BullsEye Aprâ€™15 / 53nd year / No. 60 / ISSN 2033-7809
The newsmagazine of European Democrat Students
Youth against Corruption
Current Affairs 04 British Gener(ation)al Elections 06 Challenges to political Liberalism in Europe 07 EU Army: Unity in Difference 08 Poland – A Story of Success
Dear Readers, welcome to the last edition of BullsEye in the working year 2014/2015. This issue is titled “Youth vs. Corruption”. Corruption is the abuse of a bestowed power or position in order to acquire a personal benefit. Such practices undermine competition and lead to substantial losses of funds that should actually benefit the development of a country or enterprise instead. The first report of the European Commission on the topic has proven once again that corruption is still widespread within the EU. According to the latest report by Transparency International, the EU institutions such as the European Parliament, the Commission or the European Council are also in need of more effective protection against fraud and bribery. Although there are numerous rules and regulations, these are often not implemented and not even understood by its employees. However, after reading the Commissions report, it can be recognised that there is a gap between North and South, East and West. The eastern and southern Member States suffer more corruption than the northern ones. But a country where everything is right does not exist, said the former Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström. Today, corruption generates an economic loss of 120 billion euros every year in the EU. This is reason enough to focus on various aspects of this severe problem in this issue and discuss possible solutions. I hope you enjoy your reading.
10 Future of the Republican Party 12 Oil Wars: The Saudi-US Struggle 13 EU’s new Challenge for Solidarity 14 A Growth Engine for European Business 16 Interview with Jyrki Katainen
Universities 20 Will Academic Education be the only Way to Personal Success? 22 Tapping the Talent 24 The Bane of Europe’s Future
Reports 25 The Sunnis-Shiites Divide in the Middle East 27 The House of European History 28 Portraits
Silvie Rohr EDS Editor-in-chief
Council for Europe 30 GRECO
BULLSEYE The newsmagazine of European Democrat Students
ISSN: Print: 2033-7809 Online: 2033-7817 Editor-in-chief: Silvie Rohr Editorial team: Mindaugas Liutvinskas, Stefanie Mayrhofer, Julien Sassel and Dietmar Schulmeister Contributions: Henrique Laitenberger, Anna Masna, Benjamin Clement, Ewelina Gargała, Tomasz Kaniecki, Henry Barbour, Mindaugas Liutvinskas, Marko Kmetič, Matt Brittin, Silvie Rohr, Prof. Hans Joachim Meyer, Marianne Thyssen, Andreas Fock, Julien Sassel, Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering and Ivan Burazin Photos: Balázs Szecsődi,Laura Kotila, 123RF and Shutterstock Design: creacion.si Publisher: European Democrat Students, B-1000 Brussels, Rue du Commerce 10 Tel: +32 2 2854-150 Fax: +32 2 2854-141 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: edsnet.eu Publication supported by: European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe
Welcome to Warsaw! We proudly present the last issue of BullsEye for this working year. During this Council Meeting – the last one before the Summer University and thus the start of the new working year – we will take a step back. A step back from particular aspects of student policies, the approach we have generally taken throughout the last events. During this event we want to not only examine what holds entire economies back but also what can lead to the failure of societies as a whole: corruption. While corruption seems to be a relict of the past in some countries, it is not yet overcome in Europe and deserves special attention and joint efforts. And it is worth taking yet again the student angle: many students are stuck in corrupt educational systems. Their future relies rather on the income of their parents rather than on their abilities and diligence. We want to help change that! In fact, Poland is a good case study: the country has moved up the ladder in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index over the years, delivers better than most of its neighbours, yet it is still facing some shortfalls. How did the government in Poland write the story of success for its citizens since the fall of the Iron Curtain and Independence? Which lessons can we draw from the experience and how can we walk the remaining path together? As EDS, we want to carve sustainable solutions that will improve the situation in Europe and can possible prevail as best practices even outside our boundaries.
Dear friends of EDS!
On a different note, this is also the last edition of BullsEye under the current EDS Executive Bureau. Therefore, I want to take the opportunity to extend a warmly felt ‘THANK YOU’ on behalf of the entire bureau to all contributors: authors, layouters, volunteers. Our sincere gratitude is directed to our Editor-in-chief, Silvie Rohr, for this past year. She took our newsmagazine to a new level by introducing more prominent guest writers, enforcing more targeted policy discussions, and by sparing no efforts at all. ‘Promised, delivered’ could be the caption for this past year. We are deeply grateful! With best regards from the entire Bureau,
With best regards from the entire Bureau,
Eva Majewski, Chairwoman
British Gener(ation)al Elections The British political sphere is one ruled by traditions and symbolism. A recurrent feature more recently added to this ritualistic canon is the description of upcoming general elections as the “most important elections for a generation”. Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has used that very phrase both in 2010, when the country last went to the polls, and in this year’s campaign. Such maximalist rhetoric is mainly due to the United Kingdom being confronted with similarly fundamental challenges as it was five years ago: whilst in 2010, Britain faced severe economic turmoil, it is the country’s political future that is currently at stake. All signs point towards these May elections resulting in a complete remodelling of Britain’s party political landscape– one that the kingdom’s electoral system of First Past The Post (FPTP) may not accommodate. Similarly to the United States, Britain’s political system is geared towards the competition between two major parties achieving solid parliamentary majorities. Until recently, the political duopoly exercised by the Conservative Party and the Labour Party remained fairly unchallenged. However, over the past years, this balance has been radically offset, with the UK Independence Party (UKIP), the Scottish National Party (SNP) and even the sectarian Green Party gaining increasing sway with voters. Even the battered Liberal Democrats, heavily damaged by their decision to coalesce with the Conservatives, are expected to retain forty-eight of their fifty-six seats. Instead of an even division of seats between Tories and Labour, the House of Commons may thus have to accommodate six parliamentary parties of significant size – a first for the United Kingdom.
Two dominant reasons sign responsible for this fragmentation of the British political landscape: anti-establishment sentiment and re-emerging nationalism(s). Whilst inhabiting different parts of the political spectrum, UKIP, the SNP and the Greens are united by their disdain for the “detached Westminster elite” embodied by the two major parties. In the case of UKIP and the SNP, a rampant English/ Scottish nationalism equally enters into the equation. UKIP is the most enduring sign of this trend, not least due to its charismatic leader, Nigel Farage. His blunt anti-EU and anti-immigration rhetoric have struck a chord with disgruntled Tory voters disenchanted with Cameron’s ‘moderate Conservatism’. Consistently polling at fourteen percent, Farage has become the gravest threat to a Conservative return to Downing Street. At the other end of the political spectrum, Labour leader Ed Miliband is facing a simi-
lar scenario in Scotland: a red bastion since Margaret Thatcher’s premiership, Labour’s power monopoly in Scotland is crumbling with the separatist, left-wing populist SNP likely to return the majority of the country’s MPs this May. Contrary to expectations, the Scottish Nationalists led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have emerged stronger from the lost independence referendum last September. This is mostly due to a substantial devolution agreement between Edinburgh and Westminster, to which both the Conservatives and Labour agreed in exchange for Scotland remaining part of the union, still having to be concluded. Similarly, the SNP benefits from the split the Scottish Labour Party suffered over the question of Scottish independence from which it is yet to recover. Beyond Caledonia, Miliband is facing increasing pressure from a rising Green Party. After decades of progressive centrism under Tony Blair
and Gordon Brown, Labour has alienated a substantial share of its core left-wing vote. As a result, the party’s ideological left is increasingly attracted to the self-proclaimed ‘anti-party’ Green Party with its pledges for extensive social housing and a universal living grant. Paradoxically, the British FPTP system is likely to ensure that this fragmentation of British party politics will not be accurately reflected in the composition of the House of Commons. As the Economist pointed out in a recent leader, Britain may instead be faced in May with the puzzling constellation of the party garnering the third-largest amount of votes (UKIP) only obtaining a sixth of parliamentary seats – whereas the sixth-largest party (SNP) may return the third-highest number of MPs to Westminster. There is indeed a likelihood that particularly UKIP will be reduced to the status of kingmaker in many
constituencies by eating into the electoral bases of local Conservative candidates. This may however well suffice to cost the Conservatives a variety of crucial swing constituencies vital for a parliamentary majority. As in 2010, Cameron is thus faced with the prospect of another ‘hung parliament’ in which no party would achieve an outright majority. The options in that case would either be a Conservative minority government or a Labour government backed by the SNP. The latter would not only put a question mark over the United Kingdom’s economic fortunes, but significantly impact UK-EU relations for time to come: Cameron is still intent on achieving his pledge for renegotiation of Britain’s membership with the European Union and will, if re-elected, hold a referendum on EU membership in 2017. Ed Miliband on the other hand, while no ardent pro-European of the
calibre of fellow Labourites Tony Blair or Peter Mandelson, is wary of altering the constitutional status quo of Britain’s EU membership. He has repeatedly expressed doubts over the feasibility of a plebiscite and would prefer to ignore the issue altogether. Although seemingly attractive to the Continental European eye, weary of the British demands for a modified relationship, this is a time-bomb option: for it would likely spell a resurge in British anti-EU sentiment, currently contained by the promise of renegotiation and scepticism of UKIP’s crude English nationalism. Potentially destabilising in the shortterm, Cameron may well succeed in obtaining concessions that could persuade British voters of the desirability of continued EU membership. Further, it is highly doubtful that any Conservative leader replacing Cameron after a lost general election would be more inclined towards a progressive relationship
with the European Union. The gaze of Europe has rested on Athens for the past months for answers to the future of the European project. It ought rather look to upcoming events in London if it wants to find the answer to this question.
Challenges to political liberalism in Europe Without freedom everything costs nothing. We appreciate freedom. We are fighting for it. Many people have died for our and your freedom. And still several millions of people continue to fight for it around the world. Freedom sparks the creation of popular movements, NGOs, the writing of treatises, songs and anthems. All of this in the name of freedom!
