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‘Mission is over’: Europe Surprised as Ukraine Dumps EU Plans

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Reaction of EU after Ukraine Voting

Special EU envoys Aleksander Kwasniewski (L) and Pat Cox react after voting in the parliament in Kiev on November 21, 2013. (AFP Photo /Sergei Supinsky)

The EU is utterly disappointed by Ukraine’s decision to align itself closer to Russia and halt its preparations for signing a European trade and political agreement, effectively killing the country’s chances to eventually join the bloc.

“This is a disappointment not just for the EU but, we believe, for the people of Ukraine,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement, claiming that “the most ambitious” pact ever offered to a partner by the EU would have helped the country’s economy.

The decree signed by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov’s government on Thursday orders the “halt of the process of preparing the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union.”

The decision was taken to “ensure the national security of Ukraine” and restore lost trade volumes with the Russian Federation after considering the effects on trade relations with Moscow, legislators said.

The announcement follows the Ukraine parliament’s earlier refusal to pass a bill that would see jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko allowed to travel abroad for treatment  – a key EU deal condition for the summit that was scheduled in Vilnius, Lithuania, next week.

The EU envoy at the negotiations, Polish politician Aleksander Kwasniewski confirmed that the deal would not go ahead saying the “mission is over… The accord will not be signed in Vilnius.” 

Many European politicians as well as Ukraine’s own opposition have already slammed Kiev’s decision.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt critcized Ukraine’s decision, saying the “Ukraine government suddenly bows deeply to the Kremlin” due to the Russian “politics of brutal pressure.”

“deep disappointment at the unilateral decision” was also voiced in a statement by EU envoys Aleksander Kwasniewski and Pat Cox, who highlighted what they call a “dramatically increased pressure from Russia in recent weeks.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague in the meantime called the decision a “missed opportunity.”

Not all European countries however have adopted such a critical approach. It was Ukraine’s “sovereign right to make a decision which path she wants to follow,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.

Call to impeach

Arseniy Yatsenyuk Ukrainian opposition leader and a former Minister of Economy called for President Viktor Yanukovych to step down.

“If Yanukovych is refusing to sign the agreement, then it is not only state treason but also grounds for the impeachment of the president and the dismissal of the government,” he said in parliament.

Ukraine dumps european Union

Protesters hold Ukrainian and European Union flags during a rally to support euro integration in central Kiev November 21, 2013.(Reuters / Gleb Garanich)

People have begun flocking to Kiev’s main Square and home of 2004 Orange revolution. More than 1500 protesters with banners gathered in the Maidan Square to voice their opposition to the government’s decision, local media reports. A number of MPs have also joined the protests, more are planned for this Sunday.

Police have cordoned off the presidential administration building as more security vans arrive at the scene.

EU integration roadblock

After the cabinet’s decision, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele canceled his Friday trip to Kiev. President Yanukovych, however said that despite “difficulties” his country would continue towards European integration.

Russia welcomed Ukraine’s decision to actively develop ties with Moscow, while President Putin said he wasn’t completely against Ukraine’s association with EU. But trilateral trade talks should take place before Ukraine signs an agreement with the EU.

“We favor this, but only before decisions are made,” Putin said.“How can we hold negotiations on issues that have already been agreed upon and endorsed?”

EU’s ‘ridiculous’ plan to help Ukraine

The European Union has actually done nothing to convince Ukrainian leaders that association with the EU would actually solve its economic crisis, Polish MEP Pawel Zalewski stated earlier this week.

As compared to hundreds of billions of euros channeled into Greek, Spanish and Portuguese economies, he said, one billion offered to Ukraine was inadequate and “ridiculous.”

“It’s a ridiculous amount compared to the resources allocated to rescue Southern Europe from bankruptcy,”Zalewski said as cited by PR Newswire.

EU plans to help, Ukraine dumps EU

Reuters / Gleb Garanich

In the meantime Russia has the means and willingness to offer Ukraine what the EU lacks, which is money, Eric Kraus, Managing Director of Anyatta Capital told RT, adding that Ukraine is a “vital part” of the European Russian speaking space.

“The European Union offers a lot of words,” Kraus said, implying that nothing tangible would have come out of the deal. “What they don’t offer is what Ukraine needs – and that’s money.”

“Ukraine is not vital to the EU,” Kraus explained. “It is a part of a geopolitical chess game and they’d like to take that piece. They are not going to spend a lot of money for it. They can’t, they’ve got Portugal, they’ve got Greece. Pretty soon they’ve got France.”

The financial analyst also explained the economic problems that Ukraine is facing.

“The problem is that Ukraine is in dire economic strains. Ukraine is 2-6 months from default. They cannot raise money in markets. They are running a deficit. They are having a lot of trouble keeping the currency stable.”

First appeared on RT.com

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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

ETIAS, the new permit you will need to travel to Europe from the US starting 2021

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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.

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Business

Dawn Ellmore Employment reviews the shock defeat for McDonald’s as it’s stripped of its ‘Big Mac’ EU trade mark

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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.

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Economy

Fears of a 2019 European Economic Slowdown Loom

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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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