Tag Archive | E.U.

Pesticide Residues Detected in Almost all European Foods*

Pesticide Residues Detected in Almost all European Foods*

By Marine Jobert

More than 97% of European food products contain pesticide residues, according to analyses carried out by the E.U.’s national authorities. EURACTIV’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.

The European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) annual compilation of results from studies across the E.U. on the presence of pesticides in food products held no surprises. Of the 84,341 samples of produce from conventional agriculture analysed, 97.2% contained traces of one or more of 774 pesticides.

Very limited values

53.3% of the samples tested in 2015 were “free of quantifiable residues” – which does not mean they were pesticide-free – while 43.9% contained residues “not exceeding legal limits”. Meanwhile, 99.3% of organic food was free from residues or within legal limits.

To meet E.U. standards, the residues of any pesticide present in a product must not exceed two times the legal limit. But these values are highly contested, particularly for endocrine disruptors, which can be active at very low concentrations.

Bananas, the multi-residue champions

In 2015, the analysts’ shopping basket included bananas, aubergines, broccoli, virgin olive oil, orange juice, peas, peppers, raisins, wheat, butter and eggs. While some samples of each product were found to contain residues of multiple pesticides, the results for bananas (58.4%) and raisins (58.3%) were the most striking, followed by peppers (24.4%).

Unauthorised pesticides

Three quarters of the sample batch came from E.U. countries (plus Norway and Iceland), with the other quarter coming from unspecified third countries. These imports pose the greatest risk to consumers, with 5.6% found to contain pesticide residues above the E.U. limits. Among E.U.-sourced produce, 1.7% of samples were over the legal limits. One third of all the pesticides detected are illegal in the European Union.

Source*

Related Topics:

As Expected EU to Approve GM Corn

European Food Authority Concludes that “Glyphosate is Safe”

Cloned Cattle Entering the E.U.*

U.K. Gov’t Has Colluded with Monsanto by Treating Wales as a Monsanto Toxic Dump*

Products of Genome Editing, Synthetic Biology are GMOs – German environment minister*

Products of Genome Editing, Synthetic Biology are GMOs – German environment minister*

Minister Dr Barbara Hendricks’ assurance will come as blow to GMO industry and its allies

 

The products of synthetic biology and organisms generated by genome editing are GMOs and fall under E.U. GMO law, says Dr Barbara Hendricks, the German federal minister for environment, nature conservation, building and nuclear safety. As such, Hendricks is convinced that they must be subjected to a risk assessment within the framework of that law.

The minister’s assurance will come as a blow to the GMO industry and its allies, who are attempting to get the products of the new genome editing techniques exempted from the E.U.’s GMO regulation and labelling requirement.

Hendricks’ view was set out in a letter to the research organisation Testbiotech from Dr Elsa Nickel, director of the ministry, which is known in Germany as the BMUB. Dr Nickel was asked by Dr. Hendricks to respond to Testbiotech’s questions about the new GM techniques.

Dr. Nickel adds in her letter, “Although we have some criticism of the environmental risk assessment in some areas and need to be continually adapted to new challenges, I believe that the genetic engineering regulation is a suitable tool to regulate these new techniques and, if necessary, to ban them if a risk to the environment is established.

“The BMUB will continue to apply genetic engineering legislation for the classification of genome editing and further new breeding procedures. The BMUB is also committed to the further development of risk assessment in the approval process.”

Source*

Related Topics:

New Gene Editing Technique on Human Embryos*

160 Global Groups Call for Moratorium on New Genetic Extinction Technology at U.N. Convention*

Genetic Engineering to Clash with Evolution, Naturally*

Genetically Modified Human Embryos Allowed in U.K.*

U.S. Experts Call for Ban on Genetic Modification of Children*

Powerful DNA Editing Has Arrived*

Biotech’s Dark Promise of Involuntary Cannibalism for All*

E.U., Israel Agree to Develop Eastern Mediterranean Gas Pipeline*

E.U., Israel Agree to Develop Eastern Mediterranean Gas Pipeline*

By Tsvetana Paraskova

Three Mediterranean E.U. countries and Israel agreed on Monday to continue pursuing the development of a gas pipeline project that could link gasfields offshore Israel to Cyprus, Greece, and Italy, and potentially help the E.U. to diversify supplies away from Russia.

