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Archive for the ‘European Union’ Category

Brussels under attack: What you should know

If you somehow haven’t heard yet, ISIS (Daesh) terrorists carried out bombings at Brussels International Airport and a metro station downtown near the EU HQ on March 22. There are thought to be 34+ deaths and 200+ injured, with those tolls probably to rise as forensics teams struggle to identify victims.

Flights have been canceled in and out of Brussels, as well as Eurostar trains. Brussels metro system is also shut down. Contact your travel company for information on your individual plans. Belgian authorities are calling for vigilance.

You can see up-to-date coverage on media including France 24, BBC, NY Times, Economist, Flanders News (local) and CNN. I also recommend following the news on Twitter. For those of you who are American, I suggested registering for the US State Department travel alerts & warnings and their Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). The UK’s Foreign Ministry has a similar service, as does Australia.  Belgium’s Foreign Ministry and that of France are also great resources.

In addition to social  media outreach, diplomatic letters of support were sent the world over including from the US and France.

My thoughts and prayers with the families and victims of Brussels. I personally have over 20 friends there and luckily they are accounted for. I’ve been there several times and each time the Belgian people are very welcoming. My heart goes out to you.

 

 

FranceBelgiumSolidarity2016

NYT: How France is confronting change

August 27th, 2013 2 comments

The New York Times had a piece the other day talking about the French economy and political system and its confrontation with social realities. “A Proud Nation Ponders How to Halt Its Slow Decline”.

This is certainly not a new theme. Indeed, in my travels and living in France, I often heard the refrain “France changes not by evolution, but by revolution.” It echoes perhaps true today, with a political system that sees its citizens protest in the streets in an attempt to get their voices heard – it’s the French equivalent of citizen lobbying and activism that can come off as much more noticeable than activist efforts through citizen groups like NGO’s in the US.

It’s an insightful read, no matter where you stand in the political spectrum.

Here are the first few excerpts:

The New York Times
Steven Erlanger
August 24, 2013
Memo from France – A Proud Nation Ponders How to Halt Its Slow Decline

“For decades, Europeans have agonized over the power and role of Germany — the so-called German question — given its importance to European stability and prosperity.

Today, however, Europe is talking about “the French question”: can the Socialist government of President François Hollande pull France out of its slow decline and prevent it from slipping permanently into Europe’s second tier?

At stake is whether a social democratic system that for decades prided itself on being the model for providing a stable and high standard of living for its citizens can survive the combination of globalization, an aging population and the acute fiscal shocks of recent years…”

Reflecting on France’s “malaise”

I hope you all had a very good Bastille Day!
As for me, I’m in a Parisian jazz outfit here in Chicago called Keops. We played the Bastille Day celebration at the Daley Plaza. It was a lot of fun.

As France celebrated its Bastille Day, it’s perhaps an opportune time to reflect on what the modern French Republic means, and the attitudes of its citizens.

Roger Cohen of the New York Times penned a poignant, if somewhat controversial, column the other day in reflection about France’s national attitudes. Excerpts below, but it’s worth the full read as these quotes could be taken out of context.

While I witnessed this feeling of “malaise” that seemed to permeate the national consciousness, I also had friends there who were positive people and looked for the bright side of the problem. There are problem solvers in the country, like any country. And the French also have a well-known “joie de vivre”. So I’m afraid Cohen’s column paints a picture that may be too dark. Nonetheless, when comparing France to the US, there is more optimism in general in the US. But in Cohen’s view, a French person would just paint this as blind ignorance.

Do you agree with his analysis?

“…Tell a Frenchman what a glorious day it is and he will respond that it won’t last. Tell him how good the heat feels and he will say it portends a storm. I recently asked in a French hotel how long it would take for a coffee to reach my room. The brusque retort: “The time it takes to make it.”

This surliness is more a fierce form of realism than a sign of malaise. It is a bitter wisdom. It is a nod to Hobbes’s view that the life of man is, on the whole, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

Nothing surprises, nothing shocks (especially in the realm of marriage and sex), and nothing, really, disappoints. Far from morose, the French attitude has a bracing frankness. No nation has a more emphatic shrug. No nation is the object of so much romanticism yet so unromantic itself. No nation internalizes as completely the notion that in the end we are all dead.

