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European Union: not thinking about tomorrow because I am afraid of today

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This is not an academic paper. This is just an opinion. When I am writing about my own country I believe that I have a privileged position: I do not have to use quotes from official documents  or newspapers, instead I must transfer my own experience into words and ideas.

The wounds of the past

Romania 1989 revolution

At the end of 1989 Romania faced a violent crisis. In national and international media this crisis is described as being a revolution. It was a messy, bloody and violent moment. During those days, regular people sacrificed their lives for ideas like democracy and freedom. 20 years apart, Romanians are asking themselves: What happened in the meantime? How and when we managed to sabotage our society and the entire system?

If you truly want to understand the current concerns of the Romanian society there is a rapid way to do it: use public transport. The majority of conversations about the current situation of our society are concentrated around words and expressions like: corruption; I do not trust them; I hope that he is the lesser evil. Many Romanians are feeling powerless. They feel that the odds are always against them, they believe that the government forsaken them. And they are entitled to feel this way: the minimum wage is around 190 euros and this is not enough, especially if you are living in a big city like Bucharest.

We had a dream…

After 1989 Romania had two major objectives: to be accepted in NATO and to become a member of the European Union. After many years, negotiations and reforms we managed to achieve both of them (NATO accepted us in 2004 and the European Union in 2007). Now it feels that we do not have another compass for the future, a blueprint for the next 20-30 years and a society which does not have a strategic mindset will eventually collapse.

Romania is a small country with small military capabilities and a skinny soft power architecture. We like it or not, it is quite difficult for us to impose our vision abroad. NATO and EU membership boosted this position but until this moment Romania used these leveraged positions not too many times. I would like to offer you an example here. One of the many advantages offered by the EU membership position are the European funds. You can use them for everything: from education to infrastructure and cultural activities. There are good projects and ideas which were crafted using European money. Projects like Roma professionals in the medical field (during this project young ethnic students with excellent academic results received a scholarship) are offering a temporary boost for the society, but this is not good enough. We are wasting European money. There are examples of organizations which are writing European projects like a fire sale. One of the biggest problems in this area is the lack of accountability and transparency. When there is no real accountability corruption spreads like wild fire.

The European Union offered many positive things for Romania. Think about the Erasmus Programme, or about the fact that you can travel without a passport: small or big things, they all improved our lives. The biggest issue is that we cannot truly understand what European citizenship means because we still need to learn what democracy is. For the majority of the population the hardships of the present are too heavy to think about something else, to try to understand things like active citizenship, democracy or social responsibility.

Democracy does not come with the right to take what you want when you want it. In 1989 people died not for a new law of the jungle, they fought and died for something different. In 2007 the EU accepted us – the promised land was here finally. We used our freedoms and invaded Western Europe: this is a natural thing, people are moving across the borders in order to shape a new living standard for them and their families.

and in our quest for it we lost ourselves

The are is a quote about Romanians. It sounds like: far too many Romanians are living for pleasure rather for rights. The pleasure to vote a certain politician because his staff offered you as a bribe a bucket and a bread, rather than the right to vote for somebody who has a political platform and a real vision. The pleasure to mock a police officer after you hit somebody and you are released because you do not represent a public menace.

Romania has two sides and is difficult to say that the European membership offered us only positive or only negative things. Like any other thing from our world the perspective always matters. At the end of the day we should focus more on us, as a society in order to improve our social skills as a community. You can be a community without being a nation but you cannot be a nation without being a community.

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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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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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