BullsEye October 2015 / 53rd Year / No. 61 / ISSN 2033-7809
The newsmagazine of European Democrat Students
Youth for Growth:
Strengthening Generation E
“A magic dwells in each beginning” is an oft-quoted aphorism of German author Hermann Hesse. Hopefully doing justice to his words, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the first issue of BullsEye for the working year 2015/16. The motif of new beginnings is generally at the heart of this issue. Throughout the continent, young people are increasingly expressing their dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs in Europe. Keeping with the title theme “Youth for Growth – Strengthening Generation E”, our authors present innovative new ideas and pathways for European politics, economics, and societies. Beyond discussing immediate policy issues however, we are also looking at grander questions. It is thus with particular delight that I present to you our new series “The Future of European Federalism”. In this section, we allow prominent stakeholders and young Europeans the opportunity to express their ideas on how to “modernise” the original vision of the European community and render it practical in our days. For all the talk of novelty, the precedents on which one is building must equally not be forgotten. In our case, this means expressing a special thanks to last year’s BullsEye editorial team and especially my predecessor as Editor-in-Chief, Silvie Rohr who has likewise been of tremendous help in producing this magazine. We shall do our utmost to build on their sublime work and hope that you, members and sympathisers of EDS, will be supporting us in this endeavour.
Henrique Laitenberger BullsEye Editor-In-Chief
Silvie Rohr Vice-Chairwoman
BULLSEYE The newsmagazine of European Democrat Students
04 The Nuclear Deal with Iran
- Success or Surrender? 06 The OXI 07 The Last Thing We Need Is A French Eurozone 08 The Harperite Revolution
10 Does European Federalism Have A Future? 12 Federal Europe: Through the Lens of Labour Relations
14 Western Balkans - A Long Way to Stability and Prosperity 16 European Solutions to European Challenges
I would like to welcome you to the first EDS Council Meeting of the working year 2015/2016 in Skopje and to a brand new issue of BullsEye. Fifteen years ago, south-eastern Europe was marked by war, displacement, and destruction. Today however, it is clear that the region has already made immense progress on the topics of stability, build good neighbourly relations and the modernisation of the state, society and economy. While the past remains a sensitive issue, we can notice that a generation change is taking place. In contrast to today’s young adults who experienced the Yugoslav Wars first-hand, the younger have no memory of the former Yugoslavia. Both however have one thing in common: the two generations look ahead to the future and to the European Union. This “Generation Europe” shows a clear commitment to a common, European values orientated development. Yet these countries still face serious political and security-related challenges which put a strain on the young democracies and unemployment: borders between many countries remain contested for instance, ethnic tensions remain and recently, the refugee crisis has put a further strain on the region. In addressing these challenges, we have to act as a reliable partner and also create participation platforms for young people. Only through trusting collaboration and comprehensive support, we can jointly promote the progress of the project “European Union”. I hope that together, we can foster the development of a Europe we can be proud of. For now however, I wish you a pleasant read.
I hope you enjoy your reading!
18 United in Europe 20 Interview with Andrei Spinu 22 #GenerationPolicy - We Need to Give Young
People a Voice in Decision-Making
23 Big on Big Things, Small on Small Things 24 Marketing Strategies For Universities 26 Germany’s Modern Medical Masterplan 28 Erasmus Experiences
Council of Europe
30 Children’s Rights are Human Rights 31
ISSN: Print: 2033-7809 Online: 2033-7817 Editor-in-chief: Henrique Laitenberger Editorial team: Andreas Fock, Mindaugas Liutvinskas, Syrila Makarezou, Julien Sassel and Tomasz Kaniecki Contributions: Mindaugas Liutvinskas, Syrila Makarezou, Diego Zuluaga Laguna, Marc-Olivier Fortin, Prof. Brendan Simms, Korbinian Rueger, Andreas Fock, Julien Sassel, Dr Simon Busuttil, Henrique Laitenberger, Andrei Spinu, Tomasz Kaniecki, Manuel Schlaffer, Mihaela Radu, Tino Sorge, Lucy Robinson, Max Fuchs, Zsolt Puja, Ewelina Gargala and Silvie Rohr Photos: Balázs Szecsődi, 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: email@example.com Website: edsnet.eu Articles and opinions published in this magazine are not nessessarily reflecting the position of EDS, EDS Bureau or the Editorial team.
Publication supported by: European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe
Welcome to Skopje, where we meet for the first Council Meeting of the working year 2015/16 of the European Democrat Students, the largest student family of the centre-right. The past year has been truly momentous for EDS and we are proud of the important contributions we have made to improve the welfare of students not only within the EU, but also across its neighbouring countries. In this regard, the cooperation with EDS member organisations in the Western Balkans remains one of the main priorities of our association. Indeed, at the time of writing, the region is facing substantial problems over unemployment and poverty - two matters affecting the local youth to a disproportionate extent. During the past years, EDS launched projects on tackling youth unemployment through the promotion of youth entrepreneurship and focused on the role of education in the progress of youth population. On account of that, we believe that we have a lot to share with our members organisations in the region. Hence why we chose “Youth for Growth: Strengthening Generation E” as the theme of our meeting. During this Council Meeting, participants will have the opportunity to discuss how nations aspiring to become members of the EU are promoting policies to stimulate growth and put special emphasis on building prosperous societies where young persons can succeed and enter the labour market more easily. At the same time, we will discuss EDS work on the topics in order to exchange best practice. This welcome note marks the beginning of the working year 2015-2016, therefore, on behalf of the new EDS Bureau; I would like to thank everyone for the support we received at the Summer University in Malta. The new EDS team has started the working year in full steam. At the beginning of September, we held our Co-Chair Training and second Bureau Meeting in Brussels where we discussed our policy priorities and made an event plan for the new working year. Additionally, in cooperation with the EPP CoR, between 21-22 September, we welcomed fifty students in Brussels who joined the e-skills debate, one of our policy priorities for this working year. Finally, at the time of writing, it is less than a month before the EPP Congress in Madrid and EDS has already started the necessary preparations for a strong presence at the convention. For now, please enjoy reading our new issue of Bullseye and keep in mind that the EDS Bureau is always interested in receiving feedback, hearing your ideas, and discovering more ways to proudly serve students across Europe.
With best regards from the EDS bureau,
Georgios Chatzigeorgiou Chairman
The Nuclear Deal with Iran – Success or Surrender? The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly referred to as the “Iran Deal”, has provoked heated discussions in academic as well as political circles since its very signing in Vienna in July 2015. Intense political confrontation over the deal in the United States – the actor that has led the Western world in prolonged negotiations with Iran – with Senate Republicans aiming to block what The White House regards as President Obama’s principal foreign policy achievement, not only threatens the successful implementation of this multilateral agreement, but also provides us with an opportunity to take a deeper look at the sources of controversy embodied in the deal and its broader long term implications.
Critics of the deal, including some outspoken US presidential hopefuls, insist that this agreement, while unfreezing Iranian assets worldwide, would effectively turn the US into the leading financer of global Islamic terrorism. Even though these claims are clearly exaggerated, their underlying argument has ground – the immediate unfreezing of more than $50 billion of Iranian assets will undoubtedly provide Iran with additional leverage in the troubled Middle East, with an increased capacity to finance its proxies, such as Hezbollah, and take on adventures in ailing countries, such as Iraq and Syria. This in turn means that the deal, which was negotiated with a clear intention to mitigate the rapidly deteriorating security environment in the region through the elimination the possibility of an ever-likely nuclear conflict, might have just the opposite effect. Numerous sceptics of the agreement, as well as the major US allies in the Middle East – Israel and Saudi Arabia – also claim that it falls short of its declared purpose: to ensure long-term stability in the region while bringing Iranian nuclear activities to a halt. On his behalf, President Obama has emphasised on many occasions that the agreement reached imposes sharp limits on the amount of nuclear fuel Iran can
possess, the number of centrifuges the country can keep in operation and the kind of technology it may develop or acquire in the market. These limitations, alongside regular inspections at Iran’s nuclear installations and the possibility to re-impose international sanctions if the agreement is not followed from the inspected side, are rightly seen as measures that will severely limit the state’s nuclear capacity for the next fifteen years to come (the period agreed upon by all parties). However, the principal point of controversy at this point is exactly the period of time covered by the agreement – constraints and extensive restrictions over Iran’s nuclear program will elapse after 2030, when the country will effectively be left with a highly industrialised and internationally legitimised enrichment capacity, out of reach of the Western community. Therefore, instead of “blocking all pathways” to
acquiring a nuclear weapon, as the die-hard proponents of the deal are always keen to point out, the agreement is to delay Iran’s program and nuclear ambitions for merely fifteen years – a period not that lengthy in strategic and geopolitical terms – which means dealing with the problem in the short-term while taking on escalated risks in the long run. With gradual easing of international sanctions, rising international capital inflows and Iran’s return to the global energy market (all foreseen in last month’s agreement) the country’s economy will be able to stand back on both feet after several years of international isolation and grow much stronger during the next decade and a half, thus boosting its ability to
withstand possibly re-imposed sanctions after the agreement terminates. What is more, looking from the realist point of view, during this time period Iran may not only strengthen itself economically, but also become better prepared to protect its nuclear installations through military means, for example by using air defense systems that the country is willing to purchase from Russia as soon as the current sanctions regime collapses and trade in military equipment with the country is not restricted anymore. One other focal point of the Iran deal is definitely the period of time the country needs to produce enough material for a nuclear bomb. The agreement is said to increase this period from the current state of (estimated) less than three months to at least one year. The rather tricky issue here is that, according to the deal, starting at year 10 Iran will be able to once again bring more centrifuges into operation, thus gradually reducing the time period needed to produce weapons of mass destruction toward its previous, pre-deal, levels. Officials at the White House would be quick to stress that the agreement negotiated ensures a permanent ban on certain components (metallurgy elements, etc.) crucial for producing the bomb and that the international supervisory authorities would thus be the first ones to
know about Iran’s renewed “run for the bomb” after ten, fifteen or even more years. Not getting deeper into the capabilities of the international community to monitor Iran’s activities in a truly efficient manner (the “24 days” rule to resolve disputes if Iran disagrees to give access to international inspectors to certain sights raises well-founded questions about the possibility to cover evidence of illicit activities and may not exactly be referred to, as famously stated, “anytime, anywhere” access), the substantial question we should be facing is what actions shall international actors be willing to take in order to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon, in case these actions need to be taken. Bearing in mind the rather limited impact of renewed economic sanctions on the strengthened Iranian economy after fifteen years of a return to “business-as-usual” relations with the West (as evidence shows, particular European states, such as Germany, France and the UK are more than willing to engage into mutually beneficial economic relations with Iran as soon as the sanctions regime allows them to), the sole option in this case would be to employ military force. With regard to the history of US military involvement in the Middle East, a fullscale military conflict with Iran may not constitute
an eligible choice and is completely dependent on domestic political constellation – the American willingness to commence a military confrontation with Iran is thus highly doubtful. And without US leadership, other Western countries are rather impotent in this regard. To summarise, the Iran accord, reached by President Obama’s administration, creates an extensive framework for limiting Iran’s nuclear capacity for the next fifteen years. Nevertheless, bearing in mind this limited time period, the deal should be regarded critically – as a way to buy time and provide a short-term solution rather than to ensure stability of the Middle East in the long run through a complete repeal of Iran’s nuclear aspirations. Therefore, the recent deal, if implemented accordingly, may be seen as a short-term success but resembles more of a long-term surrender with the West losing much of its current economic leverage over Iran over the next decade and a half and, in case the country decides to follow a different path when the accord terminates. This in turn means that the West is being left solely with military instruments that may not be employed effectively due to internal political issues, at the same time providing Iran with an enhanced position to exert influence over the Middle East.
