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Embed code for: PREFCIOS EUROPEAN C
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Topic A: Refugee Crisis
The world is facing an unprecedented displacement crisis. Today, more than 65 million people are forcibly displaced as a result of violent conflicts and natural disasters.
In 2015, over 1 million people – refugees, displaced persons and other migrants – have made their way to the EU, either escaping conflict in their country and in search of better economic prospects. Many people arrive in the EU after perilous land or sea journeys and require basic humanitarian assistance, such as provision of clean water, health care, emergency shelter and legal aid. Many of these displaced people are children who have special protection needs.
The migration flow is impacting transit countries, such as Turkey, Greece and Libya, sometimes overwhelming national emergency response capacities.
The European Commission has taken a comprehensive approach to tackle the refugee crisis in Europe with its European Agenda for Migration, drawing on the various tools and instruments available at the EU level and in the Member States.
The Commission's humanitarian and civil protection department supports refugees and their host communities in four ways.
A) Providing emergency support within the EU
In April 2016, the European Commission announced an initial €83 million worth of humanitarian funding for emergency support projects to assist refugees in Greece. The projects address the most urgent humanitarian needs of some 50 000 refugees and migrants currently hosted in over 30 sites in Greece.
The emergency support funding is made available to Member States whose own response capacities are overwhelmed by urgent and exceptional circumstances, such as the sudden influx of refugees. The assistance is complementary to Member States actions and provided in close coordination with the countries concerned, as well as the Commission humanitarian partner organisations such as UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and international organisations. This funding can be used for the provision of basic necessities such as food, shelter and medicine.
B) Helping transit countries with humanitarian funding
The Commission supports refugees in Turkey who have fled violence in both Syria and Iraq, with particular emphasis on vulnerable people living outside of camps. Since the beginning of the Syria crisis in 2011, the Commission has provided a total assistance of €455 million in Turkey, including humanitarian aid and longer-term assistance.
In November 2015, the EU set up the Refugee Facility for Turkey. EU institutions and Member States committed to funding up to €3 billion to be coordinated via the Facility. Over €240 million worth of projects have already been released to date.
Since the beginning the refugee crisis, the Commission has provided humanitarian aid amounting to over €22.5 million to the Western Balkans, notably to Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Aid is channelled via humanitarian partner organisations to the most vulnerable people, and consists of emergency assistance (food, water, hygiene, non-food items, health, basic protection) distributed at transit points such as borders and registration facilities.
In Libya, the Commission has contributed more than €8 million in humanitarian aid since mid-2014, supporting internally displaced people and other vulnerable groups with the provision of protection, health care, cash support, psycho-social assistance, as well as non-food and hygiene items.
C) Putting the EU Civil Protection Mechanism at the disposal of Member States and neighbouring countries.
Through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, the Commission coordinates the delivery of immediate material to support Member States and neighbouring countries facing major peaks in the refugee crisis that overwhelm their immediate response capacities. The assistance, provided only upon the request of the affected country, is based on voluntary contributions from countries participating in the Mechanism.
The Mechanism has been activated to help cope with an increased refugee influx several times in 2015 and it is still active in some member states of the mechanism in 2016. Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece have received material assistance such as winterised tents, beds and blankets from the Mechanism participating countries to help them better cope with the arrival of refugees and asylum seekers.
The Mechanism is coordinated by the European Commission's Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), which is closely monitoring the refugee crisis and facilitates a coherent and efficient European response.
D) Scaling up humanitarian aid for major crises
The EU, together with its Member States, is a leading donor of humanitarian aid in all the major countries and regions, from where refugees currently arriving to the EU originate. This includes Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. In 2015, the European Commission provided over 72% of its annual humanitarian aid budget (over €1 billion) to projects helping refugees and internally displaced persons.
The Commission has stepped up its resources targeted to refugees and internally displaced persons by €200 million for 2015 and €300 million for 2016. This funding is directed to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), World Food Programme (WFP) and other organisations – including the Red Cross family and international NGOs – to help refugees especially in and around Syria. At the donors' conference in London in early February 2016, the EU and its Member States pledged further €3 billion to assist the Syrian people inside Syria as well as refugees and the communities hosting them in the neighbouring countries.
EU humanitarian aid does not address the root causes of displacement and migration, such as conflict, human rights abuses, economic poverty or climate change. This type of aid helps people caught up in or fleeing man-made or natural disasters, wherever they are. The EU’s humanitarian assistance goes directly to people in distress, irrespective of their nationality, religion, gender, ethnic origin or political affiliation.
Delivered in line with the humanitarian principles of independence, impartiality, neutrality and humanity, EU humanitarian aid is not a tool for migration management. Humanitarian assistance is provided to victims of conflict and natural disasters according to vulnerability criteria and needs assessments.
