Category: Europe

Merkel is The Only Remaining Voice In Europe

Populist Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) far-right party continues to gain supporters. Analysts said that it has effectively beaten German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party in her own home.

According to some, it represents a great threat to German democracy as the country approaches its federal elections the next year.

The far-right party could quash Mrs Merkel’s chances of a fourth term. Analysts said the AfD could defeat Angela Merkel and it has gained influence without having a refugee or foreign face in sight. The experts also elaborated that it indicated the hollow nature of xenophobia.

Analysts said that the results could be shocking and embarrassing for Mrs Merkel. However, she does not have a figurehead of another party as a clear rival. Even if the AfD could gain strength, experts said without a possible figure, there is no chance the other party could win.

In both Germany and across Europe the polls are clear; the majority people do not want to live in the world of the AfD or the National Front. Only concrete successes at home – tackling the nitty-gritty issues of housing, healthcare and schools where migration and austerity pinches – will give leaders like Mrs Merkel the political credibility to tackle head-on the scaremongering and empty promises of the populists.

Europe Still Divided On Refugee Crisis Before Summit

A great number of European countries are sealing its borders, indicating that Europe’s unification on the refugee crisis is  significantly fragmented.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is trying to salvage its open door-policy as Balkan routes see closed doors from growing numbers of EU countries.

Four anti-immigration eastern European countries demanded for new EU policies by the following month. Hungary’s zero-immigration might be imported to the Balkans to seal Macedonia’s border. This would clog refugee numbers in Greece until they are deported back to Turkey.

The planned bottleneck could cause a security and humanitarian emergency within days from Greece. It would be cut off from the Schengen free-travel zone due to the bottleneck. Greece’s failure to secure the maritime border for Turkish immigrants may have it face temporary eviction from Schengen.

Support for Merkel’s policy is fading. Austria announced stiffer border controls this February. It said it would limit migrant entry to 3,200 daily from Friday.

According to a European Commissioner, “you can’t have 20 EU countries refusing to take in refugees.”

Merkel’s policies are also under fire from Germans despite many voicing out providing support for refugees affected by war, terror and prosecution.

Hungarian Prime Minister Says He Is Defending Christian Culture Against Muslim Refugees

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said dealing with Syrian refugees is Germany’s problem. He also said he is protecting the Christian culture against Muslims.

Orban, a hardline prime minister of Hungary, attacked the EU asylum quotas being an invitation. He said the migrants don’t want to stay in Hungary and wish to head for Germany, making the problem a German one.

Orban made the statement after hundreds of refugees and migrants stormed trains heading to Western Europe through hungary. The Budapest Keleti line was packed with migrants, many of which fought amongst themselves to board the train.

“Everything which is now taking place before our eyes threatens to have explosive consequences for the whole of Europe,” Orban wrote in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Europe’s response is madness. We must acknowledge that the European Union’s misguided immigration policy is responsible for this situation.”

“Those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims,” he said. “This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity. Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian? There is no alternative, and we have no option but to defend our borders.”

Many around the world may well be appalled by Orban’s views, and other European nations are not appearing to share his obvious distrust of the ethnic ‘other’.  The UK is among many others who have recently agreed to take in more Syrian refugees following much publicised struggles of Syrian refugees, in particular that of children dying in the dangerous journey to get to Europe’s safety from Syria.

Greece Needs 55% Of Debt Cleared To Avoid Permanent Depression

According to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), Greece requires a wide debt relief to avoid falling back into permanent depression. It warns that Greece can suffer fresh damage from austerity measures demanded by its creditors and it will remain stuck unless it has substantial debt relief.

NIESR expects that the increases in VAT that the Syriza-led government reluctantly accepted for its new bailout will result in a 1% fall in national output for 2016. NIESR said that by the time the Greek economy begins growing again, gross domestic product would drop by 30% than the start of the crisis in 2010. They estimated to be 7% lower before Greece even joined the EU in 2001.

NIESR published the report after the heavy selling of bank shares on the Athens stock market. Five bank shares – National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank. Piraeus Bank, Attica Bank and Eurobank – suffered double digit losses over 30%, which triggered an automatic trading suspension.

However the main Greek stock market index had a steadier day after posting a decline of just 1%. Banks, hit hard by a combination of a poor-performing economy, deposit flight, the rising number of non-performing loans and the capital controls introduced by the Greek government, will have much relief after clearing more than half of its debt.

