Thousands of Romanians protesters marched through the streets and University Square in the capital, Bucharest. The protest against the government has now spread to over 40 cities in the country, demanding the resignation of the president for imposing harsh austerity measures in order to receive international loans for the nation’s slow economy.
Romania is seeing one of the largest protests in recent time. Last big revolution was in 1989 which brought down the communist regime in the country. The same University Square was the place where anti communist revolution took place, hence it keeps a great historical significant for the citizens of Romania.
Protesters hanged the dummies of President Basescu and other ministers (such as the Tourism and Regional Development Minister Elena Udrea) to demonstrate their anger towards his corrupt government and laws. So far most of the protesters and protest demonstrations have been really peaceful, except few incidences.
The editor of Cadran Politic Review and a close friend of ours, Gabriela Ionita went through the depth of the event and analyzed the situation with her experience in journalism.
In her recent article Romania – a revolution for evolution? on her blog, she explains that the protests in the country are for various reason. The anger against the government was stacking up for years and was only sparked by the resignation of Deputy Health Minister, Raed Arafat. It all started with President Basescu calling him enemy of health reform on national TV.
Arafat, a Syrian who became Romanian citizen, is the founder of advanced state of the art emergency rescue system (SMURD). The system is so sound that even some West European countries like France want to implement it.
The protests don’t focus only on the health reforms but has now has widened against the corruption and the bad governance of Basescu’s government.
The Government, in a failed attempt, tried to appease the protesters and the situation in the country with some excuses that didn’t convince the people of Romania. The heads of the government, Prime Minister and President, are maintaining a low profile and in between have mimic the protests by calling it a political game by opposition, similar to what we have been observing in India, which is in the state of peaceful protest and demonstration of public demands since early 2011 (as the country saw protest against Black Money and Corruption).
A large number of Romanian protesters are demanding for early election and change in the government, a possibility which has been rooted out by the government saying it would create dangerous precedent and economic instability. The people of Romania seem unconvinced with this, as in 2011 the amount of foreign investments in Romania fell down by 36%, 18% of Romanians have fallen below the poverty line, a poor Romanian employee now earns 159 euros achieving the lowest minimum wage in EU countries, as compared to UK ~ 967 Euros, Bulgaria ~ 233 Euros, Poland ~ 326 Euros, says Gabriela.
As Romania became ally of western bloc joining NATO and EU, the country was supposed to be benefited but didn’t experience much change. Many Romanian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq unnecessarily in the name of NATO army, though the actual war was in America’s interest.
Romanian Protesters claim that the President and his close allies have sold their country resources for the benefit of himself and richer west European countries.
A similar blame was slapped on former government of Ukraine which was considered a puppet to US and West Europe, but Ukrainians were quick to realize the destiny of their country in the hands of Pro western government. The government changed in the next election, the process to join NATO was stopped and ties with Russia were fixed. (Read More: Europe or Russia? Whom will Ukraine Choose?).
Looking at the scenario in Romania, the theory of East Europe loosing confidence in Democracy, capitalism and western powers looks even stronger. In an article posted few weeks ago (Democracy, Capitalism Loosening in Former Soviet Union, Union is Being Missed) we took example of three East European countries, Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia to show that the public confidence in their economy, democracy in their country and western powers is declining. Now Romania is joining the same league, showing that governance and economy culture enforced by western countries is not working out in this region as the current ruling politicians are not much enlightened on how to lead a democratic society.
US, which claims to support the voice of the people in the name of democracy, is currently quiet and is just following the protest incidents happening in the country. As the deal of Anti Ballistic missile with Romania is on the way, US wouldn’t like the government to fall down.
It is very much similar to what happened in Egypt. Mubarak was a dictator, but at the same time an ally of US. When people marched and organized rally in protest against their Egyptian leader, US was mere a spectator. But when people came out to protest against Libyan leader Gaddaffi, NATO and European force came up with full military, monetary and medical support.
Just like conventional media, this protest event in Romania has taken over the social media as well. While Romanians are posting the updates of the events, people living in different countries are getting the real picture which is sometimes purposely not covered by mainstream media.
