BullsEye April 2016 / 54th Year / No. 64 / ISSN 2033-7809
The newsmagazine of European Democrat Students
Britainâ€™s Destiny? Ahead of the UK Referendum
Dear Readers, The United Kingdom and the European Union – this is in many ways a “special relationship”. Initially at the sidelines of the European project, many Britons have retained a scepticism of the strides for political union on “the Continent”. This persistent sense of remoteness notwithstanding, Britain has proven a vital building block in Europe since its accession to the community in 1973. Yet in spite of its undoubted “special status” within the Union, having opted out from the Schengen Agreement and the Monetary Union, many citizens of the Isles still regard the conditions of membership so overbearing as to advocate abandoning the EU altogether. This summer, the British people will consequently decide, for the second time after 1975, whether they still want to be part of this great political experiment that is the European project. To explain the motives behind British Euroscepticism, the stakes in this popular vote and the reasons why, as Margaret Thatcher once famously put it, Britain’s “destiny is in Europe, as part of the Community” is hence the purpose of this issue of BullsEye. The arguments put forward by our authors will leave you hopefully in no doubt: Britain and the EU are stronger together. With this edition, BullsEye further concludes its working year 2015/2016. Beyond anything else, this means to express heartfelt thanks: to the EDS Bureau for their unwavering support. To Vice-Chair Silvie Rohr, my Editorial team and our layout designer Uroš Podgorelec for their stellar and hard work. To all contributors, and last, but certainly not least, you – the loyal readers of BullsEye for your interest and feedback. We greatly hope that you will continue to support our magazine in the next year! In gratitude, I wish you an as ever thought-provoking read, Henrique Laitenberger Editor-in-Chief
Dear Readers, On 23 June, the United Kingdom will settle a question that has been rumbling underneath the surface of British politics for a generation: “Should We Stay Or Should We Go?”. According to recent opinion polls, more than a third of Britons would wish to leave the European Union. Particularly the UK Independence Party, winner of the last European elections, campaigns for an exit; accompanied by a fair number of Parliamentarians. This is a worrying phenomenon, particularly given that the UK enjoys a number of special privileges as part of its EU membership – whether through reduced payment contributions, its exemption from border-free travel and justice cooperation rules, as well as pivotal role in budgetary surveillance. In the debate about Brexit, one point should be highlighted: a termination of Britain’s EU membership would have enormous consequences for both, the European community and the UK. Of course, there are challenges. Great Britain is a large contributor within the community and an important player in European Finance. From their perspective, the EU often meddles in affairs best left to nation-states. Nonetheless, we as European Democrat Students believe that a withdrawal of the UK would have a devastating symbolic effect and would undermine the very idea of European integration. Given the merits of Britain for European unification, a “Brexit” would be unfathomable. The UK is and will be a cornerstone of the EU.
Current Affairs 04 Keep Calm and Govern On! 05 The Anti-Maidan? 06 Losers of Transition - Winners of
European Integration 07 Brothers in Arms?
Theme 08 Deal Or No Deal 10 Party of Britain, Party of Europe? 11 Stronger Together 12 Interview with Jiři Pospíšil MEP 14 Visegrad Group and the UK Renegotiation Deal
Series 16 “We Must Build a Kind of
United States of Europe” 18 Will the EU Survive This Decade?
BE ON 20 Debate: Feminism and the Centre-Right 22 Keeping It Green 24 Killing In The Name 25 To Each According To Their Needs 26 Crossing the Regional Borders of Europe
Universities 27 A Student’s Roadmap to Employment 28 “The Right to Be Comfortable?”
Council of Europe 30 #nohate
In this spirit, I wish you a pleasant read. Silvie Rohr Vice-Chairwoman
BULLSEYE The newsmagazine of European Democrat Students
ISSN: Print: 2033-7809 Online: 2033-7817 Editor-in-chief: Henrique Laitenberger Editorial team: Andreas Fock, Tomasz Kaniecki, Mindaugas Liutvinskas, Syrila Makarezou, Charlotte Nilsson, Mihaela Radu, Julien Sassel, Manuel Schlaffer Contributions: Ina Milačić, Victoria Olari, Vladimir Kljajić, Miłosz Jagusztyn, Mindaugas Liutvinskas, Adam Ward, Philip Fiúza, Jiři Pospíšil, Lukas Vitek, Eszter Parkanyi, Elmar Brok, Tomasz Kaniecki, Katherine Gray, Syrila Makarezou, Mihaela Radu, Julien Sassel, Andreas Fock, Charlotte Nilsson, Manuel Schlaffer, Henrique Laitenberger, Silvie Rohr Photos: Balàzs 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: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: edsnet.eu Articles and opinions published in the magazine are not necessarily reflecting the position of EDS, the EDS Bureau or the Editorial team
Publication supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe
Welcome to the last edition of BullsEye, the official debating magazine of European Democrat Students - the largest student family of the centre-right, for the working year 2015/16. As announced at last year’s Summer University, the working year 2015/16 will see EDS placing an increased emphasis on the European project and the achievements of the EU on which we must continue to pride ourselves. During our Winter University in Berlin, centred around the theme of “Europe 2030”, we took the opportunity to address a number of issues related to the success of the European project in the next years. In the same vein, during our April Council Meeting in London, we aim to debate another important feat which is essential for our Union; namely to ensure that the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union. Although the event was already planned at the beginning of this working year, it has eventually come to coincide with a historic moment, following the announcement of the UK’s EU referendum for the 23 June 2016. The United Kingdom and the European Union have shared a long-standing, but not always harmonious relationship. In the referendum of 1975, Britons voted in favour of staying in the Common Market, but since then, there have been growing calls for another vote. At the heart of these calls is the perception that the EU has changed significantly over the past 40 years, be it through enlargement or the extension of its competences over more aspects of our daily lives. While the above argument is to a certain extent true, what is not entirely true are the exaggerated or indeed false criticisms raised by Eurosceptics on the success of our Union which have led to an overconfidence bias asserting that the UK could do better on its own. The EU is one of strongest economic blocs in the world; it negotiates trade agreements with the rest of the world such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) from which the UK could benefit enormously, millions of UK jobs are directly linked to its membership of the EU’s single market and of course, the main buyer of British products and services are fellow EU members; the above being only a few facts to consider. I have myself lived in Britain for many years now and I also hold a strong belief that the UK is better off within the EU, coming to agree with most of the reasons the #Bremain side endorses. At the same time, I am not one to argue that the EU is perfect, nor is it the purpose of this introduction letter to do so. It is however of paramount importance that EU citizens are well-informed of the good Europe is doing for its people in order to objectively discuss the pros and cons of our Union and work on improving the areas where there is space to do so. For now, we wish a good and wise vote to all those who will cast their ballot on 23 June. Please enjoy reading our new issue of BullsEye and keep in mind that the EDS Bureau is always interested in receiving feedback, hear your ideas, and discover more ways to proudly serve students across Europe.
On behalf of the EDS bureau,
Georgios Chatzigeorgiou Chairman
Keep Calm and Govern On – Croatia’s New Government Although its formation looked like Sisyphus’ work at first, Croatia finally has a new Government. Formed out of two coalitions and led by a non-partisan Prime Minister, the new Cabinet are all still working on finding common ground. Following the parliamentary elections of November 2015, the 13th Government cabinet of Croatia was formed on 22 January 2016. By then, the Croatian people had been waiting 76 days for their new government, rendering the negotiation process the longest one in Croatian history. This was nothing unexpected since none of the partisan coalitions competing in the elections won an absolute majority in Parliament. Consequently, the different alliances had to negotiate and find together the best solution for the composition of a governing coalition. The decisive factor in these negotiations was the Bridge of Independent Lists, the third-largest coalition in Croatian politics today. Although the Bridge of Independent Lists helped the Patriotic slate to win a slim majority in Parliament, it was unfavourable to the smaller political parties within the Patriotic coalition. Nonetheless, young people from HSS with good qualities and competences were recognised by the new Government and appointed to important positions: as a result, HSS returns one Deputy Minister and three Assistant Ministers. That provides HSS with a formidable
opportunity to not only implement new ideas within the framework of the Government, but also to strengthen the politics of HSS in Croatia. It is important to highlight that the Croatian people desired change and that this was reflected in the parliamentary elections. They wanted new people who will truly help Croatia solve the economic crisis and offer particularly young people the opportunity to stay in their home country instead of starting a new life somewhere abroad. Although the Patriotic coalition did not win an absolute majority, the results should be seen as a substantive display support from the Croatian people. For the first time in Croatia’s history, the Government is led by a non-partisan Prime Minister, the Croatian-Canadian businessman Tihomir „Tim“ Orešković. Besides him, there are four independent experts serving as ministers. Although they were not elected by the Croatian people and only have limited experience in politics, they are working on finding common ground with the Patriotic coalition and the Bridge of Independent Lists. HSS and HDZ from the Patriotic coalition are, as members of the European People’s Party,
intent on promoting European values on the local level. The new Government cabinet can therefore be seen as an experiment in the political scene of Croatia. At the same time, it should not be considered as a cause of uncertainty – on the contrary, this new coalition rather could emerge as a positive force for change. The combination of experts paired with political experience and European values within a new Government surely bodes for concrete results. We should really keep calm and let them govern on!
Ina Milačić, OM HSS International Secretary
The Anti-Maidan? – The Protests in Moldova Explained Toward the end of 2013, the term “Euromaidan” became widely known, especially within international media as the name given to a series of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, which began with public protests on the Maidan Nezalezhnosti (“Independence Square”) in Kiev, decrying government corruption and demanding closer European integration. Since 2015, Moldova has come to witness a similar wave of anti-government protest, perceived by many external observers to be a counterpart to the Ukrainian movement, decidedly anti-European and even pro-Russian in tone. Can the current anti-government protests in Moldova justly be characterised as the “anti-Maidan”? Since 2009, when the Communist Party lost power to the Alliance for European Integration, Moldova’s gaze has been turned toward greater cooperation with the European Union. The 2012 European Integration Index (EaP Index) presented Moldova as “the best performing country in all aspects”. Among journalists, Moldova was named as “best pupil” of the Eastern Partnership. Moldova is for now the only Eastern Partnership country - signatory of the Association Agreement with the EU that benefits from the visa-free regime with the EU. All these positive results were achieved by the government of Vlad Filat (2009-2013) and later continued by Iurie Leanca (2013-2014). These notable accomplishments were however compromised by the failure of both governments to tackle corruption in Moldova. Instead of being eradicated, this phenomenon has indeed expanded since 2009, extending to all spheres of public life, from public institutions to the judicial system. The period further saw machinations behind the curtains that seriously affected the country’s banking system. None of these fraudulent activities would have taken place without the approval of the Moldovan judiciary, reputed to be under the control of the Vladimir Plahotniuc, the country’s most influential oligarch, and member of Moldova’s Democrat Party (Socor, 2015). Plahotniuc built his power base under the cover of the “proEurope” coalition government (Socor, 2015). According to the former government coalition’s agreement, top posts in law enforcement were distributed to the Democratic Party (PD). As a result, Plahotniuc, de facto leader of PD, is said to be in effective control of the Anti-Corruption Center, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the National Commission for Integrity, as well as a governmental telecommunication and data centre. At the end of the 2014, Moldova was rocked by a major scandal, later called the “robbery of the century.” Just before the parliamentary elections of November 2014, three
Moldovan banks allegedly granted loans amounting to a total of roughly 900 million Euros. This money has virtually disappeared. A substantive share of the sums was transferred offshore, some was deposited into Latvian bank accounts under foreign names and some of the money supposedly disappeared in Russian banks. All transactions happened under the eyes of the National Bank of Moldova. In order not to influence the election results and to avoid panic among citizens, the government tried to undertake a cover up. To prevent the collapse of the banking system, it further adopted a secret measure which entailed offering $1 billion worth of emergency loans to save the three affected banks from bankruptcy. This decision created a huge hole in the public finances equivalent to 12% of GDP and generated a range of price increases, from tariffs to essential products and services. After years of corruption, a judiciary under political control and continued poverty, this was the last straw for the Moldovan people. Starting from May 2015, civil society took to the streets in the tens of thousands, flaunting EU flags, chanting “We want our country back”, denouncing the endemic corruption and demanding a comprehensive investigation into the latest banking scandal. These protests experienced another surge in the autumn of 2015. Initially, the pro-European campaigners kept a conscious distance from the pro-Russian sections of the protests. However, for the first time in Moldovan history, opposition groups from both sides have now joined forces against the government. This was a dangerous move given the potential of pro-Russian parties with suspicious leaders instrumentalising this activism to alter the country’s proEuropean course. Since the beginning of these street protests last year, Moldova has seen the formation of three new governments, although this has not resulted in meaningful change – as testified by the most recently appointed Prime Minister Pavel Filip (PD) whom
many perceive as a pawn of Plahotniuc. Filip’s government was formed on a late January night, while thousands of angry people surrounded the Moldovan Parliament and broke police cordons to enter the building. All this considered, it should emerge that the protests in Moldova cannot justly be called “Anti-Maidan” if that is to mean a popular rejection of the European cause. The Moldovan people have not taken to the streets in opposition to the European integration process, but the endemic corruption in their country. They call for sweeping reforms in the justice system as part of this cause. They want a better life. It is time for new political forces that share European values to fill the void created by the loss of confidence in the current so-called “pro-European” government. Moldova needs a new political class able to restore citizens’ trust. The centrist and centre-right pro-European segment is searching for new faces, that exist, but need support. In the medium- and long-term, the political class of Moldova is certain to look differently – its course depending on the results of the upcoming presidential elections. SOURCES Vladimir Socor, ‘Plahotniuc’s Power Base in Moldova: Allies and Instruments’, Eurasia Daily Monitor (2015), Vol. 13:7
The Loser of Transition- the Winner of European Integration
Serbia’s Rocky Road to EU Membership
After years of waiting, the European Council granted Serbia candidacy status in 2012, with accession negotiations launched in January 2014. As is common knowledge, the duration of this process varies. The goal is for the candidate country to fulfil certain social and economic conditions, the so-called Copenhagen Criteria. The extent to which each country is dedicated to reaching these goals differs. Similarly, the intensity of Serbia’s enthusiasm towards EU integration has shifted in accordance to its political establishment and their will. Today, Serbia is undoubtedly dedicated to European Union membership. However, what has changed since 2000 is public perception of the EU. Recent polls from late 2015 suggest that in case of a membership referendum, only 48% of voters would be in favour of joining the Union.
