Tuesday 27 January 2015

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Threat to free movement: security and Schengen restrictions in Bulgaria and Romania

Posted by on 27/01/15

The recent terrorist attacks on the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo and the hostage taking in the Jewish supermarket just outside of Paris have caused a major disturbance in European Union’s security policies. AEGEE-Europe acknowledges the grave and deep impact of these events, but would like to express its concern with recent developments around the heightened security threat and the stricter regulation of the Schengen Area. According to Romanian MEP Traian Ungureanu, Romania’s and Bulgaria’s chances to join the Schengen zone have diminished sharply now that Germany and France have become more cautious [1]. Some Schengen countries fear that accession of Bulgaria and Romania would ease the transition of Islamic extremists into Europe via Turkey and successively Bulgaria.

AEGEE-Europe considers this a thought that connects two developments with each other which are not related at all. Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007 and have been meeting the technical requirements of joining the Schengen area for years, which was confirmed by the European Parliament already in June 2011. At the same time, since the rise of the Islamic State in parts of Iraq and Syria, the countries have done their duty as European Union border countries, taking care of refugees as well as investigating them.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said “police have arrested and sent back to Turkey more than 3,000 immigrants. (…) There have been more than 12,000 asylum-seekers since the start of 2014. Some 5,500 asylum requests have been granted for humanitarian reasons”.

Refusing the Schengen accession of the eastern Balkan member states on grounds of security threats goes against the solidarity and humanitarian principles which have always been a cornerstone of the success of the European Union. Not only would such a measure be unfair to Romania and Bulgaria who have made distinguishable successes in their justice and home affairs policies, but also to asylum seekers fleeing from the crisis situation. Not granting Schengen rights to Romania and Bulgaria on these grounds misses the point of better security measurements, as protecting the security of European citizens should focus  on establishing adequate gate-keeper procedures for the border countries, not on excluding EU citizens from the passport-free area.

AEGEE-Europe believes in democratic values and a borderless Europe; a Europe in which it would be unfair to undo the good work of Bulgaria and Romania to join the Schengen area. Therefore we hope that these threats will not become a reality and fair democracy in Europe can be preserved.

[1] https://euobserver.com/beyond-brussels/127337

Written by Matthijs Overhaal (Policy assistant of AEGEE-Europe) and Paul Smits (President of AEGEE-Europe)


Fighting addiction to smoking and fossil energy

Posted by on 27/01/15

Mankind is exposed to two mortal addictions: smoking and burning fossil energy.

In recent years Europe and other industrialised countries have started coming to grips with them while emerging countries have seen both addictions worsen.

Germany is a case in point for a successful campaign against the two plagues.

Within two decades the number of cigarettes sold has halved from 150 to 76 billion. This stunning development is attributable to civil society campaigns and a doubling of excise taxes.

People have progressively realised that smoking is mortal. Advertising for cigarettes has been prohibited. Teenagers can no longer admire their film stars smoking on the screen. Smoking has been made practically impossible within closed doors; after initial opposition from bar and restaurant owners everybody now seems happy with non- smoker establishments. Non-Smoking has become “cool”.

Something similar is  happening with fossil fuels. Becoming “green” has become fashionable, and massive public financial support has reinforced this trend. Talking about technologies for improved heating insulating buildings has become common. Germany, Denmark and Spain, have become the trend setters

But it has taken three decades to see positive results, which is normal considering the complexities of the challenge.

We should draw three lessons from these developments:

  • It is possible for societies to liberate themselves from their addictions.But it takes political will and a lot of time and effort to do so.
  • Only a combination of social “persuasion” and financial incentives will do the job. Citizens have to understand why they should burn less fossil energy and stop smoking
  • Heads of government should reflect on these simple lessons when doing their homework for the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015.

