BullsEye May 2017 / 55th Year / No. 68 / ISSN 2033-7809
The newsmagazine of European Democrat Students
Think European, Act Globally
“There are two kinds of states in Europe: small states and states that haven’t realised they are small.” Barely any quote summarises the driving forces behind the foundation of the European community quite as poignantly as these words by then-Belgian Foreign Minister Theo Lefèvre. With this witticism, Lefèvre had succinctly outlined Europe’s dilemma: on the one hand, with its division into a variety of states, Europe was doomed to permanent rivalry between small- and medium-sized nations impossible to maintain any sort of proper “balance of power” in the long term. The unity of Europe was an acknowledgement of the inability of any local power to guarantee meaningful stability on the continent. Most significantly however, Lefèvre was evidently pointing to a larger problem: Europe’s place in the world. A dominant power at the dawn of modernity, the continent had gradually lost its global hegemony: the colonial Empires of France and Britain were dwindling, the United States and the Soviet Union had emerged as the new world leaders, and after two devastating wars, Europe was virtually in ruins – the “Old Continent” had lost its predominance to the “New World”. When the signatories of the Treaty of Rome thus came together in March 1957 to found the European Community, they were concerned with securing the peaceful and prosperous future of the continent from within – but also with preserving Europe’s ability to shape the world outside. Sixty years later, this ambition of a “global Europe” has lost nothing of its relevance – even with the bipolar power constellation of the Cold War gone, the breath-taking pace of globalisation, the rise of new global leaders such as China and Russia, and not least the doubts over the future reliance on the erstwhile American ally have rendered it even more important that the European Union looks out and into the world – for, if Europe does not shape the world, it will be shaped by it. With this issue, the working year 2016/2017 comes to an end for BullsEye. This is beyond anything else a moment to express thanks: to the EDS Bureau and in particular Vice-Chair Silvie Rohr for their unwavering support. To my stellar Editorial Team who have consistently worked hard to bring you the newest ideas and perspectives from centre-right youth politics. To our graphic designer Uroš Podgorelec for his tireless toil on each edition. To all of our guest contributors for their insight – and last but certainly not least to you, our readers, for your loyalty and interest. We greatly hope that you will continue to support us in the next year! In gratitude, I wish you a thought-provoking read,
Henrique Laitenberger Editor-in-Chief
I would like to welcome you to a brand-new issue of BullsEye. This time we want to focus on Europe’s place within the international community. The first (West) German President, Theodor Heuss, once said that Europe rests on three hills: on the Acropolis, with its values of freedom, philosophy, and democracy; on the Capitol, that is, on Roman law and the state order; and on Golgotha which means Christianity. It might be questionable whether these guiding principles are still applicable today and will continue to lead us in future. Currently, the international order is being challenged by self-confident authoritarian forces in China, Russia and even the United States, but also by non-state actors such as the so-called "Islamic State". To ensure that Europe does not become a pawn in this dynamic global power system, the EU must act as a joint political force. At present, the stabilisation of a safety order should be the main focus. This stabilisation process needs a common policy that is based on international norms, Western values and European interests. Admittedly, the creation of a joint European strategy that combines real political interests of both the nation-states and the state community is not an easy task. It requires, in particular, a high degree of compromise and increased external cooperation in order to pursue an effective interest policy. But I am convinced that the effort will be worth it. Europe has become what we have gained from our basic beliefs of freedom, diversity, and competition, but also from respect of human dignity and the rule of law: a centre of peaceful and divers coexistence. We should continue to measure our actions within and beyond the European borders against these guiding principles which have already proven themselves in the past. As this is the last issue of the working year, I would use this opportunity to thank the whole BullsEye Editorial Team, but in particular Editor-in-Chief Henrique Laitenberger, for their tireless and committed work. It has been my pleasure to supervise this group of highly motivated and inspiring young people – and I hope that the next generation too will share the same passion for this unique project. In this sprit, I hope you may enjoy this issue.
Silvie Rohr Vice-Chair for Publications
BULLSEYE The newsmagazine of European Democrat Students
Current Affairs 04 The Populist Momentum Halted? 05 May Won’t End In June 06 The Forgotten War 07 Interview with Porcsalmi Bálint
Theme 08 A Seat at the Table 10 A Liberation of Our Times 12 Grow Or Die? 14 Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
Series - Europe and the World 16 New Delhi, New Deal? 18 The Unlikely Ally? 19 Engagement Eastwards
BE ON 20 Far From Right 22 Behind Closed Doors 24 Fake News. 26 (Centre-)Right to Be Proud
Universities 27 Quality, Not Quantity 28 Troubles of the Mind
Council of Europe 30 Go Public - Do Better? 31 Bureau
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: Lotte Schipper, Henrique Laitenberger, Ramy Jabbour, Porcsalmi Bálint, Robert Kiss, Zebulon Carlander, Dr Nathan Smith, Vladimir Kljajić, Malte Arndt, Geoffrey Van Orden, Teodoras Žukas, Olivia Andersson, Neil Smart Costantino, Maciej Kmita, Kristina Olausson, Fredrik Saweståhl, Manuel Schlaffer, Sarah Wolpers, Silvie Rohr Photos: Péter Láng, 123RF and Shutterstock Design: creacion.si Publisher: European Democrat Students, B-1000 Brussels, Rue du Commerce 10 Tel: +32 2 2854-150 Fax: +32 2 2854-141 Email: email@example.com Website: edsnet.eu Articles and opinions published in the magazine are not necessarily reflecting the position of EDS, the EDS Bureau or the Editorial team
Publication supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe
Welcome to the last edition of BullsEye, the official debating magazine of the European Democrat Students, the largest student family of the centre-right, for the working year 2016/17. This issue of BullsEye is entitled "Think European, Act Globally. 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, the better we can take care with our transatlantic relations". Indeed, the well-known challenges encountered by the EU in conjunction with events taking place around the globe, such as the uncertainty caused by the election of President Trump in the US, all indicate towards the necessity that Europe takes on a serious leadership role. In order to regain international influence and protect the Western values which are currently being challenged by emerging powers, Europe must make an accurate assessment of the main challenges ahead. It is thus more important than ever to have a clear strategy on issues ranging from the management of migration, trade deals, the Middle East, security, defence, foreign policy, to the resolution of Brexit. Hence, the topic of this issue of BullsEye merits a lot of analysis, so please read through it for more ideas and opinions from young people, politicians and experts all over Europe.
On another note, this BullsEye issue is prepared ahead of the EDS Council Meeting in Oslo, Norway which will be held under the theme of "Arctic and the EU: Supporting Successful Cooperation and Meeting the Challenges". The development in the Arctic region has a significant impact on the EU, whilst European Union policies affect the Arctic region on the political, economic, and environmental level. The importance of the Arctic region for the EU (and vice-versa) must be discussed more at European level, especially considering that there is a large number of our counterparts in the region, facing particular challenges. Dear friends, being the EDS Chairman for two years has been a true honour. This is an amazing journey which will soon come to an end and this is therefore the last time I have the opportunity to address you. In this regard, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my friends Henrique Laitenberger and Silvie Rohr for the tremendous job they did with BullsEye over the last two years. Many thanks also go to our amazing Editorial Team and everyone else who contributed towards the success of our in-house magazine. We proudly handed over BullsEye to EDS friends and partners all over Europe and without a doubt, it has contributed enormously for EDS to become more political and more extrovert than ever before. Please enjoy reading our last issue of BullsEye and keep in mind that the EDS Bureau is always interested in receiving feedback, hearing your ideas, and discovering more ways to proudly serve students across Europe.
With best regards from the EDS bureau,
Georgios Chatzigeorgiou Chairman
The Populist Momentum Halted? The 2017 Elections in the Netherlands On the 15 March 2017, the Netherlands held their national elections, voting for representatives in the Second Chamber, the most important house of the Dutch parliament. The Netherlands has a culture of consensus politics. After decades of politics led by the – once – three mainstream parties PvdA (Social Democrats), CDA (Christian Democrats) and VVD (Liberals), it has since 2006 been confronted by a leader on the far-right: Geert Wilders. A leader with anti-EU and anti-immigration views. A leader alike Marine Le Pen and Frauke Petry. All European eyes were on the Netherlands, as the first of more elections to come in Western Europe. All the more reason therefore to take stock of these Dutch elections and assess their meaning. The VVD (Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie – People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy), led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, won the elections by capturing with 33 of 150 seats. It did, however, lose eight seats compared to the last time when Dutch voters went to the polling stations in 2013. The PvdA (Partij van de Arbeid – Labour Party), VVD’s coalition partner for the past four years, suffered meanwhile a historic loss, going down from 38 to a mere nine seats in parliament. The liberals were followed by parties winning around the same amount of seats. Geert Wilders’ “Freedom Party” (Partij voor de Vrijheid – PVV) won 20 seats, CDA (Christen-Democratisch Appèl – Christian Democratic Appeal) and D66 (Liberal) won 19 seats, GroenLinks (Green Left) and SP (Socialist Party) both won 14 seats respectively. The monumental defeat of the PvdA can be attributed to the popularity of Jesse Klaver, the 30-year-old, charismatic leader of GroenLinks: 35% of all the GroenLinks voters were aged between 18 and 34, the largest percentage of young supporters among all parties. He became very successful with his accessible style, approachable attitude, clear message and vision and town hall meetings in popular concert halls. Another party to benefit from the decline of the PvdA were D66 (liberals). The loss of young voters aside, PvdA lost many voters with an immigrant background. For too long, the party had thought that voters with an immigrant background would automatically vote for a politician with an immigrant background. However,
many indeed were rather persuaded by a new party focusing especially on this demographic, DENK (Think) which won three seats. Foreign media were very relieved and euphoric by the results. They interpreted the defeat of PVV, which some polls had previously seen ahead of VVD, as a victory for the European Union and a setback for populism. Personally, I find this too simple an analysis: the PVV won a further five seats compared to 2013 and did become the second largest party in the Dutch parliament. Eurosceptic parties such as the Socialist Party and Forum voor Democratie moreover won 16 seats together. Since there is no larger party willing to work with the PVV, they will not become part of any governing coalition. However, their influence will grow further: around half of Dutch citizens would welcome a referendum on “Nexit” – the Dutch withdrawal from the EU. That has not changed after the election results. Wilders had a great influence on the election campaigns. VVD and CDA both moved to the right. Rutte wrote a letter on values in all Dutch newspapers, aimed towards immigrants, and acted strongly against the activism of the Turkish government in the Netherlands during the elections, which caused a diplomatic riot between the two countries. Christian Democratic leader Sybrand Buma too has made immigration and integration a big topic of his own. We should at the same time not overestimate the influence of Geert Wilders. He has attracted much (foreign) media attention, being the tall, bleachedblonde politician living under 24/7 police supervision who doesn’t mind to provoke he is. More significant is the fragmentation in Dutch politics: this year, the
Dutch could choose between 28 parties. Since there is no electoral threshold and 67,000 votes equal a seat, many of these parties had a chance of earning a seat in parliament. Forum voor Democratie, which had played a role in bringing about the referendum on the EU association treaty with Ukraine, started an online campaign and won two seats. DENK attracted many Muslims with an immigrant background and won three seats. The party for pensioners and the party for animal rights won seats as well. This fragmentation led to over 50% of the voters making their decision in the final days before the elections. Nearly all parties were satisfied with the results of the 2017 elections. Only the Social Democrats faced a disastrous result, losing 29 of their previous 38 seats and many of their traditional voters. The coalition to emerge from this result is likely to be formed by VVD, CDA, D66 and GroenLinks. The PVV is as expected to be left out. This does not mean however that we can ignore the 13% of PVV voters and their motives – neither as Dutch, nor European organisations.