The Όχι óchi/ : noun: meaning of no, i. The main negative response in modern language. ii. Refusal Saturday, 27th of June. Tsipras announces that Greece is going on a referendum. The government could not reach an agreement with the institutions after a sixmonth period of governance, meaning that the people have to decide on their own about the future of the country. Regardless of whether the Constitution stipulates that Greek people do not decide budgetary matters of the State via a referendum; regardless of the fact that the Constitution clearly states that the referendum has to be conducted a month after its announcement, a controversial referendum took place one week later. Full stop. During this time, banks closed, capital controls were imposed, the liquidity in markets was freezed and a national schism prevailed. Each one of the voters interpreted the question of the referendum differently, so in fact they voted on an unclear and imprecise question. Even the Cabinet did not state clearly what the query was about; on the contrary, they tried to clarify what the question was not about; although the risk of Greece leaving the Eurozone was more than obvious, no one admitted it. Mr Tsipras had just received a mandate to govern six months ago, yet he failed to take responsibility and meet citizens’ demands, so he tried to put the blame on a decision taken by the Greek people. According to “Syriza”, the radical left party, the preva-
lence of “ochi” (όχι-no) would mean that Greece would reject the austerity measures of 8 billion euros. Yet after the referendum and the economic recession, Tsipras’ measures of “nai” (ναι-yes) “just” started from 13 billion euros. Within a two-month period, more than sixteen thousand employees were dismissed, neglecting the fact that part-time employment had increased and replaced full-time placements. Likewise thousands of Greeks closed or are ready to close their business because they could not import or export their products. The “ochi” won, but Greeks lost. Students, the next generation that will rebuild Greece’s future, are the ones who suffer most. It seems that for the academic year of 2015-2016, students chose their academic career having as a sole criterion the economic expenses rather than their future. A great majority of students were admitted in home-based schools in order to avoid rent or any other additional expenses. In fact, students might sacrifice their dream of a brilliant career in the name of the economic crisis. On the other hand, students who live abroad have a greater problem, because of the capital controls that have been imposed on Greek banks; not only their parents could not send them money during the first days after the referendum took place, even today it is difficult to live and study abroad considering that students have to submit proof to their
banks in order to receive a certain amount of money every month and cover the university fees, rent and their own expenses. In a nutshell, this is the first taste of a radical left party’s policy. Indeed, the fact that national elections will soon be held once again proves the immaturity of the Prime Minister who wanted to bear the risk and head Greece into unchartered waters for no reason but to keep the power balance within his own party, where even his MPs lost their trust in his leadership and abandon him. “Ochi” has brought a many difficulties to the life of Greeks, but it also brought a hope; a hope to rebuild Greece and prove in action that the European Union was not just our forefather’s vision, but our life.
The Last Thing We Need Is A French Eurozone The latest episode in the Greek debt drama, which ended with Tsipras’s agreement to much-needed reforms in labour market regulation, tax and pensions in exchange for a third bailout from Eurozone creditors, has convinced many that Germany will do whatever it takes to shape the single currency area in its own image. Before we know it, these pundits argue, we will all become penny-pinching, productivity-obsessed Fritzes. Auf Wiedersehen, ‘social Europe’ and welfare state! Only one man stands in the way of this Teutonic nightmare: François Hollande. The socialist President of France has stepped forward to call for a different Eurozone, one based on greater fiscal and social union. This would mean in practice, amongst others, a harmonised minimum wage and equalised corporate tax rates. Given that Hollande has refrained from reforming either during his three years in office, one would assume that he wants them harmonised to French levels. This would be no small feat: the French national minimum salary is among the highest in Europe. Its corporate income tax rate of 33.3 per cent also tops the charts – and that excludes a temporary 10.7 per cent surcharge levied on companies with a turnover greater than €250 million. It does not take a macroeconomic visionary to predict that such policies would be catastrophic for the Eurozone. Indeed, it is clear they have been a disaster for France. Its overall unemployment rate has been stuck at 8 to 10 per cent since the mid-1980s, suggesting very high structural joblessness due to high minimum wages and burdensome labour market regulations that protect some employees while leaving the rest out to dry. Youth employment looks even bleaker, with around a quarter of young French unable to enter the job ladder. Meanwhile, French entrepreneurs have been flocking to London to avoid the weight of the French state, taking advantage of the ease of setting up a business in the UK, as well as a corporate tax rate which is now to be lowered to 18 per cent. All the evidence shows that the French model is not working in France. Just imagine what would happen if you transplant-
ed it to Greece, Italy or Spain, where business activity is only now beginning to recover. Young Greeks and Spaniards could say au revoir to the prospect of gainful employment. So, what makes Hollande think that it would work for the rest of the Eurozone? If it was bloated governments, reckless spending and heavy regulation that caused, magnified and dragged out the crisis, is more of the same going to entrench the recovery? Hardly. Indeed, there are broadly three categories of Eurozone countries according to how they entered and went through the crisis. There are those such as Germany which reformed spending and welfare policy before 2007 and survived the downturn relatively unscathed. Then there are those which had severe and structural deficiencies as crisis struck, and have since implemented significant reforms to make their economies more competitive, notably Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Finally, there are those such as France and Greece which remain unreformed eight years after the downturn started. If we then look at each country’s relative macroeconomic performance, a neat correlation becomes clear. Reformed economies have left the worst of the crisis behind them and are growing at increasing rates, with unemployment falling apace. Unreformed ones continue to struggle, with GDP growth hovering around zero per cent and joblessness refusing to buck. This is not just a correlation but a causal link: structural reforms of the liberalising variety lower employment and business costs, which makes the private sector more competitive and boosts exports and domestic demand,
leading to higher job and growth figures. Indeed, the evolution of unit labour costs across the Eurozone has mirrored the improvement in countries’ economic prospects. Reforms matter. So, a French Eurozone is clearly not the way forward if growth and widespread prosperity is what we are aiming for. What, then, is the model to follow? A few can be offered. Two European ones that can easily be emulated are Switzerland and Sweden. Switzerland is a highly decentralised confederation, where each individual canton sets its own corporation tax rate and where citizens recently rejected proposals for a minimum wage, identifying this misguided price floor for what it is – a crude intervention which shuts the low-skilled out of productive employment. With an open economy and liberalised markets, Switzerland has thrived as the countries around it have floundered. Sweden also has much to boast about. Its economy is one of the freest in the world, following major reforms in the 1990s to tackle debt travails of its own. It is now easier to hire and fire in Sweden than almost anywhere else in Europe, red tape on business is comparably minimal, and the private sector has been involved in public education, welfare and social services. Crucially, Sweden remains a highly redistributionist state, but intervention takes place without disrupting market outcomes: rather than setting a minimum wage, the Swedish government acknowledges economic reality – letting businesses pay workers according to their productivity and supplementing their income through direct transfers where needed. When compared to other European welfare states, its results are remarkable. As the Eurozone crisis comes to an end, the greatest danger facing the single currency area is that policy-makers will draw the wrong conclusions, seeking to implement Europe-wide what has clearly not worked at a national level. The sad truth is that France, with its dirigiste traditions and inflexible regulations, is a role model in virtually no area of economic policy. But examples of successful reform are readily available, and France and the rest of the Eurozone would be well-advised to face the facts, and change economic policy accordingly.
Diego Zuluaga Laguna, Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) This article appears by courtesy of ConservativeHome, where it was first published on 2 August 2015: tinyurl.com/nnxvt7x”
The Harperite Revolution Or:
the Resounding Success of Canadian Conservatism Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party, after almost 10 years in office, are seeking a fourth consecutive term this October to make sure this country stays on course. This election is about leadership on the big issues that affect all Canadians: the economy and our country’s security. On October 19th, Canadians will have a clear choice between practical, serious, real-world experience and a dangerous approach that has failed before and is failing in other countries.
Under this Prime Minister, Canada’s economy has been booming. With proven leadership, Canada has led the G7 in growth since 2006 with a strong 16.1%. For 2015, we also have the lowest government net debt/ GDP ratio of the G7. The Conservative government reached a balanced budget in 2015 for the first time since the recession of 2008, without increasing taxes or cutting transfers to provinces. In fact, taxes have been lowered 180 times, saving the average Canadian family of four nearly $3,400 in 2014. As for this year, in the first quarter, we have a 5 billion dollars surplus well ahead of projected surpluses. Prime Minister Harper has been the champion of the middle-class. The government has cut the federal sales tax from 7% to 6% and then 5%, reduced the lowest personal income tax from 16% to 15%, introduced the family income splitting tax credit up to $2,000, introduced the Tax-Free Savings Account which was increased to $10,000 in 2015 from $5,500, increased the Universal Child Care Benefit and the Child Tax Credit that gives money directly to parents with kids because Conservatives believe parents are the real expert when it comes to their children’s needs. Those are only a few examples of the steps that were taken in the last few years by our
Conservative government. Canada’s middle class is now the richest in the world. Businesses have also benefitted under the Conservative plan. Taxes for businesses are now the lowest of the G7 at 15%. For the small and medium enterprises, the rate is expected to decrease from 11% to 9%. In addition to that, this government has taken strong action to reduce red tape and cap it. Calling red tape the “silent job killer”, Prime Minister Harper has taken action to ensure that the costs of new rules are quantified and equal or greater costs removed. This is embodied by the Red Tape Reduction Act which essentially caps the cost of rules coming directly from regulation. It is not surprising that Forbes Magazine declared Canada as the best country in the G20 for business in 2014. Canada, under the leadership of Stephen Harper has also supported a strong free trade agenda. Since 2006, our government has reached free trade agreements with no less than 38 countries bringing our number of free trade agreements from 5 in 2006 to 43 as of now. The largest one of these agreements was the deal with the European Union that gives Canada access to 500 million consumers and an annual $17 trillion in economic activities. Out of more than 9,000 EU tariff lines, approximately
98% are now duty-free for Canadian goods. In addition to that, the federal government has established a foothold in Asia with a recent free trade agreement with South Korea. Looking forward, Canada is taking an active part in the negotiations around the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Canada’s leadership on the international stage has not only been economical, but also political. We live in a dangerous world. The rise of the so-called Islamic State and Vladimir Putin’s aggression of Ukraine, are two issues that Prime Minister Harper takes very seriously. In October 2014, Canada became the theatre of two terrorist attacks from the so-called Islamic State. On October 20, a lone-wolf terrorist deliberately drove his vehicle into two Canadian Forces members. One died from injuries, the other survived. The next day, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau fatally shot Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian soldier on ceremonial sentry duty, at the Canadian War Memorial. Zehaf-Bibeau then entered the Canadian Parliament and was shot 31 times by six officers, including two fatal shots by Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, and an unnamed RCMP officer. Canada now has combat airplanes that fight with the international coalition against IS. We have also deployed Canadian special operations forces on Iraqi territory. The Prime Minister has been
very clear in the past few weeks when his opponents suggested we should only participate in a humanitarian mission: “The scale of the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Syria cannot be solved, cannot even come close of being by refugee policy alone. We must stop ISIS. […] Let me quote the representatives of the diaspora groups in Canada. […] ‘If your policy is humanitarian assistance without military support, all you’re doing is dropping aid on dead people.’ That’s not acceptable. We are a country that can contribute militarily and in a humanitarian sense, and we are doing both.” Canada’s response to Russian expansionism and militarism in Eastern Ukraine has equally been swift, targeted, and unequivocal. You might recall that Prime Minister Harper did not mince his words when encountering Vladimir Putin at the G20 in November 2014: “I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I have only one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine.” This is a leader who has the courage to say what others do not. Action has also been taken: amongst others, we deliver equipment to help protect those on the front lines against Russia’s dangerous insurgency. We have deployed field hospitals and send Canadian Armed Forces troops to participate in Operation REASSURANCE against Putin’s aggression
in Ukraine. The Prime Minister has been crystal clear; Canada will remain ready to intensify its actions until a peaceful resolution is reached. Another important policy of this government has been the support of Israel. In January 2014, Prime Minister Harper addressed the Knesset where he reflected on the relationship between our two countries. He emphasised, “that the special friendship between Canada and Israel is rooted in shared values. Indeed, Israel is the only country in the Middle East which has long anchored itself in the ideals of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.” Prime Minister Harper said that Canada will support Israel not because of an immediate reward for, or threat to, ourselves is imminent, but because it is the right thing to do. If we have one thing to remember about Prime Minister Harper’s government, it is that it is a government that takes principled stance. Harper is not striving to be liked or popular. He is trying to do the right thing for Canadians and do the right thing for freedom fighters at home and abroad. Canada has come a long way from where it once was. But there is still much more work to be done. This country has changed for the best and it is something that all Canadians should be proud of. In the words of our Prime
Minister: “on October 19, Canadians will make a critical decision about the direction of our country and that decision will have real consequences. Now is not the time for political correctness, inexperienced governance or an ideological unwillingness to act. Now is the time to face those who threaten us with moral clarity, strength and resolve. Canadians will be asked to judge who has the proven experience today to keep our economy strong and our country safe.”