while nevertheless managing to excise profits from them through the sale of machinery and company land to developers. However, thanks to vital reforms in legislation, a service sector has been developed and, though many cartels remain, the combat against monopolies has begun. Officially, Serbia was never a belligerent party in the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. Of course, its influence and participation in the conflict cannot be in doubt. Serbia has extradited a number of former officials to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and most of them have been convicted for various crimes. However, it is important to stress that the so-called “Transitional Justice” has not been dispensed: the punishment of criminals has been selective due to a lack of political will among most states in the region to achieve true reconciliation. Nevertheless, it is believed that some of the tensions will naturally decrease with time. There are a number of challenges for the European Union in Serbia, or rather with view to its relations with Belgrade. First, member states are incoherent, inconsistent and uncoordinated in their implementation of EU rules and policies, whether they relate to Russia or the migrant crisis. This confuses Serbians and weakens the negotiating position of the European Commission and other Member States. Furthermore, the EU has a problem with promoting its aid and donations in the country. This is a constant issue: only 27% of Serbian citizens perceive the EU as the largest benefactor to the country since 2000. However, the EU is the largest single donor with more than 2.6 billion euros, which represents 51% of all donations that Serbia has received from 2000 until 2014. In the same study, 20% of citizens considered Russia the largest donor to Serbia, although Russia has granted Serbia almost no donations at all.
Cooperation between Serbia and the European Union has been ongoing for the past sixteen years. Since the country’s transition to democracy, much has changed. First and foremost, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia split up. In 2006, Montenegro decided to secede from Serbia, Kosovo declared independence in 2008, and Serbia extradited former President Slobodan Milosevic to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. On a global scale, 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the world economic crisis in 2008, and the onset of the Syrian civil war a few years ago, followed by the migrant crisis, have all affected both Serbia and the European Union – and by extension the entire EU enlargement process. Some analysts suggest that certain Balkan countries, including Serbia, are using the migration crisis to advance their EU integration process. Unfortunately, since none of the EU Member States have a harmonised policy or attitude towards migrants, the European Commission and other Member States are unable to set criteria for candidate countries. The recent terrorist attacks across Europe, in Brussels and Paris, have also moved EU integration down on the list of priorities, which in turn makes the process more difficult for countries aspiring to membership: they do not receive any support, criticism or feedback from EU Member States which play a key role in
the accession process. Instead, this role has been assumed by European civil servants drafting progress reports. Serbia, as most South-East European countries, has an issue with corruption and, unfortunately, little progress has been made in combating this problem in recent years. The country has been ranked 71st out of 168 on Transparency International’s global Corruption Perceptions Index. Only two states in the region, Albania and Kosovo, ranked lower. Past and present Serbian governments have promised to fight corruption, but none have succeeded in reforming the judiciary, which forms the basis of proper application of the law. Another challenge Serbia faces is the reform of its outdated and inefficient public sector. However, certain improvement could be noted in this area as a result of European integration, through the EU’s support for various projects and reforms. Further, similarly to other countries in the Eastern bloc, Serbia’s economy is likewise structurally weak. The transition to a market economy has been irregular, primarily as a large number of public companies were in the course of the privatisation process taken over by dubious businessmen who bankrupted these former state industries
That Serbia’s future lies in the European Union is almost certain. What is more important is that Serbian citizens reach a standard of living comparable to that enjoyed by the average citizen of the European Union. Undoubtedly, another important factor in all of this is time, when Serbians could expect a better life, but this mostly depends on Serbia itself. Here, the EU can help as a supporter of reform and investment. However, it cannot do Serbia’s job for it - even if Serbian citizens and politicians alike quite often foster a sense of entitlement leading them to conclude just that. Serbia is facing a choice. It can remain a failed state or it proceed on the path of real reform. If it chooses this path, it might just catch the last train.
Brothers In Arms? - Prospects of Cooperation between NATO and the European Union The current legal basis for collaboration between NATO and the EU is the common declaration on European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) from 2002 which cites a Strategic Partnership as the foundation of the bilateral cooperation. Since the end of the Cold War, fundamental changes have taken place in the international security environment which were a crucial condition to complete the declaration of the “Berlin Plus” agreement, which in turn gave ground for cooperation in the field of crisis management. One of the main stipulations of the “Berlin Plus” agreement was a statement on the creation of a mechanism that would grant the European Union both the ability to use organisational resources of NATO, such as the European Command Center, and access to NATO’s operational planning cell if the Alliance were to decide not to take action in a crisis situation, permitting the European Union to conduct independent operations. This mechanism is currently applied in the EUFOR Althea military operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The completion of EUFOR Althea will have profound consequences as it will de facto symbolise the end of the agreement in the original formula. Further, both organisations conduct operations in the same area, such as in Kosovo (where the EU operates the EULEX policing mission and NATO its military mission KFOR) and it is not referring to the same coordination of joint activities because such forms of cooperation are not foreseen in the “Berlin Plus” agreement. With few exceptions, most Member States of the European Union are also members of NATO and vice-versa. Among the exceptions are most notably Turkey and Cyprus. Strained political relations between the two countries is one of the main reasons for the ongoing impasse in bilateral relations between the two organisations. On the one hand, Nicosia has effectively blocked the accession of Turkey to the European Defence Agency and inhibited its process of accession to the EU. Ankara in turn strongly rejected any possibility of bringing topics to the agenda which would
entail the possibility of Cypriot representatives participating in the discussions at bilateral meetings of the Political and Security Committee of the EU and the North Atlantic Council. The second issue to fundamentally affect the state of relations between the two institutions is the significant chasm in perception of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) among its members. Some Member States, such as France and Belgium, favour the development of a purely EU-based CSDP and remain sceptical of closer relations with NATO, fearing excessive interference and the presence of the United States in European affairs. On the other hand, for several EU Member States from Central and Eastern Europe, the development of the CSDP is not a priority compared to the need to strengthen the position of NATO in Europe through greater military presence of the Alliance on its eastern and southern flank. This is a particularly relevant cause for the Baltic countries and Poland, for whom NATO is an irreplaceable pillar in their national security architecture. Especially in the context of the war in Ukraine, July’s upcoming NATO Summit in Warsaw will be of strategic importance for the security of these countries. In the face of these challenges for the bilateral relations of NATO and the EU, both organisations have effectively restricted themselves to developing cooperation at a lower level, mainly at the administrative tier through the exchange
of information or at the military level through the provision of assistance by NATO soldiers in emergency situation for the civilian personnel of EU missions. For a more substantive change in the principles and functioning of a strategic partnership between NATO and the EU to happen in the near future, there needs to be a solution to the contentious affair between Turkey and Cyprus. The development of a consensual vision among the EU Member States for the conception of an efficient CSDP and the place of the European Union in the European security architecture is likewise crucial. In turn, the need for a coordination of field missions and the development of operational capabilities of both NATO and the EU are a sine qua non for the expansion and strengthening of bilateral relations even in the technical aspect. However, without a solution to these major obstacles, changing the modus operandi of the strategic partnership of NATO and the EU will not be possible in the near future.
Deal or No Deal – Analysing David Cameron’s Re-Negotiation Strategy The ongoing Brexit saga has been at the centre of political and societal attention around Europe for several months now. With the agreement on a re-negotiated EU-Britain settlement already concluded and the referendum date approaching, David Cameron’s negotiation strategy vis-àvis the other EU Member States deserves particular attention. In fact, the re-negotiation process witnessed fits well within the classic international diplomacy framework, known as the “two-level game”. Following its logic, the UK Prime Minister has been sitting simultaneously at both domestic and international negotiating tables, with the central objective of striking a deal suitable for the main stakeholders at both levels. At the international level, Cameron engaged in rather lengthy and extensive bargaining with 27 other European leaders – a bargain that has led to a deal mutually acceptable for both negotiating sides being reached in February. When comparing the text of the final agreement with the guidelines for the “new settlement” for Britain in Europe, set out by Cameron himself in the 2013 Bloomberg Speech, it is evident that the chief UK negotiator has reached substantial progress in many, though not all crucial domains. Having managed to convince sceptical governments in Central-Eastern Europe by employing strategic side-payments (in the security domain in particular), Cameron has pushed forward a framework allowing for limits on immigrant benefits – one of the most crucial achievements and widely contested issues on the table. The agreement gives right for the UK government to employ a “brake” on providing migrants with welfare benefits for a period of four years from the commencement of their employment in the country. This instrument would be available for Britain for at least seven years and serve as a temporary measure to deal with what is regarded as “excessive pressure” on national public services arising from vast amounts of immigration. Coupled with agreed-upon indexation of child benefits (with a transition period until 2020), this largely deals with the primary concern of many Brexit supporters – ensuring that immigrants do not exploit the national welfare state. Another major gain secured at the international level is the so-called “Euro safeguards”. These safeguards were set up in order to ensure that non-euro countries are given a larger say in the governance of the single currency area, with the legal right for any member country to demand discussing issues pertaining to the Eurozone in the European
Council, which means all 28 member states. Apart from mitigating UK fears of being gradually marginalised by the expanding euro club, this safeguard clause also ensures that countries not part of the single currency are not expected to contribute to any future Eurozone bailouts, thus limiting the ability for pro-Brexit voices to use the “Greece card” and daunt voters with regard to possible cost for the national budget. What is more, the deal struck between Cameron and European leaders also (once again) formally acknowledges that not all EU Member States must have euro as their currency. This stands as a clear commitment to a multi-currency union and, even more importantly, a (partially) suspended aspiration for an “ever-closer union”, reflecting the long-standing UK aim to be excluded from any further political integration within the EU. Despite the substantial progress reached at the international level, convincing major stakeholders domestically may prove a bigger challenge. This may turn out to be a more difficult task than finding common ground with EU leaders who are largely committed to maintaining Britain in the EU for the sake of the European project as a whole. To put it bluntly, the Brexit camp in the UK regards concessions negotiated by David Cameron as not being far-reaching enough and as providing only incremental ad hoc alterations to British-EU relations, rather than signalling a deep and comprehensive change in the existing settlement. For instance, this group regards the welfare benefits “brake” clause as in reality not giving back any sovereignty from Brussels to London, because triggering of the ‘brake’ would still be conditional upon the approval of the European Commission. Also, it would, at most, be of temporary nature, which falls short of the expectations of many EU sceptics in the country. As critics argue, the deal struck also does next to
nothing to foster the cutting of red tape of European regulations having to do with entrepreneurship and, in particular, small and medium enterprises. The existing regulatory framework is seen as being excessively burdensome for British firms, holding back their performance and thus impeding overall economic growth. So Cameron’s deal does not mitigate what many British citizens do not like the most about the EU – excessive bureaucratisation. To add to this, the “leave camp” argues that the “red card” provision, intended to give the ability for national parliaments to block unwanted EU-level initiatives, shall not be effective in practice, as it requires 55% of national EU parliaments to object a piece of EU legislation during the period of
THEME 12 weeks. The high threshold and limited time period, in the eyes of many Brexit supporters, brings back some power to Westminster only on paper, which is naturally regarded as an unsatisfactory outcome. In other words, the British Prime Minister has so far been relatively successful only at the international negotiating table, with substantially less success domestically. What this means is that Cameron and the whole “stay in the EU” camp is now confronting the challenge of “selling” the final deal to sceptics at home and overcoming well-organised opposition. Quite paradoxically, the main obstacle Cameron is facing stems directly from his own party. Unfortunately, the fundamental question of Britain’s membership in the EU and the future of the whole European project seems to be subordinated to inner-party struggles between two rival groups. It would be naïve not to see the immediate connection between Boris Johnson becoming the political face of the Brexit campaign and the upcoming “grand battle” between him (representing the Eurosceptic group) and George Osborne (pro-EU side) for the position of the next leader of the Conservative Party, once David Cameron steps down. Even taking into account all the recent progress made at the international level, at this point we can only hope that such short-term political considerations will not outweigh the need to ensure the best possible longterm future prospects for the country. Prospects that would be best secured within the European Union.
