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THE C oser - Issue 1 -


EDITORIAL

As there is a first time for everything, we can happily inform you that this is our first time working together as editors, it is also the first session of EYP Ireland held outside of Dublin, and it will give all of you the opportunity to step on a new path. How close are you to Europe? How involved do you believe yourself to be in this Union? Amongst many more unanswered questions before every EYP session, we are all facing hundreds, even millions of closed doors for now. What will hopefully be discovered at the end of this session, remains in the dark. However, it is our own duty to search for the right key for each of them in order to experience unforgettable moments in our lives. We can only be happy that the session is getting closer, and closer, and closer... At this point, our goals are to challenge you through our articles, whilst trying to make them appealing to your mind. These pieces of writing are in no way the end of the road to all the problems, but rather the reflections and interests of the individual journalists. Afterwards, we can guarantee you that Europe will be closer to you, and you will be able to face any closed door, without having doubts or fears in the future. We truly hope that you will enjoy the first issue of “The Closer” and that we are to start a journey filled with new beginnings. Mara Bălașa & Lorenzo Leunberger — Editors

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CONTENTS AFET I – p. 3/4

EUROPE AND THE RUSSIAN PIRATE SHIP BY LOLA HOURIHANE

AFET II – p. 5/6 AUTOMATIC ASYLUM:YAY OR NAY? BY LEE MORAN

DROI – p. 7/8 PRISONS IN EUROPE BY ANNA LEFERING

EMPL – p. 9/10 EVERY PIECE OF THE MACHINE BY LIDIA GRASU

ENVI I – p. 11/12 THE FUTURE OF EUROPE BY TOMINA VODARICI

ENVI II – p. 13/14 THE EU HAS BEEN HORSING AROUND BY LUKE GIBBONS

FEMM – p. 15/16 THE MARCH TOWARDS TRUE EQUALITY BY CLAUDIA DALBY

IMCO – p. 17/18 DATA PROTECTION REGULATION BY BRENDAN BYRNE

ITRE – p. 19/20 SCIENCE TODAY, FOR TOMORROW BY KATIE KILCOYNE

SEDE – p. 20/21 EUROPE UNDER A LENS BY HARRY HEATH

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AFET I

EUROPE AND THE RUSSIAN PIRATE SHIP It is time for us to decide – do we invade, keep going with business as usual, or venture off into the sea, hoping to find some other ships? By Lola Hourihane You are in the middle of the ocean. You may think you are stranded, but you can relax a little; every other EU citizen is out there, too. Oh yes, and you have a lovely ship. So you may be asking yourself – ‘If I am stuck out here with over 500 million people, how are we all still alive?’ Well, there is another ship out there with you: the Russian ship. They give you all you need to keep that fine vessel sailing along those beautiful waves. There is even a little tug-boat they use to bring it over to you – it is all very convenient. In this case, that one other ship is the Russian Federation, and it sells you energy lots of it. It even provides your ship of EU customers with around 35% of their needs for both oil and gas. This is a feat no other supplier in the ocean – or the world, for that matter - could accomplish. Gazprom – a company which their ship’s captain (government) controls - is the world’s largest exporter of natural gas. So what happens if their ship has an argument with the tug-boat? In 2009, Ukraine’s debts to Russia in gas purchases and gas allegedly stolen from Russia sparked a major conflict between the two. Of course, when Russia cut off Ukraine’s gas supply, our crew survived; the Ukrainian ‘tug-boat’ still delivered enough gas to satisfy EU needs. However, when it was then decided to cut off all Russian gas being transferred by Ukraine, many European cabins were left cold. After this, can we still trust Russia as honourable, reliable sailors or do they begin to resemble pirates?

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On top of this, we have an ethical issue. Recent anti-gay legislation in the Russian ship has sent a very clear message about their respect for human rights – homosexuality-supporting crew members may have to surrender a lot of their treasure, and similarly inclined visitors may be thrown in the brigs. Perhaps this should not concern our ship - a trade ship - but the EU vessel was set up to protect citizens’ rights, thus being an advocate for these rights. Through buying Russian gas, we show support for a state which blatantly abuses civil rights. Do we now prioritise financial gain over justice? Regardless of our views on rights, trade with Russia is not ideal. After all, development on the Russian ship cannot be described as “sustainable” in environmental, social, or even economic terms. A ship in which certain groups are systematically persecuted, in which the Arctic is considered a means for making money, and in which much of its revenue is generated through monopole pricing will surely sink someday. Russia is already an undependable supplier willing to use its power as a political tool, and this analysis of its chances for a sustainable future only adds to this reputation of long-term unreliability. Our reliance on Russian energy leaves us vulnerable to a major collapse if they either choose to cut off our supply or collapse themselves.

