lunedì 10 dicembre 2012

EU Nobel Peace Prize

During a solemn ceremony in Oslo, EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy, Commission president José Manuel Barroso and European Parliament president Martin Schulz received today the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Europe’s 500 million citizens.

Besides the critics of many, this prize was to witness a fact which no book of history can deny: our continent unity guaranteed six decades of peace and democracy for us and the whole world. There is no spread or financial vocabulary word that can delete what Europe meant since the Rome Treaty was signed in 1957, after two world wars had left destruction and death in the continent. 

It is easier to think about our continent political organization as something more economic-oriented, especially after the crisis. But we should not forget - and here it comes the real meaning of the EU Nobel Peace Prize - that our common values and history, together with our different cultures and languages make the European Union something more than just a common currency. Europe is more. You will never find the special diversity all we European people have in a so small 10 million squared kilometers space. There is simply no equivalent all around the world. 

For this reason, I deeply believe today's Nobel was not only  deserved for EU's role in world peace but also, at least from my point of view, since it has been a very important step in the direction of the United States of Europe.   


venerdì 30 novembre 2012

La Palestina fa fallire la politica estera europea

Il voto all'Assemblea Generale dell'ONU potrà pur essere una vittoria per il futuro della Palestina, che da oggi è a tutti gli effetti uno stato osservatore (decisione che secondo molti aprirebbe la strada alla nascita di uno stato palestinese). Potrà pur essere una sconfitta per Israele. Purtroppo, dal nostro punto di vista, ad uscire a pezzi ancora una volta è l'inesistente diplomazia europea che ieri ha votato in ordine sparso sulla risoluzione. Qualcuno si era adoperato sin dalle prime ore nella costruzione di una pilatesca posizione comune, con l'astensione di tutti e 27 gli stati UE. Un tentativo fallito e che ha visto tutti i paesi della sponda mediterranea come Italia, Francia e Spagna, insieme a quelli scandinavi, votare sì. Dall'altro, l'astensione di tutti i paesi dell'est, guidati da Germania e Regno Unito, con la Repubblica Ceca che ha addirittura votato contro. Le identità diplomatiche di ogni singolo paese hanno prevalso, così come le diverse relazioni sviluppate nei decenni tra i vari stati europei e la Palestina. Che i paesi della sponda mediterranea e quelli scandinavi abbiano votato sì non costituisce di per sé una novità. Sono storici i legami tra paesi come l'Italia e la Francia con la causa palestinese e i suoi rappresentanti. Il problema risiede invece nell'astensione degli altri, un fatto che presume l'assenza di una posizione netta e chiara su un tema.

Il voto di ieri non è quindi un fallimento di per sé, ma la conseguenza del datato fallimento europeo nel non saper costruire una posizione unitaria sulla questione israelo-palestinese. E il conflitto dei giorni scorsi ne è un'ulteriore riprova. Egitto, Stati Uniti e Turchia hanno dominato la scena, mentre nessuna cancelleria europea, né tanto meno l'Alto Rappresentante della politica estera europea, Catherine Ashton, hanno dimostrato capacità diplomatiche tali da far inserire il vecchio continente nella risoluzione del conflitto. E questo per via dell'incapacità nel dar vita ad una posizione comune su un tema che riguarda una regione a noi vicina, nonché strategica per la sicurezza del continente.

Quello di ieri è il trionfo dell'Europa degli stati nazionali. Italia, Francia, Spagna e, anche se in maniera pilatesca, Germania e Regno Unito hanno dimostrato di avere una loro posizione. Mentre l'Europa nel suo complesso no. L'ennesima sconfitta per chi sogna un'Europa unita.


sabato 24 novembre 2012

Why Europe is split into two or three

Another hard week for Europe, after Eurozone countries refused to disburse Greece 31 billion Euros loan. On Thursday, EU leaders met in Brussels for a two-days meeting on 2014-2020 budget.  

