The latest Nobel Peace Prize award may come as a surprise to many people, especially those of us who live in Europe. According to the BBC, "The European Union has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for six decades of work in advancing peace in Europe."
During the last century Europe experienced two significant World Wars. Ten years was wasted fighting and destroying large chunks of Europe. Rebuilding after each War was long and hard. There have been smaller wars around the world plus civil unrest in some countries since but all out war has been kept under lock and key for the last 60 plus years.
In awarding the EU, the Nobel Peace Prize committee said that the EU had enabled Europe to become a peaceful continent rather than one of War.
Currently the EU faces austerity measures, gloom and doom plus many ordinary citizens seeing a down turn in their financial situation. It will be a testing time for all EU nations. Most people do not need reminding that Germany was at the forefront on the 20th Century confrontations. In the 21st Century many Europeans see Germany as once more trying to conquer and rule Europe, albeit this time with its economic policies.
Even today as the IMF Head Christine Legarde has asked that Greece be allowed more time to implement strict austerity measures, Germany has refused. Germany have insisted that Greece sticks to the bail out deal which was agreed. With the German economy less bouyant than in reacent years it is easy to see the reason for the German stance.
Nobel committee president Thorbjoern Jagland made the award and admitted that the EU faces a tough time. He concentrated on the EUs reconciliation work in the post second world war era and currently in the Balkan countries. His words and the award have delighted senior EU officials but the people may feel differently.
We tend to agree with those who think this EU award is a joke. The timing could not be worse. Europe looks set to implode once more. People such as Merkel may like to think that they have been recognised but they live in cloud cuckoo land. With people suffering austerity measures future conflicts may be more inclined to be civil rather than national wars. Spain and Greece have experienced violent protests and they are not alone.
Perhaps the timing is strange as there are so few candidates suitable for the peace prize this year. Then again maybe it is to gve the troubled EU a welcome morale lift. Perhaps it is a late April Fools joke?
The last time an organisation was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize outright was Medecins Sans Frontieres, which won in 1999. Now that one we can understand. The EU right now is tearing Europe apart.
(Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Spanish woes continue. The death toll from severe flooding
has risen to 10 and one woman, belived to be a Brit, is missing. Added to this parts of Spain experienced a Tornado
yesterday. It hit a fairground, knocking over a Ferris Wheel and lnjuring 35 people. Across Spain, in Madrid, disgruntled and disheartened Spaniards took to the streets to protest the latest austerity measures. Similar protests took place in the capital of Portugal as Portuguese people also feel the pinch.On Friday the Conservative government of Spain passed a tough budget for 2013.
The draft budget will cut overall spending by €40 billion ($51.7 billion), This will involve a pay freeze for public sector workers, cutting spending for unemployment benefits and reducing spending for Spain's royal family by 4 percent. The last measure is laughable. If you are paid peanuts a 4% cut matters a great deal. If you are an overpaid Royal it is meaningless.Portugal saw more protesters on the streets of Lisbon than Madrid. The protests here were by and large peaceful. People from the young unemployed to retired people, with what was once a good pension, are being hit by austerity measures.
They are rightly very angry. People are hurting and they can only take so much. Governments in the EU expect people to willingly "bleed" whilst they live off the fat of the land. Perhaps they should take a look back to history. These latest austerity measures could represnt "the straw that broke the camel's back".Countries may have tough economic times ahead but unless that is true for all expect trouble. Yesterday's protests soon became violent.
Tens of thousands took part in a show of strength in Lisbon but less in Madrid. There had been peaceful marches and protests during the day in Madrid but trouble flared when a group of protesters refused to go home. Police decided on a heavy handed approach to disperse those who were close to Parliament as midnight approached. It was not that trouble had flared simply that the protesters did not have permission to protest. Batons were used and there is at least one substantiated report of a protester being violently beaten by officers. That person was eventually removed, by ambulance!Two people were reported to be hurt and 12 others arrested. This was less than protests earlier this week. As Police are public servants we have to wonder if the government has not hit them with austerity measures yet. Perhaps their numbers are not being cut nor their pay frozen. After all they will have "dirty work" to do over the coming weeks and months.