The term “liberalism” is derived from the Latin word “liberalis”, which means “free”. Liberalism in Europe is a political movement that supports a broad tradition of individual liberties and constitutionally limited and democratically accountable government. This usually encompasses the belief that government should act to alleviate poverty and other social problems, but not through radical changes to the structure of society. European liberals are divided on the degree of government intervention in the economy, but generally they favour limited intervention. In most European countries, particularly in northern European countries, Liberalism refers to a belief held by those who emphasise individual liberty on economical, social, cultural and ethical topics and a free market policy with some degree of government intervention. It generally does not have the particular connotations of radicalism that the word carries in the United States, though it does not exclude them either. Liberalism has arisen largely as a reaction to the excesses of absolute monarchs and the Catholic Church. Liberalism rejected many of the provisions that were at the heart of previous theories of the state, such as the divine right of kings to rule and the role of religion as the sole source of truth. Instead of these, liberalism proposed the provision and protection of natural human rights, the establishment of the equality of all citizens before the law,
a free market economy, the assurance of accountability and transparency in government and state authorities. But nowadays we face the fact that in recent years liberal parties of European countries are steadily losing votes. Their mandates are absorbed by conservatives, social democrats and even nationalists. One example for this were the last elections to the European Parliament, where the representation of “Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe” (ALDE) decreased from 85 to 67 MEPs. This is a significant development, as even the charismatic leader of the European Liberals and Democrats Graham Watson did not succeed to obtain a seat in the European Parliament. Now European liberals start to think seriously about the revival of their values. At their last congress in November in Lisbon (Portugal), European liberal politicians set a goal in front of them and their voters: to update liberalism. European politicians are honestly recognising that liberals are now in the minority, but believe that this trend is temporary. The answers to the question of why this tendency has now become apparent are manifold. The main reason, of course, is the deterioration of the economic situation and the crisis from which the European economies have not fully recovered yet. The fact is that the slightest deterioration of living standards at once makes the citizens of Europe very critical of themselves
andothers. So, it is no wonder that Europeans have expressed increased dissatisfaction with the enormous number of migrants the continent has seen. Critical inquiry has created a political response - namely that even only recently founded nationalist parties obtained more than 10% of the votes during the European elections, which is unprecedented in European political history. Many youth leaders have said that the Liberals lost the election to the European Parliament because of recession and unemployment having shifted the attention of the people’s voice to parties that promote populist rhetoric. Europe faces a true crisis of liberalism because liberals need to listen carefully to what the voters want to and not limit themselves to declaring their ideas. Politicians and stakeholders, political experts and the media very often are discuss the meaning of the word “liberalism”. In the course of this, they often call individuals “liberals” who have no claim to this label. And very often, these labels have negative connotations: “this policy is too liberal”. Left-wing opponents of Liberals are manipulating popular fears: their fear to loose their job, their fear to of retirement poverty, their fear of high prices, their fear to stay without education, healthcare etc. They claim that only the state can provide and guarantee all these goods to people. Therefore, in many countries, socialist rhetoric has become increasingly popular. People prefer socialists for being on the safe side as they believe that they are fully protected and secured by the state. They pay high taxes for it. Sometimes, due to a misunderstanding they see in liberalism a kind of anarchy that will be prevented by state. But as we know, liberalism is a political doctrine that presumes protecting and enhancing the freedom of the individual to be the central problem of politics. Liberals believe that government is necessary to protect individuals from being harmed by others but they also recognise that government itself can pose a threat to liberty. Liberalism is the ideology of a well-developed civil society, where everyone uses their freedom to make decisions by themselves, takes responsibility and, consequently, risks and does not count for permanent protection from the state, contrasting liberalism with its antipode –socialism or its extreme form – communism. European society has matured enough to choose liberal values and “come of age” to be independent from its “parents” of state governments.
EU army Unity in difference Precisely one hundred years ago, a devastating war ravaged Europe, costing millions of human lives, dividing families and states apart. Deep and long lasting rifts were torn into the fabric of European transnational relations. In the context of such a historical landmark, the current discussion concerning the formation of a united European army, as proposed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker, seems oddly anachronistic. Indeed, the last one hundred years have seen remarkable changes in the rapports between European states. Instead of further dividing the European community, two world wars and countless casualties highlighted the necessity of, and ultimately gave rise to, increased inter-European communications, dialogue and cooperation. The Treaty of Rome in 1954 became the foundation for a unified European policy, and the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992 set the groundwork for a united European security policy. Since then, numerous attempts have been made to form a united European army that is uniting the military of EU member states and coordinating the military expenditures more closely. JeanClaude Junker’s plan for a European army has the support of MPs across Europe and even the German chancellor– but as support grows, so does opposition. Many see such developments as a prelude to a more militaristic EU foreign policy, or potentially even as the direct preparation for a war with, for example, Russia. A joint European army would also bring a whole set of practical and ideological problems with it. Austria prides itself on its neutrality, while Germany has for historical reasons issues with fighting wars on foreign
soil. Yet under a joint leadership, such individual concerns may be left unheard. Furthermore, how can such a united operation be supported equally by all member states when some member states, such as the Commission President’s home state of Luxemburg, only possess a negligible military force? Considering past problems seen with combined European armaments projects such as the Euro-Fighter, it is highly questionable whether the EU even has the required capacity to organise and manage such a large-scale cooperation. A further problem would be the new position of this European army in the context of the NATO alliance. New chains of command would have to be considered and implemented, and new response strategies developed to incorporate such a newly formed international army, all of which would cause a short-term drop in efficiency, readiness and response time of NATO. So why do we continue to proceed down such a path? Why should efforts be made to form a united European army, in the face of such obvious drawbacks? The EU is a conglomeration of states, states willing to mutually sacrifice, to a degree, their national sovereignty and political monopoly to a higher supranational entity. As history has proven, this mutual agreement ultimately breeds mutual trust. What could strengthen this bond more than a unified military? Trust is the basis on which a military unification would be built, and trust is what it would breed – something we must consider a rare and valuable commodity in the current climate of global conflicts and challenges. It is this gain that ultimately outweighs what are essentially short-term
logistical counter arguments. The necessity of such a step becomes readily apparent now, in the face of the recent Russian aggression against Ukraine. Few of us would have believed little more than a year ago in the sudden recurrence of border disputes on the European continent itself, showing how frighteningly precarious and unstable peace can be, even in our own backyard. No EU member state alone would have the strength to withstand a full-blown Russian invasion. While the probability of that may appear negligible, one ought to remind themselves that the images of Russian tanks in the Donbas region may have seemed similarly far fetched not too long ago. Each year, the EU member states invest 195 billion Euros in the defence industries, more than India, Russia or even China. But as long as these investments are used to fund parallel armies, there is a substantial collective loss due to parallel research and development. A Leopard 2 tank produced by German company KMW is thus used by the German Bundeswehr, while the French forces use Nexter’s LECLERC as their main battle tank. Both tanks essentially boast the same features, but each one was separately designed, developed and financed, from start to finish. Had there been a united Franco-German project for such a battle tank, millions of Euros could have been saved. In the same vein, the total savings achieved by a joint European military development, would evidently be astronomical and the comparative cost-effectiveness of a united European army thus guaranteed. Existing projects such as the EuroFighter have paved the way, and highlighted the problems, for an coordination on this level. While the development of a European army would by no means be a simple step, we must not forget that our American allies are withdrawing from the European stage, as they turn to confront the rising threat of China in the Pacific Ocean. Increasingly, it is up to Europe and the EU member states to ensure the security of the peace we have worked so hard to establish throughout the last century. In the end, there are enough problems and challenges in the path of this project, to make any attempt at setting a date for its implementation futile in the immediate future. Nevertheless, as the Ukrainian crisis has shown, military strength remains a pivotal factor even into the 21st century. For this reason it is vital that we, as Europeans, do not neglect military considerations, however tasteless they may seem to us, however arduous and strewn with difficulties the path to their development may be.
A story of Success Poland has made a considerable progress over the past decade in transforming its centrally planned economy into a market-oriented one. Nonetheless challenges remain. How can it best complete this transformation and facilitate its integration into the European Union? I will first provide a brief historical overview of the economic processes which will allow us to assess the Polish case.
Since 1960, Poland had been suffering an increasing growth problem and structural difficulties caused by the planned economy imposed by the communist government. The main problems were the achievement of full employment and the completely outdated production facilities. Over ten years ago, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Poland took the chance and decided to transform its inefficiently centrally planned economy into a market economy. The shock therapy was introduced on January 1st, 1990. The economic problems were tackled in two distinct phases. In the first phase hyperinflation was counteracted through stabilisation measures such as the reduction of state subsidies and the minimisation of the budget deficit. In the second phase corresponding governance arrangements were to follow. The consequences were a restrictive monetary policy, the prevention of excessive wage increases, a sharp depreciation of the zloty and the gradual removal of all previous subsidies. This form of transformation of the planned economy into a market economy was not evolving without economic risks. The process led to a macroeconomic instability, whose indicators were a drastic drop in GDP, a dramatic
increase in the rate of inflation and an increase of the unemployment rate, which disappointed the expectations of the population. They hoped for steadily rising prosperity. After the old system completely collapsed, the new system was not yet operational. However since 1992, the overall economic growth rate has continuously increased. The GDP increased annually by at least 5%, the pace has augmented even further in recent years. Domestic demand and corporate investment remain the engine of this economic development. Thereby, Poland became the first reform state which had overcome an adaptation recession. This dynamic development is also attributed to the good development of the private sector. Since the beginning of political transformation in Poland, it has had sufficient time to take the objectified attempt to assess the various processes that formed it. Pathologies like corruption, nepotism and particularism were systematically reduced. This does not mean that they do not exist anymore, but different mechanisms and institutions like the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) that are struggling with these problems have been introduced. The implementation of civil and business assurances for the contact between state and civil law
amendments slowly led to the establishment of the rule of law, although the economy suffered a further shock after a rapid opening up to competition. The changes introduced have not only put Poland on the path to growth but also made its economy strong enough to sustain positive long-term trends in the more demanding external environment. Although Poland is one of the fastest growing countries in Europe and is gradually catching up with Western economies, for many people who struggle with poverty and insecurity the myth of the greatest success story in the century is still irritating. Nevertheless since 1989 Poland has been an active partner on the ground of international organisations like WTO or NATO as well as put a particular engagement into the EU integration process. Polandâ€™s opening to the world has had a positive impact on many aspects of its social and economic life. In the past 25 years the Polish have experienced something that was difficult to imagine for many - a free Poland achieved through peaceful means. This ensured the success of change not only in the country but also in other Central and Eastern European countries - and this is a great reason to be proud of. The European Union honours this development as well.
