The European Union: Presidency of the Council of the European Union

1 July 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General

The presidency of the Council of the European Union is responsible for the functioning of the Council of the European Union, the upper house of the EU legislature. It rotates among the member states of the EU every six months. The presidency is not an individual, but rather the position is held by a national government. It is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the “president of the European Union“. The presidency’s function is to chair meetings of the Council, determine its agendas, set a work programme and facilitate dialogue both at Council meetings and with other EU institutions. The presidency is currently, as of July 2020, held by Germany. Three successive presidencies are known as presidency trios. The current trio (2020–21) is made up of Germany (July–December 2020), Portugal (January–June 2021) and Slovenia (July–December 2021).   read more…

The European Union: Coronavirus Pandemic

30 March 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General

(Latest update: 21 October 2020) Over the coming months, the world will now experience not only how individual states will deal with the global coronavirus pandemic, but also how governments can or cannot intercept the consequences. It can be observed in real time how a real and worldwide crisis is reacted to, who has made provisions and built up reserves or has only wobbled. Already the unemployment numbers and the number of bankruptcies in the first few weeks will provide sufficient information and thus also give an answer to which social and state systems are viable even in crises and take their weakest with them instead of having to leave them behind. It can be assumed that the countries will cope best with the crisis, that are regularly accused of charging too high taxes and having too strong social systems in “regular times” (some Americans would even call it “pure socialism” until a big crises hit in. Then more and more people are questioning why the richest country in the world cannot provide as excellent social security as Germany has for decades – everything always has its advantages and disadvantages), because these countries can now set their full strength come into effect and let it unfold. Whatever the outcome of this “competition” will be, let us all remain prudent, relaxed, reasonable and show solidarity and, of course, let’s stay at home if possible, because the more people abide by the rules, the sooner we can get this spook under control. Even if it will take months before a vaccine will be available, we shouldn’t give the virus the pleasure to let destroy us socially and economically. Stay healthy and #flattenthecurve #StayHomeSaveLives #Coronavirus #covid19 (Coronavirus warning app for Germany)   read more…

The European Union: Climate Policy

2 February 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, Environment, European Union, General

Flag of Europe (Latest update: 21 October 2020) The European Union’s climate policy is a European policy area that aims to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to transform European economies into a low carbon economy. On the one hand, the EU’s climate policy aims to reduce its own emissions of greenhouse gases (mitigation), for example through the emissions trading system that has existed since 2005. However, since limiting anthropogenic climate change can ultimately only be achieved at the global level, the EU is also actively involved in the negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The EU’s climate policy also pursues the goal of limiting the effects of climate change (adaptation), for example through civil protection measures in Europe or through conflict prevention in developing countries.   read more…

The European Union: Migration debate, xenophobia, racism and right-wing extremism

2 February 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General

Flag of Europe (Latest update: 22 October 2020) It is actually unbelievable: the wall fell, fortunately the Soviet Union failed in its own right, as a result of which most of the Eastern Bloc gained its freedom. There was great hope for democracy, freedom and the rule of law. Especially in the eastward expansion of the EU, which only knows freedom from history lessons, the hope for freedom and democracy was huge. It is all the more surprising that parts of the populations have once again been seduced by nationalist demagogues. From the east, this nationalistic nonsense finally arrived in East Germany, which was formerly part of the Eastern Bloc. Where the journey will eventually lead to remains open by now. It will certainly not be pleasing for while. In order to make clear that hatred and extremism are anything but the norm, on the contrary, they are abnormalities, this article was created, which bundles various forms of abnormalities on the one hand and thus on the other hand seperates them from normality shown in our other blog entries. The dramatically accumulating “individual cases”, which are obviously not, were also reason enough to refute the myth of the “lone wolf” (individual perpetrator). It is much more a question of failure of society as a whole. Entire networks are behind the perpetrators, often enough in so-called “social media”, which, however, are anything but that.   read more…

The United States: Bon voyage!

12 October 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, General, Greater Los Angeles Area, Miami / South Florida, New York City, San Francisco Bay Area, UNESCO World Heritage

© Lipton sale/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Lipton sale/cc-by-sa-3.0

Tourism in the United States is a large industry that serves millions of international and domestic tourists yearly. Tourists visit the US to see natural wonders, cities, historic landmarks, and entertainment venues. Americans seek similar attractions, as well as recreation and vacation areas. Tourism in the United States grew rapidly in the form of urban tourism during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By the 1850s, tourism in the United States was well established both as a cultural activity and as an industry. New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, all major US cities (cities in the United States), attracted a large number of tourists by the 1890s. By 1915, city touring had marked significant shifts in the way Americans perceived, organized, and moved. In the US, tourism is either the first, second, or third largest employer in 29 states, employing 7.3 million, to take care of 1.19 billion trips tourists took in the US (a culinary journey through the USA). There are 2,500 registered National Historic Landmarks (NHL) recognized by the United States government and 24 World Heritage Sites. As of 2016, Orlando is the most visited destination in the United States. Meanwhile New York and Los Angeles took over rank 1 and 2, placing Orlando on rank 3. Tourists spend more money in the United States than in any other country, while attracting the second-highest number of tourists after France. All of the 50 states have nicknames.   read more…

