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Discord in European Union: Why Should Romania and Bulgaria fight for Schengen

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Earlier this week, European Commission has expressed its continuous support to European Presidency’s efforts of including Bulgaria and Romania into Schengen area. It is a big diplomatic win for Romania, the country which has faced rejection to the entry in the Schengen region several times along with Bulgaria.

In May 2011, The European Parliament’s civil freedoms committee had approved a recommendation for Bulgaria and Romania to joined Schengen free-travel zone. The principal condition for the nations joining the multinational Schengen zone is their ability to ensure the security of the EU’s external borders. In this case Romania, which borders non EU states of Moldova, Ukraine and Serbia; and Bulgaria, which borders non EU states of Turkey, Macedonia and Serbia will own the responsibility of securing their borders not just for themselves but for the whole European Union. When the South East European countries of Romania and Bulgaria were close to achieve their dream, The Netherlands, in the meeting of the EU Council of justice and interior ministers postponed their adhesion to Schengen region for 2012, saying ‘these two countries may enter the Schengen area only after they carry out effective judicial reforms.’

Angela Merkel and Basescu

German Federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel,
and Traian Basescu, President of Romania.
Image by European Council

Time to time Germany, The Netherlands and Finland have played their cards to block or postpone the entry of the two countries. In September 2011, Netherlands and Finland urged the two bidders to do more to fight corruption and organized crime.

This year in March, Germany and the Netherlands again launched a strong protest to prevent Romania and Bulgaria entering into the region saying at this stage it would be premature, due to rampant corruption there. During the meeting of Ministers of Interior and Justice of the European Union, in Brussels, unfortunately for both the countries the decision was again postponed to the end of 2013, when they will be again judged on the eligibility criteria. On this occasion, German interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich in Brussels said “There are some areas of weakness, such as in the functionality of the judicial system, that prevents us from saying: abolish the borders,” said Friedrich. He warned Germany might witness an influx of untrustworthy people, migrating there “without further control”.

Schengen area map
Schengen Area, Image by Ssolbergj

 

After all these development and use of power against the two countries, do we think Romania really needs the entry in the Schengen area?

Romanian Foreign Minister, Titus Corlatean said, “We have lived without entry to the Schengen zone for a long time, and we can live without it for a longer time as well.”

To know what Romanians think about their membership of European Union we asked Gabriela Ionita, Editor in Chief, Power&Politics World.

TWR: What do Romanians think about Germany preventing them to enter Schengen Agreement Last Month?

gabriela ionita the world reporter
Gabriela Ionita,
Editor in Chief Power&Politics World

Gabriela Ionita: Romanian people have many other real problems. Discussion about the opposition of some country like Germany, Netherland (official) or France (unofficial) is rather an issue of mass-media agenda. According to a poll, there were in fact seven states that expressed their disagreement regarding Romania`s accession to Schengen zone. Sure, we can speculate about the fact that three of these states are run by the family of European political parties where its part also actual in power party PSD, and the four belong to the European political family where is part opposition party PDL. However, the position of a State to the Schengen expansion is not linked necessarily to European policy, but domestic policy and how it will affected the State. Hans-Peter Friedrich, German Interior Minister and member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), part of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, publicly announced that Germany will use its veto, if required, to prevent Romania from joining the Schengen zone. But, we must not forget that Germany is one of the states that negotiated the plan of Romania’s accession to Schengen in two stages, thus overcoming the deadlock from 2012 in the talks on the accession of Romania.

TWR: What do Romanians feel about EU? Are they happy to join it in 2007? What are the significant positive changes in Romania after joining the EU?

Gabriela Ionita: If we look at the broad aspect, we can say that Romania is one of the European Union countries with a balanced distribution between Euro-sceptic and Euro-optimistic. Of course, joining the EU was a reason of joy for all Romanian. Joining NATO and the EU are the most important steps of the past 20 years. Unfortunately, subsequently, the governments have not been able to intelligently and efficiently utilize the benefits of this membership. The simplest and perhaps the most general result of accession to the EU is the free movement of persons. With all the consequences from here: labour mobility, more opportunities, and the chance to invest in EU countries. Of course, the economic crisis has diminished these opportunities, but Romania will still gain as Romanian state cannot provide working and living conditions at the level of many EU countries.

