ECONOMY BETWEEN SPAIN AND GERMANY

Markus Kemper is the Sub-director of the German Trade Chamber in Spain (Deutsche Handelskammer für Spanien or AHK Spanien) and his almost seventeen years of experience working for the German government have helped hundreds of German companies to establish, grow and develop in Spain. This delegation represents the German economy in Spain and is the main service for German and Spanish companies. It offers services oriented to the promotion of German foreign trade and its scope of action ranges from emerging companies to renewable energies and energy efficiency. The German Trade Chamber is a great support for the German govern when specific information on legal aspects are required or when it comes to taking the first steps in the Spanish market.

The good relationship and communication between countries is fundamental for Mr. Kemper to succeed on his work, so he answered “critical” when I asked him about how the current situation of the EU could be considered. He affirmed that the spirit is more of dissolution than union and insisted that the situation is not to be quiet, “any unitary movement is beneficial” however he does not hesitate to affirm that most of the European countries are currently growing and that this has not always been like this.

Spain is the country on the European union that grows the most”. Mr. Kemper explained that since the beginning of the crisis the German investment in Spain has increased considerably. He stressed the close relationship of both countries in some industries such as the automobile industry where Spain and Germany share interests and space for decades as well as in the metallurgical or banking sector. In fact, during the last years, the decline of Spanish economic areas such as the Manufactures (The loss of power in manufactures sector is an almost general European phenomenon.) or Building sector has had a reflection on the German economy and vice versa, so the economic interdependence o both countries is real.

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*Foto with Mr. Markus Kemper in the German Trade Chamber’s hall.

The explanations Mr. Kemper gave to the questions were quite brief but so concise and well structured that somehow you just wanted to know everything about the complex European economic system and all its secrets and curiosities. Sudden questions were constantly appearing while Mr. Kemper was explaining and one of it led directly to a small chat aside the interview about the desire to know what are the main differences between German and Spanish companies and why they have so different productivity results. He answered every small doubt and half smiling explained that what years have allowed him to prove is that in general the difference is mainly cultural. Mr. Kemper explained that Spain has a serious problem of productivity growth shared with Italy and other, mainly southern, European countries. “The work productivity in Spain is lower than the European average”, the problem is that the annual growth rate of labor productivity in Spain or Italy is constantly one point lower than the German when the capabilities and the market competitive capacity they have are nearly the same.

We came together to the conclusion that Spain has amazing potential but doesn’t work as hard as it should. Other reasons could be the reduction in 70% of the business services offered by the state since 2012, which leaves small and medium-sized enterprises unprotected and struggling to compete in the European market, or in many other cases, the owners of the companies are the culprits ignoring the true potential of their businesses and therefore do not take measures that fit their real needs. Mr. Kemper in convinced that Spanish people is not truly concerned about Spain’s huge and highly competitive market. “The service sector for example or the hostelry industry is more powerful in Spain than in Germany.

When you talk to a person like Mr.   Kemper asking about unemployment, one of the most serious problems in Spain seems to be obligatory. He is convinced that it is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects to work out, so on this subject, Mr. Kemper said that the German Trade Chamber for Spain, apart from advising companies on all aspects about the education field, can presume to have stood out for its involvement and commitment in Dual-Education helping more that 2.000 young students to enter to the labor market with the “best equipment”, something that as Mr. Kemper says has also benefited German companies, one of the most important foreign employment sources in Spain.

Talking to Marcus Kemper was a good experience and certainly a beginning class of economy. One of those conversations that ends giving you a great sensation of having learned some new valuable things. Our meeting helped me as well to realize that Spain has to advance in many things and to work lot of things out but also that it is certainly a country that can proudly contemplate the work carried out during the last years and look to the future with optimism, taking advantage of its incredible potential. I undoubtly recommend visiting the German Trade Chamber and enjoying a wonderful building that host a huge amount of conferences, seminars, expositions and talks about infinite different themes and that precisely this year celebrates its 100th anniversary.

INTERVIEW WITH AN AMBASSADOR

Vladimír Grácz: an ambassador of the Slovak Republic in Spain and his vision about the European Union.

Vladimír Grácz is an ambassador of the Slovak Republic, currently in Madrid since September 2012. He studied Law at the University of Košice in Slovakia and later he studied International Relations at the University of Moscow. He worked for 12 years in Latin America as an ambassador in different countries, and in 1995, as the Deputy Director of the Department of the European Union and NATO. His work experience is the main reason why I interviewed him. He has experience working and living in numerous countries around the world, including the European Union, so I believe that he has a lot that he can share about the pros and the cons of the European Union. The interview was a really good experience and I have learned that in international relations there are always new things to learn because everything is always changing.