May Won’t End In June
The UK Snap General Election Explained
The announcement by UK Prime Minister Theresa May to hold a snap General Election took many observers by surprise. Many, especially within the EU-27, hope that this election may prove a last chance to reverse the Brexit process begun officially on 29 March. This is highly unlikely – and yet, Theresa May’s manoeuvre may well prove crucial in the exit negotiations to come. Theresa May’s surprise revelation that her nation would be called to the polls again as well on 8 June 2017 seemed to confirm many who adhered to the school of thought that 2017, with its key elections in France and Germany amongst others, could prove as disruptive as 2016. Yet what seems a shock announcement is a rather mellow affair. Contrary to what many continental observers may reckon or even hope, the stakes in the United Kingdom’s upcoming elections are rather low: Theresa May’s Conservatives seem at this point all but certain to return to Westminster with an increased majority, even a landslide is not to be discounted: standing at 48%, the Tories enjoy a comfortable poll lead over a Labour Party languishing at 24%. Indeed, when it comes to whom Britons would rather see as Prime Minister, May leads her principal opponent Jeremy Corby by 36%. If it is too considered that the Prime Minister currently governs with a slender majority of 17 in the House of Commons, there is no prize for guessing what the intention behind this snap election is: to grant Theresa May a comfortable majority to steer her party through what bode to be complex and sobering negotiations with the EU-27. That the PM has decided to seize the opportunity after triggering Article 50 and receiving a definite rejection of her request to conduct parallel negotiations on a trade deal is thus no coincidence. That May can look forward to a comfortable election is not least thanks to an opposition unable to capitalise on the general uncertainty following Britain’s shock vote of 23 June 2016 to exit the European Union. Foremost among those is the Labour Party with its calamitous leader Jeremy Corbyn. Swept into office by a far-left fever after the unexpected election defeat of 2015, the enthusiasm surrounding the former socialist Messiah has even subsided among many of
his disciples. This is not least due to Brexit: whereas the Labour Party as a whole supported “Remain”, Corbyn was never an ardent enthusiastic European. His support for EU membership was so lukewarm that many convincing rumours circulated in Westminster after 23 June that Corbyn had in fact voted for Brexit. Corbyn himself has done little to disperse these doubts by consistently failing to offer any coherent narrative on Brexit, often ignoring the issue altogether to the disillusionment of many Labour progressives. Even now, in a General Election essentially revolving around Brexit, Corbyn has decided to base his campaign on a populist platform of social justice, a theme he is more comfortable with – exemplary of how much Labour is presently talking past voters. The Labour leadership’s almost farcical cluelessness – apparently, the party did not even have a list of target seats ready upon May’s announcement – is however proving far more debilitating than Corbyn’s regressive leftist politics. Thus, Britain’s second natural party of government is all but staring into the electoral abyss this June. Whereas the Labour Party appears to enter the wilderness, the avowedly pro-EU Liberal Democrats struggle to escape it. A few electoral gains since 23 June cannot conceal that the Liberals struggle to make themselves heard nationally after their decimation at the last General Election in 2015. There is little reason to believe that the party will recover substantively: many left of the centre have not yet forgiven the LibDems for entering a coalition with David Cameron in 2010. The fact that LibDem leader Tim Farron announced that he would not rule out another coalition with the Conservatives may come back to haunt him in the campaign. The only political figure besides May who has been able to somewhat exploit the political mood is
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Yet this has had little effect on the government’s overall popularity since Sturgeon and her Scottish National Party (SNP) are galvanised to turn the election into a poll on a second Scottish independence referendum. To do this, the SNP needs to at least hold onto a majority of seats in Caledonia. It is unlikely however that the party will replicate its astounding victory of 2015, when the “ScotNats” won 56 out of 59 Scottish parliamentary seats. A strong SNP showing would not be a minor risk for May and could back her into a corner. At worst, another referendum as soon as 2018 and Scotland’s secession from the United Kingdom would be the outcome – not only a severe blow to the nationalist triumphalism of the Brexiteers, but crucially perilous for the Prime Minister’s successful negotiations in Brussels. However, the Scottish Tories with their charismatic leader Ruth Davidson are sufficiently strong to give the SNP a good run for their money. A Tory victory can mean but one thing: Brexit will mean Brexit. Yet a stronger Conservative government should not necessarily prove daunting for those wishing to retain closer relations with the United Kingdom post-Brexit. Contrary to her image on the continent, Theresa May is no dogmatic Brexiteer. Whilst her social conservatism may incline her to defend a hardline position on freedom of movement in the long-term, there is much reason to believe that she will not wilfully sacrifice the United Kingdom on the Brexit altar. The General Election may thus be just as much a means to weaken the opposition, as to outfox the hard-right Brexiteers in her party who previously brought about the downfall of May’s predecessor in Downing Street Number 10.
The Forgotten War How Can Europe Solve the Crisis in Yemen? War in Yemen has had an alarming impact on civilians, prompting a strong condemnation by the European Union after the attacks on hospitals, schools, and homes on 1 April 2015. The situation has not changed over the past two years and the huge negative impact on the civilians is increasing further – all while media coverage is decreasing. However, this does not mean that the war ended or a peace agreement was made. The Arab uprisings in 2011 largely affected the MENATI region including Yemen, where huge protests denouncing unemployment and the deteriorating economic conditions occurred across the country’s regions. The protesters’ demands eventually escalated into calls for the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Moreover, mass defections from the regime and its army affected the government’s control and authority on the Yemeni territory. The protests eventually turned violent and the peaceful uprising ended into clashes between the pro-regime forces and their opponents, with the Yemeni President stepping down after an assassination attempt. The new government, consisting of the Islah party (the Muslim brotherhood’s branch in Yemen) in addition to several political figures from Southern Yemen, faced considerable challenges from the Houthi militias in Northern Yemen and the former presidential militias. The Houthis, officially called Ansar Allah, are a Zaidi Shia-led religious political movement that emerged in Sa’dah, northern Yemen, in the 1990s. Fighting
against the government of the ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh since 2004, the Houthis mended their relationship with the ousted president in 2014 and together they took control of North Yemen and the capital. Allied with Iran and Hezbollah, the Houthis continued their military expansion toward the southern capital of Yemen which led to an Arab coalition intervention led by Saudi Arabia against the Houthi militias. This contribution prevented Iran’s allies from taking over Yemen, compelling them to retreat the Northern regions of the country. It is essential to mention that this conflict was not fully an internal issue, since Iran aimed at controlling Yemen. Noting that several Tehran-based generals announced their intention to take over Yemen as the fifth Arab state. This struggle stoked the historical conflict between Northern and Southern Yemen, in addition to prompting a largescale Saudi military intervention for the first time in history. Riyadh’s leadership considered the Houthi takeover in Yemen a direct threat to its national
security by Iran. Moreover, this war has had two catastrophic consequences: one of them on Yemeni civilians and the other on the world’s security. The principal victims of the Saudi blockade and the Houthis’ abuse of human rights have been Yemeni civilians, as poverty increased drastically and the movement of international humanitarian organisations able to provide relief has diminished simultaneously. Furthermore, a security threat to the international community became alarming after Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) improved their base in many Yemeni regions. This branch of Al Qaeda is known as one of the most dangerous groups, having previously masterminded attacks on European capitals or at least trained franchise terror groups or individuals. Although Yemen is geographically far from the European continent, ending the war in this failed state may have a positive impact in combating terrorism and easing the tensions in the MENATI region. The European decision-makers have to play a major role in threatening to lessen their political relations with Iran since it is funding European stated terrorist organisations intervening in the Yemeni conflict. Reaching a peaceful solution in Yemen with help that include the major political groups in Yemen (Southern/Northern/Islamist/Houthis) may facilitate the European strategy in combatting the dangerous Al Qaeda group in Yemen. It is important for the European states to play a part in restoring the balance of power in the MENATI region by containing the Iranian-Shi’ite expansion which is leading the oppressed Sunnis toward terrorist organisations. 1
MENATI stands for Middle East , North Africa, Turkey and Iran
CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE AND THEIR NEEDS BULLSEYE INTERVIEW WITH PORCSALMI BÁLINT (CHAIRMAN OF RMDSZ)
MR BÁLINT, TO INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO OUR READERS, PLEASE SAY A FEW WORDS ABOUT YOURSELF. I joined RMDSZ at a very young age when I was 19 years old. I am quite proud of having grown up within this organisation. This span of time reaches far beyond the limits of a professional and political career, especially as I am emotionally linked to the Alliance. During the past few years, I have done my best to further things here at RMDSZ as a youth officer, campaign strategist, executive vice-president, chief of staff and secretary of state in the Romanian government. I have worked abroad as a political consultant in a variety of election campaigns in Ukraine, Austria, Serbia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia, Lithuania, Moldavia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. For the last seven years, I delivered trainings and lectures for the US-based International Republican Institute, and I had the opportunity to work in challenging environments like Jordan, Somalia, and Mongolia. YOU WERE RECENTLY APPOINTED EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF RMDSZ - WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS, WHAT CHANGES DO YOU WANT TO IMPLEMENT, AND WHERE? I intend to use all my knowledge, experience, and energy to build an open, modern, and strong Alliance, one that would stand close to the people and would listen to their needs. When I accepted this office, I decided I would tailor work processes in such a way as to implement the principles of innovation, community, and dialogue. Speaking of changes, I consider they should be brought about joining forces with my colleagues. RMDSZ needs to open up more towards Hungarians, it
needs to find ways to listen to their needs better and to gather opinions and information. There will be no elections for two years now and beyond keeping the community informed, our most important task is to listen to what our community has to say. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS REGARDING YOUTH ORGANISATIONS? WHAT ABOUT NEW PARTNERSHIPS ABROAD, OR RENEWING THE EXISTING ONES? I would like to turn RMDSZ into the most modern organisation in Romania or even in the region within a couple of years. We might achieve this goal by reactivating the movement-like character of the Alliance and by winning more youth to our side as well. As a former youth organisation leader, I know how important it is for us to engage and empower the new generation. This is why we are turning towards young entrepreneurs and businessmen over the course of the upcoming months. It is the joint interest of Romania and the RMDSZ to keep our young people from moving abroad, to help them build a life here and to let their accumulated knowledge enrich Transylvania and this country. The latest congress of the European People's Party was an excellent opportunity to make the instances of injustice we face day by day as a minority known to our partners. We have also stated that we were preparing an amendment to the law on the use of one's mothertongue which would deem the implementation of linguistic rights compulsory in any region with Hungarian inhabitants and would lower the threshold for official use of one's mother-tongue from 20% to 10%. In compliance to this, the names of settlements, streets, institutions, and public areas should be displayed in Hungarian, too.
