BullsEye March 2017 / 55th Year / No. 67 / ISSN 2033-7809
The newsmagazine of European Democrat Students
A Roadmap for the European Union
2017 is a historic year for the European project. First, this year will mark the 60th Anniversary of the signature of the Treaties of Rome, the founding act of our European community – a community that rose to become one of the greatest political success stories in the history of mankind, bringing unprecedented prosperity, stability and peace to a war-torn continent. However, 2017 may also very much decide the future of the European Union. Elections in France, the Netherlands and Germany will potentially see the anti-European populist far-right gaining more traction. Beyond the EU’s borders, US President Donald Trump has broken with more than sixty years of American support for European unification – a beacon for Russia’s Vladimir Putin who, encouraged by a fractured transatlantic bond, may seek to further destabilise Eastern Europe. As the defenders of the European project prepare to square off the challenges posed to the European Union, we ought to be inspired by the founding fathers’ original vision, as poignantly summarised by Konrad Adenauer: “The unity of Europe was a dream of a few. It became the hope of many. Today, it is a necessity for us all”. In 2017, his words have lost nothing of their timeliness. This is why the European Democrat Students launched the “iMEurope” campaign destined to inject new life into the European ideal amongst the youth. In this context, EDS adopted in summer 2016 the White Paper “An Open Europe in an Open World”: a detailed policy programme set to inspire a revitalisation of the European Union. Its principal resolutions presented to you, dear readers, in this issue of BullsEye. We hope that our ideas may provide impulses to not only preserving, yet strengthening the European project and the values it was built upon – in short to be a “roadmap” to secure the future of our continent, to all our benefit. I wish you a very thought-provoking read!
Henrique Laitenberger Editor-in-Chief
Almost five years have passed since the European Union was awarded the Nobel Prize as the greatest peace project in history. It was the crowning moment of a decade-long process only a few believed in. Unfortunately, this historic moment took place at a time when the venerable Europe was shaken in its foundations. After the economic crisis, the debt crisis followed. After the Ukraine crisis came the refugee crisis. On 23 June 2016, the British people decided to leave the EU, while Russia has returned to an aggressive foreign policy. The confidence of citizens in the European Union and its institutions thus reached an unprecedented low point. Instead of peace, security and prosperity, bureaucracy, opaqueness and civility are often used as distinctive catchwords to characterise the European Union. Against this background, it seems only appropriate to ask the question of all questions: Is the end of the EU sealed? The answer is clear: No, the end of the European project is not in sight. Contrary to popular belief, the European core idea, as formulated by Schuman, Monnet, Spinelli and Adenauer, is far from outdated: in fact, it is more necessary and more relevant than ever. Of course, the EU has to constantly question itself in terms of competitiveness. Nevertheless, we cannot take the European Union for granted or even dispensable. Rather, we should acknowledge the important privileges the European Union has brought to the 500 million people it represents and, above all, we should never forget how enormously generations have fought for it. In this spirit, today's mission is not to make Europe "great" again, but simply to be grateful for what has been achieved and to contribute to make Europe and the world around us a more stable and peaceful place. This can only be achieved through the values of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights - the values at the heart of the European project. I hope you may enjoy the reading.
Current Affairs 04 Work For Progress 05 Protest in the Time of Corruption 06 Trust Shaken 07 Court v People?
Theme 08 By the People’s Party for the People 10 An Open Europe in An Open World 12 The People’s Union 13 Help Where It Is Needed 14 European Defence Union 2.0
BE ON 16 Interview with Dr Lawrence Gonzi 19 Women of Peace 20 Elephant in the Room
Series - Europe and the World 22 Building Democracy, Defeating Extremism
Universities 24 Europe in Practice 25 We Don’t Need No ERASMUS+ 26 From Theory to Action 28 The Next Frontier
Council of Europe 30 Out of the Box 31 Bureau
Silvie Rohr Vice-Chair for Publications
BULLSEYE The newsmagazine of European Democrat Students
ISSN: Print: 2033-7809 Online: 2033-7817 Editor-in-Chief: Henrique Laitenberger Editorial Team: Olivia Andersson, Khrystyna Brodych, Ramy Jabbour, Maciej Kmita, Julien Sassel, Manuel Schlaffer, Neil Smart Costantino, Sarah Wolpers, Teodoras Žukas Contributions: Georgi Nikolaev, Mitya Atasanov, Robert Kiss, Virgilio Falco, Teodoras Žukas, Roberta Metsola, Georgios Chatzigeorgiou, Sarah Wolpers, Manuel Schlaffer, Julien Sassel, Dr Lawrence Gonzi, Neil Smart Costantino, Khrystyna Brodych, Henrique Laitenberger, Ramy Jabbour, Maciej Kmita, Lucasta Bath, Carlos Moedas, Kristina Olausson, Silvie Rohr Photos: Péter Láng, UN Multimedia, 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 third edition of BullsEye, the official debating magazine of the European Democrat Students, the largest student family of the centre-right, for the working year 2016/17. This issue of BullsEye, "#iMEurope - A Roadmap for the European Union", is mainly concerned with the success of the European project over the next years. As you may have noticed, the year 2016 has seen EDS placing an increased emphasis on the European project and the achievements of the EU â€“ not least through our #iMEurope campaign. The latter called upon the youth to make their voices heard and share their thoughts on how to preserve the common European identity and make the EU fit for the future. All collected statements and proposals were summarised in a White Paper discussed and adopted at the Summer University in Larnaca (Cyprus) while during our recent Policy Days in Warsaw, we further elaborated on few of those ideas and formulated solid proposals. In this vein, this issue of Bullseye echoes the opinions of young committed Europeans with regard to few of the topics our #iMEurope campaign has been addressing.
On another note, this BullsEye issue is prepared ahead of the 2017 EDS Winter University in Malta which takes place alongside the European People's Party Congress, the largest event of the centre-right family. At the time of writing, EDS has already started the necessary preparations for a strong presence at the convention. We are extremely happy to have delegates from all EDS Member Organisations attending the EPP Congress while a good number of EDS volunteers will assist the EPP in accomplishing another successful Congress. For the record, our Winter University main theme will be "Data Crisis: Protecting Personal Information in a Globalised world". While well-known issues have monopolised the debates in Europe, we should not neglect other areas which deserve to be closely monitored such as the developments in digitalisation processes; a very important topic for Europe and for the world. For now, please enjoy reading our new issue of Bullseye and keep in mind that the EDS Bureau is always interested in receiving feedback, hearing your ideas, and discovering more ways to proudly serve students across Europe.
With best regards from the EDS bureau,
Georgios Chatzigeorgiou Chairman
Work for Progress The Bulgarian Elections The new year 2017 will be extremely important for the future of the European Union and of Bulgaria. Both need to stem the populist tide sweeping over the continent, lest decades of progress be undone. In Sofia, a victory for the governing GERB party would grant both not only a breathing space, but be an important signal: that responsible policies trump empty slogans. On 26 March 2017, Bulgaria will hold an early parliamentary election, as decreed by Rumen Radev, the newly elected president of the country who stood as an independent candidate supported by the Socialist Party in the past presidential elections. Currently, Bulgaria is governed by a caretaker government which should prepare all the relevant arrangements for the elections within a few months. This was made necessary by the resignation of former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and his government which followed the results of the presidential elections: Borisov had promised to the Bulgarian people that snap parliamentary elections would be held if he and his GERB party did not enjoy the necessary confidence of the voters. With the GERB candidate Tsetska Tsacheva defeated by Radev in the second round of the presidential elections in November 2016, the Prime Minister kept his promise and paved the way for the present campaign. On the eve of the Bulgarian presidency of the European Union, our country needs more than ever stability and the unity of all the political players on the right, which need to rally around a common cause. The need for constructive dialogue and continuity will mark the
next parliament as one of the most important ones in the young democratic history of the Balkan republic. The very same is true of the EU itself: we are now at the height of the populist wave in Europe. In the wake of Brexit and the migrant crisis, socialists and nationalists try to use well known methods across Europe to benefit from the mood in society, as may not least be seen in the anti-EU campaign pursued by Marine Le Pen ahead of the French Presidential Elections. Bulgaria is no exception to this trend: after nearly two years of GERB as a governing party, populists are trying to return to power by offering the electorate simplistic and impossible promises. Three years ago, the Reformist Bloc (RB) came to life as a political entity on the Bulgarian centre-right, as an alliance of various right-wing parties. Recently collapsed, the bloc is now split into three groupings, as two new political formations appeared under the sky of democratic Bulgaria: the newly established "Yes, Bulgaria" party, led by the former Minister of Justice Hristo Ivanov, was founded to fight in favour of necessary reforms within the countryâ€™s judicial system and reduce corruption, in unison with the political mood in Europe. On the other side of the
political scene came a new structure headed by a familiar face of the centre-right: Radan Kanev and his "New Republic", which unites several parties and civic organisations under its umbrella. Kanev was amongst the first leaders of the Reformist Bloc to publicly distance himself from policies championed by the grouping and launch attacks against the government of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. The prevalent feeling in Bulgarian society is that there is a need for more political efforts and reform in the fields of education, security, and healthcare. Viable change in all these areas will be brought by these elections if the citizens of Bulgaria resist the empty promises made by the populist forces in these elections. To allow convictions that aims at blurring the clear idea of the policies led by political parties. The main goal of this campaign for GERB is to pursue a positive election campaign, focused on solving problems, rather than creating them. Hopefully, the elections will prove to be a yardstick for that political party offering the most realistic vision for Bulgaria and the strength to fulfill their promises.
Protest in the Time of Corruption Romania’s Struggle for Democracy and the Rule of Law In February, hundreds of thousands of Romanians took to the streets to defend democracy, the rule of law, a strong justice system, and a society based on values. Hundreds of thousands of Romanians claim another type of government: honest, transparent and only in the service of citizens. In February, the Romanians took to the streets to fight corruption. A little while ago, PSD and ALDE, which form the Government of Romania and hold a majority in Parliament, published an Emergency Ordinance that refers to certain amendments to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. The publication of this ordinance in the Official Gazette was made at a late hour in the night. This ordinance drew attention thanks to a new introduced article which specifies the following: “Art. I Law no. 286/2009 on the Criminal Code, published in the Official Gazette of Romania, Part I, no. 510 of July 24th 2009, with subsequent amendments and completions, is amended and completed as it follows: Abuse of office Art. 297 (1) The act of the public servant who, in carrying out his duties, being aware, performs an act by violation of some express provisions of any law, an ordinance or an Emergency Ordinance of the Government and thereby causing a material damage that exceeds 200,000 lei or a serious injury, certain and effective of the rights or legitimate interests of a natural or legal person as stipulated and
guaranteed by the laws in force, shall be punished with imprisonment from 6 to 3 years or a fine.” With one stroke of a pen, it seemed, the Romanian government had decriminalised a significant array of misconducts, seemingly with the intent of allowing several politicians escape justice for their corruption – most significantly, certain individuals with important positions in the current and former leadership of PSD: the amount of 200,000 lei as value of the injury offense of abuse of office clearly shows that the main beneficiary is none other than the president of the Social Democratic Party, Mr Liviu Dragnea. The timing of the ordinance, as well as the fact that OUG 13/2017 was approved in the Government session dated 31 January 2017 without being mentioned in the agenda, suggested that the government intended to quell any proper debate and scrutiny of its actions. a document which is published on the Government’s website the day before. On the first day, 150,000 persons throughout the country participated in protests. Numbers that grew from day to day. The climax was reached on the sixth day of protest when the number of people reached
600,000 throughout the country. For six days, the Romanians took to the streets to repeal the ordinance and call for the resignation of the Government. On the fifth day, the Prime Minister of Romania, Sorin Grindeanu, made a press statement where he declared as it follows: “After these days I took some decisions. First, tomorrow we will make an emergency meeting to repeal this ordinance. I use the term ‘repeal’. I saw debates inclusive from this point of view. This is the term used by the Presidential Administration when they asked us to repeal this ordinance. We will find the legal way, repeal, extension, not to enter into force this ordinance.” This time again, the Romanian people won a small part of the anti-corruption war. For these days of protest are not merely about the repeal of an emergency ordinance. It was an act of defiance by a mature society calling for an end to lies and populism. This is not only about a law put on paper, but about morality and collective consciousness, about our future as a nation. It can be observed that an important role in increasing the number of participants at these events have been the media tools (television, radio, social networks, etc.) which shows that the protesters use these means, proven by their low average age, with an important involvement of students. An important role in the development of these manifestations have had the Romania’s President, Mr Klaus Iohannis who by his presence among the protesters offered a legitimacy support, even if the manifestations were ad-hoc and not authorised. It is unequivocally observed that the wishes of the protesters are not limited to the repeal of the OUG 13/2017 – they want a more profound change in the Romanian political spectrum. There are increasing calls for the dismissal of the government led by Prime Minister Grindeanu, the immediate dissolution of the parliament, and early elections.
