Winter 2013 – 14
he European Institute is UCLâ€™s hub for research, collaboration, and information on Europe and the European Union. UCL has an exceptional range of expertise in the key disciples of European Studies. It covers the core subjects of European integration study, including law, politics, economics, and history, but adds to it an unrivalled span of research and teaching in European langaugaes, literatures, philosophy and the arts, as well as on European geography and built environment, medicine and health, and the sciences. Building on this foundation, the UCL European Institute works to stimulate new research and support multidiscoplinary collaboration across the university. It acts as the one-stop access to UCL expertise on Europe and the EU, and provides a conduit between the university and policy-makers, civil society and the media. We offer a diverse programme of public events, provide expert analysis and commentary, build up networks and alliances and aim to provide an intellectually stimulating environment for resarchers at all stages of their careers. For more information, please visit our website: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/european-institute
o one single-handedly inundated the newsfeed this year like Edward Snowden. By revealing reports of extensive spy operations, conducted not only by the American NSA, but also by security services all over Europe, he ignited a debate on the accountability and transparency of our democratic governments. In light of these revelations, we asked ourselves if a united Europe was possible in an era when so many European countries are spying on their neighbours. With all of this political disunity, can one even consider the idea of a future united Europe? This edition tackles the question from various angles. Lucile Collin discusses the role of multilingualism, perhaps the most striking difference among European countries. Nadia Badaoui and Marco Ristic-Smith discuss the separatist movements in Spain and Scotland, which have been gathering steam as Scotland’s 2014 referendum approaches and Catalonians aim for the same benchmark. Ideological conflicts have been thrown into sharper relief in the midst of tough economic times and the cultural transition globalisation has wrought on Europe – a phenomenon not only apparent in the rise of separatism but also in the landscape of European party politics. Extreme right-wing parties are popping up all over Europe and parties that were previously considered temporary fads have become permanent components of the political scene. From this perspective, Hendrick Obelöer looks at the Green Movement and its relationship with the left and Kalle Dramstad expands on the socalled ‘democratic deficit’ of the EU by looking at what will be different with the 2014 European Elections. With a personal account of how the rise of temporary employment affected his coworkers in a German factory this past summer, Simon Spendler takes a close-up look at those who have been affected firsthand by Europe’s competitive labour market. Gender and Equality, whether approached together or individually, are questions as relevant as ever in Europe today. Ellie Walden opens this edition with a discussion of where we stand in terms of justice for female victims of sexual assault. Walden brings to light the over-arching theme of accountability relevant to this edition – how do we hold ourselves and our leaders accountable for injustice? Europe is changing fast, on both political and social levels. As standing editors of the only UCL publication that hopes to touch on the issues that are shaping these changes, we strive to not only address them in a salient and thought-provoking way, but also to encourage debate amongst our peers. Happy 2014, Nadia Badaoui & Kalle Dramstad Editors 2013-2014
PHOTO BY HENDRIK OBELÖER 3
Table of Contents Asking for it?
by ellie walden
Should english be the official language of the eu?
by lucile collin
Changes to come in the 2014 ep elections
by kalle dramstad
Separatism for catalonia in
a european context by nadia badaoui
On the origins of separatism by marco rustic-smith
Are the ‘greens’ the future of the left?