We also carry the task of settling the situation of indigenous minorities in Europe, counting about 60 million people. We should not let Europe avoid ethnic minorities when she is taking decisions regarding them. Together with our foreign partners, the FUEN, we have set out to gather one million signatures through the Minority SafePack European citizen’s initiative, meant to support legislation on European minority protection. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON THE EMERGENCY ORDINANCE NUMBER 13 REGARDING AMENDMENTS TO THE CRIMINAL CODE AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE AND THE NATIONWIDE PROTESTS IT TRIGGERED? Let it be known that since 2009, various governments have repeatedly amended the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code without even one stray parliamentary debate. Our constitution allows this, meaning this is a field with a general lack of transparency. So far, the Constitutional Court has delivered over 40 decisions deeming the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code unconstitutional. Yet the first conclusion here is that laws should never be passed going around the parliament. The second is that the CC and CPC should be amended with an eye on the decisions delivered by the Constitutional Court. Still, the most important conclusion is that these codes of law should contain clear and specific provisions. The legislation in Romania has lately failed to draw these conclusions. I think those who went out in the street to demonstrate were right to do so. IN YOUR OPINION WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF ORDINANCE 13? DO YOU THINK THEY WANTED TO COVER SOMETHING ELSE BY PUSHING THIS ORDINANCE FORWARD? This government had mishandled the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. They appeared to be trying to save their own politicians and moreover, to be doing so by means of an Emergency Ordinance, in a total lack of transparency. Previously, by the way, the Cioloș-cabinet, the government of technocrats, had also amended the CC and the CPC by an Emergency Ordinance, without anyone having anything rash to say over the matter. Tensions have reached the limit of the socially bearable by now, so it seems. People refuse to accept, and it is their right to do so, a government going around the parliament, doing away with transparency and public debate.
A Seat at the Table Europe’s Role in Global Security Europe has for centuries played a significant - and often decisive - role when it comes to shaping world order and security. The European state system that was established at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 has become the first truly global system, which basically every region around the world has adopted. One of the biggest geopolitical trendlines in the world we are seeing now is how increasingly it is in Asia where the most economic activity is being centred. It is also in Asia that we are seeing some of the most consequential issues of our times, most importantly the re-emergence of China as an economic and military heavyweight – which has farreaching consequences. The truth of our time is that we cannot ensure European security without playing a role in global security. Having been at the core of world politics, from empire building to the Cold War confrontation between the two superpowers, that role is increasingly being taken by Asia – and as the saying goes, if you are not at the table, you are on the menu. For seven decades, Europe has also to a great extent relied on transatlantic cooperation and the American security presence. Without the United States’ nuclear umbrella during the years after the Second World War, the conditions for the European project and French-German reconciliation would probably not have existed. Today, while Europe yet again is vulnerable to external pressures from the east and south, the American commitment to security and stability on the continent has never been more in question. President Donald
Trump was elected on a retrenchment platform, basically arguing that the United States should play a less active role in the world. Trump also has expressed, both before and during his political career, a profound scepticism towards the United States’ global alliance and trading system, something which puts him at odds with all post-war American administrations. It is unlikely that the new administration would abandon the American security presence in Europe. The United States has vital security interests in the stability of the region, its presence in Eastern Europe gives it a platform for its global presence and the resistance among the traditional establishment in Washington would be overwhelming. However, it is clear that this is an administration less inclined than previous ones to help building peace and security in Europe. So Europe needs to do more for its own security. That is not only addressing problems in the immediate neighbourhood to the east and south, but also looking further to the Indo-Pacific and beyond. To reiterate an earlier point, if Europe does not have a role to play in the world's most important geopolitical hotspots, there is a risk that we ourselves could become to object of great power bargains. This might be a
prospect that is hard to visualise, but very real indeed. We have to think in terms of three sets of issues: capabilities, cooperation, and partnerships. First, capabilities are essential in the conduct of any foreign and security policy. That includes military capabilities, but also other tools, such as cyber, foreign aid and economic sanctions. But at the moment, it is the military side of the capabilities equation that needs to be focused on. After the end of the Cold War, we saw a large downscaling of armed forces all-around Europe. At the time, there was a rationale for doing this, but in hindsight there was too little consideration put on eventual changes in the security environment and what might be needed to respond to such a change. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London, between 1995 and 2015, the number of main battle tanks in Europe fell from around 25,000 to 8,000. At the same time, the number of fighter and ground attack aircraft decreased from 5,400 to 2,400. While Europe was dismantling its military capabilities, Russia was rebuilding and reforming its own. Thankfully, we are witnessing a turnaround; today, European defence capabilities are improving. At the 2014 summit in Wales, all NATO member states
pledged to increase defence spending to 2% of GDP (a few states already reached that aim). There is a required debate on what to invest in, but if done in a smart and coordinated manner that limits duplication, this increase in defence spending will greatly improve Europe's ability to improve security and to deter adversaries from aggression. Although Europe is still stumbling when it comes to economic growth, the 2% should be seen as an investment to advance our security interests. Secondly, we need to improve cooperation internally in Europe. This does not necessitate creating new structures outside from the already existing security architecture that is composed of NATO and the EU. What we do need is to improve cooperation between NATO and the EU, a work in progress since the 2016 NATO summit. We also need to explore the possibilities of improving defence and security cooperation within the EU, but without harming NATO's relevance or position. This is not an easy balancing act, but with political will it can be done in an effective manner. A strong NATO is in the interest of the EU, and a strong EU is in the interest of NATO. This is especially true since the Brexit decision. Thirdly, Europe needs to look around for partners. The most important European partner will remain
the United States, because of our shared values and interests, but we need to look further as well. Especially important will be building partnerships with so-called ''rising powers'' such as China, India, and Indonesia. Where our interests might converge, we should cooperate. There are also developed economies that we could deepen our current cooperation with, such as Japan and Australia. This cooperation can take place in many forms and ways: anti-piracy initiatives, joint military exercises, or improved trade. If Europe acts in a somewhat organised manner, a lot of progress can be made. In a recent interview with The Atlantic, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger reflected on the current geostrategic predicament facing Europe. He said: ''For 400 years, world history was made by Europeans. Many of the great ideas by which we liveâ€” constitutional government, freedom of the individual, the ideas of the Enlightenmentâ€”originated in Europe and were spread by Europe around the world. Now this region, which was dynamic and built the world, has become too preoccupied with itself. It confines itself basically to the exercise of soft power. At present, no European government has the capacity to ask its people for sacrifices on behalf of foreign policy.
Unless Europe can recover some of its historic dynamism, there will be a big hole in the world system as it has until now manifested itself. What has been lacking in Syria is Europe, but their present domestic structures tempt them to avoid difficult strategic issues. You can only ask sacrifices of your people when you can present some vision of getting them from where they are to where they have not been. Otherwise, why should they do it?'' Mr Kissinger raises some important points. In a world where Europe is less active on the world stage, Europe is more vulnerable and the world is more unstable. Let's make sure then, that Europe acts on the world stage.
A Liberation for Our Times Why the West Should Embrace Open Borders Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany is one of the most admired politicians in the world today, hailed as “leader of the free world” by some in the USA. Her government’s courage and generosity in welcoming hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees stood in contrast to the cruel cowardice of so many other Western governments that shut their doors. Raised in East Germany, Merkel is a daughter of the last great advance of freedom. In welcoming Syrian refugees, Germany is giving the world a glimpse of what the next great advance of freedom ought to look like. What is freedom? In contrast with Americans and Britons, who tend to assume their own historic institutions just are freedom, continental Europeans faced and fought over the meaning of freedom in subtle, varied, and tragic ways in the 20th century. Socialism was thus for instance once conceived as a liberation from money and tyrannical employers, till it became a worse tyranny, from which nations yearned for liberation. It is rather a relief that Europeans today largely identify freedom with liberal, democratic capitalism. In the aftermath of the fall of communism, Francis Fukuyama eulogised this consensus as “the end of history.” Yet today, “the end of history” seems to be unravelling. In the past two decades, anti-globalisation protestors, militaristic neoconservatives, environmentalists, same-sex marriage advocates, EU bureaucrats, populist right-wingers seeking ethnic solidarity, and social conservatives decrying modern promiscuity, have all sought to steer policy and society in sharply new directions. Such ideological conflicts, combined with economic stagnation, have precipitated a sweeping, intractable legitimacy crisis throughout the West. Most of the rival voices extol freedom, but what they mean by it differs. History shows that the meaning of freedom has grown and changed with the passing generations, but also that the rhetoric of freedom can pave the road to tyranny. It is important to scrutinise carefully the many offerings in the marketplace of ideas, in order to distinguish wholesome food from poison. So we must keep asking: What is freedom, really? My answer is that people are free inasmuch as they are not constrained by external force in ways that prevent them from flourishing. This definition avoids Amartya Sen’s conflation of freedom with development, which leads to an open-ended agenda of defining “substantive freedoms” that depend on wealth, and often on government handouts, to make them available. Freedom is not a scarce resource. Happiness may require wealth, talent, and virtue to
achieve, but to be free is not to be wealthy, talented, or virtuous, but merely to be unconstrained in the pursuit of happiness. Not all constraints people face, however, are equally important. Constraints that forbid one to marry for love, practice one’s faith, or choose one’s profession, greatly reduce freedom, because marriage, religion, and work are crucial parts of human flourishing. Constraints that forbid one to use cocaine or commit suicide burden freedom less, if at all, because suicide and cocaine do not make a person flourish. In many ways, today’s world is more free than most past ages were, but in one respect, it is much less so: international migration. Rarely if ever have governments used force so systematically and comprehensively to prevent people from bettering their lives through international migration. Demand for international migration is higher than ever. Polls show that hundreds of millions of people around the world want to emigrate from the countries where they were born. That makes sense. Widespread English language skills, cheap airfares, and the Internet make migration easier than ever, if one can get a visa. Billions of people in the developing world are born to bleak and impoverished lives, yet they could raise their incomes by multiples, and in many cases enjoy more physical security and political and social freedom as well, if only they could move to rich countries. Unfortunately, Western governments only let in a tiny fraction of these aspiring migrants. By far the greatest service the West could do for the freedom and flourishing of mankind would be to let these people come. Open borders could be to this generation what the fall of communism was to the last generation, or the abolition of slavery was to the 19th century: the great liberation that gives the age its meaning and glory. And the economy would boom, too. Economic models suggest that world GDP would roughly double under open borders, while global income inequality would be reduced. Billions of people, not only the migrants themselves but the
THEME recipients of remittances as well, would have more to eat, more comfortable homes to live in, better health and education, and more access to electricity, plumbing, glass windows, and clean water. Many would also gain freedoms, denied to them in their homelands, to speak their minds, worship according to the dictates of their own conscience, or marry for love. Would all this freedom, and all this alleviation of world poverty, come at the expense of Westerners’ living standards? It need not. The straightforward “general equilibrium” effects of open borders would be (a) to greatly increase the supply of unskilled labor in the West, and therefore (b) to lower entry level wages, but also (c) to raise the prices of other production inputs that are complementary to raw labor. Skilled workers would see their wages rise. Returns on financial capital would increase-- the Dow Jones and other stock market indices would soar-- and homeowners would see their property surge in value. Entrepreneurs would face new competitors, but also enjoy abundant workers and a flood of new customers. Consumers would enjoy an expanded array of goods and services. Westerners would face a challenge of adapting, but also vast opportunity. For those Westerners that do not adapt well, migration taxes could finance a universal basic income for citizens, so that no Westerner would suffer destitution. The big downside of open borders for Westerners is not that they would be poor, but that they would see the poor. The 20th-century Leviathan state, with its welfare and its immigration restrictions, spares those privileged enough to be born in the West from witnessing the kind of extreme poverty that most of historic mankind has lived in. But that aching, crippling poverty is still in the world, sprawling like a curse across South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and elsewhere. Open borders would do far more to alleviate that poverty than anything else the West could do, but it would also force Westerners to see it, every day, in the streets. Unfortunately, many Westerners seem to think they have no moral obligations to foreigners until they enter the national territory, when a moral obligation to provide a Western-style living standard magically appears. This makes little sense. Westerners need to get rid of spurious moral scruples that prevent them from adopting the most effective available means of alleviating world poverty. The key to making open borders fiscally feasible is to delink rights of residency from access to the welfare state, as Qatar and Singapore have done. At a time when anti-immigrant nationalism is surging across the West, open borders advocacy may seem quixotic. But nationalism cannot solve the West’s legitimacy crisis, because it is too nakedly immoral. Once a creed of the idealistic young, nationalism today is an angry, selfish, ugly, aggrieved reaction of older and less educated
voters. It appeals to the social preferences and perceived economic interests of some, but cannot pretend to appeal to anyone’s conscience. The only wholesome, durable basis for solidarity is a shared belief in freedom and a determination to defend it. If the social contract means that I will defend your rights and you will defend mine, its demands are compatible with those of conscience. If the social contract means that you and I will work together to exclude and expel foreigners, it cannot bind anyone in conscience and is illegitimate. That is the deepest reason why the populist right, though it gropes for the solidarity of a lost past, can never be anything but divisive. Meanwhile, as the Internet reshapes the human conversation, enabling people to connect internationally and find ever more diverse social niches based on shared interests, beliefs, and lifestyles, the appeal of conformist national solidarity will wane. European lovers of freedom have the memory of heroic dissidents to edify them. The French resistance during World War II, Vaclav Havel in the Czech Republic, and the Polish Solidarity movement, among others, all remembered what freedom was, and remained true to it, in the face of force and propaganda, and often of hostile public opinion as well. Open borders advocates, like the dissidents of yesteryear, seem, for the moment, to be a powerless minority, yet the populist right fears them. Maybe they have good reason to. It would not be the first time that helpless dissidents turned out to be on the verge of victory.
