Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'

Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'
EU leaders pose for a family photo during the European Summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on June 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/JOHN THYS)

EU founding fathers signed 'blank' Treaty of Rome (1957)

EU founding fathers signed 'blank' Treaty of Rome (1957)
The Treaty of Rome was signed in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, one of the Renaissance palaces that line the Michelangelo-designed Capitoline Square in the Italian capital

Merkel says fall of Wall proves 'dreams can come true'


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013. They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sarah Clarke becomes first female 'Black Rod' in UK parliament

Yahoo – AFP, February 20, 2018

Sarah Clarke has become the first woman to hold the ceremonial and administrative
position of Black Rod in Britain's House of Lords. (AFP Photo/Victoria Jones)

London (AFP) - Sarah Clarke, the former director of the Wimbledon tennis championships, on Tuesday became the first woman to hold the post of "Black Rod" in the British Parliament.

Clarke was introduced in the House of Lords as "Lady Usher of the Black Rod", breaking its 650-year history of men only.

Tasked with banging on the House of Commons door to summon MPs to the Queen's Speech every year, Black Rod plays a key role in parliamentary events.

The name Black Rod derives from the ebony staff, topped with a golden lion, that the official uses to knock three times on the door.

Besides ceremonial duties, the British parliament website says the Black Rod is responsible for controlling access to and maintaining order within the upper Lords chamber.

Clarke, replacing David Leakey who retired, said she was "both deeply honoured and delighted" when her appointment was announced last year.

"The House of Lords is a place where the smallest detail is as important as the big picture and the depth of heritage and tradition is second to none," she said.

Clarke was presented with the ceremonial ebony staff last week by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Inspired by Macron, new anti-Brexit party launches in Britain

Yahoo – AFP, Alice RITCHIE, February 19, 2018

The head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) said it would not be "the end of the
 world" if Britain failed to reach a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU, but there would be
costs (AFP Photo/Tolga AKMEN)

London (AFP) - A new anti-Brexit party was launched in London Monday, lacking any big names but vowing to revitalise the centre ground of British politics, inspired by French President Emmanuel Macron's En Marche movement.

Renew is one of several new initiatives by pro-European Union campaigners, hoping to capitalise on uncertainty over Brexit to pressure politicians into stopping the process.

The party's goal is to be "the vehicle for people who feel politically homeless", said James Clarke, one of three co-leaders.

The ruling Conservatives and opposition Labour party both back Britain's withdrawal from the EU in March 2019, while the smaller pro-European Liberal Democrats have failed to capitalise on anti-Brexit sentiment.

Renew said it had received informal advice about how to proceed from En Marche (On the Move), French President Emmanuel Macron's upstart centrist party which came from nowhere to sweep to victory last year.

"Mr Macron showed that it was possible to do something extraordinary in a short amount of time," Clarke said.

James Clarke (left) and James Torrance are co-leaders of the anti-Brexit political
party Renew (AFP Photo/BEN STANSALL)

Asked about the absence of any high-profile names, he told AFP: "Renew is not a personality cult, it's not a vehicle for the ambitions of one or other politicians."

It was formed after last year's general election after a number of independent anti-Brexit candidates in London, including Clarke and co-founder Chris Coghlan, a former financier, decided to work together.

Renew now claims to have more than 450 applications for stand as candidates for the 650-seat House of Commons.

Despite the fragility of Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative government, an election is years away, however -- and the party admits it is still seeking financing.

Its current income was said by Clarke to be in the "low five figures".

Renew's main influence would likely come in lobbying existing MPs, who will have the final vote on the Brexit deal agreed by the government with the EU.

'Nation divided'

In this, they are not alone.

Several campaigns have emerged in recent weeks calling for a re-run of the 2016 EU membership referendum and putting pressure on MPs to oppose a Brexit agreement.

French President Emmanuel Macron's upstart En Marche party came from
nowhere to sweep to victory last year (AFP Photo/ludovic MARIN)

One of them, Best for Britain, captured the headlines this month because of a large donation from billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros.

Former Labour party politician Andrew Adonis, a member of the House of Lords, has launched his own campaign alongside the youth group "Our Future, Our Choice".

