12 December 2011
By: Nicholas Newman A look and some of the
developments that are affecting the world economy today.
- CATALAN INDEPENDENCE
A new star may appear shortly - not in the heavens, but on the flag of the European Union. It denotes the self-proclaimed nation of Catalonia, which is starting to talk seriously of seceding from Spain and declaring itself independent. Events have accelerated since upwards of a million protesters filled the streets of Barcelona for the Diada, the national day of Catalonia. On this day in 1714, Bourbon King Philip the Fifth stripped Catalonia of its rights and privileges, creating a centralised Spanish state modelled on Louis the Fourteenth's France. Historical grievances among the Catalans find their voice every year on September 11th when they assert their culture, denounce oppression, and affirm their difference from the rest of Spain : "Cataluña no es España."
- Africa - the continent that keeps failing?
Almost every day we hear that the West is to blame for Africa’s problems. However, every day we hear the only solution is more European Union (EU) aid is needed for sub-Saharan Africa, despite the EU spending some € 13.5 billion over the last five years in development aid.
There are many theories as to why foreign aid policy has failed in Africa. It certainly worked in South-East Asia which has transformed these economies into economic tigers. Such theories that try to explain why sub-Saharan Africa remains stubbornly poor could fill many shelves in a library. Such theories as to why Africa has failed range from poor leadership to the terms of trade being unfair to developing countries.
- Britain in Afghanistan
British Forces and their European Allies in Southern Afghanistan’s, Helmand Province, are part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). As of September 2007, the number of UK troops has risen to 7,700 troops. The security situation in Helmand is fragile and military forces have suffered casualties when fighting Al-Qaeda terrorists and their allies. Troops have experienced the most intense fighting since the Korean War. The ISAF mission is often described as a police action to establish security and deny the Taliban and Al Qaeda the environment in which to operate.
- Europe's turkish Dilemma?
Politicians are again in the 'line of fire' again opinion polls inside Europe and Turkey are reporting declining support for the very idea that Ankara should join the European Union (EU) by 2015. In fact, opponents on both sides of the Aegean Sea utilise many of the same arguments in their case against Turkey joining as Europe’s first predominately Moslem Middle Eastern state.
- THE END OF EUROPE
Where does Europe end - is a question of growing concern to many Europeans, especially with the entry of Bulgaria and Rumania, and the prospect of Turkeyâ€™s entry, in 2012.
This vital political question was the topic under discussion at a recent European Studies Centre seminar at Oxford University, led by Graham Avery (Honorary Director General, European Commission) and Baskin Oran (University of Ankara).
- A Eurostar tale
‘Champagne sir?’ the waitress said, startling the passengers seated around the table in business class as the Eurostar dashed through the Kent countryside for the Channel Tunnel
Conversations of current events on most railway journeys with fellow passengers are often desultory and seldom profound. Such was not the case on my recent journey by Eurostar to Brussels where a wide range of differing opinions were expressed by cosmopolitan fellow travellers and enlivened by a first class menu and lubricated by an excellent vintage.
- Are we seeking our own Eurovision?
Could it be we are all desperately seeking are own vision of Europe? To the British, Brussels has become a figure of hate, for the Germans, a place to redeem themselves. However, for the French, a chance to relieve its Napoleonic dreams, while for the new member states, an opportunity to grow up.
Whatever your dream or nightmare, Brussels has always been a battlefield where Europeâ€™s powers determine the future. Unlike in the past, confrontations between nations took place on the battlefields
- TGV EST European
On June 10th Europe will see the latest addition to its high- speed rail network, when the first phase of TGV Est. opens to passenger service. This new service will dramatically cut journey times between Paris, Eastern France, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Germany.