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New report highlights #refugees in Europe

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The European Foundation for Democracy is a Brussels-based policy institute dedicated to upholding Europe’s fundamental values of freedom and equality, regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion. This week they launched their report "Refugees in Europe - Review of Intergration Practices and Policies".

The report says:  "One of the greatest challenges facing twenty first century Europe is the mass migration and integration of refugees who cross borders in search of safer lives. This report analyses the wide-ranging issues relating to the integration of refugees in seven European countries and presents our key findings – both in terms of good practices and areas for concern – as well as recommendations for change.

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Although the 2015 migration crisis has subsided, a number of issues related to the crisis persist, challenging the liberal democratic values, safety and socio-economic cohesion of Europe. It is increasingly evident that these problems will endure and, in some instances, worsen over time. Given this, the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) undertook this research project, conscious that the way Europe copes with the refugee crisis will have a lasting impact on European societies, as well as on how successfully the European Union (EU) will stay true to the values and principles which define it. The aim of this report is to present measures for improvement on a national and Europe-wide level, offering macro and micro recommendations based on research carried out across seven countries. Our research reveals that a delay will not only allow current issues to persist, but will also prove costlier for Europe; should policymakers fail to invest in long-term integration policies now, the resources which will be required to fix future problems will be considerably more.

The key findings of this report are based on qualitative research carried out in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. In order to obtain
a general snapshot of the integration procedures of Europe, we conducted interviews and workshops with refugees, government officials and civil society actors. This offers considerable value-added as the majority of previous studies conducted on this topic are based on secondary sources. Our main time frame dates from 2015 until the present day, though some statistical data and integration policies pre-date 2015. For each country researched, we analysed existing policies and good practices, as well as bad practices or policies, which produce undesirable results.

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In determining the key findings, we analysed policies and practices relating to: socio-cultural integration within the liberal-democratic framework; socio-economic integration in the education sector/labour market; and social inclusion within host communities. Based on these results, we found common practices and issues present across our research countries. "
Read the full report at
http://europeandemocracy.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/2018-Refugees-In-Europe-Full-Version.pdf

EU

EU Indo-Pacific Strategy

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Perhaps one of the best ways to understand EU’s plans for the Asia Pacific does not come from the recently published Indo Pacific Strategy but rather from another recently published report, writes Simone Galimberti.

There is no doubt that the Indo Pacific Strategy provides for concrete measures of actions that, if put into practice, would certainly upgrade the status of the EU in a vast and diverse region that comprises multiple geographical areas, each with its own characteristics, histories and complexities.

After all, forging a coherent document that tries to connect the dots from Zanzibar, on the most western side of the Indo Pacific to the Cook Islands on the other opposite, is not an easy feat.

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Yet there are important statements in this Indo Pacific “master plan” including a much more robust, almost assertive projection of maritime capabilities that could foresee more predictable, sustained presence modeled on Operation Atalanta like naval mission.

While it will take time to turn aspirations and long-term goals into practice, recent events might accelerate the EU’s resolution to be heard and seen in the world.

The slap on the face received by the French on the issue of the nuclear-powered submarines will define the future of the Indo Pacific Strategy.

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A special defense summit announced by President Macron and President Von der Leyen with the latter dedicating considerable space in her “Speech to the Union” to the idea of Defense Union, will probably honor, at least partially, a long due pledge made in Helsinki in 1999.

An inspirational document like Indo Pacific Strategy will surely be seen differently in the Asian capitals from Delhi to Tokyo to Soul to Beijing to Taipei if a real defense union is created with boots on the ground and with a strong naval presence in the most strategic sea of this era, the South China Sea.

Capability in terms of both soft power and strengths require cutting edge analysis.

That’s why, while taking note of the key messages from the Indo Pacific Strategy, the 2021 Strategic Foresight Report, is an equally important document as it provides with the “raw material” upon which you build a foreign policy.

Patiently waiting for the EU Strategic Compass, this latest Foresight offers the best analysis on the challenges ahead for Team Europe.

At its launch, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “European citizens experience almost on a daily basis that global challenges such as climate change and digital transformation have a direct impact on their personal lives. We all feel that our democracy and European values are being put into question, both externally and internally, or that Europe needs to adapt its foreign policy due to a changing global order”.

“Early and better information about such trends will help us tackle such important issues in time and steer our Union in a positive direction” she further explained.

Because foreign policies and the projection of power on the global stage is driven by interests and priorities while asserting certain values, this document presents a list of so called “strategic areas of policy action”.

It is a long array of key challenges, each with clear goals.

For example, “safe” goals like ensuring sustainable food systems and securing decarbonized and affordable energy to developing cutting edge technologies but there is also more in it.

Covering top interest issues like the need of securing safe supply of raw material, the report is strong on hard core global governance and foreign policy dimensions like “strengthening security and defense capacities and access to space and working with global partners to promote peace, security and prosperity for all; and strengthening the resilience of institutions”.

It’s another way, more understated, to assert the prerequisites for an EU capable and free to thrive and act on the global scene.

It is paramount for partners, competitors and foes alike to know that strategies like the Indo Pacific Strategy are built on EU’s ability to adequately predict and understand the most serious challenges ahead, many of which are common.

Finally, with a new consensus emerging, strategies and approaches are being forged to translate needs as well as inspirations into policy tools that will define the EU’s relations with the world.

Each region within the Indo Pacific will require it to be able to contribute in addressing unique issues, working out common solutions to bolster relationships but, whenever warranted, also deter and counter potential threats.