If the police service is not protected from austerity measures they would be better joining the protesters, ioho.Spain has some tough choices to make in the coming days and weeks. With the highest unemployment figure in the EU
it will not be easy. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is pushing through austeroty measures quickly. Too quickly in many people's opinions. He probably has had his orders from the EU.
In the UK it has been proven that, too much too soon as far as austerity measures go, does not work. The Conservative government of Spain is firmly in place with a good majority, at least for now. Of course the EU
will simply add to that country's woes.
If you thought the EU crisis was under control, think again. Out of sight, out of mind may be true, and reporting on the crisis in recent days has been almost non existent. However today July 24, 2012, there is more bad news for Europe
.Generally the German economy has been admired as strong and invincible. Now it seems that even the "powerhouse of Germany" maybe be under threat
. Credit agency Moody's has been quick to consider down rating Germany. If Germany's triple A rating
is cut it will be disastrous for Germany and the EU.With country's such as Spain still needing more bail outs the EU will look to Germany for a lead and for money. This time its looks may be in vain.
Today July 24, 2012, the Troika, that is the European Commission, The European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund are set to assess whether or not Greece has done enough to receive the next installment of its bail out. There are reports that the Greek government will ask for more time to enforce the austerity package demanded from the EU. Having imlemented many cuts already they still have quite a way to go.If the next installment of the bail out is not forthcoming expect the worst to happen. Greece will be in an untenable position in the Eurozone and left with few alternatives.The only sensible out come still appears to be an exit from the Eurozone for countries such as Greece and maybe even Spain.
Perhaps the best option would be the dissolution of the Eurozone and the EU dream. After all it became a nightmare long ago. One that people desperately need to wake up from.
Civil and economic instability continues to increase across Europe. Worryingly the conditions are now ripe for conflict and more. Let us hope that we have that one wrong. Striking Miners in Spain had undertaken a three-week trek as a protest against austerity measures which will impact on them, their employment and the people of Spain.
The marches reached Madrid today, July 11, 2012. Miners are not the only Spanish citizens at the end of their tether though.
Their march has been inspirational. People have finally began to stand up and be counted in Spain. Pushed to the extreme by the government's austerity plans workers are saying that enough is enough.
Around 240 miners have been walking through the red hot heat of a Spanish Summer to take their protest to the authorities. Hailing from Northern Spain some days these men have marched 20 miles in order to meet today's deadline for the Madrid protest.
EU members agreement to halt subsidies to non profit making Spanish mines by 2018 may make sense to politicians. For the miners it will sound the death knell to their occupation. Like mining communities in the UK during Maggie Thatcher's premiership towns, villages, jobs and future jobs will be lost.
The Miner's Union believes that the cuts are more about hitting the Union or even tearing it apart. Well that is what happened in the UK. Miners leaders have said that the authorities claim it is about making cuts but then pour money into other resources such as banks.
But even as the marching miners approached their Madrid destination the current Spanish PM was about to address parliament with more bad news. VAT will be increased by 3% to 21%. This will hit tourists as well as locals making it a double blow for local economies.
The move is to please Brussels and other Eurozone members and of course Germany's Angela Merkel, but it will not please the majority of Spaniards.If Spain however is to receive the huge amount of money needed to bail out yet more banls ot will have to jump through the EU hoops.
Spanish protesters have been evident from other areas today. Some have been using guerilla tactics for weeks,in what could easily become an uprising. There will not be support for such an uprising by the West though, unlike in Syria.
Trouble flared in Madrid as protesters including the marchers rallied. As government Ministers responded to questions about the bank bailout the protesting miners took their voice into the heart of Parliament.
The attached RT video claim Spain is being sacrificed to save dying banks. Yes it is and on it goes. No light at the end of the tunnel. No breathing space. Simply more doom and bloom.
When will they realise that enough is enough?
Politicians can posture all they like but in the end they are public servants who are supposed to represent the people, not Brussels.
Tags: Spanish protests, marching miners, Spanish banks, ailing banks in Spain. Spain, civil unrest, EU politics, Brussels
Former prime minister of the Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, is under arrest facing charges of tax evasion. Prior to EURO 2012 there were reports that she had been beaten. The Ukraine has a bad record of human rights and animal welfare. It would appear to be a harsh society.
Many EU leaders were outraged when Yulia was beaten and accordingly countries such as Germany and the UK insisted that they would boycott EURO 2012 as a protest. This became a protest as long as the national teams were not playing in the country of joint host nation Poland.