What came out from the summit was once again the idea of an European Union struggling to find agreement among its member states. If one wanted to speculate, it could be said that EU summit failed, as many newspapers all around the world did. Is that true? 
In times of crisis it is. But there should be no surprise that in their first round EU leaders did not reach an agreement. In fact, there has always been an exploratory meeting in order to understand each country position, which is usually followed by an official summit where leaders agree on the budget. What's new then? 
First of all, the fact that a budget increase - as always happened - is not affordable anymore. Secondly, this was the first time a 27 countries EU budget is likely to be approved, in a situation where more European integration is far to be reached. From now on, it will be harder and harder to find unity on important matters, if things do not change. Actually, there are two or maybe three Europes:
1)Northern European countries such as the UK or Germany which are net paymasters,asking for at least 30 billion of cuts and more control over the budget. EU institutions should adjust to the real world, David Cameron said, playing UK traditional Eurosceptic party pooper role in the whole negotiation;

2)Southern European countries such as Italy or Spain - the first being one of EU big contributors - which do not want to see reductions in the budget, especially in the areas of cohesion policy and CAP, which at the moment seem to be safe from further cuts;

3)Eastern European countries such as Poland or the Baltic ones which are major net beneficiaries and less contribute to the EU budget. These countries, likely southern European ones, complain about cuts in agriculture and cohesion policies.

Angela Merkel believes an agreement is likely to be reached at the start of next year, while EU Council President, Herman von Rompuy, is already working on a new budget proposal. However, it is still hard to say if the budget will be inspired to Europe current needs: control, of course, but also growth and solidarity. In fact, if something failed yesterday, it was the spirit of union between northern rich countries and the poorer south and east.

No surprise that in the very same day budget talks concluded, Draghi warned that the European Central Bank action had prevented a credit crunch. Also reminding the necessity of a bank union and cooperation mechanism, namely more integration, which is EU real need.


venerdì 23 novembre 2012

PR professionals level criticism at EU communication of the crisis

An international online survey led on Corporate Communications professionals by global PR consultants network Infinite Latitude fault European governments for failing to convey clear messages during the Euro crisis. Of 111 senior professionals in 23 markets, 81% said governments had not been able to credibly communicate a path towards a solution of the crisis. Likewise, 77% said governments were failing to present a vision of how a future Europe would look after the crisis.

As a result, only about 4% of respondents think governments have been able to garner support among European publics for the measures taken so far, while about 20% are neutral and about 75% discount this view. Most credit is given to the efforts of authorities to explain the root causes of the crisis – where about 12% think this has been done successfully and about 23% are at least neutral. On these grounds, it may not come as a surprise that a majority, 65%, do not attribute credibility to governments' communication.

Survey statistics
Such figures show how communications is gaining more and more importance among publics. The lesson to be learned from the outcome of the result is that a clear long-term vision and objective, together with a good strategy if properly communicated owns its efficacy. Europe seems to have failed these simple rules which should be the ones of any organization. Especially, if what can come into play is social disorders as those that took place in most southern Europe countries last week.


martedì 6 novembre 2012

US Elections: what does it change for Europe?

What does it change for Europe whether Obama orRomney wins tonight's elections? Nothing! Sad but true, Europe does not matter to whoever becomes the 45th president of the United States of America. The only statement about Europe has been Mitt Romney's unpolite one on indebted countries like Greece, Italy or Spain. For the rest,transatlantic relations did not enter US presidential campaign debate. China, Iran, India and even Russia seemed to be more important to Washington than Brussels economic problems. 
On our European side, US elections really matter as well as whether Obama or Romney wins. Weird but true there should be some reciprocity on the issue. Europeans should not be so interested in who will be the next US president. So why are both right-wing and left-wing EU politicians in favour of Obama’s election? Usually, European right-wing politicians openly supported a Republican candidate. Why this time, are they silently opting for the Democratic Obama? The answer could be linked to communications. Maybe because Obama never mentioned Spain or Greece with such a negative connotation as Romney did. Perhaps, because he never criticized the continent’s welfare model, even if with $1,1 trillion public deficit (+151% from 2009) it would be hard doing that. Another point could be that Obama is part of a left-wing American bourgeoisie having close ties with Europe. On top of these irrelevant aspects, Obama’s approach to US/EU relationship management is not very different from his competitor's. It is the same US/EU foreign policy, with an hawkish approach in the case of Romney and a dovish approach in the case of Obama. What does this mean? This is the symptom of a more and more irrelevant Europe's role in a new world balanced on America/Asia relations. Europe seems to be relevant when it is time to talk about its economic problems. The same economic problems generated in the United States 5 years ago. 

