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.
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.
Holiday in Italy: choose Florence for a break in the winter
Florence is one of the most visited Italian cities, with over 15,4 million tourists visiting the city each year. Located in the heart of the Tuscany region, this beautiful city breathes history, life and culture among its streets. If you are looking for the perfect location for your next winter holidays, then you should look no further, Florence is the perfect destination for you.
Enjoying the best cuisine
Florence is one of the cities with the richer gastronomy in the world. From traditional Italian cuisine to exquisite wines, the food in this city have everything you may wish for in order to please your palate. With so many options available, you may be wondering where to eat in Florence. Food critics recommend that you check out the following options during your visit to Florence:
- Traditional Italian cuisine: visiting Florence and not tasting original Italian cuisine would be considered blasphemous by many. Italy has one of the most delicious gastronomies in the world, and in Florence you will be able to taste it at its finest with local ingredients. Restaurants like La Chiostrina or Il Rosmarino will allow you to rediscover Italy by its traditional food.
- Tasting the local wine: wines from the Tuscany region are famous worldwide as the best in the market, making this region the Mecca of wine lovers. During your visit to Florence you will be able to taste those deliquescent wines in restaurants such as Olio Restaurant or Villa Pitiana Restaurant, or taste it on places dedicated exclusively to wine such as Enoteca Obsequium Firenze or L’Enoteca Sandro Soltani.
- International cuisine: if you like international cuisine, then you are on luck. The best chefs around the globe have restaurants on Florence. This means that you will be able to taste flavours from all the world without having to leave the city. For example, you can visit the restaurant El Inca for a taste of Peruvian food, restaurant Com Saigon for genuine Vietnamese cuisine, restaurant Ararat for Armenian and Georgian traditional food, or Dim Sum for refined Chinese cuisine. Discover the world by trying the taste of these countries’ traditional flavours.
- Taste original gelato: gelatos are the ice cream predecessors, and they have been one of Italy’s culinary specialties for centuries . This traditional Italian cold dessert is similar to ice cream, but has less fat and less added sugar. You will be able to enjoy this amazing treat on the many gelaterias around Florence streets, such as Gelateria Edoardo or Gelateria Dei Neri.
- Tapas and Street food: these are excellent alternatives if you are looking to make a simple meal with your family. You will be able to enjoy these small dishes in places like Italian Tapas or Rivalta Cafe.
- Modern cuisine: you can taste the most modern and alternative cuisine in the world in Florence. Restaurants like Alla Torre De’ Rossi or Winter Garden by Caino will bring to your table the sophistication the more delicate palates crave.
Discover Florence’s hidden gems
Florence is a city with a lot of monuments and museums to discover. However, most people that visit the city tend to focus only on the main monuments of the city, such as Campanile di Giotto or Palazzo Vecchio o della Signoria, and the restaurants near those. Because of that, if you want to experience Florence to its fullest, we recommend you rent a bike.
Discovering Florence by bike will grant you access to places away from the mainstream crowds, such as the Andrea del Sarto Museum (dedicated to this amazing Italian painter) or the beautiful Ospedale degli Innocenti (a 17th-century home for abandoned children which includes some amazing pieces of art done by renowned artists like Botticelli). These are really stunning places you would miss if you stick to the traditional tourist route, causing you a lot of regrets over the missed chance.
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