Investors Panic Over Grexit Fears

As Greece’s “No” vote reverberates throughout Europe, Grexit fears have spooked investors as shares everywhere have dropped in value over $22 billion during the early trade.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index finished 2014-15 with just a 1 per cent return for the year. The Greek Debt Crisis is not just to blame, according to analysts. The slowing Chinese economy and fears over overpriced bank shares were also included in the problems.

Greece’s place in the Eurozone is still uncertain despite reassurances by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that Greece will return to the negotiating table with a “better negotiating position” with a No vote.

Many experts, including Societe Generale, indicated that losing the least amount of money is the best source of success for 2015. However, other analysts indicate that boosting higher cash allocations may be crucial and that people should be aware where they place their risks.

The Greek No vote also guaranteed a limited upside for Gold. Gold is an alternative investment during times of financial and economic uncertainties. Gold has gained as the euro slumped because of the Eurozone crisis. Its growth is also attributed to the fall of US equity futures.

Meanwhile, investors are banking in the European Central Bank to re-pledge extra liquidity for Greece as it recovers.

Search For Missing From Capsized Migrant Ship Continues

As European leaders meet to address the situation, rescuers from all over Europe and volunteers from all over the world continue their search for the hundreds missing or presumed dead from the latest Mediterranean tragedy.

European officials estimate that about 700 people may have drowned from the latest tragedy.

About 17 vessels have continued searching for survivors. Several merchant ships have also volunteered in the search.

On Saturday night, the migrant ship had sunk about 70 miles off the coast of Libya. As its 700 passengers tried to get the attention of a Portuguese merchant ship, the ship weighed heavily on one side, effectively capsizing the boat

According to UN Refugee Agency Spokeswoman Carlotta Sami, this is the biggest massacre in the Mediterranean.

From Africa and Syria, smugglers place refugees inside overloaded boats to cut down costs. The sea vessels are often far from seaworthiness.

At Luxemborg, European Leaders would meet to tackle the Continent’s immigration crisis. It has been a long-running problem of Europe. In 2014 alone, about 150,000 migrants are estimated to have arrived in European shores.

According to analysts, it could be the EU’s undoing if it does not act. The EU has become notorious for limiting its search-and-rescue efforts in the wake of immigrant sea troubles.

Ukraine Urged to Be More Aggressive. NATO Declares Ukraine Separatists “Threatening”

The international community had urged the Ukrainian Government to be “more aggressive” in handling the Ukraine separatists. After the separatists breached the ceasefire, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had called on UN peacekeepers.

He said that the guarantee of a ceasefire is impossible if the “promise of peace is not being kept.”

The Ukrainian separatists have invaded the town of Debaltseve despite the ceasefire agreed upon the previous week. Around 2,500 Ukrainian military personnel had been moved out of the town on Wednesday. Despite the withdrawal, six soldiers and 100 were wounded as the separatists moved in.

According to Ukrainian Separatist Spokesman Eduard Basurin, the town was now “completely under the control” of the separatists. They are only cleaning up the “scattered” pockets of resistance that were being neutralised.

The US White House said that the separatists and Russia had failed to comply with the terms of agreement they’ve signed in Minsk last week.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the rebels did not violate the ceasefire because it was a rebel-held territory during the time.

Analysts view that the loss of Debaltseve could be a great problem for Ukraine’s Military. Because of its position as a transport hub between the separatist-invaded cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, it could serve as a fortified position against any military attack.

Russian Forces Begin Military Drills Near Ukrainian Border

The Russia-Ukraine crisis continues to escalate as Russia begins embarking on new military drills near the border after the Ukrainian Interior Ministry declared pro-Russia militants who died at the checkpoint in Slaviansk as “terrorists.” It added that Ukrainian forces killed the militants during operations to take down pro-Russian activist roadblocks.

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, if Kiev is beginning to use its military against its own people, then it is no doubt a very serious crime. There would be consequences for the Ukraine government leaders making the decisions.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had ordered the military drills of Russian forces near the border to begin.

Ukraine responded with a 48-hour deadline to allow Russia to explain its military drills near the Ukrainian border. However, it issued no consequence once the deadline has ended. According to NATO satellite photos, 40,000 Russian troops are stationed near the border of  Ukraine and could launch an invasion upon the order of the Kremlin.