While we certainly are dependent on exports of gas, oil and uranium from Russia, we also have to consider the fact that Russia is enormously dependent on revenue from gas and oil exports; there are not enough nearby, currently accessible ships to create same demand for their product. Their ship is even more dependent on the European energy market than Europe’s citizens are on their energy exports. Maybe this is our opportunity to make Russia comply with universal standards of human rights. Maybe we should even use our leverage now, in order to further our civil rights agenda. Who are we to impose our ideals about human rights on Russia? They are an independent ship, and if they choose not to follow our captain and ratify our protocols on citizens’ rights – can we really force them to? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is supposed to be just that – universal – but what gives us the authority to say that our values are greater than theirs? Bottom line: Europe-Russian energy trade: caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

We must ask ourselves – does the topic brief for this committee approach the topic in the right way? Should we try to ensure the safety of our energy supply from Russia, or sail away altogether? Does a safe energy supply from Russia – or any one supplier - exist at all? Or perhaps this interdependence between our ships is not such a bad thing after all.

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AFET II

Automatic asylum: yay or nay? With the granting of automatic asylum to Syrian asylum seekers in Sweden, one cannot help but ask: why only Syrian refugees? Global conflicts are escalating around the world, in many places which were former colonies of EU Member States. Should the EU, if they are to follow the automatic asylum policy, also follow suit with said policy in other conflicts? By Lee Moran Frankly, no. The EU should neither follow any policy regarding automatic asylum, nor punish a Member State for denying a Syrian asylum or refugee status. Granting automatic asylum to a Syrian is discrimination. Albeit positive discrimination but discrimination is still discrimination. What about Somalia or South Sudan? Why not grant them asylum? After all, the conflicts there have been going on for a lot longer with one conflict even being considered a genocide and leading to the secession of South Sudan and the creation of the world’s youngest state that is still at war with itself. Somalia is another bloody conflict which suffered a terrible 15 year long civil war with little sympathy given to it by the EU, who was too busy slaughtering thousands of pirates and pumping money into the Somali Army’s coffers, that millions were left displaced and thousands mercilessly slaughtered. Even today with the intensified actions of Al-shabaab, Somalia is ignored or considered a problem that cannot be fixed. Syria is a troubling conflict which has been the explosive epilogue of the phenomenon known as The Arab Spring. As states rose in protest against their regimes, all of them bar Bahrain and Syria collapsed; Egypt even saw two regimes collapse during two years. The Syrian conflict occurred due to a heavy handed policy by Bashar al Assad towards protesters against his regime. The following months led to intensified protests and then armed conflict. The opposition is splintered into many sub groups including pro-western politicians, defected Syrian soldiers, socialists and Al-Qaeda factions. This has lead to the general belief that civil war will not be over in the country for many years. Moreover, the power vacuum of the eventual collapse of the Assad regime will lead to a conflict similar to that of Afghanistan after Daoud Khan was removed from power by the Mujahideen and the civil war that followed led to the Taliban seizing power.

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Intervention in Syria has been ruled out due to Russia and China bullying the EU out of supporting the opposition militarily. Even though the Arab League supports the legitimacy of the opposition, this is a necessary requirement to intervention in one of their Member States. The Syrian conflict is a gigantic world-wide poker game that Russia and China are bluffing their way through, threatening to arm the Syrian government if necessary, in order to avoid pressure on their own regimes. It is also Cold War esque as the incumbent Ba’ath Party is socialist in policy and being supported by China and Russia. The only way to truly solve this conflict is a UN mandated intervention by Arab League Member States but, of course, the UN’s incapacity of solving world conflicts would once again come to the fore as they grant five countries a permanent seat in the Security Council and the power to veto, which means Russia, USA, UK, China and France all have to agree before the UN does anything.