Several campaigns earlier this year united in a Grassroots Coordinating Group chaired by Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a leading pro-EU political voice.

They have taken heart from opinion polls since last year's election showing growing support for staying in the bloc.

However, polling expert John Curtice said last month that it was "not exactly a dramatic change" -- and there was no significant evidence to suggest a significant shift in support for a second referendum.

Some 52 percent of Britons voted for Brexit, and 48 percent, after a campaign dominated by warnings about mass migration from the continent, and demands for sovereignty.

Renew says there were many causes for the vote: co-leader Sandra Khadhouri said Britain was "a nation divided, with deep discontent at inequality".

The party said it would increase the minimum wage, boost infrastructure outside London and create more affordable housing, and look at "better ways to manage immigration".

Detailed policies will be drawn up after a "listening tour" of Britain involving university visits and public meetings.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Dutch parliament poised to formally recognise Armenian genocide: media

DutchNews, February 16, 2018


The Dutch parliament is poised to explicitly recognize the murder of 1.5 million Christian Armenian citizens by the Ottoman empire as genocide after a long campaign by ChristenUnie MP Joel Voordewind. 

There is also majority support in parliament to send a Dutch minister to the commemoration of the Armenian genocide in Jerevan in April, Dutch media said on Friday. 

Voordewind is expected to submit a motion on the issue to parliament next week, but is already guaranteed the support of a majority of MPs, now the coalition has thrown its weight behind the plan. 

Experts say that the decision will further anger Turkey, which already has a fraught relationship with the Netherlands. 

The Netherlands recently withdraw its ambassador to Turkey and the relationship between the two countries has been strained since the Dutch banned two Turkish ministers from campaigning on Dutch soil for a referendum to give greater powers to president Erdogan. 

‘We must not deny history for fear of sanctions. Our country is home to the capital of international law, so we must not be scared of doing what is right in this matter,’ Voordewind told Trouw. ‘We are acknowledging history. That is not the same thing as casting aspersions as Turkey has done towards the Netherlands.’ 

The Dutch government currently refers to the issue as ‘the question of Armenian genocide’ and will continue to do so, RTL said.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Former Dutch Prime Minister Rudd Lubbers dies

Deutsche Welle, 14 February 2018

Ruud Lubbers, the Netherlands' longest serving prime minister, has died aged 78. Lubbers also headed the UN refugee agency on a symbolic $1 salary, and, in 1991, hosted the EU's formative Maastricht summit.

Former Dutch prime minister Ruud Lubbers in B/W (picture alliance/ANP/V. Kuypers)

Lubbers, a conservative who argued for "more markets, less government" and a closer European Union, passed away on Wednesday in his home city of Rotterdam, the Dutch government announced. No cause of death was given.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Netherlands had "lost a statesman with huge stature" and went on to praise Lubbers for his commitment to Europe and as a "world citizen" who was "intelligent and wise."

"He knew how to find a solution to every problem," Rutte added.

Lubbers, a Christian Democrat from a Rotterdam engineering and machinery family, who studied economics and then headed an employers' federation, formed his first government in 1982 with the liberal VVD party, on a pledge to cut back the Dutch welfare state.

His slogan "more markets, less government" prompted conflict with trade unions but earned him a reputation for the "Dutch model" of spurring the economy to create more jobs.

Key role at Maastricht

In his third consecutive term, he formed a grand coalition with center-left Social Democrats in 1989, and played a key role in late 1991 when the Netherlands hosted an EU summit that formulated the bloc's Maastricht Treaty focused on political integration.

The accord, signed in early 1992, also laid the groundwork for the shared euro currency.

When he stepped down in the Dutch election year 1994, he had become the Netherland's longest-serving prime minister.

His 12 years in office had included his persuading parliament to accept the deployment of NATO European missiles in the Netherlands and ambitious conservation projects across the densely populated low-lying nation.

WWF and then UNHCR

After stints in academia, bids for top jobs at the European Commission and NATO, and criticism of Germany's then-chancellor, Helmut Kohl, Lubbers went on to serve as president of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 2000, before becoming the head of the UNHCR refugee agency in 2001.

