Brussels: A political centre, a city of many faces

It is usually thought of the European Union capital city as a faceless conglomeration somewhere between France and the Netherlands, where heaven exists for bureaucrats that write incomprehensible legal and technical texts, and communicate with citizens in a similar style. Brussels is rarely considered for what it really is; probably a very unique place not only in Europe but in the world and very much comparable to Washington DC. Brussels is much more than just a beehive of officials. It is the center for political events in Europe and one of the most important places for lobbyists from different Member States. Brussels is certainly not impersonal or empty. Brussels are people, students, trainees, lobbyists, politicians, NGO workers and officials.

plux
Photo: ŠM

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Monsieur Juncker, an EU army could never be NATO.

On Monday, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, surprised by a statement that the European Union should respond to the growing aggressiveness of Russia by uniting the military capabilities of its Member States based on the model of NATO. According to Juncker, a man dedicated to further integration of European countries, the EU can at this time no longer remain credible if we are not willing to make sure that we can protect our values by an armed force. Reactions of Member States were varied. But, can we imagine that one day there may be a future in which the European Union will be defended by soldiers with blue and gold flags on their uniforms? Perhaps. At the moment, when Putin’s Russia is increasingly flexing its muscles, and the Islamist regime  of Daesh is becoming increasingly widespread in the Middle East, it could be a right time for EU Member States to move forward and unite their troops under one roof.

One question remains, however. Would an EU army, modeled on NATO be the best solution?

opening_ceremony_kicks_off_eufor_exercise_quick_response_2013_3_20130416_1250137109
Source: euforbih.org

 

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Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: What’s in it for the EU?

written by Polona Gul

It would be hard to find another trade agreement that has ever been under such media spotlight than Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is at the moment. But that is understandable as TTIP is much more than just another preferential trade agreement project: it aims to link the world’s two biggest economic entities. TTIP, for which negotiations between the European Union and the United States began in 2013, is presented as an ambitious and comprehensive partnership.

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Source: euintheus.org

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Europe in Space: Extravaganza or a Long-term Investment?

What’s going to happen with the Greek debt, one-two-three seats of the European Parliament, Luxleaks, 100 days of the new European Commission, the British referendum … When we’re focusing so much on ourselves, it’s time to take a look from beyond. So I decided to take you on a space adventure today and take a look at  what the Europeans are doing up there. In fact, I was reminded of this specific EU policy by the former President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, who wrote his commentary on the EU space policy in this week’s Parliament Magazine. So, what is out there of Europe’s and how can we use it to make our lives on Earth easier? Why would Europeans need a common space policy? Is the money put into joining forces in explorations of space well invested? Let’s see. Please, fasten your seat belts. Take off in 5-4-3-2-1 …

Hektor - francoska podgana je verjetno prvi Evropejec, ki se je podal v vesolje. Foto:ŠM
Hector – this French rat was probably the first European to go to space. Photo:ŠM

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GR-ENTRY: a new political phase after the Greek elections

by Christos Aivaliotis

GREXIT. That was the boogie man for the last years. Greece willingly or by force leaving the Eurozone. Consequences for Portugal, Ireland, Spain (rest of the PIGS), or even Italy or France. Endangering the very existence of the common currency. Personally I never believed it can happen. Not because of blind faith to the competence of ruling political class of Greece to face the challenges of the financial crisis. Neither because I believed other European elites would do anything to protect one of the weakest members of the European family. It was purely because I have spent most of my adult years studying the EU. With such a complex political and legal system, it is unimaginable that such a dangerous decision for the EU itself would be rushed when so many other positive steps had to wait years of treaty reforms, parliamentary votes, national vetoes and referenda. (If it was that easy, I am afraid our friends across the Channel would have left us long ago).

Photo: ŠM
Photo: ŠM

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Free movement of persons – fundamental right or privilege?

The free movement of persons (or workers) is at least as old as the process of European integration and represents one of the four fundamental rights on which the EU is based. The range of rights expanded through the years, specially via the EU Court rulings, and today we are allowed to move, live and work in any EU country. When we are asking ourselves what the EU has done to/for us, we can without any doubt say that the free movement of its citizens is one of the most important achievements of the EU. In fact it is so important, that we consider it as granted. Unfortunately, actions from some countries (particularly those of the UK who wants to limit the free movement of EU citizens) show that even if something is considered as granted, we have to keep working to maintain it.

free-movement
(Source: European Union 2014)

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Europe’s position on GMOs and what’s in store

Vir: modernfarmer.com
Vir: modernfarmer.com

The European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety will vote today on the new rules regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Read more on what the new legislation has to offer, how long can a legislative procedure last if it drags into a second reading and when can a final decision be expected.

There are only two GMOs currently  allowed for cultivation in the European Union and only one of them is actually grown. The MON 810 maize, to which the genetic modification provides protection against parasites, has been confirmed for cultivation as early as 1998. Currently, it is grown in five Member States (Spain, Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia) and represents 1.56% of all maize grown in the EU and 0 26% of all GM maize in the world. In 2010 cultivation and processing was also approved for a genetically modified potato called “Amflora”, but since 2011, it is no longer cultivated.

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ECB stress tests: More stress for banks or citizens?

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Source: forexinfo.com

Results of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) stress tests for European banks were published last Sunday. Twenty-four banks out ob 123 failed the tests, including two biggest Slovenian banks, Nova Ljubljanska banka (NLB) and Nova kreditna banka maribor (NKBM). Twelve out of these 24 banks have already raised enough capital to secure their businesses in case of severe stress and the tests are this time seen as quite positive.

But what do these stress tests really show and what do they mean for the population of a country that the banks are from? 

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Erasmus: The guy that made student exchange possible for 3 million young Europeans

Vir: Evropska komisija
Vir: Evropska komisija/Source: European Commission

The program of the European Union, named after the Dutch humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam, is one of the most successful instruments of the Union. Since its creation in 1987 it has enabled 3 million students to study or work abroad for a period of up to one year. By 2020, Erasmus+ plans to increase this number further by an additional million.

In today’s analysis, find out:
* Why Erasmus is not only an exchange, but an experience,
* Why its easier to find work for Erasmus students,
* How to apply for an exchange and how to get financing,
* And who the H** was Erasmus.

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Evropske novice – 9,5-ka hrvaškemu kandidatu, Britanci grozijo z novim izstopom

Novice. Foto: ŠM
Novice. Foto: ŠM

V preteklem tednu se je zvrstil prvi krog zaslišanj kandidatov za komisarje. Preberite, kako jim je šlo in kateri morajo opravljati “domačo nalogo”. V prispevku med drugim tudi o prevzemu WhatsApp s strani Facebooka, enostranski odločitvi Švedske, da prizna Palestino in napovedih Velike Britanije, da bo izstopila iz Sveta Evrope.

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