However, they never all agree on anything the other has an interest in, as their all too busy forcibly putting down any country that attempts to leave their sphere of influence. The EU’s response to the Syria crisis has led to automatic asylum being a mere consolation to a conflict the EU and US should feel guilty for, by not sticking up for a country which has seen children used as human shields, Sarin gas being deployed and the merciless gunning down of anyone who cannot prove their loyalty to Assad enough. What good does allowing a Syrian to move to Sweden and receiving automatic asylum do? He or she has seen his neighbours slaughtered, almost definitely lost relatives perhaps even lost a child or parent and this could have been avoided two years ago. People say this is the way forward but it is already too late for the EU to make amends for the conflict they did nothing about and the tens of thousands of deaths they could have avoided.

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PRISONS IN EUROPE: SOMEWHERE INBETWEEN FLUFFY TOWELS AND ELECTROSHOCKS If you are convicted for a crime in the EU and must therefore serve a prison sentence, you can only hope to be in a country with high standards for its prisons, because those standards vary between the different Member States. By Anna Lefering In some countries prisoners are locked up in their cells for up to 23 hours a day, whereas in others they are encouraged to spend the day outside working. In some prisons detainees are given nutritious food, whereas in others they might get lentil soup three times a day. In some prisons everybody has their own cell, whereas in others more than 20 people have to share one. What can the European Union do to protect prisoners’ fundamental rights? Fortunately, I, myself, have never seen the inside of a prison, but while I was doing my research for this article, I found out that there seem to be Human Rights breaches in the prisons of most European countries. For example, allegations have been made, that Ukrainian prison officers use electroshocks to torture prisoners and detainees in Spain claimed to have been suffocated with plastic bags. While the number of prisoners seems to exceed the capacity of most prisons within the EU, Italy has the highest rate of overcrowding with up to 268%. In Bulgaria a surprise-inspection showed a lack of medical care and in Belgium it was found that some cells did not have running water. On the other hand there are prisons like the high security prison Halden in non-Member State Norway, where every cell has a flat screen TV, its own toilet (which, unlike standard UK prison cells, has a door) and a shower, which comes with large, soft towels. So the question that arises is: What can be done to ensure minimum common standards for detention conditions in all EU countries?

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DROI

In 1973 the Committee of Ministers tried to answer this question when they first adapted the European Prison Rules, a document that was updated in 2006 when the section on health care was significantly expanded. The European Prison Rules suggest how prisoners should be treated in the Member States by providing recognised standards on good principles and practices in the treatment of detainees and the management of detention facilities. They are based on the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, but are not legally binding for member states of the Council of Europe. The first point of the European Prison Rules reads “All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with respect for their human rights”. In total the European Prison Rules include more than 108 points, including basic principles but also zeroing in on a large number of other aspects of life in prison, as for example hygiene, nutrition, legal advice, freedom of thought, conscience, religion and many more. So even though there are extensive guidelines provided on how EU prisons should operate, there still is a great divide between the prison conditions within the different Member States. What can be done about it? It should be ensured that every prisoner is treated according to the Human Rights. Penal institutions should be designed to heal rather than harm and there should be sufficient access to psychological care. I agree with Arne Nilsen, the governor of the Norwegian prison island Bastoy, who stated: “In the law, being sent to prison is nothing to do with putting you in a terrible prison to make you suffer. The punishment is that you lose your freedom. If we treat people like animals when they are in prison they are likely to behave like animals.” Maybe a possible solution would be to make the aforementioned European Prison Rules mandatory. The most crucial ones should be chosen and a time frame for the implementation should be set. Once this is accomplished, another set of the Rules should be made obligatory. I also believe that there should be a standardized training for prison officers. At the moment, for example, officers in Britain get six weeks of training, while Norwegians will have completed a two-year university course, with an emphasis on human rights, ethics and the law. The European prisons should be regularly inspected by the government as well as monitored by an independent party and these records should be made available to the public. Hopefully there will soon be a common minimum standard on prison conditions in the European Union, so that every person will be treated the way they deserve to be treated– like a human being!