In the beginning of December the former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk became the new President of the European Council. Tusk emphasised that what was good for the European Union, was also good for Poland. His position was mainly proven by the fact that the political powers appreciated in Europe as well as Poland gained significant impact on the decision-making process. For Poland, this means not only prestige, but also a real opportunity to influence European policy. The fact is that Europe appreciated Poland as the only country that has not been affected by the recession. In fact, the vast majority of the Polish population are Euro-enthusiasts. Former Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said that Donald Tusk would be able to familiarise himself with the decisionmaking centre more than any other player on the European scene. This will also benefit Poland. Concerning its internal politics, two key elections are coming up this year. First, the presidential elections on May 10th (and May 24th if there is a second round) and second the parliamentary elections in October 2015. Eleven candidates have put their names forward to become president, but, according to opinion polls, only two of them have realistic chances of getting into the sec-
ond round. Polls published at the start of the campaign forecast the incumbent President Bronisław Komorowski (supported by Civic Platform) to win. Nevertheless, campaigns for the presidential elections are already in full swing. Youth, security, modernisation and improvement of Poland’s economic competitiveness remain the main topics for all the candidates. If one were to ask how the political scene would look like in the beginning of 2016 after the presidential and parliamentary elections, I can predict it will remain stable - this might be an indicator of the big achievement of 25 years of freedom. In conclusion, what people can learn from the Polish is that Europe is a platform for new challenges, especially for young people who enter the labour market. European integration in many areas led to mutual understanding of the Europeans’ advantages. Poles are very enterprising and eight times more likely to start their own economic activity than in other European countries and exhibit a tendency to take risks, even in difficult economic situations. Moreover, Poland comprises of a very high level intellectual potential, constantly wanting to expand its horizons. Yet one of the most important features which
can teach valuable lessons to other European citizens is the Polish euro-enthusiasm, which emanates from the hearts of the majority of the Polish. Polish people firmly believe that by working together, everyone can create an excellent platform for European capabilities.
Ewelina Gargała in cooperation with Tomasz Kaniecki
Future of the Republican Party The American Republican Party appears to be on a roller coaster. After the 2012 Presidential campaign, there was total disappointment. However, in 2014, the Party regrouped and won a thoroughly crushing victory in the mid-term elections. The Republicans were desperate to defeat President Barack Obama in 2012 and deny him a second term; however, the Obama campaign quickly defined Governor Romney as out of touch with average Americans and leveraged cutting edge data and digital tools to organise and mobilise their supporters. Meanwhile, the Republican effort failed to inspire enough voters and never adequately responded to the Obama attacks. There has been a great deal of self-study, including a 100-page report I helped write called the GOP’s Growth and Opportunity Project .. Truth be told, Republicans lost for a pretty simple reason. We did not convince average Americans we cared about them despite many Americans standing ready to elect a new President if given the right pitch. Looking ahead, the recipe for success for the GOP is not all that complicated, but that does not mean it is an easy task to accomplish. In a nutshell, here are the GOP’s priorities for winning elections so we can implement our conservative agenda: POLICY IS #1 • Focus on issues that unite Americans, positively impact their daily lives and position the country for sustained long-term economic growth • Stick to our conservative principles without being strident or divisive CANDIDATES MATTER • Recruit candidates who can win general elections COMMUNICATE BETTER • Being against Obama is not enough; articulate what you are for and how it helps folks • Let people know you care about them • Inclusion not Exclusion ENGAGE MINORITIES AND GROW THE GOP • Yes, the country’s demographics are changing, but millions of African Americans, Asians and Hispanics are not liberal. They share Republicans’ love of freedom, family, hard work, religious liberty and opportunity • Break bread, visit about issues and ask people to vote for our candidates
CONTINUE TO ORGANISE AND TRAIN GOP WORKERS IN THE STATES CONTINUE TO UPGRADE OUR DATA AND DIGITAL POLITICAL TOOLS RAISE LOTS OF MONEY AND SPEND IT WISELY POLICY IS #1 The first and most important lesson for the GOP is to focus on policy and what is best for American families. Americans want energy independence, not a discussion about whether President Obama loves America. If Republicans want to win the White House, the GOP Congressional leaders can jumpstart the effort by passing good legislation. GOP governors and legislatures are demonstrating that conservative governing principles work for the good of the people. People want results and in states such as Texas, Wisconsin and Florida low taxes, reasonable and predictable regulations, a fair legal environment and improving schools are helping create jobs and attracting more people. President Obama has failed miserably on domestic and foreign policy, but Republicans in Congress need to remember they are on a short leash with the American electorate. This is about results that help people make a better living. CANDIDATES MATTER 1
Politics is about affecting public policy and to do that you have to win general elections. Candidates are the most important ingredients in a winning campaign. To the U.S. Chamber’s credit, it is clear they understand that candidates matter. The Chamber political operation was a dominant player in 2014 primaries by engaging early in the process to help insure their candidates won the nomination. A good example of a strong GOP candidate in 2014 is Cory Gardner of Colorado. Not only did the Washington Post call Gardner the “single best candidate” of 2014, but his opponent’s spokesperson said, “Gardner is quite possibly the best Senate candidate in the country, and he’s a formidable foe.” While Democrats attempted to falsely paint Gardner as extreme on social issues, he was able to deflect those attacks and pivot to core messages of jobs and energy and win in a state Democrats have dominated. Not to be outdone, Republican gubernatorial candidates managed to win in Democratic states Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts. Plus, GOP governors were re-elected in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio based on their records of accomplishment. Candidates and results matter. In addition, Republicans aggressively recruited women and minorities to run and had broad success, including high-profile wins Joni Ernst in Iowa and Mia Love in
THEME as yourself.” God does not tell me to judge people who disagree with me on marriage; he tells me to love them. That should be reflected in my words even when I advocate about something as fundamental as marriage. ENGAGE MINORITIES The Pew Research Center projects that whites will go from making up 85% of the U.S. population in 1960 to 43% in 2060, while Hispanics and African Americans will grow to 45% of the population by 2060. Yes, the country’s demographics are changing, but millions of African Americans, Asians and Hispanics are NOT liberal. They share Republicans’ love of freedom, family, hard work, religious liberty and opportunity. This is not just some sort of theoretical political opportunity; Republicans are already making genuine headway with minority voters. It simply starts with engaging people and asking for their support. The Colorado Republican Party had one of the best turnout programs in the country last year, and it had a heavy emphasis on Hispanic voters with Spanish speaking volunteers making phone calls and knocking on neighbourhood doors. In Texas, the state GOP and Greg Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign also put a heavy emphasis on Hispanic voters. Abbott spent about $3 million on Spanish language ads and had a record number of Hispanic campaign staffers. This helped yield 44% of the Hispanic vote for Abbott.
Utah. The Republican State Leadership Committee’s Future Majority Project has recruited hundreds of minority and women candidates for state legislative races and has helped Republicans attain their largest state legislative majorities since the 1920’s. COMMUNICATE BETTER Jack Kemp used to say, “No one cares what you know until they know you care.” Republicans will not win the White House if our Presidential nominee cannot convince people he or she cares about their daily struggles. Republican governors have been better at communicating than Republicans in Washington. They are pushing innovative solutions to education, workforce training and healthcare challenges, but also working with legislative bodies they do not control. The contrast to Washington is unambiguous. Let’s face it – the media loves to interview the most strident voices of both parties. A food fight apparently helps ratings. We cannot take the bait. Let the Democrats be the divisive party. We need to think inclusion not exclusion. We must stand for what we believe, but we do not need to stand in judgment of every person who disagrees with us. That is a big loser. For example, I support traditional marriage. I believe that is the way God ordained it; that is good enough for me. However, Jesus said, “Love your neighbour
ORGANIZE RNC Chairman Reince Priebus helped orchestrate the most successful GOP mid-term election victory in history by doing a few things really well. He started with a plan. His Growth and Opportunity project laid out a roadmap to victory, and he then sold donors on his ability to execute the plan. Priebus is a tireless fundraiser and raised more money in RNC history during a mid-term election. Priebus then took his money and placed some very large bets on organization and developing modern day campaign tools that leverage the Internet and lots of data. He was convinced that Republicans had to have workers in the states year-round, so he added hundreds of new workers and established the largest payroll in RNC history. RNC workers organised in the states, engaged minority voters, developed sophisticated lists of voters, analysed the data, communicated via social media, researched, recruited attractive candidates and worked with other conservative groups when allowed. Turns out, it was brilliant move by Priebus. Now, he and others have to sustain this in 2016. DATA AND DIGITAL Sometimes it is easy to get overwhelmed with all the technology talk in campaigns. We need to remember that the slick mobile applications and social media are nothing more than new ways to connect with voters.
All this talk about data can be boiled down to campaigns need really good list of voters and to understand what makes them tick. In 2014, the Republican Party began to reclaim the use of digital and data technologies to win elections. The GOP introduced the concepts of data science and using the web to activate grassroots supporters into political campaigns, and now they are setting a new standard. Republicans effectively turned out voters in last year’s elections through a clear strategic vision that was enabled by data-driven analytics and an effective turn-out-the-vote operation. New data-derived voter scores helped predict if voters would show up at the polls and accurately predicted who they would vote for. Once our campaigns targeted voters they then persuaded or motivated them to vote often using digital advertising, email and social media. This investment looks to be just a start to what conservative organisations are planning for the 2016 Presidential campaign. MONEY It has been said that money is the mother’s milk of politics. And Republicans can assume Hillary Clinton will have enough money to burn a wet mule. The 2016 cycle will be the most expensive political campaign in history. Billions will be spent determining whether there will effectively be a third term of Barack Obama or a fresh start in America. There are a lot of choices for Republican donors these days. Before the mega-donors write million dollar checks to Super PACs, they need to max out to the RNC ($334k per person per year), because it is the only entity that may spend federal dollars in the general election and coordinate with the GOP nominee. Super PACs cannot coordinate with our Presidential nominee, but they will play an even bigger role in 2016. It is not hard to figure out why, either. The maximum contribution allowed to a presidential campaign is $2,700, but Super PACs may accept unlimited contributions. CONCLUSION The 2016 Presidential Cycle is here. There is much at stake. Will America continue down the path of Barak Obama’s policies or get the country back on track?