The Party of Britain, the Party of Europe? – The Unsteady Relationship of the Conservatives with the European Project The Conservative Party’s 1992 manifesto asserted that “The Conservatives have been the party of Britain in Europe for thirty years”. It had been a Conservative government which had made the United Kingdom’s first application to join the European Economic Community (EEC), and it was Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath who had stewarded British entry in 1973. During the first referendum on British membership of the EEC in 1975, prominent Conservatives – including Heath and Thatcher – campaigned for the successful in vote. British voters now face another opportunity to vote on the UK’s membership of the European Union. The political backdrops of the campaigns in 1975 and 2016 were very different. The two dominant parties’ positions towards membership are nearly a mirror-image: Labour is predominantly united and pro-remain; whereas opinion in the Conservative party is divided. Additionally, there is increased anti-European sentiment in the British press. At the time of the 1975 referendum, nearly all major newspapers favoured remaining; for the election in June the editorial lines are likely to be mixed. This emergent dissonance among Conservatives perhaps stems from the political pretext that has often underlay their party’s stances on Europe. The boastful 1992 slogan, for example, was also an implicit attack on Labour, who had traditionally been more sceptical of European integration. During the 1975 referendum, Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s Labour Cabinet split 16-7 in favour of supporting his renegotiation package to remain, but the parliamentary party was nearly evenly split, with many charging that the EEC was a “capitalist club”. Michael Foot, the Labour leader from 1980-3 promised to withdraw the UK from the Community if he became Prime Minister (a fate never suffered due to his crushing defeat by Thatcher in the 1983 general election). A similar uneasy balance exists within the Conservative Party today. When the referendum was called, six Cabinet members decided to campaign for a Leave vote, and the parliamentary party is split. Arguments against membership
from a British Conservative standpoint are two-fold: the EU encroaches on state sovereignty, and Brussels produces far too much social legislation to which Parliament is obliged to assent. The former factor has always been expressed within sections of the Conservative Party; the second element has emerged steadily, beginning with dissatisfaction for the “Social Chapter” of the Maastricht Treaty. Enoch Powell, a prominent Conservative politician through the 1950-70s derided joining the European Community as “the most un-Tory thing that can be conceived”. So enraged was he with Heath’s decision for the UK to join the EEC in 1973, Powell endorsed Labour over his own party in the elections in February 1974. Although Heath argued that “There is no question of any erosion of essential national sovereignty” by being in the Community, certain Conservatives have framed untrammelled sovereignty the central political impetus opposing the EU. Edward DuCann, the chairman of the powerful backbench 1922 Committee in the 1970s, said “there is always a higher loyalty than party loyalty - loyalty to one’s country and what one honestly believes to be in her best interests.” The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who is well regarded by many Conservative grassroots members and considered by many to be the frontrunner for the Tory leadership after Cameron, cited sovereignty as a key reason for campaigning for Leave in this year’s referendum. Resentment towards the EU from within the Conservative Party has been channelled successfully in exerting influence over the government; particularly as recent Conservative single party governments have lacked strong majorities. The current government has a working majority of 17, while Major’s initial majority of 21 after the 1992 election disintegrated and he had to govern with a minority administration for the last years of his premiership. The
situation permits a co-ordinated group to exert great influence. Infamously Major was caught unawares by a live stream and recorded decrying cabinet colleagues as “bastards” for their Eurosceptic positions over Maastricht. Later, he faced a challenge for his leadership over his policies on the EU. It had become clear that the Conservative leadership could not take any action which would appease the vocal Eurosceptics and those in the party who believed in European integration. Recognising the paralysis that division over Europe left the party in the 1990s and 2000s, certain prominent “outers” today have been quick to confirm that they would support Cameron remaining as leader even in the event of a Leave victory. Although the party is divided over policy, the wilderness period of thirteen years in opposition acts as a sober reminder to ensure that whatever the outcome, the party must move forward together united. That leaves the Prime Minister treading a practical path. Striking a pragmatic tone, Cameron said at the launch of the Conservatives In campaign, “I have no doubt in my mind we are better off in a reformed EU and we have got to make that argument right across the country.” That leaving “would be bad for Britain, bad for our relations with the rest of the world and bad for any future treaty on trade we may need to make” could easily have been another line in his speech. In fact it was then Leader of the Opposition, Margaret Thatcher, launching the Conservative campaign to keep Britain in the EEC during the 1975 referendum campaign.
– Making the Positive Case for Britain in Europe With polling dangerously close, this will be a hard fought campaign to the British people make their decision on EU membership on 23 June 2016. There are many reasons to be optimistic, yet we must remember to stay consistently positive, proactive and kind in our message to stay in Europe. Sadly, it is not particularly uncommon to see the “In” campaign become an anti-Tory, UKIP-hating, liberal-left pressure group. I see this often when I talk to voters, a dismissal of Brexit as regressive, specifically Conservative party nationalism; whilst stickers produced nationally for student campaigners openly disparage UKIP voters. Campaigns will never be won on this kind of negativity and near personal attack – we only have to look to history for this. Let’s not forget how Churchill was crippled in his 1945 election through his negative tone, claiming that the implementation of socialism would need “some kind of Gestapo”; or to the other side of the house you can look at how Clement Attlee begged Bevan to end his extremely negative tone towards the Conservatives in private letters. Like the EU itself, this campaign should be about bringing people together, and we should try our best to avoid insulting a voter base large enough to decide those now in ruling with a majority government. On top of this,
according to YouGov polling it is Conservative party voters who are most likely to be undecided on the referendum, with a whole 21% of Conservative voters saying they are undecided. This is a voter base we need to include to win. There is further reason to be optimistic when we look at the leadership of the “In” campaign. “Remain” has both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition (even though he took his time to get there), along with the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party. We are also united behind the “Stronger In” campaign. The Out campaign by contrast only carries some of the Conservative party, with an ever less convincing Boris Johnson after his disastrous appearance at the Treasury Select Committee, an increasingly unpopular Nigel Farage whose right wing populist message is unlikely to resonate with the swing voters in this referendum, and far-left extremists such as George Galloway. This is a country where elections are won in the centre, and that the centre-ground supports
the In campaign bodes well. Additionally, the campaign to Remain in the EU is backed by the experts. The CBI and the G20 back up that the EU hugely benefits the UK’s economy – and whilst that is sometimes swept under the rug by simply claiming the EU is simply a corporatist racket and so of course supported by big business, in polls 81% of startups and 83% of scientists support “Remain”. It is such expertise that is going to be convincing for the people of the United Kingdom that our membership of the EU will make their lives better, which is what people will ultimately vote on, far above ideology. The In campaign is doing a fantastic job of doing so, producing many adverts and leaflets on how it provides jobs and money for families. Additionally, the Remain campaign is in the process of tackling narratives of the Out campaign. The “global Britain” narrative of Brexiteers is not trusted, due to the inconsistency from the Out campaign over how internationalist a United Kingdom would be as well our allies telling us to stay in the EU. The fictitious narrative of the EU making us unsafe is something the campaign must continue to tackle by remembering that borders are not fully open, our membership keeps the border at Calais opposed to Dover, and having a Home Secretary campaigning for Remain helps to support our case on this. The idea that the United Kingdom is a “soft touch” that draws too many people in to exploit our welfare system – and 66% of Out voters believe Britain’s welfare system the most generous in Europe, compared to only 37% of In voters – is a narrative that can be challenged by reality: that other EU member states, such as Sweden, are more generous. Finally, Nicola Sturgeon admits she will campaign for Scottish independence if the United Kingdom votes to leave – and many polls suggest a referendum with a Britain outside of the EU would lead to Scottish independence. There is hope in this fast-approaching referendum, but the campaign must not become complacent. The case against our membership has been made for decades now, initially quietly, but growing in volume, and it is only recently that the people of Britain have started to hear the positives of why we must remain. This is why we must speak loud and clear – as the British people do not want to live in an impoverished, unsafe Britain that will split apart, and this is what the campaign to its credit has been focussing on and must continue to focus on. The campaign must also represent all parties to win the centre ground, and with a patriotic demos, wear the Union Jack just as proudly as it wears the Twelve Stars.
