The very recent results of the EU Parliamentary elections should determine us to reflect on the success of the European project so far. A large proportion of the good results the radical right and left obtained have to do with the frustration and fears that member states’ citizens share in relation to the federalist idea. More than this, the propaganda and mythology associated with the damage that the enlargement waves brought to the Union, especially in security terms are to be ‘blamed’ for the rebellious voting behaviour.
Whenever it comes to discuss about the enlargement process of the EU and the security it brought with it, a strong debate emerges between promoters and skeptics. In this short writing, I will present a few reasons why I consider enlargement to be a policy full of security essence and also why I consider a larger EU as a more stable and safe project. Nevertheless, I am compelled to also share in the view that too much expansion in other political actors’ ‘backyard’ could become a source of bad external relations and regional or international instability.
I will begin with what I call the power of example of the EU. This first argument suggests in short that the EU proved how soft power can replace hard, violent power in achieving its goals. The consequence would be that the world could be a bit safer if the need for military is reduced. Why is that? First, because obviously if non-military action is enough, then it means that violent conflict was absent in the first place. Second, because a reduced use of weapons lightens the armament and security dilemma.
But is the EU a good example of soft power success? With regard to enlargement, the common understanding is that the EU did not force Central and Eastern European countries to join. They have been drawn into cooperation schemes by EU’s power of attraction. Accession to the EU represented a seat at the table of decision-making, access to funds, political legitimacy and economic credibility: ‘membership of this most exclusive European club’. This type of ‘civilian’ power politics can be seen as a pragmatic but peaceful foreign policy, one based on political negotiations, regulations, and economic leverage. One that could truly replace force.
The second argument is that enlargement brought security by handling the neighbouring unstable countries. By adopting the aquis communautaire, these ex-Soviet countries became ‘European’ and were absorbed in a post-modern system characterised by security, transparency and interdependence. Enlargement was intended as a civilizing process, and by moving the level of relations between states from external to internal, actors became ‘domesticated’. The way to achieve this leveling among different member states was done through the so-called conditional accession and through a high level of EU intervention in the national affairs of the applicant countries.
Even the official aim of the enlargement was for Western Europe related to security, prosperity and democracy. There are strong reasons to believe in the success of such an objective, at least when thinking of security. For example, local conflicts based on ethnicity or territorial claims never took place in Central and Eastern Europe, which ought to be applauded more, considering its potential. Moreover, it was NATO that securitized the path the EU enlargement by expanding its protection to Central and Eastern Europe beforehand.
Finally, EU’s Internal Security Strategy projects a future security model centered around judicial and enforcement cooperation, intelligence sharing, border management, integration and solidarity. With countries like Romania and Bulgaria still not part of the border-free Schengen Area, the EU seems to be serious in its intentions to fully integrate members only based on their satisfaction of internal security expectations. Furthermore, the restrictions on the two countries with regard to the free movement of workers are also proof that the EU chose first to create the proper path for a secure final enlargement, and only after 7 years to put together its last piece. Keeping all these in mind, the Internal Security Strategy and the restrictions to new member states, we can notice how the security agenda is being incorporated into the enlargement process to create a safe and prosper Union.
The opposing view is that there is also such a thing as too much enlargement, especially when accompanied or preceded by NATO expansion. As mentioned earlier, the two appear to be going hand in hand. Even if this were not the case, meaning that a military expansion would not occur, the idea that economic power – and its product, an economic sphere of influence-replaces hard power still allows to understand the defensiveness of political actors that could be affected by an enlarged EU. To be more specific I will refer here first to an increase in the military interest of NATO in the Caucasus and the Black Sea Region. Second, I will consider the economic aspects of attracting Ukraine to the EU and issues related to energy diversification that could alter EU-Russia relations.
As stated in the Report on EU’s Security Strategy, under the ENP the EU expresses its strong interests in Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, the Black Sea, and Georgia, as well as famously in Turkey. Furthermore, NATO’ s enlargement policy considers Georgia and Ukraine as future members. Turkey is already part of the organization. This year, Moldova is expected to play an interesting part in NATO’s 10 year celebration of Eastern European expansion. Considering the Cold War history, these movements might appear as NATO-US encirclement to the Russian Federation. There has already been present a strong tension between the US and Russia caused by the placement of the Missile Defense System in Europe, which could go beyond a turning point after the recent events in Ukraine. In this atmosphere sewed with mistrust, any EU enlargement attempt would definitely be perceived as security threat to the Russian Federation, which would ruin security aspirations.