Now, it is true that France lives with high unemployment in a depressed euro zone; that it is more vassal than partner to Germany these days; that it is chronically divided between a world-class private sector and a vast state sector of grumpy functionaries; that its universalist illusions have faded as its power diminishes; and that its welfare state is unaffordable.

Still, moroseness is a foible in a country with superb medicine, good education, immense beauty, the only wine worth drinking, an army that does the business in Mali, strong families and the earthy wisdom of “la France profonde.”

Malaise and ennui are to France what can-do is to America: A badge of honor…”

European American Chamber of Commerce event in Lyon 4/16

The European American Chamber of Commerce, Lyon chapter, is a part of a network organization that facilitates business and best practices between the US and France. It has chapters in Paris, Lyon, Boston, Cincinnati, New Jersey, New York and a partner in Italy.

They hold conferences and events on business-related topics. On April 16th, they’ll be holding a talk on ETI size companies. The event details are below. RSVP required.

Happy networking!

EACC & KPMG present:

Focus on ETIs,
Intermediate sized companies

Europe counts over 30,000 ETIs – an intermediate category between small and medium enterprises and large companies, more than 3,000 of which are in France, where they are considered to be an essential driver of economic growth.

Speaker: Sara Righenzi de Villers, Expert comptable Commissaire aux Comptes, KPMG

Who are they?
How do they resist the effects of the current economic crisis?
What are their challenges?
What are their key growth drivers?

Tuesday 16 April 2013
from 6:30pm to 8:30pm

KPMG, 51 rue de St Cyr 69009 LYON

6:30pm to 7:00pm – Welcome cocktail
7:00pm to 8:00pm – Presentation and Q&A
8:00pm to 8:30pm – Networking cocktail

The Economist’s France 14-page special report

November 19th, 2012 3 comments

The Economist this week has a 14-page special report this week in its print edition that focuses on France, from its economy to politics, under the central theme of how economic structural reform is necessary in order to avoid a “time bomb” going off at the heart of the Eurozone. You can access the Nov. 17, 2012 print edition contents here. The leader article introducing the special report is here, and the special report link can be found at the table of contents site under “Special report: France” (there are 8 articles).

I’m delving into all this right now and encourage you to do the same. Even if you don’t agree with the magazine’s analysis, it is a highly-regarded publication for a reason: for asking important questions.

This is the not the first time the British news magazine has waxed poetic about France’s economic woes and potential for growth. Indeed, French economic and business paper Les Echos puts past covers and stories into perspective (in French).

What do you think are France’s biggest problems and do you think Hollande and Ayrault’s government can solve them?

 

French news: Eurozone crisis, Socialists and Islam

I wrote up a piece for Bonjour Paris covering this diverse topics. You can read the article here.

How Europe is responding to the fiscal crisis

I have an article in the latest edition of Bonjour Paris about the European fiscal crisis, French-German talks and world market instability which you can read here.

Obama, G8 in Normandy, summary of e-G8 summit in Paris

The G8 Summit in France starts today.

Figaro has a special report section dedicated to the summit as well as the G20.

This past Tuesday and Wednesday, there was a precursor, “e-G8” event in Paris bringing together internet experts and goverment ministers to discuss the future of the web, net neutrality, its implications and its role in society. You can check out the official site here. Attendees included Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Eric Schmidt, News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

You can also check out videos on the eG8 YouTube channel.

Is predicted to be a boom for the city and region’s image and tourism

Bonjour Paris article: French politics, Libya, Burqa ban..

I write for Bonjour Paris, a valuable resource, with summaries of French news. This week I focus on French politics, NATO intervention in Libya, regime change in Côte d’Ivoire and the debate on Islam in France.

Bonjour Paris: my article on France, EU response to Middle East

February 7th, 2011 6 comments

I write in this week’s Bonjour Paris an article about Tunisia, Egypt, the situation in the Middle East and the response of the US and the EU (including France). You can read it here.

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