BEWARE THE BREXIT DOMINO EFFECT INTERVIEW WITH FORMER CZECH JUSTICE MINISTER JIŘI POSPÍŠIL MEP (EPP – TOP 09) Jiři Pospíšil graduated with a Law degree from the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen in 1999. He was a Member of the Czech Parliament from 2002 – 2014, serving as Minister of Justice from 2006 to 2009 and 2010 to 2012. Between 2009 and 2010, he held the position of Dean at the Faculty of Law of his alma mater. Since May 2014 he is an MEP in the European People’s Party Group. He was a member of ODS from 1998 until 2014 and a member of MK. FOLLOWING THE VICTORY OF THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY IN 2015’S UK GENERAL ELECTIONS, THERE WILL BE A REFERENDUM IN JUNE ON WHETHER BRITAIN SHOULD REMAIN OR LEAVE THE EU. WHAT DO YOU THINK WOULD BE BETTER FOR THE UK? I believe that it would be better for Britain to stay in the EU despite the perceived disadvantages of their membership. A few days ago, I came across a study that stated that leaving the EU would cost the UK around £100 billion and result in a loss of one million jobs. At least from a short-term perspective, they would do worse with their economy if they were to leave the EU. Moreover I am convinced that a majority of British and international corporations want to see the UK in and not out. DO YOU RECKON THAT A BREXIT COULD CAUSE ANY SIGNIFICANT SECURITY AND ECONOMIC RISK FOR THE EUROPEAN UNION? All economic experts agree on the fact that the UK leaving the EU would cause economic damage to the UK and other Member States as well. Analysts are not wholly united on the exact damage that it may cause, as this hinges on whether the UK leaves European Common Market or not. From a security point of view,
I do not think there would be any significant change. Today, the UK has already secured an opt-out from Schengen and even after an eventual withdrawal from the EU, Britain would remain a member of NATO. I therefore do not see any risk in this regard. WHAT IS THE ATMOSPHERE IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND MORE SPECIFICALLY THE EUROPEAN PEOPLE’S PARTY AHEAD OF THE UK REFERENDUM? Members of the European Parliament are indeed discussing the referendum and the consequences of a Brexit. I believe that an absolute majority of members in the European People’s Party wish to see Britain remaining in the EU. There are several weeks until the referendum and I expect the intensity of this topic to increase over the course of these weeks not only in the European Parliament, but also in the UK with all these campaigns in favour or against. DO YOU THINK THAT DAVID CAMERON’S PROMISE TO CALL A REFERENDUM SIGNIFICANTLY CONTRIBUTED TO HIS VICTORY LAST YEAR? I would say that his promise had a strong impact. Through this move, David Cameron captured some of the strong and attractive topic of Nigel Farage’s UK
Independence Party (UKIP) and a significant share of potential voters by the end as well. On the other hand, the British Prime Minister has placed his bets on one particular card and if the electorate will decide, contrary to his recommendation, to leave the European Union, it would be a great political defeat for him. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT A BREXIT COULD CAUSE A DOMINO EFFECT ACROSS THE EU? I am truly afraid of a domino effect of this referendum. A potential withdrawal of the UK from the EU could encourage other EU Member States to follow suit. Personally, I believe that the most likely candidate to follow the UK is Ireland, given its strong connections with the UK and the question for the Irish whether it would be attractive to stay in the EU without Britain. So yes, the pressure could arise in some Member States. At the end of February, the Czech Prime Minister stated that a Brexit would cause some pressure to call a
similar referendum in the Czech Republic. What do you think would be the answer of Czech citizens? I would say that it is very difficult to predict any outcome of such a referendum in the Czech Republic. It is true that the last opinion poll on feelings about the EU has shown that the dissatisfaction of Czech citizens with the EU has never been higher in the history of the Czech Republic [N.B. Only 29% of Czech voters trust the EU â€“ in 2009, voter trust in the Union was at 60%]. On the other side, I am strongly convinced that our membership brings more positive aspects than negative ones. And Czech feelings about the EU are influenced by the migration crisis and the problems with Greece. DO YOU THINK THAT THE ACTUAL FEELINGS OF CZECHS ABOUT THE EU ARE GROUNDED IN AN INSUFFICIENT UNDERSTANDING OF ITS FUNCTIONING AND BENEFITS? Partially. It is true that Czechs know little about the
EUâ€™s functioning and its institutions and the media do not inform the public of its achievements and work. At the same time, the Czech people are, in my opinion, likewise unhappy with the inability to take action in some important aspects such as, though not exclusively, the migration crisis. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON ENLARGING THE EUROPEAN UNION TO INCLUDE EASTERN COUNTRIES SUCH AS SERBIA, FYROM OR ALBANIA? I am in favour of the EU engaging in discussion on an association agreement with these countries. The time for their full membership has not yet come however. Recently in the European Parliament, we were debating the assessment reports on the current condition of Serbia and FYROM and it is clear that these countries are not yet ready to join the European Union. For one due to the state of their economies and further since they currently do not meet the relevant criteria when
it comes to judicial independence or the sufficient protection of human rights for instance. All the standards set in these areas are very highly valued in the EU and hard to reach, but it makes us a unique union of countries.
The Visegrad Group and the UK Renegotiation Deal Not many are aware that – although it is celebrating 25 years of cooperation – political and economic ties between the Visegrad Group countries can be retraced way back until 1335. Back then the kings of these countries met in Visegrad, a Hungarian city, to form an alliance and economic cooperation. Our region has always thriven when we decided to put our common regional before national interests. This is what we continue to do nowadays: the Visegrad Cooperation has never been more important than in these times of hardship for Europe. Fortunately, the positions of the Visegrad countries on EU reforms and the issue of migration are drawing closer to each other in an unprecedented manner – as became evident amongst others during the renegotiation of the United Kingdom’s EU Membership. Economic Governance, Competitiveness and Sovereignty appear in line with previously indicated developments. What we did debate were the few proposals from the British which sought to change social benefit regulations as applied to them; this is given that the United Kingdom has a specific social welfare system which is different from everyone else’s. In this department, however, we also had interests which we had to make clear: interests which we needed to protect and firmly represent.
Over the course of the renegotiation process, the British have asked for nothing less than a substantive change of current European Union policy on a number of matters. If we look upon this whole issue from the right perspective, in fact the British wanted us to strengthen the European Union. In the modern world, “strengthening” means enhancing competitiveness. The British proposals effectively sought to ensure that the EU should finally move forward from its current weak, stagnating position, should become more competitive and stronger, should become better equipped to withstand the storms of the world economy, and should take a more proactive stance on the world economic scene. They have eventually achieved this goal, and while as a result of their demands a good many changes have taken place, these changes are important for the future of the European Union, with or without the United Kingdom. Today, it is in our common interest, both for the European community and the Visegrad Group, that the United Kingdom stays in the European Union. We agree with most of the proposals made by British Prime Minister David Cameron, but the Visegrad Group has some concerns. The proposals which concern the area of
The countries of the Visegrad Group have been as flexible as possible in regards to the proposals for the first three baskets: even though the proposals were not perfect for us, we could support them. The fourth basket – Social Benefits and Free Movement - was the most sensitive for us. The key in our point of view is respect for the fundamental four freedoms. It is the right of each sovereign state to prevent any abuse of its social welfare system and even to limit social services, especially if it is under threat, but we cannot support any limitation of the freedom of movement or any discriminatory measures against EU citizens who should be equally eligible for benefits. We are apprehensive that more EU Member States will follow the British example and will want to restrict access to their social security systems. As a result of the V4 countries’ joint action, we have succeeded in protecting the principle that the freedom of movement for workers continues to extend across the entire territory of the European Union and to every one of its citizens. In other words, there is no scope for restricting the right of the citizens of a single EU Member State in taking up employment in another Member State. Similarly, we have also succeeded in upholding the principle that, no matter how complex the United Kingdom’s welfare system, anyone working there who pays contributions is eligible for social benefits based on these contributions; this is something which cannot be touched. So those who pay for social benefits or contribute to shared risk management continue to remain eligible without restrictions of any kind.
Due to the specificities of the British system, the real debate was about the provision of benefits which workers do not pay for, but for which they are nonetheless eligible. The question was what should happen with benefits paid to third-country nationals, for which no contributions are paid in Britain. Here, too, we have succeeded in ensuring that these social benefits cannot be taken away. In the future it will only be possible – on justified grounds and after a specific decision – to initiate suspension of these benefits for a fixed period if the resulting social expenditure causes problems; after this fixed period the former regulation will have to be reverted to. What is most important is that the Visegrad Group countries achieved these results together. We stuck together throughout: we engaged in the talks together, prepared joint positions which we represented together, and eventually achieved major results together. This amply demonstrates that if the Central European countries want to achieve results in the European Union, they can only do so together. None one the Visegrad Group countries – not even Poland, which is four times the size of Hungary – could have achieved these results on their own. The ultimate decision now lies with the British. We hope that they thoroughly consider the issue of Britain’s future, and make their decision to the best of their abilities. We Europeans have provided all the assistance needed for a good decision.
HATRED DARKENS LIFE; LOVE ILLUMINATES IT. Martin Luther King, Jr.
IN MEMORIAM ISTANBUL, ANKARA, BRUSSELS
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“We Must Build a Kind of United States of Europe” - The History of European Federalism The idea of European federalism significantly predates the European institutions themselves. Already long before the European Union, Europeans dreamt of a united Europe and the notion was propounded by both philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and writers such as Thomas Mann. In his work “Perpetual Peace” of 1795, Kant urged for a “law of nations” in which the binding character of international agreements was secured and to be “founded on a federation of free states”. The horror of the two world wars at the outset of the 20th century rendered the idea of a European union more widespread, to the point of expanding beyond a small circle of “thinkers”, being adopted in particular by politically active figures and concretised in its meaning. At the heart of the enterprise stood the belief that the chaos of the two world wars was solely unleashed through the maintenance of the nationstates and that peace in Europe could be secured through the transfer of sovereignty to a higher instance. A shrewd idea, as we can see today that this aim has indeed been through the creation of the European Union. The two world wars provided the very impulse for the concept of European Federalism without which we would not be where we are today. Already in 1923, the “Pan-European Manifesto”, written by Count Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, was published. The central theses of this manifesto were the protection of peace in Europe in combination with a customs union. Particularly from a contemporary perspective, it is quite interesting that this pamphlet found great acclaim in Switzerland, the one country which in the end did not partake in the union. At the beginning of the 1930s, it was however precisely there that various groups which advocated a federal
unity of Europe and, in 1934, the “Europa Union” were founded. The foundation stone for the ensuing European movement was laid here. This model of an organisation, which actively propounded a federally organised Europe, was adopted in London in 1938 and resulted eventually in the foundation of the “Federal Union” (previously “Pax Union”) with over 1,000 members in 1940. Already during the Second World War, there continued to be greater demands for a European Federalism that was to put an end to the pernicious strife among Europeans. In 1941, a group named “Combat” was founded in France, which often operated and particularly published illegally, since the idea of a “United States of Europe” did not conform to the time’s political realities. Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi penned at the same in Italy the “Manifesto of Ventotene” on this very topic. In Geneva in 1944, the first meeting of resistance fighters was hosted, where a declaration for a European Federation was drafted. After the Second World War, the idea of European Federalism gained ever more support. The first great meeting of the “Europa Union” was held in 1946 with delegates from fourteen countries. Winston Churchill’s famous Zurich Speech from that September 1946 also aimed at the construction of a united Europe as the “remedy” for a politically instable situation: “It is to recreate the European fabric, or as much of it as we can, and to provide it with a structure under which it can
dwell in peace, safety and freedom. We must build a kind of United States of Europe.” Even though Churchill rather intended a collaboration between independent states and governments, it is evident that European Federalism found acclaim internationally, if only to protect the international community from further European outbursts. In his speech, it however equally became clear that Churchill considered Great Britain rather a supporter from the outside, not however a part of these United States of Europe. He even stated that “Great Britain, the British Commonwealth of Nations, mighty America - and, I trust, Soviet Russia, for then indeed all would be well must be the friends and sponsors of the new Europe.” These domestic inner-European and also international pressures were eventually taken up by the political establishment and in May 1949, the Council of Europe commenced its work. Without our forethinkers which already concerned themselves so early with a European Federalism, we would perhaps never have reached this point in our history. As we all know, the European Union is by no means to be equated to a federal state. This is due to the ongoing debate between “federalists” and “intergovernmentalists” whose differing philosophies both endorse a European Federalism, yet in a different fashion. While the federalists advocate the creation of a fully-fledged European federal
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state akin to the Federal Republic of Germany or the USA, that is the full concession of sovereignty by the nation-states to the European level, all while retaining the principle of subsidiarity, the intergovernmentalists prefer a collaboration of governments and nation-states without the cession of sovereignty (or only to a very limited degree). One of the leading federalist organisations remains to this day the “Union of European Federalists” (UEF) which was founded in 1946 on the European level by various national groupings and actively campaigns to this day for a federally structured Europe. The Monnet Method, on which the process of European integration has been based since the European Coal and Steel Community, can be reduced to this formula: the European Union is not a state, since the Member States are the masters of the treaties, granting and revoking powers. Where the EU disposes of powers, it can dispense, on the basis of majority decision-making in a bicameral system (Council and Parliament), binding law which can be examined by its own Court of Justice. Ergo: the EU is not a state, operates however within the purview of its competences like a federal state. In that course, the nation-states as the masters of the treaties, but also as bearers of identity, continue to play a significant role. Wherever the law of nations is applied in the
intergovernmental sense, the results are not satisfactory. Over the course of the last years, the EU has had to face manifold crises. Be it the financial crisis, the unrest in many neighbouring countries of the EU or the refugee crisis and the connected danger of terrorism and right-wing populism. Many people wonder whether there is a way out, whether the EU can withstand these pressures and what politics may do to protect our democracy, rule of law and economic strength. Here the answer must be “more Europe” and consequently also paving the way for more federalism through the full use of the means provided by the Lisbon Treaty. As has become clear over the past years, the EU can act best, and thus likewise ultimately most sensibly for the nation-states, where it can enact laws and make decisions in the interest of all involved parties. We have seen over the course of the refugee crisis that anything else would have led to an imbalance in Europe and that only through by this means, a truly united Europe in the spirit of our forethinkers, dedicated to the protection of our peace and security, may be maintained! Here, for the first time in the history of the EU, the principle of the qualified majority has come to fruition and a decision was made in spite of the dissenting votes by some Member States. That is democracy in action, federalism in action, as we experience it every day in many Member States.