by hendrik obelöer
‘They will decide over our heads anyway’:
temporary employment in germany by simon erik spendler
Front cover photographed by hugo arevalo-bacon 11
PHOTO BY JONAS EKBLOM 4
Asking for it? by Ellie Walden
ere is a legal puzzle for you. According to the Crown Prosecution service, over the last two years, women who have been raped have become more unlikely to report their attacker to the police. So perplexing is this mystery that, in July, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, launched a special inquiry in order fully to ‘delve’ the depths of it. In this era of constant litigation and where 1 in every 10 women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape, why is it that 89% of them are unwilling to come forward? Perhaps a few recent examples of how the 11% are treated by the police, legal institutions and mainstream media will shed some light on this mystery. In 2011 Toronto police officer Michael Sanguinetti unwittingly kickstarted a world-wide feminist movement known as “slutwalking.” His now infamous advice that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised” clearly struck an ironic female nerve. On 3rd April, over 3000 gathered in Queens Park, Toronto to express their outrage at the officer’s comment. Although the website organising the event requested women to dress in everyday wear (to symbolise ordinary women, sexually assaulted in ordinary life), many women came dressed in little more than their lingerie, others in fishnets and stilettos, in order to look as “slutty” as possible. Others carried signs reading “Slut pride” or “Sluts pay taxes too” in an attempt to reclaim the word and their right to dress as they please. The slutwalk was born. Within three months, the phenomenon had spread to over 30 different countries across four continents. Slutwalks have been held everywhere from the heart of Mumbai to along our very own Gower Street. The idea is simple: what a woman wears does not cause rape, rapists do. Sanguinetti’s comment is but one example of society’s increasingly prominent tendency to punish the rape victim as much as the rapist. This attitude sends a clear message to women that the choices they make: the clothes they wear, the amount they drink, the places they go will determine whether they are, in society’s eyes, “asking for it.” As one organiser put it, “our society is all too willing to take the blame away from the rapist and place it onto the victim. Not only does this divert attention away from the real cause of the crime – the perpetrator – but it creates a culture where rape is OK, where it’s allowed to happen.” In his warning about “dressing like sluts”, Sanguinetti demonstrates that, terrifyingly, this determination to condemn the choices of rape victims exists even within institutions which are there to protect them. It seems that the prevalence of this attitude does not reduce as we move higher up the echelons of our civil service. Sanguinetti’s comment could be simply dismissed as a misguided attempt to shock potential victims, but when violation actually occurs, surely the supporting institutions are more sympathetic? Unfortunately not. In fact, the legal services have demonstrated that, in the case of paedophilia, they can go as far as to blame the 13 year old victim herself. Four months ago, when a 41 year old man pleaded guilty to committing statutory rape, he left the courtroom with just a suspended sentence. Why? Because Judge Peters kindly took “into account that even though the girl was
13, the prosecution say she looked and behaved a little bit older.” In the legal structure of the UK, nobody under the age of 16 can agree to sex simply because they are under the age of consent. If an adult engages in sexual activity with a minor, it is rape. This fact was recognised by both the abuser and the judge: “You knew she was not nearly 16 and your plea of guilty recognises that you knew.” Yet for some reason, both the judge and (bizarrely) even the prosecution lawyer himself, decided that, despite the suspect admitting to both the making and possessing of extreme child pornography, it was in fact the 13 year old girl, who was “predatory in all her actions.” Judge Nigel Peters even went so far as to make the incredible statement: “There was sexual activity but it was not of Mr Wilson’s doing, you might say it was forced upon him despite being older and stronger than her.” He just about managed to stop short of offering an apology to the 41 year old paedophile, concluding the case by sympathising: “the girl was egging you on.” Even in the rare instances where a woman is successful in prosecuting her attackers, it seems that the victim is still not worthy of our sympathy. In Steubenville, August 2012, two high school football players carted a drunk, unconscious, and drugged teenager from party to party, raping her several times along the way. As modern teenagers do, their friends made sure to keep their social networks updated: filming the attack on their phones, and posting pictures, videos, and comments about the assault onto Twitter and Facebook. They referred to themselves as the “Rape Crew”, with choice tweets such as “some people deserve to be peed on” and “song of the night is definitely Rape Me by Nirvana.” In one of these videos, which is still publicly available on Youtube, we see Michael Nodianos, a friend of the suspects, amusing himself by reliving the night’s antics: “They raped her harder than that cop raped Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction.”… “They raped her quicker than Mike Tyson raped that one girl.” At one point in the video, other friends sporadically realise the seriousness of the situation. At around 4:15, one of his friends says, “That’s not cool bro” and “That’s like rape. It is rape. They raped her.” At 7.08, another boy asks Nodianos: “What if that was your daughter?”, after a brief pause - “But it isn’t.” During the trial, the 16 year old victim saw many of her neighbours, including her own friends, side with her rapists. The Big Reds football team were the Golden Boys of the town, and there were many in Steubenville who simply would not acknowledge, let alone condemn, their guilt. In fact, it came to light during the proceedings that many in positions of power had actively sought to cover up the affair. In total, five adults from the local high school and the football team were convicted of charges including obstructing justice, tampering with evidence and falsification. In an interview with the New York Times, football coach Nate Hubbard suggests that the victim made up the story: “The rape was just an excuse I think… She had to make up something. Now people are trying to blow up our football program because of it.” However it seemed that the locals were not alone in their judgement that the future careers of the rapists should count for more than the victim’s anguish. Generally speaking, major television networks do not sympathise with teenagers 5
convicted of violent crimes. They do not glorify the previously promising futures of accused drug dealers, nor lament over how hard it is to watch convicted murderers reduced to tears during their sentencing. We must remind ourselves that when CNN described the trial as “every parent’s worst nightmare”, they were not referring to the horrors of hearing how your daughter was drugged, urinated on and raped in front of her supposed friends, but to the convictions of the rapists. In fact, the victim was only featured in such reports where it was stressed how much she had had to drink: or where it was insinuated how unreliable and deserving she was of the rape. ABC news thought it editorially appropriate to centre an article on how “the accuser had been flirting with Richmond at the party” and how her friends stated “she has a history of drinking and has lied about things in the past.”