The energy ministers of Cyprus, Israel, Italy and Greece agreed to initiate discussions on an intergovernmental accordance on the EastMed Pipeline, Greece’s Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Georgios Lakkotrypis tweeted on Monday after meeting with his counterparts in Israel.

The pipeline could be completed in 2025, but the parties will try to speed up the project, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said after the meeting, as quoted by Reuters.

“This is going to be the longest and deepest subsea gas pipeline in the world. It’s a very ambitious project,” The Jerusalem Post quoted Steinitz as saying.

European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, who attended the ministerial summit, said in a statement:

“In the next decades, gas flows from the eastern Mediterranean region will play a vital role in the energy security of the European Union. The Commission strongly supports the construction of the necessary energy infrastructure and developing a competitive and liquid gas market in the region.”

IGI Poseidon, the company that has completed the feasibility study, sees a final investment decision on the project by 2020, chief executive Elio Ruggeri told Reuters.

According to Ruggeri, the pipeline would cost $5.3 billion (5 billion euro) to reach the Greek gas system, and $6.4 billion (6 billion euro) to reach the Italian system.

IGI Poseidon—a 50/50 joint venture between Greece’s DEPA and Italy’s Edison SpA¬—said on Monday that it welcomed the support to the EastMed Pipeline Project given by Italian Energy Minister Carlo Calenda and Israeli Minister Steinitz and “confirms its endeavour to advance Project’s development activities in accordance with the existing European framework for expediting Project of Common Interest.”

Source*

Related Topics:

The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields*

Behind the False Flag: Israel’s After Gaza’s Natural Gas*

Norway Aiding Israeli Fuel Extraction on the Golan Heights Under Fire*

The Oil-Gas War Over Syria*

Greek Forces to Train in Israel as Syriza-Led Government Deepens Alliance*

There is a new U.S. “Marshall Plan” for Greece*

No Gas from Russia to Europe

The Secret Oil War Has Begun*

 

Brexit Officially Begins*

Brexit Officially Begins*

By Tyler Durden

There is no going back now: moments ago the E.U.’s Tusk received the signed Brexit notification letter from U.K. envoy, triggering two-year countdown to British withdrawal from E.U. and marking the first ever withdrawal of an E.U. member state in its 60-year history.

The E.U. has received the letter from U.K. that will trigger Article 50 and formally begin the #Brexit processhttps://t.co/4Y8SFa7sZX #BrexitDay

— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) March 29, 2017

The Article 50 letter. #Brexit pic.twitter.com/SO5R5BTvhw

— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) March 29, 2017

After nine months the UK has delivered. #Brexit

— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) March 29, 2017

Commemorating the event, Theresa May said this is “a historic moment from which there can be no turning back.”

This is “a historic moment from which there can be no turning back,” Theresa May says https://t.co/SfsZ8UruHD pic.twitter.com/XCHjDo95nR

— Bloomberg Brexit (@Brexit) March 29, 2017

And it appears Mark Cudmore may have been right that the official start of Brexit may be bullish for cable, prompting the cover of record sterling short:

  • GBP/USD ERASES LOSSES AS TUSK SAYS EU RECEIVES BREXIT NOTICE
  • GBP/USD ADVANCES TO TOUCH 1.2476 SESSION HIGH ON BREXIT NOTICE

Speaking to Parliament over this historic event, Theresa May said that the move would implement “the democratic will” of the people of the United Kingdom who voted to leave the E.U.

Tim Barrow, the U.K.’s E.U. ambassador, delivered a letter to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council in Brussels, invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, nine months after Britain voted in a referendum to leave the bloc. “After nine months the U.K. has delivered”, said European Council president Donald Tusk.

May will inform MPs of her negotiating priorities for the next two years of Brexit talks. The prime minister is expected to strike a moderate tone, after ministers have signalled in recent days that she is increasingly open to compromise in order to prevent Britain’s 44-year relationship with the E.U. ending in acrimonious divorce.

The prime minister informed the cabinet of the letter’s contents at a specially-convened meeting on Wednesday morning. Speaking shortly before that meeting, chancellor Philip Hammond told the BBC that “we are going to get a deal” with the EU, the FT reported.

