The difficulty is the balance of both political and fiscal policies that can be agreed upon by all member states.
In this blog we focus on some of the successes that the EU has achieved since it was founded by the Treaty of Rome in 1957. The original treaty was signed by Belgium, France, Luxembourg, France, West Germany and the Netherlands.
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We continue our blog on the importance of Interpol by looking at how it communicates with other member law enforcement agencies. Interpol has a secure communications network that can pass information around the world to another member agencies and allows them to communicate together.
This means that the vast collection of information at Interpol can be tapped into at airports, ports and border crossings. It also allows member states to access other countries criminal records which is a powerful tool in the battle to identify international criminals.
Interpol is a key player in the fight against terrorism, and it also is vital component if there is an international disaster, such as a plane crash, as it has a quick response incident team. This team specializes in identity and can assist in victim identification and the dissemination of information to other nations police forces. They are also capable of acting as a central command coordinating events between different agencies that may be involved.
It should be pointed out that Europol is an European based agency that operates in a similar fashion to Interpol but within the confines of the EEC. It is a fact that before new member states can join the EEC, they first become members of Europol.
Interpol as an Organization
Interpol is based in Lyons, and the headquarters is called the General Secretariat. It is the General Assembly that houses the representatives of all member states and this meets annually. This assembly votes on all the major decisions that Interpol gets involved in. Each state has one vote and the majority carries the vote. Interpol also has six regional offices and they are located in Thailand, Argentina, El Salvador, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, New York and Zimbabwe. As well, of course, as the main General Secretariat offices in Lyons, which gives Interpol global coverage.
Interpol’s Color Codes
Often police forces around the world are alerted to particular situations that may arise by Interpol. There is a system of international codes used by Interpol, that straight away alerts what kind of incident may be or are actually occurring.
- Orange – a threat from hidden weapons (e.g. letter bomb)
- Black – Unidentified bodies
- Yellow – Missing persons
- Green – Information that is general about international criminals
- Blue – Data on any persons connected with a crime, perhaps even witnesses
- Red – Identifies wanted persons
Interpol was formed in 1923, but back then it was known as the International Criminal Police Commission and it was based in Vienna. Most of its work was in connection with publishing an international wanted list. The Second World War interrupted their early foundation of the ICPC as the Nazis actually took control of it.
After the war, the organization was revamped and it moved to Paris. ICPC then changed its name to Interpol and in 1989 it moved its headquarters to Lyons. Due to the growth of international crime, Interpol saw rapid growth and development. There is no doubt that without a central body passing important information across borders the world would be a more precarious place.Read More
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The concluding part of our blog on how Brexit will affect the remaining states and the European Economic Community. We have seen that there are two different thoughts how the Union should go forward after Brexit, and the foreseen fear of the future dominance of Germany. In part two of this expose we look at how the United States of America will view the EU without the UK being a member.
There is a genuine fear from America that without the firm support of the United Kingdom supporting Angela Merkel in her policies towards Russia, that the EU might cow-tie to the soviets and relax sanctions.
The USA perceived the UK as a sort of bridge between continental Europe and themselves, and the UK was a pro-active supporter of American policies in the European Union’s thinking towards Russia, with Ukraine still a hot potato. The EU have several headaches at the moment with Brexit only being one. The Greek economy crisis has still not properly been resolved and the whole refugee situation is becoming a nightmare. The U.S is concerned that the Brexit talks which look like taking five years or so to handle will leave the EU vulnerable.
Perhaps the Canada Option is the Answer
One of the main reasons the UK opted out of the European Union was the free movement policy, Britain saw the growing refugee problem in Continental Europe and the increase of terrorist attacks due to the relaxing of border controls.
In effect the citizens of Britain wanted their borders more secure, but the EU is stating that if the UK want to retain a single market advantage they must adhere to the free movement policy. So, there is an inherent impasse. One option out of this impasse would be the Canada Option, meaning a simple free trade agreement, which would give limited access to the UK to the single market. This would be disastrous to the City of London, as this agreement would not allow free business access to the EU unless it was regulated by a third body. Already London is seeing a number of foreign banks leaving and relocating to other European states.
