Monday, July 22, 2024

A smile and a thought….European (Dis)Union?

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DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions.

Column by Eelco H. Dykstra, MD

For Diplomat Magazine

Eelco Dykstra writes a monthly column called “A smile and a thought…” The columns put a playful spotlight on the interface between the Dutch and the International Community it hosts. Yes, his musings may appear at times to be mildly provocative at first sight but they are first and foremost playful – with a little irony thrown in here and there… You be the judge!
His columns are intended to give you ‘a smile and a thought’. A smile because perhaps you hadn’t quite looked at something that way and a thought because the column may leave you wondering…

European (Dis)Union? 

Money matters… and ‘Secure Societies’  too…

As you know, this column regularly reviews what’s on the mind – and in the hearts –  of people. It often does so by linking  the perspectives  of ’policy’ and ‘practice’. While one would assume that these perspectives coincide, this is alas, often not the case.

So, what’s on the minds of the ‘policy’ people?

Risks. Risks to loose (political) power and influence, sure, but also grander issues such as ‘Pandemics’, ‘Climate change’, ‘Terrorism’ and ‘Cyber security’. And the economic crisis of course, particularly because the recovery from it in Europe ranges from ‘slow’ to ‘non-existent’.

So, what’s on the mind of the ‘practice’ people?

Being able to work and being able to do the work; caring, supporting managers, a reasonable salary and interesting work. And security of course, we all want to live in ‘secure societies’.

When we look at ‘Secure Societies’, this also means talking about ‘economics’ and ‘risk’ from an European perspective. Now, before you decide you want to leave this page to look for lighter fare, let me assure you it will be fun to read on. A thought with a smile and a smile with a thought, I promise.

Is there a European mandate?

The European Union has no executive mandate but a legislative one. ‘Brussels’ produces policies and some laws, but doesn’t decide nor execute. The EU member states do. This thing called ‘Subsidiarity’, remember? So where does the funding for the EU come from and what does it do with the money?

European money matters…

The EU depends for its funding entirely on contributions by its member states. For many years, the EU has been overspending, running up a considerable deficit. Yet, unlike the member states themselves, the EU cannot borrow money to finance it debts.  It appears therefore on the books as “Resté à Liquider”… to the tune of well over € 322,000,000,000 (and growing…).

European research programs

Since the EU has no executive mandate, it does develop a lot of policy papers . Many of these policy papers are based on research conducted by consortia that are made up of partner organizations from EU member states.

‘Horizon 2020’

A new multi-year research program called Horizon 2020 is about to start and includes a Work Program on ‘Secure Societies’ which deals with – inter alia –  pandemics, cyber security, terrorism, CBRNE and Climate change. A recent initiative is worth mentioning. It is aimed at bringing the many stakeholders and the many EU Directorate-Generals that bear responsibility for the complex issue of ‘Secure Societies’, together into a ‘Community of Users’, a CoU.  

Cross connections, much needed in the European (Dis)Union.

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– The Hague is the international city of peace, justice and… security, n’est ce pas?

– Secure Societies combine policies and practice.

– Secure Societies includes cyber security, a hot topic at the moment and subject to an international summit in April 2015 in The Hague.

– Secure Societies and Horizon 2020 also reaches out to non-EU partners in the research projects.

‘Secure Societies’ is an important and over-arching issue,

for Horizon 2020

for The Hague

for the European (Dis)Union

for You.

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