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EMPL

EVERY PIECE OF THE

MACHINE

What keeps the world in motion is a continual flow – a continual flow of capital, a continual flow of ideas, a continual flow of information. But ultimately, the civilized world works only because we work. By Lidia Grasu It all comes down to intertwined bits of human and economic interaction, bits that find each other and come together in a labour market. To insure that it runs at full efficiency, it relies on the power of its participants, on the number and the skills of employers and job seekers. But when a large group of European citizens is not fully integrated into its labour market, how is it supposed to work? The utopian image painted by countless treaties and conventions that various groups have fought for over the previous century fails to materialize into the current situation of the European labour market. In spite of women, or immigrants, elders, or people with disabilities having the legal right to work, each of them still faces restrictions – be they official or not – when it comes to plunging into the job market or holding down a job. While disabled EU citizens make up a sixth of the working-age population – with only two thirds having been restricted in their working abilities – less than half of them were employed in 2013. The employment rate for the general working-age population was nearly double, however. The lack of integration in the job market is simply an extension of the usual difficulties a disabled person may have to face. When one’s health problems are physically obvious, there are two types of people you can meet: the ones that stare and the ones that avert their eyes. Either way, people with disabilities get used to being at the receiving end of uncommon treatments, which are too rarely preferential. Most of them know what it feels like to fight discrimination – and it often has to be fought before a prospective employer.

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In light of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, many Member States took action in order to prevent those accidents from ever happening in their country. Germany immediately closed eight of their reactors and pledged to have closed all of them by 2020. Other countries such as Italy supported the idea of a nonnuclear environment, whereas Spain banned the construction of new reactors. Consequently, discrepancies between Member States were created, in relation to sources of energy. The European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) is an organization which was initially created to coordinate and ensure a safe and peaceful use of nuclear energy, as well as help with the development of infrastructure and the funding of everything nuclear- related. One of its main purposes is ensuring the security of atomic energy supply within the framework of a monitoring system. It is certain that such activity needs to have a well designed plan and must be provided with suitable conditions in order to make things run smoothly, but is it ever enough?

It is our mantra as a European society that we have long overcome the ages of marginalizing certain members of our community. But the truth is that integration is a complex and timeconsuming process that has yet to be fully carried out. To me, at least, making the labor market more accessible to people with certain disabilities is a crucial element of completing the social integration of said group. At another level, they could contribute to strengthen a Member State’s economy, creating a more competitive market and increasing the employment rate. This would, without a doubt, impact the quality of life of the disabled, while benefitting the community at the same time.

The European Union’s concern for the matter is highly tied to its characterization as a human rights issue. While the legislative context allows people with disabilities to work freely, on an equal basis with non-disabled, it is discrimination that prevents the disabled to reach their full employment potential. Not only does it make it difficult for people with certain physical or mental impediments to find a job, but it has been proven to also discourage them from searching in the first place. Many are either terrified of being treated disrespectfully, or unimpressed by the prospects.

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ENVI I

THE FUTURE OF EUROPE It seems quite essential to me that the EU, alongside each Member State, should focus on developing new, emission-friendly ways of generating electricity. The path that should be followed presents a focus on renewable-energy and the pro arguments are countless. By Tomina Vodarici It is well known that EU’s energy supply comes from very different sources, for example oil, coal, gas, renewables, but most importantly, uranium. Taking a closer look to various charts from the past few years, it can be easily noted that nuclear plants have played a very important role in generating energy for all Member States. Currently, there are 132 nuclear reactors in 14 countries that generate about 30% of the electricity produced in the European Union. However, we can affirm without a doubt that this kind of energy is dangerous and has caused numerous disasters, which may or may not have been avoided. In fact, nuclear power works with uranium, a metallic chemical element, weakly radioactive, but very unstable. Thus, if it is not properly handled, the safety of citizens is endangered. I believe it has already proved its power, judging by the damage it did worldwide. People should learn that even though a thing is productive and works with maximum efficiency, it is not necessarily benefic. Each action has consequences and each decision affects not only you, but also the people around you. If a national government decides to procure its energy from a nuclear plant, it may threaten the safety of citizens. Now, why would governments do such thing, considering that there are far better choices, choices that will not make people live with the fear that, at any moment, a nuclear accident may happen?

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In light of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, many Member States took action in order to prevent those accidents from ever happening in their country. Germany immediately closed eight of their reactors and pledged to have closed all of them by 2020. Other countries such as Italy supported the idea of a nonnuclear environment, whereas Spain banned the construction of new reactors. Consequently, discrepancies between Member States were created, in relation to sources of energy. The European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) is an organization which was initially created to coordinate and ensure a safe and peaceful use of nuclear energy, as well as help with the development of infrastructure and the funding of everything nuclear- related. One of its main purposes is ensuring the security of atomic energy supply within the framework of a monitoring system. It is certain that such activity needs to have a well designed plan and must be provided with suitable conditions in order to make things run smoothly, but is it ever enough?