In remarks that are likely to frustrate Tory Eurosceptics, Hammond said that the U.K. government had accepted that it could not “cherry-pick”, and that leaving the E.U. would have “consequences”.

“We will not be members of the European single market, we will not be full members of the European customs union, and not being members of those entities has some consequences, it carries some significance,” he said. “By deciding to leave the European Union and negotiate a future relationship with the E.U. as an independent nation, there will be certain consequences of that, and we accept those.”

Mr Hammond also indicated that the government would regard the completion of negotiations with the E.U. in 2019 as the cut-off date for the rights of E.U. nationals living in the U.K. It had been suggested that the U.K. could treat the triggering of Article 50 as its cut-off date.

* * *

What happens next?

Below, courtesy of Bloomberg is an 18 point Q&A on the main items to keep an eye on in the weeks and months ahead.

Nine months after Britain voted to leave the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May plans to open divorce proceedings on March 29. The negotiations could turn “vicious,” according to Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says they will be “very, very, very difficult.” Both the E.U. and the U.K. will have to determine what is and isn’t negotiable.

  1. Didn’t Brexit already happen?

No. The June 2016 referendum, in which 52% of British voters chose to leave the E.U., was just the start of a lengthy process. If May has her way, the actual split will occur in the first half of 2019. Its contours are about to be negotiated.

  1. What does Brexit actually mean?

Britain is exiting the 28-country bloc, which it joined in 1973. Initially envisaged as a free-trade zone that now includes 500 million consumers, the E.U. is, in the eyes of many Britons, too bureaucratic, out of touch, expensive and an obstacle to clamping down on immigration. Free movement of citizens is a basic tenet of E.U. law.

  1. How does the exit process work?

Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the E.U.’s guiding document, details how a country leaves the bloc. It’s never been activated and is only about 260 words long. It gives the departing country up to two years to negotiate “its future relationship with the Union.” So Britain will be out of the bloc by April 2019.

  1. When did the two-year clock start ticking?

It starts on Wednesday afternoon when the U.K.’s envoy to the E.U., Tim Barrow, hands E.U. President Donald Tusk a letter from May formally invoking Article 50. May will address the U.K. Parliament about the same time. The delay since the referendum was caused by May, who insisted she needed time to form a negotiating team and take a position. Then the U.K. Supreme Court ruled that she didn’t have the authority to trigger Article 50 by herself, forcing her to obtain permission from Parliament. A law was then passed on March 16 to allow the prime minister to act.

  1. How quickly will talks start?

Tusk will read out a statement at 1:45 p.m. in Brussels on Wednesday, a move that may give some clarity. He has indicated the E.U. will respond within 48 hours by publishing draft guidelines for Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator. E.U. leaders will convene a summit on April 29 to sign off on those. Officials have said the bloc may wait until June to fully engage although September elections in Germany will be a distraction.

  1. What will May push for?

She intends to pull the U.K. out of the single market for goods and services — a “hard” Brexit that prioritizes securing control of immigration, laws and her budget over economic concerns. May wants the “best possible deal” for trading with the bloc although she seeks the liberty she now lacks to negotiate trade deals with non-E.U. countries such as the U.S.

  1. What will Europe demand?

The remaining E.U. members don’t want the U.K. to “cherry pick” the benefits of membership with none of the responsibilities (like agreeing to the free movement of people) for fear it will encourage others to leave as well. Many European countries are going to seek a guarantee of the rights of their citizens already living in Britain. May wants the same for Britons living abroad and says this is an issue to resolve early on. Ireland, an E.U. member, says it will fight any attempt to restore a so-called hard border with Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K. Then there’s the question of the bill the U.K. will be asked to pay.

  1. Wait — there’s a bill?

The E.U. says there is. Barnier has indicated he wants the British to cover budget commitments they agreed to, pensions promised to E.U. officials from the U.K., guarantees on loans such as the bailout of Ireland and pending infrastructure projects. Juncker says the sum in question is about 50 billion pounds ($63 billion). British Trade Secretary Liam Fox rejected the notion of a bill as “absurd” and Brexit Secretary David Davis said the amount will be “nothing like” the sums floated. A House of Lords panel also questioned whether the U.K. is under any legal obligation to pay. Still, E.U. officials say they won’t discuss the trade deal May is after until the issue is resolved. They may also be willing to force the issue in front of the International Court of Justice. Such threats mean May might agree to contribute something, although a big check would draw ire domestically.

