The European Union: Bon voyage!

November 10th, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General, UNESCO World Heritage

Past posts of the EU series have focused on the EU as such, its different political fields and institutions, and culinary aspects. In this post, the EU and its federal states can be experienced at first hand. The EU supports this by, among other things, the annual title of the European Capital of Culture. The title creates a window in the cultural and social life of the respective city / region as well as the entire federal state, but no rule without exception: In the year 2000 Reykjavík in Iceland was the first city which country is EFTA member and not in the EU. In the year 2010 Istanbul in Turkey was the first city of a candidate for membership of the European Union. In addition there are cultural routes in the individual federal states and the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe. According to the World Economic Forum, 5 of the TOP10 destinations in the world are EU states. These are Spain (1), France (2), Germany (3), United Kingdom (5) and Italy (8). The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) also sees 5 of the top 10 destinations of the world in the EU, but in a different order: France (1), Spain (3), Italy (5), Germany (7) and United Kingdom (9). Today we are doing a small tour through the federal states, which might inspire you to experience the European Union on site. Enjoy! :-)   read more…

The European Union: Quo vadis?

October 2nd, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General

Best of all first: The Eurozone today has greater approval among its citizens than it did in the past 35 years. This is not just any indicator, but a solid basis and a work order that has so far been adopted only in part to actually address ambitious, long overdue reforms and the necessary reorientation of the EU. A nice written white paper by the European Commission, which presents possible scenarios until 2025, isn’t enough. What is needed is an “EU Vision 2030” plan with clear timetables and sub-goals, which are constantly being updated, especially as new sub-goals always emerge from ongoing processes, where everyone can find orientation about ongoing and future developments, as well as participate or in marketing-speak “Europe need a common future and story!” This one is a bit longer and a summary of the current challenges and opportunities, while continuing the article The European Union: Blessing or curse? Past or future?.   read more…

Transatlantic relations

June 2nd, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General

Atlantic Ocean © NOAA - www.ngdc.noaa.gov

Atlantic Ocean © NOAA – www.ngdc.noaa.gov

Transatlantic relations refer to the historic, cultural, political, economic and social relations between countries on both side of the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes specifically those between the United States, Canada and the countries in Europe, although other meanings are possible. There are a number of issues over which the United States and Europe generally disagree. Some of these are cultural, such as the U.S. use of the death penalty, some are international issues such as the Middle East peace process where the United States is often seen as pro-Israel and where Europe is often seen as pro-Arab (Arab–Israeli conflict), and many others are trade related. The current U.S. policies are often described as being unilateral in nature, whereas the European Union and Canada are often said to take a more multilateral approach, relying more on the United Nations and other international institutions to help solve issues. There are many other issues upon which they agree. This article refers to the relations between the EU (Culture of Europe, Economy of the European Union, History of Europe, and Politics of the European Union) and the USA (Culture of the United States, Economy of the United States, History of the United States, and Politics of the United States).   read more…

The European Union: The Budget

May 6th, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union

Now it’s back to business: The European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Günther Oettinger has presented the draft of the new EU budget and as we already know: Money can end friendships. This is no different between EU member states than between companies and private persons. However, this is not just an annual plan, but a five-year plan, this time with significantly changed circumstances to the previous plans, so that the negotiations until the unanimous decision-making will be infinitely long.   read more…

The German Federal Election 2017

September 29th, 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General

The electoral participation in the Bundestag election in 2017 was 76.2%, and again increased by just under 5% compared to 2013 with 71.5%. The electoral participation has now risen for the third time in a row, which in principle is a very good signal. People are more and more interested in politics and realize that it is “about something”. Parties who could reach the 5% hurdle to enter the Bundestag are:

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The European Union: Bon appétit!