So perhaps this puzzle is not as complex as Keir Stamer thinks it is. Is it really any wonder that rape victims are wary to report what has happened to them, when the treatment they can expect to receive before, during and after the legal proceedings can be almost as traumatising as the crime itself? Furthermore, what sort of message does this “slut-shaming”, “victim-blaming” culture send to the rapists? If we automatically look towards the behaviour of the victim to justify the rapist, then we are effectively blurring the line between what counts as “consent.” In all three examples I have highlighted here, the personal choices the victim made led her to be seen as more “deserving” of the rape, and thus less worthy of our sympathy. It is only after we highlight the absurdity of this trend towards punishing the victim for being raped that we can acknowledge that there are no “blurred lines” when it comes to the question of consent. Asking for it? Nobody ever does.
Lingua franca or lingua oscura? Should English be the official language of the EU? By Lucile Collin
ne Sprache común per die Union Europska? Sim, meer which une? (A common language for the European Union? Yes, but which one?) This curious sentence is not utterly random. It is written in ‘Europanto’, a freestyle language made up of the common body of European languages, with an unlimited vocabulary and no grammar rules. This satirical language, implicitly mocking Esperanto, was conceived by Diego Marani, a novelist and policymaker for the Directorate-General for Interpretation at the European Commission. Marani, who experimented with Europanto with his employees, described it as ‘der jazz des linguas’. If Europanto seems mainly facetious, it also reflects the increasingly favourable view towards establishing a single official language in the European Union. This increase in support seems justified in a number of ways. Primarily, translation is both long and costly. In 2012, translations for just the European Commission amounted to 1.76 million pages – legislation, policy documents, reports to other EU institutions, background papers on legal, technical, financial, scientific and economic issues, etc. – costing around 330 million euros. This figure is constantly rising, due to the expansion of the Commission’s activities as well as the rise in official languages of the EU, which now number at 24 with Croatian. As a result, the number of translators has dramatically increased to reach 2,000-3,000 today. Yet the cost of all language services in all EU institutions amounts to less than 1% of the annual general budget of the EU. Divided by the EU population, this equals 2€ per person per year - or the equivalent of a (cheap!) coffee in Paris. Considering the growing criticisms of the size and inefficiency of European bureaucracy, more and more detractors of the EU’s translation services are voicing their discontent. Many, such as the federal President of Germany, have suggested establishing English as the only official language of the EU. In a speech on the future of European integration in February 2013, Joachim Gauck thus declared: ‘It is true to say that young people are growing up with English as the lingua franca. However, I feel that we should not simply let things take their course when it comes to linguistic integration.’ In other words, 6
European institutions should play a proactive role in integrating a language which is increasingly dominant in society. However, establishing English as the EU’s sole official language would be profoundly undemocratic. Translation is necessary to ensure that EU policy-making is transparent: everyone should be able to access official publications in their own language, for example the Official Journal of the European Union. The unavailability of these documents in the least spoken official language of the EU, Maltese, means that potentially 400,000 people will have no means of verifying what European bureaucrats are doing, worsening the EU’s democratic deficit. EU citizens should have the right to know what decisions the EU makes, and how these decisions were reached. Having English as the single European language would only make the EU even more elitist and distance citizens from its institutions. Furthermore, a single official language would obviously be detrimental to the European long-standing culture of equality and diversity. Just the fact that the European Observatory of Plurilingualism (EOP) exists is a testament to the Europeans’ concerns about the hegemonic rule of English. Far from being a stubborn nationalist struggle, multilingualism is what makes the European political project unique and acceptable by all. Giving up striving for it would feed rising extremist parties across Europe, against the European common good. Nonetheless, Joachim Gauck still makes a valid point in denouncing the increasing discrepancy between the de jure diversity of official languages and the de facto emergence of English as the Union’s lingua franca. Formally, European deputies and delegates only speak in their national languages. The irony lies in that once they are away from large council rooms and interacting casually with each other, European bureaucrats all comfortably switch into English. Although the European Commission names three official ‘procedural languages’– English, French and German –, 72% of all EU documents are drafted in English. Only 12% are drafted in French and a mere 3% in German. A solution would therefore be the establishment of English as the sole working language of the EU: communication would become much easier and internal business more efficient. Moreover, if a politician does not master English in
today’s globalised world, he probably does not have the skills necessary to best defend its people’s interests. Instead of opposing the rise of English in European conferences, a better strategy to protect the European linguistic diversity would be targeted efforts to enhance EU citizens’ language skills. In its Resolution on a European Strategy for Multilingualism in November 2008, the EU Council called for ‘further action to improve the mastery of basic skills, in particular by teaching two foreign languages to all from a very early age’. As well as helping to foster mutual understanding between peoples, multilingualism is a prerequisite for a mobile
workforce and would strongly contribute to the competitiveness of the European economy. Consequently, the EU should continue translating its official publications in all its 24 official languages for basic democratic concerns. This does not exclude having English as the EU’s sole working language; opposing such a measure would be fighting the wrong battle. To protect our precious European linguistic diversity, EU institutions should primarily encourage the development of its citizens’ language skills, and this is what will enable the EU to stick to its motto: ‘United in diversity’.