In 1926, Thomas Mann said in his speech on the 700-YearJubilee of his home town of Lübeck: “when I stand with those, to whom the idea of ‘Europe’ is close to their heart, when I dispute an international nationalism, which refuses to grasp a global constellation which authoritatively and in every sense recognisably demands a new solidarity of the people of Europe – then such personally binding experiences may be at play here: the experience of European solidarity, the experience that the people of Europe only constitute facets and variations of a higher emotional entity.” These words by Mann are still as relevant as they were a century ago and they find application in our current situation more than ever, since we do have to bear in mind the significance of this grand project that is the EU!
Elmar Brok MEP (CDU) - President of the Union of European Federalists (UEF)
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Will the EU Survive Until the End of this Decade? There is universal agreement that the European Union is facing the perhaps greatest litmus test of its existence at present. Years of successive economic, fiscal, migration and security crises have shaken the faith of many European citizens and politicians in the European project and its future, with many openly speaking of a risk of its effective breakdown. Yet, while the spectre of a collapse of the EU is no longer a taboo, what would effectively have to happen for this scenario to come to reality? And are rumours of the EU’s demise greatly exaggerated? There are two ways of looking at the succession of European crises. One is the negligence mode that is so typical of EU insiders. Known as “the circular mode”, it is roughly proceeds as follows: there have been many crises and the EU has always found a way to circumvent them, so it will not be different this time. Then there is the “breaking-point mode”: political unions, states, empires and other polities have been known to collapse. This may happen to the EU as well. In this mode of interpretation, signs are scrutinised in search of the impending doom of the European project: Grexit, Brexit, Schengen, whatever is the order of the day. The first thing one has to do when thinking about the current state of the European project is to get rid of these paraphernalia, which sometimes only thinly disguise ideological prejudices or political preferences: you happen to dislike the Euro and its implications; the damn currency does not make any sense to you; so you will predict its demise at any given juncture of its trajectory. Conversely, you enjoy comfort at the existence of the EU; you may even have taken a closer role in its inner workings than most people; you will then predict that the current crisis will be overcome. The EU may not collapse, but rather become irrelevant.
both the risk and an opportunity: it means that a paralysis is easily achieved, particularly if the most influential Member States begin to prioritise their national over the European interest, in the same fashion as many smaller Member States do today. However, this constellation likewise means that any paralysis is not irreversible – this evidently cannot be said of the variety of EU laws, programmes and institutions that may be jeopardised as a result of such a state of political lethargy such as Schengen, the Euro or Erasmus. But unless the EU suffers an external shock of existentially destabilising proportions, it is unlikely that the institutional decision-making framework will unravel in its foundation. With this being the case, the opportunity to reverse any state of paralysis remains at least hypothetically on the table at all times. Yet no mistake must be made: to retreat into one’s national shell is always the easier option and pursuing genuinely European solutions once this is no longer seen as the primary framework for tackling challenges means mustering enormous political willpower. What once has been unravelled can only with great difficulty be rebuilt. Therein lies the greatest risk of a paralysis of the Europe: how it will recover and whether it will ever fully recuperate from it.
THE PARALYSIS The European Union stands and falls with the political will of its Member States to positively engage with the institutional framework offered by the union and the fellow Member States in the spirit of European solidarity. This is not least due to the institutional design of the European Union granting pre-eminence to the European Council in the community’s decision-making process. This bears
CRISIS BY CRISIS ANALYSIS
THE EUROZONE To be sure, the Euro is perceived as a badly conceived project that still lacks important elements to be sustainable, not to say beneficial to all involved. Nobody can honestly dispute that. What is unsustainable cannot be sustained and what is not beneficial to all parts involved
will see someone leaving at some point. All these are typical anti-Euro reservations. However, contrary to what many classical anti-Euro commentaries posit, it is not a foregone conclusion to see the currency as static. Back in 2011 and 2012, the Euro was undergoing an acute crisis. After Mario Draghi stated that the ECB would do “whatever it takes” to save the single currency, this has morphed into a chronic disease, which has only been partially cured by unconventional monetary policy, namely quantitative easing. While the Euro still has many structural problems, these are, after 2012, more easily solved by internal coordination than by fragmentation. Something that the single currency’s critics, mainly economists and macroeconomics enthusiasts, fail to see is the reality of the Euro and the EU as a juridical construct. There is a need to point out that the treaties do not foresee any “Euro exit”. For the time being therefore solving the Euro’s problems is still much simpler than heading for a Euro breakup. Further, staying within the Euro is still a less complicated task than facing all the obstacles (economic and otherwise) of leaving. SCHENGEN, TERRORISM AND THE REFUGEE CRISIS “Won’t terrorism bring down Schengen and won’t this in turn sound the death knell for the European project?”
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Although a popular narrative these days with some justification, there is a much greater probability that it will not. There is a certain resilience to the Schengen area that resides in the fact that it is so useful to millions of people and that it is based on ongoing institutional habits of the EU that create impetus and momentum. Home Affairs ministers will complain about the imperfections of Schengen. Yet they will still meet in Brussels every few weeks and realise that their problems are much more easily solved by strengthening Schengen and staying inside than by going it alone. This, in turn, will create legal and political problems for the European Commission and European Parliament to address ─ and fundamental rights problems as well. In the short-term, terrorism is a challenge to Schengen. In the medium-term, it will probably lead to Europol becoming more like a European FBI.
remaining a member. At the end of the day, however, if the UK leaves this will be something to lament, but not the end of the EU. As an island in the sea, the UK is free to turn its back on the European Union and to dismiss the idea of a bloc of nations willing to pool a large part of their sovereignty. But what if Germany, right in the centre of the continent, did the same? What if the Germany will bring up uneasy questions such as: “Why are we the biggest net contributor to all Brussels budgets — but don’t get much solidarity in return when we need it? What does it say about Europe if neither France, nor the UK, nor Poland, nor Hungary care much what a critical moment the Union is facing? Why should Germany keep on being the honest broker if all other member states just look out for their national interest?” However, it is highly questionable to say that this is what is emerging now.
BREXIT AND THE REFUGEE CRISIS The refugee crisis is comparatively little of an existential challenge to the EU in its foundations: there are solid political precedents for the resettlement and the integration of refugees in European history. This is a matter of political will. A similar principle applies to the question of the impact of a Brexit on the EU: there is a strong interest on the part of the Union in Britain
CAN ANYTHING, THEN, FINISH OFF THE EU? A collapse of the rule of law — something that we already see happening in Hungary or Poland — or the rise of fascism — which we may witness in France — are the greatest threats to the EU. It is easily forgotten that the European project is mainly an antifascist response to the interwar period. Fascism is, and will remain, the main enemy of the EU. Progressives who are now
tending towards Euroscepticism should think more about the implications of that. If only we would engage less in spurious talk about “the End of Europe” we would surely be better equipped to really fight the monsters that can (again) bring down the European project and promise. This is all to say that the European project, founded on peace, tolerance, freedom, the just and open state, is floundering: the zeitgeist now lies in defending the narrowest, most immediate and most illusory forms of national interest. How long can the EU, a project born out of the ruins of the post-war period, resist the wave of xenophobia and paranoia that is sweeping across our old and exhausted societies?
Should the Centre-Right Embrace Feminism? The Centre-Right Must Recapture and Achieve True Feminism Back when I was at university, in a brash and typical student attempt to break the stranglehold on the topic of feminism I perceived the left-wing Intersectional Feminist Society to have, I wrote a rebuttal piece in the Department of Political Economy magazine about women in politics. Young, arrogant and conservative, I argued that women hoping to be members of parliament did not need the helping hand of men through affirmative action programmes. I digressed that the true feminist would see the results of such assistance for what they were - short term gains and ultimately detrimental in the long run. While acknowledging that women faced an uphill struggle against the largely traditional and historically male-centred nature of politics, I stated my belief that my gender was not only capable of diversifying parliaments, but thanks to the determination of its members, would own the victory as and when they did. As with anyone who offers their opinions to comment pieces for either hobby or occupation, I considered at the time whether in a few years I would come to disagree with my earlier statements, whether the transition from the bubble of student political debate to working in a practical political environment would cause me to U-turn on these thoughts, declare all men awful and pick up a placard. If you are in wanting of spoilers, it did not. Though that is not to say there has not been a learning curve. Fortunately, I have been treated as an equal to my male counterparts since closing the lid on my student days. Not everyone is so lucky. I have heard first hand since venturing into Westminster of women being groped, pigeonholed into roles by their gender, on the receiving end of highly inappropriate sexual comments, shut-down in meetings, repeatedly talked over and sadly, feeling that they can do absolutely nothing about it due to the lack of fluidity in the culture and the fear of being accused of acting “hysterically”. There is an unfortunate but prevalent assumption that this is a problem isolated to the parties, groups and individuals aligned to the right of the centre ground, that those of this ideological ilk do not “do” feminism. Yet “feminism” has become a highly convoluted and much-debated catch-all term in itself. Of course, the strict definition lies firmly where it always has done: the pursuit of equal social, political and economic rights for women. However
over time, the meaning of the term has become warped by arguably misandrist thinking, and a new version of feminism has emerged under the prominence of the voices shouting over the parapet from the left. This version of “feminism” has become interchangeable with the term itself, due largely to the left adopting the ideology; both through the perceived neglect of women’s issues by the right, and the reduction of gender politics into gender micro-politics. Women are now reaping what their mothers and grandmothers sowed, and sowing further. They want to rip the foundations out from under time-established gender roles, unchaining women from the household and from being the sole caregiver for their children. And rightly so, for too long women have had these responsibilities ascribed to them de facto from birth. Further inroads into transforming feminism into an intersectional ideology have provided a catalyst for the evolution. Women are redefining what it means to be a woman, pushing away the shackles of gender-based expectation and making sure men know that they will do as they please. This new ideology behind feminism, whether you on principle agree or not, is now shaping the discourse about the rights and role of women in 2016. Unfortunately, as is their time-old tradition, the flag of feminism, the very ownership of the ideal, has been captured by the left. What was a cultural sisterhood of women achieving their independence has mutated into a nannying, distracted, over-protective movement. We now hear daily of “micro-aggressions”, a description of terms the modern “feminist” would not have us use. Women, who choose to stay home with their children simply because they want to, are treated by the feminist media as pariahs. We hear of “mansplaining”, where a man explains something
to a woman in a manner perceived to be patronising. The culture has turned sour, and misandry belays the open discussion of how women can achieve the social, political and economic equality they are entitled to. The very worst of this new culture to date, however, has to be the introduction of affirmative action. In one fell swoop the left has overridden years of hard-work for the feminist cause. Whether in a business context or parliament, there is no more harm to be done than giving a woman an opportunity because of her gender. There is little more insulting than the action of disregarding the merit of her work, the strength of her character or the level of her ambition for the mere fact that she happened to be born a woman and therefore fills a quota. And this is why it is so fundamentally important that the centre-right principles of meritocracy, equality of opportunity and hard work persevere in what is essentially a battle for an ideology. For women will even out the boardrooms, they will sit on the parliamentary benches, and at home they will leave their partners to babysit the children, but unless it happens without the patronising all-women shortlists the left promotes, the fight for women’s equality will be a victory for men.