Henry Barbour, Republican National Committeeman for Mississippi
Oil Wars: The Saudi-US Struggle The global oil market has recently witnessed sharp fluctuations with prices falling well under 50 dollars per barrel. Even though currently prices have stabilised at around 60 dollars per barrel, this is far from the peak less than half a year ago, when one barrel was worth over 100 dollars. While this sudden decrease in prices provided a boost for oil importing states, even adding to their output numbers, it has had a dramatic effect on oil producing economies. The primary examples of this are petro states such as Venezuela, Nigeria or Russia. Being overly dependent on oil income to balance the state budget, these countries are finding it extremely difficult to cope with a loss of a great proportion of their export revenues. This structural weakness of oil exporting nations is anything but new – analysts have warned the decision makers in these states long before this recent price slump. What is genuinely new in the current period is that the fundamental logic behind the global oil marked has been altered – there is a new significant player in the game. The shale oil boom launched in the US for the last several years ago has without doubt been one of the principal reasons pressuring prices and causing them to fall due to increased supply in the market (not to forget slowing China’s economic growth and Eurozone’s struggling economy, meaning decreased demand). It should be stressed that impact on prices that the boom has caused has not been just a one-off phenomenon. On the contrary, unconventional oil production in the US and the consequences stemming from it will constitute a pivotal feature of the sector for years to come. After having increased oil production levels by 80% since 2008 thanks to the unconventional oil boom, the US has managed to re-emerge as one of the principal oil producers worldwide – a role it last enjoyed in the 1970s, thus challenging the established positions of Saudi Arabia and other oil producing nations allied under OPEC’s umbrella. Since its creation, OPEC had managed to successfully play its part in controlling global oil prices while constantly overlooking the supply – demand ratio and implementing decisions needed to protect the interests of oil producing
countries. During the current price downfall, OPEC’s logic has proven radically different as no market intervention was carried out to limit supply and bring prices back up – a passive stance was maintained, leaving all responsibilities for oil prices to the market itself. The principal motivation behind OPEC’s unusual decision not to cut production levels, pushed through by the votes of the main stakeholder in the organisation – Saudi Arabia, was to drive competitors, particularly US shale oil producers that require higher extraction expenditure and are thus more vulnerable to lower prices, out of the game. From the Saudi perspective, short-term losses and decreased budget revenues were seen as the price to be paid to secure the country’s long-term interests – an unchallenged market share with sufficient price levels. However, it seems that this strategic move has caused consequences that extend far beyond the immediate US-Saudi struggle. While intentionally allowing oil prices to fall, Saudi Arabia has left the 100 dollars per barrel margin far behind the current levels and it is not likely that this price level shall be reached again in the upcoming years. In fact, by implementing such a strategy and trying to safeguard its market position in the long term, Saudi Arabia has unintentionally transferred the levers of influence to its new competitor – the US shale oil producers. This, to put it shortly, has changed the rules of the game in the global oil market. It is worth pointing out that even under today’s relatively low prices, oil output from unconventional sources in the US is likely to continue to rise further in the first half of 2015 due to commitments already made and improving efficiency to lower extraction costs. Production levels, according to different predictions, shall flatten out in the middle of the year and should start declining afterwards. Bearing this in mind, one could say that the tactics chosen by Saudi Arabia may be evaluated as effective as the US shale oil boom is likely to be restrained – competitors are being driven out of the market.
Nevertheless, things are not as straightforward as they seem. It is evident that the long-term Saudi strategy is to keep oil prices lower than 100 dollars per barrel to discourage investments in expensive shale oil extraction technologies. However, ongoing developments in shale oil extraction technology allow making well-grounded claims that the industry is adapting to changed circumstances at a surprisingly fast pace. By drastically increasing their levels of efficiency, shale oil producers are becoming better equipped to operate profitably even when faced with prices well under 100 dollars per barrel. This in turn means that the Saudi strategy of keeping oil prices low to discourage competitors shall turn into an increased struggle for market shares under persistently much lower prices (some analysts predict that prices around 60 dollars per barrel will constitute the new ceiling for global oil prices). Therefore, while intentionally sacrificing part of its oil income to limit the potential of other oil suppliers in the short term, Saudi Arabia has in fact set a new and much lower margin for global oil prices for years to come. What is more, according to expert estimates, by mid 2016 the world economy shall be doing better, meaning that demand for oil shall surpass today’s levels. With increasing demand and rapid technological developments boosting extraction efficiency, US shale oil producers will be able to boost their output, posing a substantial challenge to OPEC’s positions in the market. This means that shale oil production will not lose momentum even at prices well below 100 dollars per barrel, thus boosting supply and severely limiting OPEC’s ability to unilaterally control price dynamics. Saudi Arabia and other members of the organization will not anymore have the tools necessary to unilaterally push prices back to the 100+ dollars per barrel levels. To put it short, US shale oil drillers are replacing Saudi role of swing producer. The times when OPEC dictated global oil policy while maintaining high prices are history. With a new swing producer emerging despite efforts to push it out of the game, oil worth 100+ dollars per barrel is not to be seen anytime soon. This situation, in turn, allows questioning the purpose of OPEC itself. In other words, the radical change in the global oil market that has started with shale oil boom in the US may lead to a real revolution to the oil sector, abolishing OPEC’s cartel and bringing the world oil market closer to market logic.
EU’s new Challenge for Solidarity
Five Point Plan With the on-going political crisis and armed conflicts in the Middle East, as well as in Africa it comes with no surprise that President Juncker presented his “Five PointPlan on Immigration” as one of his top priorities. Based on Eurostat’s »Asylum statistics«, the number of asylum seekers in 2014 has increased by 43,9% compared to 2013, that is from 435,190 to 626,065. With continuous news stories of maritime disasters of ships and sea-boats carrying refugees and illegal immigrants on the Mediterranean Sea, EU Member States have been struggling to effectively control this mass influx of asylum seekers. After a series of reform attempts, The European Committee has identified the problem as one common to all Member States and will in accordance present the European Agenda on Migration in May. It would be wrong to say that nothing has been done on the presented issue. On the contrary, a vast collection of EU legislation already tackles the issue of illegal immigration, most notably the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). CEAS is based on an extensive legislative package that covers several key areas: grounds on which international protection is granted, common procedure for granting and withdrawing international protection, common standards on access to basic amenities (healthcare, education, employment etc.) for refugee seekers and other important topics to be covered later. It is exactly the current structure of CEAS that is being questioned in an effort to control current non-EU immigration waves more efficiently. Since the European Parliament passed most of the CEAS legislation no more than
4 years ago (2011-2013), the process of effective integration among Member States is still on-going. The European Committee thus stated that the focus of the European Agenda on Migration will mostly rest on securing an effective implementation of already existing legislation. But even when asylum seekers will be given equal chances of being granted asylum in any of the Member States, there is still doubt on the question of even distribution. In 2014 almost 76% of all asylum applicants were concentrated in six Member states (Germany 32.4%, Sweden 13%, Italy 10.3%, France 10%, Hungary 6.8% and the UK 5.1%) and it is well known that Member States like Italy and Greece experience constant stress as EU’s gatekeepers. This has led to greater calls for sharing the burden among Member States. Intra-EU relocation programmes are not a novelty for the Eurema II project Member States voluntarily offer to take on asylum-seekers who have immigrated to Malta. But further efforts of the EP to establish a permanent relocation mechanism have met opposition from several Member States fearing that it would only lead to an additional pull factor for migrants.
The tip-toing around on the issue of immigration from either side, whether from The European Committee or the Member States, is nevertheless to be expected. As with so many major EU topics, the matter in hand too touches the most delicate of issues, that of “state sovereignty”. It is against its nature and therefore understandable that a Member State should refuse to follow external dictation on whom it should accept and foster on its own land. Yet when co-existing in a union, it is expected that Member States should not only stick together through the good times, but also through the bad ones. It was quickly evident that increased waves of immigrants did not only have a direct effect on the country of their arrival, but shacked up the entire EU. It is no coincidence that already troubled countries such as Italy and Greece, which lacked a proper joint plan to manage the situation, experienced a domino effect on their and thus on the entire EU economy. This has also stirred up unwanted hatred and mistrust towards asylum seekers who have increasingly been made scapegoats. The presented issue is symbolic for the EU’s current identity crisis. It seems that we are left with two choices; either politics go “all the way” to introducing a burden sharing system and creating a common fund to support it, or enforcing the already existing legislation in Member States to full efficiency together with increased surveillance on EU’s borders and on the countries of origin. In avoiding additional provocations, the last option appears as a more realistic one. It is President Juncker’s agenda to enhance the effectiveness of the European Asylum Support Office, to cooperate more and better with the countries of origin not only when concerning the control over immigration waves, but also to see the current situation as a chance to help build up their economies and thus diminish the need for people to move in the first place. And since Mr. Juncker recognises immigration as an undoubtable fact, something that will not just go away, he sees it necessary to make it as “legal” as possible, boosting the popularity of the “Blue Card” work permit and therefore securing new labour for an aging EU population. The success of the plan depends on the willingness of joint cooperation amongst Member States in enhancing the EU as a true Union of solidarity. This will show whether the proposed measures will be enough to successfully tackle the issue at hand or whether an alternative, more balanced approach will be necessary.
A Growth Engine for European Business Last month I received an email from a proud daughter in the UK whose mother Tricia Cusden launched a makeup business called Look Fabulous Forever. She built a huge following using YouTube to show older women makeup tips, and now exports products to 24 countries across the world. Each day, hundreds of thousands of businesses across Europe that are using digital tools to build a brand, find customers and grow. Not long ago, small businesses could only afford to source and sell locally. Global marketing and distribution were out of reach for all but the biggest. Today, any business can reach a global market using the Internet, allowing even the smallest businesses to be a multinational. So why do we hear so much pessimism about doing business in Europe? With all the challenges Europe’s economy faces, it is tempting to think that everyone has given up on the idea of European business success. But this doom and gloom is misplaced as long as we take the right steps now, Europe is well positioned for growth. The EU has a rich tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship in fact; it’s the world’s largest exporter of manufactured goods and services. We also have a bigger digital trade surplus than the US. And, contrary to the prevailing view, there’s cause for optimism on the digital front too. Since 2000, for example, Europe has had nearly two thirds as many digital startups reaching $1 billion valuations as the US. Two German businesses Zalando, the fashion site, and Rocket Internet, the startup incubator both recently broke the one billion euro mark when they went public. It is not just tech start-ups that are doing well in the digital world: Europe’s millions of small businesses are going digital too. We’re seeing firsthand how businesses are using the Internet to grow. Traditional businesses like Holl Souvenir, a Dutch clogmaker supplying the tourism industry. Last year, they started an online marketing cam-
paign and launched a new webstore. Now their business is never closed. It is clear that the opportunities for businesses in the digital age are immense and there are many more ways to reach customers than anyone could have imagined not that long ago. But, for Europe to reach its full potential, we need to clear the way for companies online. We need a single market in the digital world that reflects the single market we enjoy in the physical world already. With over two dozen regulatory and frameworks to contend with, businesses stumble when they seek to sell, grow or hire across borders. The European Commission has rightly identified the digital single market as one of Europe’s top priorities. Of course, the opportunities afforded by the digital economy are still limited if people don’t have the right skills. At current rates, the EU predicts a shortfall of 900,000 jobs by 2020 due to a lack of digital skills, and there are many businesses that want to get online but don’t know where to start. At Google we’re playing our part. Over the last year we have helped tens of thousands of German entrepreneurs export through partnerships with DHL, PayPal and Commerzbank. We have trained tens of thousands of young, unemployed people in Spain with free courses on subjects like web development, digital marketing, and ecommerce. And, we have shown thousands of traditional Italian craftspeople how to sell and market their wares online. But we want to do more. That’s why I have announced in Brussels that Google will train one million Europeans in crucial digital skills by 2016. We will invest an additional €25M to broaden our current programs and take them to new markets across Europe to train more small businesses on the digital skills they so need. We’ll build a Europe-
wide training hub to support businesses anywhere in Europe to get training online. Some people look at the state of the economy in Europe and are pessimistic. We see something else: a huge diversity of businesses and entrepreneurs with creativity, ambition, and talent all using digital tools to create jobs and boost the economy.