Dr Nathan Smith, Open Borders: The Case
Grow Or Die?
Should the EU Continue with its Enlargement? The European Union recently marked the 60th anniversary since the signing of one of the most important treaties, the Treaty of Rome. At the time, there were only six signatories, while at the recent celebration there were 27 members – showing just how successful the Founding Fathers’ vision for enlargement has been. Yet does this continue to be the way forward? One criterion to gauge the success of an organisation is the number of its members and its power of representation. On the other hand, politics is often seen as a business, in which voters are consumers and political parties are service providers. Applying this analogy, one might say that the axiom governing modern business is “grow or die”. From this perspective, the EU seems to have had good business, growing throughout its history – all while, of course, bearing in mind the frequent challenges faced or the current Brexit. In March this year, at the EPP Congress in Malta, Angela Merkel stressed that the EU should keep the door open to further enlargement after Brexit. She said that the countries of the Western Balkans should be given a prospect of becoming members of the European Union in stages, which should not be too complicated now with 27 or 28 Member States. We could say, without doubt, that growth leads to change, and change is not simple. The Union as such has over the course of its long history successfully adapted to the circumstances it was exposed to. Some say that the EU is suffering from institutional
overload and turning into an ineffectual mini-UN. External and internal factors have determined discourse and policy and the way it is managed. However, we cannot say which one prevails in the development of this sui generis organisation. The standard course of events following the collapse of the Berlin Wall was expansion towards the Eastern Block. Neighbours, both close and far from the EU, always looked upon it as a standard which they should aspire to. However, the appeal of the EU in the enlargement countries has also been partly affected by the economic downturn and scepticism concerning the European project. One of the countries abandoning the concept of development as the “must” to attain is Turkey. Not just during recent months, but also over the past couple of years, the Turkish government, governing with a stable majority, has given up on Western standards. The attitude towards enlargement in Member States has in turn soured as well, given their own problems and the rise in anti-EU, nationalist sentiment. Nevertheless, one of the main repellents is weak economic growth that is required. In addition, there is a failure and no common
THEME stance on the ongoing migrant crisis, terrorism, and the necessity of reforming the EU itself. The enlargement process should be viewed in several frames. One should consider Candidate Countries, Potential Candidate Countries, and Possible Membership Countries separately. It could be said that the pace of enlargement depends on two factors, one is the speed of the fulfilment of certain criteria, while the other is the political mood within the EU and the Member States. These conditions are known as the “Copenhagen criteria” and include a free-market economy, a stable democracy, and the rule of law, as well as the acceptance of all EU legislation. We must concede that enlargement has been the EU’s most successful foreign policy tool. The lure of membership has kept Central and Eastern Europe on the path of peace and democracy. Withdrawal of a proactive policy towards enlargement on the Balkans, Ukraine, Turkey, or others in the East will create a permanent arc of unrest on Europe’s eastern flank. Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, while presenting the new EU Global Strategy in 2016, emphasised that the principle in the preparation of the strategy was “My neighbour's strength is my own strength’’. It means that the European Union aims to encircle itself with stable countries that can be reliable partners. The EU supports reforms in the “enlargement countries” with financial and technical help through The Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance by dedicating 11.7 billion euros for the period 2014-2020. EU pre-accession funds are not just a good investment into the future of the enlargement countries, but also an investment into the EU itself. They help these countries make political and economic reforms, preparing them for the rights and obligations that come with EU membership. Due to changes in US policy, the EU must also take more responsibility and a more proactive foreign policy through the process of enlargement.
membership, but no enlargement would be on the agenda in the short to medium term. On the other hand, through the enlargement process, the EU, with its close neighbours, has started to facilitated dialogue for the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina. Both countries, which are part of the dialogue, were promised membership in the EU. Also if there was no enlargement, Serbia could easily slip into Russia’s embrace which can be very challenging for peace in the Balkans. Therefore, the EU should bear in mind that time is also very valuable in geopolitical terms. Recent developments in the largest candidate country, Turkey, have transformed from a partner into a rival. In addition to the “strong neighbour principle”, which in turn guarantees the strength of the union, we should not forget that cultural diversity is also the EU's greatest treasure. The tradition of openness, social justice, environmental awareness brought by Nordic countries supplemented with long history and a reminder of the importance of democracy from Southern and Eastern Europe show us that we are united for the better. It is not by accident that the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, used the motto "United we stand, divided we fall" in his invitation letter to the heads of state and government of the EU, for their informal summit in Valletta, Malta, this year. For the EU to remain dynamic, it must remain open. EU enlargement has brought new opportunities for EU citizens, whether they are students, travellers, consumers, or entrepreneurs. Belgrade, Sarajevo, Pristina, Tirana, and Podgorica, as well as Kiev, are great European cities which belong in the EU.
Vladimir Kljajić Most of the states which are part of the EU's Eastern Partnership would be offered full integration short of
Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum European Higher Education and World Peace Civilian clauses are intended to compel universities to promote peace – yet do they indeed serve the cause of peace? Pax optima rerum – “Peace is the highest good”. Coined by Duke Christian Albrecht in 1665, this maxim was to become the motto of the university in the Northern German city of Kiel which bears his name. More than three hundred years later, in May 2008, students of this very Christian Albrecht University recalled this guiding principle when declaring – after a non-binding referendum – that their alma mater ought to limit its research to civilian purposes. Any cooperation with state or private institutions connected to military technology or the armament industry had to be ceased. Such “civilian clauses” are ever again subject of debate at European higher education institutions, especially in Germany. In times of WMD, drones, and cluster bombs, thus many supporters of exclusively civilian scientific research argue, universities must not precipitate the ongoing mechanisation of warfare. The civilian clause in turn is said to constitute a guarantee for the maintenance of ethical standards in scientific research. Indeed, it seems evident at first to conduct research at public universities solely in the service of peace – not least given that Europe in itself is
a project of peace: built on the ruins of the Second World War, the European community’s common order of policies and values has now been securing for 70 years the peaceful cohabitation in Western Europe. Accordingly, Article 3 of the first chapter of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) states that the Union’s objective is “to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples.” Nonetheless, the responsibility of universities to promote peace is less one-dimensional than many – particularly left-wing – activists presume. In a changing geopolitical landscape, Europe is, for the first time since the Cold War, threatened again. Russian aggression and the ascendancy of radical Islamism constitute in this context only the most recent – and most likely not the last – challenges which the continent will have to meet, not least on a military level. The more realistic the possibility of armed conflict becomes and the more the long-forgotten competence of national defence returns to being a focal point for politics and the media, the more embittered the debate surrounding the commitment to peace and the role of universities in this context becomes. War as a means of conducting policy has been treated with contempt since the adoption of the
Charter of the United Nations of 1945. Nonetheless, even the UN have accepted the necessity not to merely be a spectator and helpless admonisher in the face of atrocities across the world which still tend to occur with far too great frequency. With the establishment of the “Responsibility to Protect” (short R2P), the international community has recognised the principle to act, if necessary, militarily against individual states in cases of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. The fact that the use of military means, not for might, resources, or territorial, but for the sake of humanity can be an ethical duty has thus become a central lesson learned from the events of the twentieth century. Independently of the question whether the rules for the bellum iustum – the righteous war – have at last found been after millennia of bloody conflicts, two observations have to be made: the use of military means can and must be necessary if the values to which Europe has avowed itself are not to be thwarted by the very states that have commited themselves to them. To this end, military forces must enjoy an instruction and equipment adequate to enable the stabilisation of embattled regions,
whilst avoiding to sow the seed for further conflict. This is at the least the righteous expectation that civil society ought to and must have toward their armed forces. To succeed in this endeavour, these armed forces require an ethical basis for their operations which does not stand in contradiction to that of the civil society they defend â€“ crucially including the university. It cannot be denied that even European armies have not done this ideal justice in the past. Nonetheless, human rights, democracy, and justice still constitute the inviolable moral foundations of Western military institutions. On the basis of such an ethical foundation, the work of higher education institutions and the question of their responsibility in the promotion of peace have to be approached from a different perspective. It seems contradictory, if not outright dangerous, that universities educating the offspring of their nations and funded by society would negate the societal consensus. An attitude of this kind, borne out of the fear to repeat mistakes of the past, ignores the problems of this modern world in favour of an ideologically-motivated pacifism. Anyone who
considers scientific research for military purposes a state-sanctioned belligerence fails to grasp the connection between the affirmation of human rights and peace on the one hand and the will to stand up for their observance by military means in casus extremis on the other. This too is a form of responsibility.
morality of military operation. To support the West in its endeavours to maintain a strong military capable of securing the peace serves the cause of peace more than a blind, unconditional pacifism ever could. This support is therefore what the civilian clause is in the eyes of many of its advocates: a lesson from history, as well as a principle of reason and ethics.