Brussels 27.01.2015 Eberhard Rhein


Short and mid-term economic policies of SYRIZA

Posted by on 26/01/15



Courtesy: Dimitris Arvanitis ©

SYRIZA’s landslide is definitely something many media and political analysts would not expect. Over 900 correspondents from European and international media were in Athens these last weeks to cover one of the most interesting and crucial elections in the Union. Why? Because the radical left party of SYRIZA, a party that until 2010 was around 5-7%, achieved to immensely increase its electoral appeal, reaching around 37% and making history in Greece. In the center of the debate was the economic program of SYRIZA, with the majority of media correspondents  struggling to clear up what the priorities and policy planning of the new government are.

As the next weeks and months will be -once again- of paramount importance for Greece, it is vital to know what the short and mid-term goals are.

Short-term Goals

1. Restitution of the minimum wage of 75o euro in the private sector;

2. Restitution of collective agreements in the labour market;

3. Introduction of bill protecting these vulnerable parts of the population having overdue debts (i.e. mortgage loans for first home/propriety), along with the establishment of regional / peripheral resolution committees dealing with fiscal claims;

4. Reinstatement of legislation that protects employees from being subject to massive layoffs;

5. Reinstatement of the minimum pension wage of 36o euro for those not being covered by social security nets;

6. Resolution of social security burdens for the self-employed and people with disabilities;

7. Re-issuance of licensing for media corporations from zero basis to combat against corruption, bribery, nepotism and bring about financial and administrative transparency and capacity;

8. Granting of free electricity for 300,000 households that cannot afford the relevant bills.

Mid-term Goals

1. Introduction of growth clause as prerequisite for debt repayments and public debt cut on its biggest part (i.e. provision aligned with the Maastricht Treaty’s limit of 60% debt on GDP);

2. A 5 billion public-led investment program to soar and invigorate the domestic economy and create 200,000-300,000 new job positions;

3. Combat of corruption and tax evasion, while increasing taxation for highest incomes and pushing-up minimum non-taxed annual income to 12,000;

4. Re-evaluation and rationalization of property taxes to address the real capacity of tax payers.

The broader aim of the party is to re-balance wealth distribution, create conditions that will increase consumption, facilitate state’s income burdens in order to financially support the most vulnerable parts of the population, and bring liquidity in the state’s social security funds.

Personal Comment

The IMF has officially and repeatedly admitted grave mistakes in Greece’s aid packages, especially with regards to the improper planning that did not take into account the special conditions of the domestic economy and market.  In addition to that, the previous government did not implement structural reforms, therefore leaving the major side-effects of spending cuts and increased taxation to the shoulders of tax payers.

In this respect, the Junker’s stimulus plan and the quantitative easing of ECB’s President Draghi can be both considered as clear decisions that acknowledge the weaknesses of austerity and the need to address growth and soar the economy through massive investments, not only through borrowing.

What is more, we need to point out that excessive and destructive debt rates is not only Greece’s problem. It only takes to have a look on Italy’s, Spain’s, France’s public debt to acknowledge the depth and gravity of the problem. Therefore, the discussion over an EU Debt Relief Summit will soon come into Eurogroup’s agenda. Departing from that, Eurozone needs an investment-led convergence and recovery program to avoid a complete collapse, and not some short-term, frivolous, and irrational remedies.

To contact the author:

Dimitris Rapidis at d.rapidis@bridgingeurope.net

Putin regime’s crimes against humanity

Posted by on 26/01/15
The day of January 24 became the next rainy day in the modern Ukrainian history. The unprecedented cruel and brutal terror attack was committed in Mariupol. During the day the pro-Russian rebels fired at the densely populated uptown. As a result, 30 civilians have been killed, hundreds have been seriously wounded. The number of murdered civilians includes babies and women. The rocket fire at residential districts of Mariupol by rebels has continued a series of bloody acts of terrorism, which include bombing of the regular bus near Volnovakha and cool-headed murder of civilians at a trolleybus stop in Donetsk, fire at residential districts of many towns and villages in Donbas.
The international coalition in support of Ukraine must provide the resolute rebuff to war crimes of rebels against humanity and strengthen all forms of pressure on those who generously sponsor and support them comprehensively.
Yesterday in houses and flats of all Ukrainian people from Kiev to Odessa, from Lvov to Donetsk, mourning candles were burning in memory of the civilian Ukrainian people who were lost as a result of terror attacks committed by the pro-Russian rebels. The memory of the innocent killed Ukrainians was also honored with national silence tribute.
According to the published spot report by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission the attacks of Mariupol was launched from massed Multi-Launch Rocket System (MLRS) so-called Grad and Uragan, which, as we know, are delivered to rebels from the Russian Federation. The OSCE Report is noted that the Grad rockets originated from a north-easterly direction, in the area of Oktyabr (19 km north-east of Olimpiiska Street), and the Uragan rockets from an easterly direction, in the area of Zaichenko (15 km east of Olimpiiska Street), both controlled by the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”). In total more than one hundred rockets were launched to Mariupol from the side of Novoazovsk that is near border with the Russian Federation and was seized by the Russian troops last August.
What makes it especially brutal and cynic is that rebels of the terrorist organization “DPR” were well-aware that they fired at residential area of Mariupol with no Ukrainian troops in that. They knew that shells hit private buildings, cars, city market and the yards of high-rise buildings … Thus, the pro-Russian rebels used weapon against civilians of Mariupol. These criminal actions are qualified by international law as war crimes against humanity.
Intelligence service of Ukraine intercepted and published talk between rebels of “DPR” who planned to commit this bloody crime. In talk the 37-year-old rebel Sergey Ponomarenko known as “Terrorist” gave an order from Donetsk to use MLRS against civilian people of Mariupol. His accomplice “Ash” expressed readiness to execute the order to fire at the densely populated area of the city, and then reported on results. It’s also the proof of the cynical and conscious crimes against humanity planned and committed by the pro-Russian rebels in the territory of Donetsk.
The Ukrainian authorities and all international community have already expressed condemnation of the attacks on Mariupol and accused the pro-Russian rebels of “DPR”. The Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov imposed responsibility on the Russian President Vladimir Putin for death of civilians as a result of the attacks. “Blood of people who were lost there, as well as many other Ukrainians, is directly on the President of the Russian Federation Mr. Putin, whose orders are executed by rebels. Therefore, responsibility will be inevitable and response of the Ukrainian armed forces and the National Guard to Russian invaders and rebels, who act under their control, will be also rather severe”, Turchynov declared.
The reaction of the USA, EU, NATO and UN leaders was also very sharp. The US Vice President Joe Biden promised strengthening the international pressure on Russia in phone conversation with the Ukrainian President Mr. Poroshenko.
It should be noted that on January 15 the EU Parliament approved the resolution on a situation in Ukraine, which, literally, says: “In case of any further actions of the Russian Federation destabilizing the situation in Ukraine, the EU Parliament calls the European Council to take further restrictive measures. So, that must be the expansion of the sanctions’ application sphere on nuclear branch of industry and restriction of possibility of the Russian enterprises to perform the international financial operations”.
Well, God is my witness, after these terrible events in Mariupol the international coalition must urgently make the decision on introduction of new severe economic sanctions against Russia. First of all, it’s a shutoff of the International Payment System SWIFT in the Russian Federation. So, it’s also the time to strike at last on Gazprom. Moreover, it’s necessary to pass from sanctions to direct boycott of both Russian ideology and goods and services. The comprehensive boycott is capable to cover not only political and economic, but also humanitarian, cultural and sports areas. There will be the real conditions for full international isolation of Russia.
It would be true to create the international tribunal for Russian war crimes in Ukraine. The principal task of such tribunal must be the investigations of war crimes against humanity committed by Russian troops and the terrorist organizations “DPR” and “LPR” in the territory of the East Ukraine.
It’s necessary to deprive Russia of voice in both the UN and other international organizations, because it was alone that blocked the UN Security Council statement on censure of the attacks on Mariupol.
In the light of the latest tragic events related to massacre of civilian Ukrainians by the pro-Russian rebels, the international community needs to realize, at last, that the East Ukraine peace-making issues concern not only Ukraine, but also the whole Europe. In order to stop aggression of Putin who doesn’t recognize the international codes and values, the international coalition must rally even stronger round the people of Ukraine to give the adequate response to the aggressor.