  1. How will the talks be structured?

Barnier wants to focus first on the separation — settling the bill, resolving citizenship rights and establishing borders. The arrangement for that needs to be endorsed by a “super qualified majority” or at least 72% of the member states. Only after that would the E.U. turn to trade, and any trade deal will require the support of every member. The British would prefer to discuss the split and the future arrangement at the same time to win trade-offs, grant certainty to businesses and maintain support back home for Brexit.

  1. How long will the talks take?

Article 50 allows two years, which could be extended if all members of the E.U., including the U.K., agree. Both sides estimate that they really have until the end of 2018 to reach an accord, because the resulting deal would need to obtain the consent of the European and British parliaments. E.U. officials have said even in the best-case scenario it will take until early 2018 to work out the financial side of the split.

  1. What happens if no deal is reached?

Britain will leave the E.U. in two years regardless of whether it’s secured a new trade deal. In that case, disagreements may end up in the courts and U.K.-E.U. commerce will be exposed to World Trade Organization tariffs, following decades of duty-free trade. That could mean a levy of about 10% on cars alone. Davis says this is an “unlikely scenario” and not “frightening.” But it’s one Britain must prepare for, he says, although he conceded in March that the government hasn’t yet analyzed the economic fallout. John Kerr, the diplomat who wrote Article 50, says the chance of a breakdown in talks is more than 30%. Businesses worry about a “cliff edge” in which the U.K. falls or walks out of the E.U. with tariffs and without certainty over the future. May repeats no deal is better than a bad deal.

  1. What could help avert a ‘cliff edge’?

Without a trade deal, there is unlikely to be anything to break the fall over the cliff. However, the U.K. and E.U. could agree to a transitional phase in which the existing relationship remains in effect. Businesses would get time to adjust to any new rules, which May says should be phased in, or leaders would have more time to craft a fresh relationship. Barnier wants to wait to discuss the stopgap until the outlook is clearer. The question is whether the two sides can agree before businesses, especially banks based in the U.K., shift jobs and services to elsewhere in the E.U. Another concern for May is whether the E.U. might try to force the U.K. to remain under the oversight of the European Court of Justice.

  1. How will the U.K. untangle the EU’s laws?

The government plans to introduce the “Great Repeal Bill,” misnamed legislation given that it won’t repeal anything and is instead a cut and paste of E.U. law onto the British statute book. The aim is to give businesses and investors certainty. Future governments will be able to “amend, repeal and improve any law it chooses,” according to May. The House of Commons library estimates there are 899 E.U. directives and 5,155 regulations among almost 19,000 pieces of E.U.-related legislation currently in force. Ministers will also have to find appropriate U.K. bodies to take on regulatory roles currently held by E.U. agencies. A potential obstacle to all this is that the bill will include powers for ministers to change regulations as they’re transferred, something opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he’ll challenge.

  1. How has the economy fared since the referendum?

The economy has performed much better than anticipated by the likes of the U.K. Treasury and the International Monetary Fund, both of which warned ahead of the referendum that a vote for Brexit could trigger a recession. The economy has been helped by a slump in the pound and strong consumer spending. But most economists still predict economic growth will slow in time as the parameters of Brexit take shape.

  1. Does May have any leverage?

The U.K. loses some power after invoking Article 50 because it starts the countdown clock, limiting the time available to strike a deal. May has argued it would be “economically rational” for the E.U. to sign up to a free-trade accord since Britons buy so many of its goods. She has warned that the U.K. could provide less security to the region or transform Britain into a low-tax, light-regulation haven for business. She could also try to exploit differences between European capitals.

  1. What about Scotland?

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has used Brexit to declare she wants a second independence referendum to make Scotland an independent country and lawmakers in Edinburgh have backed her. In the 2016 Brexit referendum, Scottish voters chose overwhelmingly to remain in the E.U. and Sturgeon says they should have a chance to break with England sometime between the fall of 2018 and the spring of 2019. But May says “now is not the time” for another referendum and Sturgeon still needs permission from lawmakers in London to move forward.