How can you make sure, 100%, that there will be no harm done to anyone, at any time? Can any engineer, any expert sustain the idea of a secure nuclear plant? Of course not. Just think it over and decide if it is worth it to risk millions of lives and make people live in uncertainty. Nevertheless, is Europe not all about citizens? Protecting nature must be a priority for everyone. People should be aware that everything that surrounds us had as primary materials the nature’s resources. More than that, these resources are limited, and must be protected and used at their full potential. For example, as a result of severe abuse, scientists expect the Earth to run out of oil in less than 100 years. Despite the fact that EU has an immense potential for renewable energy, it still imports substantial quantities of oil and other materials. Moreover, keeping in mind that resources are limited, whereas our needs are unlimited, we should try to solve the EU’s existing problems safely and sustainably, starting with the dependency on nuclear power and, through a long term process, switch to renewable energy. Luckily, there are already programs, targets, and frameworks such as Open Agenda, Europe 2020, and Horizon 2020, which are ready to be launched and help to achieve a greener and safer Europe. In my opinion, what we must protect is humanity. We are the cause of change. We are guilty for everything that goes wrong and responsible for everything good, which means that we are the only ones that have the ability to change our course. We can choose to protect ourselves, our families and our environment, or we can just chase the options that are more profitable, not thinking about the consequences. I am sure everybody has heard the quote “Be the change you want to see in the world.” We are the citizens of the EU, we have the voice, and so be this change. What world would you want your children to live in?

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THE EU H A S BEEN HORSI NG AR OUND In 2013 the World was shocked by the fact that meat advertised as beef was actually in some cases one hundred percent horse meat. The 2013 meat adulteration scandal is ongoing in Europe and it needs to stop, since many supermarket chains have been “unknowingly“selling horse meat to tens of thousands of customers. By Luke Gibbons This issue became apparent on the 15th of January 2013, when it was found that horse DNA had been discovered in frozen beef burgers across supermarket chains in Ireland and the rest of Europe. While consuming horse meat is not harmful to humans, it can be considered wrong for many ethical reasons across the Member States, including Ireland. While this was not a health risk, the scandal did reveal that there are major lapses in the traceability of the food supply chain. This would perhaps mean some other harmful ingredients slipped passed during processing. In fact, they really did.

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ENVI II

Sports horses fell victim to slater and were manufactured into “beef” burgers. This caused huge health risks as many veterinary drugs are given to these creatures over their life span. One such drug was phenylbutazone commonly known as “bute” which is banned for consumption by humans. Sally Davies, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer stated that the level of contamination, 1.9 mg/kg, posed “very little risk to human health”. The scandal has spread to over 13 European countries and a Europe-wide solution needs to be adopted. The EU Recommendation on Labeling the Origin of Processed Meat will be published as soon as possible. The question is whether this fact would solve the problem or just create awareness. Ireland was the first EU state to report the presence of horse DNA. The first positive test for equine was on the 10th of December 2012, so this is actually an ongoing matter. Why is there still no solution? Out of 27 beef products tested, 37 percent were positive for horse meat. Tesco’s inexpensive Everyday Value Beef Burgers tested at 29.1 percent. All others reports had less than 0.3 percent horse DNA. These products originated in Ireland and also The UK. Trace amounts were also found in some cases imported from Spain and the Netherlands. The original source of the horse meat was found to be a Romanian based slaughterhouse. After inquiries, it was found that the meat left Romania clearly labeled as horse but was later changed to beef. Other original sources included Poland. The fact here is the original suppliers are not to blame, but who is? Perhaps the processors, or maybe the supermarkets. The lack of traceability is to blame for investigators not knowing. A survey carried out by University College Dublin and Brunel University found that health risks were not of primary concern; moreover, that claims made on labels did not match the contents of the food products. An Inquiry into horse meat sources revealed that Aintree Racecourse in the UK had a contract with a licensed slaughterhouse in West Yorkshire to remove dead Grand National race horses. It is illegal for horses euthanized by injection to be put onto a human food chain. Many chemicals used to euthanize horses are extremely harmful to humans if consumed. This is because the chemicals leave a residue on the meat even after proper processing, which could be fatal to human life. Another concern from this scandal is equine infectious anemia (EIA). Although EIA does not pose a risk to human health, it could be a huge indication that other diseases are present in horse meat. This meat was supposedly banned from entering any other country except from Romania, unless it had undergone a Coggins test. Some news stations have referred to EIA as “Horse Aids”. Even though it has none of the same implications for humans, it is in fact a lentivirus like HIV. Thus this would frighten the general public. If the meat industry is going to continue to prosper, then there needs to be a better system of traceability put in place. Religious groups have been affected tremendously by the scandal. Muslims and Jews consider it sinful to eat horse meat due to religious prohibitions. It is terrible that religious devotion can be affected by a lack of an organized system and therefore stricter implementations of rules should be adapted. The horse meat adulteration scandal had effects on millions of EU citizens. It has instilled doubt into their minds of what they are eating, whilst affecting their health, daily life and religious beliefs. It is morally wrong that such things as the lack of traceability resulted in so many problems. The EU as a whole needs to listen to its citizens. It needs to be closer to them and furthermore to change their outlook on food products for its future generations.