Facebook is full of pictures and videos from the University Square.
A commentator on our Facebook page (Join Now) says, “The generation of protest is the favorite and catchy scenario all over the world .No body is satisfied with anybody. Once the protestors are satisfied with their victory, next they start fighting amongst themselves to establish his/her (group) hegemony. This continues till a powerful group with support of Arms and Ammunition s from neighboring / interested greedy country, takes over through a massacre of human lives. This is NOT THE END. Vultures are available to exploit with slight provocation. The century of protest is on.”
Davis Wendy on RT says, “It’s a coincidence I guess that the entire globe’s developed nations are simply coming unglued. It’s funny how the collapse of economies simultaneously occurred just as a handful of “savvy businessmen” got richer than stink. Credits ruined, homes lost, jobs outsourced, medical care unattainable, currency crashes, the banks becoming consolidated into a mega corporation. All just a fluke, right? Do you think we are stupid? The party is OVER. It was devised, designed to end with them with everything and us with NOTHING. Pawn shops have never done so well. How dare men without regard for human suffering are now equipped with their very well-trained personal armies!”
Another commentator on Facebook says, “Americanism…Romanians you caught that one …part of the American bankster extortion or harvesting program…you too can now have mind numbing psychotropic drugs with little effort. Don’t stress about it and no need to protest about it….there is always Prozac. hahaha. (made in Taiwan)”
Aleahim said, “None of you know the truth about how hard is to live nowadays for the people in Romania. We have no industry, no doctors, the education system was crushed… everything is being sold to other countries for 50 cents… people can’t stand this anymore! First get informed and then comment! The protests will go on until some changes will be made, for better living conditions hopefully!”
An intellectual gentleman Dan Veliscu told RT, “In Romania – a country were almost nothing works as it should or as it’s claimed, we have one working emergency service – the SMURD. And now a good-for-nothing president tries to close it. People have sided with the SMURD, against the president who, on his second term, can’t show anything that he’s done for the country – not like he did anything tangible before being elected president when he held positions such as transports minister or mayor of Bucharest.
Now the intended closure of the SMURD is just the tip of the iceberg – the spark that ignited the masses – as there are countless reasons to protest and overthrow the regime.
WE ROMANIANS DON’T NEED THE IMF! We don’t want any money from the IMF, we don’t need to borrow and we don’t want any debts for us or for our children to pay. Previous money the IMF gave to Romania were ALL stolen, most of it by banks which sent billions outside the country just as soon as they got their bailouts, and the rest was stolen by politicians. We don’t need foreign money and foreign debt, we can make it on our own. Politicians which demand IMF money are all thieves and traitors, since they want that money for their own pockets, not for the country. Let them pay the debts, not us!”
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ETIAS, the new permit you will need to travel to Europe from the US starting 2021
Last April the European Parliament and the European Council confirmed at the final agreement for the creation of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), a registration system for all visitors from third countries that are now exempt from visa. In order to strengthen border security, the European Commission proposed the creation of this system which will enter into full operation in 2021.
The ETIAS authorisation is not a visa. Once operational, it will carry out pre-travel screening for security and migration risks of travellers benefiting from visa-free access to the Schengen area. When arriving at the EU borders, travellers from the United States of America will need to have both a valid travel document and an ETIAS authorisation.
What countries will require it?
The ETIAS will facilitate access to countries within the Schengen Area to travelers from third countries that do not currently require a visa in order to improve security and to prevent irregular immigration. Therefore, to know if you need to use ETIAS or not, you will first have to find out if the country you want to visit falls within the Schengen Area, and you will also need to know if your country was visa-exempt until now.
Schengen Area Countries
It is important to remember that not all 28 countries of the European Union (EU) are part of the Schengen Area and that not all Schengen countries are part of the European Union. Great Britain and Ireland, for example, are part of the EU (Great Britain is scheduled to leave after Brexit), but not the Schengen Area; while Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein are part of the Schengen Area, but not members of the EU.
Therefore, an ETIAS waiver will be required to visit the following countries: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Holland, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland.
Countries’ citizens who will need to apply for ETIAS.