TWR: Do you think Euro has done any better in Romania? Is it promising in terms of Romania’s economic future?

Gabriela Ionita: Romania’s accession to the Euro currency area was scheduled to 2015. Nowadays, already there is a discussion of a postponement until 2020. Eurozone has problems in itself, Greece and Cyprus being only the most visible. Presence of Euro currency in Romanian market, of course brought benefits and some drawbacks too, but the transition to the single currency is already another discussion with deeper implications. Now the question here is: Is the Romanian economy strong enough for such a change? The most likely answer is No. In fact we also have examples of countries with a strong economy which regressed after joining the Eurozone. Any automatic increase in prices would be supported by an increase in income of population, which in the current issue of the economic crisis is useless to consider.

While there is discussion going on to live without Schengen or to not to make this issue its priority, accession to Schengen zone is Romania’s right and it meets the criteria. Saying Germany’s position is rather a political one, Romanian officials have announced a change in strategy to overcome the barriers. Romania will make it necessary for Netherlands and Germany to formally explain their refusal with logic and arguments pertaining to laws and European regulation. This move would put Germany and the Netherlands in difficulty as Romania already meets all the criteria to enter the Schengen region and it has got backing of European commission.

If Romania also implements the suggestions and changes which other countries are suggesting, it will not only improve the problems in Romania, but also further pitch its candidacy for the Schengen reform. Romania’s entry into Schengen will give positive signs to the investors, the bank lending rates will decrease and the shares of domestic companies will rise, academics will be on a new high with more students exchange programs possible, and a boon to Romania’s booming IT industry, but a refusal to the entry even at the end of 2013 will be interpreted as a note of criticism to Romanian government for its incapacity to carry out vital reforms in judiciary and other areas.

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Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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Europe

Brexit: Three Logistics Concerns for Businesses

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After the vote on 23rd June 2016, for many businesses, it seemed there was ample time to prepare for Brexit. However, the UK is now one year away from leaving the EU and naturally, many business owners are becoming increasingly concerned about its impact.

A recent study showed that 94% of UK SMEs feel that the government is failing to listen to their Brexit concerns. There are also fears that HMRC’s new customs system will not be ready by the Brexit deadline.

For businesses, it is clear that there remains a lot of uncertainty about Brexit, including what trades deals may be formed and how they will affect British businesses. This is particularly true for logistics, where these three concerns are growing.

Cost Implications

For many companies, their number one concern is cost. In order to offset, businesses facing an increase in operating and logistics costs may have to pass this onto their customers, resulting in higher product prices – this is especially worrying for logistics companies like Tuffnells. This could result in a lower sales volume, making a dent in their bottom line.

This additional spend could come from several areas, including:

  • Taxes and tariffs: after leaving the single market, exporting or importing goods may be subject to new charges and restrictions, which could result in higher logistics costs
  • Fuel: The exchange rate of the pound dropped after the Brexit vote and it could fluctuate further after the deadline, resulting in increased fuel and transport prices

Business Systems

Coming out of the EU’s single market – where British businesses currently trade tax-free – presents more issues than cost alone. This includes implementing new business systems.

While HMRC are putting their own customs systems in place, businesses also face the same challenge. Staff will require training on new tariffs and customs, logistics procedures will have to be revised, and businesses will have to find systems and methods to deal with these new processes. All of this will eat into business hours and cost companies further money.

Border Controls

The introduction of new border controls will have several affects on British businesses, including cost, delays and further administrative processes. But leaving the EU will limit companies in another way: freedom of movement.

Pre-Brexit, EU workers had the freedom to move and work in any member state, but this will no longer apply to the UK. This means hiring workers from within the EU could be more difficult, time-consuming and expensive. With many British companies hiring migrant drivers to cover the UK shortage, this could severely impact transport.

The announcement of Brexit brought about uncertainty among UK businesses. Unfortunately, only speculation is possible until all trade deals have been announced and Brexit takes effect in 2019. However, if businesses prepare in these areas, it could help to minimise impact.

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Business

The Future of the UK Used Car Market

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It is an intriguing time in the UK auto market in 2018 with a range of political, economic and social factors influencing the industry. New car sales continue to fall for the 11th consecutive month with diesel taking the brunt of the slide. It is thought that this decline is due to the uncertainty over the Government’s clean air plans (including the 2040 ban on petrol and diesel), but also the economic climate and uncertainty over Brexit.

