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Showing posts with label European Union. Show all posts
Showing posts with label European Union. Show all posts

Saturday, September 10, 2016

e-Residency is Virtual Global Citizenship

This Tiny Country Thinks Virtual Citizens Will Make It Rich

Estonia aims to bring 10 million people to its digital shores.
July 27, 2016 by Nanette Byrnes, MIT Technology Review

With 1.3 million citizens, Estonia is one of the smallest countries in Europe, but its ambition is to become one of the largest countries in the world. Not one of the largest geographically or even by number of citizens, however. Largest in e-residents, a category of digital affiliation that it hopes will attract people, especially entrepreneurs.

Started two years ago, e-residency gives citizens of any nation the opportunity to set up Estonian bank accounts and businesses that use a verified digital signature and are operated remotely, online. The program is an outgrowth of a digitization of government services that the country launched 15 years ago in a bid to save money on the staffing of government offices. Today Estonians use their mandatory digital identity to do everything from track their medical care to pay their taxes.

Now the country is marketing e-residency as a path by which any business owner can set up and run a business in the European Union, benefiting from low business costs, digital bureaucratic infrastructure, and in certain cases, from the country’s low tax rates.

“If you want to run a fully functional company in the EU, in a good business climate, from anyplace in the world, all you need is an e-residency and a computer,” says Estonian prime minister Taavi Rõivas.


Things that don’t come with e-residency include a passport and citizenship. Nor do e-residents automatically owe taxes to the country, though digital companies that incorporate there and obtain a physical address can benefit from the country’s low tax rate. The chance to run a business out of Estonia has proven popular enough that almost 700 new businesses have been set up by the nearly 1,000 new e-residents, according to statistics from the government.

The government hopes to have 10 million e-residents by 2025, though others think that goal is a stretch.
Estonian officials describe e-residency as an early step toward a mobile future, one in which countries will compete for the best people. And they are not the only ones pursing this idea. Payment company Stripe recently launched a program called Atlas that it hopes will boost the number of companies using its services to accept payments. It helps global Internet businesses incorporate in the state of Delaware, open a bank account, and get tax and legal guidance.

Juan Pablo Vazquez Sampere, a professor at Madrid’s IE Business School, sees the Estonia program as enabling global entrepreneurs to operate in Europe at a fraction of the cost of living in the region.

Last year, Arvind Kumar, an electrical engineer who lives just outside Mumbai, left his 30-year-career in the steel industry to start Kaytek Solutions OÜ, which creates models to improve manufacturing quality and efficiency. Last September Kumar flew to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, and spent half a day setting up a bank account and a virtual office. In addition to the price of the trip, initial setup costs were around $3,300 (€3,000), and he has ongoing expenses of about $480 (€440) a year. The Indian system of setting up a new business is “tedious” by contrast, says Kumar—time-consuming, difficult, and expensive.

Cost was also a factor for Vojkan Tasic, chairman of a high-end car service company called Limos4, in his decision to pick Estonia as a new home for the company. Started in his home country of Serbia six years ago, Limos4 has been paying credit-card processing fees of 7 percent. Limos4 operates in 20 large European cities as well as Dubai and Istanbul, and counts Saudi Arabian and Swedish royalty and U.S. and European celebrities among its clients.

After considering Delaware and Ireland, Tasic chose Estonia, where he can settle his credit-card transactions through PayPal subsidiary Braintree for 2.9 percent and where there is no tax on corporate profits so long as they remain invested in the business. Since getting his e-residency and moving the company to Estonia, profits are up 20 percent, Tasic says. Annual revenue is around $2 million.

For Estonia, the financial benefit comes from the fees e-residents pay to the government and the tax revenue local support services like accountants and law firms make.

To Tasic, who runs background checks on all his drivers, one of the best things about the e-residency is the fact that the Estonian police investigate every applicant. Since Kumar set up his company, Estonia has begun allowing e-residents to set up their bank accounts online, but there remains a level of security, because to pick up their residency card, applicants must go in person to one of Estonia’s 39 embassies around the world and prove their identity.

Some have raised concerns that the e-residence might attract shady characters who could shield themselves from prosecution and possible punishment by doing business in Estonia but residing outside of its jurisdiction. But with no serious cases of fraud or illicit activity to date, it is unclear whether this is a serious concern, says Karsten Staehr, a professor of international and public finance at Tallinn University of Technology.

As with any digital system, security is a major concern. Estonia, which sits just to the west of Russia and south of the Gulf of Finland, recently announced plans to back up much of its data, including banking credentials, birth records, and critical government information, in the United Kingdom.

In 2007 the country suffered a sustained denial-of-service cyberattack linked to Russia after moving a Soviet war memorial from Tallinn city center and has run a distributed system for some time with data centers in every embassy in the world.