Lastly, Europe is energy dependent and this dependency is increasing steadily. This is a major factor in EU-Russia relations which obviously requires a diversification of sources of supply and transit routes. The alternative to Russian energy could be Azerbaijan’s. The current winning project is the Trans- Adriatic pipeline which replaces the famous Nabucco project. Greater involvement of the EU in the South Caucasus could be seen as an intention to replace Russia as number 1 energy supplier, which could also bring more Russian tough policies on its southern neighbors, thus destabilizing that region. In the case of Ukraine, a free trade agreement is seen by Russia as dangerous to its own market because of a pre-existing free trade regime between the former members of the Soviet Union. Current events in Ukraine show us how the cost for an association agreement with the EU is the grave deterioration of EU-US-Russia relations, which reminds of the Cold War.
To conclude, I would say that achieving international or regional security is the product of good intentions, ideals and prudent calculations. Enlargement of the EU to Central and Eastern Europe is an example of such good intentions and strategic thinking. Stability and order have been brought and maintained so far on the Old Continent. However, European policy-makers and leaders must also keep in mind that other powers in the international system have interests of their own and that history is is still present in the collective memory of nations. Because of this, boundaries to expansion -both geographical and cultural ones – must be put in place. Even if EU’s imperialism is a benign one, as Zielonka puts it in Europe as Empire, the risk to instability and conflict is too great when trying to project too much power, soft one included.
• Cooper R., The new liberal imperialism, Observer Worldview Extra, 7 April 2002;
• Internal Security Strategy for the EU, Council of the European Union, 2010;
• Report on the implementation of the European Security Strategy, 2008;
• Rees W., The US-EU Security Relationship, 2011, Palgrave Macmillan;
• Zielonka I, Europe as Empire. The Nature of the Enlarged European Union, 2006,
Oxford University Press.
• Bbc.com, website: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-25108022
• EU Commission, Memo, End of restrictions on free movement of workers from
Bulgaria and Romania, 2014;
• euractiv.com, website: http://www.euractiv.com/energy/eu-favoured-nabuccoproject-
• NATO, website: http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_49212.htm;
• novinite.com, website: http://www.novinite.com/articles/159230/Capitals+of+US,
• reuters.com, website: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/21/us-ukrainecrisis-
• voiceofrussia.com, website: http://voiceofrussia.com/2014_03_20/US-using-missiledefense-
National Police arrests 60 people for money laundering in Majorca
In Mallorca, the National Police have dismantled a criminal organization allegedly dedicated to laundering drug money. According to preliminary investigations, those involved are alleged to have laundered more than one million euros over the last year.
At the moment, the authorities have arrested a total of 60 people for the alleged crimes of money laundering and false documentation. Although investigations are still ongoing, leading Spanish criminal lawyers have pointed to the possibility of an increase in the amount of money laundered.
In addition to this, specialists in Criminal Law and Financial Crimes such as Luis Chabaneix have pointed out that during the next few days the number of arrests could increase, both in Madrid and in Mallorca. It should be noted that of the 60 arrested, 55 were arrested on the island and the other five in the city of Madrid on Sunday, May 16.
Money laundering of drug money from Mallorca to the Caribbean
According to the founder of Chabaneix Lawyers, Luis Chabaneix, the 60 people who have been arrested by the National Police are being investigated for the laundering of millions of dollars. It is presumed that more than one million Euros from drug trafficking activities have been sent to Latin American countries such as the Dominican Republic and Cuba, and even shipments to the United States have been registered.
In these countries, the money diverted by the criminal association has been used for the purchase of real estate and vehicles. For this reason, the National Police is in permanent collaboration with the North American, Cuban and Dominican authorities in order to dismantle the activities of this group in the different countries.
Likewise, among the main information provided by the authorities, it should be noted that more than 400,000 Euros in cash were seized from the hands of those arrested in Mallorca. Similarly, the police searches carried out on the island led to the seizure of multiple luxury items and accessories, a total of three kilos of cocaine and approximately 60 kilograms of cutting substances.
Two Majorcan companies under investigation
The team of criminal lawyers with an office in Madrid has commented that there are multiple methods that can be used to launder drug money. In the particular case of the criminal organization headed by a nationalized citizen of Cuban origin, one of the methods used to divert the money was international bank transfers.
For this purpose, the use of linked bank accounts of certain front men was a fundamental element. In addition, the case includes investigations of split money transfers through call shops.
On the other hand, through an official statement, the National Police informed that two Majorcan companies have been linked to the ongoing investigation. The reason for this is the issuing of fraudulent invoices for a value close to 200,000 euros.
Through these methods, the criminal organization has managed to launder capital inside and outside the country, legalizing large sums of money allegedly originating from drug trafficking. Undoubtedly, the arrest of the 60 people involved, including the leader of the organization, is a serious blow to the laundering of drug money in Spain.
