Friday, March 2, 2012

Serbia becomes newest EU candidate

The EU has named Serbia its most recent candidate for membership, France24 reports. In a summit in Brussels on March 2, EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy called the step "a remarkable achievement." 

Now will come the real work, according to many observers, which will involve stubborn disagreements on the country's relationship with Kosovo, and over lingering feelings from the international community toward Serbia. The new candidate was largely seen as a pariah state, responsible for much of the bloodshed in the Balkan region throughout the 1990s.

“The EU is gradually dismantling the Balkans-shaped bomb lying right next to it,” said Daniel Korski, a senior-level analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations in London.

Now for a tone change: check out my story on a day spent in Belgrade, the Serbian capital, published this week on the travel website Here's an excerpt:

"Petar poured juice into two green glasses and sat down across from me on the couch. I worked up the nerve to ask him about the wars of the 1990s, whether Serbia’s bloody past was having any bearing on his life now.

“It has a daily effect,” Petar said. “I still think about it all the time. Everyone does. Time has passed, my generation is now working and starting families, but it’s part of our lives, as if it were still happening. Now, for example, when I have money, I ask myself, ‘Should I buy groceries? Should I save it? Or can I buy this television, this computer program, get my car fixed?’ This type of thinking comes from war.”
He said it made no sense to brood over the past. “Sadness turns to anger,” he continued, “and anger ruins your life.”
I couldn’t believe his candor, his eloquence. I wanted to express my gratitude but just then his cell phone beeped. It was a text message from his girlfriend. “She wants to meet you,” he said. “I have an idea.”
Petar told me to shower and take some medicine for my stomach. In the meanwhile he made sandwiches. He called his girlfriend back and made arrangements for us to pick her up.
Before we headed out the door, he turned to me. “One other thing about the future,” he said, “about this after-war life we’re living here. We Serbians, we have this crazy will, this crazy will, and when we want to do something, no matter how long it takes or how hard it is we do it. Look at Novak Djokovic.”
“The tennis player?”
“Twenty-one years old and top three in the world,” he said. “No fancy facilities, no amazing coach, just that crazy Serbian will. Know that. That’s Serbia too.”

Did you like this story? Hate it? Let me know in the comments section. Watch this space for more excerpts from this story and others.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Youth unemployment exceeds 30 percent in eight member states


Nothing to add here, just a title I thought was as worthy of sharing as it is frightening. From EUobserver:

"Youth unemployment rates surpass 30 percent in Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain, the European Commission said on Tuesday (31 January). Eurostat figures show that in December 2011, the youth unemployment rate was 22.1 percent in the EU27 up from 21.0 percent in 2010."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Merkel to Go to Bat for Sarkozy Campaign?

"Sarkozy’s German-inspired reforms are likely to please Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is believed to have offered to lend her support to Sarkozy’s re-election bid.
Merkel and Sarkozy were nicknamed ‘Merkozy’ for their close relationship and joint efforts to tackle the Eurozone crisis.
FRANCE 24’s International Affairs Editor Douglas Herbert said: “I think he is very happy to have Merkel’s support but it works both ways.”
“Sarkozy is someone she thinks she can trust to keep Europe on the right path.”

A "Budget Commissioner" for Greece?

This just in from the Wall Street Journal: Germany's Wolfgang Schauble is part of a group involved with the resolution of the Euro crisis that suggests the EU appoint a "budget commissioner" for Greece. The effort would aim to secure trustworthiness--and, ultimately, a way out--for the seemingly never-ending circles made around finally coming to a eurozone currency crisis fix. From the article

"Europe is "prepared to support Greece" with the new loan package, Mr. Schäuble said, but he warned: "Unless Greece implements the necessary decisions and doesn't just announce them…there's no amount of money that can solve the problem."
The remarks came as German officials last week floated the radical idea of appointing a European "budget commissioner" with veto powers over Greece's spending, partially suspending Greece's national sovereignty over its budget, in return for aid."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Graphic: How the EU Gets and Spends Its Money

More great infographics from the Guardian. See "Where does the European Union get its money from – and how does it spend it?", part of the newspaper's new "Europa" venture with several other leading European dailies. 


... And we're back! EurAmerican has been dormant these last few, but here's something I couldn't help but share. "The Rise of the Megacities" is a new study published by the Guardian, detailing global trends on cities and the signs that urban life will be the prevailing mode of living for the 21st century. Article here, zoomable graphic here.

Also check out the online newspaper I'm involved with, the European Daily, whose "Abroad" page features my latest editorial wizardry. Enjoy!