Waiting for expectations – how will the oil supercycle end?

Posted by on 26/01/15

The oil price slump has come as a huge surprise for the market. The very scale of the phenomenon is astounding, of course, but what is really interesting is that although everyone knew about the spectacular upsurge in oil supply in the US, which lay at the root of the declining prices, it did not feature as a material factor in any price projections or scenario analyses prepared by prominent think tanks, including the International Energy Agency. Naturally, the impact of America’s growing oil production on prices was mitigated by generally proportionate slumps in North Africa and Middle East, but what has fallen will eventually rise back again. At the same time, however, the prospect of low oil prices, which the consumers readily welcome, is a substantial challenge not only to the upstream sector, but also to renewable energy and nuclear power industries. Oil prices were expected to remain high due to prolonged geopolitical turmoil in oil-producing regions and the belief that OPEC, loath to see prices dip for budget reasons, would take action to prevent any excessive slumps. And because projections released by international organisations are tool for managing expectations, everyone would rather let sleeping dogs lie. Waiting was a preferable course of action. Maybe the dogs will not wake up?

But the dogs did wake up after all, causing all sorts of trouble. Most importantly, expectations that oil prices would remain high were crushed (including short-term and two-year projections) and we currently have nothing to put in their place. As OPEC has stopped intervening, the market is looking to the marginal costs of production to support oil prices. These, however, are not easy to determine, so the process might take a while. The obvious course of action is to turn to the American tight oil sector, which is suspected to be behind this state of confusion. The price pressure which has already become to affect the sector (which is much more sensitive to price changes than conventional production) brings to light a number of facts about it, such as that marginal costs tend to differ considerably between individual wells, some forty thousand of which are drilled each year. The discrepancy stems from the fact that the cost of a well is more or less the same in each case, but the output can fluctuate hugely. Some wells flow less than a hundred barrels a day, while other can yield more than a thousand. Falling prices hit risky undertakings first, including low-efficiency projects. Wells close down, yet no proportional changes in production follow. Instead, the consolidation within the sector gathers pace, driving marginal costs down. A similar thing happened when the price of shale gas on the US market forced out a large number of independent producers, which caused the number of wells to decline sharply. Despite that, gas production went up. OPEC, which is a material source of uncertainty, has not had its last word yet, and it is hard to say when the cartel is going to step in again. The country which can tip the scales is Saudi Arabia, which not only sits on top of the lion’s share of global unconventional oil reserves with low marginal costs, but also has financial reserves to keep it floating until the marginal barrel is found.

From a long-term perspective, the oil price slumps seen since mid-2014 mark the last stage of the oil supercycle, which IHS believes to have begun in 2000 with a demand boom and supply bottlenecks. At that time, oil demand was driven by rapid economic growth in China, which joined the International Trade Organisation at the end of 2001, becoming an appealing destination for transferring production. Supply bottlenecks, on the other hand, were a consequence of the prolonged period of low oil prices after the 1980 Iranian revolution. In the following years, the oil price continued to go down, and once oil became an exchange-traded commodity in 1988, its price hovered around USD 18/b in 1990–1999. The first stage of the supercycle came to an end in 2007, gradually progressing into the second phase (2005–2011), which was about breaking the supply barrier. At that time, the price of oil grew rapidly – from USD 55/b in 2005 to over USD 111/b in 2011. While oil prices fuelled fears that the fast-growing demand will outstrip supply, the brisk pace at which the prices rose opened the way for new and expensive deepwater drilling, horizontal drilling and fracturing technologies. The oil rush also inspired exploration efforts in geopolitically unstable areas, such as Central Africa. As a result, 2012–2014 saw an upsurge in oil and natural gas production from new sources outside OPEC, which marked the third phase of the cycle. The 10 years of uninterrupted price growth – from USD 38/b in 2004 to USD 109/b in the first half of 2014 (over USD 5 a year) – resulted in substantial and lasting reductions in demand in developed economies. Oil prices remained high throughout that stage of the cycle, reaching USD 112/b in 2012 and USD 109/b in 2013, and were further cemented in the first half of 2014 on the back of geopolitical developments and production slumps in North Africa and Middle East. The third stage of the supercycle took place at a time when the global economy oscillated between stagnation and weak recovery, and oil demand was additionally undermined by China’s protracted business cycle (bracing for the hard landing after government-sponsored stimulation of investment in infrastructure). This situation triggered, in mid-2014, the ongoing oil price slump.

