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In Defence of European Development Policies – The World Reporter
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In Defence of European Development Policies

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We are all aware of the relatively high level of well-being here in Europe, when we take a more panoramic view over the entire world. We are privileged and therefore we feel the need to give back to the other less developed peoples on Earth. Also, Europe feels a sense of guilt for historical unfairness in relation to former colonialist practices. As a consequence, the economically, socially and politically advanced EU has been trying a to pursue a ‘pay back’ development policy  to less developed countries.

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Source: Rupert Ganzer@Flickr

But let’s not delay any longer. What kind of interest does the EU pursue with its aid and trade policies? What about the interests of the countries affected by such EU policies? This article will try to give an answer to these questions by taking a closer look at the EU-ACP relation. For those of us who are not familiar with it, the acronym ACP stands for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, a group of states that decided to find a collaborative solution to poverty reduction, sustainable development and integration into the world’s economy.

In order to respond to the question of this article , first I will talk about development from EU’s perspective. Then I will take a particular case to see how the EU applies its agenda to one of the countries. Another important aspect I am keeping close is the common sense fact that the EU represents the interests of European citizens since its activities are funded by EU taxpayers.

The EU-ACP relationship is currently regulated by the second revision of the 2000 Cotonou Agreement. The positive uniqueness of this relationship comes from the historical bonds between EU states and their former colonies but generally there is a feeling of discontent due to the replacement of the Lomè Convention, which from the EU side was conclusively ineffective and plagued by absorption issues, reduction of ACP’s share of global trade and lack of a production/export diversification for the ACP side .

ACP EU Kinshasa

© European Union 2010 PE-EP@Flickr

But what is more generally EU’s approach to development? The main documents in this regard are the 2006 European Consensus on Development and the more recent 2011 Agenda for Change. Both reveal an inspiration from UN’s Millennium Development Goals, with the first paper expressing right from the start a moral obligation to fight global poverty. The second paper underlines a EU particular trait, the connection between development and security as justification for the political dimension of the EU-ACP dialogue. In this sense, the need for democracy, human rights and the rule of law is a condition for sustainable development. Therefore, the EU sees in development both an end (eliminating poverty) and a means (security and trade enabler).

The two sides of any development policy are aid and trade. As far as aid is concerned, the main instrument of the EU is the EDF. The 10th EDF introduced a distribution mechanism which released part of the aid to recipient countries on the basis of governance commitments. While some view this as limitative to the recipient countries, I consider it a reasonable way to ensure a better use of the aid by requiring from recipients an effective system of governance/administration. Two things must be remembered. First, when aid fails, aid loses support. Recipient countries who make good use of aid should not see their help reduced because other countries are more corrupt. The EU is aware of this so it rationalized and synchronized the distribution of aid to the most needy sectors with the member states. Conditionality offers a basic criteria necessary for judging the potential effectiveness of aid. Second, an overgrowing increase in the EDF cannot be easily justified to taxpayers in times of fiscal turmoil. The 11th EDF brings an increase of 10 billion euros. No wonder why the EP wants more control over future aid, which I consider to be in line with the democratic oversight of EU affairs. Moreover, even critics of EU aid policy recognize that the recipient countries see their voices increase in the international fora and negotiations, meaning that conditionality is not an obstacle to development cooperation.

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Source: Alf Melin@Flickr

Despite much controversy, in 2012 the ACP was EU’s 5th trading partner, while for the ACP countries the EU remains number one regardless of China’s rise. Much of the debate over trade has to do with the elimination of trading preferences but the CPA must be in line with WTO regulations, organization which anyway offered a waiver to the EU-ACP trade partnership in the form of EPA which is a defensive instrument supportive of regional integration in the face of a competitive world economy. I believe that not following WTO rules would endanger both the EU as an international actor and the international system itself by robbing international institutions of power and legitimacy. A further interesting side of EU trade must be policy coherence,specifically the separation between trade as development tool and development concerns under the trade policy. In the first case, the EU is more supportive of international development but such concerns unfortunately are put in danger by big interests when considering the more general , neoliberal EU trade policy.

Before proceeding to the next part of the answer I would state that my opinion is mainly anti-criticism of EU’s development policy, as can be easily seen above. It is one of the reasons for choosing Cuba as analysis object. Cuba’s case proves my view that the EU is easily criticized no matter which position it assumes. So far, EU political conditionality is promoted as an obstacle for ACP countries by critics. Meanwhile, the EU is criticized both for not intervening politically in Castro’s affairs and accused of investing in an authoritarian country. The reality on the ground is however that the EU does apply political conditionality to Cuba, which is the reason why no cooperation agreement has been signed and that the EU treated its Havana partners pragmatically depending on the political situation there. I believe this to be in line with EU’s general foreign policy which is not ideologically driven but practical and acceptative of socio-political diversity. Also it is in the interest of Cuba’s domestic political situation.