Europeans would vote for Obama, but few things will change. A change was expected in 2008 and what Europe had in turn was the export of the worst economic crisis since 1929. Maybe, a weak Europe with a weakest currency is more to benefit US fragile economy. On this issue, both Romney and Obama agree. At least, for the sake of all those companies and banks that have been supporting the two candidates 6 billion dollars campaign! 

One more aspect. This election debate was entirely focused on domestic issues. Sooner or later the next US President will have to face world politics, including US/EU relations. As it happened to Roosevelt after years of isolation syndrome due to the crisis.    


martedì 23 ottobre 2012

When will we have a European rating agency?

What caused Europe crisis derives from multiple factors. It is not only a matter of sovereign debt crisis. Behind the worst crisis since 1929 there is more than this. On the day when China and Russia launch their own rating agency - the Universal Credit Rating Group - my mind goes back to when the American ones used to downgrade our continent economy.
It all started with Greece in 2009, when rumors that Athens wasn't able to pay its debts led to default fears. Ireland, Portugal and Spain together with Greece soon became the so called PIGS. An acronym very useful when the three American rating agencies monopoly used to describe the reasons behind the downgrading of the above mentioned countries.

Who's behind the rating agencies is well-known. Rating agencies have been making false statements and analyses concerning banks on the edge of failure, as in the Lehman Brothers case. One of the greatest financial scandals ever. Rating agencies acted as if in a football match the referee was clearly a supporter of one of the two rival teams.

The problem is today's crisis is due to the increasing power of a wild market system where everything is allowed. The regulator is influenced by money more than realistic previsions when deciding. It is the abdication of politics and the rise of a disaster movie about finance.

China and Russia idea to create their own rating agency goes in the direction to stop a monopoly where almost 90% of the world market is rated by Moody's, Fitch and S&P. What about Europe? The only country to be really hit by the three sister misleading analyses doesn't seem to respond properly. The norms on the regulation of rating agencies activities and the Tobin Tax could be ok but what about the creation of a European rating agency? If rating agencies are necessary for the market to survive, a European one would certainly help the system to be more balanced. In time we'll see.


giovedì 18 ottobre 2012

La calle

Por fin, las primas de riesgo de los distintos países europeos comienzan a bajar, tras una mala época en la que se veía dificil salir de esta situación.
Un manifestante en la Plaza Syntagma en Atenas
Personalmente, creo que la crisis, española, italiana, griega, irlandesa y portuguesa tiene raíces diferentes. Los valores de la prima de riesgo de estos países lo demuestran: 310 (Irlanda-Alemania), 313 (Italia-Alemania), 371 (España-Alemania), 612 (Portugal-Alemania) y 1540 (Grecia-Alemania). Valores que parecen mejorar solo a la hora en que la Unión Europea ingrese liquidez en el circuito de países endeudados.

Ahora mismo, como se está debatiendo sobre la posibilidad de un inminente rescate a España, los mercados esperan que la llegada de ese dinero público haga bajar la prima de riesgo. ¿Es esto un truco? Puede que sí. Y en efecto hace que surja la siguiente pregunta: ¿la prima de riesgo depende de las reformas que estos países endeudados necesitan o depende del montón de euros que Frankfurt ponga en manos de los bancos? La respuesta oficial es que estos países, tanto Grecia cuanto España, necesitan reformas de verdad y esto hace que sus primas de riesgo estén tan altas. ¿Y la menos oficial? Es la de la calle. La misma calle que veremos el 14N en la huelga general que habrá por los distintos países en Europa (España, Grecia y Portugal) y que expresará el malestar europeo por medidas difíciles que arriesgan a llevar el continente entero hacia una Weimar peligrosa. La misma calle que lleva años sin que nadie la escuche. La misma calle que ha llevado a los extremistas de “Nuevo Amanecer”(Λαϊκός Σύνδεσμος) al poder en Grecia. La misma calle a la que la clase política europea, tarde o temprano, deberá dar muchas respuestas.