US Secretary of State John Kerry considers Russia’s actions a “full-throated effort to actively sabotage the democratic process through gross external intimidation.” He pointed out that Russia’s actions could mean a “very expensive mistake.”

US President Barack Obama, currently in Tokyo, told reporters that sanctions that have been “teed” against Russia they would implement if it continues to invoke “provocative actions” despite the peace accord the two countries signed in Geneva.

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HS2 Project May Cost Double The Original Calculated Budget

A free-market think tank has said that the high-speed rail project, named HS2, could easily cost over £80bn, almost double the original planned budget for the project. The Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) will expect advance requests by local councils for the building of extra infrastructure and design changes that will inevitably increase the cost of the project. The institute has expressed its view that it wanted HS2 to be scrapped and the same money spent on other transport schemes.

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The firm that is contracted to carry out the production of HS2 said the scheme would create an “economic asset” and provided “significant value” to the UK economy. HS2 is intended to allow trains to run at approximately 250mph (400km/h) from London to Birmingham from 2026, with branches to Manchester and Leeds via Sheffield planned by the year 2032. Opponents of the scheme say the production will cause an unacceptable level of environmental damage, loss of homes and disruption to many communities across the country.

The IEA said in their report that’ll be released on Monday, that the cost of new trains could be almost £7.5bn. The report shows that the government will make changes to the route “to keep voters on side” and these were likely to add another £30bn to the current estimated cost of £42.6bn, which includes “contingency” money. The report said that the £30bn would be spent on new road links and upgrades, extra tunnels and other regeneration schemes among other things that they will pay for “to buy off the opposition”. It also added that the HS2 “and the add-on transport schemes will be heavily loss-making in commercial terms – hence the requirement for massive taxpayer support”.

Dr Richard Wellings, the author of the report in question, said it was now “time the government abandoned its plans to proceed with HS2. The evidence is now overwhelming that this will be unbelievably costly to the taxpayer while delivering incredibly poor value for money,” he said. It’s shameful that at a time of such financial difficulty for many families, the government is caving in to lobbying from businesses, local councils and self-interested politicians more concerned with winning votes than governing in the national interest.”

The IEA explained its opinion on why they believed the project may be pushed through, saying that the policy may have been partly followed to win votes in “response to poor electoral performance in the north of England in recent elections”.

Immigration problem a deal breaker for the EU–UK relations

The UK has one of the highest living standards in the world and as a result many would like to benefit from the many advantages this brings.  The public healthcare and welfare are just some of the benefits immigrants look for and when taking into consideration the fact that the welfare in the UK is substantially higher the medium income in their home countries we start to understand why UK politicians are starting to worry.

2004 exodus

In 2004 the EU faced its largest expansion, adding 8 new members. At that time UK specialists estimated that around 30000-50000 emigrants would be tempted to relocate but the figures couldn’t have been more wrong. Almost a decade has passed and over a million immigrants now call the UK their home. Due to the size of this phenomenon the already frail labour market has been put under even more pressure and leaving countless British citizens to blame immigrants for them not finding jobs and to a certain extent they might even be right.

2014 exodus part II

In January 2014 the restrictions on freedom of movement  will be lifted for Romania and Bulgaria, the two black sheep of the EU herd, allowing their citizens to move freely anywhere within the EU. This is bad news for the UK as it already faces problems with immigrants, 2014 could potentially bring a whole new wave of immigrants much like in 2004.

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How to stop this phenomenon

Unfortunately for the UK as long as it will remain an EU member there will be little it can do to stop this process. However, the UK’s third largest party, UKIP, has had enough with all these immigrants and all the problems they cause and they want to remove the UK from the Eurozone. The party is discontented with UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s attitude towards this problem. They claim he is being too soft and that he has no clear solutions. UKIP plans to keep immigrants out by implementing a VISA system which would allow them to control who comes into UK.

There are many voices within the UK which claim that politicians have already lost control over this matter and if some steps toward solving this problem will not be taken serious consequences awaits the country and its citizens. However, as to each story, there are two versions. For example not all immigrants come to the UK to steal or beg, most of them come here to work, to offer their children better living conditions, better opportunities but the media has stigmatized them all as beggars and thieves.