The support of the sciences offers the option to end conflicts more quickly and bloodlessly â€“ to the benefit of all those affected. It is further not to be excluded that the findings made at universities could be used in the future to secure the freedom of Europe and thus peace on this continent against its enemies. Pax optima rerum. After centuries of war and destruction in Europe, nobody wishes to earnestly doubt the veracity of this ideal. However, the responsibility of European higher education institutions, established in the context of the end of the Second World War, rests firmly on a peace-based global order. Despite their axiomatic commitment to peace, states recognise both the right to national defence and the necessity for crimes against humanity not to go unpunished. Science and research cannot turn its back to such a fundamental
New Delhi, New Deal? The Future of European-India Relations India has one of the world's fastest growing economies. Its population, at over a billion, matches China's but it is younger. It is an ancient civilisation, birthplace to numerous great religions, with a unique culture whose influence extends across the world through yoga, meditation, Ayurvedic medicine and, of course, cuisine - not least tea, and the famous curry. My love affair with the Indian sub-continent began many years ago when I spent time as a British Army officer, with my young family, at the Indian Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, located in the beautiful Nilgiri Hills of south India. We have returned regularly ever since, to travel, to work, to study and to visit friends. After chairing the Europe-India Chamber of Commerce, I became Chairman of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with India in 2014. We have a number of members who not only have great affection for India but also deep knowledge and understanding and we see our Delegation as a prime point of contact with India. Our Delegation meetings have covered topics such as comparing the Indian and Chinese economies, understanding the dynamics of the diamond sector, where Indians have an increasing role, and the potential for closer European collaboration on water projects in South Asia. The two Delegation visits that I have led enabled members to gain first-hand experience of different parts of India, meet senior ministers at national and state level, and see the depth and breadth of industry, civil society and India's fascinating culture. Many of our countries, not least the United Kingdom, Portugal and France, have deep, centuries-old connections with India. But what has become apparent to me is that India does not receive the attention she deserves from Europe. Perhaps we have taken her long-standing friendship for granted, given that our India Delegation is one of the European Parliament’s oldest and the first meeting with the Lok Sabha took place back in 1981. Our current relations seem to lack momentum and overlook the realisation that India will obtain great power status before long and should naturally be one of our closest partners.
We should not try and draw too close comparison between the European Union and India - the one, an international organisation with supra-national features and ambitions, the other a sovereign nation. But both comprise some thirty states and a plethora of languages, both have developed strong democratic institutions, and both have notoriously complex and slow bureaucratic structures. Furthermore, both deal with the challenges and strengths of very diverse populations. India, for example, although overwhelmingly a Hindu country, has the world's third largest Moslem population with roots going back centuries. Some 23 very different official languages are spoken. The European Parliament, somewhat controversially, still provides translation and interpretation into 23 languages. The EU's member states and India face a range of external and internal threats, not least from terrorism, cyber and other hybrid attack, and from potentially aggressive nuclear and conventionally armed countries in the neighbourhood. So both the European countries and India face enormous problems, not least in improving the living-standards and security of their citizens, recognising that they are not starting from the same place. India should therefore be regarded as a kindred spirit, a beacon of strength, stability and democracy in its neighbourhood, and a friendly bridge with Asia. Many European countries have significant, although sometimes proportionately small, trade and investment relations with India. Taken together, the EU member states are India’s biggest trading partner (accounting for 13% of India’s overall trade). But this is an area of considerable frustration. The scope for increased trade is enormous. Negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and India
began in 2007 and are currently at an impasse. A ban on Indian pharmaceuticals in summer 2015 did not help, nor did the EU’s persistent failure to appoint a separate, dedicated negotiator for the EU-India FTA. The EU focus had been on the TTIP with the US. On the other hand, in the face of perceived inertia it is not surprising that many Indian Ministers talk positively about concluding a deal but show reluctance to find ways of overcoming the sticking points. There were high hopes when Prime Minister Modi visited Brussels a year ago for the first EU-India Summit in four years. However, mentions of furthering trade talks in the resulting documents were disappointingly negligible. But let us not overlook the good work being done in many areas. The 2016 Summit led to water, clean energy and climate partnerships and a joint declaration on counter-terrorism. The European Investment Bank agreed a long-term loan of 450m euros to build the first metro line in Lucknow, capital of Uttar Pradesh. During our recent visits to Jaipur and Bangalore we saw great examples of European industries, such as JCB, Airbus and SAP Labs, which have successfully installed themselves in the Indian market.
EUROPE AND THE WORLD
However, much remains to be done in the business sphere. At the headquarters of Infosys (an Indian IT consulting company employing over 100,000 people world-wide) we saw a range of start-up presentations - a great opportunity for European investment - and at the Indian Space Research Organisation we were reminded of the possibilities for further collaboration in the space industry, as well as in research, development and technology. Prime Minister Modi has shown, in his first two years of office, that he is dynamic, innovative, and business-minded. His â€œMake In Indiaâ€? campaign has urged foreign businesses to set up shop in his country and he has worked hard to reduce the obstacles to doing so. For example, in 2004 it took an average of 127 days to set up a business whereas by 2015 this had been reduced to 29. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has expressed to us his strong desire to attract private investment to India. Reform of Foreign Direct Investment policy has been a key message from him. Recent changes include allowing up to 100% FDI in the defence sector and liberalisation of rules in food retail, airlines and private security firms. As a British MEP, my thoughts naturally turn to the
British relationship with India during and beyond Brexit. Historically, culturally, linguistically, and financially, there are stronger ties between India and the UK than with any other European nation. Nevertheless, Belgium currently sells more to India than the UK does! Prime Minister May made India the first overseas visit of her term and was accompanied by many business representatives. The message was clear: her government realises the vast, untapped potential of trade and investment with India and will move swiftly to establish such relationships. There will also be steps to reassure students and professionals wishing to study or work in the UK. Once Britain leaves the European Union, the task of navigating the EU relationship with India will be left to others. The advice I would give is to resist the temptation to fly the European flag at every opportunity. My experience has been that the Indians are often confused by the EU's institutional set-up and still prefers to deal with individual member states, especially those with whom they have natural links such as France and, increasingly, Germany.
critical friends but when we try and impose our own recently-contrived agendas on this ancient country, we lose credibility and respect. There is tremendous affection in Europe for India in all its cultural richness. The hundreds we have seen eagerly participating in our, now-annual, International Yoga Day and Diwali events in the European Parliament are testament to this. The challenge now is to capitalise on this momentum and give it real substance through collaboration on trade, investment, education, technology and a wealth of other areas. This will be the exciting challenge for all our countries and institutions, whether inside or outside the European Union.
Geoffrey Van Orden MEP
The relationship should be positive above all. Yes, there are problems in India and we must act as
An Unlikely Ally?
China’s Role in Preserving Global Capitalism What are the reasons of China’s leader Xi Jinping’s recent performance as a preserver of global economic order? As Donald Trump rejected the Trans-PacificPartnership agreement, perhaps it is a great momentum for Beijing to be the manifest leader of global capitalism – and perhaps, modernisation and great economic achievements can be the path to a more open style of government. At the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos this January, China’s President Xi Jinping addressed the audience with an unlikely keynote speech regarding China’s role in “encouraging economic globalisation and the way of promoting a liberal economic order’’. For the leader of a country calling itself “Communist”, this odd to say the least. It would be quite the same as if Bernie Sanders gave an encouraging speech at a neo-con congress or Edmund Burke had addressed the summit of the promoters of the French revolution. However, the situation is rather different. The West is witnessing the rise of anti-globalist powers: the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a curse word for the ordinary worker and most importantly, the United States elected a President whose first action included the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) and who is not quite willing to promote global economic liberalism. At this moment, China has embraced its role as a defender of globalisation and multilateral economic arrangements. In the hour long address during the conference in Davos, Xi took a number of sideswipes at the US President, attacking Trump’s protectionist views without mentioning him by name. Comparing protectionism with “locking oneself in a dark room’’ to avoid danger, but at the same time depriving the room of “light and air’’, Mr Xi cautioned Trump against pursuing U.S. interests at the expense of others. Vice-versa, Mr Xi made commitments to open China to more imports and foreign direct investment. He further assured the audience that China’s exchange rate policy, highly criticised by Washington, did not destabilise the global economy. However the question which naturally springs to mind is why China is so interested in defending and preserving the global economic order? First of all, China is increasingly dependent on imports of raw
materials. Secondly, they are very dependent on foreign markets for their manufacturing, which means they need a stable international structure to assure reliable access both to raw materials and to market outputs. Despite these two fundamental aspects of China’s economy, it is worth mentioning a completely new paradigm of China’s global self-positioning. The country itself has gone global, buying up foreign assets from football clubs to Hollywood studios at a record pace last year. Mr Xi’s entourage in the World Economic Forum in Davos were the owners of China’s port and rail companies, which also reflects the strategy to go global by reviving ancient trading links between Asia and Europe via infrastructure projects. However, according to some political scientists, the election of Donald Trump has given China's Xi a convenient opportunity to advance his goal of giving his country a more assertive leadership role on the world stage. China’s economic “opening to the world” is nothing more than the platform for promoting its geopolitical interests in the Far East and Central Asia. David Shambaugh, director of George Washington University’s China Policy Program, argues that “China remains a very self-interested power, with minimal means and willingness to get involved in addressing and solving the world’s chronic and pressing problems.” China’s adventures – such as the construction of artificial islands in the neutral waters of the South China Sea - in one way prove that China is an expansionist power which uses the global economic order for its raison d’être. PROSPERITY IS THE ROAD TO DEMOCRACY? Besides the fact that current Chinese foreign policy could be called “revisionist” and the state itself autocratic, there are some signs of hope for a bright future. For the past fifteen years, China’s economy has grown rapidly and at the present moment constitutes the world’s secondlargest economy. According to the political scientist Roland Ingelhart, the general modernisation and economic growth is the cause of occupational specialisation,
urbanisation, rising educational levels, which, for the most part, lead to democracy. Due to China’s imperial past, China is a difficult example to apply this theory to, but recent conducts of Beijings leadership are quite promising. One of the things the leadership is conducting right now is a public discussion on how to infuse “more democracy’’, whatever that means, into a non-democratic system. If they want to go global, they know they have to accommodate the popular desire for a more open government. According to Zbiegniew Brzezinski, for about five years now, the Chinese leadership is organising high-level seminars for top level leaders. Those are full day sessions led by some mostly foreign specialists, which are called: “The importance of the Constitution and Understanding the Rule of Law’’, “Better Understanding of the World Economy and Particularly of Globalisation Trends’’, ‘’Overview of World History with an Emphasis on the Rise and Fall of Imperial Powers’’, “International Trade, Investment, and the Importance of China Going Global’’, “Intellectual Property Rights’’, “How to Democratise a One-Party System’’. This shows clearly that the Chinese regime understands both the potential of its power and also the dangers of exceeding its limits; it comprehends the advantage of liberal economic policy with all its components: free trade, direct investment, private property. Above all, as these seminars shows, Chinese leaders did not reject the possibility of a presumably slow transition to some sort of democracy. Today’s China indeed is a surprising ally of global capitalism. In their economic development, they are now realising that they need the world with all its benefits and opportunities for further economic enlargement. However, time will show whether Beijing is guided by an expansionist Manichean ideology, or a pragmatic attitude bent on wealth-creation which, hopefully, someday could transform China into a democracy.