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THE MARCH TOWARDS TRUE CONTINUES

“Equal opportunity is not equal unless everyone receives the encouragement that makes seizing those opportunities possible. Only then can men and women achieve their full potential.” − Sheryl Sandberg By Claudia Dalby

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FEMM This quote is from a really amazing and insightful book I read at the start of last year, called Lean In. It was about women in the workplace and professional world, and it really opened me up to struggles of discrimination and equality that some women face that I had not previously considered. This book talked quite a bit about maternity leave and how annoying it is for women to try and juggle their newborn and developing children and their working life, with no alternative or compromise. A paid paternity leave, to me, became the quite apparent and straightforward answer to this problem. In my opinion, the lack of paid paternity leave in Ireland has no benefits. And yet the government has said that there are no plans at present to introduce a system of paid paternity leave for male workers after they become fathers. Essentially this statement implies that we are not yet recognising men as being involved in the rearing of our youth. Drastically unfair, this fails to recognise cases of single fathers and mothers who are the breadwinners of the family, nor the social and academic benefits to a child who has been raised by two parents. I have heard instances of women in job interviews being questioned on their future marriage or family plans, the employer assuming they will take maternity leave and therefore thinking it is not worth hiring them. Women can currently be discouraged to have children, due to the time spent fumbling footsteps trying to get back into the working life after a year’s leave. Each of these situations put all the domestic pressure on the women, and all of the financial pressure on the man; a conservative view that simply cannot formulate each individual situation. Although not immediately apparent, this is most certainly a feminist issue. A feminist is someone who believes in social, political and economic equality of the sexes. FEMM, your resolution strives for equality! In a recent survey only 8% say children are better off with full-time at-home fathers, whereas over half are much more comfortable with a maternal upbringing for a child. Where does this stem from? An underlying resistance and distrust of men caring for their children? More likely conformity to tradition and gender roles – we like what we are used to and cannot cope with change. But this is 2014, and honestly, change has a reserved seat. Women can lead in the workplace while men can bring their contribution at home. This is not a long shot – equality is attainable with proactivity towards it. Introducing a paid paternity leave – I do not see it damaging the economy; in fact, allowing a margin of choice for families has huge advantages. Businesses that are sick of having to inconveniently fill skilled yet procreative mothers’ places with replacements will benefit hugely from this. Families can decide for themselves which parent will stay at home to look after the child and not have to succumb to awkward laws, which could potentially lead to a decrease of their annual income. Women will not be immediately pushed aside in their professional endeavours because of impending motherhood and dreaded maternity leave, as it will not be abnormal for their male counterparts to have the same future. Paternity leave will make their lives so much more manageable, and children will receive the love and caring they need and deserve from their parents. “Kids thrive when they grow up in stable families, whether those families are headed by a couple or an individual. Couples who both work have lower divorce rates and higher rates of marital happiness.” In essence, the benefits of paternity leave boil down to a long-lasting, happy family life – and happy family lives mean happy, more productive employees. Win-win!

