Interview to Austrian Embassy Official Worker

Interview to Austrian Embassy Official Worker

On Monday, 23rd June I had the pleasure to meet one of the official workers of the Austrian Embassy headquartered in Madrid, Susanne Escobar. She kindly answered to all my questions proposed but as a consequence of her job, she couldn’t go deeper to the topics. We talked about Austrian perspective as a member of the European Union and as a native Austrian she is married with a Spanish man, so she can understand and analyze both points of view.

 

To start with the interview, as a worker of the Austrian embassy I asked her what main functions they carry out here in Spain. She explained me that the main functions are of different fields (economic, political and institutional) – bilateral relations between both countries within the EU- and on the other hand, they offer all kind of services to Austrian citizens living in Spain (consulates, visas…). It also includes a cultural forum in charge of intercultural exchanges between Austria and Spain. “Relations are excellent right now in all areas” Susanne admitted following, “Austria’s interests are very diverse- from political and economic to touristic and cultural- we are satisfied with current situations”. Good news for Spain after seeing that our neighbors from the North still trust in Spain and the services it offers.

 

Moving towards to the topic that involves the European Union, she confirmed that Austria has suffered the economic crisis’ effects as the rest of the members, facing huge economic losses specially in the building sector since many Austrian companies have partnerships with the Spanish ones and due to the “booming housing” they lost thousands of jobs in that sector. Nowadays the situation seems to be more stable earning high state benefits and society getting back those jobs. She confessed that the current economic situation of Spain, and the still high rate of youth unemployment, is critical, as Spain is “one of the important countries for the common economy recovery”. Young people leaving Spain in order to work abroad doesn’t necessary mean something bad, as the fact that getting new skills and knowledge in other countries is a very enriching experience for them, the negative part of that (from her point of view) is that Spain is losing those qualified workforce and we don’t know how many of them will come back in a future in order to use what they have learnt outside and so, enrich as well the country’s economy.

 

Regarding to the last and remarkable results in the European Elections, the case of Austria hasn’t been different from the rest, although it wasn’t so alarming, the right and extreme right parties have increased both their seats in the parliament. She said that sincerely, the results were not surprising; the country was already expecting those results and the rise of Eurosceptic parties in there and hasn’t been inevitable. Moreover, Austrian population is attentive and follows constantly what happens over there, as a country located in the core of the Union. They are very interested in immigration policies and European foreign affairs, such as Ukrainian crisis. Finally, as a conclusion, I wanted to know which her perspective towards the future of Europe is. She expressed her positivism regarding the future of Europe as a whole: “ the crisis and dangers that we are facing now must only help us to understand that we can just resist external threats if we remain together, preserving our democratic systems, freedoms and our citizens welfare. In this way we’ll be able to improve and develop for the best”, Susanne Escobar.

Caterina Serra

Susanne Escobar

Susanne Escobar

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IN EUROPE

Unemployment has always been present in every country, varying always depending on the country in which it is given and the epoch. Youth unemployment has usually been quite low as this new generations are educated to be the best qualified in order to improve and develop our society. However, since the economic crisis harshly hitted Europe, unemployment has gone off, specially the youth unemployment, reaching scandalous and alarming numbers in almost every country of Europe in comparison with the previous situation before the crisis.

The last European elections results should be a turning point for the next European common policies. Population is frustrated and what we have just seen is something that would happen any other place after suffering a huge economic crisis and not seeing short-term reUntitledcovery signals. Although population has little to do with what has happened, Many Spanish people complain about their invidious employment situation and saying that this is a problem in whole Europe. Which in fact, most of the regions which have the highest rates are located in Spain, like Ceuta, las Canarias or Andalucía. But if you have a closer look on the data from April 2014 you can easily see that most of the concerned countries are only in the South or East of Europe. In contrast to this, for instance, Denmark´s unemployment rate reclines 12,4 percent and Austria has only a number of 9,5 percent. Moreover Germany plays a special part in this comparison: With 7,9 percent, it is the country with the lowest rate in the whole EU, although there are many foreigner coming from Southern Europe to work there. It has obvious reasons – a good political system, a high-quality education system and open-minded enterprises. As the level of education is very high in Germany the companies are exposed to hire young and innovative people who just finished their degree.