Matt Brittin, President, EMEA Business and Operations, Google
JYRKI KATAINEN EUROPEAN COMMISSION VICE-PRESIDENT FOR JOBS, GROWTH, INVESTMENT AND COMPETITIVENESS
MR. KATAINEN, YOU ARE THE FIRST PRIME MINISTER TO HAVE RESIGNED FROM THEIR POST TO ASSUME A POSITION IN THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION. WHAT CAUSED YOU TO MAKE THIS DECISION? I’m very proud to have led my country during difficult years. I worked on behalf of Finland through the crisis. I was the National Coalition Party’s leader for ten years and I thought that it was a time to make way for new leadership. It’s so rewarding to see now that my work can make a difference internationally, and I am now working very hard on delivering the Investment Plan for Europe, to get Europe investing again and increase the number of jobs for Europeans. DO YOU HAVE A SENSE OF FAILURE WHEN YOU
SEE THE RADICAL REJECTION OF GREEK VOTERS WHO STAND CLEARLY AGAINST THE ECB AND THE TROIKA? No, the Commission expects Greece to fulfil all the commitments they have promised to do. Greece has been helped by other European taxpayers and they have certain obligations they must meet. It is clear that they have to continue to make hard structural and growth-friendly reforms. Both Greece and the EU institutions are working hard on finding a solution. HOW SHOULD POLITICS AND SOCIETY RESPOND TO GROWING EUROSCEPTICISM? There are lots of people who tend to think that Europe is lacking fairness. We must be able to build renewed confidence and trust between nations and people in EU.
We need structural reforms and investments but at the same time we have to speak more about well-being of people and concentrate on rebuilding an atmosphere of trust when it comes to Europe. THE OPTION OF A “GREXIT”, THAT IS A POTENTIAL GREEK WITHDRAWAL FROM THE EUROZONE, HAS BEEN GREATLY DISCUSSED IN RECENT MONTHS. EXPERTS WARN THAT THE EUROZONE COULD BECOME A SYSTEM OF FIXED EXCHANGE RATES, RATHER THAN A MONETARY UNION. THE OPTION OF AN EXIT COULD ALSO REMOVE THE INCENTIVE TO IMPLEMENT REFORMS IN MANY COUNTRIES. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THIS QUESTION? We are now working closely with the Greek government to ensure that necessary reforms take place. And despite hardships, we must do our best to preserve the
Copyright Finnish Government/Laura Kotila
integrity of our monetary union. We are not contemplating a Greek exit from the Euro: that is not in anyone’s interest. There is no contingency plan. OTHER VOICES IN THE WORLD OF FINANCE CONSIDER THE EURO CRISIS “THE GREATEST DELAYED FILING OF INSOLVENCY IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND.” ACCORDING TO THIS VIEW, THE RESPONSIBLE ACTORS HAD PUSHED A SCALE OF PROBLEMS WITH A HUGE AMOUNT OF MONEY INTO THE FUTURE. THE EURO HAD BEEN ARTIFICIALLY KEPT ALIVE SINCE 2010. HAS THE BAILOUT POLICY FAILED? On the contrary, I believe we are slowly starting to see positive developments. Ireland has successfully exited its bailout programme and is now back to borrowing at very low rates. Portugal has also recently announced
an early repayment of its loans. Let me also highlight that in 2015, all EU Member States are expected to grow for the first time since 2007. While more growth is still needed, the EU is on the right track. Of course, we must now ensure that lessons learnt will contribute to prevent future crises. In this framework, a strengthened banking union is instrumental to create a more sound financial sector for our single market. WILL GREECE EVER BE ABLE TO PAY BACK ITS DEBT BURDEN OF 319 BILLIONS? HOW WILL IT PROGRESS ON AFTER THE 6-MONTH BRIDGING PROGRAMME? WILL GREECE BE ABLE TO BENEFIT FROM THE NEW EU INVESTMENT FUND? There are good reasons to be optimistic about the situation in Greece. The country is running a strong
primary surplus and the economy is predicted to grow by 2.5 per cent this year and over 3 per cent in 2016, which will improve the government’s ability to repay its debts. In the current state of play, we must ensure that a constructive dialogue takes place so that all actors can hold to their end of the deal. As for the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), it is important to mention that the fund has been set up to attract private financing to high-risk projects that can foster economic growth. It can however only do so if we have transparent, market-based criteria that apply for projects across Member States. At this stage, the Commission is working with the Greek government to ensure they put in place the necessary reforms to improve the business environment and attract private investors.
Copyright Finnish Government/Laura Kotila
WHAT CAN THE EU DO NOW? The Commission’s number one priority is to get all Member States growing again and to create jobs. I believe that one of the EU’s greatest strengths to implement this agenda lies in the deepening of the Single Market. Removing cross-border barriers would greatly improve the investment environment and attract further private capital to the EU. DECISIONS ARE ALSO EXPECTED SOON CONCERNING THE EXCESSIVE DEFICIT PROCEDURE AGAINST FRANCE AND ITALY. WHAT IS THE CURRENT SITUATION? The Commission has decided not to take corrective measures with Italy under the Excessive Deficit Procedure. As for France, we have agreed to extend the deadline to meet budgetary commitments by two years. France now needs to make ambitious fiscal and structural reforms to ensure the next target is met. IN FEBRUARY 2014, THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESENTED A REPORT ON THE STATE OF CORRUPTION IN ALL 28 MEMBER STATES FOR THE FIRST TIME. THE “EXTENT OF THE PROBLEM IS STAGGERING,” SAID THE FORMER EU COMMISSIONER CECILIA MALMSTRÖM. THE COMMISSION ESTIMATES THAT THE COST OF CORRUPTION WITHIN THE EU AMOUNTS TO UP TO €120 BILLION ANNUALLY. THIS IS ONE PERCENT OF THE EU’S TOTAL GDP. HOW DO YOU ASSESS THE SITUATION? You are right in pointing to this issue as a serious one: most EU citizens still view corruption as a major problem in their Member States and it has extremely detrimental consequences for our economy. EU-wide efforts
should be stepped up to deal with this problem that is often also cross-border in nature. I see that every euro lost to corruption is one that is lost in other valuable areas, such as investment in education or healthcare. Which measures will the EU Commission seek to implement in the fight against corruption? You mentioned yourself the Anti-Corruption Report presented in 2014. With this report, the Commission has launched a mechanism to efficiently monitor and assess Member States’ efforts against corruption. This tool will enable more informed political engagement and help Member States to better enforce existing legislation to counter corruption. As we believe that the EU institutions should lead by example, the Commission has also committed to step up efforts to improve transparency in its own decision-making processes. We have now fully put in place the transparency register where all stakeholders are registered and can be monitored by civil society actors. Full transparency at EU-level is necessary to foster trust in the European institutions and build confidence in the European project. YOU HAVE BEEN ASSIGNED THE TASK OF FINDING €300 BILLION TO INVEST IN THE GROWTH AND ECONOMY OF THE EUROPEAN UNION. HOW DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE THIS AIM? First of all, we will establish a €16 billion risk fund – EFSI – which will operate as a guarantee for the projects developed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), our main partner in implementing the investment plan. We hope to have EFSI up and running by mid-2015. The €315 billion of total investment expected in the years between 2015-2017 have been calculated on the basis of conservative historical leverage levels observed
at the EIB. The €315 billion are however not the end of this investment initiative; as mentioned earlier, we must also make sure that the EU becomes an investment-friendly region by deepening our Single Market. In this framework, we also wish to establish a list of viable projects for investors to finance by and beyond 2017. This should set up a more comprehensive investment plan to ensure that we can invest in valuable projects that contribute to the future growth of the EU. TO SPEAK OF THE EU’S PROSPECTS: DO YOU ALREADY HAVE A MASTER PLAN TO STABILISE THE EURO ZONE? WHAT WILL BE IMPORTANT IN THE FUTURE? Our most important priority has been and still is to get the all EU Member States on the track of long-term growth. To do so, we need to invest in the future of Europe. This means investing in priority areas such as education & skills, energy efficiency and healthcare to ensure that Europe remains competitive and continues to improve the well-being of its citizens in a rapidly evolving world.
- April 2nd 2015 -
Will Academic Education be the only Way to Personal Success? A popular assumption is that the number of university students will continuously rise. Universities are praised as the safest way to personal success, because their graduates would get higher pay and be less frequent without a job than people without academic qualification. A closer look reveals that in general this seems to be true only for scientists and engineers (i.e. for graduates in the natural and engineering sciences), although quite often there are also remarkable differences between their fields of work. It is definitely not true for graduates from the humanities and the social sciences, whose chances are much more dependent on social needs and cultural trends as well as on the possibilities of public finance and the chances of private funding.
An aspect which is seldom discussed and often deliberately ignored is the question, whether there are differences between the talents and interests of young people which are relevant for decisions in education. Can and should they be ready and able to tackle any practical and intellectual challenge in life in the same way? Can education achieve any result, which seems desirable? Or have human beings special gifts and inclinations? There are experimental studies, which indicate that not more than 15% of young people are highly talented. Probably nobody would accept that only such a small proportion of a generation should take up academic studies, because we know from real life that a lot can be done to make the best use of the reservoir of talents in each generation. There is, on the other hand, enough anecdotal evidence from university teachers as well as from employers that the growing number of students leads to an increasing heterogeneity
of standards and achievements. Is it realistic to maintain that for most young people a university study should be the normal way to go? It seems high time to remember two achievements, which are characteristic for German education. First, university education must be based on the unity of teaching and research. Although most university students aim at a professional education for work outside the world of research, it is the intellectual experience of cognition, which is decisive for their qualification. The aim of university education cannot be reduced to a list of so-called „competencies“, which may be of practical value today but may not meet the unpredictable challenges of the future. Secondly, the continuing success of the German economy is, to a large extent, the result of the high quality of German vocational education. Its core is the so-called dual principle, that is, the close partnership between a state school providing theoretical instruction and an employer who guarantees useful practical training. It is this combination, which leads to an officially recognised certificate of vocational qualification. If we analyse the present economic crisis and, particularly, the factors causing high unemployment in a number of European countries, it becomes obvious that such a system of vocational qualification is of enormous importance for prosperity and personal success: None of these
countries suffer from a lack of university graduates, quite certainly not in the humanities and social sciences. What their economies urgently need is a skilled and highly qualified work-force. Of course it cannot be denied that our modern society is science-based and that this must have consequences for the aims, contents and methods of education as well as for the character of educational institutions. In fact, Germany has developed two new institutional types of higher education, which respond to such needs, namely, the universities of applied sciences („Fachhochschule“) and a new institutional setting, which combines theoretical education with practical training in a specific economic or social context („Berufsakademie“/ “Duale Hochschule“). Quite generally, in vocational education the level of theoretical instruction is rising which may even lead to new types of educational institutions. It is true that such trends may blur the traditionally distinct division between vocational education, on the one hand, and professional or academic education, on the other. Nevertheless, it would be a serious mistake if the university became the final stage of the educational ladder. The role of vocational education should not be neglected. What we really need is a highly differentiated system of secondary and tertiary education. In fact, we can observe strange contradictions: Our time embraces diversity as an ideal and
maintains that our society will become more and more individualistic and pluralistic. Yet loud voices demand comprehensive schools and universities for everybody. The fairness of chances for individual achievement shall give way to the equality of certificates. Although internationalisation is a multicultural experience, influential voices urge to choose the United States as the global model of the future. Thus, comparative surveys of the OECD take the number of North American graduates as a reference point, regardless of the fact that US higher education comprises graduating institutions of a highly different status and standard, whereas vocational education is rare and exclusively a matter of personal initiative. What we need in educational debates is less ideology and a more fact-based approach.