– EUROPEAN INSTITUTE STUDENT REPORT –
Is this time different?
The 2014 European Parliament Elections By Kalle Dramstad
Europe’s political parties will now propose their candidates for the Commission President before the European Elections. This follows their interpretation of the Treaty of Lisbon necessitating the European Council to select a final candidate by “taking into account the elections to the European Parliament”. Many hope it will increase the democratic accountability of the EU and lead to a more politicised election with higher turnout. The question is: will this time be different?
he elections are not going to be different” – MEP Fiona Hall was first up to talk and quickly expressed her doubts about the direct impact of the changes on the 2014 elections. She was soon followed by Simon Hix
and Michael Shackleton who, regardless of small differences, seemed to agree. Despite some initial pessimism, each of the speakers later stressed that the future institutional effect of the change PHOTO BY JOSE HONG FARN CHUN
cannot be underrated. Mr. Shackleton compared this to the initial scepticism towards creating the role of European Council President, which has become rather influential. The procedure aims to further legitimise the democratic aspects of the EU. However, one of the questions from the floor brought up a potential pitfall: couldn’t the reconciliation struggle between the Parliament and the European Council end up only damaging this legitimacy further, especially if the Council were to decide on a different candidate than the winning nominee? Answers to this unveiled a far from idealistic take on the matter: “it can’t get any worse” and, frequently used throughout the talk, “it has to start somewhere”. Also on the agenda was the growth of Eurosceptic parties throughout Europe. Despite the agreement that these parties probably will gain support, their potential impact was predicted differently by the speakers. Hall and Shackleton stressed how the parliament was likely to continue as normal as absenteeism and failure of inter-party cooperation would reduce eurosceptic influence. However, Hix expressed fears regarding the impact these parties would have on the discourse even if they effectively excluded themselves from the decision-making process. He mentioned roll-backs on the freedom of movement and harsher immigration laws as an expected consequence of this. “Voter turnout does not matter.” A rather controversial statement by Hix that paved the way for a surprising turn in the last minutes of the discussion. This challenged the underlying
assumptions that characterised the majority of the talk. Many do subconsciously link voter turnout and democratic legitimacy, but as Shackleton explained, a potential increase in turnout does not necessarily imply a general perception of the EU as more legitimate. A rise in turnout can always be attributed to external factors, such as the growth of Eurosceptic parties. Hix also stressed the importance of going beyond just looking at participation in elections, suggesting that the structural legitimacy of the vote matters more than the amount of people that choose to use it. “The weather has a bigger impact on turnout than anything else, – he remarked, worryingly – but if things matter enough, people will show.” Evaluating the talk, there is little to criticise apart from the small difference of opinion between the speakers. Their pro-european stance at times prevented the discussion from going further and the event could have benefitted from a fourth opposing voice. Lastly, in the pragmatic optimism permeating the talk one aspect seems to have been overlooked. Even if faltering turnout does not mean as much as long-term institutional change, it is definitely discouraging from a perspective outside the corridors of the EU-bubble. The argument that it can’t get worse might provide some leeway for now, but it is important never to forget the impact the popular perception of the EU has on its functioning. If anything, this can be viewed in relation to the rise of the eurosceptic parties who, without being present, managed to occupy half of the event.