Marc-Olivier Fortin, National Councillor Conservative Party of Canada
SERIES: THE FUTURE OF EUROPEAN FEDERALISM
Does European Federalism have a Future? When answering the question of whether European federalism has a future, we first need to answer a prior question: what possible scenarios are there for the future of Europe? There are three. The first is to continue as before by muddling through. The second is to increasingly shift back European power to the nation states, which would result in the breakup of the eurozone and potentially the European Union. The third is a political unification of the eurozone, a true democratic union in the heart of the continent. In the following we argue that the first scenario is unfeasible, the second is undesirable and the third is both, feasible and desirable, if not necessary.
SERIES: THE FUTURE OF EUROPEAN FEDERALISM
For almost a decade after the introduction of the single currency, Europe was doing fine by following its very gradual path towards deeper integration. Now, after five years of suffering from internal failures and external pressure, however, the intergovernmental model of the European Union has failed. The challenges that Europe is facing, the debt and Greek crisis, the refugee crisis, the rise of Eurosceptic and nationalist parties in many countries, the Ukrainian crisis and resurgence of an authoritarian Russia, and last but not least the wars in the Middle East, have brought the continent to its knees. The European Union, and in particular the members of the eurozone, have proven incapable of surmounting these challenges, the latest rounds of negotiations between the euro group and the Greek government being a case in point. Rounds of crisis summits resulting in a “solution” doomed to failure by preventing sustainable growth of the Greek economy at the outset cannot be a sustainable way of governing the eurozone. It is obvious, that the first of the three scenarios, continuing as before, should be off the table. By now everyone should have acknowledged the
simple fact that currency unions cannot work unless they are also economic and political unions. So is the answer to waive the white flag and go back to the tried system of a Europe of nation states, each with their own currency controlled by their own central bank? Some think so. They argue that we would then no longer have to constantly worry about a carefully calibrated balance, always in danger of falling apart. Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain could regain their competitiveness by devaluing their currencies and getting back some of the sovereignty that had been lost lost by joining the eurozone. Germany on the other hand could realize its full potential by not having to pay for its neighbours. In the end, they say, a breakup of the eurozone would be best for everyone. To see that this reasoning is flawed we only have to go back and ask why the European Union and later the monetary union were created in the first place. Those unions were created, partly at least, to contain Germany, first geo-strategically and then economically. This big and populous country in the heart of Europe was to be prevented from becoming too strong and from dominating the continent. Of course, military actions from Germany against its neighbours have become unimaginable, but the structural problem remains. A Europe divided, incapable of integrating Germany, to contain it when necessary, but also to mobilize it for the good of the continent is a deeply worrying image. This is the sense in which Germany is too strong for Europe. But like any other European country, it is also too weak to face the economic and geopolitical challenges of today on its own. This question of how to deal with a Germany that is too strong for Europe, but too weak without Europe is the old “German question” that now has returned in full force after a summer of negotiations where the German government has once again forced its will upon the rest of the eurozone. The only constructive answer to this question is the third of the above three scenarios: federalisation. We need to work towards political unification of the eurozone. For decades European federalism has been the project of dreamers and idealists. It now appears to be a thing of grim necessity if we do not want to leave the continent to continued chaos internally and permanent paralysis externally. Most politicians sympathetic to the idea of a federal Europe have so far believed in small steps on the continents path towards deeper integration, at the end of which stood a diffuse vision of how such integration could look like. This approach to European federalism has failed by proving to be much too slow to solve Europe’s most pressing problems. Instead, we at the Project for Democratic Union believe that we should push for a single act of debt consolidation and parliamentary fusion. To see how this could work, Eurozoners can draw on the Anglo-American constitutional model. When the American colonists won their independence from Britain in the late eighteenth century, they too were deeply divided over how to defend themselves, and above all on the question of how the huge debt accumulated during the war should ever be repaid. In search for a blueprint, the Founding Fathers looked to the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707, when two kingdoms, England and Scotland, formerly so divided, had come together by merging their debts, par-
liaments and efforts on the international stage. The resulting American Constitution created a powerful executive presidency and a representative legislature, and gave rise to the creation of a consolidated national debt, a national bank and eventually a strong military, all of which turned the United States into the superpower it is today. In Europe we now require nothing less than such a constitutional architecture. In particular, we argue for the establishment of a presidential system, in which the European Parliament would take on the role of a fully invested legislative chamber. Non-union business would be left primarily to regional administrations, thus ensuring the most direct connection of the administration with its constituents. Nation states would continue to be represented in a senate made up of two delegates from each of the constituent states. Their bureaucracies and parliaments, meanwhile, would be stripped of much of their authority. The union administration would command a single European army and be in sole control over the union’s finances. Given the economic differences between the states, the new union would, of course, have to be a transfer union where transfers work through the union budget. This system of transfers already works well within many of the eurozone’s member states, as well as in the Unites States and elsewhere. Rather than direct transfers between the member states, transfers would work through federal programs and budgets like medical care, social security and military expenditures. It is important to note that this plan by no means requires that Europeans have to give up their national identity, culture or language. While union business would be conducted in English, the use of the respective languages should, like national and regional traditions, be preserved. We do not need to dream up a new European identity. Europe isn’t lacking a common narrative or a common cause for us all to get behind. The old European values are perfectly fine. What we need instead are new structures capable of turning this European dream of peace, prosperity, security and solidarity into a reality.
Korbinian Rueger, Project for Democratic Union (PDU)
Professor Brendan Simms, Cambridge University/PDU
SERIES: THE FUTURE OF EUROPEAN FEDERALISM
Federal Europe: Through the Lens of Labour Relations Can Europe go in a more federal way when dealing with labour relations? Most indicators points to no. Since the end of the Second World War, there has been a dialogue between employers, employees and governments in Western Europe. This relationship, while not always cordial, has proven resilient. The social dialogue model has been adopted as the model of use by the EU, giving it some more pan-European characteristics such as sectoral and cross-sectoral dialogue processes. It even impacted the methods by which the countries of central and East Europe set up their systems. A key capability trade unions have at their disposal is that of mass mobilisation of their members which governments fear. In order to get the unions to waive the usage of their mobilisation capability, Western European governments have opted to listen to their demands and find solutions which might benefit all parties. By inviting them to sit down with both employers and government, it is ensured that trade unions abandon radical demands in favour of more moderate ones, which ensures a greater stability on the market. Governments in return give them access to political dealings through tripartite talks as well as advisory board positions. This relationship can be explained by ways of power politics, namely that governments can ally themselves with the unions, which will then support them during elections or try to hinder them from destabilising the market and in doing so gain support from business-interests. The unions may also try to protect their own interests through such means, as they negotiate wages and make sure that they are politically relevant. This mode of conduct is the corporatist one, common to continental and Northern Europe. It requires a long-term thinking of the parties involved, as they cannot push too hard against the people they are dealing without risking to lose their will for cooperation. The EU has a consensus-based system of dealing with matters. The corporatist system is therefore a very attractive one to adapt to the European level, seen from the eyes of Brussels. The relationship between the social partners in Western Europe has largely been rooted in the historic strength of the trade unions. The governments
themselves have seen an advantage in having them in the political game as pawns to play. Most Western European trade unions enjoy a formalised and stable role in society. Their Eastern European counterparts have a quite different environment to work in. They have no clear role and many unions compete for membership and the right to represent the worker’s interest within the same sector. The state itself does not have a clearly defined role in Central and East Europe further adding to the difficulties to establish a clear social partnership. There was the problem of trade unions being tied to the communist regimes of old which often hampered the unions’ ability to effectively influence or even have a voice in the industrial decision-making in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. Communist trade unions were nothing more than another branch of the ruling party. They were expected to keep high production rates as well as secure the rights of the workers. Within this socialist system, there were no rights to strike or critique the management. The unions in this system consequently had little connection to their members, but strong ties to the political leadership. Classical Western trade unions matters such as striking for higher wages or standing up against the private companies’ power over their workforce were thence not a priority for Eastern European unions after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Instead of fighting against the privatisation of formerly state-owned businesses, they tried to find a way to legitimise their role in society. Many countries introduced legislation which gave power to the unions on central level. This had little impact as it this was at odds with industrial reality, where talks occurred within companies themselves and most of the time the trade unions lacked presence there. The fact of the matter is that what works in the West may in fact not be applicable to the Eastern parts of the EU. They have had a different outset and evolution of practices than the West. Their situation is quite different and applying ideas based on West-
ern experiences might be hard as we have a more anti-state and pro-market stance in these countries. If one then looks at how the CEE unions function today, we can see very different organisations from their Western equivalents. One key difference is funding. In the Eastern parts of Europe we can see an emphasis on decentralisation rather than centralisation. Revenues from member fees stay at company level, with the trade unions, imitating the British model, trying to push their local chapter’s agenda. In most countries, the majority of actual agreements occur at enterprise level rather than in a central setting. The traditions that are being developed in the CEE countries are more in line with the British way of coming to an agreement on labour relations than the model the EU is pushing for. When the communist regimes fell, reforms were enacted to allow for negotiations on a central level. The hope was that these would work in the new market and political setting of the Central and Eastern European Countries. They did not; the unions instead opted to negotiate at an enterprise level.