After a notable migrant shipwreck in 2013 near Lampedusa, which resulted in more than 360 migrant deaths, the Italian government established a large-scale naval operation involving search and rescue. After this operation exhausted available Italian funds, the EU frontier agency Frontex took on the task. However, both operations were marred by lack of funds, as some EU member nations objected, based on fears that the operation would encourage even more people to make the dangerous crossing and lead to more tragic and unnecessary deaths. In 2015, the EU decided to launch a new border-control operation for the Mediterranean in order to more effectively deal with the problem.
Despite that, and despite the major lessening of Mediterranean traffic from North Africa as better ways of reaching Europe were found, overall numbers of migrants have continued to increase massively. The route of current preference is through Turkey into Greece by boat, and from there the overland journey into southeast Europe. For many, the preferred destination is Germany, especially after Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that her country would effectively have an open-door policy, accepting everyone who wanted to come. Unsurprisingly, the flow of migrants dramatically quickened as the news spread; it represented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a fresh start and a more prosperous future.
Getting an accurate grip on numbers can be confusing and challenging as the crisis remains fast moving, but latest figures at the time of writing suggest that 821,000 migrants arrived through Greece in 2015, nearly all by boat. A further 150,000 arrived in Italy, also by boat, while over 30,000 travelled overland from Turkey via Bulgaria. In the main, they come from war-ravaged, failed societies where competent and consensual government has collapsed to be replaced by the bomb and the bullet, and where hatred and enmity thrive on an epic scale.
According to Eurostat, EU member states received over 1.2 million first time asylum applications in 2015, a number more than double that of the previous year. Four states (Germany, Hungary, Sweden, and Austria) received around two-thirds of the EU's asylum applications in 2015, with Hungary, Sweden, and Austria being the top recipients of asylum applications per capita.
There has always been a healthy level of legal and managed immigration into the nations of Europe, but this current migration is entirely different and bypasses normal immigration procedures. It is composed entirely of irregular, "illegal" immigrants, who come in the desperate hope that they will not be turned away. It is part of an ongoing and worsening crisis—part genuine refugees fleeing for their lives, and part economic migrants seeking a more prosperous life.
The EU wants to establish a centralized migrant quota system whereby the number of migrants is more fairly shared among member countries, but this has met with much opposition. How the EU deals with this thorny issue will determine whether the EU survives in its current form or not. The challenge of financing the migrant crisis equitably is another issue, with responses widely varying between member nations.
Most migrants entering the EU are Muslims by religion. The addition of potentially one to three million more Muslims within the area of the EU holds enormous political, social and security consequences. Most Muslims, of course, are law-abiding and responsible people, who are hardworking and make upright citizens. Even so, they will take time to assimilate and adjust to living in the EU. However, a small minority may hold more extreme views. A great lesson of the appalling Paris atrocity was that some terrorists had entered Europe masquerading as migrants.
This mass migration has become Europe's defining political challenge, creating huge stresses, major political divisions, and incessant squabbling about how best to deal with and resolve the crisis. And, it understandably raises important questions. In what ways will its impact change Europe? How can the EC solve this issues to reduce the consequences?
During this model our main objective will be to find solutions to the problems presented in the topic. Looking for the best to each country and the European Union, reaching this way effective agreements.
Topic B: Political and economic impact of the “Brexit”.
A referendum - a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part - was held on Thursday 23 June, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. Leave won by 52% to 48%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting.
England voted for Brexit, by 53.4% to 46.6%, as did Wales, with Leave getting 52.5% of the vote and Remain 47.5%. Scotland and Northern Ireland both backed staying in the EU. Scotland backed Remain by 62% to 38%, while 55.8% in Northern Ireland voted Remain and 44.2% Leave.
Britain got a new Prime Minister - Theresa May. The former home secretary took over from David Cameron, who resigned on the day after losing the referendum. Like Mr Cameron, Mrs May was against Britain leaving the EU but she says she will respect the will of the people. She has said "Brexit means Brexit" but there is still a lot of debate about what that will mean in practice especially on the two key issues of how British firms do business in the European Union and what curbs are brought in on the rights of European Union nationals to live and work in the UK. She set out more details of her negotiating hopes in her key speech on Brexit.
The UK economy appears to have weathered the initial shock of the Brexit vote, although the value of the pound remains near a 30-year low, but opinion is sharply divided over the long-term effects of leaving the EU. Some major firms such as Easyjet and John Lewis have pointed out that the slump in sterling has increased their costs. Britain also lost its top AAA credit rating, meaning the cost of government borrowing will be higher. But share prices have recovered from a dramatic slump in value, with both the FTSE 100 and the broader FTSE 250 index, which includes more British-based businesses, trading higher than before the referendum. The Bank of England cut interest rates from 0.5% to 0.25% - a record low and the first cut since 2009 - after the vote and there has not been the economic slump or recession that some had predicted.
For the UK to leave the EU it has to invoke an agreement called Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which gives the two sides two years to agree the terms of the split. Theresa May has said she intends to trigger this process by the end of March 2017, meaning the UK will be expected to have left by the summer of 2019, depending on the precise timetable agreed during the negotiations. The government will also enact a Great Repeal Bill which will end the primacy of EU law in the UK. It is expected to incorporate all EU legislation into UK law in one lump, after which the government will decide over a period of time which parts to keep, change or remove.