I think that we complain easily and we prefer to have “bad” solutions that only cover the surface of the problem and be satisfied with that rather than waiting and solving the problem deeply; and rivals feed the anger of citizens with this poor arguments. What is clear is that the EU needs to be renewed; we have to change all bad mechanism that were not working before and prevent new economic catastrophes and I think the next years can be a good time for Europe as a whole, people quickly will calm down their opinions if economic incomes come in their homes. If the European parliament and commission do proper changes and new policies, as they promised, the competitiveness of the Union will increase and so, the competitiveness of each member. We have all necessary tools, means, minds and opportunities, just let’s do it using common sense and thinking that the well-being of one is the well-being of all us at the end. Youth unemployment will decrease in the next years, as some has estimated. Spain will be one of the countries that will notice that, young graduated will not have to move abroad in order to find a job, good quality workers are offering their skills to others, they will be now able to offer them to their own country

As a conclusion, even though unemployment rates are quite high, the situation will be improving in the next few years, recovering from the terrible consequences of the crisis and lowering the youth unemployment by letting place to new generations to accede to qualified jobs.

INTERVIEW TO LUCINDA TAYLOR

At the time when I had to make an interview to someone who had to do with the region I have to study, I contacted with an individual I personally knew from the North of France. I thought that it could be a good idea to interview him as he has lived there for almost all his life, until he came to Spain about a couple of years ago. However, something happened and this promising interview could not be carried out, as the interviewee for some reasons was not able to do it.

 

Then, I decided to get in touch with an English girl I met some years ago, as I thought that not only the point of view of someone older could be interesting, but the one of someone about my age would be quite interesting, as the perspective might not be the same as those who are more experienced in life.

 

Lucinda Taylor is an English girl native from Chatham who I met some years ago through an exchange program that lasted one week at her Town, and another week at mine. She is currently studying law at the Canterbury Christ Church University at Canterbury. I chosed her for the interview as her point of view might be interesting regarding the current situation about some issues.

 

After a long time without being in contact with her, we catched up on our lives, and then, I started asking her some general questions.

 

First, I started the interview asking for her thoughts about their special currency; the pound. She thinks that the fact of opening to the common European currency, the Euro, could benefit at some point the country as it would approach Great Britain to the resto f the European countries and would make it easier the country’s relations with the resto f the EU in the globalized World we are living, though it would supose at a cultural lever for the inhabitants, the change of currency. The Pound is not only a solid system at an economic level but it takes part in its national culture and history.

 

United Kingdom’s monarchy as I found quite interesting what just happened at Spain with the King’s abdication. She undoubtly started answering without any problems with her personal opinion. She said that England’s monarchy is a solid and stable institution not only at good times, but also at bad ones, which is against the political parties which have problems to reach an agreement of the different ideals which each party has. Also, she said that the image of the monarch is an important fact at the time of relating with other regions such as the islamic countries whose mentallity is quite different from European countries. She explained it with an example: “For instance, it is not the same for an Arab sheik to reach an agreement with a monarch than with a simple minister, as the monarch in England represents the head of the main religion; the Church.”

 

Then, as a related question, I asked her about the abdication of the Spanish King, Juan Carlos I. She told me that in England the monarchy plays a very important role, but she can understand the strikes that were placed in Spain nowadays because by her point of view, the King has a very important role as a diplomat as he has a lot of contacts all over the world, but this does not mean that the Spanish population has to maintain his whole family. Thus, the Spanish people, as part of the democratic regime that they are living, deserve a referendum even this referendum is not vinculative. But they deserve to be asked about this issue.

 

As last question, I asked her about her opinion of the big empire that Britain was with all its colonies and what Britain means to the world nowadays. She answered me that Britain is nowadays is one of the most powerful countries in Europe, and even it does not belong to the Euro, this fact makes them strong as they do not have to share the common debt of Europe that was established between the north and the south, and they can apply their own measures with this crisis.

 

As a conclusion, we can argue that Great Britain even it is not the great superpower with all of its colonies, we can say that it is still very important because they are a quite strategic point in the international trade and they still have their huge influence and strength in Europe because of the history, currency and economy.