Trust Shaken The Political Aftermath of the Central Italy Earthquake In August 2016, the earth quaked in central Italy without stopping, spreading destruction and desolation among the locals. The humanitarian catastrophe however likewise caused a political crisis, as the Italian government’s aid and reconstruction programme brought it into conflict with EU’s deficit rules – evoking popular incomprehension and boosting anti-EU populist parties in the country. Roughly 49,000 earthquakes were recorded by the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology when the ground shook on 24 August, destroying the city of Amatrice – the birth place of the world-famous "amatriciana" pasta dish – as well as Accumoli, Arquata del Tronto and Norcia, the city of Europe’s patron saint St. Benedict, and sinking the ground in some cases by up to 70 centimetres. Overall, the earthquake caused 299 deaths and left 288 people injured. Other tremors have also shaken the capital of Italy, Rome, without causing any casualties. All world leaders expressed their condolences and support to the Italian people – not least within the European Union, with the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, stating: “On behalf of the entire European Commission, let me reiterate our solidarity with the Italian people and with the authorities. We will do all we can to help at this difficult time. The EU will not leave Italy to face this tragedy alone. The European Union stands fully ready to mobilise all instruments at our disposal. An earthquake in Italy is an earthquake at the heart of Europe”. Subsequent to the first shock of the earthquake last August, the Italian authorities and civil protection have been proceeding to repair the damage, treat the injured and build temporary housing for tens of thousands homeless persons. However, as this effort of reconstruction was launched, a political rift opened between the European Commission and the Italian Government, with both sides clamouring over the possibility of granting the Italian government more
flexibility in their public finance planning to pursue the programmes destined to rebuild the affected cities and implement more elaborate precautionary measures against earthquakes. The Italian Prime Minister at the time, Matteo Renzi (Democratic Party – PES), declared when presenting the state budget of 2017: “We did a very serious budget, with a deficit ratio of 2.3%, and as per usual, anonymous spokespeople say that the EU is perplexed and will reject it. What will Brussels say ‘no’ to? Money for Amatrice? Money for schools? Two billion more for healthcare? Well, they should tell us”. The problem at the heart of the dispute between Italy and the European Commission was the request to include a national plan for the safety of all buildings that could be affected by new earthquakes in the deficit: in a letter addressed to Pier Carlo Padoan, the Italian Minister of Finance, the European Commission signalled that Italy’s budget was in risk of significantly deviating from the European Union debt reduction prescriptions should the government pursue this plan. It advised Italy to cut its deficit by at least 0.2% of GDP to avoid the opening of non-compliance procedures, which could include penalty clauses. The letter was signed by European Commission VicePresident Valdis Dombrovskis and Pierre Moscovici, the Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs. They noted that Italy had been granted some “flexibility” in its debt and deficit reduction efforts last year, in order to take into account a weak economy, and that “compliance ... in 2017 was a precondition” for securing the Commission’s approval
of the previous year’s excess spending. In his reply, the Italian Minister for the Economy guaranteed to implement a series of, prima facie quite random, measures to compensate for expenses related to the extraordinary events of the previous months. This conflict, however, has created doubts among the population over the EU’s benefits, with many beginning to wonder: "What is the European Union doing for us?". Whilst the Eurosceptic parties are instrumentalising these events to feed the concerns of ordinary people, the EU and its laws do not seem to have any proper mechanism to accommodate scenarios of Member States facing exceptional problems, be it earthquakes or migration emergencies. In a nation where the populist 5-StarMovement party led by comedian Beppe Grillo is gaining in strength, with recent polls placing it as the second-largest party in Italy with 28%, the handling of the earthquake will be the dividing line for determining the success or eventual failure of the “established” parties.
Court v People? How to Brexit Democratically As the British people decided to leave the European Union in a controversial referendum in June 2016, it is now becoming clear that the “Brexit” will neither be smooth, nor straightforward. None of the leading Brexiteers, be they Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, or Dominic Cummings, informed UK citizens before the referendum of how Britain would leave the EU – now, this question has become a major issue for the United Kingdom’s judiciary. On 24 January 2017, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the government of Prime Minister Theresa May could not begin with the withdrawal from the EU until the official approval of the British Parliament to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which states that a Member State may decide to leave the EU “in accordance with its own constitutional arrangements”. During the Supreme Court hearings, campaigners declared that refusing to allow the UK Parliament a vote was undemocratic and an explicit breach of longstanding constitutional principles. The UK Government in turn had argued that the Royal Prerogative granted it the authority to trigger Article 50 without consulting the Parliament, adding that MPs had assented to leave this decision in the hands of the British people when they approved of holding the EU referendum. The ruling of the Supreme Court was initially met with indignation by pro-Leave campaigners who saw in the law suit an attempt to subvert the 23 June vote which saw UK voters backing Brexit by 51.9% to 48.1 % However, on 1 February, the House of Commons voted to grant the power for the government to trigger Article 50 and the law’s passing in the Upper Chamber most likely will be a formality. Prima facie, it thus seems as if this case was a footnote, a minor technical disagreement between different branches of governance. On the other hand, it could be seen through a completely different lens of political philosophy: a collision between the will of the people and the rule of law.
fathers of the Western political philosophy. In his famous treatise “Politics”, Aristotle stated that "Law should govern". However, England may once more be called the homeland of the more elaborated conception of the “rule of law”, as it was coined by the English philosopher John Locke who wrote in the seventeenth century that: “People have a right or liberty to follow their own will in all things that the law has not prohibited and not be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, and arbitrary wills of others.” It was this principle that compelled the Supreme Court judges to rule that the UK Parliament had to have the final authority in assenting to the triggering of Article 50: the famously unwritten British constitutional doctrine of “parliamentary sovereignty” left no doubt that Parliament as the bearer of the will of the people was solely legitimate to formalise this decision. Understanding that Britain has a century-long tradition of governing by law and may indeed be called one of the oldest democracies in the world, the debate between the Supreme Court and the UK Government is symbolic of a free and healthy society. One of the keystone statement of the laws by which open and free countries are ruled is that the people’s will is the highest mandate upon which the government must take particular action. Theresa May is thus absolutely right in saying that “Brexit means Brexit”. However, an equal part of democracy is the respect for due process in accordance with existing law. With the UK Parliament solely sovereign to grant the Prime Minister the mandate for Brexit, this principle
of the rule of law would have been infringed had the UK Government solely acted on the basis of the result of an advisory referendum. Contrary to the clamour of leading Brexiters therefore, the ruling of the Supreme Court thus did not attack, but reaffirmed the foundational principle of any functional democracy: the rule of the popular majority within the limits of the law. However, this philosophical problem does not help solving fundamental practical and political questions the current British government is facing: to deal with Brexit adequately. In the following months, the Prime Minister will face a wide array of challenges in this context: given the recent Supreme Court conclusions, the first objective will be to adjust Britain’s legal framework to accommodate the government plans to trigger Article 50. Secondly, it is vital for Britain to productively negotiate with EU leaders in order to deliver a fruitful deal for withdrawal. This aim presently seems, to put it gently, complex to achieve. Certainly, one of the most important objectives for Theresa May is to keep her own (British) Union united and viable – a difficult task since Scotland and Northern Ireland, the two nations of the United Kingdom which voted to remain in the EU, are not quite willing to leave the world’s strongest economic bloc without compensation. Last but not least, Theresa May must work to maintain Britain’s strong and respected position in the world; to sustain Britain’s active role in NATO and to effectively cooperate with other Western allies during these uncertain times.
Paradoxically, the entire philosophical concept of “vox populi” was coined in Britain when the English poet and scholar Alcuin of York wrote in 798 that “those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the righteousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.” One should not forget that these words were penned in the times when public opinion was marginalised and ignored. Words that, to say the least, would be considered undemocratic and tyrannical today were in those days not only understandable, but indeed consensus.
Teodoras Žukas The other fundamental term of Western civilisation, the rule of law, can be traced backed to Aristotle, one of the
By the People’s Party for the People How Can We Address the Challenges Ahead? The cycle of political movements has, as a student of politics, always interested me. In the last thirty or so years, Europe has largely moved away from the old division of right versus left of the 1980s, to moderate centrist political movements of the 1990s, to the mainstreaming of populist movements we are witnessing today. I got into politics as a student in Malta because I was part of the generation that believed that if you wanted something changed in your community or society, then you should put yourself forward and do something about it. As hopelessly idealistic and optimistic as that sounds, the day I stop believing this would be the day that I retire. But fanciful statements aside, we are witnessing the rise of populism on an unprecedented scale. It is of concern and it is worrying.
Unscrupulous movements have emerged that appeal to people’s basest instincts and too often they have gone unchecked until it is too late. We took too long to counter the toxic narrative of these movements, preferring to believe that their outrageous claims would never take a foothold in our societies. We were wrong. I do not agree with those who believe that the
answer lies in becoming equally populist. Populism is defeated with rationality. It is countered by standing firm on the principles and values that made the centre-right the natural home of so many great Europeans over the years. My approach is to double down, not give up. The European People’s Party (EPP) is the voice of moderation, of responsibility, of compassion and of rationality. It is by reaffirming these principles and using the truth to re-connect with the people we represent that will see the end of post-fact movements. We cannot be afraid to think long-term and beyond our election cycles. Take migration, to mention one example, that seems to be the topic of choice for so many populists to piggyback on. If there is one thing that is clear to anyone who has ever worked on the issue, it is that there is no quick fix to migration – there is no magical silver bullet. We need to look at every single aspect. We have advocated a shift in thinking – no more emergency solutions to emergency situations – we need a sustainable long-term vision. And for this to happen, the departing point is that solidarity must be the principle upon which any action on migration is based.
This is crucial if we are to ever face down those who pollute the political debate with black and white answers to an issue that is anything but black or white. The EPP is not suggesting that we throw open our borders, as some want; nor are we suggesting that the solution lies in higher walls or longer fences, as others claim. We are the ones pushing to draw differences between those in need of protection and those who come to Europe for work. Because we understand that while people fleeing war and persecution have a right to protection, it is also true that this does not equate to an inalienable right to migration for everyone. We know that not everyone who arrives in Europe is in fact eligible for protection. And we understand that the return of those who are not eligible simply must be carried out. Only 36 percent of those who were ordered to leave the Union were actually returned in 2014. Without this element there can be no proper approach to migration and asylum, but this must be done with humanity and respect of people’s dignity. We want a new approach to integration. In my view, the way forward is having a two-way process; and while yes, everyone’s rights must be protected and yes, we must do more to keep families together – it
is also fair to expect people to respect the values upon which our Union is founded. We must also have a conversation about tackling the root causes and understanding that greater commitment is needed to solve the geo-political issues of our time. We need to move away from firefighting and start to think about long-term capacity building in third countries. If we want to do more, then we need to look beyond our political mandate and pump investment into third countries. Despite the rhetoric we hear more and more often, the link between migration and terrorism has little basis in fact, but that does not mean that when it comes to security we can bury our heads in the sand. It is true that security fears do exist among our citizens and States must fulfil their obligations at the external borders if these fears are to be in any way allayed. The abolition of internal border controls in Schengen has to go hand in hand with strengthening external borders. We must have our systems working and we must know who is crossing our external borders. Having strong external borders is simply a prerequisite if we are to save our celebrated Schengen Zone.
that unite us. It is up to us – each and every one of us – to make our voices heard and work to ensure that today's problems do not become tomorrow's catastrophes. This is your challenge. Rise to the occasion. Being young does not exonerate you from responsibility, it does the opposite. The issues we face today are your issues. It is not somebody else's fight, it is yours. Do not remain silent. Demand more from those you elect to represent you. Believe that change is possible and that it must start from you making your voices heard. You are not only tomorrow's leaders, you are today’s. That is the duty of youth. That is your duty.