EUROPE AND THE WORLD
Europe’s Relations with Asia-Pacific and Why It Matters Asia-Pacific has been forecasted to become the world’s most dynamic region, home to more than half of the world’s population, rising economic powers and some of the largest militaries in the world. Geographically distant, the region has been of lesser political priority for Europe. However, Europe should seize opportunities to build stronger relations with like-minded countries in East Asia, engage with the rising powers and promote multilateralism through region-to-region cooperation. Europe’s historical relations with Asian nations can be traced centuries back through cultural and economic ties. With conflicts and instability on the European continent and its neighbourhood, the region has rarely been a primary priority, but with emerging economic power, economic and trade interdependence between Europe and Asia has intensified in recent years. This is a leverage which the EU, as the world’s largest economic bloc, could make use of. Not least following the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and desired renegotiations of NAFTA, there has been a sense of urgency in reviving trade talks with Asian countries. The EU is currently in negotiations with ten out the twelve TPP signatories, such as the comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with Japan, but also initiating important deals with Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam. Should negotiations be successful, it will lead to have positive effects on Europe’s relations with the region. The European Council for Foreign Relations concluded in 2013 that Europe does not have an “automatic seat at the table” in Asia-Pacific and therefore needs to work harder in securing its interests. Besides trade and investment, where the EU is historically strong, and some human rights issues, the main political actors have been individual Member States with special ties to the region, but with limited European presence. On security, some Member States have contributed with minor joint maritime exercises, aircraft carriers and participation in security dialogues, but independent from other European nations. However, the European Global Strategy recognises a need for greater practical contributions to Asian security and to build stronger partnerships with Japan, Korea, Indonesia, and others. Naturally this cooperation would have a strong transatlantic dimension given the US key role in the region. Areas where Europe might be capable to provide support range from non-traditional security threats, with the acute need for humanitarian assistance response, institution-building, and cyber security, assuming that both North Korea and China will increase cyber capabilities and information dominance in the years to come, to making a supporting case for international norms. Concerns of a rules-based society have traditionally been shared among transatlantic and Pacific likeminded countries. The rising powers of the AsianPacific region is, however, mildly interested in
international norms. Most notably China is perceived with ambiguity within Europe. With a number of options in the EU foreign policy toolbox, there has not been a coherent strategy in dealing with China, even with Chinese investments cutting across the continent and infrastructure dialogues expected later this year. China’s disrespect for human rights and international law, undermining the rules-based global order, is unacceptable. With the South China Sea hosting half of the world’s maritime traffic and almost all of Europe’s trade with north Asia, these developments will be difficult to ignore, and the EU should also voice its support for a peaceful solution of the territorial disputes. Nevertheless, engaging with China also entails opportunities for partnership on mutual concerns, in particular economic issues, globalisation and urbanisation, preserving the UN system and combatting climate change, where Europe and China have similar ambitions. Using its soft power, the EU has much to gain from promoting multilateralism and regional integration, which has brought peace and development to our own continent, for example through the Asia-Europe
Cooperation Framework and existing dialogues with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in addition to supporting an ASEAN led regional security architecture to reduce regional tensions. The year 2017 provides numerous symbolic opportunities, as it marks 40 years of EU-ASEAN relations, as well as the 50th anniversary of ASEAN and 60th anniversary of the European Economic Community, the predecessor of the EU. In a more inter-linked world, European stability and prosperity will ultimately be increasingly dependent on developments in Asia, a region with a diverse set of opportunities and challenges, including numerous intra-regional tensions. Whether the EU wants to further push for diplomacy, multilateralism, trade, foreign assistance, joint exercises or sanctions, the principles of human rights and a rules-based order ought to be supported. Whereas there is a recognition in Europe of the potential – and the need – for closer cooperation with Asia, this is often swayed by more urgent problems on the continent and in the neighbourhood. This has been appropriate given its urgent nature. However, Asia must be addressed in a long-term perspective. If Europe does not take the initiative, other countries will, which may at worst lead to risks spreading to Europe and at best to lost opportunities.
Far From Right Electoral Strategies Against Populism The world’s political tension levels are at an all-time high at the moment, with the unexpected victories of Brexit and Donald Trump setting off alarms. The challenge we face now is to identify what led to these results and ensuring that similar outcomes are not repeated in the ever-so sensitive German and French elections, amongst others. POPULISM – WHERE ARE WE NOW? Following a series of events which have rocked the very core of the European Union, populism around the continent has been on an alarming rise. The Charlie Hebdo attacks way back in the first few days of 2015 started raising questions on how secure our societies really are. The attacks in Paris in November 2015 and Brussels in March 2016 were the epitome of all terror attacks committed in recent years. The side effect of these events has led to an unfortunate situation around the European Union. Many politicians, with elections looming are starting to ride on the wave of popular sentiment being expressed by the public at large. It is inevitable that people start asking questions when they see terrifying events happening around the corner or in neighbouring countries. The first question that surely comes to mind will almost definitely be: “Is my country next?”. The reality is that, as wrong as it may be, people automatically link terror attacks to Islam. Notwithstanding the fact that groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS) have actually claimed the responsibility for most of the attacks, this does not mean that people coming from a particular background, religion or ethnicity fall under the same category as the people committing these attacks. Populist leaders are using this state of fear shown by their citizens and exploiting it to their own advantage. In fact, the arguments made eleven times out of ten by populist parties revolve around one issues – migration. Many countries are growing frustrated being part of
the European Union, and that is what essentially is threatening the future of the European project. Nationalism is growing and it is now in the hands of the leading countries such as Germany and France to rally the people of Europe together and re-ignite the spark that is being lost between the people and the European Union. SUCCESSFUL POPULIST CAMPAIGNS If one had to summarise 2016 in two words, it would have to be Brexit and Trump. The campaigns run by the respective camps were perceived by many as a “joke”. That is undoubtedly one of the biggest reasons why both were eventually successful. The approach taken by populist activists, in this case the Leave Campaign and Donald Trump, was taken for granted to be defeated eventually – but they certainly did not. This is one of the strong points of populism: with people considering it self-evident that these camps eventually lose their strength, it alleviates a hefty amount of pressure from the political party or candidate in question, and shifts (while multiplying it) to the shoulders of the other part. Stop for a minute and think – did Donald Trump have one thing to lose? Okay, he could have suffered the “shame” of not being elected, but he did not. Instead, he pursued what
BE ON he believed was the right thing, and what many people essentially did too. That is the main strength of populist campaigns – answering the right questions that the people are asking. On the other hand, centrist parties tend to take a more diplomatic approach towards what they really believe in, which normally leads to making enemies along the way. It has to be kept in mind that you can answer the questions that the people are asking without resorting to populist ideologies. The Trump camp associated terrorism with migration – an outright lie they promoted among the general public. However, what he was saying was providing a solution, however wrong it may be, to the worries that the people were experiencing day in day out when going to work, or sending their children to school. The Brexit campaign is another fresh wound at the hands of populism. The same was true of the Leave campaign, again answering the questions that the Britons were frustrated with, such as state of the National Health Service and migration, both topics that were on top of the agenda championed by Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson. THE DUTCH SILVER LINING As they say, every cloud has its silver lining, and for the believers of the European Project, that silver lining come in the shape of Austria and more recently, the Netherlands. Following Brexit and Trump, the world certainly learned that anything can happen if the right strings are pulled at the right time. The stakes in the Dutch elections were never as high, not simply for the Dutch – but for the future of Europe as a unity of nations.
The task faced by Mark Rutte in early 2017 was a rather tough one against a party led by the far-right Geert Wilders. Many believed that a win for Wilders would have meant Strike II for the EU, with German and French elections right round the corner. In such a scenario, the strategy undertaken by the VVD (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) had to be on point and capable of a quick adaptation in an ever-changing environment - all of this while the polls were not so encouraging. Very intelligently, Rutte used what he called “the Right Kind of Populism” to his advantage to win the Dutch elections. He emphasised the issues that mattered to the people, on what made a difference in every day lives. People were made aware of the aftermath of Brexit and did not want the same to be repeated in their country. The ability to spread an optimistic message while remaining tough on more sensitive issues is a must. The Rutte campaign did retain its optimism and that is vital in the fight against populism – you need to highlight the things that people have, rather on what they are afraid to lose. FUTURE IN THE BALANCE At the beginning of 2016, many did not ever conceive of an EU without the United Kingdom. Today, we are looking at the possibility of having an EU without France and Germany, arguable two of the biggest players of the union. As scary as that may sound, it may well and truly become reality if more centrist parties do not take the right approach in their respective campaigns. Marine Le Pen has an alarmingly high approval rate, while extremist parties in Germany continue to make
a noise. Angela Merkel is a role model for fighting populist parties. Many new leaders of this generation are disregarding the values which make us who we are and the European project what it really is. Angela Merkel is the exact opposite. Politicians are not there to ride a wave of populist approval and go with the flow – the real leaders are the ones who influence the flow and take the tough decisions when it is necessary to take them. Strategically speaking this speaks volumes on how trustworthy a politician really is. The infamous decision taken by Angela Merkel to open her country’s borders had left her with some dwindling approval ratings. An admirable fact is that even two years later, during the EPP Congress in Malta, she emphasised on how proud she is for taking a decision in favour of humane values and not in favour of approval ratings. Essentially, that is what wins you elections and trust of the people. Understanding the concerns of the people and delivering a strong message filled with optimism and hope – nothing more than what each human being deserves.
Neil Smart Costantino
Behind Closed Doors Tackling Violence Against Women in Europe When populists complain of a bad, liberal Europe that had lost all its values and abandoned the Christian core of its existence, they mostly point to the issues of migration and ubiquitous bureaucracy. Perhaps a crisis of values does actually exist - yet in a completely different area. It is worth recalling an extremely fundamental question: counteracting violence against women is for some a “leftist” cause. But can there be anything more Christian than charity and respect for one’s neighbour?
