• Hypocrisy is Europe's weakness

      Hypocrisy is Europe's weakness

      The European Union is not inclined to impose an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia but sanctions may be imposed on specific Saudi citizens responsible for human rights violations. This sentiment was expressed by Belgium's Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders last Wednesday, as cited by local media. At present, Paris, Madrid and London are not willing to move towards an embargo, Reynders said after a meeting with his British counterpart Jeremy Hunt.

    • Multifaced populism challenges Brussels

      Multifaced populism challenges Brussels

      Last month the European Commission made an unprecedented move and rejected Italy's 2019 budget plan. Since it was endowed with this right in 2013, the Commission exercised it for the first time. In terms of economic development, Italy is the Eurozone's third power.

    • Implementation of the SDGs is a joint responsibility

      Implementation of the SDGs is a joint responsibility

      The UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed in September 2015, providing the world with a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. My work programme as President of the EESC places great emphasis on sustainable development. The slogan of my Presidency is “rEUnaissance - Dare a sustainable Europe”, because I believe Sustainable Development should support all the transformations that will shape the Europe of tomorrow. Bottom-up initiatives involving citizens and civil society will have a key role to play in this agenda to achieve economic prosperity, which must go hand in hand with environmental sustainability and social inclusion.

    • Cohesion budget cuts would be a mistake

      Cohesion budget cuts would be a mistake

      The next multi-annual budget of the EU, covering the period till 2027, as proposed by the European Commission, envisages cutting down the Cohesion Policy funds. The Commission also proposes an option for freezing spending if Member States do not observe the economic management rules. However, the common thread for me, as MEP negotiating the framework of Cohesion Policy for 2021-2027, is the preservation of the current rates of European investments in the regions.

    • I am an incorrigible optimist about Europe's future

      I am an incorrigible optimist about Europe's future

      I am an incorrigible optimist about the future of Europe because even with the turbulence caused these days by Brexit, globalisation, the refugee crisis, and the trade wars being waged across the world, Europe has always been able to learn its lessons and come out of the storms even stronger.

    • Reflections in a broken showcase

      Reflections in a broken showcase

      Some time ago, a fellow journalist said on his own TV programme: “If Germany were a woman, I would want to marry her.” He was referring to western Germany, of course. Everybody loves that part of the country. Though honestly, and going even further back, there was a time when we, in the former eastern bloc, loved East Germany very much. To us, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) seemed like true West - its shops were full of good quality, yet cheap products, its citizens enjoyed some benefits as well.

    • Europe is everybody's business

      Europe is everybody's business

      Celebrating 60 years since the creation of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), we are forced to reflect on what we, European civil society have jointly achieved. But we must also reflect on what challenges lie ahead and what role we can play in shaping the Europe of tomorrow! There are indeed many challenges on the European horizon - between the negotiations on the new EU Multi-annual financing framework, the elections to the European Parliament, the final phase of the Brexit negotiations and a new European Commission - there will be a lot of turbulence over the next two years. 

    • Chemnitz as symptom

      Chemnitz as symptom

      Groups of young people march in the streets and chant “We are the people!” Other groups of young people go out into the neighbouring streets chanting “No to xenophobia.” In recent weeks, this has become a weekly event in the East German town of Chemnitz, whereas lately it has happened in neighbouring Koethen as well. In both cases the reason for turmoil was the death of a German after a conflict with migrants from the Middle East.

    • Let it be summer

      Let it be summer

      Great Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May put on her dancing shoes to bob up and down in a Cape Town school. Even her most vocal critics could hardly put her in a more awkward spot. She indeed became a laughing stock to the world. However, what May said for the record was even funnier: “Today I set out a new bold ambition. Before 2022, I would like to make Britain the leading foreign investor in Africa among the G7 states.” It seems that alongside the Brexit drama, Mrs May has overlooked the fact that Africa already has a leading investor, and it is not the UK but quite another former empire - China.

    • The ice is breaking

      The ice is breaking

      The ice is breaking, ladies and gentlemen of the jury! This is the favourite exclamation of fictional character Ostap Bender for situations where something interesting and thrilling is about to happen. And it indeed inevitably happens, courtesy of the unforgettable twists and turns in the novel The Twelve Chairs and its sequel The Little Golden Calf, written by the well-known Russian comedy masters Ilya Ilf and Yevgeni Petrov.