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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

National Police arrests 60 people for money laundering in Majorca

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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.

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Seasif’s Franco Favilla discusses the post-Covid economy and the price of gold

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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.

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Europe

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Spain?

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malaga andalusia 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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