– EUROPEAN INSTITUTE STUDENT REPORT –
Self-determination in the EU: The case of Catalonia By Nadia Badaoui
s if waking from a dream, Catalonia has put its struggle for independence from Spain back to the forefront of European politics. Escalating rhetoric from government officials in Barcelona and cries of protesters in its streets rang out this past summer. Many questions abounded: Just how ready are Catalonians to separate from Spain? Can it be done? How would the current structure of the EU absorb the new state, were it to form? In late October, the European Institute hosted a panel of scholars at UCL to discuss these questions, addressing not only the growth of the separatist movement in recent years, but also what it could mean for the European Union. An informative presentation on the history of Catalonia and its recent developments set the stage for the discussion. Over half of Catalonians support the separatist movement– a two-fold increase since 2008, when the financial crisis greatly exacerbated feelings of resentment and disillusionment towards Madrid. The federal government owes billions to Catalonia in fiscal disadvantages and unfulfilled investments, while the region represents almost 20% of Spain’s GDP. Major protests in 2008, 2010 and 2012 have escalated in number and strength year by year. In this context, Xavier Vidal-Folch, journalist and former deputy editor of El Pais, made some opening remarks. “Cataluña is not Scotland,” he said, making a statement that would be repeated with varying implications throughout the event. 8
Following his speech, a man in the audience raised the question of how Catalonians are expected to move past years of persecution and repression and accept a protracted process of negotiation with Madrid that offers no guarantees. There were losses on both sides, Vidal-Folch replied, and the general mood of most Catalonians and Spaniards is that it’s time to move forward. Yet the questioner seemed unsatisfied, and rightly so; your cultural history is not something easy to ‘move forward’ from– it is a current of feeling, it is part of self-identity. This was a moment of tension early on that brought to light the very personal element inherent to the debate. Yet most of the speakers on the panel that followed shied away from addressing the human side of the conflict, taking a more legalistic angle. They drew for comparison England’s approach to the Scottish independence movement, and the lessons London learned from the “troubles” of the 1980s with Northern Ireland. All of the speakers put forth the general sentiment that the path to self-determination for Scotland was relatively smooth. Professor Robert Hazell of UCL’s Constitution Unit explained how Westminster facilitated the lawful and fair facilitation of the independence question. When Scotland needed a proper legal framework to move ahead on the path to independence, Downing Street provided one. When it needed a proper parliament to decide its own fate, it formed one. And when calls were heard for an official date to be set for a referen-
PHOTO BY JOSE HONG FARN CHUN 9
dum to settle the question of independence, one was set. 2014 looms. And now, the Catalonians are shooting for the same benchmark. But can it be done? Or in the words of Monserrat Guibernau, a professor of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary, “Are we [Catalonians] so different from the Scottish? Why can they, yet we cannot?” Differences in political culture and the history of interaction between the central and regional governments help to answer this question. Guibernau characterized Spain as a “static” democracy, or one that is averse to change. In contrast, as Prof. Hazell pointed out, the fact that England has no constitution makes it easier to adapt to political realities. It is no wonder that the classic argument made by Spanish unionists is that calling for a referendum is not explicitly allowed in the Spanish constitution. Such an argument is unsustainable for more than one reason, but the main point is that a democracy must be dynamic in order to adequately respond to the needs of its people, and in this way, England exceeds Spain by leaps and bounds. Prof. Sir David Edward of the University of Edinburgh made the important point that a major difference between Scotland’s situation and that of Catalonia’s is the absence of perceived provocation or repression by the U.K. government amongst the Scottish. Yet Guibernau believes that another cause for the sudden growth in support for separation from Spain lies less in the turbulent history and more in the recent success of democratic society in Spain. Since the downfall of the Franco regime almost forty years ago, Spaniards have been getting used to democracy. Today, young people feel empowered in a way that the previous generation did not. They feel
entitled to the right to express their beliefs and to choose for themselves, a sign of democratic maturity. Graham Avery, who grew up in a region also defined by its unique culture and autonomous history, began his remarks with, “My nationality is Welsh, my classwork is British, and my citizenship is European.” It was an apt intro for a legalistic approach to the cases of Catalonia and Scotland—once independent, how will they fit into the European Union? The bottom line was fairly common sense—the path to independence should be taken simultaneously with applications to join the EU, and as a result current treaties with the remaining state should remain intact. Yet others are not so optimistic about this argument for a ‘common sense solution,’ for Scotland or Catalonia. Recently, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy asserted in a speech that Scotland would most likely be “left outside the EU” and forced to negotiate with each of the 28 member states from scratch. England has facilitated Scotland’s calls for self-determination in a much more democratic and open way than Spain has handled Catalonia’s. All of the speakers agreed that the Spanish government must negotiate with Catalonians in a diplomatic way and that an agreement must be reached. As Graham Avery, C.M.G. and senior member of St. Antony’s College at Oxford, explained, the two sides “must find an environment in which problems can be solved.” Guibernau even amounted the current lack of dialogue between Catalonian and Spanish officials to a “dereliction of duty.” In this spirit, exchanges between officials in Barcelona and Madrid have taken a much more conciliatory tone. Recently, Spanish foreign minister José Manuel García Margallo talked of the need “to explore alternative ways for Catalonia to PHOTO BY HUGO AREVALO-BACON
cohabit with the rest of Spain” so as to maintain a relationship “that goes back to the Roman empire.” After all, “the obligation of the government is to represent the interests of the people,” Guibernau went on to say, “not to like or not like.” This goes
to the heart of the conflict between the ancient Mediterranean province and its federal government. Above all, the majority of Catalonians today feel that they are not being represented, but overruled.