The price slump ushered in the fourth phase of the cycle, which brought still lower prices as the oversupply of oil was being absorbed by the market and the search for the marginal barrel continued. The price decline will erode production potential, which will have to be adjusted to new pricing conditions. The adjustment process will not be a smooth transition for several reasons. Having lost the compass that OPEC’s strategy was, the market is now groping in the dark. The search for the marginal barrel has begun on the American market, progressing from the physical market (OPEC) to the paper market (NYMEX), which is much more volatile. Price projections on the latter market have a bearing on the capital market and affect the availability of financing for American upstream companies and their CAPEX as well as future production figures, which in turn shape future oil prices. The duration of the current phase of the cycle is uncertain. Taking into account the oil market’s structure (paper and capital market transactions are prevalent in the US) and technological considerations (production sector reacts quickly to changes in price expectations), experts estimate that it may last for one to three years. However, looking at past events, we will remember that the price decline and the subsequent stagnation of prices at low levels which followed the second oil shock in the wake of the Iranian revolution persisted for nearly two decades.

It is hard to say today what the price of oil will be in two or three years, but following the line of thought presented above we can expect that the future price trajectory will be lower than we had anticipated just half a year ago. At the same time, oil prices can be expected to be much more volatile than in the last three years. During adjustment periods, such as the one we are currently going through, price expectations are not unlike self-defeating prophecies. The greater the expected strength and duration of the price slump anticipated by the market, the quicker and stronger the future supply reductions will be (more and more production projects become unprofitable, financing becomes difficult to obtain). As a result, future supply shrinks even more, driving future prices beyond today’s expectations. Given the existence of such a mechanism, the market prefers to adjust its price expectations in small increments. In consequence, rather than portend a rapid increase, the steep contango seen in futures price graphs points to oversupply as the reason behind the current oil price dip.


Avoid chaos, bet on the young democracies

Posted by on 26/01/15
By Coen van de Ven Tunisia is praised as ‘country of the year’ by The Economist. Libya has fallen into dissension. Egypt is back at the point it was before the revolution. The EU seems more eager to help democracies rather than chaotic states.

New tool for EU experts – What is EU Community?

Posted by on 26/01/15

EU Community will launch the beta version of its first, free service EurActory on 29 January at the European Parliament. But first, we explain the idea one ‘frequently asked question’ at a time.


FAQ6 – What is EU Community?

More and more people are engaged in the public debate, through a variety of platforms. This has broadened the conversation and spurred transparency. But policy makers are overwhelmed by the growing amount of press releases, reports, opinions, or tweets.

EU Community works to transform this public sphere into a collaborative community for of EU policy professionals.

How will that work? The EU Community team is developing a series of services and tools to structure and visualise this information on people and documents.

All services are designed in open format and will:

  • provide analytics and visual intelligence on EU policy making;
  • allow you to grasp what others in the EU Community think;
  • allow you to share your expertise with others more efficiently and openly;
  • will save you time.

EurActory is a first tool in development; others will follow soon.