English Ministers no doubt felt safe expressing they would follow such a ban, by assuming that England would be on their way home from the competition pretty quickly. As it was England survived to the quarter finals. Yesterday they lost on penalties to a superior football team, Italy and it was problem solved for English Ministers.
Last Friday an extremely pleased German leader, Angela Merkel, was seen cheering her national side on
from the football ground where they were playing. It was in Poland. They beat Greece 4-2 stamping their authority on the game. The German squad are expected to go all the way in this competition which could leave Merkel in a quandary
. Sooner or later she will have to decide if the German boycott of EURO 2012 in the Ukraine will stand.
The Ukraine has put a smiling happy face on for football fans. Worries about fighting local fans and extremism appear to have been resolved. Of course they must simply have been swept under the carpet. These problems were far too big to be resolved easily.
Here at TEK and our sister site Where But The UK
we have boycotted reporting on EURO 2012 football matches. Our stand has been made in protest of the mass killings of street dogs and cats. Many have been cruelly killed, some being burnt whilst still alive. Charitable intervention was trying to run a capture, neuter, free campaign in the Ukraine but this has been halted. This means that the killings have begun once more.
Look at the attached video regarding street children in the Ukraine and you can see that country has a lot of problems to solve.
Today June 25, 2012, the Ukraine has attempted to hide more of its dirty laundry. The trial of Yulia Tymeshenko has been postponed until mid July. The Ukrainian authorities are hoping this will limit the bad publicity they have been receiving. The trial will recommence conveniently on July 10, 2012. Yulia is to undergo a medical assessment to see if she is fit enough to stand trial.
OPINION: EU leaders were wrong to say that they would boycott EURO 2012 as a protest and then to water this down to just games played in Poland. Will EU ministers make a stand against the final matches played in the Ukraine?
If they do not it should tell the world what there are priorities and how dishonourable they are too.
You can find related reading on the trial here
Tags: Yulia Tymeshenko trial adjourned, Orange revolution, Yulia Tymeshenko, EURO 2012 boycott, ministers boycott EURO 2012, Urainke killing dogs and cats, UNICEF, Poland matches, football
If chewing the fat could solve the economic woes of Europe we would be well on the way to financial recovery. As it is, one meeting after another seems a huge waste of money when in reality nothing changes for the better. Are these leaders simply aiming to justify their jobs?
Today June 22, 2012, there has been a meeting of EU leaders in Europe. Hosted by Germany's Angela Merkel, (Who died and made her Queen?) the outcome looks likely to warrant yet more money. If it was yourself managing such a failed budget by now you would have decided to call it a day rather than keep throwing good money after bad, wouldn't you?
These European meetings have something of the school yard about them as they often only involve two leaders, selected leaders or all leaders and involve false promises and Chinese whispers. Today's looks to have been no different. Of coure the UK is not in the Eurozone as such, wisely having clung on to its own currency. This however makes us a poor relation in negotiations, that is unless they want the UK to stump up more cash.
Today's talks in Rome involved, unelected Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. How four leaders can decide the fate of other countries without including them in the talks is beyond this blogger. Including a non elected leader is a disgrace when leaders continue to advocate democracy and free, fair elections in Middle Eastern countries.
The four leaders are said to be in charge of the top four economies in the Eurozone. As three of those economies are experiencing difficulties it shows what a joke the European Union is.
Mr Monti said that "The first objective we agree on is to relaunch growth, investments and to create jobs."
The measures that they agreed are needed will be worth around 130bn euro. As usual then, not chicken feed. He went on to say, "We want there to be a significant European growth package, that is worth about 1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or 130bn euro."
Merkel's two-penneth was that "the lesson of this crisis is more Europe, not less Europe".
We think that many people will disagree with Ms Merkel on that score.
The divisions are there to be seen though even in this small minority meeting. Hollande for France wants countries to share financial burdens more whilst Merkel is pushing for a financial transaction tax which Cameron will not be in favour of. Of course the UK is not part of the Eurozone, but other countries who were not at this meeting are.Opinion:
What is it with all these little summits, meetings and tet a tetes?. Is it following the old adage of the bosses and the workers, that to divide is to conquer? How would you feel if you found out that an important meeting you attended had already run the week before without you. That is exactly how other Eurozone leaders will feel when they meet in Brussels next week. Of Course "Queen" Merkel will no doubt hold court first, with one or two leaders, but that is no way to do business. It smacks of dodgy dealings and underhand agreements. No wonder Europe is in such a mess.