A common naval mission to assert freedom of navigation in the South China Sea will be certainly welcome by all the ASEAN countries minus Cambodia, a staunch ally of Beijing.

Wisely the EU soft power in the region is growing exponentially and it must continue so.

At the same time an EU betting on the South East Asia, needs also to craft a stronger South Asia dimension in its foreign policy.

The considerable effort here, tailor made on the needs and aspirations of India, another key partner in the Indo Pacific Strategy, must be broadened to address those of the remaining nations in the region. Pursuing a reinvigorated policy in a messy neighborhood, will prove the EU has all the tools and resources and the patience to make a difference even where the payoff will take longer.

Simone Galimberti is based in Kathmandu. He writes on social inclusion, youth development, regional integration and the SDGs in the context of Asia Pacific.

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Can EU nationals still buy property in UK after #Brexit?

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With Britain now having officially left the European Union and the countdown for the UK and EU to hash out a trade deal having begun, millions of people on both sides of the Channel are uncertain about how their rights will change in the months ahead. Right now, the rights of UK nationals in the EU and EU nationals in the UK remain completely unchanged until at least 30 December, 2020.

However, after this point, the UK will be considered a 'third' country where EU law will not apply. If you're already living in the UK as an EU national, or are considering buying property in the UK in the future, it's worth knowing what the future legal landscape may look like. Here's what you need to know about EU nationals buying property in the UK after Brexit.

Source: Unsplash

Can I still buy property in the UK?

In a nutshell, anyone who is not a UK citizen can still buy property in the UK. As has been the case for decades, there are zero restrictions on foreign buyers wishing to enter the UK property market. A huge number of EU citizens already own property in the UK, and the number of EU citizens making inquiries about buying property has actually risen sharply since Brexit, in part due to a weaker pound making housing around 20% cheaper for those buying in euros.

The most common foreign nationalities that buy property in the UK are actually from outside of the EU, with buyers from the US, China, UAE, India, and Russia making up the bulk of foreign buyers. Non-UK buyers are subject to most of the same duties and restrictions are UK nationals. It is worth noting, however, that buyers who are not resident in the UK may face additional hurdles.

Can I get a UK mortgage?

Regardless of which country you are from, there are no legal hurdles or barriers to accessing a UK mortgage should you wish to buy a property. Non-UK buyers also have the same unrestricted access to tools to assist in finding the right mortgage, with free online mortgage advice services like Trussle helping buyers navigate the UK's mortgage market to find a deal with the most favourable and affordable rates. As a non-UK buyer, the mortgage process will be much the same as it is for a UK buyer, and you will be subject to payments such as Stamp Duty in much the same way that UK citizens are.

However, it is common for non-UK buyers with less than two years of residency in the UK to be subject to additional requirements. This often comes in the form of more stringent documentation, and will also often mean having to pay a substantially higher deposit. Of course, if you are a cash buyer or are looking to invest in UK property, then you will face no barriers.

Source: Pixabay

Will anything change in the future?

There is no sign that the current rules on overseas buyers will change as a result of Brexit. Buyers from every country in the world have always been welcome to purchase property in the UK, including EU citizens. There is very little chance that this will change in the foreseeable future, but watch this space to see what happens.

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MEPs demand Bulgaria’s and Romania’s swift accession to #Schengen area

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EU ministers should admit Bulgaria and Romania to the border check-free Schengen area as soon as possible, the Civil Liberties Committee has urged.

MEPs reiterated on Monday (5 November) their call on EU ministers to take a swift and affirmative decision on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania as fully-fledged members to the Schengen area.

They emphasize that a two-step approach - first ending checks at internal sea and air borders, followed by stopping checks at internal land borders - would pose a number of risks and could negatively impact the future enlargement of the Schengen area. The decision should therefore be taken in the form of a single legal act, say MEPs.

MEPs also call on EU Ministers to decide on Croatia’s Schengen accession as soon as Croatia has successfully met the required criteria.

Negative consequences of internal borders checks

Civil Liberties Committee MEPs underline that the Schengen area is a unique arrangement and one of the greatest achievements of the EU (COMP 6). The deferral of Bulgaria’s and Romania’s full accession has brought about negative consequences not just for the two countries, but also for the EU as a whole.

MEPs highlight that maintaining internal border controls or reintroducing them in the Schengen area undermines citizens’ trust in the European institutions and integration. It also has a negative economic impact on the EU’s internal market and exports and imports to and from Bulgaria and Romania, MEPs stress.

They also underline that the enlargement of the Schengen area or the free movement of EU citizens should not be negatively impacted by the shortcomings in other EU policies such as asylum and migration policy.

Rapporteur Sergei Stanishev (S&D, BG) said: “Today, the Civil Liberties Committee reaffirmed that Bulgaria and Romania should become fully-fledged Schengen members, and rejected the prospects for partial accession with air and maritime borders first, and then, eventually with land borders. This ‘two-step’ approach is a dangerous precedent that not only lacks any legally sound justification, but also entails a number of economic, social and political downsides for the EU.”

Next steps

The draft report was adopted by 36 votes to four and one abstention. The full house is expected to vote on this non-legislative report in December.

Background

Parliament gave its green light for Bulgaria and Romania to join the Schengen area in June 2011 and has reiterated its position several times following the legislative resolution.

Currently, Bulgaria and Romania apply the Schengen acquis partially and checks are carried out at the borders of the two countries. The final decision on whether the two countries can become part of the Schengen area has to be made through a unanimous vote in the Council by EU ministers.

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