On the origins of Separatism By Marco Ristic-Smith
ith Scotland and potentially Catalonia facing independence referendums next year, one can’t help but notice the rise of separatism in Europe, particularly in the last hundred years or so. Of course, there are separatist regions all the over world – including East Timor and South Sudan – since the turn of the century. These areas and many others outside of Europe were under colonial occupation until relatively recently and are still in the process of establishing their own sovereignty. The same, however, cannot be said for Europe. This begs the question: why is Europe, relatively one of the most developed and politically stable regions on the planet, still witnessing changes to its borders? If we examine European history, it becomes clear that many secessions are in part the result of attempts to unify fragmented territories. The USSR, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia were formed through such initiatives. However, both Germany and Italy exist in their present forms after unifying in the late 19th century, and we wouldn’t associate them with territorial fragmentation as readily as we would the entities listed above. It is apparent that unifications in the past succeeded or failed due to numerous factors internal to the countries involved. Put simply, it makes sense that Italy and Germany should exist as they do. Their present territories were for the most part of their history inhabited by a culturally and ethnically homogeneous population, and the fact that they were once several smaller independent states, such as Bavaria and Saxony, didn’t really make a difference. The same cannot be said of the USSR; the political elite in Moscow had very little in common, culturally or even linguistically, with the people of Lithuania, Moldova or other states. Unlike Germany or Italy. The USSR was not as cohesive a unit, something which led to its inevitable collapse. This is perhaps too simplistic an analysis. There are
clearly many other factors, and besides, not all instances can be attributed to the strength of unifying ties. Czechoslovakia was a union of two distinct groups, the Czechs and the Slovaks. Despite this clear dichotomy, they bore cultural similarities and the linguistic barrier between them was diminished by the similarity of the two languages. Is this an example of a country more strongly unified than others? Despite the difference in the way their respective disintegrations unfolded, there is one thing both Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia had in common. In 1988, Yugoslavia had an unprecedented inflation rate of 217%. At the same time, Czechoslovak leaders recognised the need for faster modernisation after thee poor economic performance in the early 1980s following the inadequacy of several mandated ‘Five Year Plans’. However, these reforms came too late, as decades of weak economic progress led to the overthrow of the communist governments in 1989 and the peaceful dissolution of the state in 1993. In the case of Yugoslavia, deteriorating economic standards (among other things) led to the rise of vindictive nationalism in the constituent states, eventually escalating in the violence of the 1990s. Every separatist movement is a complex manifestation of cultural, economic and socio-political causes; an intricate lattice of factors that requires years of academic research to fully grasp. From my discussion so far, it seems, however, that for a federation to remain unified, a sense of unity and shared identity is a highly important factor. The absence might not be sufficient in itself for independence movements to succeed, but it can act as a catalyst. Under such situations, additional factors such as economic weakness and political disillusion can lead to mobilisation of separatist movements. It is perhaps no coincidence that the campaigns for Scottish and Catalan independence gathered momentum only several years after the onset of the global economic crisis.
Interested in to contributing to the magazine? Please contact the EUREKA team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our blog at eurekaucl.wordpress.com for updated info on the topics we are covering in the next edition or take a look at old editions of EUREKA.