It is in the EU’s interests that the UK remains economically close as it is also a massive market to many European States to sell into. But the European bureaucrats will not negotiate on core principles, and one of them is the free movement of labor, which is the fundamental difference between the two sides. Brexit is not good news for both the UK and the European Union, it was an emotional decision made by the British public in a referendum that was fueled by terrorist attacks and the wave of refugees making their way to the shores of the UK.
The biggest problem for the UK is that the EU is not likely to be lenient in any negotiations, in fact the very reverse, as they will want to make an example of them to deter other states with the same ambitions. But the fallout for the Union may also be just as unpleasant, as a power struggle will be definitely on the cards.Read More
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It has been widely reported and documented about the imminent departure of the UK from the European Union, it is named Brexit after the UK as a nation made their voices heard in a referendum. There is no doubt that Brexit is a highly momentous event in the history of Europe and the biggest threat to the European Union since its inception. Many reasons have been cited why the UK voted as they did, and it will have major repercussions for the British nation in the foreseeable future.
But how will it impact the other nations that remain in the EU? Will it mean that it will split and fall apart?
The Immediate Impact
It does not look that there are a number of other countries queuing up to join the UK in a move out of the EU. But there are two conflicting approaches to how the EU should move forward in the future.
- Further Integration – one of the movements is in favor of more integration and this is spearheaded by Jean-Claude Junker the president of the European Commission.
- Away from more centralization – the European Council president Donald Tusk believes that more central control would be to the detriment of the citizens of the EU.
One side is advocating extra powers will be better for the strength of the EU, and the other stating that a more faceless and corporate EU will lose sight of what the individual citizens really want.
How the EU will Respond
The EU has related to the UK exactly what is required for their exit, but is now pondering how to respond to the after effects of the second largest economy leaving the Union. The best bet is that Junker’s pragmatism and federalism will rule the day, and the EU fears no present risk of dissolution. The current leaders of Europe will have to get together and work how to reform the European Union with new laws and a revision of the budgets laid down. When this happens the leader’s will have to accept these laws that tackle difficult policies that the Union faces such as the refugee problem.
EU Fear of Germany
With the withdrawal of the second most powerful state there is a fear that nobody has the power to check the dominance of Germany. On all major issues such as the war in Ukraine, and the refugee crisis it has been Germany who has marched to the front on the response by the EU.
The natural fear of Euro politicians in Paris, Rome and Warsaw is that Germany will dominate in all things concerned with the EU, and there is a justified horror at the prospect of Brexit. In turn Germany is also afraid of Brexit and how the other nations will consider them as a domineering threat, there are those in Germany that believe that there will be other nations gathering together to act as an alliance against them.
In part two of this expose on the effects of Brexit on the rest of the EU, we will consider how the United States view the situation and how that view will affect the EU.Read More
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It was obvious that the opening up of borders within Europe would significantly place an opportunity for criminal gangs to take their operations out of their homelands and to expand into other European countries. The free trade agreement within the EEC did alleviate some of the tax benefits of transporting goods from one country to another, but that was not the only problem. As criminals started to operate in alien countries, the local police forces did not know who these people were. They had never faced them before and so were at a distinct disadvantage trying to prevent them committing crimes in their own countries.
Interpol was an answer to solve this dilemma, as it is an international police agency that helps other law enforcement agencies around Europe and the world to track criminals operating across borders. Police agencies share information and Interpol gathers it and stores it in one database for access by individual law enforcement agencies.
What is Interpol?
To date, Interpol has 186 members which represent law enforcement agencies around the world. It is a fully autonomous body and does not represent any one country. Also, it is politically neutral with no bias on religion or race. The cross-border crime that it is focused on includes the sexual abuse of children, terrorism, international fugitives, organized crime syndicates, and computer crime including identity theft. It also is aware of the huge problem of human trafficking, drug smuggling, intellectual property crimes, fraud, money laundering and environmental crime.