Bombing of Afghanistan wrong

A month after the 9/11 airline hijacker attacks on New York and Washington, Ludders rejected US bombardment of largely Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

He told Germany's Die Zeit newspaper in October 2001 that less US military action, not more, combined with aid agency assistance, would minimize the "danger of a conflagration."

As UNHCR commissioner he had urged the United States: "no revenge, no disproportionate reprisal attacks that will inevitably cause larger refugee flows and human suffering."

Resignation

His UNHCR post was extended in 2003 but in 2005 he was forced to step down over sexual harassment allegations, which he rejected as defamatory.

In latter years, when the Netherlands had difficulties forming coalition governments, Queen Beatrix reportedly called in Lubbers as adviser and intermediary.

Dutch broadcaster NOS said Lubbers had long suffered from an unspecified illness.

ipj/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters, Munzinger-Archive)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

UK govt to meet Oxfam Monday over Haiti prostitutes probe

Yahoo – AFP, February 11, 2018

British charity Oxfam is embroiled in a scandal over allegations of sexual abuse
by its staff in Haiti in 2011 (AFP Photo/Andy Buchanan)

London (AFP) - Britain's International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt warned Sunday Oxfam must hand over to authorities any information it has collected on a "shocking" staff prostitution scandal in Haiti or face repercussions.

The Cabinet minister announced she will meet with the British-based charity's leadership on Monday as it continues to reel from accusations it covered up the episode in 2011.

"If they do not hand over all the information that they have from their investigation... then I cannot work with them any more as an aid delivery partner -- and any other organisation in those circumstances," she told the BBC.

In a sign of widening fallout from the scandal, the Sunday Times reported more than 120 workers for Britain's leading charities were accused of sexual abuse in the past year, "fuelling fears paedophiles are targeting overseas aid organisations".

Mordaunt said she was writing to all charities that receive state aid demanding they step up efforts to tackle sexual misconduct among staff or face funding cut-offs.

She will also seek to confirm they have referred all concerns about specific cases and individuals to the relevant authorities.

"I think this is an emerging picture, there are more allegations coming out about Oxfam and other organisations... and all of them will be followed up," Mordaunt vowed.

'No cover-up'

The government's hardening stance follows reports in The Times newspaper that young sex workers were hired by Oxfam's senior staff in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake which devastated the island and left up to 300,000 people dead.

The charity -- which employs around 5,000 staff and has 23,000 more volunteers -- recorded 87 incidents last year, referring 53 to the police or authorities and dismissing 20 staff or volunteers, according to the Sunday Times.

Oxfam Chief Executive Mark Goldring admitted Saturday that it had failed to detail fully the nature of the 2011 scandal but insisted it "did anything but cover it up".

"With hindsight, I would much prefer that we had talked about (the) sexual misconduct," Goldring told BBC radio.

"But I don't think it was in anyone's best interest to be describing the details of the behaviour in a way that was actually going to draw extreme attention to it."

However, Mordaunt said not disclosing the full picture was "a scandal" and Monday's meeting was a chance "to see if they are displaying the moral leadership that I think they need to now".

She added: "what is so disturbing about Oxfam is that when this was reported to them, they completely failed to do the right thing."

The minister noted offenses committed by British citizens anywhere in the world could still be prosecuted in Britain.

"We're talking about a historic case, but it is in some respects still live.

"They still have information they should be giving to the authorities."

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Malala lauds feminism as Trump lands in Davos

Yahoo – AFP, 25 January 2018

Malala lauds feminism as Trump lands in Davos

Davos (Switzerland) (AFP) - Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai on Thursday urged women to "change the world" without waiting for the help of men, as she addressed an audience of the global, and mostly male, elite at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The 20-year-old global education campaigner spoke not long before the arrival in Davos of US President Donald Trump, who reached the White House a year ago despite revelations of inappropriate conduct towards women.

On Saturday across the United States, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in a Women's March to mark a year to the day since his inauguration.

The annual Davos conference, which unites the world's business and political elite, also takes place this year in the shadow of the feminist #MeToo campaign that shook Hollywood and spread across the globe in 2017.

"We won't ask men to change the world, we're going to do it ourselves," said Yousafzai.

"We're going to stand up for ourselves, we're going to raise our voices and we're going to change the world," she said.