Combining community input with new technology, EU Community will make EU policy making more efficient, EU Community input more relevant and EU working life more productive.


EU Community on TwitterLinkedInFacebook


Governments must hurry and tax ultra-cheap oil

Posted by on 25/01/15

International oil prices have declined to $ 50/barrel, levels not seen for years; but governments fail to neutralise these ultra-low prices by raising excise taxes. They seem to be much more interested in pleasing consumers than in seizing the opportunity for reducing their budget deficits and fighting climate change.

This is irresponsible! Have governments completely stopped being guided by long-term concerns. Are they no longer able to be flexible?

Why have we not heard calls from IEA or OCDE to resort to higher oil taxation?

Why does the UN in charge of the December Climate Conference in Paris remain silent? Should a rise or the introduction of excise taxes on gasoline, diesel and heating fuels not a be a simple “contribution” against climate change which it has invited all governments to submit before the Paris Climate Conference ?

Why has the EU Commission not recommended member states to raise their taxes ?

If it takes so long to decide on a simple excise tax, how long will it take governments to take more complex action against climate change?

In a rapidly changing world, governments must learn to act much faster than last century!

Brussels 25.01.2015 Eberhard Rhein

Can Quantitative Easing be successful in Europe?

Posted by on 25/01/15
Does this week feel like a prompt about turn? The announcement this week of QE for the eurozone seems to suggest that all those years of pain to bring budgets and debt levels down were not worth it. “We tried spending and borrowing less, though borrowing still went up, so now we are going to [...]

Who will be the next US President? Clinton? Bush?

Posted by on 25/01/15
Campaigning for the designation of “president of the United States” has already begun, although citizens are expected to vote only in November 2016 for their future president. That’s right, it is now almost two years before said election. But following the US electoral system, the “brand” of the new president, unlike that of the European [...]

EU Parliament scored own goal in failing to assert power over Commission

Posted by on 25/01/15

Research Executive Elias Papadopoulos comments on the European Parliament’s inability to adopt a common position on the Commission’s 2015 Work Programme.

To read Elias’ article, please click here.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of Europe’s leading public affairs and communications agencies.


Davos: How Europe can tackle extreme wealth inequality

Posted by on 25/01/15

By Àngela Corbalán, Oxfam’s Head of EU Communications and Deputy Head of EU Office

As world leaders arrive in Davos for the first day of the World Economic Forum, storm clouds are gathering overhead. Skyrocketing global inequality has shone a flashlight onto the murky workings of global finance, with Davos becoming center stage this week of how to address this imbalance of power.

Ahead of this year’s conference, a new Oxfam study has shown how wide the chasm now is between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More demonstrates that if current economic trends continue, next year the wealthiest 1 per cent on the planet will own more than everyone else combined. This staggering imbalance of wealth is holding back the fight against poverty at a time when 1 in 9 people do not have enough to eat, and more than a billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. Extreme inequality used to be seen as a problem solely for developing countries, where presidential jets flew over slums and shanty towns. Now it affects us all.

World leaders such as US President Barack Obama, French President François Hollande and IMF chief Christine Lagarde have already spoken about the dangers runaway inequality can cause. Other European leaders must also take up the call. The EU should act to stem the torrent of wealth flowing from the poorest people in the world to the richest – starting with these three concrete steps.

Firstly, the EU must take decisive action to fight tax dodging both within Europe and beyond. Tax evasion and avoidance by large companies and wealthy individuals cost Europe at least €120 billion in lost tax revenue every year, not to mention the billions siphoned away from developing economies in desperate need of revenue to fund public services like health and education.

Secondly, the EU must support ambitious plans to fund the upcoming UN-backed Sustainable Development Goals, including a re-commitment to providing 0.7% of their annual GDP as overseas aid to developing countries. A new UN tax body is also badly needed to re-write the current unfair international tax rules that deprive poor countries of millions in revenue, and should be agreed at the third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July.