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Source: Beverley Goodwin@Flickr

Regarding trade and aid, the EU was in 2011 Cuba’s main donor, second investor and first commercial partner. Very recently, the Council of the EU initiated a next phase in its development cooperation with Cuba, envisioning stronger ties, modernization and constructive dialogue. Furthermore, the 6 million euro aid released by the EU after Hurricane Sandy shows a constant interaction with the Carribean, Cuba included and also an issue-approach to EU aid matters. It could be argued that the sum is not large but it supports Cuban recovery after the disaster, under bad economic circumstances worsened by the US embargo.

To conclude my answer, I will restate what I have found out while responding to the question. First, there is a general negative sentiment towards the replacement of the Lomè Convention but also that the special treatment guaranteed then was overall ineffective. Second, the EU trying to align itself with the international arena, in this case with WTO standards but continues to give limited special treatment to ACP countries through EPAs and to LDC through EBA. Third, there is a strong criticism against EU conditionality but also a criticism of too little conditionality in Cuba’s case. Continuing with Cuba, we can see a pragmatic EU development approach meant not to suffocate the economy of the country by offering aid, investing and trading with Havana partners. Also, the EU promotes political change from within in the country, thus putting high value on sovereignty and free domestic affairs. In this sense, EU sees its trade relations unaltered, its soft-power exercised and recipient countries see their independence unchallenged and modernization, including the political one supported and not imposed.

References:


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Employee Training and Development Becomes One of the Most Disruptive Megatrends That Is Shaping the Future of Work

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Employee training

There is no question about the effectiveness of employee training and development. It’s incredibly important to help your staff advance their skills and knowledge to help grow a business, but the impact of employee learning has often been understated and even neglected. However, companies are now suggesting that employee training and development is one of the biggest megatrends that have completely transformed the future of work. It has overhauled how businesses should be developing and engaging with employees, and it’s leading to an incredibly diverse and talented workforce that is capable of wonderful new things.

Part of the problem of employee training and development is that it’s difficult to measure its impact on the workplace. Employee performance often isn’t a quantitative measurement that is easy to read and link to their output. This is one of the reasons why the effectiveness of employee training and development has been questioned by management experts.

Thankfully, new strategies have been developed to help measure workplace learning and its impact on companies. Below, we’ve included a helpful infographic that covers some of the most important measurements, such as return on investment and how it is calculated in the context of employee learning and development. It should put the effectiveness of employee training into perspective and will help you better understand when training is needed and how development actually improves your business and its productivity.


Infographic by: Ezra Coaching
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Top 10 Simple Health Changes To Boost Your Well-Being

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It does not matter how old you are, where you live, or what your occupation is, your health should always be a top priority. However, most of us are a little bit guilty of letting our well-being slide from time to time. With that being said, read on to discover some of the simple ways you can give your health a boost today.