Yousafzai, who was shot and nearly killed by the Taliban in her native Pakistan in 2012 for insisting on the right of girls to go to school, has become a global sensation, pleading for the education of women.

Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, she has continued her campaigning while pursuing her studies at Oxford University.

"Feminism is just an other word for equality ... and no one will object to equality," she said.

"It is very simple, it's not as complicated as some people have made it."

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

EU to remove Panama, South Korea from tax haven blacklist

Yahoo – AFP, January 16th, 2018

EU to remove Panama, seven others from tax haven blacklist: source

Brussels (AFP) - The EU will remove Panama, South Korea and six other countries from its recently unveiled tax haven blacklist in a quick reversal that drew criticism from activists.

An EU official told AFP that the bloc's finance ministers would pare down the list at talks next week, satisfied that the countries had made commitments to tax reform that Brussels will monitor.

"Barring a major surprise, EU finance ministers should remove eight countries from the blacklist of tax havens," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The change of mind comes just a few weeks after the EU announced an original blacklist of 17 non-EU countries, which drew furious reaction from several of those targeted.

The United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Mongolia, Macau, Grenada and Barbados will also be removed from the list.

The official said the countries removed from the list now move to the EU's so-called "grey list", jurisdictions that have made unspecified commitments to the EU on reforming their tax laws.

"I confirm that a dozen blacklisted third countries have since December sent additional commitments," EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told reporters in Paris.

"It's a good sign, since the purpose of a list is to get out and to get off of it you have to solve the problems that are identified," Moscovici added.

The lists came a year on from the leak of the "Panama Papers" -- a massive amount of data from a prominent Panamanian law firm showing how the world's wealthy stash assets.

The EU originally screened a total of 92 countries to draw up the list, which is expected to be continuously updated.

"This is a worrying trend. Just one month after adopting the list they are taking people off," Aurore Chardonnet, an EU tax policy advisor at Oxfam, told AFP.

"They are weakening the credibility of the list... which is becoming empty," she added.

At the time of its adoption in December, the 28 members of the EU failed to agree on possible sanctions against blacklisted countries.

While France's finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, pleaded for sanctions, his Luxembourg counterpart, Pierre Gramegna, was less in a hurry: "It's bad enough to be on the blacklist".

Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Bahrain, Guam, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, American Samoa and Namibia remain on the blacklist.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Greece gets fresh cash on road to leaving bailout

Digital Journal – AFP, Danny Kemp, 22 January 2018

New Eurogroup Portuguese President Mario Centeno rang a symbolic bell as he
presided over his first Eurogroup finance ministers meeting. EMMANUEL DUNAND, AFP

Eurozone finance ministers approved a fresh cash injection for Greece on Monday to put the country on the road to finally leaving its long and painful bailout programme later this year.

They also said they would start work on possible debt relief for Athens, despite reservations on the part of powerful Germany which has pushed a more austere line.

The new 6.7-billion-euro tranche agreed by ministers in Brussels is the latest from Greece's third financial rescue package since 2010, when its debt crisis brought the euro close to collapse.

The current programme agreed in 2015 runs until August this year, after which the southern European nation hopes to fully return to market financing and get back on its own two feet.

EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said 2018 "will be a decisive year for Greece".

"This will be the year when Greece finally leaves this long period of financial assistance, marked by very hard tests for the Greek people, but which allow Greece to emerge stronger and more resilient," France's Moscovici told a news conference.

Portugal's Mario Centeno -- chairing his first meeting of the Eurogroup of 19 finance ministers from the single currency -- said they would also start "technical work" on "debt relief measures" for Athens.

Greece's huge debt pile is equivalent to an unsustainable 180 percent of its annual economic output.

'Things have turned around'

Greek finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos -- a key figure in the 2015 bailout negotiations that nearly saw Greece crash out of the euro -- said it was a "very good meeting" for his country.

"People are now convinced that things have turned around, and people are beginning to talk about the future and Greece's exit from the programme," he told reporters.

The mention of debt relief was "particularly significant"," he added.

The latest tranche will be split into 5.7 billion euros paid in February and the remaining one billion paid later in the spring once eurozone officials have checked that Greece has carried out all the reforms, the Eurogroup said in a statement.