We are very proud of the amazing student photographers who contribute to EUREKA. Hugo Arevalo-Bacon, whose work features on the front cover of this edition, discusses his subject: “Near Logroño, architect Santiago Calatrava’s Ysios Winery is a spectacular ‘bodega’ at the foot of the Spanish mountains. Calatrava designed Ysios as an incredibly long and linear building to accommodate the wine making process. The wave-like structure is as dazzling as it is functional, with rolling wooden contours that seamlessly integrate into the foothills of the Sierra.”
Green: the ‘future’ of the left idea? By Hendrik Obelöer
The Green Party have often been branded as just another “leftist socialist party.” This seemed to me to be too simplistic. The question thus arose: is there a clear difference between the policies and the ideological framework of the Green Party and the European Socialist parties?
he upcoming European elections offer great insight into what the European Movement of Greens stands for today. The European Green Party is unique in the fact that it allows the public to elect their two leading representatives. Reading through the candidate descriptions, the general aims of the Greens come into focus: Ska Keller (Young Greens ,Germany) ‘A Europe of solidarity and social justice that serves the people’s interest, in and beyond the EU!’ José Bové (France) ‘An ecological Europe: the only subversive dream that empowers citizens and protects our planet.’ Monica Frassoni (Italy) ‘Democratic reform of the EU and the Green New Deal are our answers to the current crisis.’ Rebecca Harms (Germany) ‘Putting Europe on a sustainable path: for a healthy environment, a sustainable economy & solidarity!’ These are not groundbreaking statements. but it
is nevertheless interesting to explore where these opinions originated from. At the core of their ideology lies the belief in the “equality of all creatures.” This leads to the conclusion that humans should not try to rule over it. Every citizen is an equal part of something greater: a business, a society or, in this case, a state. On one hand, this results in an emphasis on the individual. Whilst on the other hand, this leads to a recognition of shared responsibilities for a greater good, an emphasis on inclusive democracy and a solidarity within a community. This greater good is a fair, just and ecologically sustainable society. This implies, if the desired changes are not implemented in other ways, an involvement of a state with a clear role in steering the economy and society towards these goals. ‘Fight for social justice!’ With these findings in mind we should look at the Socialist movement in Europe. The party group of the Social Democrats in the European Parliament describes their values as follows: ‘The S&D Group stands for an inclusive European society based on principles of freedom, equality, solidarity, PHOTO BY JOSE HONG FARN CHUN
PHOTO BY HUGO AREVALO-BACON
diversity and fairness. Our MEPs are committed to fighting for social justice, jobs and growth, consumer rights, sustainable development, financial market reform and human rights to create a stronger and more democratic Europe and a better future for everyone.” In today’s times of crisis, the S&D Group’s priority is to fight unemployment and ensure that our societies and markets become fairer.’ Overall, this sounds very similar to the position of the Greens. But a closer look on the ideological groundwork is needed to understand the differences. The foundation of leftist ideology is the concept of class struggle. However, this does not mean that all left ideology is communist in nature. This concept rather states that society consists of several classes, with contradicting goals in the long run. An example of this logic is the creation of trade unions as a representative for workers. Hence, socialist policies must focus on social classes as a means to solve problems and must eventually try to reduce the differences – in payment or actual freedom – between the classes. Socialists are thus the representatives of the exploited class. This helps us understand why they do not only advocate higher payment for workers but also explains the socialist presence in civil rights movements. Consequently, a strong state with the power to regulate the economy and change society is needed to tackle these issues most effectively. ‘Now. For tomorrow.’ (Motto of the German Green party congress 2007) In the eyes of most people, Greens stand for sustainability and Socialists for the fight against unemployment. But
in these cases both sides advocate similar policies. The reason why Socialist parties and Green parties seem to work well together is because there are many areas where both ideas lead to the same conclusion. Thereby it is not surprising that there are many voters who change regularly from Social Democrats to Greens and vice versa. In the end, is it not just the labels which are different? Whilst the conclusions of these two ideologies are similar, the means used to reach this conclusion are markedly different. The point of division is their conception of society. Whilst the Greens see individuals within a greater community, the Socialists see society as made up of opposing classes. On the issue of individual freedom, this distinction becomes clear. Where the Greens believe in liberal concepts of individual freedom, Socialist parties often tend to support the role of a controlling state. However, only the future can show whether they increasingly join forces or drift apart from each other. Politics is not always about results. It is not only important what an idea leads to but also where it has originated from. The Greens have proven to be more than a short-term phenomenon as they have established themselves on the same level as Socialist parties. With their roots in the left of the political spectrum, they came up with a new way, a new ideology, of how a state and its citizens should act in a modern world. Their growing support, especially from the younger generation, might be proof that this approach has been a successful one. Where developments in the labour market make it more and more difficult for Socialists to speak of classes, the Green path has gained public support in the last years. 13