Once Article 50 has been triggered, the UK will have two years to negotiate its withdrawal. But no one really knows how the Brexit process will work - Article 50 was only created in late 2009 and it has never been used. Former Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, now Chancellor, wanted Britain to remain in the EU, and he has suggested it could take up to six years for the UK to complete exit negotiations. The terms of Britain's exit will have to be agreed by 27 national parliaments, a process which could take some years, he has argued.
EU law still stands in the UK until it ceases being a member. The UK will continue to abide by EU treaties and laws, but not take part in any decision-making.
Unpicking 43 years of treaties and agreements covering thousands of different subjects was never going to be a straightforward task. It is further complicated by the fact that it has never been done before and negotiators will, to some extent, be making it up as they go along. The post-Brexit trade deal is likely to be the most complex part of the negotiation because it needs the unanimous approval of more than 30 national and regional parliaments across Europe, some of whom may want to hold referendums.
The government has declined to give a firm guarantee about the status of EU nationals currently living in the UK, saying this is not possible without a reciprocal pledge from other EU members about the millions of British nationals living on the continent. EU nationals with a right to permanent residence, which is granted after they have lived in the UK for five years, will be be able to stay, the chief civil servant at the Home Office has said. The rights of other EU nationals would be subject to negotiations on Brexit and the "will of Parliament", he added.
People travelling overseas from the UK have found their pounds are buying fewer euros or dollars after the Brexit vote.
The day-to-day spending impact is likely to be more significant. Even if the pound regains some of its value, currency experts expect it to remain at least 10% below where it was on 23 June, in the long term.
This means imported goods will consequently get more expensive - some price rises for food, clothing and homeware goods have already been seen and the issue was most notably illustrated by the dispute between Tesco and Marmite's makers about whether prices would be put up or not in the stores.
The latest UK inflation figures, for December, showed the CPI inflation rate jumping to 1.6%, its highest level for two years with signs of more cost pressures set to feed through in the months to come.
Prime Minister Theresa May has said one of the main messages she has taken from the Leave vote is that the British people want to see a reduction in immigration.
She has said this will be a focus of Brexit negotiations. As mentioned above, the key issue is whether other EU nations will grant the UK access to the single market, if that is what it wants, while at the same time being allowed to restrict the rights of EU citizens to live and work in the UK.
Mrs May has said she remains committed to getting net migration - the difference between the numbers entering and leaving the country - down to a "sustainable" level, which she defines as being below 100,000 a year. It is currently running at 330,000 a year, of which 184,000 are EU citizens, and 188,000 are from outside the EU - the figures include a 39,000 outflow of UK citizens.
The UK is one of 10 member states who pay more into the EU budget than they get out, only France and Germany contribute more. In 2014/15, Poland was the largest beneficiary, followed by Hungary and Greece.
The UK also gets an annual rebate that was negotiated by Margaret Thatcher and money back, in the form of regional development grants and payments to farmers, which added up to £4.6bn in 2014/15. According to the latest Treasury figures, the UK's net contribution for 2014/15 was £8.8bn - nearly double what it was in 2009/10.
The National Audit Office, using a different formula which takes into account EU money paid directly to private sector companies and universities to fund research, and measured over the EU's financial year, shows the UK's net contribution for 2014 was £5.7bn.
A referendum on Brexit is now certain. While the outcome is far from a foregone conclusion, a vote for Britain to leave the EU is very possible.
The impact of Brexit on British businesses, the UK economy and wider British interests would be severe and felt across multiple channels. Both the path and the endpoint, in terms of the new relationship between the UK and the rest of the EU, would be uncertain, compounding the costs to the UK.
The direct impact on the rest of the EU would also be significant. The export, supply chain, investment and policy interests of many large corporates would be adversely affected, but perhaps the single biggest impact will be on the cost of raising finance in Europe which is likely to increase.
Brexit would have a wider political impact on the EU, both by disrupting internal political dynamics and because of the risk of political contagion if the ‘proof of concept’ of leaving the EU encourages disintegrative forces in other member states. Europe would also lose esteem and influence around the world.
Member states would be affected in different ways and to different extents. This will most likely influence ways in which states are willing to engage and accommodate the UK during the pre- referendum negotiation.
All member states would, however, feel the impact of Brexit, both politically and economically.
European leaders will have an interest in ensuring that the EU maintains a close economic relationship with the UK, for everyone’s benefit. But they will not compromise on fundamental principles, such as free movement of labour, as the price for single market access. And they will not want the exit talks to be pain-free, easy or pleasant for the British, since they wish to deter others from following the UK’s example.
During this model our main objective will be to find solutions to the problems presented in the topic so we can keep the peace and stability in our world to reach together an effective agreement. will consequently get more expensive - some price rises for food, clothing and homeware goods have already been seen and the issue was most notably illustrated by the dispute between Tesco and Marmite's makers about whether prices would be put up or not in the stores.
She has said this will be a focus of Brexit negotiations.