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Geopolitics

Croatia Makes It 28! But An Ever-Expanding EU Comes With Big Risks

Latest but not last: Zagreb is Europe's latest star
Latest but not last: Zagreb is Europe's latest star
Jacques Hubert-Rodier

PARIS - More than decade after the end of the Balkan wars, Croatia has become the 28th member of the European Union as of Monday, July 1, 2013. This is undoubtedly a positive sign for Europe as the old continent faces a new wave of euro-skepticism.

Europe remains attractive despite the rise of individual nationalisms. This new membership, following Slovenia, is also another way to offer closure after Europe's failure to end the terrible massacres in the former Yugoslavia without the decisive intervention of the United States.

So what happens next?

Everyone knows this won’t be the last member to join the EU. Serbia wants to open adhesion negotiations in January and Kosovo hopes it will soon be granted a Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the first step towards adhesion. The other applicants are Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania.

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Ever-expanding Europe - Source: Kolja21

Meanwhile, Iceland has already started negotiating for membership -- and Georgia, Ukraine and Armenia are all dreaming of joining the Union. And we should not forget the particular case of Turkey.

Yet, the EU may face traps if it keeps expanding. The union is already mostly ungovernable in the face of its 27 members. Every single matter from Europe’s budget to the European Commission's mandate to – finally - start negotiations on a free-trade agreement with the U.S. inevitably leads to internal arguments among members. The EU has never been able to find an agreement on the war in Syria. So how will it be able to make decisions with a single voice in front of America, China, Russia or even India?

Of course, as far as money’s concerned, the integration of the countries of former Yugoslavia would only cost 10 billion euros to the European budget. But there is still a great divide in lifestyles between those countries and the rest of the Union. For many of the new applicants, joining the EU is considered more like a renewal of their commitment towards the Atlantic Alliance -- not a sudden awareness of a true European identity.

The old continent is slipping towards a Europe with variable geometry, including countries that should have been integrated with the first 17 of the euro single currency zone (a process that is still very problematic), the 22 of the Schengen area (a flawed area as well) and the others.

The EU needs to finally settle its borders and redefine its raison d’être. Even if today, by welcoming Croatia, it can brag again a bit about fulfilling the objective of its founding fathers: “Make peace reign in Europe.”

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Green Or Gone

Tracking The Asian Fishing "Armada" That Sucks Up Tons Of Seafood Off Argentina's Coast

A brightly-lit flotilla of fishing ships has reappeared in international waters off the southern coast of Argentina as it has annually in recent years for an "industrial harvest" of thousands of tons of fish and shellfish.

Photo of dozens of crab traps

An estimated 500 boats gather annually off the coast of Patagonia

Claudio Andrade

BUENOS AIRES — The 'floating city' of industrial fishing boats has returned, lighting up a long stretch of the South Pacific.

Recently visible off the coast of southern Argentina, aerial photographs showed the well-lit armada of some 500 vessels, parked 201 miles offshore from Comodoro Rivadavia in the province of Chubut. The fleet had arrived for its vast seasonal haul of sea 'products,' confirming its annual return to harvest squid, cod and shellfish on a scale that activists have called an environmental blitzkrieg.

In principle the ships are fishing just outside Argentina's exclusive Economic Zone, though it's widely known that this kind of apparent "industrial harvest" does not respect the territorial line, entering Argentine waters for one reason or another.

For some years now, activists and organizations like Greenpeace have repeatedly denounced industrial-style fishing as exhausting marine resources worldwide and badly affecting regional fauna, even if the fishing outfits technically manage to evade any crackdown by staying in or near international waters.

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