’s recovery forecasts for Cyprus were overly optimistic and could thus erode credibility, which would in turn make the crisis more costly.  Mr Asmussen stood by the forecasts, but warned that risks were still high and therefore economic expectations might need to be revised.

Lending to the real economy

MEPs also asked what the ECB and the Commission could do to ensure that loans are made available to households and small businesses, rather than merely propping up the country’s banks.  Mr Asmussen agreed that this was a fundamental issue but said that that the ECB could do little more to get banks to lend to the real economy. He nonetheless noted that the monetary transmission mechanism (whereby banks lend to each other, which is a prerequisite for their lending elsewhere) was performing slightly better.

Anyone next?

On a more general note, some MEPs asked whether other countries with similarly large banking sectors could be the next weak link.  Mr Asmussen replied that the size of the sector was not at all the sole determining factor.  “No other EU country’s banking sector is comparable to Cyprus“, he added.

INVESTING IN AFRICA: PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES

On Friday 26th May 2013, the headquarters of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) hosted the event “Kuona Afrika”, a Business forum aiming to promote investment in Africa and to foster Market linkages between actors in tourism, travel and trade Industry.

ACPforum

The event was attended by numerous diplomats and business women and men. During the ceremony the incoming Secretary General of the ACP group, His Excellency Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni has officially launched the «Kuona Afrika Magazine”. This magazine aims to spread a positive image of Africa and to present it as an ideal tourist, trade and investment destination to make a difference from the message conveyed by mass media. The magazine presents African discovery, Business world, Energy, Cultural creations, Treasures and Flavours. As highlighted by the attendees, Africa has to be proud of its potentials in terms of natural and human resources. The speakers emphasised the need of diversifying trade and investment to boost African development and identified areas of business opportunities on the continent. The ceremony has been followed by the “African alliance business dinner” accompanied by a live Soul performance by Ebby Drenthe, the nominated “Miss Autumn Leaves”.

MChantal UWITONZE

EU COULD RUN OUT OF MONEY, SAYS ALAIN LAMASSOURE

The Commission proposal to settle only part of the EU’s €16.2 billion debt rolled over from 2012 threatens the EU with insolvency later in 2013, said Budgets Committee chair Alain Lamassoure (EPP, FR) on Wednesday. The Commission, Parliament and Council agreed last year to settle all bills left over from 2012.

Euro_coins_and_banknotes“It is thus confirmed: there is a threat that the EU will run out of funds before the end of 2013. This is forbidden by the treaties and the Parliament will not accept a deficit”, said Mr Lamassoure after EU Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski’s announcement of an amending budget worth €11.2 billion. Because the amending budget is insufficient to pay the bills, the €5 billion shortfall will have to be paid from the 2013 budget, which was not calculated to cover rolled-over bills.

“In these times when the EU’s credibility is questioned, to pretend to be deciding on a seven-year budget when we are not even able to pay the current year’s bills will not enhance our trustworthiness”, Mr Lamassoure added.

The Budgets Committee will hear Mr Lewandowski’s presentation of the amending budget on 15 April.

Mr Lamassoure recalled that the three institutions undertook in a joint declaration at the end of the 2013 budget negotiations to finish 2013 with a “clean sheet”, by settling all unpaid bills incurred by member states for goods, works and services. 2013 is the final year of the EU’s current multi-annual financial framework (MFF).

In a resolution voted on 13 March, Parliament rejected the EU member states’ 7-8 February decision on the EU’s next MFF. MEPs insisted that the EU’s debts must be settled before negotiations on the long-term budget could be concluded.

Lamassoure

Alain LAMASSOURE, MEP

Parliament will vote on the proposed amending budget after the Council has stated its position, so the ball is now in the Council’s court.