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Old December 29th, 2009, 06:49 PM   #2521
schmidt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pijanec View Post
It's completely clear. Even Treaty of Lisbon clearly mention that Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy (which both seceded from Guadeloupe) are part of European Union.

Also, it looks that French Guiana and Martinique will also stay under EU if they vote to change their status from DOM to COM in January. Will other COMs also get a chance to become part of the EU then?
What's the difference between DOM and COM?
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Old December 29th, 2009, 09:25 PM   #2522
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What's the difference between DOM and COM?
You don't know the difference between the DOM and the COM?



It's a long and complicated story. Basically the DOM (overseas departments) are more integrated within France than the COM (overseas collectivities; the COM were previously called TOM, i.e. overseas territories, but they've been renamed COM in the beginning of the 2000s). However, both are fully part of France, fully part of the French Republic, which is something most foreigners have trouble understanding. The COM are thus not like the British overseas territories, which are not part of the UK and whose inhabitants don't vote in British elections. The COM are fully part of France and vote in the French elections (plus there is free movement of people, including for work, between Metropolitan France and the COM). It's just that the COM have more autonomy than the DOM (even though the DOM also have a little bit of autonomy, something which most people are usually not aware of).

The DOM are a bit like Hawaii for the US. That's usually the comparison that people make, even though in fact the US is a federal country and Hawaii enjoys much more autonomy than the French DOM (for example Hawaii has its own legal and judicial system, like any US state, and its own education system, whereas the DOM have the same legal system as Metropolitan France, for the most part, and the same judicial and educational systems). In fact the DOM are more akin to the island of Crete in Greece or Okinawa in Japan. As for the COM, although they are more autonomous than the DOM, they don't have as much autonomy as Hawaii. The education system in the COM is the same as in Metropolitan France (with just a few adaptations, such as the school year starting in February at the end of the austral summer and ending in December). The judicial system is the same as in Metropolitan France. Only the legal and tax system is quite different from Metropolitan France, with local laws and local taxes, even though most of the legal codes are inspired from Metropolitan France, and the French Parliament can still legislate for the COM in some cases. New Caledonia is the most advanced in terms of autonomy, the education system is currently being transferred to them, which is something totally new in the French Republic (and many local White people are not really happy about it, because they fear the level in the schools will decrease), but even after the education system is fully devolved to New Caledonia, the judicial system will remain fully national, i.e. the same as in Metropolitan France (the judicial system will not be devolved to New Caledonia). So although New Caledonia will be the most autonomous COM, it will still be less autonomous than Hawaii and Scotland which both have their own education systems + judicial systems.

Concerning the EU, the DOM are part of the EU, and EU regional policies apply there, whereas the COM are not part of the EU, but the funny thing is that the COM nonetheless vote in the European elections. For example, there is a MEP from New Caledonia in the European Parliament even though New Caledonia is not part of the EU.

That's the MEP of New Caledonia in the European Parliament:
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/member...ge=EN&id=96931


EU regional policies do not apply in the COM, but they have a privileged relationship with the EU, like the British and Dutch overseas territories. The situation is a bit strange though, one foot inside the EU (MEPs), one foot outside, so there are currently talks to fully integrate the COM inside the EU. They would ditch the Pacific franc and adopt the euro, and EU regional policies would apply to them (i.e. they would get money from Brussels, which is of course a strong incentive to fully join the EU).

Now if you're curious about the origin of the distinction between DOM and COM, as I said it's a long story. Basically the DOM were the four oldest French colonies (in French they are called "les quatre vieilles"), almost all their population came with the French colonization (i.e. almost no natives preceding French arrival), so they always had a special place in the French colonial empire. In the second half of the 19th century already, they were turned into French departments, but their status was a bit ambiguous, being neither colonies without rights, nor fully like Metropolitan France. It is in 1946 that they became fully like departments of Metropolitan France, because their local elites preferred full integration over independence.

As for the COM, they were originally colonies, and in most cases they had a strong native population before French arrival which remained the majority after French colonization. When the French colonies became independent in the 1950s and 1960s, a few colonies chose to remain part of France under the status of TOM, which ensured full equal rights for the natives, and granted them French citizenship. Over time, a few TOM eventually chose to leave France and become independent (Djibouti, Comoros), but most TOMs remained part of France. Over time their autonomy was increased, and in the beginning of the 2000s they were renamed COM.