Roberta Metsola MEP Perhaps more than ever before we need people to stand up and speak out for Europe and the principles
An Open Europe in An Open World The European Union is facing unprecedented challenges, as populists on the left and right threaten the cohesion and legacy of a project generations carefully built to preserve freedom, peace, prosperity and the rule of law on this continent. For the European ideal and the institutions embodying it to weather this storm, change and reforms are needed â€“ reason for which the European Democrat Students adopted a White Paper outlining policies to not only save, but revitalise this Union. When I ran for EDS Chairman one and a half years ago, things were already difficult. Yet sadly, events have since then moved so fast and the political landscape has been altered so severely that it would not be an exaggeration to say that the European Union we are accustomed to is under threat. Although we can only meet those challenges together as a society, our generation has been granted a special role: to strengthen Europe's image among the young generations and hence to defend the European project in its hour of maximum danger. Despite the fact that Europe has gone through a series of crisis in the last years, I certainly believe that the European integration process has been a success story. We should be proud of our achievements and we should point out more often what good Europe is doing for its people. This is however a success story which currently encounters
challenges that are real, serious and will not be met easily. In addition to the well-known problems of our Union, there is a new issue we have to deal with at the moment: will Trump's Presidency be good for Europe? Unfortunately, this question cannot be answered in the affirmative thus far. Although it is definitely hard to know what President Trump will indeed do, from what we have seen so far, the main idea of Trumpâ€™s foreign policy is that he is going to get a better deal from US allies and when it comes to the transatlantic alliance that could affect Europe in several ways. Yet this not the purpose of this article to discuss. As Chancellor Merkel said during the latest EU leaders summit in Malta: "Europe has its destiny in its own hands. The stronger we state clearly how we define our role in the world,
THEME the better we can take care with our transatlantic relations". Indeed, we cannot afford to spend months discussing what happened, what a colossal mess-up this is, or how bad can it get. Instead, Europe must take on a serious leadership role. It is more important than ever to have a clear agenda on managing migration, trade deals, Middle East, security, defense, foreign policy, resolving Brexit. EDS carries fifty-five years of proud history, fiftyfive years of contributing towards the European identity. Hence in difficult times such as the ones we are going through, we could not shrink from our historic responsibility. Inspired by the spirit of all EDS generations, the year 2016 has seen EDS placing an increased emphasis on the European project and in order to better deliver our cause we took the decision to launch the #iMEurope campaign. EDS believes in the ability of the youth to create and prosper in Europe, however we also recognise that in order to do that, Europe needs to change. On account of that, our #iMEurope campaign offered a place for an intergenerational dialogue through which the youth could make their voice heard and share their thoughts on how to preserve the common European identity and make the EU fit for the future. All collected statements and proposals were summarised in a White Paper discussed and adopted at the Summer University in Larnaca. We are particularly proud that amongst many places in Europe, we also campaigned in London during a historic Council Meeting which took place in light of the United Kingdom's referendum on EU membership. On this occasion, roughly one hundred young people from all over Europe together with a large number of Britons discussed the topic of populism in the spirit of European unity. Likewise, during our Council Meeting in Kyiv last December, we marked three years since the events that occurred during the heroic Maidan revolution, holding an #iMEurope flashmob to declare our commitment to the European path of Ukraine. Coming back to the EDS White Paper entitled â€œAn Open Europe in an Open Worldâ€?, the White Paper focuses on eight sectors of reform: Institutional Reform, Youth, Migration and Asylum, Economy, Monetary & Fiscal Policy, Security & Defence, Energy & Environment and Digitalisation. Among the key demands found in the White Paper are the definite move of the European Parliamentâ€™s institutions in Strasbourg and Luxembourg to Brussels and the further integration of European foreign policy especially in the areas of security and defense. Furthermore, it suggests specific measures to create an environment that improves the economic fortunes of the youngest generations and allows them to gain an understanding of the EU and its institutional framework. Overall, the paper
concentrates on policy with a true European added value and makes the case for a globalist Europe committed to the transatlantic alliance and free trade. The White Paper has been promoted not only within the European People's Party, but also at the highest tier of European policy-making: it has been discussed with the European Commission's Spokesperson and with senior policy makers during our #iMEurope Policy Days in Warsaw. We are now entering the most visible phase of the campaign, while it will also be considered for the Charlemagne Youth Prize of the European Parliament. In the next years, we will need ambition and stronger cooperation within all the levels of society. Yet political organisations have a major responsibility in tackling the challenges ahead of us and help Europe progress much beyond slogans. Political parties have to re-engage with the public, increase accountability, introduce reforms better adapted to modern society, boost job creation and growth, they have to look for new approaches and stop populism gaining ground in Europe. It is vital that we draw lessons from our mistakes and if there is one thing that we have learnt well in the past year is that ignoring populists has become largely ineffective. As I previously commented for the press release of our White Paper "The challenges ahead of us are enormous. This is why we had to analyse the status quo and ask ourselves, as the young generation of Europe, how we can contribute to keeping the EU strong and efficient in future". A few months after we kicked-off our campaign, I am more than ever convinced that with hard work and commitment, the youth will not only preserve our Union, but strengthen it. In this vein, I sincerely believe that our White Paper "An Open Europe in An Open World" and the #iMEurope campaign will have a meaningful influence in achieving this goal.
The People’s Union Consolidating the Spitzenkandidaten Process Political apathy, growing anti-European populism, and the Brexit are threatening the success of European integration – all at a time when the European Union is striving to improve its democratic accountability. This was not least seen in 2014, when the first step to a greater democratisation of the EU was taken: the Spitzenkandidaten process took place. The right to vote grants every citizen the opportunity to influence the governance of their democracies. Since 1979, EU citizens have this right in their elections to the European Parliament. Nevertheless, the EU and its political system are often seen as undemocratic and without legitimacy. The Spitzenkandidaten procedure was introduced through the Lisbon Treaty 2009 to tackle this oftquoted democratic deficit. In 2014, it started with five candidates: Martin Schulz (S&D), Jean-Claude Juncker (EPP), Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE), Ska Keller (European Greens) and Alexis Tsipras (GUE-NGL) stood for the position of EU Commission Presidency. After the EPP emerged as the largest grouping in the European Parliament, Juncker thus rose to the most important position in the EU institutions. But why was this process introduced? One goal was to increase the voter turnout after everdeclining numbers since direct elections began in 1979. However, the main intention behind the Spitzenkandidaten Process is to sharpen the EU’s political debate and politics. Furthermore, it can strengthen the connection between the EU citizens and their politicians. The elections of European Parliament are known as so called “second-order national election”. The new procedure was intended to overcome this by bringing a new dimension to the campaign: the European dimension. This transnational character could be observed in the 2014 election campaign, where the Spitzenkandidaten were not only campaigning in their home countries: Jean-Claude Juncker thus campaigned in Bulgaria, Germany and France to name but a few countries. These goals could not be reached. Nevertheless, the procedure created new challenges. First, the funds for the Europe-wide campaigns. Since national parties are mainly sponsoring their national candidates for the European Parliament, European parties must find
a way to raise money for their own Spitzenkandidaten. The second challenge goes hand-in-glove with the first: a campaign across Europe is quite expensive and demands a lot of time. The EU, with its twenty-eight Member States, nearly spans a whole continent. National politicians on the campaign trail for national elections do not have to visit as many places as their European colleagues. In 2014, the European campaign took mainly place in countries with large electorates. This was rational since “big” Member States can potentially decide the winner. The third problem are language barriers: voters feel more engaged when the candidate is from their home country or speaks their language. In 2014, this meant that German-speaker Jean-Claude Juncker and German national Martin Schulz ensured that the Spitzenkandidaten process garnered much attention in the German press. However, in Latvia for instance, no similar sense of identification with the candidates could be created. Yet it is impossible for a candidate to know every or at least most of the twenty-four official European languages. The greatest difficulty thus remains to build emotional ties. These challenges can be partly solved through effective online campaigning. It can help to promote one’s position in all languages of the European Union. When Juncker was appointed by the European Council, a statement was adopted calling for a review of the Spitzenkandidaten process before next elections in 2019. This review cannot be a step back, but one in the direction of more democracy and enhanced legitimacy. One means to foster attention and voter inclusion (and thus consolidate this process) are primaries. In particular, EU citizens should have the possibility to express their views. This is possible through broadcasting European Presidential debates in every EU Member State. Such debates give the voters more information
and involve them in the process of deciding the Spitzenkandidaten. Every political party should nominate three candidates. During the European presidential debates, they discuss current political topics, the ideals of their European mother party and their visions for the EU. Afterwards, EU citizens should have the possibility to influence the selection of the final candidate. The voting system should be thus designed that population size and electoral opinion influence the result. Consequently, this creates a live broadcasted nomination convention. In addition, the Spitzenkandidaten should be listed with their party affiliations on every ballot paper when voting for the European Parliament. Some critics argue that the Spitzenkandidaten process is only a symbolic political gesture, but it is more than that: the new procedure is starting point on the way to a more democratic European Union. That is why it must be seen in a broader context of future European reforms. Party primaries for the Spitzenkandidaten would represent a small but fruitful complement of direct civil involvement which can contribute to the democratic legitimacy of EU politics. There is every reason to believe that the Spitzenkandidaten process will constitute a lasting improvement of the Commission and the European Union as a whole.
Help Where It Is Needed Instating EU Asylum Hotspots in Crisis Areas Since the beginning of the refugee crisis, several voices could be heard that in order to properly deal with the situation in Syria, the EU should tackle the problem at its source: instead of witnessing people undertaking a journey of several thousand kilometres, refugees needed to have the opportunity to stay in a safe zone in their country and wait for a fair assessment of their asylum application. This never, of course, never came to be, but the idea must not be forgotten since this approach could be essential for a further stabilisation during this crisis, as well as the ones Europe might have to face in the future. As the situation with people seeking asylum continues to concern citizens in Europe, they tend to forget the basics about the refugees from Syria. When seeking to enter the EU, these refugees take enormous efforts and risks to travel around 4,000 kilometres via a route over both land and sea. Whilst there undoubtedly are migrants who follow a similar journey for economic reasons, those genuinely trying to escape war do not want to take those risks, yet face little other choice. With a civil war now entering its fifth year, the hope of returning to their homes as soon as possible is gone. It is hence only human that after years of living in makeshift camps under horrible circumstances, they wanted to live in real houses with a normal quotidian routine. This is exactly the moment when the EU should become active: by building asylum hotspots, as they exist in Greece or
Italy, at exactly the places where those poor people make the decision to emigrate to Europe, several problems could be solved. Even if discussions are ongoing whether the majority of the people seeking asylum is in fact Syrian or only economic refugees, it is a fact that many are using the situation for their benefit. It is because of this, that many people from real warzones have not had the possibility to come to Europe or at least had difficulties with a seemingly endless application process. To grant them the opportunity to apply for asylum at such hotspots would enable to identify more easily those most in need for asylum. As an addition, this would also give the EU and its Member States the opportunity to effectively counter much of the false information disseminated by trafficking groups
about life in Europe, informing applicants of what they have to expect in Europe and thereby exposing myths such as the alleged provision of houses to refugees. Even first steps towards a better integration process could be made through the provision of classes introducing applicants to their host societies and their norms, including for instance European standards of gender equality. This could help to minimise later confusions. Of course, another great advantage of asylum hotspots in Syria would be their efficiency in curtailing human trafficking, as official transportation for successful asylum applicants would be arranged by the EU and its Member States. Even if the EU were to demand a fee for the transportation in order to minimise costs, it would only be a fraction of the sums paid by refugees to human traffickers and prevent greater numbers of people endangering themselves on their route to Europe. Another advantage of such hotspots would be the significant reduction of costs for both the EU and asylum-seekers. Building costs would for instance be much lower than in Italy or Greece. At the same time, there are great amounts of workforces living in the already existing refugee camps. In building these centres, people would be given an opportunity to find meaningful occupation. Likewise, the EUâ€™s current payments to Turkey as part of the refugee agreement struck in March 2016 could be minimised as people would soon stop to take land routes. This would of course have to be complemented by measures to ensure a better control of European borders and a prevention of illegal entry in to the EU, in order to further encourage asylum-seekers to use the official ways. The evidence speaks for instating asylum hotspots, not least since it would grant the affected people the possibility to remain in or close to their home country in a safe environment whilst waiting for the outcome of their asylum applications and journeys to Europe. This system of course is not only limited to the crisis in Syria, but could be used to channel refugee streams in future conflicts. Whether it will find application is yet to be seen, but as the hotspots in Greece and Italy have shown positive results, it would be desirable.