lunedì 15 ottobre 2012

"Six decades of peace and democracy in Europe"

"For over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe"

With this motivation, last Friday the Oslo academy decided the Nobel Peace Prize for the European Union. Many have criticised the decision as happened in 2009 for Barack Obama's Nobel. At that time, I agreed on that criticism since Obama had not proven yet to deserve such a prize. His administration had really little time to cope with world peace. One year was not enough either for him or any other one. I believe that on that occasion political marketing prevailed over reality. A good intention does not exactly mean a good action. It is a plus, of course. Especially after a decade of US politics inspired to Bush JR's "hawky" wars. But that doesn't make of Obama a Nobel Peace Prize.

Now, many others criticise EU Nobel Peace Prize, as in 2009. Public opinion believes that the Oslo academy more than being a prestigious international body is turning into a political institution. But to be honest, more than once Oslo awarded Nobel Peace Prize to international organizations: from UNHCR and Red Cross to ILO. Surely, EU is not an international organization or anything comparable to Red Cross. But none can deny a fact, which is proven by history and well explained in the motivation. After the horrible massacres of WWII, Adenauer, De Gasperi, Spaak, Spinelli, Schuman and all EU founding fathers saw in the union of our continent the only way to peace. Even if nowadays democracy, human rights and prosperity are questioned somehow, we are not that far. We can do better, for sure, but we are on the right direction and people still need to be reminded about that. A Noble Peace Prize is a good choice!


giovedì 11 ottobre 2012

Fiscal compact, Tobin Tax and ESM: is this enough?

After decades of directives on weird and technical issues such as the percentage of cacao in chocolate production, EU institutions have been finally forced by unexpected events to debate on very different matters. Since the financial-bank-sovereign debt crisis, EU had to come at a very fast pace to a deep reform process. I add nothing new when I say that big crises lead to big reforms, if then such reforms are right or wrong it is hard to say. Most recently, financial measures seem to be "a la mode", as people in Brussels say. As a matter of fact, none would disagree about the necessity to deeply reform the European Union. From its sovereign debt, its bank and foremost its institutions. But are things like fiscal compact, the so called Tobin Tax on financial transactions or the new euro rescue fund efficient enough to cope with the EU crisis? Does the European Stability Mechanism launched on Monday in Luxembourg ahead of the Eurogroup meeting match with reform needs? To me it seems patching up and nothing more, with a big amount of public money disappearing out of those necessary cuts. Our healthy lifestyle was unbearable, I agree. Western countries should turn their life standards into more sustainable and responsible ones. But the way out of the crisis seems to be more based on figures than on facts. Numbers matter, but sadly they seem to be the only thing in Frankfurt and Brussels seem to be interested in. Hopefully, we need a different approach to solve the continent problems. 

People protesting on Athens streets a couple of days ago, while Angela Merkel was visiting what many call Athens "puppet government", shows that bailouts, tax cuts and measures like the ones imposed by Brussels and IMF give stability (perhaps) only to the starving beast, namely XXI century global market. Although, Greece is paying decades of public money waste and corruption at the hand of market speculation, is the game worth the candle? Is it worth it sowing the seeds of anti-Europeism feelings in a moment when unity is required? Of course, EU regulatory affairs on the financial crisis should provide the most efficient tools in order to keep the markets calm. But is Europe considering the effects of what is doing? Is Europe aware of decades of silence on the democratic shortcoming issues, on getting more cohesion and better integration? Is Brussels working to strengthen EU countries ties or does it care only of budget balance?