SERIES: THE FUTURE OF EUROPEAN FEDERALISM
This attempt might have been spearheaded by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) which tried to transplant the Western model in as many countries as it could. At the same time, the EU enabled another route, one which did not favour collective bargaining or the centralisation of trade union power. Social institutions such as the tripartite negotiations had a weak role and the trade unions themselves were too weak to put up a viable counter-offer. The idea of Social Europe and tripartite talks and other legislation connected to social policy has been a means of harmonisation as part of the EU’s acquis communitaire. The Eastern European countries have seen these directives and bodies of negotiation as a way to get closer to the European Union as it has had a networking aspect to it. If the implementation of the tripartite process is more about the connections to other countries than to bolster the strength of the negotiations at home, the ideas and purpose of the system might be given lip-service but little else.
SOURCES Articles: Anke Hassel (2009): Policies and Politics in Social Pacts in Europe, European Journal of industrial relations, vol. 15 no. 1 7-26 David Ost(2000): Illusory Corporatism in Eastern Europe: Neoliberal Tripartism and Postcommunist Class Identities Politics society vol 28. No. 4 pp. 503-530 Elena Iankova and Lowell Turner(2004): Building the New Europe: Western and Eastern roads to social partnership, Industrial relations Journal vol 35 no. 1, pp. 77-92 Engelbert Stockhammer and Özlem Onaran(2009): National and Sectoral Influences on Wage Determination in Central and Eastern Europe, , European Journal of industrial relations, vol. 15 no 3, pp.317338 Heribert Kohl (2008): Where Do Trade Unions Stand Today In Eastern Europe? Stock-taking After EU Enlargement, Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung - International Trade Union Cooperation, Briefing paper No. 5 Robert Flannigan (1998): Institutional Reformation in
Eastern Europe, Industriual Relations Vol. 37 No. 3, pp. 337-357 Stephen Crowley (2004): Explaining Labor Weakness in Post-Communist Europe: Historical Legacies and Comparative Perspective, East European Politics & Societies vol. 18 no. 3, pp. 394-429 Christophe Degryse, ETUC 40 Year, not yet published ( used with the blessing of the European Trade Union Confederation)
- A Long Way to Stability and Prosperity
As the European Democrat Students meet in Skopje, it is time to come back on the dramatic evolution this region has witnessed within the last 35 years. In this period, all Western Balkans countries experienced the collapse of authoritarian regimes, various forms of conflicts, unrest and the birth of new forms of government. These countries (Albania, Bosnia-andHerzegovina, Croatia, FYROM, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia) are marked by an unequal level of development and while some of them have reached the end of the European integration path, others are still facing many challenges. THE FALL OF TYRANTS AND ESCALATION On 3 May 1980, the whole of the Western Balkans was in the hands of two men: Josip Broz Tito and Enver Hoxha. The first ruled Yugoslavia while the latter reigned over Albania. The legitimacy of both regimes relied on the prestige gained by their leaders during the Second World War, as their ability to command troops against the enemy was presented as proof that they were the most apt to rule their countries. But while the two countries’ experiences seem similar, with both governed veteran war leaders who claimed to be inspired by the principles of Marxism, they were radically different. As Tito grew dissatisfied with his relations with the Soviet Union, he had become the advocate of a third way, the Non-Aligned Movement. Enver Hoxha’s Albania had good relations with Tito during wartime but these cooled down as soon as the Yugoslav leader started to question Stalin’s leadership of the Socialist World. Hoxha became a firm Stalinist, well until the destalinisation process in the USSR when decided to side with Mao Zedong. However, following Chairman Mao and President Richard Nixon’s meeting, Enver Hoxha felt increasingly isolated. After Mao’s death when part of his heritage was abandoned by the new leadership, Enver Hoxha declared Albania to Hoxhaist - effectively making Tirana the European Pyongyang. Yugoslavia and Albania differed not only in terms of political alignment, but also economic policy: Yugoslavia’s model proposed the collective management of resources by workers, Albania had a planned socialist economy and tried by all means necessary to attain self-sufficiency. Albania and Yugoslavia were also strikingly different in their demography: Albania’s population was ethnically and culturally homogenous; Yugoslavia could be summarised by Tito’s “123456” witticism:
“One leader, Two alphabets, Three religions, Four Languages, Five Nations and Six Republics.” However, both regimes were tied to the fate of their leaders. Tito died in May 1980, Hoxha in 1985. The new leaderships were unable to maintain the cohesion of their countries: Yugoslavia was torn by the re-emergence of various nationalisms seeking independence or the recognition of their autonomy. Albania followed the trend of many Socialist countries of gradual reform, which turned out to be insufficient. As the Albanian regime was collapsing, leading to a difficult period of transition between 1990 and 1991, Yugoslavia broke up on 25 June 1991 when the Republics of Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence. This triggered a spiral of conflict lasting well over a decade. Many cities of the region were going to be in the headlines of the international press, as Europe discovered mass killings, ethnic cleansing, and genocide in its back garden. Meanwhile, the transition to democracy in Albania was far from meeting all expectations of the population: corruption persisted and many were still trying to crossing the Strait of Otranto. THE DIFFICULTY OF RECONCILIATION AND THE PERSISTENCE OF ETHNIC TENSIONS As most of the conflicts that shook the region followed ethnic and cultural divides, the post-Yugoslav states adopted a wide array of measures to secure the rights of the various ethnic groups composing the countries. However, many kinds of discriminations persist and the fate of minorities often sparks tensions between neighbouring countries. An event testifying the uneasy reconciliation between people were the commemorations of the Srebrenisca Massacre in July 2015, when visiting Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic was greeted by protesters throwing projectiles at him. This
act was seen by many locals as justified given Vucic’s statements during the war. These events raise concerns, particularly since they coincide with an increasing number of people from the region radicalising and joining armed groups in the Levant. THE LONG WAY TO DEMOCRACY Since the downfall of the dictatorships, it is obvious that huge steps have been taken to establish democratic institutions and a rule of law. However, several pitfalls exist and must be tackled in order to make sure that democracy is more than casting a ballot in a box. Freedom of press is guaranteed by all countries in the region and many countries witnessed the emergence of investigative journalism with its unveiling of scandals and corruption. Unfortunately, many media outlets suffer of political bias: public broadcasters are an easy prey for governments reducing these outlets to regime mouthpieces. Private media are often influenced by their owner’s political links and agenda. All countries of the regions have however also seen the development of a civil society, with the establishment of NGOs, research institutes, and think tanks. They are increasingly vocal and seek to have a direct impact on the legislative process in addition to ground work. Similarly, much progress has also been made in the consolidation of
THEME the electoral processes. The number of incidents during elections and accusations of irregularities are constantly decreasing, as witnessed by various international observers. EUROPEAN INTERVENTION AND THE PATH TO EUROPEAN INTEGRATION As European countries, the European Economic Community (and later the European Union) has often been criticised for its inability to stop violence in the Western Balkans and its reliance on the United States to undertake diplomatic and military efforts, particularly in the 1990s. As this trauma of having been unable to prevent horrors remains, the region became a testing ground for several European external and neighbouring policies. This led to the investment of a significant amount of resources linked to missions, projects and sustainment of local government, with mixed results. Besides these investments, the EU has engaged in a Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) involving civilian and military operations. Conceived as crisis management operations, they are now deadlocked, as host countries are unable to fulfil their responsibilities.
Apart from the EUFOR Althea operation in Bosnia-andHerzegovina, the civilian mission EULEX Kosovo, dedicated to the establishment of a viable rule of law in the country, is now drawing a lot of criticism. Established in 2008, the mission raised huge expectations among the Kosovar people and external actors due to the scope of its mandate. They were swiftly disillusioned, as the mission appeared of being “balkanised”, instead of “europeanising” their local counterparts and allegations of corruption surfaced. In conclusion of this very differing situations between Western Balkans which are now part of the European Union and others still striving for accession, it can be assumed that the EU and its member states are still looking for the ideal approach to ensuring more stability, democracy, and prosperity for the whole region through integration. However, this cannot be done from the outside. EULEX Kosovo Head of Mission issued an open editorial that summarise many common aspects of the complex relations between the EU and the
Western Balkans: “We at EULEX are but guests, and as guests, we know that we cannot force change”. It is up to Western Balkans countries to create the change and finally concretise the perspective of an integration of the region into the EU, bringing a definitive conclusion to a painful chapter of history.
European Solutions to European Challenges Migration is one of the three great challenges we are facing in the European Union, together with terrorism and climate change. These challenges have something in common: they do not emanate from a specific nation-state, but sew a thread through many states and regions. They thus need global and regional responses rather than just national and intergovernmental policies to deal with them. Migration is a huge challenge in the Mediterranean with a refugee crisis that is enveloping Europe from North Africa and Syria. We Maltese are actively engaged in this debate with other affected nations on a European Union platform. We are telling fellow European states that not being in the Mediterranean does not exonerate them from responsibility in this multifaceted issue. We want the European Union to put its action where its mouth is and devise Europe-wide mandatory burden-sharing in immigration. But of course, we know that the European Union cannot deliver a solution unless its constituent member countries empower it to do so. I want the European Union to be more than the sum total of its member states. This is why it is very disappointing that the European Council during its last summit did not arrive at a mandatory solution. It is even more disappointing that the voluntary mechanism does not even cover Malta but only Italy and Greece. It is clear that the summit did not take into account the cumulative effect of a decade of disproportionate numbers arriving here in Malta as well as the size of our territory and our very high population density. When discussing this issue, statecraft and shortterm solutions sometimes come in the way of the
very human dimension that is at stake in this issue. We are not talking about merchandise crossing the Mediterranean (or other EU countries for that matter). We are talking about people. As Christian Democrat and Popular parties, we need to keep emphasising our belief in the primacy of the human person. It is because we are dealing with human lives that the need for EU countries to join hands and work together becomes even more compelling. Unless we do so, more and more lives are lost at sea or at border crossings. This should not be allowed to happen in the twenty-first century. Terrorism is another global and regional phenomenon that is also related to migration. Terrorism has characterised international relations for a long time now, but it is becoming ever more sophisticated using new means and technologies that make it even more difficult to pin down and prevent. We cannot fight terrorism on our own. Terrorism needs a regional, as well as a global response. For a long time, we
saw terrorism as a far-away phenomenon affecting others. But the new media, the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, the crisis in Libya, and the recent terror attacks in France and Tunisia have brought terrorism much closer to home. We have lately seen an attempt at terrorism even on a high speed train in Europe. Climate change is yet another huge challenge of our time and again it is linked to migration. Unless tackled effectively, it has the potential of unleashing even greater waves of migration of people fleeing from areas adversely affected by climate change.
