Sunday, December 30, 2007

Global Policy Changes - Fair Distribution of Wealth

Address by Federal President Horst Köhler at the opening of the Club of Rome conference on "Policy Changes in the Next Phase of Globalisation"

Excerpt - A key question regarding the fair distribution of wealth which industrialized nations have to answer is: how can we create additional sources of income for employees whose working lives are subject to ever more change and flux, whose salaries are no longer increasing as much as they used to but who, after all, have contributed towards their companies' rapidly rising profits and investment? I believe the answer is to give employees a greater stake in their companies, and in their profits.

I am convinced that the peoples of the world are capable of shaping globalization in such a way that it benefits everyone. The level of productive resources is such that it is possible to ensure that adequate health and safety standards in the workplace apply and that people earn more than starvation wages everywhere. And the worldwide potential for creating income and work is so great that every individual can make a living if the right balance is struck between incentives and responsibility and if we learn to share better. … German Federal President


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Border Controls Vanished in Eastern Europe

A momentous EU day: The number of European countries doing away with border checks expanded on December 21. Most of those joined were behind the Iron Curtain just 20 years ago.

Europe just got bigger. At one minute after midnight local time on early Friday morning, border controls vanished for nine more European Union members, many of them former members of the Soviet Bloc. Fireworks, cheers, music and speeches throughout the morning welcomed the expansion, which means that travellers can move from the far corners of Estonia all the way to the Atlantic coast in Portugal without once encountering a border guard. ...

Not everyone is unreservedly ecstatic about the border openings, however. Even as the new Schengen states have been preparing for months to join the club -- with EU agencies helping them tighten up their eastern borders -- many are concerned that increased travel freedom will come at the price of decreased security. Indeed, Slovakia's entry to Schengen was almost delayed due to the difficulty officials were having in meeting security criteria on the country's rugged eastern border with Ukraine…

Nevertheless, Schengen is well outfitted with an integrated database -- known as the Schengen Information System (SIS) -- that operates as a clearing house for information on all manner of suspicious characters, stolen documents and criminals, allowing a Latvian border guard to immediately find out why, for example, someone may have been turned away at the Italian border. While Schengen states are ultimately responsible for the security of their own borders, they all had to meet a strict list of criteria before being allowed in…

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Climate Change Deal upon US consensus

The Bali Roadmap – “a real breakthrough”

Excerpt - The roadmap does not include the firm emission reduction targets which the European Union and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had been demanding, although it does state that emission cuts are necessary. Environmental groups and some delegates criticized the draft for not going further, describing it as a missed opportunity.

Under the roadmap approved at the Bali summit, nations will hold a two-year series of talks to negotiate a new treaty which will succeed the Kyoto Protocol after it expires in 2012. According to the plan, the successor treaty will be adopted at a UN climate conference in Copenhagen in late 2009.

The roadmap also includes measures to promote the transfer of environmentally friendly technologies to developing countries and to halt deforestation. It also launches a so-called "Adaptation Fund" which will help poor countries cope with the negative consequences of climate change, such as rising sea levels. ~SPIEGEL INTERNATIONAL

Friday, December 14, 2007

EU Leaders signed the Lisbon Treaty on December 13

Excerpts - EU leaders gathered in Lisbon yesterday to sign the new European Treaty, hoping to put two difficult years behind them after French and Dutch voters rejected the European constitution in 2005. …

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the new treaty would allow Europe to prepare itself to address global problems. "Now it is time to move ahead," he said in his speech in Lisbon. "Europe must tackle numerous challenges, both at home and abroad, and our citizens want results. Globalization is the common denominator of all those challenges."

By presenting the new agreement as less than a constitution, many European governments have been able to argue that it does not need to be presented to the electorates in referenda. Although the treaty will have to be ratified by all the member states, it will be voted on in the national parliaments. Ireland is the only member state that is obliged by its own constitution to hold a referendum. … SPIEGEL INTERNATIONAL (article & 13 photos)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Creation of a Mediterranean Union - involving European and African nations

dw - The latest bone of contention was Sarkozy's continued push for the creation of a Mediterranean Union involving European and African nations along the Mediterranean rim, which the French president again promoted during his visit to Algeria this week.

Merkel reacted by suggesting that such an affiliation of nations could lead to "a corrosion of the EU in its core area" and "could release explosive powers in the EU."

Such a frankly undiplomatic reaction was unusual under the circumstances, and suggested that Merkel may have reached a point in her relationship with the French president where she felt it necessary to go public with her discontent… more at

Monday, December 3, 2007

Russia’s Authoritarian Leader Putin Remains in Control

Though the results of yesterday’s Russian national elections show that President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, as expected, clearly won a strong majority of the votes, the conduct of the elections raises questions about the legitimacy of the outcome and of the party's claim to rightfully govern Russia. This makes it all the more concerning that the Kremlin will likely use the results to reshape Russia's political landscape, allowing Putin to extend his political influence beyond the end of his presidential term next spring… (Wall Street Journal)

Putin is constitutionally prohibited from running for a third consecutive term, but he clearly wants to stay in power. A movement has sprung up in recent weeks to urge him to become a "national leader," though what duties and powers that would entail are unclear… (AP Associated Press)