  1. Get rid of at least one item in your life that contains toxic chemicals – You may be shocked by just how many items in your life contain toxic chemicals. This includes everything from air fresheners to bed sheets. Get rid of one of these items and replace it with something natural instead. This is something you should make a habit to do every few months or so. You will be surprised by just how much of a difference this can make. 
  2. Deep breathe for at least five minutes – Throughout the day, you should make sure you take the opportunity to deep breathe for at least five minutes. Why? Well, there have been numerous studies that have shown that deep breathing can help to lower stress hormone levels. This means that you will feel better, get an improved night’s sleep, and you will have less anxiety too.
  3. Drink more water – You probably expected this to be on the list, but the importance of drinking more water should never be ignored. Your body needs water for almost every function. If you are dehydrated, this could be the cause of headaches, pains, aches, and a number of other symptoms.
  4. Have one veggie night per week – A lot of people eat far too much meat, red meat especially. So, why not have a veggie night once a week? Not only is this good for your health, but it will be good for your bank balance too. There are so many great recipes online that can give you ideas regarding tasty and creative dishes that do not incorporate any sort of meat or fish. Once you start off with one night per week, you may then decide that you want to up it to two nights, and so on. However, it always helps to start off small so that it is easier and more manageable, and you can then get used to it.
  5. Sign up for an online pharmacy – Nowadays, you can easily order your prescriptions and medications over the Internet via an online pharmacy. This can help you to boost your health because it ensures you never experience delays with your medication. If you are someone who often doesn’t take their recommended course of tablets because you cannot get to the doctors in time for a repeat prescription, then this is definitely a good suggestion for you. Your medication will be delivered to your door with a click of a button.
  6. Make a dedicated effort to lower your stress levels – There is no denying that we live in a very stress-filled world at the moment! The world we live in is one that has heaps of pressure, and it can be difficult to stay on top of everything and keep those stress levels low. However, it is vital that you find a way to do so. After all, if you don’t adrenal fatigue and health can start to take a tumble, which is the last thing you want. For those who are unaware, adrenal fatigue relates to a group of different symptoms that impact people who are under a lot of physical, emotional, or mental stress. From being a single parent to having a stressful job, there are a lot of different reasons why you may be struggling. Therefore, we recommend that you look for different ways to reduce those stress levels so that you can enjoy a more calming and peaceful life. Whether it is doing some breathing techniques or taking more regular breaks so you can have moments for yourself, there are a lot of different ways that you can make sure you are keeping your stress levels to a minimum. The importance of this should not be overlooked, as stress can impact our mental and physical health in so many different ways. 
  7. Do something nice for someone every day – You will be surprised by how good this makes you feel, and by how much this has a positive impact on your health. It’s all about mental well being. When you do something nice for another person, you are benefitting their health, as well as your own. First and foremost, there is no denying that it feels good to hear some nice words for someone or to get a helping hand when you need it. You feel recognised and appreciated, and this is something we all need. At the same time, doing something nice for someone else and seeing their reaction can make you feel amazing too. After all, doing something good for someone is a gift for yourself at the same time. You will find that the deed continues throughout the day, making you feel great and happy within yourself. 
  8. Incorporate some movement into your commute – If you do not have an active job, this is particularly important. Sitting at a computer all day can be bad for your health. One way to combat this is by incorporating some movement into your commute. If you can walk or bike to work, you should give this a go. If not, start parking your car further away from your place of work so that you have to walk there and back. You should also start using the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can.
  9. Start meal planning – You will find it much easier to eat healthily if you plan your meals. At the start of every week, make a menu of what you are going to cook for dinner every evening, as well as what you are going to make for your lunches every day. Not only will this help you to eat better, but you will save money too. Make sure you incorporate some healthy snacks into your food prep for work. This will stop you from going to the vending machine whenever you are bored or your energy is zapped. The great thing about the times we live in at the moment is that you can easily get recipes and meal prep inspiration online. So, if you are struggling, simply do a little bit of digging online and we are sure that you will find a lot of different options when it comes to meal ideas and clever food prep suggestions for the week ahead. Not only is this going to help you to be more organized, but you will find that it actually saves you quite a bit of money in the process. After all, when we do not have a food plan for the week ahead, we tend to spend a lot of money on items we do not need. Food can end up going in the bin because we do not use it. This ends up in an awful lot of waste, and we should all be looking to reduce this, so meal prep is great in many ways.
  10. Keep a journal – Last but not least, keeping a journal is good for a person’s mental health. You should write down your thoughts. It doesn’t need to be a long entry; you can simply jot down a few bullet points every evening. This will help you to articulate your thoughts so that they do not wear you down. After all, it can be very difficult to sleep if you have lots on your mind. A lot of experts advise this approach for people who suffer from insomnia. One of the main reasons why a lot of people struggle to get the hours of sleep they need is because they cannot shut off when they go to sleep; their minds are still going at a million miles per hour. They are thinking about what they need to do the following day and any worries or concerns that they may have. Because of this, it very much makes sense to keep a journal so you can offload some of these thoughts and worries and you can have a much more restful night of sleep. Once you get into the habit of doing this, you will see that it actually does make a significant difference when it comes to drifting off and enjoying a good night of rest. 

So there you have it: some of the best ways to give your health a boost. The suggestions that have been provided are really simple and easy, so there is no excuse not to give yourself a bit of TLC. we are sure that you will start to notice a difference as time goes on. However, as is the case with anything, it requires patience and persistence. You cannot expect to turn your health around in one night.

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Why Buy A Business, Rather Than Start One

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There are good and bad sides to buying a business and starting your own business from scratch. For lots of people, the positives of buying an established business outweigh the positives of starting a business. Here are the reasons why buying an existing business could be the right choice.

Easier To Secure Finance

All businesses will need finance. Unless you can fund your business yourself, you’ll need to secure financing from investors. Most lenders will be more willing to lend money to an established business that they can already see is doing well, rather than risk an unknown factor. 

Income From Day One

One of the downsides of starting a business is that most start-ups will go through an early stage where they don’t make much, if any, money. For some entrepreneurs, this stage can last for several years. 

During this stage, you will need to pay out for things like your premises, as well as equipment, installation of equipment, stock, materials, fixtures and fittings, legal and professional fees, a license, uniforms, and more. 

If you don’t have finance in place or another form of income, this stage can be very tough for a new business owner. If you buy a business, you can start earning from day one, and avoid this tricky period where you might be out of pocket.  

Established Brand

When you buy a business that already exists, you are also buying into a brand that is already known, recognizable, and has a track record. You get the business complete with all the trademarks, copyrights, and websites associated with it, as well as the business locations

This means that your business will already have customers, lenders, suppliers, and other contacts that are confident in the business already. 

Instant Customer Access

An existing business also has customers already, which can help you succeed straight away. You can use a range of strategies and marketing to build on the existing customer base, but won’t have to struggle to build a customer base from scratch. 

Established Network Of Contacts

When you start a business from scratch, a lot of your time and energy has to be put into building up a network of contacts. 

All businesses need to have supplier and marketing contacts, so buying an existing business that already has those contacts in place allows you to hit the ground running.

Like money lenders, suppliers and marketing companies are more likely to offer you more favourable terms if your business has been around for a while and they know it.  

Focus On Growing The Business

When an entrepreneur starts a new business, they will have to put a lot of their energy into getting their business off the ground. This takes a lot of time and can be very tiring. 

On the other hand, when you take over a business that is already established, you’ll be freer to focus on the areas of the business that most need your attention, aiding the growth of the business as a whole. 

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