This is not a question of opinion or belief: this is an issue around which a wide scientific consensus has been built and refusing to act on it will shortchange you, the youths of today and the leaders of tomorrow. Since the 1960s, Malta has been at the forefront of this debate when we stated that the seabed and the climate should be considered as the common heritage of mankind. The common heritage of humankind is an extension of the common good we need to defend and which is at the centre of our ideals as Popular and Christian Democrat parties. These are the challenges that we must overcome
and it would serve our common interests to do so together. Of course, the Europe Union is itself facing its own existential problems. But despite its shortcomings, it remains the greatest ever exercise in regional cooperation in living memory and it remains our best hope to overcoming the challenges that we are facing in our region. Despite many doomsayers, and despite a very severe financial crisis that hit some European countries, the European project is still moving forward. We, present leaders, and you, the leaders of tomorrow, have a responsibility towards the peoples of this continent and towards the very idea and values of Europe to make sure that the European Union sticks together and is empowered to overcome our common challenges. This persuasion does not emanate from a lofty or romantic idea of Europe but from sheer realism and pragmatism. No matter what populists say, the truth of the matter is that the challenges of today cannot be overcome by individual countries acting on their own. But they can be if we act together. It is there-
fore in our common interest to work together because this serves our citizens better. This is why the challenges we face today need more Europe, not less.
Dr Simon Busuttil, Leader of the Maltese Opposition (Partit Nazzjonalista)
United in Europe On 3 October 2015, Germany will celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of its reunification. A matter of course for the world today, it is all too quickly forgotten that German “Wiedervereinigung” was anything except self-evident and secured on the basis of one overwhelming condition: the ever-closer union of Europe. In July 1989, Gerhard Schröder, a rising star among Germany’s Social Democrats, wrote in a newspaper article: “Forty years into the existence of the Federal Republic of Germany, the new generation should not be lied to on the possibility of reunification. It does not exist.” In one of the ironic twists of history, Schröder would later become the first Social Democratic Chancellor of the reunified Germany. However foolish these words may seem to the contemporary reader, it was by no means a minority view at the time. Many had accepted the division of Germany, embodied by the Berlin Wall, as an immutable historical reality, there to
stay. Even when the Iron Curtain began to display its first cracks in Poland and Hungary, the prospect of a fall of the Wall seemed all but utopian. Schröder’s retrospective mishap illustrates the momentousness of 9 November 1989, when the wall that had separated the nation for almost thirty years fell. That it would eventually culminate in the re-emergence of a united Germany was nonetheless far from inevitable at the time however. For long, it remained uncertain whether the parties involved in the “German Question” would agree for the country to be united. The credit for securing reunification must be attributed to three
individuals: German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and in particular US President George H. Bush. Without their political acumen and initiative, Germany would have never become united – or at least only at a far later stage. Kohl persuaded a wary German public and political establishment of the historic momentum offered to the nation and acted upon it by initiating the process of unification. Gorbachev in turn defied many critical voices within the Soviet sphere of influence that adamantly opposed a unified Germany. To Bush fell the delicate role of convincing Germany’s Western European partners to agree to reunification. Contrary to what one may expect, the idea of a united country was not met with unequivocal enthusiasm by Germans, East or West. Some East German citizens argued that they had primarily protested against the oppressive nature of their regime, not their state’s existence itself. Equally great were doubts among West Germany’s political class, where Kohl’s plans for unification were at best considered risky, at worst reactionary: showing that Schröder’s words were more than an expression of defeatism, the centre-left SPD only warmed rather late to the concept of reunification itself. Former SPD chancellor Willy Brandt, who had famously called German unification a “Lebenslüge” (“delusion”) in the early 1980s, even confided to Gorbachev after the Fall of the Wall that “reunification means a return to the past which is first impossible and secondly not
our aim.” The most prominent sceptic of the Wiedervereinigung was Oskar Lafontaine, at the time leader of the SPD and prospective contender of Kohl in the 1990 Federal Elections. Doubtful over the feasibility of German unity in foreign policy terms, he likewise considered it fiscally irresponsible. Above all however, he feared the revival of German nationalisms as a result of reunification, famously denouncing the state of “national drunkenness” the country experienced after the fateful 9 November. Kohl, grasping the historic nature of events, nonetheless persevered in his course. In his “Ten-Point-Plan” of late November 1989, the Chancellor set out the guidelines for German reunification and paved the way for the so-called “Two-Plus-Four” negotiations to finally settle the “German Question”. Conducted between the four occupying powers in Germany (USA, Soviet Union, United Kingdom and France) and representatives of the two German states, these talks laid the legal framework for unification. As part of these negotiations, it was agreed that the fate of Germany was to be decided on the basis of the impending East German elections of February 1990. These first and only free elections in East Germany ended with a resounding victory for the “Alliance for Germany”, a coalition of centre-right parties including Kohl’s Christian Democrats in favour of reunification. Vindicated in his belief that his plans had a mandate with
the German people, particularly in the East, Kohl was in a much stronger lobbying position with Gorbachev and his Western European partners. To convince either of the merit of a united Germany was by no means a small feat: Gorbachev was wary of presiding over the resurrection of a Germany that less than a century prior had ridden Europe with war and desolation. Surprisingly to the contemporary, this sentiment was shared by many of his Western counterparts, particularly François Mitterand and Margaret Thatcher. The fear of the resurrection of the “German juggernaut” (Thatcher) and a destabilisation of the Eastern European balance of power led to an unlikely alliance between the French socialist and the British conservative to prevent or at least slow down the process of German unification. Their hopes were frustrated however by the United States which came out in support of Kohl: already in May 1989, Bush had declared the “self-determination of Germany” a US foreign policy priority. Shortly after the German Chancellor had released his “Ten-Point-Plan”, when Britain and France were still in a state of indignation, US Secretary of State James Baker offered a basis on which the US would agree to a reunification of Germany: namely its continued membership of NATO and, crucially, its involvement in an “increasingly integrated European Community” to preclude the risk of the re-emergence of Germany as a geopolitical predator. For Kohl, this
was an ideal scenario, as both demands underpinned his personal political agenda: it would cement his country’s ties to the West, pre-empt security concerns among his European partners, expose Social Democratic fears of renewed German nationalism at home as baseless and precipitate the process of European unification. Gorbachev’s realisation of the financial liability that East Germany constituted for a Soviet Union that was itself close to economic collapse meant that the Chancellor had the two most potent Allied powers on his side in negotiations on German unification. On 12 September 1990, ten months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the “Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany” officialised the “Wiedervereinigung”. Less than a month later, Germany was one country again – within a Europe that was itself seeking to grow closer.
Andrei Spinu MOLDOVAN VICE-MINISTER FOR YOUTH AND SPORTS
MR. SPÎNU, YOU WERE RECENTLY APPOINTED AS MOLDOVAN VICE-MINISTER OF YOUTH AND SPORT. FOR SOMEONE BORN IN 1986, THIS IS A QUITE AN EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENT. HOW DID YOU ENTER AND THENCE PROGRESS IN POLITICS? First, I was involved in a regional non-governmental organization activity, then I was a founder and board member of some of the biggest national youth organizations and finally, I became a member of the Liberal Democratic Youth of Moldova. Together with the team of the Liberal Democratic Youth of Moldova (TLDM), we wanted to bring Moldova closer to European Union and solve the problems that the youth of our country faces. Now, TLDM members are Members of Parliament or work for the government. This allows us to directly tackle the youth’s problems.
ASIDE FROM YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH TLDM, YOU ARE ALSO AN ALUMNUS OF EDS. HAS THIS EXPERIENCE ENHANCED YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL POLITICS? Obviously. In Moldova, we don’t have enough positive experiences in political activity of a youth organisation and especially, we lack the experiences on how youth organisations could contribute to the development of public policy. In this context, the activity in EDS was and remains for us a source of inspiration and understanding on how the youth can contribute and shape policy in Moldova. Also, it was interesting to see how we succeeded together as an organisation. Even if we sometimes see things in different ways and represent distinct visions, we reached a common agreement and in the end, we
voted for policy statements that can change and unite Europe. Eventually, I think that participation in EDS will be of more importance in ten to twenty years, when more EDS alumni will be in decision-making positions all across Europe and the relationships we have established will improve our communication and generate common policies for the welfare of our countries. ONE CRITICISM OFTEN LEVIED AT YOUNG POLITICIANS IS THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE SUFFICIENT “REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE” TO REPRESENT AN ELECTORATE. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE A PROFESSION BEFORE STARTING A POLITICAL CAREER IN YOUR OPINION? From my point of view, there will always be persons who will hold this opinion. I would not place any pre-
INTERVIEW conditions on a young adult before they may enter the political process. But regarding experience, sometimes it could be damaging. In our times, we have to bring innovation to politics, otherwise it will be hard to manage the challenges our countries face right now. This innovation could come by having more young people in politics - which may mean less experience, but, at the same time, the youth could be the ones to block the so-called “politics as usual”. At the same time, I definitely think that in politics, we need highly skilled persons, regardless of whether they are young or adults. LET US SPEAK OF POLICY MATTERS. WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES AS VICE-MINISTER OF YOUTH AND SPORT? WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES FACED BY THE MOLDOVAN YOUTH IN YOUR VIEW? These days, I’m working on a new youth law that will represent the first measure of a so-called Youth Pack. In our view, the state should offer young people every opportunity to succeed at home. By this, I mean that the youth should benefit from high-quality studies, should have the possibility to find a job, are able to develop extracurricular skills through non-formal education, are involved in decision-making process, have the opportunity to be involved in volunteering activities, has all the infrastructure for free time activities and not least, have healthy families who are living in peace and prosperity. In Moldova, the youth problems are those mentioned above, from unemployment to lack of leisure opportunities. YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IS A SENSITIVE MATTER IN MOLDOVA AND THE COUNTRY HAS SUFFERED A SUBSTANTIVE BRAIN DRAIN. WHAT MEASURES ARE YOU AND THE MINISTER SEEKING TO TAKE IN ORDER TO SUPPORT YOUNG PEOPLE? ARE THERE ANY POLICIES ENACTED BY OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES THAT YOU WOULD SEEK TO EMULATE? We don’t have any experience in implementing successful public policies on tackling youth unemployment. Because of that, we will be inspired by the Youth Guarantee Programme developed by European Union. And as I said before, the new Youth Law will bring the issue of youth unemployment on the table. We want the state to take an active role in tackling the problem. First, we want the state to help young people to develop their own business. On this, we will suggest to invest in entrepreneurial educational programs, in building a business infrastructure (hubs, co-working spaces etc.), to create an environment of experience and knowledge sharing and helping young people to have access to cheap money from grants, angel investors, or preferential credits. Finally, we want the state to help the youth to find a job and support companies that employ young people. On this, we want to invest in job fairs, in career orientation trainings, and consultation hubs, as well as requalifica-