 

By Leyre Hornedo Clavijo

INTERVIEW WITH THE FIRST SECRETARY AT ROYAL NORWEGIAN EMBASSY IN MADRID,KRISTIAN RØED

During the last semester of my first undergraduate year I had to write many articles about geopolitical issues from Europe, the region I’m most interested in. The last class project consisted on interviewing a representative of any European country. I had the pleasure to meet the First Secretary at the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Mr. Kristian Røed, who kindly answered to all the questions I proposed.

As Norway is one of the countries less involved in the European Union firstly, I asked him what functions the embassy carries out in Spain. He told me the main functions are all focused on maintaining and supervising a good relationship between both countries. The relations are mostly political and economical, encouraging new Norwegian business and helping the ones who are already settled in Spain; whereas the consulates undertake the main daily problems of the citizens living there. As well, talking about Norwegian civilians in Spain, I wanted to know how the country is perceived by them, after the many problems it is suffering and surprisingly, the answer was that the number of visitors has been increasing during the last year and the most shocking, the number of people who decide to move to Spain as well. The majority are retirees who come to live in the coast (as their favourite part) because they consider it provides an “easy” lifestyle together with the weather conditions, gastronomy and house prices.

About the current economic crisis that is hitting the EU he said that “consequences are inevitable for all members any way, but Norway hasn’t been affected as much as the rest”. The oil and gas market remain intact in that zone, “our European trade partners have decreased their demand, and it is due to the economic crisis” whereas exportations to Asian countries such as China are going on as before at a good price and the importations that we do from them at a lower price. This market has of course, saved their economic system but as well political changes that the Government carried out during the 90´s, when Norway suffered their own banking crisis, “we were more prepared than the others, I guess”. Still in the conversation about the European issue it was inevitable to ask about the future of Norway within the EU after the last elections that took place there in which right and extreme right parties won. “Extreme right parties are not the same as the ones Spain know” he clarified first of all. Political changes haven’t been really noticeable since differences between political parties in Norway are poor. The main political aims that they pursue are to ensure economic competitiveness of the country and tax reductions, “non-immigration policies are not a priority right now for the Government” he said referring to the last campaigns made by extreme right parties from France and the UK. What’s more, the conservative party recently announced that they were willing to join the Union even more but after a referendum made to the population, the result was of 51% who said “no” to join it although they are happy with the economic relations that both have at the moment. Norway will maintain the international treaties and will still be a member of the European Economic Area.

“Our citizens doesn’t like to be under the current government, so imagine if an stranger controls them” that’s one of the important reasons people argue against joining the EU, they don’t trust that leaders and don’t want others to decide for them, losing so, it’s sovereignty. The debate is there, facing the ones who do want to join it arguing that cooperation with their neighbours would be beneficial for the country.

Oil market is in Norway the main income source, so they are constantly protecting and creating more industries around the world; they are expanding the market worldwide with factories in Brazil, US, Canada…they have to take the maximum profit of that because citizens are used to not pay most of the public spending, and it must go this way. However, the Government is aware that it is a limited resource so it’s starting to promote new sectors. Fishing and agriculture are two other important activities in Norway and they need to improve these industries, as well as the service sector, which he considers Norway should follow Spain as an example. The starting point to all this, is education. Addressing education to new ways of creating jobs is the main aim nowadays and what makes a country successful in a future, to invest in business venture is extremely important. Norway will probably have no problems achieving it as their system is one of the most stable and safe of the world, having high live standard. The thing is that they are used to live this way and to maintain these levels is not an easy and cheap task.

Caterina Serra

Interview with Kristian Røed, First Secretary at Royal Norwegian Embassy in Madrid.

Kristian’s background is:

Professional career:

First Secretary

Royal Norwegian Embassy in Madrid

August 2012 – Currently (1 year 11 months)

First Secretary

Royal Norwegian Embassy in Santiago de Chile

August 2009 – September 2012 (3 years 2 months)

Higher Executive Officer

Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

August 2007 – August 2009 (2 years1 month)Oslo

Diplomat Academy including one year in the Section for Trade Policy and 6 months in the Section for Latin America.