Big questions. Hard questions. Useless and rhetoric questions, some would say. Still necessary questions, I'd reply.


martedì 25 settembre 2012

Egoísmos de Europa

Mientras Europa entera está en plena crisis - y no es solo crisis financiera sino crisis para todo el sistema de la UE - lo que el viejo continente no necesita es lo que está pasando en esta última época en países como España o Italia. Los últimos de la clase en Europa tienen en efecto una degeneración de sus líderes políticos que intentan seguir como antes en frente de una crisis histórica que pide objetivamente un cambio de ruta. Un cambio con respecto al pasado: un pasado de gastos y mala administración de recursos públicos. Un pasado que sigue siendo presente, si es verdad que el presidente de la Generalitat de Catalunya, Artur Mas, ha adelantado las elecciones al 25 de noviembre en busca de la autodeterminación de la región catalana, llevando a cabo el mismo papel independentista desde hace 30 años. ¿Es necesario un egoísmo tan evidente en un momento en el que el país tiene más debilidad? ¿Cuando Andalucía va a pedir un rescate de 4.907 millones, las demás regiones españolas están muy endeudadas y la gente protesta en las calles de Madrid? 

La gobernadora de la región de Lacio que dimitió tras unos escándalos de corrupción en su partido
Vamos a Italia, donde escándalos de corrupción están saliendo como ratas de alcantarilla, en un momento en el que los recortes del gobierno han bajado los ingresos de los italianos, donde los ciudadanos ahorran para pagar tasas aún más altas y los políticos ganan alrededor de13 mil euros al mes, pagando con dinero público cenas de miles de euros o coches y pisos de lujo. Un escándalo al que se añade la corrupción en regiones italianas como Lacio, Lombardía, Campaña, Puglia, Calabria y Sicilia donde cada uno de sus presidentes está siendo investigado por la magistratura italiana. Es más, es noticia del día que el partido independentista de la Liga Norte adelantó la creación de una región europea del norte de Italia con el 75% de tasas para esas regiones sin pasar por el estado central. Y todo eso mientras las regiones italianas tienen la mayoría de sus políticos siendo investigados.
La conclusión es que todo esto tiene que ver con una crisis de responsabilidad y una subida de irresponsabilidad entre los políticos de cada país europeo. La Europa del sur sufre y protesta lamentando rescates europeos y conspiraciones llevados a cabo por los banqueros de Frankfurt. Pero todo el mundo sabe lo que es la cultura política de países como Italia, España, Portugal o Grecia. Y los hechos narrados arriba son la prueba del bajo nivel de la política de estos países en un momento que requiere unidad en cambio de egoísmos. 
Ahora, ¿Por qué Alemania debería aceptar la unión de la deuda europea, pagando el malgastar de los demás países de la zona euro, cuando la clase política de países como Italia, Grecia o España sigue portándose como si nada  hubiese pasado, como si nunca hubiese habido crisis? ¿Por qué deberían prestar los alemanes su dinero a gente que sigue contando mentiras populistas sobre falsas independencias o gastan dinero publico para comprar ostras?

¿Tú? ¿Prestarías tu dinero a ese tipo de gente?   


lunedì 2 luglio 2012

Monti-Rajoy: uno spunto per la Pesc europea?

Ancora Italia-Spagna ma stavolta in chiave tutt'altro che calcistica. E' infatti fuori luogo rimuginare sulla superiorità in campo dei rojos iberici che con la tripletta europei-mondiali-europei si attestano di fatto come squadra più forte del mondo, al pari dell'imbattibile Brasile degli anni d'oro. Ma sull'alleanza Monti-Rajoy, su questo insolito asse già formatosi alla vigilia del vertice di Bruxelles del 28 e 29 giugno scorsi, va assolutamente fatta una riflessione in chiave europeistica. 
E' infatti interessante che, a poche ore dal match tra gli azzurri di Prandelli e i rossi di Del Bosque, i due premier abbiano scritto al governo di Kiev chiedendo che le delegazioni dei rispettivi paesi possano vedere Yulia Tymoshenko, ingiustamente detenuta in carcere da quasi un anno. Un gesto di politica internazionale congiunta che non solo porta i due paesi sulla stessa linea ma che dovrebbe essere lo spunto per rilanciare una poltica estera unitaria a livello europeo.