The European Defence Union 2.0 Warranting the Security of the Community The last months have seen an unprecedented flow of declarations by political leaders on European defence. The current pressure from inside and outside Europe is now leading to the renewed proposition of such utopian or long term-focused ambitions. Yet these goals will not be attained if the attention does not shift to the short- and medium-term targets by making use of existing instruments and frameworks and the exploitation of the momentum. This could provide ambitious solutions while remaining realistic. CRISES ARE MADE OF OPPORTUNITIES The last years have been particularly harsh for the European Union: besides continuing internal crises, the EU is facing several challenges which are hampering the development of its defence policies. However, such challenges, namely Brexit and the shadows over NATO, present an important window of opportunity which must be exploited in order to move ahead in the development of a strong European defence. In regard to Brexit, the EU is going to lose one of the most capable defence actors of the continent. It is useful to recall that the British Armed Forces are a globally deployable force and have proved to do their part in all conflicts of the twenty-first century. Such expertise and contribution will not be replaced within the “EU force catalogue” and in the defence EU structures. However, it must also be remembered that the United Kingdom has been a reluctant actor in the European integration process. From this point of view, Brexit can be seen as a possibility to move forward and put an end to the a minima consensus poisoning the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Furthermore, the UK will continue to be an actor of European security and a partner of the EU. As such, it can be presumed that the UK would participate in CSDP efforts as a Third-State, as many countries are already doing. At the same time, the relations with United States and Turkey, both members of NATO, present many hoops and hurdles especially with view to the situation in Europe’s neighbourhood. While it would be excessive to announce the obsolescence of NATO, it must be perceived as an opportunity
to diminish Europe’s dependence to the US, especially for strategic enablers (projection of forces, intelligence, etc.) by investing significantly in defence. The EU would then have to work to present itself as a solution-provider to NATO, transforming itself into NATO’s European leg. An example could be the generation of the forces needed for the NATO multinational battalion deployed on the borders with Russia at EU-level. In this manner, Europe would pull the rug from underneath Trump’s criticisms and mitigate the US pivot to Asia. Further, the presentation of the EU Global Strategy by High Representative Federica Mogherini constitutes a shift in Europe’s ambitions for its defence pillar from what the 2003 European Security Strategy proposed. Indeed, the previous text assumed that “the best protection for our security is a world of well-governed democratic states”, attributing a role to the CSDP in the wider efforts of democratisation in Europe’s neighbourhood. The Global Strategy is based on “Principled Pragmatism”, associating the internal and external security of Europe with the stability in the neighbourhood and in the “neighbours of neighbours” (from Central Africa to Central Asia). The Global Strategy and its offshoots, its Implementation Plan on Defence and Security, and the European Defence Action Plan must now be translated in concrete goals and tasks. CONSOLIDATING THE ACQUIS AND THINKING IN THE BOX The last years have seen several European leaders advocating for an increased cooperation in the fields of security and defence. While grandiloquent discourses can have an impact on the media,
Europeans should focus on concrete step-by-step plans. A “European Army” is not a realistic goal within the two next decades and would need changes in the institutional framework of both the EU and its Member States. As the Bratislava Declaration of the European Council underlined how the EU should make a better use of the options in the Treaties, it should be remembered that several articles provide possibilities for taking ambitious measures in a realistic time schedule. In particular, two articles of the Treaty of Lisbon should be exploited in the nearest future: Articles 44 and 46. Article 44 gives flexibility in the execution of the missions the EU is ready to take. Member States willing and able to undertake such missions could be given free hand in the implementation of the mission while benefitting from the support of EU structures. In this perspective, one or several Members could launch an operation outside of the EU framework, to see the EU instruments entering into force only once the operation is considered as relevant to European interests. This could bring flexibility and a more rapid reaction to external crises. Article 46 paves the way for a Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). Its scope enables the willing Member States to enter a deeper integration while making use of the EU framework. The applications vary from the onset of a desirable single structure (for instance, a medical command as proposed
THEME the European armies have twenty-three different types of light armoured vehicles and there are seven different programmes for frigates. In a context of diminishing demands and decreasing Research and Development budgets, this situation is endangering the whole defence sector. A rationalisation among European industries is needed, as it is the case for EADS and MBDA. The merging of KMW and NEXTER in view of developing the future Main Battle Tank must be welcomed and the collaboration between the main shipyards must be encouraged. IT IS ALREADY TOO LATE BUT â€Ś The peace dividends and the continuing crisis have seriously damaged the military capabilities of the European states. Defence expenditures have been considered as adjustment variables in the budgets for too long. Although many states are now pledging for an increase of such expenses, this disarmament will have long-lasting consequences, as it will take time to rearm and regenerate the expertise. At the same time, our political leaders have made several announcements, often in the wake of catastrophes, with unsatisfactory results. Without engaging in long and complex negotiations on treaties and institutions, it is time to make use of available tools and let the able and willing move ahead.
by Germany, or a command for Unmanned Air Vehicles). This could be launched by a group of willing Member States, while leaving the door open for Member States desiring to join. Such a process could be compared to the extension of the Schengen Agreement to most EU States. At the same time, it should not be forgotten that the current framework has created a number of initiatives and structures, which in turn have provided with expertise and helped gain experience. As in the case of the popular demand for a permanent Operational Headquarter, it should be remembered that a structure such as the Operations Centre (OPCEN) was created out of a request of several Member States for a Headquarter as a minimalistic solution. While the OPCEN was never fully exploited, it helped in gaining experience. In order to avoid starting from scratch, a future Headquarter should take count of the lessons learned with the OPCEN. USING CSDP WHEN AND WHERE CSDP IS NEEDED Since 2003, the EU has engaged in CSDP civilian missions and military operations around the world. The scope of the CSDP is large and has proved
to be a useful tool in the EU external action, demonstrating to be flexible enough to adapt to counterpartsâ€™ needs and specificities. However, this instrument, which was conceived as a tool of crisis management, is overstretching in its use and capabilities, reaching the point of non-return. The CSDP is facing the dilemma of being constantly solicited in increasingly different actions while being constrained by a steady decreasing budget. At the same time, some of the CSDP missions have been operating for nearly a decade while failing to address the problems they intended to solve (as for EULEX Kosovo), proving by the reduction to the absurd that such problems are structural. As such they need an appropriate solution within the framework of other EU instruments, therefore saving the CSDP budget for the actual crisis management. STRENGTHENING OUR MEANS The European defence industry is able to deliver quality products. However, it is facing challenges as the internal demand shrinks while facing an increasing competition outside. In addition, the number of European programmes has decreased:
MASTERING EUROPEAN CHALLENGES BULLSEYE INTERVIEW WITH DR. LAWRENCE GONZI – FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF MALTA Dr Lawrence Gonzi (Partit Nazzjonalista – EPP) was the Prime Minister of Malta from 2004 until 2013. He led the island nation into the European Union and enacted vital reforms that permitted Malta’s quick accession to the Euro. DR GONZI, WHAT PRINCIPLES MUST ANY POLITICAL LEADER OBSERVE WHEN TRYING TO OVERCOME A FUNDAMENTAL CHALLENGE? The first guiding principle in any situation is the “Common Good”. There are other values linked to this fundamental principle, such as solidarity and subsidiarity, but they all revolve around it. At the heart of all this are the values which we believe in. I am part of the EPP family and as such my values are based on Christian Democrat beliefs, which are universal and not solely Christian. Ultimately, we believe that the human person is always at the centre of our focus – which means that we treat every human person equally without any distinction whatsoever, be it ethnicity, religion or social status. WITH BREXIT, TRUMP, TERRORISM AND THE RISE OF POPULISM ACROSS THE CONTINENT TO NAME BUT A FEW, EUROPE IS FACING MANY SERIOUS AND FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS. WHAT OF THE PRINCIPLES YOU HAVE LISTED ARE CURRENTLY LACKING WITHIN EUROPE WHEN TRYING TO CONFRONT THESE CHALLENGES? The problem with the populism we are facing is that we have leaders who more often than not choose to take decisions based on whether it will help them win more points with the electorate, instead of putting the common good above everything else.
Politics is a mission of service to the community and not the other way round. Europe’s leaders today face this enormous challenge – one that sees them competing with other “populist” politicians who feel free to play on people’s basic instincts and emotions without considering what is the common good. A typical example is the way we deal with issues relating to minorities in our societies. I believe that leaders must be able to put their foot down and say that they lead, instead of being led. What frustrates me about populism is precisely that it is an instrument whereby leaders surrender themselves to those who shout most rather than to those who need most. But this is not leadership. A true leader is not carried away by the strong currents that surround them but does their utmost to shift the current towards its natural path. CERTAIN PUNDITS LAMENT A CRISIS OF LEADERSHIP AMONG PROPONENTS OF THE LIBERAL OPEN SOCIETY. DO YOU SHARE THIS VIEW? AND IF YES, HOW CAN IT BE OVERCOME? Yes, there is a leadership crisis at the moment. This can be sensed at all levels; local, regional, national and international. The generation of leaders we were used to back in my days seem to no longer be present in society - leaders who inspire in difficult moments to rally everyone together and move society forward. Personally, I believe that the world economic and
financial crisis of 2008 - whose repercussions are still felt today - meant that many leaders had to take some very tough decisions. Personally, I believe that the international and European Communities did not manage to find the solutions necessary to respond in the best possible way to this crisis. Many of the problems we are facing today are a result of this. Moreover, there is also the effect of globalisation. I have always been and always will be fully in favour of opening markets and societies to communicate with each other – and whoever argues against globalisation is arguing against today’s reality. The ultimate challenge is to face this reality and explain to our electorates that with this challenge is itself an opportunity for all of us. Jonathan Sacks, who inspired Tony Blair in the politics of the Third Way, recently stated that today, we are surrounded by a “Politics of Rage”: the rage of the people who have lost their job, their pension, their security. For Sacks, the reaction to the “Politics of Rage” has to be the “Politics of Hope”. I agree, with all we are facing, we must discover the Politics of Hope for our electorate. IT IS OFTEN SAID THAT TODAY’S POLITICIANS TEND TO TAKE DECISIONS BASED ON HOW POPULAR THEY ARE RATHER THAN ON WHETHER THEY ARE THE RIGHT ONES. DO YOU SHARE THIS ASSESSMENT? Yes, it is basically what has brought us to the situation in which we find ourselves today. We
are not where we are because of Brexit or Donald Trump. This process has been coming for a long time. Unfortunately, I get the impression that some of today’s leaders tend to resort to the tactic of promising everything to everyone – however, when they find themselves in power, they ultimately realise that some or most of what they promised is either unreasonable or impossible to achieve. A classic example of this is Syriza in Greece who won an election on a populist platform, only to then realise that what they had promised was practically impossible. History teaches us that populist politics inevitably lead to even bigger problems for everyone. MANY SAW ANGELA MERKEL'S DECISION IN AUTUMN 2015 TO GRANT ALMOST ONE MILLION REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS FREE PASSAGE INTO GERMANY CRITICALLY, MOST SIGNIFICANTLY HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER VIKTOR ORBÁN. HE PLEADED FOR A MORE RESTRICTIVE POLICY IN LIGHT OF THE REFUGEE INFLUX AND GAINED MANY SUPPORTERS ACROSS EUROPE WITH THIS PLAN. WITH THE BENEFIT OF YOUR EXPERIENCE IN MIGRATION POLICY, WHOSE APPROACH TO THE PROBLEM WAS OF GREATER MERIT IN THIS SITUATION IN YOUR OPINION? First of all, one must understand that the attitude shown by Angela Merkel has a historic background, dating back even before the Second World War. Perhaps, her statement was too open ended. On the other hand, Orban is the other extreme: whereas we believe that we have moral obligations towards every human being, he denies protection to people who have a right to a refugee or humanitarian status. Viktor Orban simply cannot throw away this obligation.