Officer

European Free Trade Association – EFTA

July 2005 – August 2007 (2 years 2 months)Brussels, Belgium

Desk officer with responsibility for follow-up of the EFTA Agreement within the areas of Financial Services, Company Law, the Services Directive and EU macroeconomic policy.

Advisor

EUROCHAMBRES

January 2003 – July 2005 (2 years 7 months)Bruselas y alrededores, Bélgica

Trade/economic policy analyst and lobbyist.

Intern

European Commission Delegation to Norway and Iceland

August 2002 – December 2002 (5 months)Oslo, Norway

Academic career:

College of Europe

MA, EU policy and economics

2001 – 2002

Herriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

MA/Siviløkonom, Int Business and Economics

1997 – 2001

After sending an e-mail to the norwegian embassy, with an early response, Kristian granded me the interview where i started by saying: Good morning sr. Røed. Thank you for granting me an interview. To start with, I would like to know what are the main functions that the norwegian embassy has here in Spain.

Kristian kindly answerd me that we could be speaking a couple of hours about this. But the short version would be to mantain the relation between Norway and Spain. This is made by political and economical cooperation. We help norwegian companies or exporters here in Spain. On another hand the consular plays also a very important role. Last year we had a number of 1.500.000 norwegians coming to Spain, which represents 1/4 of the norwegian population. And the number is increasing, being Spaing the favorist country apart from the escandinavian countries.

Then I wanted to know if Norways has been afected by the economic crisis in some point? To that, Krsitian said that comparing to other countries no, but that Norway have been very lucky. Krisitian attributes this to the exported products such as oil and gas. It also has to be remembered that in the 80’s – 90’s, Norway suffered a economic crisis, so as Norway experienced it, they changed the banking system. This is why they were able to avoid the current economic crisis.

Their economy diffes a lot from all of the European ones, this has much to do with the oil and gas resources. So they have not been afected that much by the current crisis, the unemployment is about an 3%.

On the other hand, taking into account that the oil industry is one of the most important factors of the norwegian economy, I asked if Norway was prepared if this sector was no longer demandated, or if it will end one day. To what Kristian answered: This is a very good question. Many norwegians ask them self this question. We are very lucky to have this resource, its like gold. What we have done right is to build the industry. The norwegian oil industries pay around 80% of taxation. We should be ready to a day without oil. So we should bet for other resources such as renewable resources. Something is going to replace the oil in a long term. Fishing is a very important resource, aquaculture of salmon, also aluminum, but these are natural resources.

This is why we want to build a knowledge socity, to educate the people and prepare them to when oil is no longer the exported resource.

Talking about policy, last year there were political elections in norway. There was a change from the center-left party to a coalition between the right, and extreme right. So my question was if Norways had seen changes alter this. The norwegian embassador said that we can not compare the extreme right in Norway with the spanish one. There is for example no racism, there is just a different immigration policy.

There has been some changes, but what has to be understood is that in Norway the differences between the different parties are very small. However, it is early to see marked differences yet.

The conservative party wants Norway to take place in the European Union, but this is not going to happen with this government for the time being. We had a referendum in 1994, were a majority said no to it, so it is currently political impossible.

Norway is not a member of the European Union, however they have to follow the economic rules of the Union, but they can not give their view at all or intervene. So my following question was why didn’t they want to join the EU. Kristian answered that they were members of the European Economic Area. The internal market for goods, capital and services works as here in Spain. However they can not decide anything, even if they depend economicaly on the European Union and follow the laws established by the EU.

There is a ongoing debate, some of the norwegian population want to be a member, others just don’t want to join. But as I said before, it wont happen with this goverment.

To end up the interviw I thanked him for granting me the interview. It was a great pleasure for me, to what he said that the pleasure was his.

This oportunity I had to interview an embassador from Norway was very interesting, specially to get to know better how the relation between a non European Union member interacts with the EU, and also specifically with Spain. This was a very good experience to thank.

Ana Sande Peña

Inside the European Parliament

On monday the 9th of June, I had the pleasure to interview such an important person in Spain as Mr. Ignacio Samper, as he is the director of the office in Spain of the European Parliament. This interview mainly consisted in questions about the European Parliament and many concerns that many people do not know about it such as issues such as future goals, Turkey or immigration.