Stolen art is a great example of where Interpol particularly can be effective. Stolen art has always been an international crime because collectors and dealers operate all over the globe. Interpol has a database crammed full of stolen pieces of art, so dealers can reference it and ensure they are not buying stolen goods.
Interpol is not like other law enforcement agencies, it rarely makes its own arrests and there are no Interpol policemen putting criminals away in some specific jail. Interpol serves its member law enforcement agencies by acting as a liaison between them, providing database assistance and communications. This interaction and aid between countries is vital to halt international crime. Each member state of Interpol has their own language, bureaucracy and, of course, culture, and this sometimes conflicts with other member law enforcement agencies when they have to work together.
It is the information that Interpol has in its database that is crucial to their successful operation. Interpol sees a bigger picture of international crime than individual police forces, which tend to focus within their own borders. Interpol is very effective at tracking criminals around the world and once identified will contact the local law enforcement agency and pass on all the relevant information.
The database operated by Interpol is comprehensive and includes mugshots, fingerprints, lists of wanted felons, DNA samples, and all manner of travel documentation. For instance, their stolen travel documentation database has over twelve million records. In part two we look at the other vital work that Interpol gets involved in to protect Europe and further afield.Read More
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The concluding part of our epic culinary journey across the states of the European Union visits Spain, Holland and Poland. Already we have seen some exceptional dishes from all over the EU, that defined the rich heritage of the member states that form the Union.
We begin this particular tour in the Netherlands.
Netherlands – Bitterballen
The Dutch love their snacks and especially with a glass of beer. A common sight in many cafes and bars after work is a group of coworkers sharing a bowl of Bitterballen and having a relaxing drink together. The tasty treat is a mixture of minced meat and tangy gravy which is deep fried in small balls until crispy. Ideal for snacking upon whilst gulping down a Heineken or two.
Poland – Pierogis
Who can resist a plump dumpling stuffed with all manner of goodies, because that is exactly what Pierogis are. Pierogis are Poland’s national dish and have been made the same way since the 13th Century, other nations have claimed credit for their existence including China via Italy, but one thing is for certain the recipe has appeared in Polish cook books for almost four hundred years. The dumplings are made with unleavened dough and can be filled with mash potato, ground meat, vegetables, cheese, spinach, legumes and all manner of sweet varieties. There is a book called 100 ways to Eat Pierogi which highlights their versatility.
Spain – Paella
There is one particular dish that epitomizes the colors of Spain, and it has to be Paella. Few dishes have created their own cooking vessels, but Paella is one such dish. As to create a perfect Paella you will have to have a huge flat and shallow pan which is basically useless for cooking other dishes. You cannot effectively make an individual portion of Paella, it is a dish that is cooked for numbers and should be enjoyed in a communal manner. There are two basic variations, a seafood and a meat Paella, but the original hails from Valencia. The key ingredients for a Valencian Paella are, Paella rice, green beans, chicken, rabbit, white beans, snails, saffron, garlic, onions and stock. Unlike Risotto which should be continuously stirred, Paella should be left alone whilst the rice absorbs the stock and all the flavors.
UK – Roast Beef
Once a laughing stock of classic cuisines such as France and Spain the traditional Sunday roast dinner from the UK is a classic occasion. Roasting meats has been a tradition in the UK for hundreds of years and they are adept at doing so, and a prime joint of beef is probably the ultimate. The meat should be almost rare after resting and should be accompanied by Yorkshire puddings, crunchy steamed vegetables and a deep flavored gravy made from the roasting juices. Fiery fresh horseradish sauce should be the main accompaniment to bring the meat to life.
These delectable dishes form the conclusion of our gastronomic tour of the EU states, as you can see the variation of dishes and ingredients is quite incredible, and highlight the different cultures and traditions within the European Union.Read More
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In part two of the best things to eat in the EU we concentrated on the fine cuisine of France and highlighted Steak Tartare as a triumph of cuisine. In this blog we travel to Greece and Germany among others to uncover some fantastic food from the states that make up the European Union.