The European Union: The Brexit

23 July 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General

Dover - Brexit by Banksy © Paul Bissegger/cc-by-sa-4.0

Dover – Brexit by Banksy © Paul Bissegger/cc-by-sa-4.0

(Latest update: 21 October 2020) Brexit, not even legally binding (insofar, the Brexit vote has about the same weight as if the British would had voted on the weather, with the result that from now on the sun would have to shine 365 days a year over the island – but at least there would be a chance to get upset about heaven’s mistakes, instead of trying to blame Brussels for any wrong decision by the British government) and at best a recommendation (while the actual conduct of the referendum was a big foolishness by David Cameron, just to calm down a few ultranationalistic backbenchers from within his own party (YouGov, 24 February 2015: Record support for staying in the European Union, Forbes, 20 January 2016: Brexit Is All About Taxation And Regulation Without Representation, The Guardian, 31 August 2017: Will Brexit boost or hurt the economy? (Economists for Free Trade, a pro-Brexit lobby initiative), The Guardian, 17 January 2019: So what is David Cameron really doing now?)), already causes some turbulences even before the actual execution (once scheduled for 29 March 2019), not least because the British government doesn’t have enough experts to negotiate Brexit adequately. Negotiations with third countries are negotiated by Brussels for the EU, so that member countries were able to reduce their competences (in the United Kingdom, 30,000 additional civil servants have to be recruited following Brexit. That’s another reason why the Tories should actually have serial heart attacks). In the case of an exit from the EU, this obviously has a very unfavorable effect on the future third country.   read more…

The European Union: 2019 European Parliament election

27 May 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General

(Latest update: 9 March 2020) From May 23 to 26, 2019, the European elections took place. By far the biggest surprise is that, despite Brexit, the United Kingdom took part in the elections because the country voted to leave the EU by a very small majority, but ultimately was not able to find the exit in time. The motto “Brexit means Brexit” is obviously not as easy to implement as the Brexiteers falsely propagated before the referendum, because the political camps define the exit very differently, making the inner-British process of exit preparations look grotesque, comedic, outrageous, outlandish to ludicrous and leaves the country deeply divided. Although it has been reported more frequently that participation in the United Kingdom’s European elections could be seen as a second Brexit referendum, it is more likely that the British outside Greater London used the election as a “rage vote” to slap the Tories and Labour for various reasons, while the biggest liar on the part of Brexiteers, Nigel Farage (besides Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and others), emerged as the winner of the election. A result that is just as unbelievable as the entire Brexit preparations on the part of the British.   read more…

The European Union: Real Estate and Demography

25 May 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Architecture, Editorial, European Union, General, Living, Working, Building

(Latest update: 21 October 2020) First, there is not THE real estate market – not national and certainly not international. In fact, the market situation is very fragmented due to the general conditions, in other words, many individual markets, collectively referred to as “the market”. Metropolitan Area A faces different challenges than Metropolitan Area B and Metropolitan Area C can not even understand what A and B are talking about. Where there is comparability, is the housing situation in the “affordable segment” in urban centers in all western EU states, the US and Canada. This is where the call for the state, which should intervene regulatively, quickly becomes louder. In free market economies, however, this is on the one hand not wanted and therefore on the other hand, only limited possible. That’s pretty okay, because the market is inherently profit-oriented and that’s just what it will stay, otherwise investment incentives for new construction would sooner or later be completely absent. The “rental price brake” (Mietpreisbremse) exemplifies the problem. At the same time, more and more social housing is being let out of the rental price brake without replacement investment being made. In the following, single aspects are examined in more detail using the example of Germany, whereby the scenarios also apply to other western countries such as the EU states, the US, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, but also, e.g., to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tel Aviv in Israel and other emerging metropolitan regions around the world.   read more…

The European Free Trade Association: Bon voyage!

9 March 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General, UNESCO World Heritage

© efta.int

© efta.int

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a regional trade organization and free trade area consisting of four European states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The organization operates in parallel with the European Union (EU), and all four member states participate in the European Single Market and are part of the Schengen Area. They are not, however, party to the European Union Customs Union. EFTA was historically one of the two dominant western European trade blocks, but is now much smaller and closely associated with its historical competitor, the European Union. It was established on 3 May 1960 to serve as an alternative trade bloc for those European states that were unable or unwilling to join the then European Economic Community (EEC), which subsequently became the European Union. The Stockholm Convention, to establish the EFTA, was signed on 4 January 1960 in the Swedish capital by seven countries (known as the “outer seven“). Whilst the EFTA is not a customs union and member states have full rights to enter into bilateral third-country trade arrangements, it does have a coordinated trade policy. As a result, its member states have jointly concluded free trade agreements with the EU and a number of other countries. To participate in the EU’s single market, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway are parties to the Agreement on a European Economic Area (EEA), with compliances regulated by the EFTA Surveillance Authority and the EFTA Court. Switzerland has a set of bilateral agreements with the EU instead.   read more…

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