To start the interview, I found appopiate to start asking him why was it important to have an European Parliament office in Spain. Mr. Samper explained to me that “there are offices all around the world in order to inform citizens, media and institutions about the activity and functions of the Parliament”.

As many people didn’t know what they actually voted for on the past elections, held on the 25th of May of this year, I had to ask him about the Parliament and its actual functions and why are they so important. He responded with a very detailed answer; “The EU Parliament that validates the ligitimity of the European Union and makes possible the effective participation of the citizens in the process of the European integration”. In addition, due to how the Parliament also decide in nearly all the issues that are within the European Union, those where the reasons why the past elections where different to others; they were going to be the first elections after the Lisbon Treaty which alloed the members of the Parliamente vote for the president of the Comission.

To continue explaining me about the functions of the Parliament, he also explained to me what the members do in the Parliamente is “debate, vote, propose amendments and finally approve or reject norms. The last legislature, the were more than 20.000 votes and more than 2.500 texts where approved were 952 were legislative texts” and the reason some countries send more members than others is due to the reason that the numbers of members sent by a country must be equivalent to the size of their population as the Parliament represent the citizens, not the nations.

Moving to more controversial questions which have been alive for many years, I decided to ask Mr. Samper about Turkey and immigration respectively. To start of, I asked him if Turkey was still interested in joining the Union and why and what do they have to do be part of it. He explained to me that “Turkey is one of the 5 candidate countries in joining the Union. It is important to explain that to join the UE, the country must fulfil the Copenhague criterias, which establish a mínimum of requirements not only economic, but also political and legal, the existence of stable institutions which guarantee the democracy, the state of Rights and human rights”.

About immigration he explained to me that after what is happening in southern European countries, there’s a necessity to approach an immigration policy from a paneuropean point of view. The Parliament has played a very important role in a very complex issue which is to get legal immigrants an equal treatment within the employment and economic areas. The Parliament have also decided to establish a “Common European Borders Supervision (Eurosur) in order for the member states are better equipped when they have to prevent and combat ilegal immigration and react more quickly when the immigrants life are in danger”.

To conclude with this interview, I thought it would be good to end it with Mr. Samper explaining the economic objectives of the Union for this and next year. The explained that the main objective was to overcome the recession and to reduce the unemployment rate. “The EU wants to increase to a 75% in 2020 the employment rate of European population between 20 and 64 years. The Parliament has adopted numerous anti-recession measures in the past years in order to get Europe back to the path of growth and employment, such as the approval of a budget of 80.000 million of euros for a Social European Budget for 2014 to 2020, which objective is to promote employment, improve productivity and work quality, increase the mobility and impulse the social inclusion.”

This interview to Mr. Samper has allowed me to get fully detailed answers about doubts I had about the parliament and will allow all European and non-European citizens to know how important the European Parliament is, what their functions are and how important it is for each citizen to contribute to make Europe a better place to live in.

Alberto Puente Saavedra

“Putin is my personal enemy” – Interview with Khrystyna Tryhub

Khrystyna Tryhub is an undergraduate student who studies Tourism and Recreation. The 20-year-old young woman travels a lot, especially in Europe, and does her Bachelor Degree in different countries. She has a lot of energy, is open-minded and clever. But besides of this – what makes her interesting for an interview about Europe?

Khrystyna lives in Ternopil which is located in the West Ukraine. The conflict there is the most recent problem in Europe as nobody has an adequate idea how to solve it: Neither Ukraine or Russia, nor the European Union or the United States of America.

As Khrystyna is not only interested in politics but also loves her home country, I asked her for an interview about her point of view and feelings about that and got some interesting statements from her.

Khrystyna on Plaza Mayor in Madrid – proud of her roots. Picture: K. Tryhub

Khrystyna, when the conflict started you were not in the Ukraine because of your study program. But what did you feel when you first heard about it and how was the development of the conflict?