Unfortunately few people have been able to explain what different types of migration we face and what the real problem is. If one goes to the UK, the argument is, quote: “migrants are taking our jobs” because they are mostly concerned with the free movement of persons in the EU. This has absolutely nothing to do with the migration crisis which involves our obligation to save people from persecution. We have allowed people to exploit the populist arguments when in truth, their arguments were aimed at the freedom of movement of individuals within the EU, an important pillar of the structure of the European Union. Yes, this crisis has worried our electorate. However, you cannot solve the issue by building walls. You can follow the UK’s example, but they are very wrong if they think that they have solved the migration issue with Brexit. I personally believe that the solution is for us to have better and stronger border controls and security measures in order to put the minds of our electorate at rest. The electorate is worried for mainly two reasons: first, because it is, wrongly, associating terrorism with immigration and secondly, in some cases, it is associating the employment problem with immigration. We must explain to everyone that widespread unemployment has nothing to do with immigration. With respect to terrorism, we must revise the internal security procedures within the European Union to prevent and pre-empt all sort of terrorist activities. We must not forget that terrorists do not only come from outside the EU, but were in some recent cases committed by citizens born and raised in the EU. UP UNTIL 2015, WHEN THE BALKAN ROUTE BECAME THE PRINCIPAL PATH FOR REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS INTO EUROPE,
MALTA WAS AT THE FOREFRONT OF THE REFUGEE AND MIGRATION WAVES INTO EUROPE. HOW DID YOU EXPERIENCE THE SITUATION WHEN IN OFFICE? I have always stuck to the principle, even at times when I was heavily criticised for doing so, that each and every person has a right to their own human dignity: if persons are in danger of losing their lives in the middle of the sea, my responsibility as a human being – above and beyond my responsibility as Prime Minister – is to do everything I can to save their lives. I have always tried to spread this message. This was the cardinal principle which inspired Malta to take the brave stand it took during the Libya crisis I had immediately taken the decision that our number one responsibility was to save people. I also immediately instructed our Armed Forces, Health Sector and Social Services Sector that people escaping from the Libya bloodbath deserved to be given the best treatment we could offer. In the meantime, I was responsible for exerting pressure on an international and European level for countries to help alleviate some of the enormous responsibility shouldered by Malta – the smallest EU member state with a population of 400,000 living on a very small island. It was obvious that we were not capable of going through this crisis on our own. I must say that I was left slightly disappointed as I expected more support and understanding from colleagues sitting around the EU Council table. However, I did find understanding and appreciation from the European Commission Presidency and a few non-EU countries, especially the US Government. I had met with President George W. Bush, who first accepted to resettle about 700 refugees in the USA. Eventually – if I am not mistaken - this number increased to 1,200 – in other words, the USA were sometimes
INTERVIEW more effective in providing concrete solutions than the European Union itself. Ultimately, illegal migration is not a problem restricted to Europe, but a global one. Our reaction to this must always be built on the guiding principles I have already mentioned, namely that we all have the responsibility to do everything we can to save any person in danger of losing his or her life. Once saved, we must treat refugees in the most humane way possible. I must confess that I should have done more in this regard when in office. We should have offered training to all migrants to keep them active and productive, treating them as human beings with the dignity that they deserve. Of course, we must also continue exercising pressure at the European level and more importantly on an international level. So far we have failed in harnessing an international conscience during the migration crisis. A SIZEABLE SHARE OF THE ELECTORATE IS EVER MORE DISTRUSTFUL OF ELITES AND GOVERNMENT. HOW DO YOU RECKON THAT STORIES SUCH AS THE INVOLVEMENT OF MALTESE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS INVOLVED IN THE PANAMA PAPERS SCANDAL? Trust in politicians has been lost and scandals such
as the Panama Papers surely did not help. One of the bigger lessons in politics is that there is never an empty seat. When trust in politicians is lost, potential good candidates who are ready to put their reputation on the line by going into politics are put off by all this negativity. However, the reality is that when “good” candidates are discouraged from pursuing politics, their place will be immediately taken by someone else who could very well be one of those who seek politics for their own personal gain. If we do not offer our younger generation the opportunity to appreciate that politics is the strongest tool to make a positive impact on society and to combat all that is wrong in our community, we will have big problems. "TRANSPARENCY" HAS BECOME A BUZZWORD WITHIN EUROPE, NOT LEAST IN ORDER TO DEFEAT POPULISM. THE CONTROVERSIES AROUND TTIP AND CETA HAVE SHOWN THAT THE CALL "TRANSPARENCY" CAN BE MISUSED IN POPULISM'S FAVOUR. HOW CAN EUROPEAN POLITICIANS STRIKE THE APPROPRIATE BALANCE? It is fundamental that such a balance is found, because transparency is an integral part of a strong democracy. Democracy without transparency inevitably leads to chaos. I am one of those who believe that even in an uncomfortable situation transparency is crucial – it is the price that has to be paid for a strong democracy. One of the strongest attributes of the EU is precisely its approach towards transparency and the use of institutions – such as the European Parliament – to achieve this objective. WITH DONALD TRUMP NOW ELECTED US PRESIDENT, MANY ARGUE THAT THE EU SHOULD ASSUME MORE LEADERSHIP IN GLOBAL AFFAIRS. DO YOU AGREE? Yes, but I believe that the EU should have started doing so beforehand. The EU took a step back from global leadership before Trump, which was obviously a mistake. While accepting and respecting the perfectly democratic decision made by the American public to elect Donald Trump as President of the United States of America, most of us are still in the dark as to what will happen next. If President Trump implements even half the proposals he made throughout his campaign – the impact on the EU and the rest of the world will be very heavy. Certainly, the EU will have to revise its position, analyse how it will treat react to the increasing Russian influence in countries neighbouring the EU and certainly those on the north African coast including Libya. All these are serious challenges for the European Union, which will require a strong sense of leadership, with the backing of all Member States – whilst keeping the moral high ground which must continue to be the
mainstay of the European Union. DR GONZI, FORMER UK CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER, GEORGE OSBORNE, RECENTLY WARNED IN AN INTERVENTION ON THE CRISIS IN ALEPPO THAT “IF YOU DON’T SHAPE THE WORLD, YOU GET SHAPED BY IT”. WHAT MUST THE EU AND ITS MEMBER STATES, INCLUDING MALTA, CONCRETELY DO TO BE ONCE AGAIN ABLE TO MASTER THE CHALLENGES OUR CONTINENT FACES? There certainly is no easy answer on this matter. Nevertheless, there seems to be a general consensus that the world is now split once more. We are not facing a Cold War, but we can see a gap between Russia and Europe, while the position of America is now open to some debate. The EU is living proof that dialogue brings peace stability and economic well-being between nations who were at war with each other a short while ago. It proves that leaders with vision can focus in what unites them instead of pressing on the points that divide them. This brought peace and stability in Europe for sixty whole years, even throughout a horrible Cold War. The EU needs to rediscover this strong element of dialogue. With regards to Osborne’s speech: we have experimented with invasion in Iraq and left a disaster. We have experimented with not intervening in Aleppo and left a disaster. We have also experimented with a “half-way” mission by sending drones, but not troops, leaving yet again a disaster. Osborne’s point is this: when the UK should have made a strong statement to resolve the Syrian crisis, the UK Parliament voted against any type of involvement. As a result, we are facing the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. Ultimately, while acknowledging that there is no concrete answer to this situation, sitting on the fence is definitely not the answer either – because eventually, we will all have to face the consequences. This is the moment where we need to re-think the strategy and role to be played by the European Union on the international platform. As I have already said (quoting from Jonathan Sachs) we need to design a new politics of hope that overcomes the politics of rage which the world faces today.
Neil Smart Costantino
Women of Peace Unfortunately, war and conflicts are ravaging communities across the world today. The recent years have also seen wide-spread targeting of women and girls in conflict zones and a marked pushback on women’s rights. Seventeen years have passed since the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1325. Adopted unanimously, this landmark resolution was vital in forging a permanent framework for a gendered understanding of conflict and peace. Yet the women, peace and security agenda remains relevant and critical in the face of rising violence, extremism, and deadly conflicts. UNSCR 1325 addresses not only the inordinate impact of war on women, but also the role women should and do play in conflict management, conflict resolution, and sustainable peace. Peacebuilding requires an awareness of how men and women together could better contribute to sustainable peace and security. Arguments regarding the integration of women in the security sector is appropriate to divide into two categories. The first relates to social justice, values, gender equality, and the second - a social experience of women that is opposed to men. Issues of social justice are resolved primarily on the legislative level - the embodiment of the idea of equal rights and opportunities for women and men to par-
ticipate in various spheres of social life. Among the first steps towards the integration of women into the security sector, such as NATO expansion, was a policy of equal opportunities, combating discrimination and harassment. In 1961, senior women officers of NATO organised the first conference to discuss the the integration of women in the armed forces of the Alliance. In 1976, the Committee on Women in NATO Forces (CWINF) was formed. Now it is known as NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives. One of the major developments to happen in the integration of women in Western security was the adoption of a specific policy to support implementation of UNSCR 1325 in 2007 by NATO allies and partners in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council EAPC. The policy has since been updated, related national action plans have strengthened the implementation of the UNSCR 1325 and more partner countries from around the world have become associated with these efforts. Likewise, Special Representatives positions to serve as the high-level focal point on all aspects of NATO’s contributions to the Women, Peace and Security
agenda were created in 2012. The same year, a first diversity action plan was approved by the North Atlantic Council, the principal political decision-making body within NATO. It sought to promote gender diversity goals by taking action to identify and remove barriers to women within NATO’s policies and programmes. It also aimed to attract and retain women, especially in senior leadership positions. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has also a comprehensive framework to increase women’s participation in addressing conflicts. The OSCE’s main document on gender equality, the 2004 Gender Action Plan, and other Ministerial Council Decisions, recall UNSCR 1325 and emphasise the significant role women play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peacebuilding. Therefore, we see that a global coalition on UNSCR 1325 implementation has been forged. As world leaders said many times gender equality is not optional. it is essential. Equal participation should not be seen as a favour to women. It is a vital core to global security as well as to the resilience of our societies. Resolution 1325 remains one of the biggest achievements of the global women’s movement and one of the most inspired decisions of the United Nations Security Council. It led nations to try to work harder towards inclusive security. One of the best ways to make progress remains to be through National Action Plans which create space for governments, multilateral institutions, and civil society to work together and accomplish more. Designing NAPs through an inclusive, results oriented process can be intensive. It is true that many government officials feel they lack time or resources to collect comprehensive data, or struggle with defining results in a measurable way. The only viable solution is to collaborate. Policy-makers, together with civil society, should work together to design results-based national strategies to maximise their limited time, resources, and data. Through consistent co-ordination and strategic design, it is possible to produce more thoughtful, high-impact plans – and most importantly, the policies creating real and meaningful change, advancing the aims of UNSCR 1325 and contributing to greater peace and stability around the world can be implemented.