Katherine Gray, taxpayers’ alliance UK
Feminism is Unprogressive Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948. ARTICLE 1 “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” ARTICLE 2 “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-selfgoverning or under any other limitation of sovereignty.” Since this declaration was adopted, a lot of progress has been made in the fight to eliminate inequality and ensure that all human beings have access to their rights. This is especially true for women who have accomplished many significant strides to secure their fundamental rights. And they were secured. However, trying to move forward,
people should act in consideration of the present and not to the past. That is how we progress and we go ahead. Like it happened with people being discriminated due to their race or nationality. It is understandable and honourable that from the early to the mid-20th century, many women fought for their rights. This was a time when women were not heard and their position in society was doubted. However, living in the 21st century, we should respect history but not act as if we were continuing to live in that period. On the other hand, we should equally not neglect the fact that women did occupy an important role in some historic societies. Women and mothers in ancient Greece, and more specifically in Sparta, were for instance the most important members of the family. Everyone respected them and everything was done on the condition of their agreement. History is to be respected, but not by selectively focusing on particular aspects of it. However, the most astounding contention of feminism is that for everyone to be treated equally, it has to be accepted that women need to receive preferential treatment compared to men. Why should women be treated differently if they support equal rights? It is insulting for the female gender to accept that they should act as if they were special in order to achieve their goals. Women are not different from men. That is why it is to be strongly supported that women should succeed on the basis of their own merit, instead of filling a position on the mere grounds of their womanhood. If women need a separate treatment from the whole community in order to succeed, this means that they have not succeeded in the first place. It suggests that they did not accomplish their goals because they deserved it, but because they were treated as women. Why do women have to be treated in a more favourable way? Examining countries pertaining to “the West”, it is more than obvious that women have accomplished their goals, and there is no doubt that they are considered in terms of their status as an individual human being. What is the point therefore of trying to convince others that women are different, of establishing organisations and campaigns on their explicit behalf? Do any similar bodies exist for men? Trying to achieve equal rights by stating that you need a special organisation for women is rather proof of one’s self-perception as different and in need of special treatment in order to succeed. It is natural to try more for people with particular needs, as their rights are in some cases not respected. However, women do not belong to this category and do not require special treatment.
On the other hand, men are those who are more likely to become the “weaker sex” as a result of feminist action: in the name of equality and justice, many men might lose or be denied to a job in order to have more women employed. The solution is not to deal with a problem by causing another problem. It is agreed to have an equal number of women and men as employees, but it is fair to employ people according to their skills and not to their gender. In the name of feminism and because of new firms’ policies to employ more women, people who deserve it might lose an opportunity for a position in their dream job. Nevertheless, there are women who suffer. Women who do not have the right to vote. Women who do not have the right to go to school. Women who do not choose the father of their children. But why do we see such circumstances in some societies and not in others? The answer is education. The problem is not about inequality; the real problem is hidden in underdeveloped countries, where the educational system is poor. Countries in need of actual reforms and need to acquire their citizens’ attitude in order to build a better future. As long as we isolate gender as the main problem, it is conniving in the name of injustice. The weapon to tackle all of these structural problems is education. What women have achieved in the Western world has to be an example for countries where women do not have the right to education or the vote. Women need women’s power in order to achieve a world of equal rights. Not under the umbrella of feminism, where women will continue to be granted a special status. Instead, we should strive for a place where Malala will go to school as naturally as males or a little girl from a developing country might one day have the right to vote and stand in an election. All people, not just women or men, gay or straight, black or white, deserve a right to equal opportunities. This is what we fight for and what we deserve.
Keeping It Green
Sustainability and Environmental Challenges for Europe Ecological challenges affect us more than ever before – not only in Europe, but across the world. Air and water pollution, acid rains, land degradation, industrial and noise pollution (especially in urban areas) and climate change that impact the ecosystem remain major concerns. These challenges are exacerbated by projections that the number of people on planet is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050.
OVERVIEW OF THE CHALLENGES: 1. ATMOSPHERIC POLLUTION Cars, industry, agriculture and homes are contributing to atmospheric pollution in Europe. Atmospheric pollution impacts on human health and contributes to climate change and damages ecosystems. Breathing problems, cardiovascular disease and shortened lives are just some of the negative results of atmospheric pollution. Reports suggest that between 2009 and 2011, up to 96% of city dwellers were exposed to fine particulate matter concentration levels above the established WHO guidelines and up to 98% were exposed to ozone levels above WHO guideline. Even more, some of the rural parts were affected and now have significant levels of air pollution. Following the lifting of the greenhouse effect, global temperatures rise, causing the melting of glaciers. The ozone shield is also affected by air pollution, with holes being formed as a direct result of it. Smog in urban areas, where nitrogen dioxide is decomposed by sunlight, and acid rains are other problems arising from air pollution. 2. WATER POLLUTION Water is a key element of our ecosystem: it is indispensable for our quality of life, for plant and animal species, anything we are producing and growing. Even if most of the population in Europe, in notable contrast to other parts of the world, has access to clean water, this does not mean that the quality of that water meets basic biological and chemical standards. The quality of water is influenced by two factors: on the one hand, water is polluted by urban wastewater, industry and fish farms and on the other by agricultural residues, as well as the atmospheric deposition on water bodies. 3. LAND DEGRADATION Soil is a finite, non-renewable resource since its
regeneration through chemical and biological weathering of underlying rock requires a long time. Soil quality is a factor that cannot be overlooked when talking about agriculture in Europe. Land degradation is essentially caused by urbanisation and infrastructure developments and erosion. Deforestation appears to be another relevant factor in causing the degradation of fertile land. 4. DEMOGRAPHIC BOOM This is the most significant problem facing the whole of humanity. The demographic problem will have a serious impact and consequences for our ecological ecosystems. Statistics confirm that the earth will not have the necessary resources to maintain the human population by 2050. When analysing even a handful of ecological issues, it necomes obvious that the greatest challenge faced by European economies today is to integrate environmental sustainability with economic growth and welfare in an intelligent way, by decoupling environmental degradation from economic growth – in short: achieving more with less. The feat is to improve the overall environmental performance of products throughout their life cycle, to boost the demand for more sustainable products and production technologies and to help consumers in making informed choices. The question is: how to achieve this grand aim?
PROTECTIVE MEASURES: Protecting, conserving and enhancing natural capital is one of the European Union’s concerns. Hence why the EU designed many policies concerning the ecological challenges faced not only by its Member States, but also its neighboring countries. Moreover, the EU has already
ratified many international environmental agreements, at a global, regional, and sub-regional level. Let us see what improvements were made regarding ecological ecosystem until now. In the early 1970s, the European Economic Community (EEC) put in place the foundations of a common environmental policy, which now includes around 500 directives and regulations. In 2015, Europe stands roughly halfway between the initiation of EU environmental policy in the early 1970s and the EU’s 2050 Vision of “living well within the limits of the planet”. The short-term trends produced by these policies would appear upon analysis to be quite encouraging. European greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 19 per cebt since 1995 and the use of fossil fuels has declined, while European production has grown by 45 per cent. Another gratifying result for the European Union is the fact that the total use of resources has decreased by 19 per cent since 2007, as less waste was generated and recycling rates have risen. On 16 July 2008, the European Commission presented the Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy Action Plan, which includes a series of proposals that will contribute to improving the environmental performance of products and increasing the demand for more sustainable goods and production technologies. Further, the 7th Environment Action Programme was recently adopted. This programme outlines very elaborately the vision, the goals and the action steps that will be taken by the European Union to stimulate and encourage the transition to a green economy. The 2050
BE ON Vision that intended to guide the community’s action up to 2020 and beyond envisions that young children today will live around half their lives in a low-carbon society, based on a circular economy and resilient ecosystems. The 2050 Vision contains four established and complementary approaches that could enhance progress to long-term transitions if considered together and implemented coherently. These are: •
Mitigating known ecosystem and human health impacts while creating socio-economic opportunities through resource-efficient technological innovations; • Adapting to expected climate and other environmental changes by increasing resilience, for example in cities; • Avoiding potentially serious environmental harm to people’s health and well-being and ecosystems by taking precautionary and preventive actions, based on early warnings from science; Restoring resilience in ecosystems and society by enhancing natural resources, contributing to economic development and addressing social inequities. The European Union also uses its neighbourhood policy to promote environmental policies, programmes, norms and directives with both closer and more distant neighbouring countries in order to integrate environmental protection into its overseas activities. Environmental cooperation with Eastern Partnership countries has increased in importance after the EU’s 2004 enlargement, leading to enhanced cross-border interactions in consideration of a common interest in a shared environment. These countries share a legacy of environmental problems of the past; they also face new pressures as they return to economic growth. Even if the European Union tries to put all efforts into
Killing In the Name
– Understanding the Dynamics and Ideas behind Jihadism Paris, Beirut, Brussels, Istanbul, Tunis… a never ending list of cities targeted by terrorist attacks claimed by Jihadist groupings. In the meantime, Islamic fundamentalist militias hold territories in Iraq and Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Libya. The extreme violence displayed by such groups leads to question on the theoretical framework they base their actions on. At the same time, it is important to understand that behind a general brand of Jihadism lie different groups with diverging goals and methods. A DANGEROUS UTOPIA Over the past years, there has been an increasing demand among the population of Islamic countries to take the religious background of their societies into account. While such aspiration should not be considered surprising or illegitimate, especially as most if not all contemporary European societies have evolved within a framework deeply influenced by Christianity, it appears that this claim has particularly gained traction in a highly specific branch of Sunni Islam, Salafism. The movement has seen a large set of social and political expressions, some of which eventually relying on violence to reach their goals. Salafism is defined by two main characteristics: • Islam should be based on a limited corpus of texts including the Qur’an, the Hadith (the collection of Prophet Muhammad’s quotes, habits and decisions) and the Ijma, the consensus among scholars. This ensemble of texts covers a very limited period of Islamic History, defined as Islam’s Golden Age, including Muhammad’s lifetime and that of his immediate successors, the four Righteous (Rashidun) Califs, explaining Salafism’s name, al-salaf al-salih, the pious forefathers. • The belief that Islam provides a necessary and sufficient condition for the advent of a wellfunctioning, prosperous and developed society. The slogan “Islam is the solution” describes the crux of Salafist aspiration rather aptly. In addition, some scholars have conceived certain specificities which paved the way to the Jihadist version of Salafism. One of the most prominent figures, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), drew a parallel between contemporary Islamic societies and those of the pre-Islamic era, defined as a state of ignorance, the Jahiliyya. According to Qutb, good Muslims should have acted towards their society the same way first Muslims interacted with their not-yet islamised environment. Soon, some of his adherents became Takfirs, claiming for themselves the right to decide what corresponded to real Islam and what did not, laying the foundations for modern Jihadism.