Finally, a mandatory register for European lobbyists must be set up to shed light on corporate practices that keep the cogs of global inequality spinning. Twenty per cent of billionaires have interests in the financial and insurance sectors, which spent €550m whispering into the ears of policy-makers in both Brussels and Washington in 2013. The pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors – also favorites of the super-rich – spent €500m lobbying both the EU and the United States in the same year.

Oxfam is concerned that the lobbying power of these industries is road blocking the major reforms needed to the global tax system, and giving stringent intellectual property rights priority over the health of the world’s poorest people.

Increasing evidence from many sources, including the International Monetary Fund, shows that economic inequality isn’t just bad for those at the bottom but also damages economic growth. Putting the brakes on extreme wealth inequality must happen now for everyone’s benefit, before the storm clouds really do come rolling in.

The Catholic Church should review its Encyclica of Human Life

Posted by on 23/01/15

It is 50 years since Pope Paul VI proclaimed the famous Encyclica of human life asking the 1.2 billion Catholics living today on earth to regulate births exclusively by “natural means”, i.e. abstaining from sexual intercourse during the periods of ovulation.

This appeal has failed. The Church has vastly over-estimated the intelligence and discipline of the believers to regulate births in a way, which contradicts Nature calling for sexual activity during the fertile days of the cycle.

The Catholic Church therefore has to acknowledge its responsibility for the ultra-rapid global demographic growth, with more than doubling of the population from 3.4 to 7.3 billion people during the last 50 years.

Countries with Catholic populations have seen their population grow faster than non-Catholic countries. In South-East Asia, Catholic Philippines continues to be the country with the highest fertility, three children per woman, though fertility more than halved since the mid-1960s.

Thanks to legislation introduced since 2012 against the frantic opposition from the Catholic Church the Philippine government has been enabled to offer all women free access to the public family planning service, which gives a fair chance to the country to reduce fertility rates to the replacement level of two within less than two decades.

But this is not good enough for Humanity. The Church wields big influence in many sub-Sahara African countries where fertility rates continue to be excessively high.

If it were to preach its African disciples that 2-3 children are enough and encourage governments and international donors to introduce education for all girls and the beginnings of old -age pension systems, it would help global population stabilise below the 10 billion that are being projected by the UN for the middle of the 21st century.

This would help reduce misery and poverty in Africa, Latin America and Asia and make a big numbers of human beings healthier and happier.

Pope Francis would have the power to introduce such a reform. He has openly declared that Catholics should “not breed like rabbits”; he knows more about the misery in slums than any of his predecessors. Hopefully, he might realise during his forthcoming visit to Africa that the message of “Human Life” is too demanding for the masses of uneducated women and therefore cannot work.

In one or two years the time might be ripe for revising the “Encyclica of Human Life” which however brilliantly written has put some dust on since 1968!

Brussels 20.01.2015 Eberhard Rhein


New tool for EU experts – Who is behind EurActory?

Posted by on 23/01/15

EU Community will launch the beta version of its first, free service EurActory on 29 January at the European Parliament. But first, we explain the idea one ‘frequently asked question’ at a time.


FAQ5 – Who is behind EurActory?

At the very beginning of the project, the initiators were confronted with a challenge. The tools and applications on the table would require topnotch technology experts just as much as creative policy experts.

Having useful apps would require people who understand data, tech and development to team up with people who know the EU policy-making process… and know the community of EU experts.

EurActory is developed by a consortium of eight organisations as part of EU Community. EU Community is initiated by EurActiv.com, coordinated by Intrasoft and executed together with the other consortium members which are leading research centres and ICT enterprises.

The consortium includes:

EU Community is co-funded by the European Commission’s directorate general for communications networks, content & technology, known as DG CONNECT. It won a Call for Proposals under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research(FP7).


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Grexit? Brexit? Don’t bet on it.

Posted by on 22/01/15
By EU Perspectives The old cliché “who’ll blink first” has never seemed more appropriate when it comes to Greece’s election as Merkel and Tsipras face each other.