Centeno, chairing his first Eurogroup for the first time after replacing Jeroen Dijssebloem of the Netherlands, said the cash would cover debt servicing, arrears and boosting Greece's cash reserves ahead of the end of the bailout, said Centeno.

"This is critical to ensure Greece's full market access," he added.

Thousands of people demonstrated in Athens one week ago against the set of around 100 austerity measures imposed by Greece's creditors, which include a politically-charged curb on industrial action.

The reforms also allow for the foreclosure and auction of properties owned by bankrupted borrowers. Both measures were fiercely opposed by leftists and trade unions.

The Greek government insists that the changes are limited, and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras rejected criticism "as a shameless lie" that his left-wing administration was out to make strikes illegal.

Debt-laden Greece has received three multi-billion-euro bailouts since 2010.

The current rescue programme -- a package worth 86 billion euros agreed after months of talks that almost saw Greece crash out of the euro -- is financially supported by eurozone states but not the International Monetary Fund.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Europe brings on charm and blue skies to lure Chinese tourists

Yahoo – AFP, Céline CORNU, 20 January 2018

Europe brings on charm and blue skies to lure Chinese tourists

Venice (AFP) - Chinese tourists are big spenders and with the numbers visiting Europe set to soar by nearly 70 percent over the next five years, the countries of the Old Continent are rolling out the red carpet to make the guests feel welcome.

A total 12.4 million Chinese, mostly in guided tour groups, came to Europe in 2017, according to the European Travel Comission. And the Chinese Tourism Academy (CTA) is expecting the number to reach 20.8 million by 2022.

"A few years ago, the Chinese came to Europe solely to do some shopping. Now, they're increasingly keen to get know the culture and the countryside," CTA president Dai Bin told AFP, speaking in Venice, at the launch of the year of tourism between the EU and China.

Festivals, cooking courses... "they want to have personal experiences and visit areas where they don't see any other Chinese," said ETC's executive director, Eduardo Santander.

"They like the cuisine, the music, the blue skies... most of them come from the coast, where pollution is extremely high," Santander said.

And some were surprised that they can "breathe without coughing," he added.

China is the world's biggest market for foreign tourism -- with 129 million Chinese holidaymakers travelling abroad, they account for one fifth of the total number of tourists globally.

And they spend more than twice the amount that, say, US tourists do -- $261 billion in 2016 compared with $123 billion.

Hot water and credit cards

Small gestures can go a long way towards making Chinese tourists feel more at ease in Europe, said Jacopo Sertoli, head of Welcome Chinese, a body that awards certificates to tourism companies catering for Chinese customers.

"You can make them very happy by offering them a glass of hot water," he said, noting most Chinese families drink water at that temperature rather than cold.

Chinese language television stations and good wifi in hotel rooms are a good idea while payment methods favoured by the Chinese, such as UnionPay, the only credit card issuer in China, WeChatPay or Alipay are a must.

CTA chief Dai Bin said Europe should reduce the red tape for its Chinese visitors.

"We hope Europe will make is easier for Chinese to get a visa," he said.

"In a number of eastern European countries, for example, it's easy. But it's very difficult in others. And when Chinese tourists visit Europe, they want to visit several countries, not just one," Dai Bin said.

By reciprocation, China would become "more flexible when granting visas and Europeans can stay in Beijing or Shanghai for 144 hours -- or six days -- without a visa," he promised.

According to ETC data, France is the number one desired destination in Europe for Chinese tourists, with 61 percent of visitors hoping to go there, followed by Germany with 37 percent and Italy with 28 percent.

Nevertheless, that picture has started to change in recent years, and travel to eastern Europe is booming, not least because of the easier allocation of visas and the increased availability of cheap flights. The string of terrorist attacks in France and Germany in recent years is also a factor.

In 2016, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Serbia, for example, rose by 173 percent, and numbers were up by nearly 90 percent in Montenegro.

But while "the Chinese are very alert to questions of security, they tend to forget more easily than other tourists," Santander said.

Popular for perceivedly having deep pockets -- a result of the Chinese tradition of giving presents -- Chinese visitors haven't always enjoyed a reputation for their savoir-vivre.