  1. Is Article 50 irrevocable?

Once Article 50 is triggered, there’s no chance of Britain staying in the E.U., according to Justice Secretary Liz Truss. But Kerr said a country can change its mind “while the process is going on.” A court case is starting soon that may inform the debate.

  1. Why does all this matter for the rest of the world?

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is running on a Brexit-like platform of euro-skepticism. In the U.S., President Donald Trump’s administration has registered its dislike of multilateral organizations like the E.U. and may be tempted to offer the U.K. a generous free-trade deal. Russian President Vladimir Putin will likely welcome anything that divides and distracts the E.U. Finally, China will be following closely to see if the U.K. remains an attractive investment partner as it raises barriers with the rest of the E.U.

Source*

BREXIT: Full text of the Britain’s farewell letter

Related Topics:

U.K. Parliament Rejects Lords Amendments to Brexit Bill*

U.K. PM Bows to Pressure to Spell out ‘Brexit Plan’ Details*

Sharp Increase in British Jews Applying for Portuguese Citizenship after Brexit*

The Lies of Brexit*

Northern Ireland Activist Mounts Legal Challenge against Brexit*

E.U. Begins to Fracture post-BREXIT*

Brexit is a Blow to the Oligarchs*

E.U. Founders to Form Federal Union of European States*

E.U. Blocks Brexit with a €25bn Debt*

The Americans Declared Independence From Us. We Can Do the Same*

Ombudsman Opens Inquiry into E.U.’s ‘Secretive’ Decision Making*

Ombudsman Opens Inquiry into E.U.’s ‘Secretive’ Decision Making*

The European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, has opened an inquiry into whether the Council of the E.U. allows sufficient public scrutiny of the evolving discussions on draft E.U. laws, following allegations that many meetings are held behind closed doors with no information about them made public.

The decision to launch an investigation follows the legal opinion by the Dutch parliamentary attorney’s office arguing that the decision to mark many meetings documents as “limite” (limited circulation) goes against E.U. law.

The Ombudsman has put 14 questions to the Council on how legislative documents arising from meetings of member state ambassadors and deputy ambassadors, plus the over 150 committees and working parties of national civil servants are handled in accordance with E.U. transparency standards.

How do draft EU laws evolve through the various meetings @EUCouncil before being agreed by government ministers? https://t.co/h9qSZTspQ1

— European Ombudsman (@EUombudsman) 14 March 2017

​The questions include when and how the positions of individual member states on draft laws are recorded and how the Council has dealt with a 2013 European Court of Justice ruling on the Council’s access to documents policy.

“The Council is a co-legislator with the European Parliament, working to improve the lives of over 500 million Europeans. The aim of this inquiry is to shed light on how draft E.U. laws evolve as they progress through the various meetings of national civil servants and ambassadors in the Council before finally being agreed by government ministers,” said Ms. O’Reilly.

“There appear to be different practices in preparatory meetings in relation to the documenting of outcomes or compromise proposals, and when these documents are published. While there must be scope for flexibility, such documents are nonetheless the only way the public can follow the process and see the changes made to draft E.U. laws in the Council.

“In the current political climate, it is vital to ensure clarity for E.U. citizens on the shaping of E.U. laws. This would help to clear up some popular misunderstandings about who exactly develops and agrees new laws, and separate out in the public mind the responsibility of ‘Brussels’ from the responsibility of the Member States. This would also help the Council to further its clear commitment to transparency,” said Ms. O’Reilly.

We have put 14 questions @EUCouncil on how legislative documents arising from meetings are handled in line with #EU #transparency standards

— European Ombudsman (@EUombudsman) 14 March 2017

Closed Door Trilogues

It is not the first time the Ombudsman has called an inquiry into the secretive nature of E.U. meetings. In 2016, she published a report into the so-called “trilogues” between the Council, the Commission and the Parliament, at which decisions are taken, but the content, the membership and even the dates of them are kept secret.

“Trilogues are an important tool for reaching agreement between the democratically elected legislators of the Parliament and the Council alongside the Commission. They are efficient, allowing 85% of laws to be agreed at an early stage,” Ms. O’Reilly said.

“However, it is difficult to find out when trilogues are taking place, what is being discussed and by whom without a great deal of time and effort. My inquiry concerns the right balance between the public interest in transparency and the public interest in an effective and efficient legislative process,” she said.