Germany – Kasespatzle
Many of the Germanic states within the EU have strong influences from Italy in their cuisines, Germany is no different and the German love of pasta forms the base of many of the country’s favorite dishes. Kasespatzle is a sort of version of macaroni and cheese, soft egg noodles combined with mouthwatering cheeses are all mixed to form a succulent pan-fried dish, then topped with a sprinkling of toasted onions for a tangy crunch. From a nation of meat eaters, it is surprising that this is so much a beloved dish.
Greece – Moussaka
Greek food has influenced so many cuisines in Europe and is loved around the world, it embraces simple ingredients and makes delicious dishes out of them. The Greek cuisine is one of the most healthy in the world but they do also love the occasional heart stopping dishes such as Moussaka. A well-made Moussaka is a delight and doesn’t have to be a stodgy casserole laden with calories. Combining fresh eggplants, seasonal vegetables, meat and a delicious light bechamel sauce with a dusting of nutmeg it is heavenly. Just served with some crusty bread this meal is perfect served with a chilled glass of rose wine.
Hungary – Kurtoskalacs
The cuisine of the Magyars is traditionally based on meats, vegetables, breads and dairy products. Slow cooked one pot dishes are popular, such as stews and casseroles, and the main spice is paprika which helps to identify Hungarian cuisine. Kurtoskalacs are sometimes called chimney cakes, the dough is wrapped around wooden poles and smeared all over in butter. Then sometimes roasted over an open fire the Kurtoskalacs are cooked until they are golden brown. When they are ready they are usually rolled in sugar and sprinkled with various ground nuts.
Italy – Ribollita
Another giant cuisine that has influenced cooking across the world, with techniques and combinations of produce that predates Roman times. Italy has some many regional variations to its cuisine, as once Italy was several independent states and regional cooking was common. A great deal of Italian food is simple, like a rustic pasta dish or a single featured seasonal vegetable simply grilled. Ribollita is a hearty stew that hails from Tuscany that utilizes peasant ingredients namely, broad beans, bread and assorted vegetables. Lightly seasoned the dish celebrates fresh vegetables in a thin gravy that is guaranteed to fill your stomach. In the past the Ribollita was made by servants from leftovers from their masters table.
This hearty peasant dish from Italy finishes part three of our best dishes from the EU, in part four that concludes our culinary exploration we travel to the Netherlands, Poland and Spain.Read More
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Part one of the best things to eat in the EU looked at Halloumi cheese in Cyprus, beef stew in Belgium and a fried filo delight in Bulgaria. In this blog we look at great dishes from the Czech Republic, Denmark and Estonia among others.
Czech Republic – Vepro-Knedlo-Zelo
Outside Prague, the Czech Republic is mostly a rural society and their cuisine reflects it. One such rustic and simple dish is Vepro-knedlo-zelo which basically is a trio of Czech favorites. Roast Pork served with stewed cabbage and bread dumplings, to form a simple yet hearty dish.
Denmark – Snobrod
A Danish dish that will bring back childhood memories of campfires and fun with the family. Translated Snobrod means twisted bread and that is exactly what it is. Cooked over an open flame the bread forms a golden crust and will be crunchy on the outside. Once the Snobrod is made and still warm, you can fill it with just about anything from, sausages to jams and everything in between.
Estonia – Kiluvoileib
With its location on the Baltic sea it is hardly surprising that a favorite dish of Estonia contains fish. Basically Kiluvoileib is a sandwich that contains sprats and hard boiled eggs that is placed between two pieces of rye bread. Not the most appetizing dish to look at, but just the same very filling and tasty.
Finland – Poronkaristys
If you have never tasted reindeer before and you are a meat lover you are in for a treat. Finland has many wild herds of reindeer roaming around the wild countryside and the meat is enjoyed by all. Pronkaristys is a Finnish favorite and basically is thin cuts of meat that are first fried to brown then placed in butter or beer and slowly stewed for hours. Traditionally served with creamy mashed potatoes it is a terrific meat and potatoes dish with a Lappish twist.