tion training programmes. COMMENTATORS HAVE SUGGESTED THAT ONE OF THE KEYS TO SOLVING MOLDOVA’S ECONOMIC WOES IS THE IMPROVEMENT OF CONDITIONS FOR ENTREPRENEURS AND START-UPS IN THE COUNTRY. IS THERE ANY CONCERTED REFORM EFFORT ON THE GOVERNMENT’S PART TO AMELIORATE THIS STATE OF AFFAIRS? In Moldova, we have a special committee called the Economic Council which has the goal to simplify the process of doing business in our country. Recently, they proposed a set of measures which will help to reduce the time spent on doing business and also will save money for the entrepreneurs. The eGovernance Centre is also working on developing tools on how to facilitate the interaction between state and business sector. They already introduced online tools for tax reporting, invoicing, and implemented the digital signature, which is not only saving time, but reducing corruption in the business sector. Speaking about the youth, for 2016, we are seeking to develop a plan for helping young people to start a business. It will be a complex and hard thing to achieve but I am sure we will succeed. We hope to convince all decision-makers to invest more in building co-working spaces, start-up hub, and tech parks, while also giving some fiscal facilities for the new enterprises. MOLDOVA HAS BEEN PLAYING A CENTRAL ROLE IN THE EU’S EASTERN PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMME. HOW IMPORTANT IS THE ESTABLISHMENT OF TIES WITH THE EU FOR MOLDOVA’S FUTURE DEVELOPMENT? WHAT WILL BE THE PRINCIPAL IMPACT OF THE PROGRESSIVE INTEGRATION OF MOLDOVA WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION ON ITS YOUNG PEOPLE? For Moldova, getting closer to European Union is the only solution. Even if we face difficult challenges right now, the majority of the population, and especially young people, want Moldova to be part Europe. For our citizens, a closer relation with EU means a stronger Moldova. A country with strong institutions, with less corruption, a country which is able to protect and defend its citizens, an energetic country and economic stability. For young people, a closer relation with EU means more opportunities to find a better paid job, more chances for high-quality studies and more opportunities to start a business covering not only Moldova, but the European Union area, too. MOLDOVA IS CURRENTLY HEADED FOR AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE: SINCE 2014, THE PRORUSSIAN SOCIALIST PARTY IS ITS LARGEST PARLIAMENTARY PARTY. IS THERE AN IMMEDIATE RISK OF MOLDOVA ENDING “THIS EUROPEAN EXPERIMENT”, AS SOCIALIST LEADER IGOR DODON PUT IT? OR CAN YOU INDEED
IMAGINE MOLDOVA JOINING THE EUROPEAN UNION ANY TIME SOON? Of course, there is a risk. Moldova is subject to an enormous media attack from the East which has coverage all around our country. We also have many citizens working in the East and this fact is increasing this risk. But, we understand that everything depends on us. If the pro-European forces of Moldova will offer a better life for our citizens, and not only promoting European slogans, then the risk will be minimal. The youth expects this, and we, as the biggest proEuropean party, shouldn’t disappoint them. We will do anything within our means to build a better life at home and not change the geopolitical direction of our country. A PERSISTENT OBSTACLE TO MOLDOVA’S FURTHER EUROPEAN INTEGRATION HAS BEEN THE ONGOING FROZEN CONFLICT OVER TRANSNISTRIA, STILL CONTROLLED BY A RUSSIANBACKED GOVERNMENT. MANY MOLDOVANS HAVE EXPRESSED FEARS OF THE ERUPTION OF A SIMILAR HYBRID WAR IN THE REGION. HOW REAL DO YOU BELIEVE THE DANGER OF THE RETURN OF A “HOT CONFLICT”? I think the question is wrong. It’s not about how real the danger is, but how conflict could be avoided. This is the question. When you ask about the return of the conflict, then I think about the conflict, but when we talk about preventing it, we talk about peace. And we need peace. If we will manage to solve the issues the citizens face all around the country, speaking also about Transnistria and Gagauzia, then the risk will be minimised and we will have peace. War is not a solution. It doesn’t matter to what country or region we belong, no one wants to be involved in any kind of military conflict. People want to live peacefully and in freedom and prosperity. This should be the goal. WE HAVE NOW COVERED A LOT OF POLITICAL GROUND. TO CONCLUDE THIS INTERVIEW, IS THERE A KEY PERSONAL OBJECTIVE YOU ARE HOPING TO ACHIEVE AS VICE-MINISTER? AS POLITICIAN IN GENERAL? I wish we could bring happiness to our children, youth and families. From my point of view, this is the final objective in politics. I hope I may contribute to reaching this goal.
Mihaela Radu in cooperation with Henrique Laitenberger
#GenerationPolicy – We Need to Give Young People a Voice in Decision-Making Nowadays, young people are too often relegated to the side-lines and excluded from having a say in decisions that will affect them. With apathy among young voters recently peaking in Poland, its main political party made youth participation in civic society a priority and provided them with an opportunity to share their views via the web. Ultimately, the lack of youth participation – one may even speak of a “youth dialogue crisis” – in important decisions is detrimental to all, regardless of age and status. It is thus vital to improve bilateral relations and find common solutions for obstacles that young people are dealing with every day. In Poland, youth political organisations were increasingly losing the trust of the country’s youth. Many political parties recruited their “youth representatives” by promising them political careers. But more often than not, the voices of these overwhelmingly urban, educated and often privileged young people were not truly representative of the broader youth community. Cooperation thus did not actually exist at all. This was especially alarming when being aware that the existence of opportunities for the youth to participate in political and decision-making processes largely depends on the political will of the authorities to provide them. Poland’s governing party, Civic Platform, hence decided to do its utmost to encourage young people to become involved in shaping the country’s future. They found a new way of reaching out to a diverse demographic of young people to create a comprehensive youth pro-
gramme for the upcoming elections: everyone could present their own ideas for cross-sectoral challenges of social inclusion, linking it with education, employment or health policies just by using social media. Evidently, participation is key to youth policy in any country. The achievement of this end requires much effort, including the development and review of participatory mechanisms seeking to involve young people in decision-making. This involved on the one hand the production of relevant information material and on the other, room for more dialogue online. Civic Platform, recognising that the internet is an essential part of life for young people today, created a special website where web users could share their views with the party. Each proposal received an answer from the party’s policy expert. In launching this website, Civic Platform effectively empowered a new generation of digital dialogue. The amount of young people updating, tweeting and texting generated a wider vox populi worth any MP’s attention. This simple online platform has illustrated that legislators can cut through the social media noise the same way many businesses do — by listening to and tackling the issues raised by online communities.
It was proven that even informal engagement can be understood as political participation, with immense benefits for any democracy. The policies developed by the party as a result of this experiment showed to be more relevant to its citizens; more effective, contributing to sustainable growth, social cohesion and job creation through efficient and integrated policies, on the basis of the underlying principle of solidarity and listening to the people. In effect, Civic Platform launched a manifesto that made the creation of more and equal opportunities for all young people in education and the labour market, as well as promoting active citizenship and solidarity as the pillars upon which our efforts should be based, one of its main policy priorities. The party paid attention to and harnessed one of the largest global phenomena among young people – a growing demand for dialogue. The extraordinary success of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram illustrate a need to communicate. One way to support young people was to give them those platforms to voice their opinions and create a community of individuals who can bring something new to the politics. The greatest success in this effort is that they directly engaged with young people to change the world for the better and shape the future in accordance with their views. These opinions, collected through participatory and inclusive consultations, were collected in a manifesto – the party’s “Youth Manifesto”. So how can young people be better included in decision-making processes around the world? First, governments and international organisations need to reach out to young people on the margins of society, who do not necessarily enjoy the privileges of high-quality education and access to networks. Moreover, only through large-scale inclusive participation, followed by concrete proposals for decision-makers, can the voices of young people become truly representative of their generation. If young people do not participate in civic society and public policy debates from the beginning, this will affect their ability to become responsible leaders in the years to come. However, we need to raise more awareness about the potential young people have to make a difference, and ensure that their views are included in national and international policy discussions. How the results of Civic Platform’s inclusive party’s dialogue policy will be put into practice, we will see after Poland’s parliamentary elections of 25 October 2015. There is great reason to believe in the success of the web dialogue.
Big on Big Things, Small on Small Things Student Representation in Austria Earlier this year, students in yet another member state of the European Union made their way to the polling booths to vote for their student representatives. Every two years, all Austrian students have the possibility to elect the Austrian Students Union which represents their interests before the responsible Ministries. Since 1946, this law enforced organisation fights for the interests of every person studying and does so on three different levels, so that every topic may be handled in the best possible way. Unlike in many other European countries, representation of interests happens on a national level, in every university, and on the ground in every faculty of studies. Thereby it helps students to simplify their life while at university.
STRUCTURE, LEGAL BACKGROUND AND FINANCING To explain the exact structure of the Austrian Students Union, it is best to compare it to the system of chambers practiced in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. All chambers work on the basic principle of self-administration. This means that the members of those corporate bodies handle topics autonomously and as part of their own responsibility. It is because of these conditions that students can be represented without taking political sides and in that process limit the abilities to act due to conflicts of interests. Financing in the system of chambers occurs through mandatory membership fees. At Austrian universities, this means that at the beginning of every semester, students have to pay a certain sum which is solemnly used to represent their interests. If the fees are not being paid properly until the extended deadline, students are prohibiting from entering degree programmes. The amount of the dues currently stands at €18,70. The resulting fund is then partly distributed to the different university representative committees for their use, depending on the total number of students enrolled. THE 3 LEVELS As Abraham Lincoln once said, ”Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people.” But when it comes to making politics, this very simple aspect is way too easily forgotten and instead of making decisions for the people, we often end up fighting wars that might not even matter. This is because politics for the people are not only made in committees and discussions, but on a personal level with the people.
In order to ensure that student politics in Austria never miss that goal, student representation happens at the very basis. At every university, the students of each field of studies elect five representatives and a team of volunteers that help students with everyday problems to make their life easier. This ranges from the provision of advice to newcomers during first semester tutorials to helping students when they seem to be treated unfair. This gives students the possibility to focus on the only thing that should really matter, their studies. Sometimes of course, matters arise which might not only concern a handful of people, but the whole university. In these cases, university student representatives act in different working groups while keeping close contact to university representatives to achieve their goals. Issues that have been discussed at most universities are topics include for example the provision of learning spaces or making facilities more accessible for people with impairments. Finally of course, representation also happens on a national level. The national student representation consists of 55 mandataries who are sent into six different committees. Twice every semester, a conference is being held, where all elected student-political groupings discuss relevant topics. Because of the Austrian Students Union’s very close contact to the Ministry of Science, these issues can be handled very effectively. The decisions which are being made are then executed by twelve departments and four task assignments consisting of volunteers. Every department is led by one person, directly elected by the national committee. Among the most important departments are the departments for education policy, human rights and social policy, foreign students and international affairs.
ELECTIONS For three days, from the 19th to the 21st of May of this year, all Austrian students had the opportunity to vote for their favourite student-political grouping to represent them in the Austrian Students Union. Voting happens directly, meaning that eligible voters have the chance to vote on all three levels. Therefore every voter is given three ballot cards. The first one to vote for their favourite student-political grouping on a national level. With the second card, they may do the same at university level. Only with the third one, students are able to choose up to five representatives for their field of study. After the votes have been counted, coalition talks tend to be launched, so long as none of the groupings achieve an absolute majority. Following an intense campaign, AG Austria emerged as the by far strongest grouping on the national level with sixteen mandates. Particular successes were noted at some of the country’s largest universities. The system of the Austrian Students Union may be criticised, as political systems always are, but it definitely is one that has worked well in the last 70 years and will continue to represent students in the future if they wish so.