Source*

Related Topics:

British Gov’t Silent on Secret E.U. Meetings with Lobbyists*

What They Don’t Want You to Know About the E.U.-Canada Trade Deal*

E.U. to Take Control of British Nuclear Deterrent*

Eurocrats Making Record Number of Laws in Secret*

E.U. Founders to Form Federal Union of European States*

E.U.:Employers can Ban Wearing of Visible Religious Symbols*

 

E.U.:Employers can Ban Wearing of Visible Religious Symbols*

E.U.:Employers can Ban Wearing of Visible Religious Symbols*

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that employers can ban staff from wearing visible religious symbols at work in the first case of its kind before the EU’s top court.

The ECJ has ruled on the cases of two female employees in Belgium and in France, fired after they refused to remove their headscarves at work.

In the first case, a Belgian woman working as a receptionist for G4S Secure Solutions, which has a general ban on the wearing of visible religious or political symbols, was dismissed for refusing to remove her religious attire. In the second, a French IT consultant was also let go when she refused to take off the headscarf after a client complained.

#ECJ: no direct discrimination if internal company rule prohibits wearing of religious symbols https://t.co/B0sMPtNgss

— EU Court of Justice (@EUCourtPress) March 14, 2017

 

“An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination,” the court said in a statement.

The ruling comes on the eve of the Dutch election, in which Muslim immigration has been a key issue.

Islamic headscarves are a contentious issue in several European countries, with numerous cases of alleged discrimination against Muslim women emerging in recent months.

In December, a 14-year-old Syrian teenager was reportedly kicked off a tram in Berlin for wearing a headscarf, after the driver shouted through a loudspeaker that he refused to transport her.

Earlier this month, Austrian government officials sharply criticized a recommendation by the Islamic Religious Community in Austria (IGGO) which states that Muslim women must start wearing a headscarf from the onset of puberty, describing it as an attack on integration and women’s freedom.

Last month, a Muslim teacher who wasn’t hired by a Berlin school because she was wearing a headscarf was awarded €8,680 (US$9,250) in compensation for discrimination.

Meanwhile, a court in the Czech Republic threw out a similar case in January, in which a Somalian refugee claimed she had been barred from wearing her headscarf in a nursing school. The case was said to be the first of its kind in the E.U.

Source*

Related Topics:

Christian Nurse Fired for Offering to Pray with Patients, Now Fighting for her Livelihood*

Christians Decry Israeli Restrictions on Holy Sites*

New U.N. Chief is a Globalist, Socialist, Extremist*

Islamists Attack Christmas, But Europeans Abolish It*

School Forced to Allow ‘After-School Satan’ Club or Face Costly Lawsuits*

Standing Rock Sioux and Yakama Nation Sign Proclamation Calling upon the United States to revoke the “Doctrine of Christian Discovery”*

This Week the ‘Arch of Baal’ Was Displayed For the Third Time in Honour of ‘The World Government Summit’*

US Immigration Exam Replaces ‘Freedom of Religion’ With ‘Freedom of Worship’*

“Deadly Facts”: How So-Called “Objectivity” Created a Culture of Conformity*

Captured Israeli Officer Details Israeli-ISIS Plan to Wipe-out all Islamic and Muslim Culture and Prevent Religions Coming Together*

World Freemasons Gather in Tokyo to Select New Leader as Golden Age Dawns*

Why a Christian Woman is Wearing Hijab For Lent*

Major UK Department Store to Sell School Hijabs*

International “modest clothing” Firm to Launch Brand in Debenhams Birmingham*

Burkini ban in France Sparks Worldwide Sales, even among non-Muslims*

Middle-aged White Men Like Me Have no Right to Tell Women not to Wear the Burkini*

Silencing the Expression of Faith

Sexuality Beyond the Veil

Inspiring Muslim Woman Donates $1 for Every Hate Tweet She Receives*

A Small Act of kindness Disarms anti-Muslim Protester.*

Pope and the One World Religion?*

China punishes Uyghur’s for Studying their Religion Outside State Control*

 

E.U. Founders to Form Federal Union of European States*

E.U. Founders to Form Federal Union of European States*

By Alex Gorka

Anti-establishment and anti-E.U. winds are blowing across Europe hard and fast, as the bloc is edging ever closer to collapse. The Brexit-started domino effect is continuing the chain reaction across the Union. Crises abound, and all of them boil down to people ultimately prizing their national and regional identities over the supranational project. The upcoming changes may make the West as we know it fade away, with groups of states united by shared interests emerging instead.