Elephant in the Room The GOP and Europe’s Centre-Right After Trump The election and eventual endorsement of Donald J. Trump by the Republican establishment marks a caesura in the relations between the European centre-right and its primary US ally. With the 45th President showing greater sympathies for Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen than Angela Merkel, the question beckons whether the EPP may continue to see the GOP as their natural partner in the American political arena – it will be a crucial question in the transatlantic alliance for the next four years. In 2006, there were no questions as to whom the Republican establishment saw as its allies in Europe. When the erstwhile leader of the UK Conservative Party, David Cameron, pondered on withdrawing from the European People’s Party, the rebuke from Capitol Hill was severe: “I would hope they would appreciate the support they received from the EPP when they were wandering in the wilderness.” These were the words of John McCain who only two years later became the GOP Presidential candidate, with the sound and unwavering support of Europe’s centre-right. It is barely believable that only ten years later, a Republican presidential candidate would invite a politician to the right of David Cameron’s Tories to address his campaign rally. Yet Donald Trump’s endorsement of Nigel Farage shows that a shift has undergone in American party politics – one that seemingly sees the GOP suddenly no longer as the staunch defender of the liberal post-war order, patriotism and free markets. Instead, Trump and his team collude with worryingly illiberal forces and ideas. European conservative and Christian Democrat leaders have struggled to come to terms with a US President hailing from the party their own groupings have traditionally seen as their major American ally – a special relationship formalised by the foundation of the International Democrat Union (IDU) in 1983. Some European members of IDU, most significantly the UK Conservative Party, have called for an arrangement
BE ON with the new White House administration. Others, such as the German Christian Democrats, have remained more cautious about the change in tone from the Republican benches. Europe’s centre-right thus sees itself confronted with a fundamental question: is the US Republican Party under Donald Trump still a partner? TRUMP AIN’T NO CONSERVATIVE This question evidently needs to be foremost answered with view to the new White House administration and thus Donald Trump himself: can the 45th President be at all seen as a conservative ally? The answer is rather straightforward: he cannot. Trump’s endorsement of economic protectionism and nationalist isolationism, all while repudiating liberty, free trade, transatlanticism, and the global international order based on rules and treaties is contrary to the ethos of modern Western conservatism. He does not share a desire for a deepened transatlantic bond that extends beyond serving the President’s short-sighted agenda of “America First”. NATO is at best secondary to him, free trade a threat unless it equates to securing special privileges for US companies and the EU a pointless institution he would rather see collapse than thrive - as the likely appointment of Ted Malloch, who compared the EU to the Soviet Union and implicitly endorsed its collapse recently, as the US Ambassador to the EU confirms. This is further underpinned by the ascendancy of Steve Bannon, whose website Breitbart has become a hub of the American alt-right that fosters close ties with European far-right populism, as one of the President’s key advisers. Many on the European centre-right have acknowledged this, yet proceeded to consider Trump as a reformist voice in Western centre-right politics: one who redefines the conservative ideal in the 21st century. This view is however even more dangerous since it wholly ignores the intellectual foundations of conservatism. Ever since the days of Edmund Burke, the great eighteenthcentury British parliamentarian, modern conservatism has been defined by a range of defining hallmarks: a reverence for established wisdom and institutions. Organic and gradual change. A belief in the sanctity of historic rights, due process and the rule of law. A natural respect for the dignity of human life. An inherent scepticism of those who claim to act on the basis of an elusive “will of the people” out of an acute awareness that this is the most certain path to autocracy if not outright tyranny. None of these qualities are present in Trump’s political philosophy (or say, approach). His
political style is iconoclastic, radical, impulsive. He has already showed disdain for many time-honoured institutions and traditions of American democracy. He has no scruples to treat his opponents, women and minorities with overt contempt. He appears to see the “will of the people” – with “the people” very narrowly defined as the minority of American voters who elected him – as superior to the rule of law, as his outbursts against “so-called” Judge James Robart following the moratorium on his controversial Executive Order popularly known as “Muslim Ban”, suggests. The European centre-right must hence recognise: Donald Trump is not a conservative. Indeed, he is rather its antithesis, an authoritarian “enemy of democracy”, as German conservative columnist Jan Fleischhauer poignantly put it. To claim otherwise would not only be to misrepresent, but indeed normalise highly worrisome political currents that actively seek to undermine the centre-right: for the agenda of the Trumpian White House is not only not that of the EPP or even that of the ECR – it is that of the EFDD and ENF. It is no coincidence that the Europe of Nations and Liberty enthusiastically hailed the election of Trump during their conference in Koblenz on the very same day of the inauguration: Trump is the ally of Wilders, Le Pen, Farage and Petry - not of Merkel, Fillon, Rajoy or even May. The EU and NATO will not be saved if European conservatives class a populist nationalist as one of their own. The sooner this is realised, the better. BACK TO THE REPUBLICAN BASE Beyond the White House however, the European centre-right should not forget the GOP in Congress and the states: Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain are among those who have made it crystal-clear that they will continue to pursue classical Republican values on the Hill. Even Paul Ryan has signalled that he will hope to pursue a more traditional agenda in the Senate and the House of Representatives, all while tolerating some of Trump’s executive action in return. On the State-level, Governor John Kasich had no qualms to roundly condemn Trump’s entry ban for refugees and seven dominantly Muslim states as “un-American”. It is in these forces that the European centre-right will have to place its trust and resources in. To abandon them would be to grant the alt-right elements within the GOP to continue their creeping takeover of the party, endangering a potential “special relationship” with the Republican Party beyond the Trump years and the United States in the short-term. Cooperation on the youth level
is of equal importance: it will be instrumental to ensure that the next generation of Republican leaders, within the Young Republicans and the College Republicans, appreciates the pivotal significance of the transatlantic alliance and the European Union for American interests. There are many valid reasons to be critical of the Republican Party. For no mistake is to be made: Donald J. Trump did not emerge, contrary to the depiction of the GOP leadership during the primaries, out of a vacuum – he is the logical product of a Republican stratagem that has reneged on the legacies of its great Presidents, of Eisenhower, Reagan and Bush sr. by courting and thereby emboldening fringe elements of the conservative spectrum instead of seeking a unifying message. By supporting Fox News and its seditious narrative of the untrustworthy “liberal mainstream media”, Republican leadership have sowed the seeds for the success of Breitbart, TheBlaze and other farright fake news media outlets that were instrumental in securing Trump’s victory. By appeasing and integrating the Tea Party, Republicans planted the seed of radical populism in its heart that Donald Trump merely exploited to further extremes. With their fundamental opposition against Barack Obama, the Republicans have contributed more than anyone else to the extreme polarisation of American politics that Trump based his “Us v Them” narrative on. The Republican leadership bears the greatest responsibility for the fact that Donald J. Trump now sits on their behalf in the Oval Office. Frustrations on the other side of the Atlantic over the short-termist thinking in Washington is thus not only understandable, but legitimate. Notwithstanding this however, the European centreright cannot afford turning its back to the Republican Party just yet. Instead, it must realise that it is now in a battle with the far-right populist forces of the continent of who will be the European ally of one of America’s natural parties of government. The alliance with the Republicans is for the time being not only a question of idealism and ideology – but of realpolitik. Hence it must continue to harness a productive relationship with the GOP through increased cooperation with the Congressional and State Republicans in order to preserve the great transatlantic tradition of Western conservatism that can credit itself for forging the freest, most stable and prosperous societies mankind has known.
Building Democracy, Defeating Extremism Forging Closer Ties with the Maghreb States The Arab uprisings have completely transformed the political and security agenda for the Maghreb states. The unrests which led to crisis in Europeâ€™s southern periphery have shaken the strategic scene of the security in the Western Mediterranean. Europe has a big responsibility to help its southern neighbours in solving their problems, as the regionâ€™s problems will become the continentâ€™s distress
EUROPE AND THE WORLD The unstable status of some of the Maghreb states increased the presence of transnational violent extremist groups and organised criminal networks which have stirred major security concerns in Europe. On the other hand, a wave of democratisation has emerged in some of the Maghreb states, challenging the extremist groups and dictatorships in these countries. The Kingdom of Morocco remains the most stable in North Africa, with the pace of political change having been slow. While moving to the biggest state in Maghreb region, Algeria was highly affected by the decreasing oil prices and the unresolved question of succession. The Libyan failed state remains far from stability and democracy with the rising power of the jihadists and the regional support for General Haftar. The country’s chaos threatens to spread and to reach Europe's southern shores. Although Mauritania remains the most stable state in the region, risks of ethnic confrontations may affect the future of the least populated and least developed country in the Maghreb. The only hope for the development of democracy in the Maghreb region remains in Tunisia. But even there, economic and social differences put the country’s stability and democratic transition at risk (BOUKHARS, 2016). The introduction of IS franchises in the region, adding to the revival of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), shook the entire region. Tunisia witnessed a wave of attacks by IS and AQIM affiliated groups, affecting the promising young democracy severely. Unemployment also plays a huge part leading to the rise of terrorism in Tunisia, since youths who do not see any possible scenarios of success are more easily trapped with promises of status and work (Mattar, 2016). This applies more to the youths with university education since their disappointment in failing to meet the expectations they have set out is higher than that of the already disadvantaged members of society. The areas bordering Algeria (Libya, Mali, and Tunisia) remain a threat for the state’s security. In addition, the rise of the jihadist threat intensified in the neglected areas in the east and south of Tunisia with arms smuggling and drug trafficking. The illegal trade across the borders and the positioning of the militant groups led to the establishment of a coalition between the jihadists, drug traffickers and tribal youths. Furthermore, Algeria remains an important target for the violent extremist organisation operation in the county’s northeastern region. The status of Libya as a failed state and the high presence of ISIS facilitated the movement of terrorist organisations in the Maghreb region. The transnational cooperation between the jihadists in the region was clearly evident by the trainings that Tunisians receive from Libya. A
potent example of this is the Bardo Museum attack in Tunis in March 2015, where the planner was an Algerian who was a leader in the Tunisian KUIN, and the attacker, Seifeddine Rezgui, received his trainings in Libya. Morocco is not an exception for the rising threat of jihadist terrorists in the Maghreb region. In recent years, the country’s security services have paralysed dozens of cells suspected of IS links. Europe has a big responsibility to help its southern neighbours in solving their problems, as the region’s problems will become the continent’s distress. Although Morocco remains politically stable, the country’s economic progress is prevented by corruption. The question for the EU is centred on how to support reforms in the Kingdom which will expand political freedom and social equality. In Algeria, the political spectrum and the economic status is much different from Morocco and rather complicated: the decrease of the oil and gas which consequently affected the state’s budget prices shook the economic stability of Algeria. The Algerian state needs to work more on reforming its economy and of course with the help of EU. A developed state in Algeria is a need for several EU countries to lessen their dependency on Russian gas and to focus more on investing in the Algerian gas sector. The EU’s major test in the Maghreb region remains in Tunisia. The success of a democratic state in Tunisia would make it a role model for the rest of Maghreb and North African countries. The EU has a major mission to increase its aid and mobilise the international community’s support. Moreover, the EU officials should also pressure the Tunisian government to protect civil liberties. Human rights violations are still present in Tunisia and on a daily basis. Courageous reforms with the help of EU states must be pursued to strengthen the already advancement being made.; nevertheless, in a region embroiled in bloody sectarian and ethnic conflict, Tunisia remains the one of the last beacons of hope for a positive future, and a model to
learn from by other Arab countries, through both its successes and missteps. (Mattar, Human Rights in Post-Revolution Tunisian and Egyptian Constitutions: Perspectives for a Future Syrian Constitution – Part Two/Three: Egypt, 2016) The international community, with the help of EU, further has to play an important role in the security sector. Stabilising Libya would be the greatest contribution to prevent illegal migration and protect Europe for the jihadist terrorism. The Islamic State franchises are benefiting from the political distress in Libya to strengthen their position and transforming the Libyan land into a launch base to undertake attacks in the Maghreb region and neighbouring EU countries. Moving to a historical conflict in the Maghreb region, resolving the Western Sahara dispute between Morocco and Algeria with EU support may move the focus toward combatting terrorism. Economic integration and security cooperation are a responsibility and need for both countries. The EU should focus on boosting investment, trade, and cooperation in the energy sector with southern neighbouring governments. This was clearly mentioned in the new European Neighborhood Policy released in November 2015 (BOUKHARS, 2016). It is very critical for the EU Member States to work on deescalating the tensions in the Maghreb region and to strive to diminish the conditions fuelling violent extremism. Other than focusing on counter-terrorism and migration control, the EU should address the causes that deepen the instability in the Maghreb. Engaging in these conflicts and the internal affairs of these states is essential for the EU’s security.