PHOTO BY JONAS EKBLOM 14
“They will decide over our heads anyway”: Temporary employment in Germany By Simon Erik Spendler
s a the debate on temporary employment rages all over Europe, Eureka Magazine asked Simon Spendler if he could give us a first hand account of the time he spent working for a temporary employment agency at a German müesli factory. The concept of temporary employment is simple: instead of receiving a permanent contract of employment, employees receive temporary contracts that expire at a fixed date. The best argument for temporary employment from a labour market perspective is that of flexibility. People are flexibly hired and employers have the possibility of adapting to the needs of the market and the demand for the product they produce. Furthermore, temporary employment is ideally supposed to ensure a transition into long-term employment as people receive an opportunity to prove that they are capable and profitable enough to work for the company in the long run. However, the number of temporary employees has increased considerably over the last two decades all over Europe. The number of temporary employees in Germany has increased from approximately 121,000 in 1994 to well beyond 900,000 in 2011, which equals an increase of nearly 650%. Moreover, temporary employees tend to earn considerably less than long-term employees. At Germany’s largest temporary employment agency, Randstad, I received, along with all other temporary employees, €8.17 an hour. However, long-term employees in the factory earned at least 40% more – €11.50 an hour. The night shift benefits of Randstad are at 25%, whilst regular employees receive benefits of 40% during nights as well as weekends. What is additionally very problematic is the fact that Germany’s social benefit system is based on the equal contribution of the employee and the employer. Given the low wages of temporary employees and the time-limit of their employment, their entitlements under the German pension scheme are clearly limited. Of all the workers that I got to know during my six weeks in the factory, only one was able to secure a long-term employment after four years as a temporary employee in the company. One of my co-workers - who was about my age - was offered an apprenticeship with considerably lower pay for three years and no guarantee of continued employment with the company. He gladly took the job. As a matter of fact, the majority of temporary employees in the factory were older and had backgrounds in different trades. They were former chefs, salesmen, electricians and plumbers. One of my co-workers had been a plumber until about age fifty when his firm went bankrupt and he lost his job. He was unable to find a new job as a plumber and has since
worked through temporary employment in a variety of different jobs. He told me about his daughter, who had just graduated from my old high school. She was hoping to study in the south of Germany, but he had to tell her that he was merely capable of financing an education close to our town in northern Germany. Moreover, this was only possible because he had bought two houses years before he was made redundant, which he was now renting out. Many others had already been working as temporary employees in the firm for more than 15 years. Some had left the company because they could not stand the poor conditions of the work but were forced to return. Some were holding out in the hope that they would gain a position as a long-term employee. What particularly struck me were their reactions when I told them that I was studying politics. Many of them associated this closely with becoming a politician and instinctively treated me with suspicion. As the German elections were approaching, I asked them about their political beliefs and who they were planning to vote for. Most of them had not voted in previous elections and were not planning to do so in the upcoming ones. Interestingly, the vast majority of the people that I talked to – contrary to my expectations – did not appear to reject any specific parties but instead seemed disillusioned with the political system as a whole. Over all the years that they have worked in temporary employment, they observed no significant improvement in their situation. While I was working in the factory, the conservative-liberal coalition introduced a higher minimum wage of €8.50 for temporary employees in Western Germany. However, this only constituted an actual increase of 33 cents per hour – a gross pay rise of about 45 Euros per month – and it is evident that this is not going to either help temporary employees provide for their families or reduce their fears of poverty in old age. Moreover, of all the parties in the German parliament only the left wing party Die Linke proposes a fundamental change to their situation by advocating the introduction of a minimum wage of €10.50. Hence, their beliefs of being alienated by the system are applicable to the reality they live in. They work eight hour shifts, often on weekends. Sometimes the long-term employees had already finished while the temporary employees still had to clean everything up. They not only have a lower pay overall but virtually no social security in the long term. After experiencing the reality temporary employees face on a daily basis, I was left with a sense of respect and appreciation for why my co-workers felt that “the politicians would decide over our heads anyway.”