Marketing Strategies For Universities There are around 20.000 universities across the world, which means that competition between higher education institutions is intense and every year, each of them is trying not just to recruit a big number of students, but to recruit the best creative brains or in other words, top student talent. In order to survive and flourish, each university has an opportunity to win these battles. This opportunity is called marketing. Today as never before, higher education institutions focus on marketing strategies. Many of the best universities design their plans with the most prestigious marketing professionals and invest a lot of time and money to achieve a significant competitive advantage. The average amount spent on marketing strategies has increased by over 50% since 2000. Of course, marketing strategies, as any other fields that are knocking at the door of development, have changed a lot throughout the last years. If in the past thirty years, universities were recruiting students based on their reputation and word of mouth. Today that is not enough. The world is moving too fast, the changes that are occurring in different fields, including the higher education global market, force universities to change their tactics, marketing plans, strategies, directions, improve education conditions, implement innovations, hire the best teachers, have technology and program studies. When it comes to building marketing strategies, universities should take into consideration 3 key questions: what to communicate, to whom and how. Universities are able to deliver consistent, clear and authentic messages to their prospective students after a good analysis and evaluation of their potential. WHAT TO COMMUNICATE? Before starting to build a message that university will share among young people that want to study at universities, it is important to find the key strengths and emphasize them. Strategy& identified 4 key benefits that tend to define and discern a university from others: • Selection – gathering and attracting students and faculties that will strengthen and reinforce the school’s idea and purpose; • Knowledge – both the specific type of knowledge/ disciplines offered and the relative eminence or
distinction of these knowledge/disciplines’ level; Certification – the ability to provide relevant and important trainings and certifications in technical and problem-solving skills as well as the particular degrees offered; • Immersion – the relative “university experience”, whether that is on campus or through remote learning, students and faculty feel a deeper connection to a school when they are immersed in its culture and ideals. The role of the university here is to understand which from the above benefits are its strengths and undertake efforts to forge the right message and promote it to the right audience. Besides this, the message must be close to the core values, brand, reputation, history of the university and of course positioning to make a difference. Combined, these elements can bring to higher education institutions a wider reach, more top student talent and elevate the performance of their brands. •
TO WHOM TO COMMUNICATE? Marketing strategies start with knowing your audience, your market. It would seem that a message should be communicated only to the main target audience that in our case is formed by young people aged between 20 and 30 years – however, that is not the actual case. Even if students are the main target group and the main costumers of the services provided by universities, there are a lot of groups that should be taken into consideration. All universities audience segments
are important: undergraduate or graduate students, prospective or current students, parents, alumni, visitors, media, teachers, examination developers. When delivering the messages and building up a strategy everybody from this list should be taken into account. Stakeholders are responsible for what is and will be rumoured about specific university. HOW TO COMMUNICATE? Now we are in the digital century, in the century where the information is moving with light speed. Obviously, a lot has changed in the marketing world during the last few years, but even so universities have two ways to promote and deliver their messages using online or offline channels: 1. Strategic social media – today’s students have grown up communicating and sharing experiences on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Using the power of different networks and engaging content, universities can use social media to attract students, interact faster with the
current students and stay connected with alumni. Social media is the largest area of innovation and growth in higher education marketing. 2. Running a responsive website – if until now it was sufficient for every university to simply set up a website, Google’s change of algorithms when showing results means that it is now also important to design a responsive website with a good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking. 3. Advertising – even if the marketing trends show us that offline advertising will disappear step by step, universities still have the opportunity to promote and engage students through offline advertising, such as: banners, posters, universities journals, and flyers. 4. Mobile development – higher education institutions are making greater investments in having a mobile presence, from the institution’s website to the development of mobile friendly course content. Search engine optimization – for universities which
offer slot programs, it is a must to ensure that these programs are in the top of search engine listings. When universities have to choose the best ways to promote themselves, they have at least five methods to do that. Knowing one’s strengths and stakeholders, it will be much easier to understand what information can be promoted through specific channel to ensure an excellent recruiting process and great student experiences. The universities can benefit from marketing strategies in the same way the businesses benefit from it. Establishing a partnership with a marketing agency that knows and understands really well the specific challenges and can use its experience to meet the specific needs of the university can help a lot the educational institution. The education industry is facing a lot of challenges, but marketing is a way that can help it to adapt no matter what. Done right, with proper planning and strategies, marketing can shave the costs of education, increase the number of high-achieving students and help universities to boost their position in the market. Done right,
marketing strategies can help to elevate the brand and reputation of the university, so that it may correctly position itself and subsequently defend this position. All that remains for each university is to do the best they can to continuously improve their programmes, teaching, provision of learning facilities and to find the right way to the black box of the consumer.
Germany’s Modern Medical Masterplan About 100,000 young medics are currently being trained in Germany. In doing so, the Medical Faculties and University Hospitals are making a vital contribution to both the security of health provision and medical research. To ensure that these world-class study programmes remain attractive, a “Masterplan 2020” has been developed to reform medical studies in Germany. I am passionately and staunchly committed to this project. This is a highwire act involving the desire for a scientifically-orientated, excellence-based degree programme, the shift in values among young medics as a result of demographic change and technical progress in medicine, as well as the everchanging demands of the structure of health provision. Particularly aging patients with longer and more complex disease patterns, professional ambitions of young academics and the desire for more flexible and family-oriented working time model render the reform of this demanding field of study a true challenge.
Medical Studies will remain very laborious and multifaceted in the future. One aim is to train committed physicians who seek to dedicate themselves to patients out of conviction, having previously benefited from decades of professional experience. The population rightly expect that the immense effort undertaken by the Federal States – a university place for human medicine in Germany costs around 100,000 Euros – results in a secure provision of health care, both with regards to general practitioners and medical specialists. Furthermore, a modern and innovative development of and research in the medical field is only possible and expedient on the basis of a research-focused and internationally competitive degree programme. Hence why we continue to seek students who feel committed to their patients, all while equally developing their own perspective so that they may be able and willing, upon completion of their studies, to make an individual decision when choosing a particular specialisation. Our aim in doing so is to inspire these young students not only for a particular aspect of their studies, but the entire work cycle around the patient.
To be dedicated to the individual human and to seek to treat and help out of conviction and passion is the highest priority in this regard. It is hence necessary to create adequate incentives in order to recruit those students of whom a great number would even after completion of their studies aim for a placement as a medical practitioner – even in rural areas. AS PART OF THIS, WE MUST FURTHER EXPAND ENTRY CRITERIA TO MEDICAL STUDIES, FOR INSTANCE: • An ameliorated recognition of medical and caring professions • A target-oriented recognition of volunteering work • The recognition of modules in other degree programmes (such as Medical Engineering) • A standardised framework for the classification of foreign degree qualifications • Social and health care services should be supported in their quest to offer adequate training courses of at least six months which may be recognised as work experience prior to beginning one’s studies. The leitmotif of all measures to be taken has to be the as-
surance of high-quality studies, also with view to international competition. The Bologna Process has already led to study choices having changed. We however wanted that the medical discipline may continue to be taught on a very high scientific level. Hence why medical studies in Germany should be pursued at university and their teaching units in the future as well. They must not be diluted through simplifying cooperation models at other Higher Education Institutions. Pilot project schemes of individual medical faculties, for instance those involving cooperation with foreign HEIs, worthy of subsidisation should be expanded upon however. A pioneering role in this regard is represented by the joint German-Dutch medical degree programme at the University of Oldenburg. A module-based study programme with early clinical phases and practical elements (such as the “Skillslab” at the Otto-von-Guericke University of Magdeburg), the diversifying and incentivebased structuring of clinical courses and the use of modern means of communication (video conferences with partnering hospitals, eLearning modules) are means by
which to optimise the content and structure of medical teaching. Networks with general practitioners and country doctors should similarly be anchored in the study programme and thereby raise interest in a practical placement as a physician. CERTAIN PRIORITY THEMES SHOULD BE MORE CLEARLY INTEGRATED INTO CURRICULA. THIS INCLUDES: • Hygiene and resistances • Aging Society/High-maintenance care • Treatment of patients with disability • Ethics/palliative medicine and euthanasia • Popular diseases such as obesity and diabetes • Communication and crisis management It is my conviction that we must emphasise far more than before the desirability of freelancing work to stir up the appetite of graduates for self-employment, as well as providing them with experience in collective responsibility and leadership. Rigid regulations therefore must not lead to the disappointment of expensively trained physicians.
It is also necessary to create adequate teaching capacities in small hospitals to guarantee that studies may be pursued there without any obstacles. This would also help to accustom students to more rural areas. At the same time, it is vital to render the conditions for young physicians in rural areas more attractive in general. This may be done through the amelioration of scholarship and settlement offers, as well as the assurance of a welcoming environment for a physician and their families. For me, another very important matter is that teaching innovations are not reduced to absurdity through regulatory hurdles. Faculties and hospitals need planning security when implementing new teaching concepts and more liberty to involve external teaching staff. The rigid reform of medical studies is a very complex and multifaceted project – partly due to there being many different vested interests and the fact that these measures will affect the population in its entirety. Medical practice and scientific basics are to be combined early and efficiently, to equip medical degree programmes with different incentives, so that both physicians interested in
research and patient care gain a modern, internationally recognised, and holistic qualification through their studies. Hence why we will be focusing very intensely on this topic until the summer of 2016 and adopt a corresponding “Masterplan 2020”.
Tino Sorge, Member of the German Bundestag (CDU)
Lucy Robinson Nationality: British Degree Course: German and History Home University: King’s College London (United Kingdom) Erasmus University: Humboldt University Berlin (Germany) Like most British people, I have grown up in a country that benefits from being in the European Union greatly and yet whose inhabitants know very little about said benefits, and for whom “the continent” remains foreign and inconsequential to their everyday lives. As if Britain isn’t insular enough, I was raised in a very small town in a very large county which likes to segregate itself from everything not gloriously and traditionally “Yorkshire” including the rest of the UK and definitely including the rest of Europe. An historian with an almost masochistic drive to conquer the German language, I arrived in the history-soaked streets of Berlin and fell in love with the city. My Erasmus experience enabled me to live in one of the most vibrant, exciting, artistic metropolises in the world. It allowed me to learn about the history of a country in its own language, taught by world-renowned experts.
Nationality: German/Italian Degree Course: European Law Home University: University College Maastricht (The Netherlands) Erasmus University: Strathclyde University Glasgow (United Kingdom) My Erasmus Semester at Strathclyde University, Glasgow, was arguably one of the most significant experiences of my life so far. At age 21, I packed my bags and embarked on a journey that would shape my outlook on life permanently. I learned about the opportunity to take a semester at Strathclyde whilst attending a seminar where Erasmus alumni from my home university described their own experiences abroad. As Scotland and Glasgow in particular appeared rather mysterious and interesting to me, I applied for both Glasgow University and Strathclyde as first and second choice in my application form to make sure I would get there eventually. Immediately upon arrival in this beautiful and exciting city, I discovered that Glaswegians were kind and welcoming in numerous ways, had a very different attitude and sense of humour than their English neighbours and sported a nearly incomprehensible and hilarious accent. Contrary to most exchange students
that remained in groups of international people in the framework of activities organised by the ESN programme, I quickly surrounded myself with locals and became friends with Scottish students from the nursing department of Glasgow Caledonian University that I met through my amazing roommate. I arrived in Glasgow in January 2014, a time of heated political debate around the subject of Scottish independence from the United Kingdom. Even amongst my group of friends, the opinion on Scottish independence and Europe itself was evenly divided and I had the chance to engage in fruitful debates that provided me, a person growing up in Brussels, with an insight into how differently the European Union is perceived in Scotland. Altogether I believe that my journey to Glasgow has opened my eyes to the vast diversity our European continent has to offer in both landscapes and people and has sparked my desire to explore more of it.