France – Steak Tartare
It is impossible to choose one dish from a cuisine that is so varied and superb as that of France, as you move around the country the different regions have their own specialties based upon the produce that is available. So, this means fabulous fish dishes on the coast, to hearty one pot dishes in the rural regions, to fancy plates in the cities. One dish however defines the thinking behind French cuisine is Steak Tartare, only the French could have designed a raw meat dish topped with an egg!
Nobody is really able to create a true Steak Tartare than the French, if you get it wrong then it could be a catastrophe, but if you get the dish perfect then it is a delicacy. Raw minced meat, with the correct amount of quality oil, seasoning, herbs, onions and a perfectly fresh egg can produce something exceptional. We leave part two of our culinary tour of the European Union sipping a nice glass of Shiraz after devouring a dish of Steak Tartare in Paris. In part three of the best dishes to eat in the EU we travel to Germany, Greece and Hungary.Read More
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The European Union is a collection of twenty-eight different nations spread all over the continent. Each member country has its own identity and culture and this very much includes their cuisine.
If you consider the amazing differences between the locations of these states it is hardly surprising there is a massive change in food from country to country. From the Mediterranean cuisine of Spain, to the French and Italian Alps food, to the earthy flavors of the Baltic states. In this blog we highlight dishes that may not be national dishes but are recognized as regional favorites.
Austria – Wiener Schnitzel
An Austrian classic is a Wiener Schnitzel, which is a very thin piece of veal, chicken or pork that is first breaded and then pan fried in butter to produce a delicious and tender golden cutlet. The Wiener Schnitzel is Austria’s national dish, that is why it is probably named after the capital.
Belgium – Carbonnades Flamandes
Belgium has a really interesting cuisine with influences from the bigger countries that surround it. Famous for its waffles and types of French fries, not to mention its beers, a simply superb dish is Carbonnades Flamandes. In a way this dish pays homage to the Beef Bourguignon from France, but this version is enhanced by using a sweet and sour technique that comes from dark beer, cider vinegar and cranberry jelly.
Bulgaria – Banitsa
One of the poorer nations in the EU, Bulgaria takes its food influences from all around including Italy, Russia, Greece, and Italy. There are no fine sauces or delicate desserts that many of other EU countries can offer, but Bulgaria does have some great dishes. And one such simple item is the humble Banista, which is a cheese and egg mixture that is wrapped up in filo pastry and deep fried. There are sweet versions of this dish also but the savory option is the most popular.
Croatia – Crni Rizot
Croatia takes many Italian influences in its own cuisine, and the Rizot is the Croatian version of the Italian Risotto. This version the Crni Rizot uses squid ink to flavor and color the rice and around coastal areas it is embellished with seafood.
Cyprus – Grilled Halloumi
The Mediterranean cuisine of Cyprus is influenced by Greece, Turkey and the flavors of citrus and olive oil. Cyprus is well known for Mezas, which can be vegetarian delights or meat, and one dish that could feature would be grilled Halloumi. Cyprus produces really great Halloumi cheese, which is a combination of both sheep and goat milk. The big advantage of Halloumi is its consistency which allows it to be grilled and not to melt. Thus, it can adorn any platter with an amazing taste and texture. Halloumi can be served by itself or is great on a salad or some freshly grilled vegetables.
We leave our taverna in Cyprus and move on to part two of the best dishes of the European Union where we sample even more delicious food from the countries that make up the 28 states including dishes from the Czech Republic, Denmark and Estonia.Read More
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Part two into our exploration into the successes of the European Union looks at how it won a Nobel Peace Prize, also how it banished the death penalty and how a million-ton butter mountain suddenly appeared. In the previous blog of the successes of the European Union we looked at how the Union gave freedom to half a billion people and how it created one of the world’s biggest markets.
The Nobel Peace Prize
In 2012 the EU was honored by the Nobel committee for its commitment to the prospering of peace, democracy, reconciliation and human rights over a sixty-year period in Europe.
To join the European Union three criteria must be met:
- Legal – accepting all EU laws and practices
- Political – stable government with strong institutions aimed at democracy
- Economic – to have a market economy that functions correctly
These three criteria changed a number of former dictatorships and previous failing ex-communist states into peaceful successful states. This is the reason why the EU received the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Banishment of the Death Penalty
A milestone arrived in 1983, when the European Convention on Human Rights had an update, which ended the death penalty. The EU played an important role in the formation of this ban within Europe. No country is allowed to join the EU unless it has first banished capital punishment.