Sale of AFVs

Although new car sales continue to fall overall, there is evidence that the 2040 ban is influencing consumers with the sales of alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) rising steadily over the last 11 months, including a 7.2% rise in February compared to last year. Although this is unable to offset the free-falling diesel sector, it does show that motorists are beginning to prepare for the green car revolution. Motorists are also aware that there are many incentives for making the switch, plus there is now a wide range of excellent electric cars on the market.

Used Car Market

So, what does all this mean for used car dealerships? Sales have managed to maintain stability amidst the turbulence in the industry with a drop of just 1.1% in 2017 compared to 2016. This was largely thanks to the sale of used electric cars, which saw an increase of a staggering 77.1% in 2017. Hybrids were also up 22.2%. This goes to show that motorists are preparing for the future and still have the need to change automobiles, with the used car market being a much safer place to do this as it is a much smaller investment.

The Future

It is easy to see reputable used car dealerships like Shelbourne Motors performing well in 2018 and beyond as more and more second-hand electric cars become available. An increasing number of cities are imposing their own bans ahead of the 2040 ban, plus it is expected that there will be more clarity on the ban and the electric vehicle infrastructure will continue to grow. Additionally, the landscape of a post-Brexit UK will be clearer soon and this could encourage motorists to shop in the used car market.

The future of the used car market in the UK looks healthy despite the fact that there has been a great deal of uncertainty in the UK over the past year. Provided that dealerships are able to provide motorists with a range of second-hand electric automobiles, it is easy to see motorists opting to buy used as opposed to new as this can allow for big savings which is important in the current economic climate. The green car revolution is fully underway and this is what has managed to keep the used car market afloat during a challenging period.

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Environment

All Steam Ahead as Europe Goes Green

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Red, amber, green: and Europe is off on its big green venture. Yep, it’s true, Europe is finally on the right track in regards to future-proofing against climate change. To see just how it is doing this and what it is doing in regards to this, make sure to read on.

The abolition of fossil fuels by 2050

Some of Europe’s biggest countries are seeking to go fossil fuel free by 2050, and it’s brilliant. Denmark, a country widely regarded as being a leader in the struggle for a green future, is one such country seeking to do this. Yes, it might be ambitious. And yes, Danish officials openly admit that it is an ambitious venture. But, this old Nordic country is going full steam ahead with its ‘Energy Strategy 2050’ enterprise anyway in the hopes that within 32 years the whole country will be completely dependant on things that do not hurt our world. In fact, Denmark is even seeking to go one step further and go completely cashless. Well done, Denmark!

Cities are building green infrastructures

It appears that many European cities have seen the light in regards to what they need to do to save our planet and are now building green infrastructures to hold themselves up in the future. Yep, many cities around this famous old continent are changing the habit of a lifetime and going against a grain that has been in place for thousands upon thousands of years by swapping out their old, harmful infrastructures and ushering in new, safer ones to replace them. Bratislava, Slovakia is one such example: it has had a complete overhaul of its transport system and only runs low-emission buses, tree planting has become a serious occupation, roofs around the city have been made green and rainwater retention facilities have popped up everywhere. Yep, the Slovakian capital really has built a green infrastructure, despite a tight budget, and many other European cities are following suit.

Many big cities are clambering for green funding

Speaking of tight budgets, there seemingly is one across the whole of Europe when it comes to going green because many cities within the continent are having to clamber for funding in regards to it. But, thankfully, having to do all of this isn’t stopping these cities from doing so and going as green as they can. Yep, cities across the European continent are using a combination of EEA grants, municipal funding, crowdfunding and green bonds in order to go green: Copenhagen has done so and used its funding to upgrade is floodwater management and lighting systems to make them more eco-friendly, Paris has done so and used its funding to plant in excess of 20,000 trees and Essen, Germany has done so and used its funding to be named European Green Capital for 2017.

So, as you can see, the historic old continent of Europe is more than willing to embrace the future and, more specifically, the future needs of our planet. Let’s just hope that the rest of the world and its leaders *cough* Trump *cough* follow suit before it’s all too late.

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