Monthly Archives: October 2014

The European Pension Challenge

Dorian Kronenwerth, 29 October 2014

pension systemsPension schemes objectives vary depending on political context and cultures. Some aim to reduce poverty among the elderly in society (e.g. the UK), whereas others reward pensioners relative to what they contributed over the years (e.g. Sweden, the Netherlands). However, public pension expenditure is high and tends to rise even more.  This constitutes a challenge for the European states and requires reform. What follows is a brief analysis of the factors involved and what can be done to transform this challenge into a success.  Continue reading

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A Pernicious but Unnecessary Budgetary Spat between the UK and the EU

Phedon Nicolaides, 27 October 2014

The Guardian, 2014

The Guardian, 2014

The landmark climate agreement achieved at last week’s European Council has been overshadowed by new row between Britain and the European Union. About ten days ago, the Commission sent to all Member States a note informing them that it had re-calculated their contributions to the EU budget. The VAT and GNI bases which are used to determine what each Member State pays were adjusted. As a result of this adjustment, Member States were requested to make an one-off payment by 1 December 2014. The UK in particular was asked to pay EUR 2.1 billion. For sure this is not a negligible amount of money and understandably the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, was not pleased at all. Continue reading

A speech to remember: Allocution promotion Falcone & Borsellino

by Prof. Dr. Dr. Jörg Monar, 23 October 2014

Source: ilpost.it, 2012

Source: ilpost.it, 2012

Si les noms de Giovanni Falcone et Paolo Borsellino sont évoqués aujourd’hui la première chose qui vient à l’esprit c’est leur fin tragique dans les attentats sanglants de 1992 sur l’autoroute proche de Capaci et dans la Via d’Amelio à Palerme. Tous les moteurs de recherche du web font apparaître – parfois même plus vite que les photos de vos patrons  – les images terribles des débris qu’ont laissé ces deux bombes de plusieurs centaines de kilo d’explosifs plantés par la Mafia qui ont fait périr non seulement Giovanni Falcone, sa femme et Paolo Borsellino mais aussi plusieurs membres de leurs escorte.

C’est alors que même pour ceux qui n’ont qu’un souvenir ou une connaissance très vague du contexte surgit l’image des deux magistrats italiens qui sont devenus un symbole pour la lutte contre la Mafia, qui en ont fait l’ultime sacrifice et qui sont devenus des héros dans leurs pays et bien au-delà des frontières de l’Italie.

André Malraux a écrit que c’est « la mort qui transforme la vie en destin » (L’espoir, 1937). Mais il ne faut pas se laisser séduire par la tentation d’expliquer toute une vie à travers les circonstances qui l’ont terminée, même si ces derniers sont aussi tragiques et chargées de signification morale, historique et autre :

Non, ce n’était pas la destinée de Giovanni Falcone et Paolo Borsellino de devenir des héros et des victimes par excellence de la lutte contre la criminalité organisée sous sa forme italienne et sicilienne particulière de la Mafia. Leurs carrières ne se sont que graduellement – et sous l’impact de leur réalisation du défi énorme que posait la Mafia à la justice italienne – développé dans la direction qui les a rendu des symboles de la lutte de l’état de droit contre la criminalité organisée : Continue reading

One Academic Year Dedicated to Falcone & Borsellino

The Falcone and Borsellino academic year has officially started at the College of Europe.

The Opening Ceremony took place on 23 October 2014, at the Saint Walburga Church, just next to the Verversdijk Campus in Bruges, at the presence of Mr Mariano Rajoy, President of the Government of Spain, who also intervened at the opening ceremony (full speech in Spanish), and of Professor Maria Falcone, sister of Giovanni.

Mariano Rajoy and Rector Monar

Mariano Rajoy and Rector Monar

The evening prior to the ceremony, Ms Maria Falcone gathered with College students for an event coordinated by the Italian Society of the College. She presented the activities of the Francesca and Giovanni Falcone Foundation, introduced the students to the short-movie “Per Falcone” by Rai Educational, and gave a vivid account of her brother’s life, as man of the institutions.

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Six ‘E’s for promoting human rights abroad

On 9 October 2014, Mr Stavros LAMBRINIDIS, EU Special Representative for Human Rights, gave the first “EU Diplomacy Lecture” in a new annual series of high level lectures organised by the Department of EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies of the College of Europe in Bruges. This is a short summary of his speech. A full report and more photos are available here.

25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world is still far from universal democratisation and respect for human rights. The end of the Cold War was not “the end of history” as many had expected. The space for civil society appears to be shrinking around the world and the voices questioning the universality of human rights are again growing louder. The promotion of human rights seems even more necessary today.

How can the EU promote human rights abroad? The challenge can be summarized in six ‘E’s.

The first is to empower the state institutions, courts, civil society organisations, media and activists who fight for rights in their own countries. By funding and keeping an eye on local human rights defenders and those who wish to silence them, the EU prevents human rights violators from sweeping their crimes under the carpet.

Second, where the EU cannot bring economic and hard power to bear on offenders, it can practice more subtle means of persuasion to encourage foreign governments to see the human value and interest of defending human rights.

Third, the EU must engage even with governments that are guilty of grave and widespread human rights violations, some of which, in spite of all appearances to the contrary, are often sensitive about their international reputation – while taking care not to provide them with a fig leaf of respectability.

EU Special Representative for Human Rights speaking at the College of Europe 9 October 2014

EU Special Representative for Human Rights speaking at the College of Europe 9 October 2014

Fourth, the EU must enlarge the defence of human rights against their attackers by reaching out to local governments and regional organisations such as the African Union, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Human rights do not pit one human culture or religion against another: they are the universal language of the powerless against the relativism of the powerful.

Fifth, while empowering defenders, engaging with offenders and supporting locally driven change are essential, the EU and the international community must at times be prepared to ”enforce” human rights, including through vocal public statements.

Sixth, the EU must continually strive to embody human rights at home and to ensure consistency across is actions and actors. And when dealing with third countries, whether business, development or security issues be on the agenda, EU and member states must sing from a common songbook, embed human rights clauses in all policies and agreements and stand ready to invoke them against any country, big or small.

Mr Lambrinidis concluded with a more semantic, but thought-provoking point: That our choice of words also matters, and that the EU should extend the language of promoting human rights more widely to its economic and security policies to emphasise their overarching ambition to advance human rights in all of their dimensions.

How the labour market works: a state of the art analysis

Roxana Sandu, 9 October 2014

Unemployment has been increasing since 2008, reflecting the lack of economic growth but to some extent, also the choices of policy-makers.

Some Facts:graph1

In the European Union, unemployment rate is very high, of 10.5% in 2014. Looking at the long term unemployment rate, we notice that it has been increasing over time being around 5%. Youth unemployment is also very high in the EU, of 22.8% in 2014.

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