On Thursday 9th of March, I went to the Slovak embassy to ask Mr. Grácz some questions about the European Union (EU), which nowadays is facing many problems, that may even be existential for the EU. The European Union, as I have said before, is currently facing a large crisis. The European Union has been in place for almost 66 years, is a home for over 503 million people, and it has had many positive impacts, but also many negative impacts. We are facing a refugee crisis that has been dividing Europe since summer 2015 and we have cases of nationalism, which refuse the European Union, such as have Brexit. All of these factors can influence an existence of the European Union. What are the main advantages of the European Union? Is the European Union and the Euro as a common currency advantageous or not? What will be the future of the EU? Is it possible that other countries will follow the decision of United Kingdom? What impacts could the refugee crisis have? And if the EU divides, what consequences could it have?

In Mr. Grácz’s opinion, the European Union is an amazing project and we should do everything we can to save it. However, the Schengen Union is damaged now because of the refugee crisis, although it was a great idea. It is freedom of movement emphasising the basic European values, which are the Human Rights. He believes that a common currency was also a great idea, because it helps European countries to carry out international economic trade with other countries. For example, one of the main reasons why Spanish industrial companies that have some of their manufacturing operations in Slovakia, didn’t choose one of the neighbour countries such as Poland or Hungary is the currency, due to less difficulties with administration. Moreover, throughout history, since the beginning of the humanity, we could see, that in Unity is power. But with Brexit now, we are loosing the Unity and it’s possible that United Kingdom won’t be the last country that will leave the European Union. Is it possible that countries like France would follow this action? What does Mr. Ambassador think about that?

France is preparing for a presidential election which is going to take place on the 23rd of March and 7th of April of this year. He doesn’t deny that they are thinking about leaving the European Union as well, but after the elections there will be a lot of work. Moreover, if they want to leave the EU, there must be referendum. All of these actions take time and the Slovak ambassador believes, that after Brexit, both, the UK and the EU will realize, that it was not a good idea. Firstly, due to the economic impacts, which he believes will dissuade other countries from following their lead. However, there are other reason than just economic, such are the refugees. In Greece and Italy there are thousands of refugees and these countries are not capable of dealing with it without the help of European countries. Even though they have some economic support, there are thousands of people entering and they will not be able to manage it just by themselves. Then there are countries like France that refuse the quota or countries like Hungary that close their borders. He believes that these are not the solutions and moreover, these are the actions that divide the European Union.

So what should we do? What is the solution that would be acceptable for everybody? Is the solution to send the refugees to the countries in which they don’t want to be, which is basically what the quotas are doing? Or is the solution to open the borders and let them all go wherever they want? And then what? The solution offered by Mr. Ambassador was quite simple: “Send them back and start to help them there.” “But there is a war “, I replied. “So then, we need to finish the war” he said. When I tried to give him arguments why is that not possible he stopped me and told me: “Everything is possible, if the war is not finished yet, it’s because somebody doesn’t want it to finish.” It’s going to take time to find solutions to these crises. I asked the ambassador what he thinks will be the future of the EU? He couldn’t answer this question. We will see what happen, but we need to cure Europe or maybe transform it. According to his words, the nationalists want less Europe, the federalists want more, but we don’t need less or more, we need a better Europe.

 

Romana Donovalová

 

TURKEYS RELATION WITH THE EU Friends? How?

Turkey´s intention´s in last years around integrating the European Uion seems to be clear, in this article we will argue that Turkey´s adhision to the EU may not be as good as it looks.
Europe is our common home that we have united around common norms, principles and values. As a part and parcel of the European family, Turkey not only has influenced the political, economic and socio-cultural developments in the Continent but has also been influenced by them. An overall evaluation of the history of Europe cannot be made without analyzing the role that Turkey played in the Continent. As in the past, the destinies of Turkey and other European countries are intertwined. We face the future together. In this context, our goal to become an EU member is a strategic choice.”
First parragrafh of the official webpage of the Turkey Ministery of Foreign Affairs and Exteriors.
It is true that their history is part of Europe´s history, joined and at the same time divided, and we say divided because they history can show us how they were the common enemy of Europe. This enmity can be seen today in the mentality of Eastern European countries which were dominated by this empire, even now they show distrust and hostility to this old enemy. Geographically and culturally, Turkey is closer to the Middle East or Asia than to Europe. Their accession would complicate decision-making and force the EU over time to become less effective organization. But turkey´s intention are not so clear. To be in the European Union it´s necessary to be fully humanitarian democratic wich sadly now a days it´s definly not. Even though turkey has made lot of progress in human rights development, sadly ,its has been demostrated by many sources such as human rights watch that this was wet paper or at list, a part of it. In the last 10 months , the government ordered mass arrests of journalists, closed multiple media outlets, and jailed elected opposition politicians. A total 100,000 civil servants including teachers, judges and prosecutors, suspended hundreds of nongovernmental groups, and consolidated government control over the courts.
Turkey was supose to colaborate on illegal migration issues. But this is not been done. Not only that, turkey has used this problem as a currency of exchange to deal with the EU threating with opening barriers. Turkey is the key and the lock. Joining to the free movement of people a country that makes terrenal frontier with failure warstates such as Siria and Iraq may be quite unwise to the european partners. The dominant view in EU institutions and governments is that Turkey’s collaboration is imperative to manage the refugee and slow down their arrival to European territory. Collaboration on migration issues has always been important but it has never been so actual.