Then there is the special case of Mayotte, which was part of the TOM of Comoros before 1976, but which preferred to stay with France when the Comoros left France. Because of the complicated international legal situation implied by the secession of Mayotte within the secession of the Comoros, the people of Mayotte wanted to become a DOM, to make sure France wouldn't abandon them at some point to end the tensions with the African Union Organization, but France refused to grant them the status of DOM so as not to irritate the Africans. Instead they were given an odd ad hoc status that was neither DOM nor TOM but somewhere in between. Since then, they have always insisted they wanted to become a DOM, and earlier this year, after a long process that started in the 1970s, they finally voted in a referendum to become a DOM, and the French government said it would grant that, so they should become a DOM in 2011, and therefore they should enter the EU. It's probably the next enlargement of the EU.

Last but not least, some DOM are now not satisfied with their degree of autonomy and would like to become COM with more autonomy. A referendum is scheduled to take place in Martinique and French Guiana next month to decide whether they should become more autonomous COM. The local politicians are very eager to become COM, of course, because they would have more powers, but people on the ground are extremely wary of it, because they fear a COM status would push their territories on the side and eventually France would get rid of them and stop social transfers, so it's quite likely that people will vote against the COM status (in Martinique I'm almost certain of it, in French Guiana I'm less sure). If they become COM, the French government promised them they would remain part of the EU and would continue to enjoy the same social transfers as in Metropolitan France (the other COMs, such as New Caledonia and French Polynesia, do not enjoy French social benefits, but then they also don't pay taxes to the central government). However, it's hard not to see that if they become COM, the issue of social transfers will be raised by Paris sooner or later. Here the politicians, both locally and in Paris, are hypocrites, and it's the local people who assess the situation correctly.
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Old December 29th, 2009, 10:44 PM   #2523
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In New Caledonia, will they transfer autonomy regarding education system to all levels of education or just primary school?

Quote:
Originally Posted by brisavoine View Post
However, it's hard not to see that if they become COM, the issue of social transfers will be raised by Paris sooner or later.
This is the right move then. If they have their own tax system under COM status why would Metropolitan France pay them social transfers? In practice that could mean this new COMs could adopt very, very low taxes for themselves and France could give them the rest.
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Old December 29th, 2009, 11:45 PM   #2524
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I just read everything that you wrote brisavoine, Very very interesting!
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Old December 29th, 2009, 11:48 PM   #2525
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I thought that Nouvelle Caledonie and French Polinesia wanted to be definitely indipendent from France, they changed their mind?
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Old December 30th, 2009, 02:31 AM   #2526
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pijanec View Post
In New Caledonia, will they transfer autonomy regarding education system to all levels of education or just primary school?
They will transfer all levels of the education system (in fact the primary schools have already been transferred, so only the high schools remain to be transferred). However, after having checked things a bit more in detail, I see the French state will keep authority over some key areas of education (the beauty of devolution à la française ): school curriculum and diplomas will remain the responsibility of the French state (i.e. it is still the French baccalauréat that will be delivered by the devolved high schools, and the school curriculum will remain the same as in Metropolitan France, but New Caledonian authorities can ask the French state to modify the curriculum to adapt it to the local context, like for example focusing more on Pacific history in the history classes). Also, another funny thing, the professors will remain civil servants of the French state for the time being (the central government will "loan" them to New Caledonian authorities during a transitory period). At the end of the transitory period, which could take several decades, New Caledonia will finally be responsible for hiring the professors and paying them.

So at the very end of the devolution process, the French state will still be responsible for the school curriculum, the diplomas (all exams will remain national), the training of professors (New Caledonia will hire and pay the professors at the end of the transitory period, but the French central government will still train them), and the inspection of schools and professors. New Caledonian authorities will manage the schools (the buildings, when to build new ones, when to repair them, how much money should be given to buy new material, etc.), the professors (only for hiring and paying them, but not training them), the school map (drawing the school districts and deciding how many schools in which zones of New Caledonia). In the end the education system will still be a long way from being as devolved as in for instance Scotland. In fact the regions of Metropolitan France already enjoy some of the education powers devolved to New Caledonia (such as managing the school buildings). The two key powers that the regions of Metropolitan France don't have is hiring and paying the professors, and drawing the school map.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pijanec View Post
This is the right move then. If they have their own tax system under COM status why would Metropolitan France pay them social transfers?
If France stopped all social transfers to Martinique and French Guiana, their standards of living would drop dramatically, that's why they will never accept that transfers stop. They've gotten used to it. So if they became COM, it's quite likely that the French government would continue the social transfers, even if they didn't pay taxes to the central government anymore, because the French government doesn't want trouble there.