Tryhub: I could not be there when the conflict in Ukraine started on 21th November after ex-president Yanukovich said that he is not going to sign the agreement with the European Union on 29th of November. Then a comparatively small group of people appeared on the Maidan and were asking him to support the choice of the people that the Ukraine should join the EU. After 3 months of fighting at the Maidan for the possibility to make own choices as a nation and to decide how we want to live, Ukrainian people showed more spirit of freedom and unity as ever before. That makes me feel so happy and proud. The other thing is that I have been in Poland and later in Spain, so I did not have the possibility to be in the “heart of Ukraine” with my friends and for me it was so scary to wake up and to check whether everything is alright with them every day.

What do you think about Putin’s behaviour? Is it okay that he owns parts of the Ukraine?

Tryhub: It is not okay for anyone to own something from somebody else. The same applies with Putin as he owns parts not only of Ukraine. But his behaviour right now is horrible in my opinion. Putin as a representative of Russia, official successor of the USSR, is my personal enemy as he keeps killing people like his predecessors did. To realize imperialistic ambitions by using the army and starting war in 21th century is something that I cannot understand.

In the news you can read that over 300 rebels already died in the Eastern part of the Ukraine. How do you feel about that? Do you tolerate the way Putin tries to reach his goals?

Tryhub: In Eastern Ukraine in the two problematic regions, Lugansk and Donetsk, I am very sure that we have more than 300 deaths on both sides – the Ukrainian army from one side and the separatists on the other. Putin always denies presence of his people on our lands, including Crimea, but after you see Chechen people with Russian passports it becomes obvious.

Which role does the Ukraine play in this conflict in your opinion?

Tryhub: The new Ukrainian government is trying to solve the conflict and to stop all that mess in the East, but honestly they aren´t doing well. It is very difficult to fight with Russia without a functional army as it was totally destroyed during the Yanukovich term.

There was the referendum in Donetsk and around 89 % of the people who voted were in favour of the separation. But in fact some experts said that the voting was not acceptable at all. What is your opinion?

Tryhub: The referendum in Donetsk was bullshit because it was not well organized and easily falsified. Normal people know that all these referendums – like in Crimea and Donetsk – are fake and illegal, so they don´t go there and vote. That why we had such a high result for the separation. We were joking a lot on this topic and said things like “The referendum in Crimea will get 146% for Russia”. Imagine how it feels like going to any election with Russian soldiers standing next to you.

Is your family directly affected by the military dispute in the Ukraine? How do they feel about the politicians?

Tryhub: No, my mom and her husband were in Kiev for only a few days in December. My classmates and friends spent more time there but were not directly affected. But I just asked my granny how she feels about it and she said that Putin is sick and compared him with Hitler and Stalin. But generally no one knows what to expect neither from Putin nor from our politicians. I personally don’t trust the new president’s elections. I am afraid that he will try to talk with Putin as he has a company in Russia. It is not possible to talk and make business with Putin as long as he has his army in the Ukraine.

Khrystyna wearing a traditional Shirt in Ukraine. Picture: K. Tryhub

Khrystyna wearing a traditional Shirt in Ukraine. Picture: K. Tryhub

It seems like the EU is not really interacting in this conflict. What is your opinion about the behaviour and acting of the European Union?

Tryhub: The EU is not helpful. I feel disappointed about it because I think that right now it isn´t a war between Ukraine and Russia, but between the EU and Russia using the Ukraine as a tool.

What should be done by politicians, governments and other countries – like the EU members and the US to improve the current situation?

Tryhub: From the EU I expect to value democracy and human rights more than Russian gas. Because in the moment I hear often “we are so sorry for you guys” from the European politicians but in fact they are very careful with their words and actions. I understand that sentences like ‘Russia is a strategic market’ and money is important for the EU. But it is so noticeable that they care more about Putins reactions than about Ukraine.     

So in conclusion, what do you personally wish yourself when thinking about living in your home country?

Tryhub: After all those events in Ukraine I am completely sure where I want to live, work and have family – in Ukraine. I want to see the Ukraine as an independent country but for now it would be very difficult to fight alone against Putin. It would be better to get closer to the EU. I truly love the European community and want to be part of it…moreover I am so sick asking for Visa (laughing).

Jennifer Wirth