The Big Butter Mountain
When the European Union unleashed the Common Agricultural Policy it let loose a highly contentious policy that was extremely difficult to put into practice successfully. The basic premise of this policy was to guarantee minimum levels of production. The idea behind this is that there will always be enough food for the population of the EU. The EU guaranteed subsidies and prices for goods for struggling farmers, what it achieved was an over production of many goods such as wine and butter. Great lakes and mountains of excess produce were left to rot and poor farmers outside the EU simply could not compete.
This was not so much a great success as a failed attempt to help farmers and the community as a whole, but the intentions of the policy were for the good.
Today the European Union has the largest active program of environmental legislation on the globe. Which includes wide reaching standards for swimming water, which in turn made communities tackle their own sewage problems at beach resorts.
The EU has a powerful voice in global terms of trying to reduce many global environmental problems such as climate change, reducing emissions, energy efficiency and renewable energy. As one large voice and not twenty-eight individual small ones, the EU has been able to establish the first carbon market, and has cut through much red tape in climate negotiations with countries outside the Union.
Whether you are a fan of the EU, and if you agree with all its policies, there is no doubt that the European Union has been a success in many areas it set out to achieve. Because of the complexity of what it is trying to achieve it will never be 100% completely correct but that is a small price to pay for the overall good.Read More
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The European Union has always thrown up split opinions by people who like the idea and those that do not. The anti-EU lobby cite an abundance of red tape and a great deal of wasted money on bureaucracy and such like, but there is a considerable amount of people who applaud what the European Union stands for and what is has achieved.
In this blog we focus on some of the successes that the EU has achieved since it was founded by the Treaty of Rome in 1957. The original treaty was signed by Belgium, France, Luxembourg, France, West Germany and the Netherlands. And the aim was to create a single market for services, goods, labor and capitAl for the member states.
Today there are 28 states in the EU which is officially the EEC, who have expanded on the initial concept and includes cooperation on many matters including counter terrorism, law, trade, immigration, border control… and many more. During the sixty or so years of the EU, Europe has been at peace and prosperity has ruled. Recently Brexit has rocked the boat somewhat but this blog is to highlight the successes that the EU has definitely brought to Europe.
Freedom for Half a Billion People
One of the main principles of the formation of the EU was the free movement of people and labor among the states that joined. With twenty-eight countries now part of the European Economic Community, there are over 500 million people that are free to move around the countries involved.
Of course, this is a highly contentious issue with the threat of immigration and terrorism being high on most countries domestic agendas. And it is estimated that today roughly fourteen million EU citizens live in a different country to their birth. The EU also created an area called Schengen, that all states did not sign up to. The Schengen Area allowed people to pass through borders of member states without passports, this included almost four hundred million people. Even some non-EU countries signed up for this which included Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.
One of the World’s Biggest Markets was Created
The EU is now one of the biggest single markets in the world, and has the third largest community in terms of population. Two areas of massive expansion in 2004 and 2007 added twelve new countries and combined the GDP of the EU in 2016 was $16.5 trillion which is roughly one quarter of the world’s total.
Between EU countries there is no import tax and no border restrictions for the import and export of goods. It is far easier to do business in the EU than formerly as individual European states especially with a common currency. The EU makes and offers a huge selection of goods and services that is available to every EU country to take advantage of without restriction.
In part two of our look into the successes of the European Union we look at even more examples of how it has benefited millions of people in this part of the world including, winning a Nobel Peace Prize and banishing the death penalty.Read More
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May 2, 2018 |
The concluding part of our epic culinary journey across the states of the European Union visits Spain, Holland...
May 1, 2018 |
In part two of the best things to eat in the EU we concentrated on the fine cuisine of France and highlighted...
April 20, 2018 |
Part one of the best things to eat in the EU looked at Halloumi cheese in Cyprus, beef stew in Belgium and a...