Europe in Practice
How Erasmus+ Can Forge a New Generation Europe The Brexit campaign showed that we are rhetorically losing to cunning populists. We cannot talk about the real importance of the European Union in a clear and convincing way. While demagogues tell their tales of Europe’s worthlessness, loaded bureaucratic apparatus, and detachment from the needs of ordinary citizens, defenders of the European project preach lofty words on European values which do not capture the imagination of the masses. We have to begin to talking about the “practice of Europe”.
The European Union provides us above all with a number of facilities and amenities in everyday life. One such programme is Erasmus+ which allows particularly young people to broaden their horizons across Europe and even beyond. You can bet that if warrior with a bald head shouting on demonstrations in small town, looked around, would see their classmates traveling and gaining valuable experience. The rate of youth unemployment within the European Union presently amounts to approx. 20% and in some countries as high as 50%. The key to solving this problem is not only to increase the number of jobs. We need a programme to ensure the proper development of young people’s skills to prepare them for a changing labour market. The ability to move to another country with the aim of undertaking study or training is opening new opportunities for millions of Europeans. This is the programme to defy current canons of teaching – in fact, to promote teaching both via informal and non-formal means. In 2016, the budget of the Erasmus+ amounted to 2.2 billion euros, including nearly 2/3 of the learning mobility. In 2015, 678,000 Europeans – more than ever were able to pursue university courses, work experience
and volunteering activities abroad thanks to Erasmus +. The geographical scope of the programme has increased from eleven countries in 1987 to thirty-three countries today, including all 28 EU Member States, Turkey, FYROM, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. The European Union aims, amongst others, to promote equal opportunities for children from large cities, small towns and villages. Whereas the original Erasmus programme principally focused on students, de facto excluding small towns whilst rewarding large urban centres, Erasmus+ expanded its range to pupils and teachers. In Poland, it led to an “educational revolution” of sorts: more and more small schools from small towns and villages began scrambling for good projects. The country recorded an increase of creativity among teachers who broke the prevailing stereotypes of provincial schools being staffed by less ambitious practitioners of their trade. These educators believed that they could provide their students with interesting learning conditions – allowing many children to go abroad for the first time! One of the cities partaking in the programme is Głogów, a town in the industrial region, which launched the project "Learn from the Pioneers" that teamed up four secondary schools with their counterparts in Germany, among others in Berlin and Potsdam: the scheme saw young people pursuing internships focused on learning about the use and maintenance of renewable energy systems and improving cooking skills whilst working in restaurant. Students returned from the trip with the feeling that they were other people: they enthusiastically told local radio stations of how many great people they met, how much they improved their knowledge of foreign languages and how many new things they learned abroad. The passion in their voice was the best indicator of the level of satisfaction. Currently, the recruitment for the next edition is ongoing. The tiny Gorzyce municipality in eastern Poland also partook in Erasmus+, allowing sixty students within two years to visit Italy, Romania, Turkey, Portugal, and Greece. The aim of this project was for students to develop their digital competences by exploring how to use mobile devices for effective learning. The discovery
of the secrets of modern technologies is particularly important for children from small municipalities in Poland, where technological innovation arrived much later than in Western Europe. In the first part of the project, the children are living with Italian families. Local authorities invite them to their town hall and the teachers of the schools will take them on trips, including to Rome or Pompeii. This scheme is perfect to increase the selfesteem of young people, showing them how similar they are to and how appreciated by their peers in Western Europe. This project is also a story of another very important value: tolerance. In many European countries, research centres and NGOs monitoring racist and xenophobic behaviour have noted an alarming resurgence in hate crimes. The reasons for this "renaissance" of hatred are manifold and could be analysed in an article of its own. However, we need to consequently appreciate the importance of the Erasmus+ programme in challenging the intolerance sweeping across the continent. Young people from small towns and villages who would normally not come into contact with minorities or foreign nationals are more likely to develop hostile attitudes towards them. In small communities and subcultures, distrust and aggression thus matures. Through Erasmus+’s expansion to these tiny environments, young people can come to see that Europe’s diversity is its strength and change perceptions. This is how we should fight the aforementioned hateful phenomena: through outreach to the youngest people in the smallest communities. We can perfectly see the benefits of Erasmus+ in levelling educational and developmental opportunities. This project opens the world to small communities, getting the wind in their sails for a journey onto the wide sea. This is the Europe we need to promote. We should talk about the tangible benefits of this Europe, such as the freedom of movement and an open path of learning. Maybe, if we succeed in casting Europe in emotions, we will save it for future generations and not yield it to the populists.
We Don’t Need No ERASMUS+ Higher Education in Post-Brexit Britain It is now seven months since the UK voted to leave the European Union, and with formal negotiations still yet to begin, uncertainty and speculation about the future of the relationship between the former bed fellows is still rife. Amid questions about retaining access to the single market, and fears about long term damage to both the British and European economies, it is unsurprising that the issue of the UK’s participation in the Erasmus+ scheme has been broadly overlooked; indeed, since Minister of State for Universities and Science Jo Johnson’s statement, in July 2016, that “The UK’s future access to the Erasmus+ programme will be determined as a part of wider discussions with the EU”, there has been no official word from the government at all about the future of the scheme. Some context: Erasmus+ is the 2014-2020 incarnation of the original EU student exchange programme, which has existed since 1987. In that time, it has seen over 3 million students across 37 countries participate in study and work exchanges, and has been hailed as one of the greatest successes of the European project. The benefits of Erasmus+ are manifold: students gain improved language skills, adaptability, confidence, independence and often valuable work experience. There can be no question that the scheme helps to break down mobility barriers between countries, and few can deny the importance of this in an increasingly globalised age. Since 1987, over 200,000 British students have taken part in Erasmus+ or its forerunner schemes. Currently, UK university students who are spending a year of their course abroad are eligible for grants of up to EUR 330 per month for study, or up to EUR 430 per month when participating in traineeships. Disadvantaged students may be eligible for an extra EUR 100 per month on top of this. Moreover, contrary to widespread belief, it is not just language students who benefit from Erasmus+: students studying such diverse courses as History, Law, Public Policy and
International Relations can all partake in the scheme. Even students who do not partake in the scheme themselves can reap the benefits of more diverse, international universities and campuses. Naturally, UK students will not be the only ones losing out if Britain is barred from Erasmus+: students from across the EU will find that living and studying in the UK will become harder and more expensive- and this is without taking into account further complications such as the need for visas for EU citizens that will be an almost inevitable consequence of Brexit. Of course, Ireland will remain a viable destination for students who wish to study in an Anglophone country, but given the size of the Republic it is almost certain that demand for places at Irish universities will outstrip supply, leaving many EU students disappointed, and denied a valuable chance to improve their English. Yet more bad news for EU students who wish to study in the UK: once Britain has left the Union, British universities will no longer be obliged to cap tuition fees at GBP 9,000 as they do for home students. Given that UK universities are set to lose a great deal of EU funding in the aftermath of Brexit, it is inevitable that at least some will begin to raise course fees, making it still harder and less attractive for EU students to study in the UK. A drop off in the number of EU students studying in the UK will have economic implications as well: Universities UK estimates that fees paid by EU students in 2014-15 totalled GBP 600m, and off campus spending reached a total of GBP 1.49bn. So, is the UK set to be banned from Erasmus+? The short answer is that no one knows for certain; however, one need not look far to find clues as to the future of the scheme. Switzerland, previously an Erasmus partner, voted in 2014 by the narrowest
of margins to implement a quota scheme for all migrants: a decision which, when it is formally enacted, will violate the EU-Swiss agreement on freedom of movement. As a result, Swiss students and universities have been excluded from Erasmus+ and from receiving European Research Council grants, and the Swiss position in the Horizon 2020 Research programme has been significantly downgraded. Although in practice Switzerland has instigated its own scheme, in reality it is only well off Swiss students who can afford to participate in it. Norway, by contrast, participates in Erasmus+ at the same level as EU member states, due to its acceptance of EU freedom of movement rules. Thus far, no official position has been reached between the UK and the EU about continuing freedom of movement: however, given the widespread demands by many Leave Voters to restrict migration into the UK, it seems unlikely that a compromise will be reached that allows British students and universities continued access to Erasmus+. It is impossible to put a true value on the blow dealt to young people in the loss of the scheme, a blow that is rendered all the more vicious in light of the fact that young Britons voted in disproportionately high numbers to retain Britain’s EU membership.
Lucasta Bath, NUS Delegate for Oxford University Student Union
From Theory to Action Measuring the Impact of Research In a political context where a series of crises in recent years have affected the public's trust in the European Union, it is more vital than ever for the European Commission to demonstrate that its actions deliver maximum performance and added value. This is especially important when it comes to ensuring that expenditure programmes, such as Horizon 2020, operate efficiently and effectively and that they produce results.
UNIVERSITIES As President Juncker has put it "We should make every euro count twice, by making it achieve multiple objectives. For instance, if we create better jobs in the renewable energy sector, we get two objectives for the price of one". In 2015 the Commission launched the Budget for Results initiative to assess current EU expenditure programmes in terms of results, to improve efficiency and control of expenditure, and simplify procedures and improve communication on programme outcomes. The basic questions that Budget for Results addresses are: how do we spend money and in which areas; how do we assess that investment and how do we communicate it? As the European Commissioner responsible for Research, Science and Innovation, it is my task to ensure that EU funding of research and innovation capitalises on this approach and that the impact of the money that is being invested is reported more effectively. Devoting even greater attention to impact will not only improve the quality of what is funded, but will help show that the substantial budget for research and innovation is being put to excellent use. When Horizon 2020 was conceived in 2011, Europe was facing a diverse set of economic, social, environmental and technological challenges. We still face them today. Research and innovation were rightly seen as important factors in helping Europe move towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, while also helping tackle major societal challenges such as health, climate change or energy, for example. Horizon 2020 distinguishes between results that relate to the direct benefits that researchers, companies and innovators obtain from participating, and impacts that provide spillovers in the form of wider benefits to our economy and society, such as a new drug or therapy, a more efficient vehicle battery or better flood defences to mitigate the effects of climate change. Horizon 2020 already marked a shift towards the use of indicators that aim to capture results and impacts, compared to previous Framework Programmes where the emphasis was primarily on analysing participation, R&I inputs and project outputs. The emphasis under Horizon 2020 is to assess the impact on Europeâ€™s scientific and technological performance and research capacity, and more widely on Europeâ€™s economy and society With the time lag inherent in research and innovation (including long lead times for scientific publications, the development of commercial applications etc.), we
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-15-5696_en.htm https://ec.europa.eu/research/evaluations/index_en.cfm?pg=fp7 3 https://ec.europa.eu/research/evaluations/index_en.cfm?pg=monitoring 4 http://ec.europa.eu/research/evaluations/pdf/h2020_2-years-on_brochure.pdf 1
can turn to the ex-post evaluation of Horizon 2020's predecessor, the 7th Framework Programme (FP7), for more interesting data on impacts . An independent group of high-level experts concluded that FP7 boosted excellent science and strengthened Europe's industrial competitiveness, contributing to jobs and growth in Europe. Overall, each Euro invested by FP7 generated around 11 Euros in direct and indirect economic benefits. Wider impacts were reported as regards FP7's contribution to setting up a common scientific base for tackling common societal challenges. It is still too early to report on the impacts of Horizon 2020 because the projects have just started. Still, the Annual Monitoring Reports that we publish already give an idea of the scale of investment so far: in the programmeâ€™s first two years, over 9000 grants awarded nearly EUR 16 billion . I want to ensure both that the impacts of major investments made by Horizon 2020 are fully understood, and that impact will be even more central in the future. That is why I have announced that 'Impact' will be one of the three core values (together with Excellence and Openness) for designing the next framework programme that will launch in 2021. The European Commission has also set up a High Level Group of experts, chaired by Pascal Lamy, to advise on how to maximise the impact of the EU's investment in research and innovation. The group has been asked to formulate a vision for future EU research and innovation and draw up strategic recommendations on maximising the impact of EU investments. They will base their work on the interim evaluation results, an economic case for research and innovation investments, as well as results of a foresight study. I want the next Framework Programme to take a more sophisticated approach to the issue of impact. We can do more to capture and measure different kinds of outputs, including the unexpected ones: sometimes results in one field can have a huge impact in others, so it is clear that we need to ensure that impact across disciplines is recognised. Besides socioeconomic impact, or the impact on the careers of researchers and the market performance of the innovators we supported, we must also look beyond, for example to the impact we have on policy or on international relations. This work is vitally important because it will help us ensure that each euro that we invest in research and innovation generates maximum impact. It's the Commission's duty to the citizens of Europe.