But that's an image which China is itself keen to remedy, with "some tourist agencies offering lessons to customers before they go to Europe," said CTA president Dai Bin.



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

EU parliament calls for ban on electric pulse fishing

France24 –AFP, 16 Jnauary 2018

Philippe Lamberts and Ska Keller, who head the Greens bloc in the European
Parliament, display a placard against pulse fishing which involves dragging
electrically-charged lines just above the seabed to shock low-lying marine life
 into trawling nets

STRASBOURG (FRANCE) (AFP) – The European Parliament called Tuesday for a ban on electric pulse fishing in the European Union, defying Brussels which wants the experimental practice in the North Sea done on a larger scale.

The parliament, the EU's only directly-elected body, will now try to strike a compromise with the European Commission, the bloc's executive, and the European Council, which groups the 28 member states.

MEPs voted by 402 members to 232 in favour of the ban, while 40 abstained.

"It is a wonderful victory against a terribly harmful kind of fishing," said Yannick Jadot, a French member of the Greens party, who took part in the campaign against the practice.

Pulse fishing involves dragging electrically-charged lines just above the seafloor that shock marine life up from low-lying positions into trawling nets.

EU rules allow member states to equip up to five percent of their fleets with electrodes, and the method has been adopted in particular by Dutch vessels fishing for sole.

The European Commission wants to maintain the southern part of the North Sea as the venue for pulse fishing but to remove the five-percent limit.

Karmenu Vella, the commissioner for fisheries, argued that pulse fishing is safer for the environment than beam trawling as it reduces carbon emissions and does less damage to the seabed.

Beam trawling involves a large net attached to a heavy metal beam of up to 12 metres in length which is dragged across the seabed, ploughing it up.

Rebecca Hubbard, director for the activist group Our Fish, praised the vote as a "huge win" for European seas, low-impact fishing and the public.


More than 200 top chefs across Europe have pledged to stop sourcing seafood
obtained by electric pulse fishing.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Turkey and the EU: time for plan B?

Yahoo – AFP, Stuart WILLIAMS, January 14, 2018

Erdogan has begun 2018 in a more conciliatory spirit (AFP Photo/OLIVIER HOSLET)

Istanbul (AFP) - After an over half century accession bid, Turkey and the European Union are moving into a new period of relations where tighter cooperation in specific areas will be prioritised over Ankara's drive for full membership, analysts say.

Ties between Turkey and the EU reached a low point in 2017 with the membership process grinding to a halt and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing some key members, including Germany, of behaviour reminiscent of the Nazis.

But Erdogan has begun 2018 in a different spirit, bounding off in the first week of January on a visit to Paris and his foreign minister making a key fence-mending trip to Germany.

Meanwhile, EU leaders have urged a new spirit of realism, with French President Emmanuel Macron saying during Erdogan's January 5 trip it was time to end the "hypocrisy" that progress could be made on Turkish membership.

"There is an understanding on both sides that the accession process is dead and won't go anywhere soon," said Asli Aydintasbas, a fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

"So we are essentially talking about a new format and a more transactional relationship with European member states," she told AFP, adding this would mean more emphasis on trade.

"Ankara sees this as such and entertains no illusions about revitalising the accession process," she added.

'Downsizing the relationship'

The July 2016 failed coup marked a watershed moment in the history of Turkey-EU relations, with Ankara accusing the bloc of failing to show solidarity and Brussels sounding alarm over the mass post-coup crackdown.

Erdogan met Macron in Paris last week (AFP Photo/LUDOVIC MARIN)

Erdogan has repeatedly huffed and puffed over the length of Turkey's EU bid, complaining that Ankara has been "kept waiting at the door" for 50 years as it watched ex-Communist states being let in without fuss.

Accession talks began in October 2005. Out of the total of 35 chapters needed to be closed to join the EU, 16 have been opened with just one closed. No new chapter has been opened since financial and budgetary provisions was opened in June 2016.

"It's clear that we must move away from this hypocrisy of thinking a natural progression towards the opening of new chapters is possible when this is not true," Macron said after his talks with Erdogan.

