News Stories from Europe in 2014
In 2014, EUROGEO (the European Association of Geographers) completed 35 years of operation. This is the latest of a series of blog posts celebrating this anniversary by looking back at 2014 from the posts in the monthly newsletter of the association. In this blog, posts from European news, research and policy is reviewed.
2014 was the year of EU elections and a controversy over passports. Elections for the European Parliament took place in the summer and the geographical distribution and voting outcomes were shown in the map of Europe’s voting patterns and the results of the European Parliament elections 2014.
At the start of the year it was revealed that the Maltese government was offering EU passports for sale. In this revelation, Malta planned to sell 1,800 passports for €650,000 each, before closing down this programme. Eventually, the Maltese Government was forced to give way in the face of strong European Union criticism, agreeing to require one year of residency for foreigners buying Maltese passports.
The year was one of European citizen empowerment as EU citizens forced a water debate onto agenda. This was achieved through the European citizens’ initiative which allows millions of EU citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policies, by calling on the European Commission to make a legislative proposal.
Increasing citizen engagement was featured as the Green paper on Citizen Science for Europe was released Towards a society of empowered citizens & enhanced research.
The development of EU geo-clusters for energy was in the news, as they were said to play a key role in fostering innovation for energy efficient buildings. The energy campaign is being backed across Europe when it was announced that one thousand European cities were backing 2030 energy efficiency target.
A business cluster is a geographic concentration of interconnected businesses, suppliers, and associated institutions in a particular field. The term was introduced by Michael Porter in The Competitive Advantage of Nations (1990). The “Geo-clusters” are virtual trans-national areas where strong similarities are found (i.e. climate, culture and behaviour, construction typologies, economy, energy price and policies and gross domestic product).
The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia sparked issues about the selection of of the venue (Why the site of the Olympics is not in the Alps?) and raised suggestions that the Alps will never again be able to host the Winter Olympic Games (Ten arguments against the Olympics in the Alps).
In terms of policy making, the Environmental Union considers climate change, where Europe still aspires to global leadership.
The European Parliament voted for stronger climate targets and there was hope that EU climate and energy policy would be better integrated as a result of the policy recommendations from the project “climate policy integration into EU energy policy”.
European expansion was on the agenda as Montenegro’s future place in Europe and Ukrainians must beware of what joining Europe could actually mean were considered.
Europe still remains internally divided for instance on the island of Cyprus, where hope was growing for the seaside town of Varosha, the tourist resort abandoned in 1974.
The resource 38 Maps that explain Europe illustrates the dramatic changes that have taken place across the continent and the transformations which are still ongoing.
The list of European stories from the EUROGEO e-newsletter is available at http://www.eurogeography.eu/eurogeo-newsletter/news-2014-europe.html