“I am convinced they are doing a good job,” says Tasic, who holds a PhD in information services. “But with increased attention, the attacks will increase, so let’s see what the future is.”


 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Africa Realigns for the SDGs with a Single ePassport

African Unity comes Full-Circle

The African Union has realigned itself as a single global power that we may want to call the United States of Africa. The African Union as of last week now consists of all of the African countries including Morocco which had left the union several years ago and now rejoined this year. The African Union (AU) has a universal flag, a parliament, a motto, an anthem and now, as of today, a single passport for its now 55 member states, making it the largest unified continental territory in the world.


The passport and the revitalized unification agenda is being developed to create a new sense of identity and autonomy for its 55 member nations. The AU Summit which has been going on since July 10th took the actions to create domestic continental trade, eliminate corruption, create equality, develop cooperation, protect Africa's resources and remove trade barriers between nations. The summit also targeted steps towards a single currency and banking system, currently there are 42 different types of currency in use.

President Barack Obama form the United States and President Xi Jinping of China both fully support the AU with economic programs. China's president went as far to contact the summit while in progress to offer 60 billion in 2016 and 2017 to promote cooperation and development programs. Obama traveled there in person to see what was going on in Africa and to support them in his effort to create an international trade partnership. (Read more - Washington Post)

A United and Strong Africa

Their motto expresses the common desires planted over 53 years ago when the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) began its formation and walk towards their current agenda when it was reformed into the African Union (AU) in 2002.

The African continent is the most resource rich place on the earth, it accounts for just over 20% of the earth's land mass making it the second largest continent and is also the second most populous continent. A great majority of the resources are untapped, undiscovered and underutilized making it an excellent opportunity for global migration and sustainable resettlement of new residents and citizens.

Unlike European countries that are rejecting immigrants the AU welcomes new immigration and advancement of their civil societies so they are focusing on creating safety and security for would-be international settlers.

Much like the European Union (EU) and the Mercosur Union in South America the new agenda of the AU is focused on promoting wise use of sustainable resources, free-trade between African nations, and open migration within Africa. Moving from Zimbabwe to Angola will someday soon be as simple as moving from California to Texas in the USA.

Completely the opposite of Brexit the African Union creates a whole new dynamic in unity and puts all all the colonialist states and republic trading schemes which have abused the African nations resources as individual countries into a different perspective, because all the current international treaties with individual nations will be revised (many cancelled) to deal with the new continental super-nation Africa.

We can probably also expect to see military, commerce, non-profits, banks, education to all converge to single continental standard laws, customs, a single currency, and a great reduction in corruption at national levels.  

One Passport for Continental Commerce and Global Travel

The greatest immediate action that will be realized is that the African Union will begin almost immediately to issue e-passports and establish open continental trade and commerce. The new passports will be issued under a single authority of the AU. In their press release they said, "This flagship project, first agreed upon in 2014, falls squarely within the framework of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and has the specific aim of facilitating free movement of persons, goods and services around the continent - in order to foster intra-Africa trade, integration and socio-economic development."

The epassport being developed meets all the international standards and requirements defined by the ICAO and enforced by INTERPOL and members states of the United Nations at their ports. The passport that is being rolled out now for the AU citizens uses biometric identity fields, all passport holders will be able to travel, migrate and do business freely Africa wide. 

AU or United States of Africa

They will probably never call it the United States of Africa because the acronym USA is already taken, but nonetheless do not take the words 'united' and 'states' for granted; the official name of Mexico is the United States of Mexico (Estados Unidos Mejicanos)   The objectives of the AU are:
  1. To achieve greater unity and solidarity between the African countries and Africans.
  2. To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States.
  3. To accelerate the political and social-economic integration of the continent.
  4. To promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and its peoples.
  5. To encourage international cooperation, taking due account of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  6. To promote peace, security, and stability on the continent.
  7. To promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance.
  8. To promote and protect human and peoples' rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and other relevant human rights instruments.
  9. To establish the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations.
  10. To promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies.
  11. To promote co-operation in all fields of human activity to raise the living standards of African peoples.
  12. To coordinate and harmonize the policies between the existing and future Regional Economic Communities for the gradual attainment of the objectives of the Union.
  13. To advance the development of the continent by promoting research in all fields, in particular in science and technology.
  14. To work with relevant international partners in the eradication of preventable diseases and the promotion of good health on the continent.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Are Migrants Global Citizens too?

​There Are No Migrants, Only Global Citizens​ - Thursday, 10 September 2015 by Robert C. Koehler for Buzzflash at TruthOut

Dispel the Ideal of Immigrants We are All One People!