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans Joachim Meyer Minister of State ret. (Germany)
Tapping the talent
- The skills mismatch in the European labour market There is a situation we witness all across Europe: young graduates who cannot put into practice the knowledge acquired at college; workers trapped in jobs where they cannot develop and fully exploit their competences. In the aftermath of the crisis, high levels of unemployment in Europe coexist with an unbalanced access to education systems, an ageing workforce, shortages of skilled workers in some regions and sectors, and skills mismatches.
Europe has a skilled and specialised workforce, but at the same time, more than 2 million posts lie vacant because employers cannot find the right person for the job. In total, around one third of all enterprises in the EU signal that they cannot meet their needs for labour and skills. At the same time about 30-40% of European employees report that their job does not match the level of their qualifications, with under-utilisation of skills increasing over the past decade. Reducing these inconsistencies requires reforms to increase access to education and training as well as to increase the responsiveness of education and training systems to labour market needs. This must focus both on a better understanding of occupations and regions where certain skills are in shortage or will emerge in the medium term, for example in the green economy, health care and ICT sectors; and by looking ahead to develop and to shape the careers of tomorrow by fostering innovation and creativity. The European Commission is working hard with Member States and stakeholders to close the gap between what skills are needed in the labour market and what is actually available to provide better job opportunities and greater potential for innovation and growth for companies. One way we do this is by supporting Member States to modernise their education and training systems to deliver the skills needed for growth and competiveness. This approach combines policy processes for benchmarking, co-operation and peer learning between countries, with in-depth country analysis and targeted recommendations in the context of the â€˜European Semesterâ€™: the annual European cycle of economic policy coordination. Dedicated EU
UNIVERSITIES funding programmes are available to help Member States with the modernisation of their systems, to support education and training providers and to help people by investing in their skills. These include the European Social Fund, which every year helps some 15 million people into work, or to improve their skills to find work in future, and Erasmus+ which provides opportunities to study, train, gain work experience and volunteer abroad and for transnational partnerships to bridge the worlds of education and work. The EU also develops tools and specific initiatives to target skills mismatch. The European Qualifications Framework is one such example - a reference tool based on learning outcomes that helps communication and comparison between qualifications systems in Europe, thus supporting intra-EU mobility for work or study purposes. Despite progress, qualifications are still not comparable across Europe which makes it more difficult for people to move between sectors, occupations and across borders and means that employers may struggle to understand and appreciate qualifications. More needs to be done and we are exploring ways to deepen the implementation of this framework to achieve full transparency and recognition of skills and qualifications across Europe. The Commission is also working to improve traineeships and apprenticeships in Europe. Last year, based upon the Commissionâ€™s proposals, Member States agreed a Quality Framework for Traineeships, to enhance the learning content and work-
ing conditions of traineeships, and to promote full transparency on remuneration and social security coverage. A European Alliance for Apprenticeships has been established to improve the number and quality of apprenticeship places across the EU. This Alliance brings together a broad partnership of government, businesses, social partners, vocational training providers, youth representatives, and other key actors who commit to opening up more opportunities for good quality apprenticeships as an effective pathway to employment. In order to stay ahead of the game it is vital to improve skills intelligence. The European Skills Panorama, provides information on trends in skills and jobs across Europe and European Sector Skills Councils work to anticipate the skills that will be needed in specific sectors. This is complemented by projects, including Sector Skills Alliances, where partners come together to design and deliver joint vocational training programmes and teaching and training methodologies which can respond better to needs of the labour market. Because not everything is learnt at school, we also work on the recognition of non-formal and informal learning, to make skills acquired by individuals outside of the formal education system visible and usable.
Finally, it is very important to mention the Youth Guarantee, the European plan to ensure that every young person under 25 receives a good quality offer of a job, education or training within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. Europe cannot afford to lose a generation. My first key employment legislative initiative in office, presented in February, is to accelerate the EUâ€™s Youth Employment Initiative, which supports the Youth Guarantee in areas with high youth unemployment. I propose to advance one billion euros in order to boost youth employmentâ€”reaching up to 650 000 young people and helping them get into work faster. I call upon Member States prioritise youth employment and to put their weight behind this plan. There are huge challenges ahead of us to fully mobilise our skilled and specialised workforce and to create quality jobs. I will work with stakeholders to tap the talent of all Europeans and develop the skills level of the European workforce so that everyone has the best chances possible to get a job suited to their abilities and aspirations.
Marianne Thyssen European, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility
The Bane of Europeâ€™s Future The backbone of any country is its educational system.
It gives the nations their skilled labour, the people who we rely upon to advance our society. Doctors, lawyers and different forms of clerks all come with a degree, something that should be a sign of quality and expertise. Unfortunately this is not always the case, as in some instances there is a rot in the system, which allows for the purchase of grades and even whole degrees. In most of Europe, going to a university means investing in your future by means of hard laborious studies, late nights and many hours in class. As it should be, given that this seals the deal, showing the world that you have put in the hours to earn not only your diploma but a certain level of expertise. But what happens when a teacher/professor is reluctant to hand you a passing grade because you did not buy his or her book? Studies have shown that in some countries in Europe this is precisely what is happening within the higher educational system. This does not only erode the confidence in the school that this is happening in, but degrades the value of a diploma and what it should stand for. If you cannot trust in the system to produce degrees of high value, you automatically stop trusting in the professions, which require these. Aside from the question of quality, among the worst issues fostered by corruption is the fact that it raises a barrier between people of means and people who lack
them. The people who can afford good grades simply buy them and the ones without are left behind, if they are able to pass at all. For many, professor-student relations constitute an asymmetrical bond, as a student has a hard time going against the people who are supposed to be teaching them (no matter what income one has). When corruption ingrains itself in culture, the real problems begin. When you lack the will in people to combat certain problems, the long running trust in the system disappears because no one believes that their effort will make a difference. No one believes that one can go in the right direction without believable institutions; this is why the fight against corruption in the educational system is one of the most important fights we must embrace. When the educational system fails, this is not only a problem for students, but a societal problem. A trust issue that erodes the very fabric that makes up a stateâ€™s community. If you cannot trust your doctor to have undergone proper medical training, will you go to the hospital with your illness? If you do not trust your lawyer to have the proper knowledge of the law will you trust the legal system when you have been wronged? I would say the obvious answer is no, you would not trust the system if it was corrupt from the very beginning. So how can we get away from this societal trap? To
begin with, we can increase the profitability of the academic profession, as one of the biggest problems with corruption is that it stems from poor pay in a profession of power. Secondly we can institute mechanisms against corruption in Higher Education, such as anonymous whistleblowing. Thirdly, corruption may be made a felony with real repercussions such as jail time to deter from such conduct. Other than the already mentioned measures, what needs to be done is working towards getting clear and simple criteria for the appointment of positions within the education system. This would allow for anyone to investigate the grounds on which a person has been hired and thereupon contest an appointment it if it does not appear to be in accordance with the criteria. This is for instance the case in the Scandinavian countries. Appointment through family ties or donations are made much harder when one can see what the job requires in order to be assumed. As with all public spending, the money should be accounted for and made public so that it goes where it is supposed to. When you have no idea of where your money is going how can you trust it is going to the right places? Taxes are per definition a loan to the state in order to provide us the citizens with services that are crucial for society to function, therefore being able to follow it should be a right of the people. Regular external audits are something that we should work to make the rule rather than the exception so as to be able to prove that the money is used appropriately by a neutral party. Having many competing actors can also be of help in securing a stable and functioning education system, given that it is paired with good clear regulation of conduct and ethics. When we have functional market institutions in place, quality improves generally as you can choose not to attend a badly reputed school and instead opt for one with proven credentials. We have the power to fight this societal disease, which is crippling not only our economies but the very trust in the democracy that our states are resting on. We must have the courage and the will to stand up against wrongdoing, especially when it comes to such vital functions such as education. If not, the consequences will not be felt by us but by our children and Europe will stop being the example everyone looks to for inspiration. Therefore we cannot fail in our fight against this cancer that is corruption. It has its roots in a system our parents fought to get rid of, it is our duty to make their struggle count, it is on us to see to that their efforts were not in vain.