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Four teenagers have been arrested by French police while they were planning a terrorist attack in Paris.

On Friday 10th of February, French police arrested four people, three men and a 16-year-old woman, suspicious of planning a suicide attack in Paris.

According to Sky News, all of them were arrested in the southern French city called MontpellierApparently, the young people were going to activate the explosive belt in one of the most visited touristic areas of the French capital.

According to the french police sources, the four suspects were arrested after buying acetone, which they may have used on preparing an explosive device to realize a frustrated planned attack. Between them, the 16-year-old girl who has been watched out in social networks, after expressing a wish to travel to the Syria and Iraq, defeat them and attack France.  All four were suspicious on plannig an attack and were under surveillance by french authorities.

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The french police raided a house where the four teenagers were arrested and they found explosive material, computers and other equipment. In particular, agents of the anti-terrorist group found 70 grams of TATP, a powerful explosive, but also one liter of acetone, another one of hydrogen peroxide and another one of sulfuric acid, material that can be used to make explosives, informs BFMTV. These explosives are known as  “Mother of Satan” and were used in the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels and in bombing in London in 2005.

The arrested teenagers may remain in provisional detention for 96 hours, before they will be presented to a judge who will determine their possible accusation. The arrests came a week after a 29- year- old Egyptian, Abdallah el-Hamahmy attacked a French soldier in gallery of the Louvre in Paris, while he was screaming “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the greatest), however he refused that it was an attack and said, that he only wanted to make a pacific sign and show his opposition to bombarding Syria by France.

A new meassure that was taken a few days ago, to counter the continuous attemps of attacks is the construction of a wall around the Eiffel tower. According to the diary           “Le Parisienne”, the French Government its planning to shield the Eiffel Tower with a 2.50-meter-high bullet-proof glass wall that will surround the french main momnument this autumn to reinforce the safety.

 François Martins, deputy of Tourism of the mayor, the socialist Anne Hidalgo, said that “The terrorist risk remains high in Paris and the most exposed points, such as the Eiffel Tower, must be subject to specific security measures.

Juan Alejandro Garcia de la Vega Lapique
Mateo Caraballo Pérez Galdós
Romana Donovalová

DROWNED IN INDIFFERENCE

On Sunday, January 29th, an African immigrant lost his life in Venice, Italy, when he fell into the water of the Gran Canal and after a few minutes of fighting for his life, he drowned while the people around him were laughing and making videos and racist jokes. Nobody jumped in to help him.

 On the last day, we could see many internet pages showing a video of a young man, of age 22, called Pateh Saballyh from Gambia, Africa, who fell into the water of the Gran Canal in Venice and was drowning. Although some people from the boats which were around at that moment threw him some lifebuoys, he could not get any of them and in the end, he died. Although, some witnesses and also the Italian police say that he jumped into the water by himself, and that his intention was suicide, it does not change the fact that nobody jumped into the water to help him or in the case of the possible suicide, to save his young life. What is more, people around were making videos, in which we can hear racist jokes and comments such as: “Africa!”, “Come on, go back to your country!”, “He is stupid, he wants to die!”, “He deserves it!”, “Let him die!”…

After a few minutes, witnesses only saw a man’s dead body floating on the surface of the water. Some media sources state that the people around tried to help him by throwing him the lifebuoys and that he just did not catch them. But what if he was not able to do so? They are trying to present themselves innocent, but why did nobody jump into the water to safe his life? Yes, the water during the end of January might be very cold, but we think that human life deserves at least the intention to be saved.

 

 

“A young man has jumped into the water. They threw him two or three lifebuoys, but he refused the help. It is a disaster. I don’t know his story. People say that he is African. I cannot imagine what he had been through, how many seas and deserts he had to cross in order to come here and he came to die here, in the most beautiful place in the world,” said an Italian taxi driver. Other sources say, that he was not an immigrant, but that he had already been in Italy for two years and that he also had a residence permission and had been working legally.

But whoever he was and wherever he had come from, that does not change the fact that he was a human being. The question is: If it was a white person, European or American citizen drowning and losing his or her life in the canal, would it have been the same? Wouldn’t the people have helped him or her? Wouldn’t the people have jumped into the water and not just say that it was too cold? Would they have let him or her die? We are pretty sure that the answer is no. This event has driven us to ask if we are all like this? Are we all such big racists? Where has all this hate against people of another colour come from, if in the beginning and in the end we are all equal? This case of a poor young man who lost his life, in part due to of the selfishness and ignorance of others, has to serve us as an example. An example about how we are and how we cannot be anymore, and as a warning: that humanity has to learn how to be more human.

  • Juan Alejandro Garcia de la Vega Lapique 
  • Mateo Caraballo Pérez Galdós    
  • Romana Donovalová