Today's talks lasted less that two hours and the four did not agree wholeheartedly. Hollande wants assurances before sovereignty is surrendered to the EU whilst Merkel holds the opposite opinion. This is why many Europeans feel that Germany is once more attempting to rule Europe, this time by holding the purse strings.More Here
We have heard much of the economic crisis sweeping Europe, especially in relation to Greece and Italy but what about Spain? The unemployment figures from Spain released today January 27, 2012, are terrible news.
They are bad news for the people of Spain, the EU and Spain's conservative government led by Mariano Rajoy.The latest news is that the Spanish government is quietly begging the EU to show some compassion. As the Spanish government implement the savage cuts demanded by the rest of the EU the people of Spain suffer. Yesterday the Spanish leader met with Germany's Angela Merkel. This formidable leader is focused on turning economies around but the EU must spare a thought for the people who have to live with severely cut incomes.
Publicly Rajoy insists that Spain is on target to meet the tough deficit demands the EU has placed upon Spain. His ministers though are openly expressing concerns. No one disputes that EU countires need to rein in spending but what of the people. They need to live.
Savage budget cuts may help the economy but they can be the prefect breeding ground for insurrection, despair and war. In Spain now 22.8% of the population is unemployed. This wil get worse and the government tries to make the €40bn (£33bn) budget adjustment needed to meet the EU's 2012 target deficit of 4.4%
Sadly Spain is now in a downward spiral which will be hard to stop. Each domino effect takes them deeper into the doldrums. Having bank rolled Greece for so long there will be little will or money left for Spain's woes. Germany has been happy to bail out Greece as it had a vested interest. Spain could be a different kettle of fish.
As the global economy lurches from one problem to another S & P have announced that 24 Italian banks are to have their credit rating downgraded. You have to hope that these credit rating firms are not carrying out such actions lightly. Ater all a credit down rating can only have a negative effect on business.
Standard and Poor issued a statement reasoning, "In our opinion, renewed market tensions in the euro zone's periphery, particularly in Italy, and dimming growth prospects have led to further deterioration in the operating environment for Italian banks."
Problems in the European Union and with its currency, the Euro, have added to the concerns of those in the UK wanting to pull out of the EU. Whether it is a legitimate answer or the government simply paying lip service to Euro sceptics is hard to know, but suffice to say UK politicians are set to vote on the matter.
The UK coalition government was left with little choice after a petition raised more than 100,000 signatures. The petition demands a referendum on the UK membership of the EU.
On October 27, 2011 MPs will vote on whether or not a referendum should be held. It seems that politicians need to have a vote in order to decide whether we mere mortals should be allowed a vote. What a waste of money, especially in the current ecomnomic climate.
If a referendum is agreed to it will be hled in May 2013 which could be helpful for the government, or maybe not. It will depend what happens between now and then, and when the next election will be held. The motion will offer the voting public a choice of three options. The nationwide vote would offer keeping the status quo, leaving the EU or reforming the terms of the UK's membership of the European Union.
The crux of the matter is that the Prime Minster will not legally have to abide by the vote. However if David Cameron or a future PM was to ignore the will of the people, especially if it carries a huge majority, he could be in untenable position.
Cameron was hoping such a vote would not happen. However his own Tory backbenchers have pushed for change. The motion they have lobbied states, "This House calls upon the Government to introduce a bill in the next session of Parliament to provide for the holding of a national referendum on whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union, leave the European Union, or renegotiate the terms of its membership in order to create a new relationship based on trade and cooperation."
Opinion: The very first time this writer voted in a UK election was in 1970. At that time she voted for a "No to Europe" politician. An independent politician. At that time the UK was not a member of the EU. 41 years later, much as she is not a big fan of Europe, she fails to see how we can survive outside of the EU. That is unless the EU collapses altogether, and no right minded person wants that to happen.
Therefore in a referendum she would be backing reforming the terms of the UK's membership of the European Union rather than making for the exit door. Currently it seems the only sensible solution. Whether or not it still will in 2013 remains to be seen.