The Sunni-Shiite Divide in the Middle East: Only a matter of religion? The last years have seen the spread of violence between different state and non-state actors in more and more parts of the Middle East. Following the Arab Spring, many regimes, perceived as stable, were badly shaken. Bahrein Sunni reigning dynasty called in the Saudi Army to crush Shiite demonstrators in Manama, Yemen is torn apart as Sunni and Shiite armed factions are fighting for power, Lebanon and Syrian have become the theatre of violence between Shiite Hezbollah and Sunni groups Jabat al-Nusra (affiliated to Al Qaeda) and ISIS/Daesh. The latter of these groups is contending parts of Iraq to the Iraqi government, dominated by Shiite elements since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The current Middle East situation gives the impression the area is falling in a brutal conflict between the two main branches of Islam, something similar to what Europe experienced during the Wars of Religion. But as with Europe’s religious conflicts of the16th-17th centuries, can it all be reduced to divergent opinions in
SUNNI AND SHIA, A COMPLICATED RELATION SINCE THE EVE OF ISLAM In 632, at Prophet Muhamad’s death, his followers had to find an answer to a dramatic question: Who would take the lead of the Muslims? A consensus was found for the four first Caliphs (the Successors), even if no proper ruled was defined, each of them being chosen by different means. A main divergence emerged as the fourth Caliph Ali, cousin and son-in-law of Muhamad, claimed the successors should be descendants of the Prophet while others, led by Damascus governor Muawiya, claimed the Successor should be the most qualified theological leader. 24 years after Muhamad’s death, Islam was divided into two camps. Muawiya crushed Ali’s forces and became Caliph, establishing the Umayyad dynasty. Some years later, Ali’s sons, Hassan and Hussein were killed by the Umayyads. Their martyrdom was the birth of Shia Islam. As such, the origin of Islam’s division was due to political conflicts, the succession as leader or Muslims being the most important. Even if religious divergences would appear in the following decades and centuries, it would never stop to be the base for struggle between regional actors. Indeed, many examples can be found in Middle Eastern history, as many political actors used the divide to legitimise their power and the conflicts they fought. If from a European point of view, the 11th and 12th centuries were the era of Crusades in the Middle East, the same region was also witnessing an equally violent conflict between the Cairo-based Fatimid Caliphate (which Caliphs followed a form of Shia Islam) and the Baghdad-based Abbasid Caliphate (the Abbasids having replaced the Umayyads in 750). In the 16th century, while the whole Europe was fearing Ottoman expansion, the Persian Safavid dynasty, seeking political independence from the Ottoman Sultan (who was also Caliph), imposed Shia Islam on its population, giving a territorial basis to Shiites and add-
ing a specificity to the region. From that moment, Persia and afterwards Iran would base part of its foreign policy on the Shia Islam lever. On the Sunni side, an alliance between political and religious actors was going to influence all Islam as the Saud family, then lords of Nejd (a part of Arabia), allied with Islamic scholar ibn Wahhab and his followers in the 18th century. Ibn Wahhab preached a return to Islam roots and this led his followers to be intolerant to other forms of Islam and other religions. This alliance was considered dangerous for all of the Middle East as this first Saudi Kingdom launched an expedition against Shia holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in modern Iraq. The expedition resulted in the massacre of local populations. In order to avoid a general conflict with Shiite powers, the Ottomans decided to strike back and the first Saudi Kingdom was destroyed in 1818. The Saudis would not be relevant in regional politics for a century. THE MIDDLE EAST CONFRONTED TO NEW THREATS It seems that many Middle East states were not expecting the emergence of an actor such as ISIS. However, several factors such as poverty, social unrest, impossibility to satisfy basic needs (Egypt had experienced riots in 2008 due to increasing food costs), well-funded and equipped, but poorly led, armed and security forces which were used mostly for the protection of the political power, the locking of the political power by a small elite being them the royal families in the Gulf monarchies, the clan or the tribe (Saddam Hussein ruled with the help of his relatives coming from his hometown Tikrit, Bashar al-Assad relies on the Alawi sect) or the Army (in Egypt and Tunisia, Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father, seized the power in Syria with officers of his branch-the Air Force). This latter point was particularly problematic in case of regime changes, as it appeared in post-2003 Iraq. Saddam Hussein had been ruling with the help of Sunnis over a Shiite majority, suspected of collaborating with
Iran (especially after the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988). After his overthrow, policies launched by the succeeding governments were aimed at the evicting all people associated to Hussein’s regime. Police and Army officers, teachers, lecturers and doctors were fired from the position in what was called De-Ba’athification, compromising the reconstruction of Iraq and frustrating many skilled workers who would bring their competences to what would become ISIS. From a geopolitical point of view, the fight against the incredible threat of ISIS is prevented by the rivalries and priorities of the regional powers, most of them consider that the situation could be worse if a rival managed to beat ISIS: Saudi Arabia does not wish Iran to maintain its power in Syria and Iraq. Iran, aiming for the end of its international isolation, wants the situation to remain fragile enough to make an agreement (especially on the nuclear talks) between Iran and the powers in the region (including the US) unavoidable. In the meantime, Turkey fears the rising of a Kurd de facto state in Syria and Iraq, a threat it considers more dangerous than ISIS as it would raise the question of Turkish territorial integrity. AN UNPREDICTABLE FUTURE At this stage, it is impossible to know what is going to emerge from the current state of anarchy in which the Middle East is finding itself. States that seemed to rest on solid bases are experiencing shocks that might put their existence at risk while others, which were considered as already part of history, are showing a surprising resilience. Most regimes that are strongly based on the power of a family or tribal links could see their fate sealed as they were unable to create a strong national feeling between them and most of their population. The Middle East might experience an important geopolitical reconfiguration, with countries disappearing to be replaced by others –being them new or not (an officer of the US Department of Defense had already tried the exercise in 2006). Some scholars underline the strong similarity between the current Middle East situation and the Thirty-Years War (16181648). During this war, the different European powers fought each other, resulting in the massacre of millions, for apparently religious reasons (Catholics vs. Protestants) while other political reasons were the main drivers. The war ended with the Treaty of Westphalia, reconfiguring Europe, weakening old medieval concepts such as feudality and preparing the advent of the nation state concept. It is for now impossible to predict what will be the outcome of the current conflicts in the Middle East but a redrawing of its map is more than a possibility.
The House of European History A project for our times.
The House of European History (HEH) in Brussels is devoted to the subject of the enormously rich history of Europe. The impetus for the creation of a museum dates back to 13 February 2007, when as then newly elected President of the European Parliament, I said in my inaugural address to the European Parliament’s plenary session: ‘I should like to propose to create a locus for history and for the future where the concept of the European idea can continue to grow. I would like to suggest the founding of a “House of European History”. It should [be] a place where a memory of European history and the work of European unification is jointly cultivated, and which at the same time is available as a locus for the European identity to go on being shaped by present and future citizens of the European Union’. Since that time, a great deal of work has been undertaken in furtherance of that statement of intent. A committee of experts composed of a number of historians and museum
experts from various European countries led by Professor Hans Walter Hütter, President of the Foundation of the House of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany, was convened to draw up the founding document of the museum, the ‘Conceptual Basis paper’, adopted by the European Parliament’s Bureau in September 2008. There followed the setting up of the governing bodies for the museum (a Board of Trustees and an Academic Committee, chaired by Professor Włodzimierz Borodziej) to oversee the logistical, administrative and academic aspects of the project respectively. The European Parliament then recruited a number of historians, museum experts, educators and other specialist staff, to form the nucleus of a team led by curator Taja Vovk van Gaal, former Director of the City Museum of Ljubljana, that would bring the project into being. It is thanks to the great effort and invaluable support of these highly committed individuals that, nowadays, the project is
well under way. This is becoming more and more real as we see that the building that will house the museum – the former Eastman Dental Clinic that is situated in the heart of the European quarter – is taking shape. If all goes according to plan, the HEH will open its doors to the public – from Brussels and from across Europe – in the spring of 2016. Building the HEH is an exciting and challenging venture for the European Parliament. It has continued to support the project from its launch in 2007 and, by doing so, is facilitating the creation of a new facility for the thousands upon thousands of visitors to the European Parliament each year as well as creating a new museum and cultural hub in Brussels. In addition to the European Parliament, the European Commission will be of great help as well. Its then-president José Manuel Barroso announced in 2011 in a letter to thenpresident of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek that the European Commission will help cover running costs of the HEH. At the heart of the HEH will be its permanent exhibition, which will portray European history from different perspectives and reflect on the meaning of these diverse histories today. It will focus to a large extent on European history throughout the 20th century, while providing a distinctive focus on the history of European integration. Its definition of Europe will be broad in scope and the exhibition will be multi-layered so as to cater for all levels of interest. Visitors will be able to proceed at their own speed and depth and in their own language (the exhibition will be available in 24 languages) and there will be ample scope for further research and information at all levels. One of the main objectives of the HEH was, from its early inspiration, to enable Europeans of all generations to learn more about their own history and, in so doing, to understand better the development of Europe. Alongside this aim is the crucial one of providing a place of real exchange and dialogue, where the history of Europe comes to life for the visitor. To this end, it will also feature public events and cultural and learning programmes and will in this way serve as a space for exploration, engagement and enjoyment. In addition, its online offer will allow people from beyond Brussels and from outside Europe to join in, learn and participate in the exchange of knowledge and ideas. The history of our continent has been a history from which lessons have had to be drawn time and time again. It is in this context that the House of European History will open its doors to the public in 2016, as a place of debate and learning in an uncertain world. It is surely therefore a project for our times.
Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering, Former President of the European Parliament 2007-2009, Chairman of Konrad-AdenauerStiftung, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the House of European History (HEH)
Aleksandra Gajewska Aleksandra Gajewska (25) is one the youngest members and said to be the most active and effective councillor of the City Council in Warsaw. She is sitting on the commissions for environmental protection, culture and the promotion of city, sport, recreation and tourism. Aleksandra was also member and President of the Young Democrats Association in Warsaw and is the Vice President of the foundation Civic Education Development Institute since 2013. During previous elections, Aleksandra coordinated the campaigns: “Your vote makes sense” (2011) and “ Important elections” (2010). Aleksandra studied International Relations with a specialisation in Public Diplomacy and holds a Masters degree on the impact of international relations of local government in public diplomacy. Her interest in politics was sparked at a young age. Aleksandra worked for open dialogue foundation, where she was a political advisor and head of the
political team, and their representative in the Czech Republic. She also worked in Ukraine, organised international observation missions to Maidan and coordinated projects on the reform of self-government in Ukraine. Aleksandra likes to promote the development of Warsaw and is endeavouring for greater cooperation with NGOs. She wishes to enhance the communication between society and administration and particularly the engagement of women, young people, and local communities. As a former sportsman (basketball), she acknowledges the importance of measures to promote physical exercise among both young and adults as well. Privately, Aleksandra loves cooking, travelling and reading. She owns a lovely hedgehog named Watson.
Andrey Novakov Andrey Novakov (26) is member of the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) and is the youngest Member of the European Parliament, sitting on the Regional Development Committee, the Budgets Committee and the Committee on Budgetary Control. He’s also a member of the Delegation for Relations with the Countries of Central America and the Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly. Andrey is a former EDS Vice-Chairman, having been first elected in 2012 and re-elected 2013, and is now ViceChairman and International Secretary of MGERB-Bulgaria. His interest in politics began when he was at high school, leading him to be elected as Chairman of the Student Parliament of South-West University from where he graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration and later a Master of Laws Degree. He is also an
alumnus of the US International Visitor Leadership Program. Andrey worked for three years in the Blagoevgrad Mayor’s office where he was responsible for international, media and youth affairs. He joined the Bulgarian centre-right party GERB in 2008 in which he went on to hold various positions, including Regional Chair of the Party’s youth organisation. In his current duties as a Member of European Parliament, Andrey is active in topics relating to EU funds, EU budgetary affairs and policies for youth.