I find it unfair of course, but then don't forget that this idea of Metropolitan France subsidizing overseas France is in itself an optical illusion. In reality there are only 3 French regions that are able to pay everything for themselves: Greater Paris essentially, and in a smaller measure Rhône-Alpes and Alsace. These three regions, but above all Greater Paris, subsidize all the other French regions through social and government transfers. In other words, overseas France is subsidized, but then most of Metropolitan France is also subsidized by these three regions. That's just to put things in perspective.
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Old December 30th, 2009, 02:38 AM   #2527
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I thought that Nouvelle Caledonie and French Polinesia wanted to be definitely indipendent from France, they changed their mind?
In these two territories, there has never been a majority of the population in favor of independence. In New Caledonia, the White people and the Polynesian immigrants are admantly opposed to independence, and even among the Melanesian Kanaks, there is now a sizeable part of them that is not really keen for going independent. In French Polynesia, there must be something like more or less 40% of the population who support the independence movements, but then that's like in Québec, not enough to constitute a majority in favor of independence so far.
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Old December 30th, 2009, 11:42 PM   #2528
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Sunday I made a video of the A77/A57 NL-D border crossing. At the border crossing itself the concrete isn't in a very good shape and the video is a little bumpier.

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Old December 31st, 2009, 09:13 AM   #2529
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Wow, thanks for that explanation brisavoine. Very interesting read and i had no idea that it was this complex. But at the same time very flexible towards the territories.
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Old December 31st, 2009, 03:17 PM   #2530
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A2 Zagreb (HR) - Ljubljana (SLO), Obrezje border crossing,
entering Slovenia



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Old January 1st, 2010, 12:56 AM   #2531
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Gibraltar (United Kingdom) | Spain





Gibraltar really is just the rock and the immediate town and air/sea port area (yes, that is Africa on the horizon!):





Gibraltar is part of the EU though - the only UK territory (other than the UK itself of course) to be part of the EU. Not even the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are in the EU!
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 06:54 AM   #2532
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It's interesting how the only road into Gibraltar from Spain passes directly over the runway of the airport. Not even a tunnel or anything underneath it!

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Old January 2nd, 2010, 12:02 PM   #2533
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Yes, I have been there a couple of times and if you want to enter or leave Gibraltar you have to cross the runway of the airport. There is a barrier which moves up and down so that both cars and pedestrians can cross the runway when planes are gone. It is nice to have a little piece of the United Kingdom in Spain
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 01:49 PM   #2534
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It is nice to have a little piece of the United Kingdom in Spain


First time I've heard someone from Spain say that!

I want to go sometime myself - it's the only land border the British have, other than Northern Ireland | Republic of Ireland, but that has no border control (it never has) and now of course the Channel Tunnel too, though that's underground!
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 01:53 PM   #2535
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I once looked at a thread in the Spanish forum about Gibraltar and about 1/3 would like Gibraltar to remain as it is.
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 02:02 PM   #2536
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I am just wondering if Gibraltar has any will to adhere 100% to the Schengen agreement.
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 03:21 PM   #2537
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manchester Planner View Post


First time I've heard someone from Spain say that!

I want to go sometime myself - it's the only land border the British have, other than Northern Ireland | Republic of Ireland, but that has no border control (it never has) and now of course the Channel Tunnel too, though that's underground!
Hehe I don't have anything against the U.K. I've visited London many times and I love it. People from Gibraltar are British and they can't be forced to be Spanish as well as people from Ceuta and Melilla can't be forced to become Moroccan. Gibraltar is British and Ceuta and Melilla Spanish; I like things like this. Nobody has right to force people to choose between their city and their nationality.
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 03:37 PM   #2538
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UK must give back Gibraltar to Spain and Spain must give back Ceuta and Melilla to Morocco!
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 03:48 PM   #2539
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Well, I in fact would like Gibraltar to be "more British". I mean, they have more autonomy within the UK than, let's say, England, and that makes it a sort of tax heaven which is detrimental to the surrounding Spanish cities. Having said this, I don't think that Gibraltar being a tax heaven is the only reason why those cities are so f*cked up. We have more important problems in Spain to think about Gibraltar .

BTW, this is what Wikipedia says:
Quote:
Gibraltar is no longer considered a non-cooperative tax haven since 30 June 2006. No new Exempt Company certificates are being issued from that date. All previous Exempt Company certificates will be ineffective from 2010.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_haven#Examples
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 03:49 PM   #2540
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Ceuta and Melilla were never Moroccan because Morocco didn't exist as a state. We can't give you back what you never had. Under your point of view, my town, Badajoz, should be given back to Syria, since it was founded by them. Or Mérida to Romans. I want Gibraltar to go on being British and Ceuta and melilla Spanish. Sorry for the off topic, I don't want to create any debate
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