Today more than ever, there is a strong call for a uniform EU foreign and security position as a consequence of the current events in Ukraine, of the energy security issues, or of the future prospects for further enlargement. In this article, I will shortly suggest a view on the shape of EU’s upcoming Security Strategy.
The European Union is the incarnation of a pragmatic ideal: the need for security, prosperity and good relations between European nations. The end of World War II enabled the creation of an earlier aspiration, a united Europe, after leaving aside the logic of balance of power and by promoting economic integration and shared sovereignty. It is the power of history that kept peace in Europe so far and it should inspire a future EU Security Strategy.
For now, EU’s approach is based on two instruments: the European Security Strategy (external security) and the Internal Security Strategy. Both define security issues under globalization which is in turn seen as a force of progress and as an open tap for risks and challenges. What Europe ought to continue doing is to deal with threats by adopting a comprehensive approach and a multitude of policies.
Internally, the main threats remain terrorism, organized crime, cyber-crime and other potential disasters. The EU should thus continue following the guidelines proposed in the ISS:
- Vertical and horizontal cooperation among local, regional, national, EU level and international entities;
- A democratic and judicial supervision of security related activities;
- Improvement of preventive capabilities such as early-warning, crisis management and intelligence sharing:
- Higher levels of enforcement, judicial and border cooperation through instruments like Europol, Eurojust and Frontex;
- Integration of the internal security policies into a larger security vision.
What must be added is an urgent need to tackle the roots of crime and instability, not only the symptoms. Organized crime, local terrorism, national deviations from democracy , they all result from poor redistribution policies, discrimination and integration/assimilation failures, political elitism and non-flexible economic measures.
Externally, Europe must continue being a particular type of security entity. The EU is a mixture of strategic cultures, ranging from militaristic to a culture of constraint, even neutrality. This combination produces unique foreign and security policies, characterized by power of attraction and strong multilateralism. Moreover, EU’s civilian abilities like reconstruction and technical assistance in the post-conflict phase are recognized even by promoters of hard power. Nevertheless, the CSDP must gain momentum. The EU needs a common defense voice and military capacity to deter potential and actual aggressors and to stabilize failed states and regions in turmoil.
The EU should pursue its strategic objectives and work against challenges diplomatically in bilateral or multilateral manner. When force is required, international support should be on its side so that its main strength ingredient, legitimacy, is not questionable. The Report on the Implementation of the ESS (2008) clearly pushes towards this. Such behavior creates an International Law- based order that isolates non-abiding actors.
The next logical aspect is EU’s relation to partners. Firstly, the transatlantic relationship and NATO remain a central piece of EU’s global vision. Nevertheless, under the ENP, regional integration policies like the Union for the Mediterranean and the Eastern Partnership have an extreme potential in tackling issues like maritime safety, energy security and migration.
Of particular importance are today the relations with Russia and Iran. With regard to the first one, agreement is vital both to EU’s interests and to EU’s homogeneity. As a consequence, behind EU outreaching towards Ukraine or the Black Sea region must exist a fresh memory of the Cold War, which would provide cautiousness and respect when dealing with a skeptical Russia, especially due to past failed promises that NATO would not expand into Central and Eastern Europe.
The threat of WMD must be dealt with carefully as not to bring to the EU further accusations of double-standards regarding nuclear energy. The pursuit of a stronger multilateral treaty regime in the sector must overcome interventionist impulses. As for Iran, concerted pressure must increase and dialogue must always include the US, China, Russia but also regional powers, more specifically a responsible Israel.
In conclusion, in the 21st century, the only pragmatic scenario for the EU to maintain security and promote it globally is the one in which history influences its future cautious actions under a successful soft-power approach. The EU must preserve its own strategy cultural mix, its special relation to the US but also certainly develop on its unique lifelong ties with regional neighbours.
Brexit: Three Logistics Concerns for Businesses
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.
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
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.
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.
The Future of the UK Used Car Market
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.
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.
All Steam Ahead as Europe Goes Green
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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