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, whose country holds the EU presidency, said Friday it was better to have a "realistic" discussion with Turkey about membership without "hiding the problems".

Marc Pierini, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe and a former EU ambassador to Turkey, said Ankara "by its own choices" was no longer meeting the necessary criteria, especially on rule of law, in the wake of the post-coup crackdown.

"Essentially what we are witnessing now is the downsizing of the relationship from one between political allies to one between partners cooperating in a number of fields such as counter-terrorism, trade and refugees," he told AFP.

Hurriyet daily columnist Sedat Ergin wrote Friday Macron's words signalled a "paradigm change" in Turkey's relationship with the EU which, for the French leader, would now be defined "cooperation in pursuit of common goals" rather than enlargement.

"Just a name has not been given to this new format of cooperation," he said.

Incentives for Turkey without full membership include visa liberalisation and an upgrading of the existing customs union.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut 
Cavusoglu held fence-mending talks last week (AFP Photo/Tobias SCHWARZ)

But EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik said Ankara would perceive an offer of a so-called "privileged partnership" as an insult, saying Turkey would never accept a "second class status".

'Warming up to Europe'

Elsewhere, Turkey's hopes of a strong relationship with US President Donald Trump have been scuppered by rows including the arming of Syrian Kurds and a New York court case.

Meanwhile Ankara is aware its current pragmatic partnerships with Turkey's historic Ottoman rivals Iran and Russia are precarious while the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia has reshuffled the cards in the Gulf region.

For all the rows of the last year, the EU is still by far Turkey's largest trading partner, while Turkey is the EU's fourth largest export market and fifth largest provider of imports.

The meeting between Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel at least changed the mood music in a bumpy relationship, with Berlin's top diplomat hosting his guest in his folksy Lower Saxon hometown and treating him to a cup of home-brewed Turkish tea.

Gabriel had late December suggested a deal for Britain's relationship with the EU after Brexit could be a model for the future relationship of Turkey with the bloc.

"Turkey is warming up to Europe and there is a deliberate effort from leaders in Ankara to distance themselves from the acerbic language and accusations," said Aydintasbas.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Top European chefs take electric pulse fishing off the menu

Yahoo – AFP, January 11, 2018

More than 200 top chefs across Europe have pledged to stop sourcing seafood
obtained by electric pulse fishing.

More than 200 top chefs across Europe have pledged to stop sourcing seafood obtained by electric pulse fishing, days before an EU vote that could expand the use of the controversial technique, an ocean advocacy group said Thursday.

"We refuse to work with seafood coming from a fishing method that condemns our future and that of the ocean," said the text written by Christopher Coutanceau, whose restaurant on the Atlantic coast in La Rochelle, western France, has earned two Michelin stars.

The practice involves dragging electrically charged lines just above the seafloor that shock marine life up from low-lying positions into trawling nets.

EU rules allow member states to equip up to five percent of their fleets with electrodes, and the method has been adopted in particular by Dutch vessels fishing for sole.

On Tuesday, the EU is to vote on the practice, which critics say harms too many fish that are left on the seabed, as well as those that are harvested.

"Electric trawlers produce catches of poor quality, fish which underwent stress and are often marked by post-electrocution bruises," according to the text released by Bloom, a French NGO.

"It is impossible to work with such low-quality products."

The signatories included French chefs Helene Darroze, Yannick Alleno and Olivier Roellinger, who has longed worked to improve sustainability in the fishing industry.

Spanish chefs Elena Arzak and Quique Dacosta, Italy's Antonino Cannavacciuolo and Alfonso and Ernesto Iaccarino, and Thomas Buehner and Heinz Winkler of Germany also signed the text.

On Wednesday, several members of the European parliament asked for a delay to next week's vote on electric pulse fishing, in order to allow time for an "informed debate".

For Jerry Percy of the Low-Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE), which claims to represent about 80 percent of Britain's independent fishermen, a main problem is the lack of solid data on the long-term consequences of the practice on fishing stocks.

The method is outlawed in many parts of the world, including China, but proponents say it is more environmentally friendly and results in lower fuel usage for boats.

Bloom had already filed in October a case against the Netherlands with the European Commission, accusing the country of illegally authorising its trawlers to use the technique.