Who are all these people?

Here’s another global problem — this flow of refugees — that national governments are apparently incapable of dealing with in a long-term, cooperative, globally responsible way. As with climate change, as with war and disarmament, they retreat into insularity in the face of such matters and become protective of their short-term, individual “interests,” which mostly concern the bureaucratic sacredness of their borders and an obsessive distinction between us and them.

“The European Union, (French President François Hollande) said, needed to create ‘hot spot’ reception centers at those borders under the greatest onslaught — in Greece, Italy and Hungary — to register new arrivals and turn back those who do not meet the requirements for asylum,” reports the New York Times.

And: “(British Prime Minister David) Cameron said Monday that Britain would accept up to 20,000 Syrian refugees, but they would most likely be limited to those who apply for asylum from camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The British government is wary of giving migrants any incentive to make the dangerous journey into Europe, officials said. . . .”

Of course, it gets a lot worse than that: razor wire, brute force, big walls. Desperate people risk their lives. Boats capsize. Children die as racist slogans reverberate. Families flee war and poverty, hell on earth. They need new homes. What a nuisance.

The photo of the body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who washed up on a Turkish beach after his family’s boat capsized as they tried to escape Syria — his mother and 5-year-old brother also died — has turned the refugee crisis, at least temporarily, into something more than an abstraction. “Within hours,” Jamie Fahey wrote at the Guardian, which initially published the photo, “the image had gone viral and become the top-trending picture on Twitter with the hashtag #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik (humanity washed ashore).”

A New Horizon Ahead

Humanity washes ashore, but does anything change? There’s only one way for real change to happen: The value of human life must supersede citizenship. Refugees — people forced by terrible circumstances out of their homes — shouldn’t have their escape routes blocked, either by barbed wire or bureaucratic minutiae, because they have been rendered “stateless.”

For instance, while Aylan’s family had relatives in Canada and, therefore, could legally have entered that country, his parents “had been unable to get family reunification visas that would have given them a legal route out of Turkey,” the Washington Post reported. “Instead, they tried to reach Greece by boat, with tragic consequences.”

The arguments defending border restrictions concern the sanctity and necessity of maintaining national order. But these arguments begin to crumble when one considers the extent to which potential host nations bear responsibility for much of the chaos in those broken parts of the world — such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan — from which most of the world’s refugees are fleeing.

This phenomenon isn’t usually included in news stories about refugees. Thus they are portrayed either as pitiable unfortunates who need our benevolence or would-be freeloaders trying to get a good deal for themselves in some wealthy country with generous benefits.

But as Robert Parry, who as a reporter for the Associated Press in the 1980s helped expose the Iran-Contra fiasco, wrote recently: “The refugee chaos that is now pushing deep into Europe . . . started with the cavalier ambitions of American neocons and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks who planned to remake the Middle East and other parts of the world through ‘regime change.’

“Instead of the promised wonders of ‘democracy promotion’ and ‘human rights,’” he continued, “what these ‘anti-realists’ have accomplished is to spread death, destruction and destabilization across the Middle East and parts of Africa and now into Ukraine and the heart of Europe. Yet, since these neocon forces still control the Official Narrative, their explanations get top billing — such as that there hasn’t been enough ‘regime change.’”

The neocons, who began their “cult of regime change” in Central America during the Reagan era, reclaimed control over American foreign policy when Bush Jr. was elected president and used 9/11 to cohere support for their long-sought invasion of Iraq. This action, of course, shattered the country and let loose the howling chaos of civil war. Since then, the U.S. and its allies have perpetrated similar disasters in Libya, Syria and elsewhere, as they’ve continued to impose regime change on select Middle Eastern countries they hope to control.

But today’s global refugee crisis goes deeper than the neocons. The colonial powers of the Western world conquered and exploited the whole planet. Even when these powers relinquished their control over the Third World, they left behind a patchwork of states with randomly drawn borders that were in many cases deeply ungovernable.

As Gurminder K. Bhambra wrote recently in the Australian publication The Conversation: “The failure to properly account for Europe’s colonial past cements the political division between legitimate citizens with rights and migrants/refugees without rights. . . .

“If belonging to the history of the nation is what traditionally confers membership rights upon individuals (as most forms of citizenship demonstrate), it’s incumbent upon us to recognize the histories that would see refugees as already having claims upon the states they wish to enter.”

There should be no such concept as stateless migrants, left to the mercy of the weather and the tides, the smugglers of human cargo, the border bureaucrats. There should only be global citizens.

This is all of us, equal to one another in our humanity, equally deserving of the chance to live and prosper. The photos of a 3-year-old boy washed ashore in Turkey make this clear.
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