Armend Ibrahimi Armend Ibrahimi (23) is the youngest advisor of the Prime Minister in the history of the Republic of Kosovo. He is the Chairman of the Youth Forum of the Democratic League of Kosovo (FRLDK), and during the last national elections, Armend was, aged 22, the youngest candidate for Parliament in the history of Kosovo, . Already at school, Armend began to show his leadership qualities by serving as the President of the student body and co-founding the Rilindja Movement- an informal, independent youth grouping with over 13,000 members throughout Kosovo. Despite this, his main focus was oriented towards conducting youth activities, digital technology, designing electoral campaigns and serving as the voice the youth in politics. Due to his excellence, Armend is quickly becoming an important and respectable figure within the party. Currently, his main commitments include the creation of job opportunities
for youth, involving the youth to a greater degree in the political decision-making process, as well as encouraging innovation and technological development. Furthermore, he is continuing an MA in International Politics, in addition to his bachelors’ degree in Political Science from the University of Pristina. Armend is also an active sportsman and practices karate with great passion: he has been crowned Kosovo’s national karate champion eight times, and has won multiple other national and international medals in the sport.
Ronja Schmitt Ronja Schmitt (25) has been a member of the German Parliament for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) since December 2014. She has been chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Student Union “RCDS” in Baden-Württemberg from 2012-2014. Schmitt holds a Bachelor degree in Economics, having studied in Tübingen and Lund, Sweden. In addition to her work in the Bundestag, she is finishing her Masters double degree in Economics in Pavia, Italy. Schmitt’s political fields of interest include rural areas, education and issues relating to the younger generation. The political area she is focusing on in this parliamentary period is improving generational fairness. During her first years in politics, Schmitt was chairwoman of the Young Union (JU) in her home region Calw and during her four-year tenure in this position she was able to almost double membership of her branch. In her university town of Tübingen, she then led the local branch of RCDS to a re-entry into the Senate
after several years of absence. In November 2013, she was elected to the position of Federal Chairman in BadenWürttemberg, being only the second woman to hold this position. In 2013, Schmitt ran for and was included on a state (succession) list by her party for the federal election of the same year. After the unexpected and tragic death of veteran politician Andreas Schockenhoff, she entered into Parliament as the youngest member at the current legislative period. As one of her major objectives, Schmitt would like to inspire young people to engage in the democratic process and to take on responsibility in the political system. This is an ambition and desire across all party lines: “Because the relative size of the young generation is declining due to the demographic situation, it is all the more important for younger representatives like myself to fight for the current and future interests of our generation”, she says.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
Europe’s answer for the issue of corruption Without exaggeration, we can say that corruption is the arch enemy of every state, institution or any kind of society governed by rules and regulations destined to make their member’s everyday life easier. How may one define corruption? Transparency International may have given the best answer to this question, stating that corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Whether you are coming from a transitional post – Soviet Eastern/Southeastern country or from Western Europe, without being paranoid, you need to embrace the fact that some of your country’s institutions have been affected by this negative phenomenon. Today, roughly speaking, we have managed to classify various forms of corruption to political, administrative, corporate, institutional and operational types. Acts of corruption can be classified into bribery, embezzlement, trading in influence, abuse of functions or position and illicit enrichment. To understand corruption, how it affects institutions and how to circumvent it we need to look deeper into civilizational history. Ever since the inception of mankind, there has been a need for the establishment of systems that will provide society with the necessary goods for its survival. In the the very beginnings those needs were limited to providing security and defence from the bandits and raiders who were threatening those who decided to grow, trade and sell goods. This led to the first walls being built and the first cities being established. As men managed to secure more goods than they needed, needs for societal developments have expanded and cultures developed, leading to the emergence of architecture, astronomy, religion, the military, etc. Thus came about the period of the Upbraid and the dawn of Sumerian civilization. If you are tired of wandering around Mesopotamia with its constant fear of insecurity, you may proceed to the city of Eridu, one of the very first known settlements of mankind. Bare in mind however that this is a society that had its rules and regulations contained in laws that are stipulated and enforced by the authorities. Later on, these would reach their peak in the famous Code of Hammurabi, one of the world’s first comprehensive legal texts. Even Hammurabi himself recognised the possibility of abuse of powerful position and included a law against corrupt judges in his code. But as civilisation managed to grow and develop, unfortunately, corruption managed to develop its varied forms as well, becoming much more complex and malign. Tacitus, one of the greatest philosophers and historians of all time, provided us with a description of the ancient world which does not differ much from modern times:
‘’The more laws the more corrupted the state’’. In our modern days, Europe may have found the right answer to the problem raised by Tacitus and Hammurabi. By establishing The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) in 1999, the Council of Europe made a giant leap in the fight against corruption. The aim and function of GRECO is to ensure that its member states are implementing efficient policies in accordance with the organisation’s standards to combat corruption. It focuses on the monitoring, identification of deficiencies of national anti-corruption policies, institutional reform and proper legislation. As a platform, it provides a possibility for sharing the best practices in containing corruption. Before 1999, the first stepping-stone of institutional anti-corruption work dates to 1981, when the Committee of Ministers recommended to take measures against economic crimes such as bribery. The second major event occurred in 1994 when the Ministers of Justice of the Council of Europe decided at the conference of Valletta that the question of corruption had to be brought to the European level. In light of the transitional period of the 1990s, with Southern Eastern European countries facing corruption in its worst form, it may be said that these initiatives came at the right time. The meeting resulted in the establishment of the Multidisciplinary Group on Corruption that has since been put under the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC) and the European Committee on Legal Co-Operation (CDCJ). Before establishing GRECO, the same committee met in 1996 and adopted the Programme of Action against Corruption, prepared by the previously mentioned multidisciplinary group. Two additional confer-
ences followed until 1999 with the aim of enforcing this idea, with one held in Prague in 1997, when the European Ministers of Justice met to intensify anti-corruption measures, and one in Strasbourg in 1997, when the head of the states and governments met and adopted Twenty Guiding Principles Against Corruption. What differentiates GRECO from most other organisations is that membership is not limited to member states of the Council of Europe. It consists of 49 countries, of which 48 are European, with the only non-European country being the USA. Every State that becomes Party to the Criminal or Civil Law Convetions on Corruption accedes to GRECO and its evaluation procedures. The functioning of GRECO is defined by its statute: it has its President, Vice President and bureau members. It has its plenary meetings to which every member state can send two representatives with voting rights. Furthermore, in order to ensure the sharing of best practices and knowledge, every member state can provide GRECO with a list of national experts who may assist and participate in developing evaluations. Aside from the member states representatives, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also can appoint representatives for the plenary meetings. As for international organisations, the OECD and the UN enjoy the status of observer member on the GRECO assembly. The Statutory Committee is in charge of adopting a budget, issuing public statements and recommendations in case that some members are taking wrongheaded actions and measures. Members of the committee are representatives of the Committee of Ministers and especially appointed by other members of GRECO. GRECO’s work on monitoring and evaluation process is characterised by two procedures. First, there is a horizontal evaluation procedure in which all members are evaluated within an Evaluation Round, after which follow the recommendations for further development and improvement of legislation and reform. The second one is the compliance procedure, which exists to assess the measures taken by the member states to implement the aforementioned recommendations. Since the establishment of GRECO, there have been three evaluation rounds, all of them targeting specific areas and questions. For me personally, as a person who has witnessed all the negative aspects of one country’s transition followed by huge level of corruption, GRECO with its recommendations represents exactly what every newborn country needs. A strong watchman warning of possible threats together while also offering solutions in order to prevent and remedy such ills. Without exaggeration, GRECO is Europe’s best tool so far in fighting corruption.
EDS Executive Bureau 2014/2015
Eva Majewski is Chairwoman of EDS. She holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration, Management, and Economics. Within EDS she oversees and manages the work of the Bureau and represents EDS externally. Eva is responsible for the setting the overall strategy for EDS, policy development, and liaising with member organizations.
Ingrid Hopp is EDS Secretary General. She is pursuing a Master’s degree in financial economics. Ingrid runs the EDS Office in Brussels, and takes care of all the day-to-day work. She is also responsible for EDS’ daily communication schedule, with a particular emphasis on the Website and Social Media channels. She also represents EDS externally.
Georgios Chatzigeorgiou was born in Larnaca, Cyprus. He studied Law at the University of Lancaster in the UK and became a Barrister at Law. Georgios is currently undertaking a Master’s degree in Corporate Law. His responsibilities within the Bureau involve fundraising, amendments to statutes and youth entrepreneurship.
Ivan Burazin lives in Split, Croatia where he studied National Security at the Faculty of Forensic Sciences and holds a Bachelor’s degree in administrative law. In the bureau he is responsible for fundraising together with Vice- Chair Chatzigeorgiou and he works as the head of the Social Media Team.
Virgilio Falco is Vice Chairman of EDS, StudiCentro national spokesperson and coordinator of the education committee of the Italian Council of Young. He is studying law in Rome. Virgilio is responsible for updating the website, coordination of the newsletter and all membership enquiries. He is also a member of the Social Media Team.
Mikkel Wrang is studying for a Master’s degree in Law at the University of Copenhagen and has been International Secretary of KS since 2011. Within the EDS Bureau he has responsibility for the permanent working groups, EDS Erasmus, evaluating events and managing the work of the culture and educations committee.
Jacob Dexe lives in Stockholm, Sweden. He studied Political Science at Lund University and currently works at Fores Think Tank with responsibilities for digital society issues. In the Bureau he is responsible for output strategies as well as the Policies for Europe working group.
Vassilis Sakellaris was born in Thessaloniki, Greece. He is studying Mining and Metallurgical Engineering in Athens. Vassilis is serving his second term as EDS Vice-Chairman. Within the bureau he is mainly responsible for the conference resolutions together with Vice-Chairman Gueorg Danielov and for the alumni club.
Georg Danielov was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. He graduated in Political Science and is studying for a Master’s Degree in Economics. Gueorg is is responsible for the Input policies of EDS and prepares the Conference Resolutions for the EDS Council Meetings. Gueorg is also Chairman of MGERB and a Member of the Bulgarian Parliament.
Anna Masna was born in Ternopil, Ukraine. She graduated with a Master’s degree in Marketing in 2006 and in Political Sciences in 2007. In 2014 Anna was nominated as International Secretary of Ukrainian Youth Forum. As EDS Vice-Chairwoman she is in charge of the events, EDS Alumni club and BullsEye.
BullsEye is the official newsmagazine of European Democrat Students