As stated above, ETIAS will be required to travelers from countries that do not require a visa. Currently, individuals from the following 57 countries do not require Schengen visas to visit countries in the European Union. However, with the arrival of ETIAS expected in 2021, passport holders of these countries will require an ETIAS waiver to travel to Europe for the purposes of tourism, business or transit for a short 90 days stay in any 180-day period.
How is it going to work?
Prior to traveling, those interested in acquiring an ETIAS waiver must fill out an online application providing with basic information (name, age, occupation, passport number, country of entry in Europe). In addition, they must answer a few questions on safety and health issues, among others. Approval often takes minutes once your ETIAS application is complete, and the maximum amount of time for approval is only four days.
What do I need to apply?
All you need to apply is a valid Passport, a credit or debit card to pay the fee and a completed ETIAS application. Since it’s a visa waiver, you won’t need any further paperwork. And, unlike visa applications, ETIAS doesn’t require an interview at any embassy or consulate.
How do I apply?
The ETIAS application form is already available online, although its use won’t enter into force until 2021. You can apply for your ETIAS until 5 days before your trip, but the sooner you start the process, the better. Once in the application form, you’ll be prompted to provide your passport details and asked to answer a list of security questions. It’s vital that your application be error-free and that the information is an exact match to your passport. Any discrepancies between your ETIAS application and your passport could cause a delay in processing and/or approval You’ll also need a credit or debit card to complete the process.
Once you’re finished, the form is submitted immediately and you will receive an email with the information of you of approval status. You should receive the email within minutes, although sometimes issues on approval status could take up to four days to be sorted out.
How much is it going to cost?
Each applicant over 18 years old will have to pay a 5€ travel authorization fee. The payment must be done online during the application process.
How long can I use it for and when does it expire?
The ETIAS can be used for stays up to 90 days in a period of 180 days. The travel purposes covered by ETIAS are tourism, short-term business such or conference and qualifying medical procedures. Your approved ETIAS will last for three years, but it might expire sooner if your passport does. You will have to re-apply for ETIAS when you get a new passport.
Dawn Ellmore Employment reviews the shock defeat for McDonald’s as it’s stripped of its ‘Big Mac’ EU trade mark
For more than half a century McDonald’s has been a recognisable brand in just about every country you can think of. According to its website, the chain has restaurants in 101 countries. Its 36,000+ restaurants serve around 69 million fast food fans every single day.
With stats like this, and McDonald’s easily recognised by just about anybody, the recent EU trade mark ruling has surprised many. McDonald’s has just lost its EU trade mark for the Big Mac in what is dubbed a ‘David and Goliath’ battle with a small Irish chain.
How did McDonald’s lose its Big Mac EU trade mark?
When Supermac’s took on the might of McDonald’s in a trade mark battle, it was assumed by many that the smaller chain would lose. While Supermac’s may not be a household name in the UK, however, it’s much loved in Ireland.
Now the largest fast food chain in Ireland, Supermac’s began in 1978 and today has more than 110 franchises and restaurants all over the country. Founded by Pat and Una McDonagh, it was named after his nickname, ‘Supermac’ when he played Gaelic football. They also own Claddagh Irish Pubs & Restaurants through Supermac’s Ireland Ltd.
The EU trade mark battle
Supermac’s has been locked into an ongoing fight with McDonald’s since 2015, when it announced plans to expand into the EU and UK. McDonald’s initially objected to Supermac’s registering a number of trade marks for products and its name. They argued that the names McDonald’s and Supermac’s are too similar and would cause customer confusion. McDonald’s further argued that the Supermac’s brand name is visually too similar to their trade mark.
Supermac’s responded by pointing out that they had happily traded at the same time as McDonald’s in Ireland for more than 30 years with no signs of confusion on the part of customers.
Initially, McDonald’s won a part-victory when the European Union’s Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) decided that Supermac can continue to trade in its own name within the EU. However, it rejected the Irish company’s trade mark applications for various products and menu items, saying that consumers might “be confused as to whether Supermac’s is a new version of McDonald’s”, given that there are near-identical products sold by both restaurant chains.