More importantly my year abroad made me actually think about Britain’s place in Europe seriously for the first time. That I was able, despite the blatant euro-scepticism of the majority of my countrymen, to live and study in a foreign country without having to deal with difficult visa applications or other bureaucratic nightmares whilst also receiving a much-appreciated grant for the pleasure (something one can unfortunately no longer expect in other British degrees) is something worth being incredibly thankful for. I only hope that future UK linguists, of whom there is a tragic lack, will be able to have the same experiences I did come the referendum.
Zsolt Puja Nationality: Hungarian Degree Course: Law Home University: University of Debrecen (Hungary) Erasmus University: University of Wrocław (Poland) When I decided to take part in the Erasmus Programme, my primary goal was just to improve my language skills, travel, study and make new friends. But my one-year long Polish scholarship gave me a really important perk too: a totally different way of seeing the world and seeing Europe. Why is this so important? I think nowadays an open mind and an international attitude are the greatest asset you can have - not only with regards to your studies or career, but also your life in general. Meeting people from other European countries and sharing our knowledge, experiences and opinions with other students had a huge impact on my personality. I realised how important it is to work together, what great achievements we can accomplish through cooperation and how useful it is to keep in touch. After my arrival, I was surprised and happy at the same time. I was surprised because Wroclaw
is an incredibly beautiful city, with thousands of international students and an atmosphere I have never experienced before. I was also happy as I knew The University of Wroclaw was glad to have me there, I could choose from many interesting courses and the Polish people around me were immensely helpful and kind – this even extended to the lecturers. Together with all the travel opportunities, programmes and student life, I began to grasp the famous “Erasmus feeling”. It is also good to know that with the Erasmus+ programme, there will be still many mobility projects available for my future studies, including Traineeships and PhD research scholarships. In my opinion, these are the best ways to start an international career. As I grew up in a farmers’ family in the countryside, this year was an experience I could not have had without this programme, so I encourage ev-
Ewelina Gargała Nationality: Polish Degree Course: International Politics Home University: University of Warsaw (Poland) Erasmus University: Middlesex University London (United Kingdom) I have always been enthusiastic about integration within the European Union, so the decision to go to another country to study was very easy. I have always dreamt of studying abroad. This European project gave me the opportunity. What did I gain from the Erasmus programme in London? Most people tend to cite international experience. Though it is true, I also obtained something much more valuable - a broader point of view on European, but also global issues. The Erasmus programme brings multiple benefits, both of an academic and extra-curricular kind. First of all, I am much more open to the problems of the modern world and developed a genuine sense of being European. In London, one of the most multicultural cities in the world, I could learn not only with students from Europe, but also from China and
the United States. This incredibly helps to broaden one’s horizons and throws a completely new light on perceptions of yourself and your future career. Secondly, Erasmus has raised my self-confidence and ultimately confirmed an earlier decision of mine to pursue graduate studies abroad at another prestigious academic institution. Thirdly, it allowed me to discover my international potential and the environment within which I still want to develop. After the end of the exchange, my vision of Europe was one of a community of magnificent and ambitious people across divisions and national borders – the people who are the future not only of Europe, but the world in general. It is not just a great feeling that I am a part of them. It brings an actual, enormous pride to be European.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
Children’s Rights are Human Rights All children have basic human rights. Due to their vulnerability to exploitation and abuse they need special protection. Children share the right to health care, education, protection and to participate in communities. However, the application of these rights depends on their nationality and culture. Worldwide, millions of children have no access to education, must work under heavy conditions and are exploited as beggars, thieves, soldiers, or sex workers. They are treated as property and have no opportunity to experience a real childhood. To promote the ideal of universal child protection, a legal framework was created in 1989: the rights of children and adolescents in the world were enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which was adopted by the United Nations. According to the UN-Convention, all people who have not attained the age of 18 are defined as children. This means that a third of the world’s population are children. Due to the fact that most countries in the world have ratified the Convention, it applies to almost two billion children worldwide. The European Union has also set itself the goal of promoting children’s rights in the Treaty of Lisbon. Nonetheless, there are significant differences between countries when it comes to the implementation and monitoring of these rights. They are not always included in national law codes and constitutions and proven deficiencies have thus usually remained without any legal consequences. As a result, activists and experts demand the introduction of a right of petition procedure for children before the International Court of Justice. To ensure an equivalent standard of children’s rights, it is also
necessary to support national states by laying the foundation stone for a reliable mechanism. This is one of the aims of the Council of Europe. The Council seeks to promote this goal mainly trough monitoring and the creation of legal standards, ensuring the implementation of control systems and the development of child-friendly measures. Such a package of legal instruments must be integrated into the legal framework of all European states. A guiding principle has already been set by the Guidelines on Child-Friendly Justice: access to justice, child participation and zero tolerance to violence against children are the three main factors of this guideline. However, although various measures have been initiated, there are still a number of challenges in Europe. VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN Violence against children is a significant problem in the EU. It occurs in many different forms, ranging from violence within the family and at school to transnational problems such as child trafficking, child sex tourism and pornography on the internet. It is thus vital to adopt strict laws and harsh penalties for crimes against children in every country. Similarly, public awareness must be raised and local prevention programmes must be prioritised. This also includes measures relating to the use of digital media and cyberspace. Another important task is to ensure that the rights of those children coming to Europe as immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees are fully respected. The latter group is especially at risk – not only during the dangerous crossings, but even when they arrive on European soil. They will usually not benefit of any special care or attention. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS AS AN INDEPENDENT CONCERN At the centre of the current debate is also the question whether the rights of children should be singled out within the universal human rights and be treated as an independent concern in constitutions. A strong case in favour of this demand can be made, given that children start life as wholly dependent beings. Certain rights likewise already exclusively apply to them, such as the right to education and the right to contact with both parents. On the other hand, children are – as all humans
– already holder of human rights. An explicit differentiation of children’s rights would be purely symbolic and would not necessarily help to protect children more effectively. In addition, there is a danger of parental rights being weakened. Nevertheless, the EU considers the promotion of children’s rights as a distinctive issue that deserves special attention. In addition to this theoretical debate, practical action must be taken. It is clear that special laws and actions plans in the national states must support these rights. POVERTY AFFECTS CHILDREN Data shows that in the EU, relative poverty affects children more than the population as a whole. Children of poor parents and certain ethnic communities such as Roma are particularly affected by poverty, exclusion, and discrimination. But other factors also play a role: a new study by the UN Children’s Fund Unicef reported that since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008, the number of children living in poverty has risen to 76.5 million in the 41 richest industrialised countries. Particularly in southern Europe, children have felt the impact of the crisis. Young people from the age of 15 onwards also feel the effects - they cannot find vocational training, nor study or working placements. In many states the unemployment rate has increased in this age group. PERSPECTIVE Despite efforts at national, European and international level, the situation of children in Europe and the world is anything but satisfactory. In order to implement the good intentions which are manifested in decisions, conventions, and laws, concrete measures should be designed and gradually implemented. Especially the communication among the various stakeholders plays a crucial role here. The participation in the draft Council of Europe on children’s rights strategy within the EU should thus be prioritised. The suggested measures for implementation of the strategy are tangible, including a hotline for help-seeking children, an action plan “children in development cooperation”, or a “Forum for the Rights of the Child”. However, this strategy should not be purely symbolic. It is important that the member states are shaping the debate at national level; implement actions plans and provide effective legal protection for children. There is also a need for action in the area of participation. Children must be recognised as full legal subjects. As such, they have the opportunity to exercise their rights independently and express their opinion freely. But it is also clear that children have to develop their personality first before they can wield it. In summary, every child must be given the same opportunities to evolve into independent, responsible and tolerant members of society.
EDS Executive Bureau 2015/2016
Georgios Chatzigeorgiou is Chairman of EDS. He studied Law at the University of Lancaster in the UK and he became a Barrister-at-Law in October 2014. Georgios is currently undertaking a Master’s degree on Corporate Law at University College London (UCL). Within EDS, Georgios is responsible for policy development and external representation.
Ivan Burazin is EDS Secretary General. He holds a Masters degree in National Securities Studies and a Bachelors degree in Administrative Law. He is currently pursuing PHD studies in Diplomacy and International Relations in Zagreb. Ivan runs the EDS Office in Brussels, and takes care of its day-to-day work.
Virgilio Falco lives in Rome, Italy. Virgilio is EDS ViceChairman, StudiCentro National Spokesperson and coordinator of the education committee of the Italian Youth Council. He is studying Law in Rome. Virgilio is responsible for updating the website, the coordination of the newsletter and all membership enquiries. He is also a member of the Social Media Team.
Efthymia Katsouri comes from Athens, Greece. She studied Law at the University of Surrey in the UK. She holds a Masters in European Law. Efthymia is a practising Attorney at Law in Greece. Her responsibilities within the Bureau involve amendments to the statutes and the coordination of the newsletter.
Mitya Atanasov was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. He graduated in Information Technologies and is currently studying for a Masters’ degree in Political Science – European Governance. A member of MGERB’s leadership team, he is also working as a manager for an IT company. Within the Bureau, Mitya is together with Olivia Andersson responsible for the conference resolutions and the Permanent Working Group Policies for Europe.
Silvie Rohr lives in Berlin, Germany. She is studying for a state exam in law at the Humboldt-University. Silvie has been an active member of EDS since 2012 and is serving her first term as EDS Vice-Chairwoman. Within the Bureau, she is mainly responsible for fundraising and publications, coordinating and overseeing the work of the EDS Editorial Team.
George Serban was born in Bucharest, Romania where he is studying Computer and Science at the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics of the University of Bucharest. George is responsible within the EDS Bureau for fundraising, with a particular focus on the private sector. He is also the head of the Social Media team.
Sophia Skoda lives in Vienna, Austria where she is studying International Business Administration at the University of Vienna. She has been active member of AG and the Austrian Students Union since 2013. As Vice-Chairman, Sophia is mainly in charge of the Permanent Working Group Higher Education and Research, EDS Erasmus and the Alumni Club.
Alexander O’Brien lives in London and works in corporate governance. He read Law at the University of Nottingham and has a Master’s in Law & Corporate Governance from the University of Portsmouth. He is Chairman of the Young Conservative Europe Group and leads EDS’s proofreading team. He has been an active member of EDS since 2012.
Olivia Andersson is undertaking her M.Sc. in European Studies at University of Gothenburg. She is a student of SFWF’s Foreign Policy Academy and International Secretary of FMSF. Olivia’s responsibilities within the Bureau are the drafting of policy papers and conference resolutions, the Human Rights Permanent Working Group and fundraising.