BE ON First, let us refer to the mentality of the official institutions and let's see how much more is still to be done. 2014, Hungary on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Vas's police department publishes a shocking film in which it warns that young women who flirt with men “often provoke violence”. Just a few days earlier, another Hungarian broadcast suggests that women are partly responsible for sexual assault. "You can do something about it, you can do something about it” is the film’s central slogan. It is hard to believe that this is the twenty-first century at the centre of Europe, in a country governed by a Christian-democratic party of the centre-right. Unfortunately, this is probably a reflection of the mentality shared by a significant part of our European society. 2015, Poland. The Civic Platform (PO - EPP) government ratifies the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. Poland is the seventeenth country to do so. Opposition politicians of the Law and Justice (PiS - ECR) protest. They condemn the convention at the Constitutional Tribunal, a bucket of dirty water is poured out over the convention. "This is a fight against the present civilization," "The anti-smuggling convention is a blow to the Polish family" - the politicians claim. 2016. Law and Justice governs the country. The Minister of Justice prepares a draft request for the repeal of the Convention. The head of the Prime Minister's office states that "gender equality is heresy". Later that same year, the Polish government cuts its funding for the Centre for Women's Rights which runs an emergency phone line for victims of violence. The reason behind this step? "They only offer support to disadvantaged women" – and not to disadvantaged men as well that is. How serious is violence against women? In 2014, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights published a study on violence against women on our continent, to draw attention to this phenomenon within the EU and to inform and support the legislative and policy process. According to this research, about 5% of European women have been raped. As many as one in three women have experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of fifteen. It has been estimated that in the 12-month period preceding the survey, as many as 13 million European women had suffered physical abuse and sexual violence – that is 3.7 million. 22% of women have experienced violence from their partner. Which countries are most affected by this problem? Denmark, where 53% of women were exposed to violence by a partner or another person, ranks highest on the Agency’s survey. It is followed by Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, France, and the United Kingdom. Hungary in turn ranks half way on the table. When it comes to psychological violence in relationships, the worst rates have been recorded for Denmark and Latvia, where the more
than 60% of women have suffered from such abuse. In Sweden, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Estonia more than half of the women surveyed stated that they had been exposed to psychological violence by a partner. As many as 23% of European women encounter such abuse in their current, ongoing partnerships. It is also important to look at the phenomenon of sexual harassment, which has affected up to 102 million women in Europe, and even 39 million in the year before the survey (a large European Union population). Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands rank first on this list. Most alarming of all however is the reaction to such violence: only one third of those suffering violence at the hand of a partner and only a quarter of those abused by people outside of a relationship decided to go to the police or ask for help from a qualified body after the most serious incident of violence against them. The most common reason for not reporting such cases is a feeling of shame. Women indicate that psychological support and casual talk (up to 54% of women) and protection (up to 25% depending on the form of violence experienced by the respondents) is what they most direly need when confronted with abuse. It is noteworthy that violence against women appears to most stringently affect countries generally seen to be the most progressive and respecting of women's rights. This if ever shows how serious the problem remains and how much there still is to be done to tackle violence against women. However, one ought not to jump to conclusions too quickly: high rates of violence in Northern and Central European countries may not be so much indicative of a problem of greater magnitude than elsewhere on the continent, but of a greater social awareness that allows for such incidents to be discussed more openly. In conservative societies, such as in Poland and Hungary, violence against women is still a taboo topic. Undoubtedly irresponsible politicians and soulless institutions have a major impact on this. The most important, however, is what recommendations are included in the report. The key is that "the recognition of violence against women as a violation of fundamental rights in the EU framework for responding to crime and victimisation by crime" should be ensured and this should be the starting point for any further discussion. Detailed national plans for counteracting violence against women are also important. Unfortunately, as the examples in Poland and Hungary cited at the beginning of this piece show, some countries still do not see the importance of the problem. As the report states, "the EU should ensure that funding mechanisms for further DAPHNE work and other programmes that contribute to varying degrees of protection of children, young people and women from various forms of violence can be used to provide additional support. Support for research and work by civil society organisations dealing with the
phenomenon of violence against women”. The most optimistic are the plans of the European Commission which suggest that at last attitudes are changing. The Commissioner for Justice, Consumer Rights, and Gender Equality announced that in 2017 alone, the EU will allocate 4 million euros to the development of education and information campaigns on violence in the Member States. The European Commission also wants to motivate member states to allocate some of their money from European Regional Development Funds to build victim centres. Tens of millions of euros go to supporting non-governmental organisations and humanitarian projects. In 2016, 3.4 million Europeans have benefited from projects funded by the European Union. It turns out that the issue of violence also hurts us economically. It has been calculated that, due to the effects of such phenomena, the EU economy loses up to 226 billion a year. Something was and is needed to be done to fight against violence against women. The European Union has recognised the importance of the problem, and the Member States are increasingly fighting it in the public space. Maybe this means that the abuse of women is at last seen as a major challenge that needs to be addressed in order to tackle the crisis of values faced within the European Union. Public awareness is certainly the first important step.
A Cheap and Effective Threat to the Belief in our Open Society Thomas Jefferson allegedly said that information is the currency of democracy. The idea was that people are only free to choose when they have access to a broad range of information. This requires that the information is true and as has been seen its openness is also a source of fragility. The accelerated creation and spread of information coincides with one of the biggest threats to Western society, namely the inability to think critically about its content (Zakem 2017). Governments and legislators are currently struggling to find solutions. Yet, there is reason for caution when addressing this complex issue. While both states and non-state actors can be a source of disinformation, the reasons for such actions differ. Political campaigning as well as economic interest may be motives to spread fake news. The business models of Google ads imply that publishers of content online are paid per “clicks” they receive on their websites. False news is often designed to be clickbait and thus attract attention of the reader to visit the page. Young people find a lucrative business in setting up website that share fake news and in this way interfering with the US elections. Reports show that Russia's troll armies can sometimes manage to multiple fake accounts. Then each account posts articles on social media between 50 to 100 times a day (Zakem 2017) . With this simple, cheap and yet highly effective method, the enemies of open societies are trying to undermine one of the fundamental institutions of democracy – free and open flows of information. By spreading rumours and fabricated news, doubts about the free media are created. While traditional media used to be a solid base of truth, the aim is to give the impression that they are hiding important facts. Then they present “new realities”
BE ON or what President Trump's adviser, Kellyanne Conway called “alternative facts”, implying that there is more than one reality (EPRS 2017). As a former unreliable source of this type of information, they can now introduce themselves as “truth-tellers” and effectively continue to spread disinformation. Feeding into a relativistic worldview among the populations of Western democracies, such strategies have the broader aim to undermine the belief that this political system is the right one. WHAT CAN BE DONE TO FIGHT IT? While the disinformation campaigns seen so far have been addressed to single countries, the proposals on how to address the issue come from national and EU levels. At the request of the European Council in 2015 a division called East StratCom was created as an extension of the European External Action Service (EEAS). With a broad mandate to strengthen the media environment in Europe’s eastern neighbourhood is also serves to identify and correct disinformation. However, criticism has stressed the inadequate funding of the division, making the possibility of effectively delivering on its mandate tough (McGrath 2017). Also within the European Parliament discussions have evolved. Earlier in April 2017 the members of the European Parliament discussed potential solutions to the dilemma. However, they disagreed on what to do about it. Suggestions range from removing false content, imposing fines to non-cooperative companies as well as to foster media literacy (European Parliament 2017). A number of MEP:s have also strongly asserted that they do not want to create a “Ministry of Truth” (Europarl TV 2017). At the EPP’s annual congress this year in Malta, the motion “Russian disinformation undermining Western democracy” was adopted. It specifically addresses Russian disinformation campaigns and stress the need for more funding at the EU level to counter this threat together with common actions via NATO (EPP 2017). With elections coming up this year in many big European countries, governmental leaders are increasingly concerned that their elections will be affected by disinformation campaigns. In early April, a social media bill that outlines the responsibility of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter was approved by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet. It will now proceed to the parliament. The law stipulates responsibility of such companies to remove fake news from their platforms, and awards fines up to 50 euros million in case of failing to do so. That Germany would be one of the first countries to legislate on the issues is maybe not a surprise, telling from its problems with the spreading of fake news. Also in Sweden, with elections in 2018, a response to the phenomenon was presented involving public authorities gathering representatives from media and social media companies to discuss cyber security (Svt 2017).
show that they take the issue seriously (and possibly to avoid regulation). Facebook launched a campaign in April that serves to educate its users in 14 countries on how to spot fake news (Price 2017). However, with the number of actors involved in the process of spreading fake news, the answer must target each one of them to get to the core of the issue. It is therefore important to be clear about what the action wants to achieve. For example, the German law serves to remove false information from readers. However, with the speed of creation of information one can ask whether it is possible to remove all fake news in the world at the same pace as they are spread? It might only result in short-term effects. A more long-term, sustainable strategy is to educate people in critically assess the mass of information that we meet on the Internet. Such a strategy would also reflect the core of the issue, that fake news in themselves are relatively harmless. It is people’s belief in them that is the real threat. The reader needs an arsenal of knowledge and critical thinking to constantly contest and assess the information catapulted at us every second we spend on social media platforms and news websites. Such defence can only be found in a robust educational system. 1 www.npr.org/2017/01/06/508032496/how-russiasdisinformation-campaign-could-extend-its-tentacles 2 www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ ATAG/2017/599384/EPRS_ATA(2017)599384_EN.pdf 3 www.mediafiledc.com/eu-foreign-policy-chief-firehandling-anti-disinformation-campaign/ 4 www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/newsroom/20170329IPR69072/hate-speech-and-fakenews-remove-content-impose-fines-foster-medialiteracy 5 www.europarltv.europa.eu/en/programme/society/ fake-news-and-hate-speech-how-to-fight-the-waronline 6 malta2017.epp.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/6Draft-Resolution-Russia.pdf 7 www.svt.se/nyheter/inrikes/lofven-rustar-mot-falskanyheter 8 uk.businessinsider.com/facebook-tips-spotting-fakenews-2017-4
Kristina Olausson With politicians starting to review their options for legislation, companies have launched initiatives to
(Centre-)Right to Be Proud
Promoting LGBT-Rights with the EPP Is the centre-right movement the right place for LGBT-persons? The answer should be a resounding yes. The centre-right should be the political home to many more LGBT-persons all over Europe. The parties who unite in the EPP and in organisations such as the EDS are the parties for freedom. The parties that should respect each person’s right to a good life no matter whether they are gay or straight. Our parties should embrace diversity and be inclusive of all who want to form stable families, work hard, and build good and independent lives for themselves
This is a group of voters we should attract with our policies – and in some countries, we do. As an example, we can show that opinion polls taken among the LGBTgroup in Sweden put Moderaterna (the largest centreright party) at the top as the most popular party, with the Liberals as a rather distant second and way ahead of the Social Democrats. Unfortunately, there are other countries where the centre-right has chosen another path leaving the LGBT-voters unnecessarily in the hands of the left. In 2013, the European Centre-Right LGBT Alliance was formed at the CDU headquarters in Berlin to strengthen co-operation between centre-right networks for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons. The initiative came from the Lesben und Schwulen in der Union (LSU), the LGBT-network of the CDU in Germany, and Öppna Moderater, the LGBT-organisation of Moderaterna in Sweden. Alexander Vogt, Chairman of the LSU in Germany, was elected as the first president of the Alliance. The Alliance today has nine member organisations from as
many countries, all except two part of parties in the EPPfamily - including Germany, Sweden, Finland, and Belgium. The member organisations work in different ways in their countries but typically attend major party events to lobby party members, and politicians on all levels on issues that are important for LGBT-voters and where we as centre-right can and should offer good solutions and good policies. The members also usually are present at Pride festivals and similar events promoting the mother parties and our policies and solutions to LGBT-voters and all that attend Pride events. In many cases such as in major cities in Germany, the UK and Sweden Prides are really large events that draw tens of thousands of attendants making them great venues for campaigning. The aim of the Alliances on a national level is to promote centre-right policies to LGBT-persons and win them as voters. We also work to make the policies of centre-right parties more LGBT-friendly. Typical issues concern family policies, fighting hate crime, and raising awareness about LGBT-people and -issues in schools and the health care
system amongst others. A concern in many countries today is also how to combat homophobia from extremists on the right, left and from certain religions. On a European level, there is a number of issues that concern LGBT-persons, such as non-discrimination and freedom of movement. Freedom of movement is a problem since your legal status can change at borders within the EU: thus, some countries have same-sex marriages, others have civil partnerships and some have none. Moving or travelling across Europe is for LGBT-persons hence more complicated and can lead to problems that straight people would never encounter. The Alliance also supports its national members, granting them a forum to share ideas and best practice between one another. We are also striving to identify more national centre-right networks, groups or organisations that are eligible to join the Alliance. Presently, we are making contacts in countries such as Spain and Ireland. The Alliance also strives to influence other parties and organisations within the centre-right. Our knowledge and our ideas could be valuable for the EDS and your member organisations, as well as for the EPP, their member parties and related organisations. It was a big acknowledgement that the EPP invited four representatives of the Alliance to attend the EPP Congress in Malta as guests. This provided a welcome opportunity to expand our contacts and our visibility. Our hope is that we can keep attending EPP Congresses in the future and hopefully also attend events with EDS, YEPP and others to discuss our common goals of broadening the centre-right movement in Europe to make our policies into reality in as many countries as possible. We should make the centre-right movement the natural political home for LGBT-people across Europe and by that taking a good step forward in the fight for freedom and against the left.