Seasif’s Franco Favilla discusses the post-Covid economy and the price of gold
Although the Covid-19 pandemic isn’t over yet, there has been much discussion on the idea of a “post-Covid” economy, especially with the beginning of vaccination efforts in some countries. With markets throughout the world suffering the economic effects of the virus, experts have been looking towards the future –– and one of the topics that often comes up is the price of gold.
In August, the price of gold exceeded US$ 2,000 an ounce for the first time, driven by multiple factors. However, in November, advancements in Covid-19 vaccines led to a decrease in this trend, a result of the turbulent period we are going through.
“Regardless of the market volatility and the price changes that could occur over a given period of time, the fundamental fact is that the price of gold over the course of 2020 has reached an all-time high, and this, in my opinion, is very good news for the world economy,” explains Franco Favilla, founder and CEO of Seasif, a multinational company active in the extraction and trading of gold and oil.
According to Mr. Favilla, the main problem of the pre-Covid economy was the completely arbitrary nature of international finance. At one time, a ton of gold corresponded to a ton of currency, but since the 1980s, and at an impressive rate since 2000, the gap has widened enormously, so much so that today the relationship between the world’s currencies and gold is enormously unbalanced.
Total gold reserves around the world cover only 30% of currencies. This means there is nothing to cover and guarantee the value of money. In short, money has turned into a pure convention, a pure agreement between parties acting outside the market. Gold, on the contrary, guarantees democracy, because it protects savers and the market, offering an objective value for parameterizing every transaction.
“My hope, therefore, is that the crisis caused by Covid-19 will help to change finance, making it less ‘phantom’ and more linked to an objective dimension, based on gold, with obvious advantages for the real economy. Gold protects consumers, the most important component in any economic system: if you don’t have a market made up of consumers with a certain level of wealth, how can you sell? To whom? Consumer protection must come first, and gold is one of the main ways of protecting them,” states the CEO of Seasif.
Sustainability has also been at the forefront in discussions about the post-Covid world, as countries look towards establishing a more resilient global economy, one able to better withstand such events in the future –– and “green gold” may well be a part of that future. Green gold, in a sense, can be considered the “gold of the future” due to its ethical and sustainable extraction process. Seasif produces green gold, with a department entirely dedicated to green, and has allocated economic incentives to its continued production.
Even as 2020 draws to a close, the future may still look uncertain. But for those searching for greater security, gold may be one of the few certainties left.
How much money do you need to live comfortably in Spain?
There are plenty of reasons why you may be thinking about living in Spain: its population is friendly and kind; its climate, especially in the coastal areas, is enviable; its gastronomy is incredible… but, what about its prices? What is the most affordable way to live in Spain?
Perhaps the most important question if you decided to go: would it be better to buy instead of renting a property in Spain. Or yet living in a Spanish residence?
Spanish cities where to live cheap and well
In the geographical variety that Spain presents, we can find many differences in average salaries and the standard of living that reside there would require. The areas of Galicia, Extremadura, Castilla y León, together with Almería and the south of Alicante usually have a lower price of euros/square meter in their homes. The quality of life is really appreciable, but you should know that there are fewer possibilities for business and transports.
The autonomous community of the Basque Country, Catalonia, and Madrid, which have higher than average incomes (normally more than 24,000 euros per year), also have higher prices. However, Madrid has such a wide range of rents that it sometimes makes them cheaper than other countries.
In addition, and taking into account the tourist seasons, the areas of Valencia and Andalusia are normally a preference when it comes to living in Spain for a while or even spending your retirement. Although day-to-day life can be more expensive than in other areas of Spain, the mild climate and variety of leisure options are often worth it in the long run.
Whatever your option is when moving to another country, especially if you don’t know its legal system, can be very tiresome. That’s why our advice is to try to contact local agencies (that speak English) to give you fair and fruitful advice. For example, to move to Andalusia, we usually recommend Tejada solicitors.
I have already decided on the place. Now what?
Well, if you have already fully immersed yourself in the streets of a beautiful city that we have talked about, what should be your first step?
Decide what kind of stay you want to be in (since your future economic situation will also depend on this: taxes, permits…). You may have already chosen, for example, property conveyancing in Marbella, but it is recommended that you also think about renting a property, because it can be very profitable while you are in your other place of residence.
To sum up, before moving to a Spanish city, decide if you want to spend a little more money per month in exchange for the exceptional conditions that their precious land can give you; secondly, contact a reliable agency that will help you make the best investment and even more, apply for a Spanish residency if you are decided to stay for a long time.
And remember: a move is always a new beginning.
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