The evolution of Salafism recalls that of another ideology which proved to be nothing but a utopia, Socialism. In Islamic societies, being unable to seize power by peaceful means, supporters have followed the same path as Socialism in Western Europe, as political movements transitioned to terrorist groups. Salafism and Socialism share the same trait of refusing to be held accountable for previous experiences by the justification that those experience were not “real Islamic/Socialist states”: just as Cuba or North Korea failed to become Socialist paradises, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Sudan failed to be prosperous Islamic states. Another parallel can be seen in the tolerance of Salafist Jihadists by parts of Islamic mainstream societies, today highly influenced by the extremely rigorist version of Islam propagated by Saudi Arabia, when they condemn the acts but not the underlying ideology. During the Years of Lead, some Italian left-wing politicians had the same kind of reaction, defining the Red Brigades terrorist group as compagni che sbagliano, comrades who are mistaken. PARADIGMS OF CONTEMPORARY JIHADISM As Salafist Jihadism’s centre of gravity has shifted from Al Qaeda to ISIS, there has been a shift in the methods, goals and profile of Jihadists. Such changes are outlined by the description of a generational change within Jihadism, as the transition from the second generation (Al Qaeda) to the third (ISIS) was completed, the first generation being the fighters of the War in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union (1979-1989). Al Qaeda and ISIS differ in their methods used for terror attacks, especially in the selection of targets. While Al Qaeda became famous for focusing on symbolic targets, often in a spectacular manner, ISIS has to face the consequences of the security response to such attacks and therefore prefers to focus on less protected targets. If this method enables easier attacks, it is also less likely to gather support. Moreover, the two organisations have divergent goals. Al Qaeda’s primary goal had been the overthrow of governments in Arab countries. ISIS, disposing of a safe
haven, has sought to enlarge it and provoke a civil war in Europe. In order to reach their objectives, both groups have adopted different forms of organisations, as Al Qaeda relied on a highly hierarchical structure while ISIS is known for the large autonomy it gives to its cells. Both organisations have had distinct methods of recruiting fighters. Many foreign fighters and terrorists who joined ISIS were not radicalised in a religious context. Many Jihadists were recruited during an imprisonment or through self-radicalisation on the internet. As a consequence, ISIS recruits have a lower religious education than their predecessors. WHAT CAN BE DONE? Jihadism has already taken different forms to reach its goals. Recent attacks show us that they are ready to eliminate all people opposing their vision of the world and are keen to play on divisions within societies. In order to contrast their ideology, it is necessary to strengthen the relations between the various components of our society. The response against the attacks of a few cannot be a closure against large groups of population, being them already present in Europe for years or having arrived in recent times. In the end, it should not be forgotten that the rule of violence has its limits: past Jihadist experiences have shown that the perpetuation of violence against civilians has always led to the loss of support from the people and the disillusionment of fighters.
To Each According To Their Needs Is Basic Income the Future? Part of any state’s mission is to keep its citizens healthy and providing them with a chance to lead a good life. This is achieved in a multitude of ways. Espingsen-Andersen created the basis for a model of different welfare models categorising three types: the liberal, the conservative and the social democratic welfare state.1
This model has since been developed and enriched. However, examining these three, the basic ideas that have been playing a significant role in the major ones may be identified. In the liberal welfare model, championed among Anglo-Saxon states, greater emphasis is placed on the individual. This is reflected in a low tax and strong self-help model, where the market largely maintains a role as an independent player and individual self-responsibility is highly valued. The state’s role has been limited to offering the tools to fix one’s own situation. The conservative model, prevalent in continental Europe, has a heavy focus on the family. This is reflected in a medium tax model which promotes families. Priority here has been awarded to levelling the playing field and promoting a family-friendly society where much of the care is but in the hands of families themselves. An example of this is how elderly-care relies on a combination of homebased and institutional care.2 The social democratic model, popular in the Nordic countries, on the other hand prioritises equal standards by means of a high tax, high benefits model where the state plays a pivotal role and uses the market as a tool to accomplish the equality it strives for. Recently however, with new challenges having arisen, all of these ideas have been subject to intense scrutiny, if only since the role of the state as a whole has come under fire. With a rapidly ageing population, new technologies and higher degrees of migration, maintaining these systems has become harder and harder. In the face of this, Finland has but an experiment in motion, introducing a basic income of 800 Euros.3 The state insures its people regardless of if they are working or not and by doing so provides them a safety net and/or starting capital. It may be argued that this changes the dynamic of the role of welfare from a fire brigade to a bank. The bank’s role then is to invest and stimulate capital growth while a fire brigade’s function is to provide rescue in cases of emergencies. If you are guaranteed a base income regardless of your
financial situation, this opens up endless new opportunities: it acts as a guarantee against poverty if you are without a job and as a chance to create more wealth if you dispose of a stable income. It also removes the state from people’s lives as it cannot dictate how this money is spent by individual citizens, given that it transferred to everyone regardless of societal status. The role of welfare is handed back to the individual and by doing so they can use it in accordance with their own needs. We need to challenge old views of what the role of society and what the role of the state is. While basic income is by no means a deus ex machina to fix all problems, it at the very least poses a very crucial question: how do we best help people in the pursuit of their daily lives? Another country which has been experimenting with the idea of basic income is Canada where the concept has been toyed with in different shapes and forms since the early 1930s. It has been argued that it strengthens purchasing power, evens out income gaps and stimulates the economy as a consequence.4 The idea was however not fully implemented until the 1970s. During this period, a large-scale experiment was conducted in Manitoba to test the idea. While it cannot be stated whether the experiment was a full success, it verifiably changed certain dynamics in the society where it was implemented: for instance, more people proceeded to higher education. A variant of basic income which has likewise been advocated is the negative income tax, a favourite among Friedman and associates. It operates on the premise that a member of society obtains a certain amount of money that gradually decreases as they enter employment and find themselves gradually capable of sustaining themselves.5 A clear advantage with such a system is that it limits welfare and only people in actual need are helped by government programmes. It also limits government’s intrusions into people’s lives as well as the tax rate and the
need for a large government apparatus. Conservatives in Canada have pointed to the welfare state as it is vis-à-vis a basic income model as the difference between a clinic which administers help where needed and one which questions an arriving patient and their need for help. This can be seen in light of welfare states usually ending up with help that is neither enough nor being administered to the impoverished and sick from the state in one particular manner or form.6 How such a system could be implemented has many answers. Existing systems could for instance be gradually phased out. The merits of such an approach would be that society could become more accustomed to it and the effects and impacts would be clearer. The drawback would of course be that it would take time and could end up as being just another measure in a long line of measures. Doing it quickly would have the advantage that it be put in place directly, replacing established systems. However, this would probably cause an adjustment period involving a short-term spiral of uncertainty and tinkering to get it right. As stated earlier, basic income is not a simple nostrum to a complex problem. It is however an alternative that needs to enter the debate about on welfare and its modus operandi in order to diversify and deepen the discussion on what the role of the state should be in society.
1 Espengsen-Andersen, Three worlds of welfare capitalism chapter 1 2 http://www.oecd.org/els/health-systems/Germany-OECD-EC-Good-Time-in-Old-Age.pdf 3 http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33977636 4 Basic Income and the Canadian Welfare State: Exploring the Realms of Possibility, Mulvale James P., Basic Income Studies, 2008, vol. 3, issue 1, pages 1-26 5 Mofitt, Robert A., The idea of a Negative Income Tax, Fokus 2004 23:2 6 http://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/budget-2008/guaranteed-annual-income-why-milton-friedman-and-bob-stanfield-were-right/ - visited on 25 march 2016
On the Other Side
- Crossing the Regional Borders of Europe “The European Project” has led to a more integrated continent than ever, and the Union’s enlargement to accommodate new member states has created a new political, economic and geographical landscape of Europe. This article will provide a brief overview of cross-border regional economic integration in Europe, its possibilities, obstacle and possible future. European cross-border cooperation is often seen as the “small-scale symbol of European integration”. Hans-Gert Pöttering, former president of the European Parliament and speaker at the EDS Winter University in Berlin, has thus stated stated that: “It is in the Euroregions where the European Union is brought to life”. (Baltá Portolés 2015) It is in these small-scale laboratories of European cooperation too that the main challenges and opportunities of European integration may be recognised. Since many of these regions do not dispose of the legislative competences to effect changes that help facilitate the regional integration, much cross-border cooperation aims at influencing national governments in their respective countries to enable further harmonisation. In the European Union of today, more than 185 million European citizens, that is one third of the Union’s population, lives in border regions – that is they lived in a region bordering another EU state or at an external boarder (Baltá Portolés 2015). There has been very little research on a European level into cross-border regional integration as of yet – in spite of the fact that in 2009, roughly one million Europeans were estimated to commute on a daily basis across national borders to pursue work - a number that has increased by 26% from 2000, when the number was at around 500 000 Europeans (Nerb, 2009). Whenever European integration is concerned, cultural differences have to be taken into consideration. Many European labour markets differ greatly on factors such as salary levels, labour market terms and vacations. Terms that will be difficult to harmonise, particularly considering that workers also have language difficulties to overcome. However, European boarder regions cannot afford not to increase coordination in this field. Across the European continent, there are more than 70 cross-border regions today. Dating back to the commencement of the Dutch-German collaboration in the Enschede-Gronau region in 1958, regional cooperation covers virtually all European borders (Perkmann 2003). The cooperation is a vital part of regional development in Europe, and more so in the cross-border areas since it enables local governments to overcome many cultural, economic and social barriers. These regions will benefit more from cross-border
cooperation with new markets and economies geographically closer to them, rather than with those of distant fellow national regions. Indeed, many Europeans find themselves closer to a capital other than their national one. Promoting not only the experiences of culture, leisure, travel and shopping, but also professional opportunities outside of one’s own member state is hence a sine qua non. Many efforts to increase integration in border-regions can be made on a local level: improvements in the transportation system and infrastructure can be facilitated with small changes. When functional regions expand beyond their national borders, they simultaneously enable the labour market mobility to expand. Thus, more people can apply for jobs all over the functional region. This further aids companies by broadening the pool of potential employees with proper education and vice versa. However, decision-making relating to the harmonisation of income taxation, healthcare, and schooling, needs to occur at a national level in both states. Many companies also struggle with having costumers and staff on both side of a border. Giving the entities of regional cooperation the role of issue advocacies to promote these changes. With some Member States having cooperated to foster such integration since the 1950s, it is not surprising that it is among the founding members of the European community that cross-border commuting is most common. Six European countries alone account for three quarters (3/4) of the total cross-border commuting: Luxembourg (127,000), Germany (86,000), the Netherlands (58,000), Austria (48,000), Belgium (39,000) and also, in spite of its non-membership, Switzerland (206,000) (Nerb, 2009). Here one needs to look at the pull- and push-factors, such as higher wages and better opportunities. Countries benefitting of such competitive advantages also have larger functional regions, as well as a good knowledge of their neighbouring countries’ language and culture (Ibid.). As member states facilitate not only living and working in another EU Member State, but also taking up employment in one member state while living in another, working in and commuting between regions consequently needs to be improved. This can be achieved through the promotion of the appropriate infrastructure, but also the mutual
recognition of education certificates and qualifications. Thereby, the 185 million Europeans living in border areas may, with the right knowledge, find new employment in their own region. Regional economic integration is a key part of the European economy. In the EU2020 strategy, focusing on economic growth and sustainability, regional integration is highlighted as a key part in the strategy. Member States and regions are urged to facilitate regional cooperation, leaving out however the importance of cross-border regional cooperation. Yet it is in these types of cooperation that the true challenges lie. Since it takes two national governments to enable change, it is crucial that these regions develop strong bonds and can support each other vis-à-vis other stakeholders – and thereby make the everyday life of millions of Europeans, whose lives have been improved by moving borders, even easier. SOURCES Nerb, Gernot, et al. “Scientific report on the mobility of cross-border workers within the EU-27/EEA/EFTA countries.” Final report. European Commission DG Employment and Social Affairs Brussels (2009). Perkmann, Markus. “Cross-border regions in Europe significance and drivers of regional cross-border cooperation.” European Urban and regional studies 10.2 (2003): 153-171. Portolés Baltà, Jordi. “Cross-Border Cooperation and Cultural Communities in Europe.” (2015).