Appannata dalla crisi economica, la politica internazionale dell'Unione Europea, nella persona del suo Alto Rappresentante, la baronessa Catherine Ashton, è infatti anni luce indietro rispetto ad uno degli attuali tre pilastri della costruzione europea. Un'assenza, quella di una politica estera comune, che rischia di farci trovare per l'ennessima volta impreparati rispetto ad uno scacchiere mediorentale in continua evoluzione e che minaccia nei prossimi mesi l'irrompere di una crisi siriana. E a ben vedere la Siria non è la Libia. Russia, Turchia, Iran e Stati Uniti sono i maggiori player che la vicina Europa si troverà a dover affrontare nel caso di un conflitto armato tra Turchia e Siria, sempre che la comunità internazionale non decida - cosa che appare molto probabile ma non scontata - di intervenire tempestivamente.  Ma quale sarà il ruolo dell'Europa in tutto ciò resta ancora ignoto.

Quella di Rajoy e Monti è stata un'azione bilaterale e pertanto poco correlata ad una visione unitaria della politica estera a 27. Tuttavia, resta un buon spunto per le diplomazie del Vecchio Continente per agire in maniera coesa di fronte alle possibili crisi che il futuro imminente metterà di fronte al nostro continente. 


domenica 1 luglio 2012


A poche ore dal calcio di inizio che vedrà l'Italia battersi contro la Spagna per conquistare il titolo di campione d'Europa, non bisogna dimenticare l'altro importante appuntamento di domani con l'apertura delle borse. Sarà infatti l'occasione per testare se i mercati avranno gradito le misure approvate durante il Consiglio Europeo di venerdì scorso. La vittoria regalataci da SuperMario Balotelli contro la nazionale tedesca ci riporta infatti all'altra importante vittoria, quella ottenuta da SuperMario e SuperMariano, ovvero il nostro premier Monti e il primo ministro spagnolo Mariano Rajoy. Italia, Spagna e Germania in un'estate così torrida e turbolenta ma anche ricca di emozioni e sorprese. Quelle di un europeo di calcio che ci ha portato in finale con lo stesso spirito che ci regalò la magica notte di Berlino nel 2006. O il super vertice europeo dove per combattere la speculazione finanziaria, la Germania ha dovuto arrendersi a Spagna e Italia ammorbidendo la sua posizione su misure antispread. Colpi di scena o qualcosa di più concreto? Per gli amanti del calcio basterà aspettare stasera. Per gli appassionati di politica europea bisognerà invece assistere alle mosse che i leader europei metteranno in campo nei prossimi mesi.
L'unica via di uscita - secondo la maggioranza dell'opinione pubblica ormai - è una maggiore integrazione politica dei 27 paesi che compongono l'Unione. E' impossibile chiedere alla Germania di condividere il debito degli altri stati membri senza un'integrazione più profonda su altri versanti. Non è neppure possibile andare avanti con una moneta unica priva di una Banca Centrale forte come negli Stati Uniti. Per questo, gli eurobond, ovvero l'emissione di titoli di stato europei avrebbe costituito un buon trampolino di lancio per la nuova Unione politica. Certo, è chi ci mette i soldi in tutto questo affare, ovvero la Germania, a dettare le condizioni ed è anche giusto che sia così. Un investimento alla cieca e senza garanzie sarebbe una pura follia. Intanto, la Merkel ha detto sì ai due SuperMario, Monti e Rajoy, sullo scudo antispread e questo nel breve periodo potrebbe giovare ai due paesi.

In attesa di capire l'efficacia delle misure adottate nel Consiglio Europeo del 27 e 28 giugno, il derby mediterraneo Italia-Spagna sancisce di fatto la supremazia dell'Europa mediterranea su tutte le altre. Almeno in termini calcistici!