Fredrik Saweståhl, Vice President of the European Centre-Right LGBT Alliance
Quality, Not Quantity
Europe Needs University Entry Tests Qualified graduates are the foundation of a functional economy. A functional educational system is – or at least should – therefore be on top of every government’s agenda. Luckily ever more European countries give a broader range of people the opportunity to study at university. However, in the recent past, this has started to cause a new conflict, as many institutions of higher education have surpassed their capacities as ever greater numbers of people are beginning to study. The consequences of overcrowding at universities are tangible: very often they result in high dropout rates, as many get frustrated by the inability to study at their own pace, with courses blocked and lecture halls crowded. To prevent this and the resulting loss in quality in teaching, academic admission conditions that link enrolment to academic suitability could be a solution – bearing in mind that social inequality might be the result. Yet this is a problem we should soon get under control, before a noticeable drop in the quality of the academic community is the result. Several European countries nowadays grant all their citizens the opportunity to study, without or only having to pay very little in student fees. Although it is a remarkable sign for the level of social equality the European Union has already reached, this is accompanied by huge problems. On a global scale, with China strengthening its position as the cheapest manufacturer offering ever higher quality, Europe needs to position itself as the home of highly trained specialists. To achieve this goal, a high standard of education must be guaranteed across the EU. Since enrolment at a university is often linked to the completion of a generalist programme at secondary education entitling one to access higher education, many people start studying without ever having spent a second on thinking what they want to do. This results in a major drop in quality. To prevent this from happening, access tests which are fitted to the field of study need to be introduced. Although
many people might consider this a step backwards to social exclusion, it is the only way to maintain a high quality in education and give people with a higher potential to complete their studies the opportunity to do so in much better conditions. From a financial point of view, this change could even be turned into an advantage: fees collected from every applicant might be used to finance the testing and the administration it involves. Of course, every applicant who passed the tests would get their fee refunded, thereby having no negative side effects for those who intend to seriously pursue their studies – and of course, it would further reduce the number of applicants to seek enrolment without knowing whether the field of study is suitable for them. A very good example for the benefits of access tests is the Vienna University of Economics. It is one of the leading Economics Universities in the world and consequently enjoys a very high standing is Austria. With one of the best graduate employment rates, especially in highearning jobs, most Austrians planning to climb the career ladder as high as possible enrolled at this university. Since the University had no means to turn away unqualified students, lecture halls gradually became so crowded that people had to sit on the floor. Not only did this render the study slightly uncomfortable, it in fact caused a quite dangerous situation, as it for instance prevented a quick evacuation of a lecture hall in an emergency. After the Vienna University of Economics introduced limitation on access in 2014, application numbers dropped dramatically
– indeed so much that no entry test had to be held at all. The sheer fact that people now had to complete a test prior to commencing their studies compelled them to spend time reconsidering their idea to pursue a certain field of studies. Besides the fact that students opting for a degree programme ill-suited for their talents might spoil the study experience of their peers, these citizens are a weight that the social state needs to carry a little longer. With every added year that these students take longer to finish, the state needs to financially support them. Hence it should become mandatory to undertake an evaluation at some point prior to one’s study: this could help people to figure out which field fits them best and prevent unnecessary delays in their professional progression. Students are Europe’s future and its hope. Granting them the best prospects to help them develop supreme skills should be on top of every government’s agenda.
Troubles of the Mind Mental Health Problems on Campus “Do you ever feel so paper thin, like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?” This quote from Katy Perry’s song “Firework” encapsulates the feeling of many university students who are struggling with their mental health. One quarter of students report to have a mental problem, with their numbers steadily increasing. But why do students have those problems? And is there any help available for them? If you ask people on the street to describe their study time, most would answer that it was the best time of their life. Nevertheless, the number of students with mental problems is increasing. Especially female students are more likely to say that they are having such difficulties. But what does “stress” mean on campus? First of all, it is important to mention that everybody experiences stress in a different way. Yet in general, there are three dimensions which can promote a mental health problem. First, an extensive workload of studies and exams. The Bologna Process increased
and most notably condensed the content of degree programmes. Some students cannot handle this. Secondly, “social perfectionism”. Many students feel under pressure to be an A+ student, to have the right clothes and excel in their leisure time activities. Thirdly, the combination between the fear of failure and high tuition fees, as well as increasing living costs. A recent study shows, that an undisputed negative relationship (correlation) between debt and mental health exists. Great Britain is thus experiencing an ongoing debate about the link between the recent increase in tuition fees and mental health problems,
after an alarmingly high number of students committed suicide in the last couple of years. Balancing workload and a social life outside of campus means that most students suffer from some combination of stress and exhaustion. Seven out of ten say that work from university is one of their main sources of stress. Especially First-in-Family students are struggling to handle the stress. Another reason is the fear of not finding a job after university. Furthermore, university can be a highly isolating environment. Freshman year can for instance prove to be daunting when studying far away from home and
making one’s first steps into higher education, as this leads to an increasing level of stress. Furthermore, highly ambitious persons particularly feel socially isolated. All these factors can promote a student’s mental health problem. Depression and anxiety are the most commonly reported mental health issues. How does a depression develop? Whilst every patient displays different symptoms, the most commonly known ones are a lowering of mood and poor concentration capabilities – this in turn gives rise to failing grades, eventually resulting in dropping out of one’s study programme. Depressed people likewise tend to lose their interest in former hobbies. One third of students suffering from depression said that they faced suicidal thoughts. Eating disorders, particularly among female students, and drug additions, especially pronounced among male students, are frequent problems associated with depression. Over the last few years, mental health became a more recognised issue on campus. Nevertheless, it is still a taboo topic for public discussions and that is why many students are afraid to speak about their mental health problem. Recently however, students started campaigning to raise awareness and stamp out the stigma surrounding mental health in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. 2 March was thus marked as the University Mental Health Day at over 700 British Universities. In these countries, it became common to instate mental health services on campus, offering ongoing individual counseling services, screening, and evaluation. Such services already exist in Germany as
well. This offer is not intended to administer a specific treatment for the student – instead, professional staff talk with the students about their self-confidence, current life satisfaction, as well as discuss the students’ future and dreams. Most students are aware of this on-campus service. Nevertheless, these offices are often overburdened and understaffed. Because of that, the establishing of a 24-hour crisis hotline would support and expand this offer for students looking for help. In addition, not many students want to acknowledge or accept that they are suffering from mental problems. Hence it is all the more important to offer mental health training for students, especially in peer-run groups. The training of university staff is of the utmost importance to increase their understanding of mental health issues as well. Another opportunity offered is dog-therapy. In Canada, it became quite popular over the last years. British university have likewise just started offering dog-visits on campus. Dog-therapy helps students with anxiety
and depression. Dogs give uncomplicated love and can increase levels of oxytocin in humans, a hormone that reduce anxiety. People become less frightened and more secure when they pet dogs. Furthermore, it is a low-cost therapy, if the dogs visit the university at least twice a term. Nevertheless, to provide these mental health services, it is necessary that every university has a mental health policy, which imbedded the offered possibilities. The University of Oxford is only one example, which has such a policy. Furthermore, a good nutrition and physical fitness go hand in glove with mental well-being. Especially yoga practice has a positive effect on one’s mental health and helps students to relax and find inner peace. In addition, students have to learn to handle their own failure. We can all fail, it is human. Nevertheless, all these services can only be effective if the student is willing to seek help and develop a resiliency. That means an interpersonal possibility to handle stress and to influence one’s own emotions in a positive way. Students experiencing a mental health issue are more likely to receive lower marks, drop out of college or find themselves unemployed than their peers who do not have a mental health challenges. Hence it is urgent to offer some on-campus services to support students with mental health problems and create an environment, which offers students communication about their difficulties without fear. Universities should be a place where students feel supported, whether it be in their educational or personal development.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
Go Public – Do Better? The traditional concept of national public media has transformed. Nowadays, the media landscape consists of a multi-layered sphere, in which especially online and social networks are increasingly important in engaging and shaping the public discourse. In this sense, the role of public service media in a functioning democratic community and its’ impact on the public opinion needs to be taken into question. The web and social media have relinked civil society, propelling collective action into a completely new dimension. These technologies represent a shift in democratic responsibility from institutional media to digital communities. Obviously, democracy at present is not only exercised at the ballot box, but lived and experienced online on a daily basis. The increasingly important role of digital media can be illustrated by a number of examples: The internet played a central role in the Euromaidan protests that caused longlasting political turmoil in Ukraine 2013. Similarly, Iceland’s social media network was instrumental in the resignation of Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson over the Panama papers scandal. The election of Donald J. Trump in the United States is perhaps the contrasting case of how the internet can play a fundamental role in political processes. However, the democratising and empowering functions of the internet and social media might be exaggerated on the backdrop of many problems: whilst the ability for open participation is one of the web’s greatest advantages, it represents at the same time a massive threat to individual rights and security due to the almost holistic lack of any rules of behaviour and anonymity. Aside from a number of other challenges, the substantial difficulty to the engaging functions of the world wide web is the its content itself: the sheer volume of information available creates shorter attention spans in which important news are quickly supplanted by new developments elsewhere. The pressure to get on track and to deliver new content concludes in an enormous existence of unreliable sources and fake information that are partially
used for the systematic manipulation of public opinion, as the existence of the Russia's troll factories has shown.
well as the production of content by using technology-driven innovation.
The above issues ought to prompt one to reconsider the role of public access media in enhancing civic engagement and tackling the deficits of the web. The public service media (PSM) could play a key role as important sources of information, helping activist groups and individuals obtain and disseminate information. Apart from being universally accessible, PSM such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) have proved a credible and trustworthy source of information.
A modern approach to governance also includes a reform of the legal framework; how the actors behave within the framework and the relationship with external stakeholders: audiences, public authorities, economic players and civil society. This can protect PSM from being misused by less democratic and transparent governments as media propaganda tool.
It is true, that the PSM face many challenges as well. This includes foremost the pressure generated by the rapid technological change and the dilemma between the obligation to safeguard citizenship ambitions and support market principles. A number of further obstacles such as internal governance issues or regulatory restrictions may hold PSM institutions back or prevent them from innovating. However, in order to use the immense potential of PSM and to make them fit for purpose, it is necessary to rethink the old frameworks and develop new concepts, in particular for public participation and interaction in the digital age. There is an increasing number of means for the public to be involved, ranging from the creation of content to comment and conversation. In order to strengthen the connection between the PSM institutions and the public, tools such as crowdsourcing should be used to stimulate the discourse as
In general, the scope and pace of technological development has increased. Therefore, the requirement for innovation and efficiency in the media industry has become both more urgent and more challenging. If public service media want to successfully fulfil their public service obligation and democratic role in the new digital media environment, they need effective management and must be open to innovation, new ideas and perspectives.
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