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DATA PROTECTION REGULATION

IT IS INSIDE THE COMPUTERS Daily, new designs are drawn up, new prototypes are made, and new products are launched. This is an age of mass technological advancement, where it is common for young children to have unlimited access to the internet even on their phones, to be competent in navigating the internet, and to obtaining what they want in seconds. By Brendan Byrne

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IMCO

For those of you who have not seen Zoolander, there is a scene where the two male models are told to get files from inside a computer, and so proceed to smash the computer, thinking the files are literally inside the computer. This is an example, admittedly an extreme one, of the sheer lack of understanding held by the common person when it comes to the internet. Although no one today would ever act so foolish and try to extract files by smashing a computer, people constantly make dangerous errors when browsing the internet. Too frequently, people skip through terms and conditions, hitting the accept button, and agreeing to God-only-knows what when they sign up to social media sites. Ask yourself, when was the last time you read the user’s terms and conditions of a website you signed up for? Which are your rights on the internet and how vulnerable are you? Fortunately for those of us who live in a European Member State, there already is a directive in place to protect the rights of all citizens. The European Data Protection Directive (EDPD) is a piece of legislation that recommends steps for safeguarding the rights of all citizens. The EU cannot legitimise this legislation and so requires the individual states to do so. In accordance with this Directive, Member States shall protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons and in particular their right to privacy, with respect to the processing of personal data. Moreover, Member States shall neither restrict nor prohibit the free flow of personal data between each other for reasons connected with the aforementioned protection. Simply put, each Member State should protect each citizen’s rights, particularly the right to privacy, when it comes to their personal details. The EDPD is to be replaced by General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), because, as the topic overview put it, the EU has acknowledged the need for a data policy that recognises advances in technological developments and the increasing influence of globalisation. What are these technological developments, you may ask? Specifically, social media, and cloud computing. The EDPD does not cover vital issues such as social media, or even cloud computing to an efficient standard and it will be a single law that unifies data protection within the EU. However, corporations and advertising firms can gain valuable information from search histories and, if the email account is also provided, companies could potentially discover their clientele’s age, gender, and location. This information would be exceptionally valuable for the creation of ads, as long as people are aware that it is being recorded. So, where do we draw the line? How much information should companies be allowed track? I personally believe that everything has a cost, and so to use a service, such as gmail, I must pay the price. If that price is to have my search details recorded, so be it. However I believe it is completely up to the company to make it clear and obvious to the users what information they are track, and there should still be limitations, such as name, bank account details and precise details of the person’s address. Also, I believe that the existence of search options such as Google chrome’s Incognito mode should continue to exist. Regardless of what it is, there will soon be a common standard for data protection across the European Union, which will lead to all people being more comfortable and confident while using the Internet.

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SCIENCE TODAY,

FOR TOMORROW

Ironically, back in the late 1800s, never was Charles H. Duell more incorrect than to claim that Everything that can be invented has been invented, especially considering that the list of new breakthrough discoveries since then is practically endless. By Katie Kilcoyne Science is without a doubt the fundamental concrete block upon which everything else in our society is based. It is rather like the foundation to which new exciting things are made and it can be the initiator of that brilliant spark of innovation to a new idea. Not only is it the beginning, but also the future. It also helps us comprehend the world around us. It allows us to understand how things in nature work, and then incorporate it into modern technology. In addition to satisfying curiosity, it can also help save or prolong human life. Science contributes to knowledge about how our bodies work, diet and nutrition, preventing and treating disease and safety considerations. On top of this it creates that innovation which follows the invention of new products. However, we were not simply born with all these scientific laws and discoveries embedded in our subconscious minds, and that is why the building block of science and scientific development lies in its research.

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ITRE

Scientific resear is absolutely imperative in our society, it is needed to maintain our place and our name across the world. As Professor Brian Cox very accurately stated; “The modern world is built on the shoulders of people who played around with things and made discoveries”. This modern world is ever growing and changing, but there is doubt that we can keep up. However, through the help of the EU, we will manage to do that. The amount of benefits associated with the research grants and funds towards different, new, interesting scientific projects and plans is endless. Not only does it create the future of the modern world right before our eyes, but it also has many other benefits in terms of employment across the EU, an aspect of the funds which seems to be constantly overlooked. Unemployment in the EU, especially of young people, is a serious problem we face at this time and therefore the possibilities of employment created by these funds is more important than ever. This employment is created both from the research community set up to investigate a certain scientific issue, and then through any action which may be taken from this research in the future. The link between research and jobs became particularly clear when a recent study by the European Commission claimed that if 3% of the EU’s GDP, (gross domestic product) was invested in research and development, it would create up to 3.7 million new jobs. A circular pattern is created through the development and continuation of scientific research in our economies. In order to keep our economy growing, we need a new wave of educated students ready for modern scientific research, teaching and technological development.