Revoking McDonald’s EU trade marks
In January 2019, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) made a decision that allows victory to Supermac’s after all. By ruling that EU trade marks owned by McDonald’s are to be revoked, Supermac’s is clear to expand into the rest of the EU.
The landmark decision went into effect immediately, on the basis that the EUIPO rules that McDonald’s had failed to prove “genuine use” of its Big Mac trade mark as a restaurant or menu item.
Unsurprisingly delighted, Pat McDonagh says: “Never mind David versus Goliath, this unique landmark decision is akin to the Connacht team winning against the All Blacks. This is the end of the McBully. Just because McDonald’s has deep pockets and we are relatively small in context, doesn’t mean we weren’t going to fight our corner.”
How the fight played out
In April 2017, Supermac’s requested that the EUIPO cancel McDonald’s trade mark for ‘Big Mac’ and ‘Mc’. The chain also accused the US giant of “trade mark bullying” by registering and gaining protection for names, but not actually using them to stamp down any potential competition.
On its part, McDonald’s legal representatives provided signed affidavits from high level executives and showed examples of packaging and adverts to demonstrate it serves Big Macs right across the EU, and therefore deserves to retain the EU trade mark for that specific product.
However, the EUIPO deemed this “insufficient” in its judgement. As trade marks are registered at national level and at the EU, McDonald’s does not lose all of its protection for the Big Mac. They also have the right to appeal, which we suspect they are likely to do.
Supermac’s forges ahead
For Supermac’s, all eyes are on the future. Mr McDonagh says: “This now opens the door for the decision to be made by the European trade mark office to allow us to use our SuperMac as a burger across Europe.”
A representative from EIP, an intellectual property law firm, Carissa-Kendall Windless, says: “This decision is a significant one, partly because it serves as a warning to multinational companies that they can no longer simply file trade mark applications without a genuine intention to use it”.
It’s inevitable that McDonald’s will exercise its right to appeal, and it will be interesting to see how this David and Goliath battle goes on this year.
About Dawn Ellmore Employment
Dawn Ellmore Employment was incorporated in 1995 and is a market leader in intellectual property and legal recruitment.
Fears of a 2019 European Economic Slowdown Loom
Although the spotlight is on the trade war between the United States and China, one aspect that is currently ignored by the media is represented by signs of weakness in the European continent.
Germany slows down
After posting a -0.3% GDP contraction in the third quarter of 2018, the economic indicators released from Germany in 2019 cannot support a positive economic picture. The manufacturing sectors continue to show signs of weakening, with the Markit PMI Composite now at 51.6, down from 52.3.
Industrial Production had been contraction by 1.9% in November, and both imports and exports had been down by 1.6% and 0.4%, respectively. DAX trading had also suggested there is growing concerns among investors and the main German stock index peaked out in July 2018, being now down by 15%.
Germany relies mostly on exports, being the third exporter in the world, only surpassed by the United States and China. That is why the weakness we see in Germany is actually a symptom of what’s happening in other European countries as well.
Italy and France not too encouraging
The new populist government in Italy, formed by La Lega and The Five Star Movement faced a serious challenge to get the EU’s approval for the 2019 budget, as the already high debt-to-GDP ratio (currently at 131.8%) raises concerns on whether the country will be able to meet its debt obligations in the future.
There are also serious concerns about the banking sector, which despite mergers and acquisitions, and huge capital available from the ECB, were unable to solve their problems which emerged after the 2008 financial crisis. The future of Italy is very uncertain, and analysts predict that the new government will not be able to meet their economic promises, given that we are at the end of a business cycle.
Speaking of France, the problems are social at the present time. President Macron was unable to stop the “Yellow Vests” protests, despite promises to increase the minimum wage and the overall standard of living for the very poor. France’s debt-to-GDP ratio currently stands at 97%, but given the latest promises, there are concerns whether the country will manage to keep the budget deficit below 3% in 2019, as the European treaties demand.
Although there’s a single currency in Europe, in terms of fiscal policy things were very fragmented, which is why the economic recovery had been very slow and the reason why investors predict Europe will face the greatest challenges to solve its economic, political, and social problems.
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