Carlos Moedas - EU Commissioner for Science, Innovation and Research
The Next Frontier Creating a Sustainable European Knowledge-Based Economy Technology is one of the main factors in economic development and competitiveness. The past century has brought with it an enormous change in areas of computing engineering, where artificial intelligence is seen as the next big revolution. Yet a lot of scepticism surrounds the introduction of systems such as these and many question whether Europe has enough knowledge and skills to fully implement them. How well is the EU doing? Do we have what is required to be on the forefront of the next technological switch? With a revolution is on its way, the fundamental question is whether Europe will be part of the successful implementation of new technologies or whether it will stand on the sideline and watch as other regions’ economies outrun it in terms of productivity? In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the EU is still trying to get back on its feet. It is recognised that technological development will play a crucial role in this process. The main policy plan for this goal is the Europe 2020 strategy, it emphasises the need to improve competitiveness and productivity in order to get out of the current recession. Such improvements will also add to the creation of more jobs. Yet one of the new fields of technology with most promise, artificial intelligence, is constantly blamed for taking away jobs rather than creating them. Artificial intelligence implies the creation of “intelligent” systems, sometimes in the form of robots. There is a fear that machines will one day become smarter than us and run our societies. How can we adapt to new technologies in a way that does not hurt our societies and are Europeans prepared for this change when it comes to our knowledge? Many treasured things in our everyday lives are built on artificial intelligence. The spam-filters in our mailboxes use such technology to detect and single out emails. The iPhone’s Siri software is another example. What
artificial intelligence implies is that the system has the capacity to react to information it takes in and use it to adapt its behaviour. Such systems are autonomous in the sense that they will not require continuous surveillance to function. However, a system will always be as intelligent as its creator. The code the engineer applies will determine what the system can do and create. If the systems based on artificial intelligence will never be smarter than the engineer behind it, then we must ask how well we are doing in terms of knowledge in Europe. It is recognised that a sufficient number of graduates of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) will be a fundamental condition. Until 2020, it is estimated that the labour markets in the EU will require sixteen million more highly qualified workers. We are going to need people who can code and analyse vast amounts of data and thus both develop and apply scientific advances. Graduates within these subjects form a solid base for the European knowledge economy. To the critics of the
http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Europe_2020_indicators_-_research_and_development What Does the Robot Think? Transparency as a Fundamental Design Requirement for Intelligent Systems Robert H. Wortham, Andreas Theodorou, Joanna J. Bryson Department of Computer Science, University of Bath, UK http://opus.bath.ac.uk/50294/1/ WorthamTheodorouBryson_EFAI16.pdf
UNIVERSITIES EUâ€™s base for competitiveness in the field of technology, it might therefore come as a surprise that we are doing fairly well in this field. Eurostat, the institution for European statistics, has stated that between 2008 and 2014, there was an increase in the number of tertiary graduates in science and technology of 25.5%. In fact, the EU has now surpassed both Japan and the US and now has more graduates in STEM countries than what is often regarded as its prime competitors on a global scale. There is room for caution in overestimating these results as the statistics may have been altered by the introduction of the Bologna system. One challenge that has been noted is insufficient education and disparities among Member States in basic science literacy. The number of graduates also vary considerably on a Member State-level. Another notable fact is that the number of Europeans employed in knowledge-intensive activities sector is increasing. This refers to the employment of people with a tertiary education. The dilemma is rather the internal variations between Member States, as in the case of education. In Luxembourg and Croatia, the share increased substantially with 5.7 percentage points each while other Member States have had far less notable changes. Additionally, it should be kept in mind that the fluctuations in share of employment in different sectors might also be the result of total employment decreasing faster than the employment in knowledge-intensive activities.
While we are doing quite well within higher education, a dilemma that the European Commission has noted is that digital skills within the general population are insufficient. A report by Eurostat showed that by 2015, only 55% of Europeans professed to disposing of basic digital skills, whereas only 74% could boast basic digital communication skills. When it comes to artificial intelligence it has been seen in research that in general, humans are bad at understanding machines and how they function. As expressed by Andreas Theodorou, Robert Wortham and Joanna Bryson (2016), â€œWe frequently use philosophical, mathematical, and biologically inspired techniques for building artificial, interactive, intelligent agents. Yet, we treat them as black-boxes with no understanding of how the underlying real-time decision making functionsâ€?. Humans have constantly been trying to decipher intelligence of others as a fundamental characteristic of our own intelligence. It is important for us to predict behaviour in others. For most of human history, it was taken for granted that human intelligence is superior, but this is changing. With the introduction of artificial intelligence, such absolute truths are being contested. The lack of understanding often equates with the creation of fear. Thus, in order to conquer such feelings about new technology, education is a key factor. Thus, a larger threat to our ability of integrating new technologies such as artificial intelligence in our societies is not necessarily the lack of computer engineers that graduate from our universities. A bigger threat seems to be the internal gaps in development between Member States, together with a lack of understanding for such technology among the general population. Being one market, one union implies that only with an all-covering development throughout the EU can it be truly competitive as a union. Until then, the internal variance will take out any advances made by individual Member States. This is a crucial observation when planning policy for a future knowledge-based industry. Our policy-makers need to make sure that the development happens evenly within the union, without leaving any Member State behind. Additionally, increasing the digital skills of all Europeans will be a challenge that is crucial to reach the long-term goal of a competitive and productive union.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
Out of the Box The European Union faces a multitude of ground-breaking decisions in the not too distant future: in addition to the domestic and foreign policy challenges, the French presidential election on 23 April as well as the elections to the German Bundestag on 24 September will be the focus of political attention since – after all, these elections may have a decisive influence on the balance of power within the European Union. The rise of populist and extremist parties could radically alter the future of the European project. Currently, it very much seems as if the question is merely how much rightwing nationalists à la Marine Le Pen (Front National) or the Alternative for Germany (AfD) may garner. Despite these worrying tendencies, many citizens do not vote or dispute their opinion by means of protest. The causes of these developments are not easy to identify, as they are very complex. However, there are a few factors that ought to be mentioned: the silent consent, which is probably based on satisfaction, is one and one that is slowly crumbling. For many, the daily policy seems to have no influence on their everyday life. They rather prefer to focus on other aspects such as their career prospects and personal prosperity. On the other hand, there is the on-going growth of a distinctive political disinterest, with Paris, Berlin or Brussels becoming too detached or too “elitist” in the eyes of ever more. Of course, some might in the same vein argue that it did not matter which party would gain the majority, since the result would remain the same: the establishment will always win. This triggers a certain defiance, since there is no desire to quench what has been created over the last decades. Personal interests therefore gain priority. These different perspectives do not only lead to the refusal to vote or to the issuance of an invalid vote, which became in particular clear in the context of the 2014 European elections, with a non-electorate of 48.1 per cent. Above all, three other forms of protests have clearly emerged in recent years: first of all, the vote share of extremist and anti-European parties has increased. In addition to the French National Front and German AfD, there are a number of other groupings such as the Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, the Freedom Party of
Austria (FPÖ) or Lega Nord in Italy which have come to benefit from this trend. Secondly, satirical parties such as the German „Die Partei“, which promotes policies such as the "introduction of the lazy quota", are entering parliaments. Thirdly, exotic clientelist parties such as the Swedish Feminist Initiative, as part of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, which offer completely alternative concepts are increasingly on the rise. There is no doubt that the free decision whether to vote and for whom belongs to the civil freedoms in a democracy. Especially for the citizens of young democracies, these rights play a pivotal role. However, even if it is not absolutely necessary for a functioning democratic system that all citizens go to vote, the question remains how politics can be made more attractive to people. In answering this question, two factors, namely personalisation and authenticity, play significant roles. The personalisation of election campaigns is always slightly precarious. Parties should be able to unite the majority of votes behind them on the basis of having the smarter concept or the better arguments. Nevertheless, clear-cut personalities who stand for a certain brand of politics are always needed. This, of course, requires a clear profile supported by a substantive policy portfolio. An example of an at least partially successful personalisation is the focus on the two Spitzenkandidaten Jean-Claude Juncker (EPP) and Martin Schulz (PES) during the elections to the European Commission President in 2014. The personal debate found their way into the media landscape and ensured a positive and negative mobilisation effect. It is thus precisely the targeted discussion of a topic that ensures that certain content is anchored in the minds of the people.
However, a greater personalisation in combination with a modern way of political communication is a good tool, but not the key to mobilise people. Rather, politics itself must move out of its ivory tower. New, perhaps even more radical, approaches are needed. Politicians are supposed to be the people's representatives. However, they mostly do not reflect the diversity of our society. Nowadays, the +60-year-old male lawyer with an at least ten-year-old record of party service probably embodies the average politician. These structures must be broken. Especially the big “people’s parties” should encourage those who choose to elect them to get actively involved. Even if one's own personal commitment to the party must continue to be taken into account in the sense of the benefit principle, equal opportunities must also be established. Politicians have to pick up the citizens where they are. It must also be taken into account that a single mother cannot afford to dedicate the same time and effort as the first-year student or a pensioner. Nevertheless, it is necessary for everyone to be able to get engaged in accordance their own possibilities and to contribute with personal specific knowledge. Politics must be authentic. At the same time, we have to be realistic. Not everyone has the skills or desire to be a political representative. This is not necessary either. It is important, however, that people participate in any form of social policy - either in the immediate neighbourhood or on virtual platforms, through volunteering or through the participation in demonstrations. To encourage this active form of social commitment is not only the task of the policy-makers. It is also a citizen's duty. This understanding has to be learned and mediated from the ground up. Therefore, it is up to the citizens to decide how the world around us will evolve in the future.
EDS Executive Bureau 2016/2017
Georgios Chatzigeorgiou is EDS Chairman. Georgios holds a Bachelor degree in Law and is a Barrister-atlaw of the Lincoln’s Inn of Court in the UK. Georgios also holds a Master’s degree in Corporate Law from University College London (UCL). As Chairman, he is responsible for the day-today running of the organisation while some of his more specific responsibilities include external representation, fundraising and policy development.
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.
Giacomo Rossetto lives in Milan, Italy where he is studying Economics and Management at the Catholic University of Milan. He is StudiCentro’s National Coordinator. As Vice-Chair Giacomo is a member of the Social Media Team and primary responsible for the coordination of the newsletter.
Tomasz Kaniecki is a Polish law student. His interests lie in the digitalisation of public data and the future of law. Tomasz has served at European institutions and worked in both political and business research. In 2015, he was awarded a price by the British and Swedish Embassies for the best student paper on TTIP. He writes for the think-tank Civic Institute.
Silvie Rohr pursued studies in Law at Humboldt-University and works currently in the German Bundestag. Based in Berlin she is a member of RCDS’s federal board and a member of the integration network of CDU Germany. As EDS Vice-Chair, she represents the organisation externally and is mainly responsible for publications and campaigns. Silvie also writes the Council of Europe column for BullsEye.
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.
Mitya Atanasov was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. He graduated in Information Technologies and is currently studying for a Master 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 EDS, Mitya writes the Conference Resolutions together with Sara Juriks and is responsible for the PWG Policies for Europe.
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.
Sara Juriks is originally from Oslo, Norway, but currently lives and studies in London. She is currently undertaking her Master’s degree in Comparative Politics. Sara has been an active member of EDS since 2014 and her main responsibilities within the Bureau are the drafting of conference resolutions and the Permanent Working Group Human Rights.
Efthymia Katsouri comes from Athens, Greece. She studied Law at the University of Surrey in the UK. She holds a Master in European Law. Currently, Efthymia is a practising Attorney at Law in Greece. Her responsibilities within the Bureau involve the coordination of the newsletter and of the statutory provisions as well as proofreading tasks.
epp european peopleâ€™s party