The Nobel Peace Prize to the EU: An assessment

I was driving when I first heard about the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union. It was Friday morning and I was listening to the radio in the car. They interviewed Javier Solana, formerly known as “Mr PESC”, the person in charge of common EU foreign and security policy between 1999 and 2009. He could barely hide his excitement. His assessment was that the award was entirely deserved: The EU and its predecessors (the European Communities) are the reason why Europe has left the continuum of bloodshed behind. In Solana’s view, in this time of Euro-crisis (both financial and institutional), the Nobel Prize will strengthen the European identity, and this recognition will remind European leaders that their power increases when the ties among them get tighter. Continue reading “The Nobel Peace Prize to the EU: An assessment”

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Importance is not enough

Yesterday, the European Ombudsman (that is, the Ombudsman of the European Union) issued a press statement under the following headline: “Ombudsman investigates whether the Commission should do more to combat increased bee mortality”. The statement said:

According to the complainant, the Commission has failed properly to address the issue of bee mortality, which may be linked to the use of certain neonicotinoids. In its view, the Commission should take new scientific evidence into account and take appropriate measures, such as reviewing the authorisation of relevant substances, in order to address the problem.

No need to check: Neonicotinoids are some sort of insecticides. It didn’t take me a minute to share the link with friends and colleagues via e-mail and Twitter, preceded by a self-explanatory ‘no comment’. Soon after, I started receiving a few answers. The point of most of them was basically that bees play a very important role in the ecosystem. And it’s true! According to a 2010 report by the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), decline of bees is becoming a global and dangerous phenomenon with direct consequences on the environment, the biodiversity and ultimately our own lives! Even if I was very superficially aware of their importance, I didn’t have an idea about the exact facts and figures. There you have the one thing I learned yesterday. If you want to know more, there is a must-visit website: www.aworldwithoutbees.com/. Scary future lies ahead… In any case (let me get back to the Ombudsman now), I must say I still find the piece news both funny and shocking, and I’ve decided to write down here why.

Continue reading “Importance is not enough”

Fisheries, the EU and Western Sahara: In line with international law… in the end

On 28 July 2005, the European Union and Morocco agreed upon a fishing agreement. Previously, both parties had adopted similar bilateral treaties in 1988, 1992, and 1995. According to Article 11, the Agreement applied “to the territory of Morocco and to the waters under Moroccan jurisdiction”, an expression used to refer to waters situated to the south of Cape Noun, that is, under the internationally recognised border between Morocco and Western Sahara.

According to article 12, the Agreement had to be applied for a period of four years. In February 2011, in spite of the critics, the EU managed to extend the agreement provisionally one more year. Yesterday, though, the European Parliament rejected the extension of the pact any longer. What happened? Continue reading “Fisheries, the EU and Western Sahara: In line with international law… in the end”

Bye, bye right to work?

Two recent reports by two important international institutions, the European Commission and the World Bank, have drawn the dark shape of the future of the right to work. In Employment in Europe 2010, the European Commission makes the following point: Unemployment in the European Union would be much higher shouldn´t it be for the flexibility of labour markets; this would explain the extraordinary unemployment rate in countries like Spain, near 20%, not at all characterised by the flexibility of its work market (although it is defined by the uncertainty of the short-term jobs for the youth). On the other hand, according to its Global Economic Prospects for 2011, the World Bank expects a progressive recovery of the economy this year, even when it acknowledges that “Unfortunately these growth rates are unlikely to be fast enough to eliminate unemployment and slack in the hardest-hit economies and economic sectors” (p. 14). Having said this, The World Bank opts for fiscal austerity and not for a stronger social protection for workers. Moreover, the Bank seems to present its ideology as an inevitable measure considering the unbearable weight of the current crisis. Continue reading “Bye, bye right to work?”