Leaders of the lower chambers of parliaments of Germany, Italy, France, and Luxembourg published a letter demanding a «Federal Union» be implemented immediately. It was published by Italian La Stampa on February 27.

«Now is the moment to move towards closer political integration — the Federal Union of States with broad powers. We know that the prospect stirs up strong resistance, but the inaction of some cannot be the paralysis of all. Those who believe in European ideals, should be able to give them a new life instead of helplessly observing its slow sunset», the paper reads.

The lawmakers also warn that the European integration project is currently more at risk than ever before, with high unemployment and immigration problems driving populist and nationalist movements.

It’s not just a coincidence that the letter was published in the run-up to the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome signed on 25 March 1957 by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. The treaty, which eventually paved the way for the Maastricht Treaty and the European Union in 1991, came into force on 1 January 1958.

In 2015, the four presidents signed the declaration ‘Greater European Integration: The Way Forward‘, which called for moving «forward with European political integration, which could lead to a federal union of states». To date, the 2015 letter has been signed by 15 parliamentary presidents.

The European integration is being increasingly challenged by a number of Eurosceptic parties around the continent, including the Alternative for Germany, the National Front in France, and the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, with the elections to take place this year. Marine Le Pen, a frontrunner in France’s presidential election race, predicts the Union will fall «like the Berlin Wall». She wants to create a new Europe of sovereign nations. «2017 is our year», she says.

According to the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Union must reform, or face the risk of collapse as a result of internal and external challenges. Noam Chomsky, a prominent US scholar, has warned that the wave of anti-establishment sentiment will hit the E.U. to make it disintegrate. Mark Blyth, a British professor of political economy at Brown University, who correctly guessed three of the biggest political shocks of 2016, predicts the E.U. will collapse this year.

U.S. President Donald Trump has supported Brexit and left the E.U. in the cold, calling it a «vehicle for Germany». During the election race, he said the E.U. would collapse, arguing that «other countries will follow» Britain’s lead by voting to quit the union. According to him, Europe «is not going to be recognizable in 10 years» due to immigration.

Indeed, a union of founding nations makes sense as they have always been close. Culture and comparable living standards bring them together to pursue largely the same interests. Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg – the Benelux nations – have long played a key role in European geopolitics. Belgium and Luxembourg formed an economic union as far back as 1921, and talks were underway to create a customs union with the Netherlands in 1944. It’s only natural for the Benelux, France and Germany to continue their integration efforts.

Germany, Sweden, Belgium the Netherlands and Austria may have to form a «mini-Schengen» and collectively close off their borders to the rest of Europe to halt the flow of refugees into their countries.

The E.U.’s inability to solve the crises, has brought to the fore the Visegrad group (V4), comprising the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. After 25 years of being obscure, the group started a rebellion against Brussels in 2016, when the migration crisis hit. The group has pushed for a change in the E.U.’s refugee policy and has refused to accept asylum seekers under the EU’s quota system. It has also called for structural reform of the organization, in particular repatriating some powers from Brussels to national governments. The V4 has enough votes in the European Council to offset Germany. Poland and Hungary have joined together on a number of occasions to oppose `.

Last September, Greece organized a summit of Southern European countries, including the host nation, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta. They are prone to support more protection measures and want Brussels to give individual governments more leeway to spend and borrow as they see fit.

Scandinavia is actually already a bloc within a bloc. These nations are historically close to make them natural bedfellows. The Nordic Council’s activities never hit media headlines, but this union already exists to aid the Northern European international governance. The Council can be equally integrated to have close trade and diplomatic relations with a Federal Union of European States.

The initiative to form a new union conforms to the trend of E.U. falling apart. The project of European integration does not look viable anymore. The North does not want to subsidize the South. The desire to have a national currency is getting stronger and nobody wants more refugees. With the E.U. weakened, or dismembered, groups of countries with close ties will emerge to pursue their own interests. The nations are likely to benefit, but the concept of European integration to make the E.U. a key world power will be forgotten like if it were just another pipe dream.

Source*

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