Therefore, we are encouraging new generations of bright young students, with unique ideas to go into science, and even further along the process. There have been so many tremendous advances in technology over the last decade and the pace keeps accelerating. Everyday new things are discovered and with the increase in scientific knowledge, there is also an increase in demand for educated students. The EU plays a crucial role in the development of this scientific research, and it is exceptionally helpful in the acceleration of the system. However, is this a very actively known role? Are most people aware of the huge advantages our society has due to this help? In my opinion, the answer is “no”. I believe that more must be done not only to raise public awareness of scientific issues, but also to find ways of actively engaging people themselves. Research must be brought closer and should also be more identifiable to the public. Another question we must ask ourselves is, how large of a role should the EU play in the actual execution of the scientific research? As far as I am concerned, this is quite the debatable issue. Should the EU simply assign the grants or funds and be done with it, and hope for a positive return? Or should there be broad guidelines in place for the actual research being undertaken, and the path to which it will ultimately lead? I believe the latter would be the most suitable solution, in order to prevent the exploitation of these grants, as has been similarly done in cases around the world such as those in the name of military development, or horrific cases such as that of Joseph Mengele’s, done “the name of science”. Although these may be extreme examples, they are still important to bear in mind. All in all, science is simply imperative in our society, and in order for it to continue, research must be carried out.

20


SEDE

EUR PE UNDER A LENS

When the National Security Agency (NSA) was revealed to have been spying on numerous European leaders for years, it did not feel particularly shocking or unbelievable, but it rather felt immensely plausible. By Harry Heath Even leaders like Enda Kenny have said since the scandal emerged that they were always under the assumption that their phones were being monitored and that it was not a matter of great concern. Indeed, for many years the public in general have had suspicions that national governments, particularly the Americans, had wide reaching surveillance programmes in the name of national security, thus when Edward Snowden leaked the story, it seemed like these suspicions had been realised. The question we must then ask is how should we act; should we accept that a camera or a microphone is always monitoring us or should we take meaningful action to curb the spying power of the United States and others? Is any consequential action really possible?

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An argument that is often used in favour of this supranational snooping is that our collective security would be threatened if details of American spying networks were revealed or if they did not exist at all. Many countries across Europe are targets or potential targets for international terrorism, as illustrated by terror attacks in Beslan, London, Madrid and Oslo in the past ten years alone. Therefore is there an argument that, for the sake of human lives, we should allow our lives to be recorded? Personally it seems as though there is a legitimate case for the surveillance of suspect individuals deduced from other intelligence operations, but the surveillance of the likes of Angela Merkel seems to be a completely excessive and unnecessary. I believe that we must make some privacy concessions for the sake of security, but that line has been clearly exceeded.


The other major argument against widespread action is simply that any action taken by Europe would be futile due to the open nature of the internet and our modern digital networks; even with the most sophisticated security, national governments and businesses can have their information hacked and stolen as we have seen many times supposedly less proficient hackers like the Syrian Electronic Army managing to undermine even large companies like Microsoft. Leading on from this realism argument, it has also been suggested that taking a bellicose position against the United States over surveillance is not in the interests of Europe, since the USA is seen as one of Europe greatest allies and we need to maintain the special relationship between the US and Europe to preserve shared business, economic and foreign policy interests. It is my opinion that any action where the European Union took their concerns directly to the United States would probably have far more negative consequences than positive ones. The European Union has decided to put in place some measures already, bearing in mind the issues I have already discussed. Earlier this month, the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs called on the United States and European Union member states to impose a ban on mass surveillance and bulk personaldata processing - illustrating that the EU is very keen to put in place measures to curb the powers of surveillance that our supposed allies possess. This shows that the European Parliament currently favours the soft political option; calling for an agreement rather than making demands of the United States and other spying partners. It should also be noted that a measure like this could quite feasibly achieve nothing, as it relies on the United States agreeing to retract their extensive spying network without getting much back in return. Personally, I think that the priority among European Governments should be the strengthening of their internet security systems against potential hackers and greater stringency on the transferral of state secrets. The aforementioned report also suggests the establishment of a ‘European Digital Habeas Corpus’ which would instigate the development of a European strategy for IT independence at both the national and EU levels. This would go some way to stymie any potential snoopers and spies. If we are to take more concrete action to prevent our privacy being squeezed, then I think it would need to be based on a multilateral agreement between most, if not all, of the parties involved, only then could we hope to achieve an accord which has the possibility to bring about a real change in the way our states act and operate.

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The Closer - Topic Articles  

The First Issue of The Closer, Official Magazine of the Leinster Regional Session 2014

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