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…

Berlaymont building, the headquarters of the European Commission

1 April 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: European Union, General, House of the Month

© flickr.com - Amio Cajander/cc-by-sa-2.0

© flickr.com – Amio Cajander/cc-by-sa-2.0

The Berlaymont is an office building in Brussels, Belgium, which houses the headquarters of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union (EU). The structure is located at Schuman roundabout at Wetstraat 200 Rue de la Loi, in what is known as the “European Quarter“. The unique form of the Berlaymont’s architecture is used in the European Commission’s official emblem.   read more…

The European Union: Coronavirus Pandemic

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

(Latest update: 2 July 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: 2 July 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: 2 July 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 rubbed off into 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.   read more…

Routes of El legado andalusi/Al-Andalus

4 October 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Architecture, European Union, General, Living, Working, Building, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, UNESCO World Heritage

© Morningstar1814/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Morningstar1814/cc-by-sa-3.0

In the 8th century, the Iberian Peninsula saw the arrival of Arabs and Berbers who mixed with the Roman-Visigoth inhabitants, engendering what was known as Al-Andalus. This successful medieval Muslim civilisation extended, at its peak, to most of what is today Spain and Portugal, until its downfall in the late 15th century.   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: 2 July 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, 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…

Union for the Mediterranean: Bon voyage!

12 January 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean

Union for the Mediterranean © AndrewRT/cc-by-sa-3.0

Union for the Mediterranean © AndrewRT/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is an intergovernmental organization of 43 countries from Europe and the Mediterranean Basin: the 28 member states of the European Union and 15 Mediterranean partner countries from North Africa, the Middle East (the western and middle part of the Middle East & North Africa region (MENA)) and Southeast Europe. It was created in July 2008 at the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean, with a view to reinforcing the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed) that was set up in 1995 and known as the Barcelona Process. The Union has the aim of promoting stability and prosperity throughout the Mediterranean region. It is a forum for discussing regional strategic issues, based on the principles of shared ownership, shared decision-making and shared responsibility between the two shores of the Mediterranean. Its main goal is to increase both North-South and South-South integration in the Mediterranean region, in order to support the countries’ socioeconomic development and ensure stability in the region. The actions of the organization fall under three, interrelated priorities—regional human development, regional integration and regional stability. To this end, it identifies and supports regional projects and initiatives of different sizes, to which it gives its label, following a consensual decision among the forty-three countries. The region has 756 million inhabitants and is scenic, architecturally and culturally very diverse. Cities, lakes, mountains, beaches and national parks offer everything that promises fun, recreation and perfect vacations. The cultural offers are numerous. In addition to many UNESCO World Heritage sites, there are numerous galleries, museums, theaters and opera houses. Of course, there are plenty of shopping and entertainment possibilities. However, holiday pleasure is not untroubled in all countries. At present, Syria and Libya in general, Mauritania (Sahara and Sahel) and Lebanon (North Lebanon and the border regions to Syria and Israel), Palestine (Gaza Strip) should be partly avoided. In all other countries of the Levant and North Africa, increased caution, vigilance and prudence are recommended. At the end of each country portrait is a link to the U.S. Department of State, in order to be able to find out about the current security situation on the ground.   read more…

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