A Studentâ€™s Roadmap to Employment â€“ Helping Graduates Enter the Job Market
Upon finishing oneâ€™s final exams, students are mostly filled with pride and understandable relief. Yet having completing one important stage, the bigger and most important part of their life still lies ahead and it is vital to be adequately prepared in order not to face problems starting it. Entering the labour market as a European student, the knowledge acquired at universities is no longer sufficient at present however: in discussions with several companies, it emerged that on many fronts, the skills base of graduates could and should be improved. The digital century is rapidly changing our lives in ways we could not have fathomed a decade ago. Its influence can be seen on almost all levels of our daily routines. Handling mobile phones, buying goods online and working with personal computers are nowadays considered basic skills. However, not only our personal lives have changed. Skills requirements demanded by employers have done so as well. In earlier times, the principal purpose of university was to impart theoretical knowledge to their students. Practical know-how was to be gradually acquired through exercise when already in employment. Living in our fast-paced society of today, this model is now less feasible. Our higher education system has to provide these practical skills before releasing students into the job market. A very important prerequisite for a successful introduction into the tough world of employment is the conveyance of soft skills. Possessing these distinct rhetorical and presentation skills, negotiation techniques, etc. is essential. Although already offered by many universities, training sessions and exercises conveying such skills are mainly voluntarily in nature and often too small as to cover all students. Universities do at least have to provide the possibility for all students to take such courses. Yet even given the rhetorical knowledge, one
can easily fail a job interview if unaware what to take care of. To help students reach their dream job, it is hence of crucial importance for universities to include interview trainings. While soft skills are very important, it is essential to adapt curricula more efficiently to the requirements of the private economy. One way to achieve this would be to directly cooperate with companies, for instance by introducing courses held by private sector specialists to offer students insights as to how to apply learned theory in practice. Another way for students to acquire all the major skills for a successful work life would be to take jobs parallel to their studies. Unfortunately, very few companies provide marginal employment, despite the substantive benefit it constitutes for them. It is up to European politicians to incentivise collaboration between students and companies. In the end, one must not forget that the economic future of each individual country depends on the quality of the education its citizens receive and whether they choose their homeland as the place they want to stay and work in. National politicians should therefore also provide incentives that would make their countries more attractive for graduates, for instance through the offer of cheaper loans for young graduates. Last but not least, not only students who plan to work at
established companies, but also graduates or dropouts who intend to build their own enterprise need to be promoted. Even with the appropriate business angles and start-ups, establishing a company is always linked to huge efforts. Universities should help students by establishing drop-in centres where they may receive the necessary help needed. There are many means by which we can support students to facilitate their entry into the labour market. Talking about them is not going to suffice however! We have to take action now, be it through lobbying for wider systemic reform with politicians or achieving substantive change on a university level. Most essentially however, we have to support our fellow students on their way to a brighter future.
“The Right to Be Comfortable?” – Censorship Controversies on British Campuses
If one were to believe Brendan O’Neill, censorship is the new normal at British universities. In a since then widely cited feature from November 2014, the polemicist wrote an eviscerating critique of a generation of “Stepford Students” no longer interested in open-minded debate, but instead upholding a cult of moralising intolerance. O’Neill’s remarks did not emerge out of a vacuum. Over the past years, student unions and other student representative bodies across Britain have deployed a series of illiberal measures in seemingly stark contradiction with the ideals of free speech and thought: on a more mundane level, bans have been issued for American Indian and Mexican costumes on the grounds of racism or pop songs by Eminem and Robin Thicke for their alleged promotion of sexual violence. Most crucially however, many student representatives advocate or indeed have implemented so-called “no platform” policies, denying figures and groupings of certain persuasions the opportunity to express themselves on campus. Initially concerning primarily farright figures such as representatives of the populist UK Independence Party (UKIP) or the xenophobic English Defence League (EDL), even presumed progressives such as the feminist icon Germaine Greer or the founder of the anti-racist “Hope Not Hate” campaign Nick Lowles have been barred from UK campuses – Greer due to charges of transphobia and Lowles, astoundingly, racism. Academics too have come to face the wrath of their students, for instance when failing to include “trigger warnings”, that is indications of content in lectures or seminar readings that could cause the re-emergence of a traumatism with students with mental health issues, in their teaching. It is on the basis of these examples that O’Neill exclaimed in his article that “free speech is so last century. Today’s students want the right to be comfortable”. Naturally, his contentions were met with disdain by those students whom O’Neill was criticising. For the “Stepford Students”, the creation of so-called “safe spaces” was pivotal in creating an inclusive, non-discriminatory campus environment. Instead of promoting intolerance, the student activists were striving to ensure equal access for students from oppressed demographics: LGBTQ+, BME (Black and Minority Ethnics), female or minoritarian religious students in particular. Tim Squirrell, former President of the Cambridge Union debating society, defended “no platform” policies by claiming a “social responsibility” on part of student bodies
not to engage with points of views or individuals that could endanger the (psychological) safety of students. At present, fronts are hardened at British universities with defenders of “free speech” standing in fierce opposition to “Stepford Students” – ironically to a point where neither side is any longer capable of nuanced debate on the merits or risks of “safe space” and “no platform” policies: at present, verbal exchanges on this matter have broadly been reduced to a shouting match in which the other side is accused of “sanctimonious totalitarianism” or “reactionary bigotry” respectively. This clouds the important debate at hand here – one as old as the open society itself: the balance between one’s own individual freedom and that of one’s neighbour. Before outrightly dismissing either “safe spaces” or “no platform” policies as censorial instruments therefore, they must be considered in their own right. This is perhaps more easily done with the notion of a safe space, which primarily relates to the creation of a secure and thereby inclusive environment where participants are free from influences which could prove harmful to them. A most honourable notion in itself, it ought to be clear that its full application in the academic context is impossible: while universities do have a duty of care to observe, the protection of students from particularly psychologically challenging content stands at odds with their founding mission to scrutinise societal biases, consensus and orthodoxy. The very experience of academia ought to imply being open to having one’s individual worldview and value system challenged. This means in effect that protection from ideas one might find discomforting cannot be provided – which does not however signify that the concept was invalid per se. At a public university however, a “safe space” (in the purist sense) cannot have a place – it would always come at the expense of academic freedom. When it comes to “no platform” policies, matters become more complicated. For here, the above question is further concretised: on what grounds can ideas and speech, if at all, be deemed unacceptable and how are they best dealt
with? Instinctively, one would be inclined to resort to John Stuart Mill with his brilliant defence of free speech: “The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” In this vein, “no platform” policies proclaim a highly problematic moral and intellectual certitude that forecloses the notion of philosophical doubt: certain ideas and theses are objectively wrong and not legitimately debatable. Crucially however, as Mill’s view implies, debating all ideas does not amount to conceding that all ideas are equally valid, to the contrary: it is through the proper intellectual confrontation with wrong ideas that they can be identified them as such. In the particular context of academia, an argument may well be made that here more than anywhere else these Millian principles have to prevail in the name of the advancement of mankind. However, acknowledging this, it must be clear that Squirrell is correct when he asserts in his rebuke of O’Neill that “some things simply aren’t up for discussion. ‘Should we euthanise all the gays?’ is not a topic which we should ever debate, because it’s simply irresponsible to do so.” The pen is mightier than the sword, it is often said, with pathos. Yet crucially, the flip side of this saying is that the might of the weapon that is pen or the tongue can also be instrumentalised by more sinister forces to cause grievous harm. It is hence reasonable to exclude hate speech, a clearly defined criminal act in UK law furthermore, from campus. The crux of the debate therefore lies not in the principle of “no platform” policies, but their application, arguably. It is here that O’Neill’s critique of the “Stepford Students” is partly justified: for in practice, those student bodies championing “safe spaces” and “no platform” policies are oftentimes composed of far-left political activists with a very specific ideological agenda – one that undertakes at
UNIVERSITIES times arbitrary and self-seeking differentiations between forms of oppression: the same students who on the one hand advocate the exclusion of transphobic or homophobic speakers from university campuses are often, as happened recently at Oxford University’s Labour Club, found to simultaneously hold meetings where the denial of the state of Israel’s right to exist, an unambiguously anti-Semitic notion, is freely discussed and Zionist students subject to systematic harassment. This at the very least helps to add to the impression that the objective of many “Stepford Students” primarily is the unchallenged dominance of
their particular political discourse on campus, rather than the protection of students from harmful contents. At the end of the day, the UK campus censorship controversy is therefore a testimony to a wider phenomenon: were far-left students previously those to subvert societal consensus, they nowadays embody such consensus – and as the establishment of 1968, they seek to defend it against those challenging it. Certain left-wing student activists today are no longer interested in the scrutiny, but in the conservation of their own orthodoxies, in the philosophically problematic belief that they stand “on the right side of history”.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
Defending Human Rights Online Smartphones, laptops, tablets, intelligent clothes and virtual realities. The 21st century is the high-tech epoch. Even todayâ€™s coffee machines can be hacked online. Everything is possible and new technologies are continuously discovered and developed. One thing is clear: digitisation has changed our society to a radical extent as just few other processes. The digital transformation has become one of the key challenges for the economy, science and politics. It has likewise changed society itself. People from all over the world can connect with each other through a few clicks, everyone can share their opinion with a wide audience and the access to information has never been as easy as today. A life without technology is almost unimaginable. The trend to live and work with the internet also has a dark side however: the web is distracting, deteriorates our ability to concentrate, at worst blurs or even alters our real identity. The digital world offers the opportunity to create a virtual reality fitting to personal needs and imaginations. It can be the opposite of the world we are facing â€“ a perfect place. People seem to separate and to dissociate their private personality from their online personality. They feel as if their online behaviour could not influence their real life. In times of facebook, twitter, instagram et al, we can present ourselves in the most suitable way and share our private moments with the world. Everything is available online and everyone is online. Instead of spending time with one another, we prefer to sit at home and text each other. Some might say that the closest and longest relationship of this generation is and always will be the relationship with their smartphones. A permanent companion. Social relations become undesirable. Nevertheless, living a digital life also has its price: the colossal collection, storage and transmission of digital data has created a state of monitoring. The World Wide Web allows us to hide, to exist in anonymity and offers us the possibility to revoke ourselves from social conventions and the rule of law. Due to the fact that the internet has lowered the threshold to express oneself publicly, it is widely used by those advocating hate speech. Fake accounts, hate comments, stalking or instigation of violence, are widespread phenomena of this digital century. Especially the level of invective has risen to such an enormous extent that an objective and nuanced
online discussion culture seems impossible to achieve. It is not clear if these comments are indeed reflecting the opinion of a broad mass: those who shout the loudest do not necessarily represent any kind of majority, however much it might appear so. While the world of today faces serious challenges such as the fight against terrorism, mass migration and economic crises, it is understandable that more and more people are sharing their very own thoughts, expressing their sorrows and fears. In this frame, it is highly important to start the dialogue with these users, to exchange arguments and opinions. Such discussion is inevitable and of essential relevance. Nevertheless, the border of tolerance and indolence is crossed when personal insults, verbal abuse or defamation arise. It is not clear how far freedom of speech or the right to anonymity reach and where criminal offences begin, but those who rely on freedom of expression should always bear in mind that the basis or rather the fundamental principle of our society is the invulnerability of human dignity. Human rights also apply online. It is our obligation as individuals of an open and tolerant society to stand up and defend the values in which we believe in. Tolerance does not mean to indiscriminately accept all kinds of behaviour and personal expression. Instead of observing developments on television we have to act and show moral courage in daily life. The digital civic society is young, but should not be a legal vacuum: a democratic culture and the protection of minorities online must be established now. By virtue of its sheer volume, it is almost impossible to pursue all the invective dealt online by law and even if it were, it would presuppose a comprehensive status of monitoring. Freedom and security stand at opposite ends and are difficult to counterbalance.
to tackle these developments. It is clear that heightened awareness and attempts to sensitise the people will not be enough. An efficient model of web governance is needed, one that includes the coordination of technical standards, operation of critical infrastructure, regulation, and legislation. All web users, including the digital industry, government, and educators, play a significant role in combating CyberHate especially the numerous ordinary consumers. Users ought to show courage on the internet and counter hate speech collectively. It is hence necessary that companies and governments support users through the creation of a stable environment. This includes for example the establishment of user-friendly mechanisms and procedures to stimulate the communitiesâ€™ behaviour. The floor must also be open for the discussion weather user data can be passed on to the prosecuting authorities under certain conditions.
The concerns about human rights online are not new but it seems as if none of the round tables and task forces up until now have led to the identification of the right instruments
However, there are always two sides to each coin: on one side, a specific framework has to be established to allow users a peaceful and respectful access to the internet. On the other side, we should think about whether the path we have chosen is the right one. The real, non-digital world has its benefits as well. Not to be available 24/7 from time to time is a pleasant luxury.
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 MSc in European Studies at the University of Gothenburg. She is a student of Stockholm Free World Forum’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.
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