July 8th, 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General, UNESCO World Heritage

While in the early part of the EU article series, the focus was on abstract, formal and sometimes somewhat dry topics, it now becomes cozy. Café d’Europe has already presented the most popular bakery products in the member states. This article is about what brings us all together: Food and drinks. As on all other topics, the member states are culinary very diverse (about 3,000 different varieties of bread, cheese, sausage, wine, beer each and a much, much higher number of different dishes). Therefore, let’s have a closer look at what is being eaten where. Bon appétit! :-)   read more…

The European Union: Institutions

July 8th, 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union

The Politics of the European Union are different from other organisations and states due to the unique nature of the European Union (EU). The EU is similar to a confederation, where many policy areas are federalised into common institutions capable of making law; however the EU does not, unlike most states, control foreign policy, defence policy or the majority of direct taxation policies (the EU does limit the level of variation allowed for VAT). These areas are primarily under the control of the EU’s member states although a certain amount of structured co-operation and coordination takes place in these areas. For the EU to take substantial actions in these areas, all Member States must give their consent. EU laws that override national laws are more numerous than in historical confederations; however the EU is legally restricted from making law outside its remit or where it is no more appropriate to do so at a national or local level (subsidiarity) when acting outside its exclusive competencies. The principle of subsidiarity does not apply to areas of exclusive competence.   read more…

The European Union: Regional Policy

July 8th, 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union

Regional policy of the European Union
The Regional policy of the European Union (EU), also referred as Cohesion Policy, is a policy with the stated aim of improving the economic well-being of regions in the EU (European Committee of the Regions) and also to avoid regional disparities. More than one third of the EU’s budget is devoted to this policy, which aims to remove economic, social and territorial disparities across the EU, restructure declining industrial areas and diversify rural areas which have declining agriculture. In doing so, EU regional policy is geared towards making regions more competitive, fostering economic growth and creating new jobs. The policy also has a role to play in wider challenges for the future, including climate change, energy supply and globalisation.   read more…

The European Union: Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy

July 8th, 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union

European External Action Service

European External Action Service

Foreign relations of the European Union
Although there has been a large degree of integration between European Union member states, foreign relations is still a largely intergovernmental matter, with the 28 members controlling their own relations to a large degree. However, with the Union holding more weight as a single bloc, there are attempts to speak with one voice, notably on trade and energy matters. The EU’s foreign relations are dealt with either through the Common Foreign and Security Policy, decided by the European Council or the economic trade negotiations handled by the European Commission. The leading EU diplomat in both areas is the High Representative Federica Mogherini. The number of delegates began to rise in the 1960s following the merging of the executive institutions of the three European Communities into a single Commission. Until recently some states had reservations accepting that EU delegations held the full status of a diplomatic mission. Article 20 of the Maastricht Treaty requires the Delegations and the Member States’ diplomatic missions to “co-operate in ensuring that the common positions and joint actions adopted by the Council are complied with and implemented”. As part of the process of establishment of the European External Action Service envisioned in the Lisbon Treaty, on 1 January 2010 all former European Commission delegations were renamed European Union delegations and till the end of the month 54 of the missions were transformed into embassy-type missions that employ greater powers than the regular delegations. These upgraded delegations have taken on the role previously carried out by the national embassies of the member state holding the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union and merged with the independent Council delegations around the world. Through this the EU delegations take on the role of co-ordinating national embassies and speaking for the EU as a whole, not just the Commission. The first delegation to be upgraded was the one in Washington D.C., the new joint ambassador was João Vale de Almeida who outlined his new powers as speaking for both the Commission and Council presidents, and member states. He would be in charge where there was a common position but otherwise, on bilateral matters, he would not take over from national ambassadors. All delegations are expected to be converted by the end of 2010. Some states may choose to operate through the new EU delegations and close down some of their smaller national embassies, however France has indicated that it will maintain its own network around the world for now. The EU sends its delegates generally only to the capitals of states outside the European Union and cities hosting multilateral bodies. The EU missions work separately from the work of the missions of its member states, however in some circumstances it may share resources and facilities. In Abuja is shares its premises with a number of member states. Additionally to the third-state delegations and offices the European Commission maintains representation in each of the member states.   read more…

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