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TheLetter Learning about ourselves Almost six years after its launch, SHIFT mag is reflecting on its role as an opinion and information magazine on Europe. An important step within this process was an extensive online survey conducted with 3500 participants, among which there were subscribers, employees from Tipik (the publisher of the magazine), social networks (Facebook and Twitter) and potential readers (passers-by in the street at distribution spots in Brussels). The survey was disseminated using e-mail, social networks and field interviews. The questions mainly focused on the quality of SHIFT mag’s content and layout, as well as the habits and expectations of its current subscribers and (potential) readers, both vis-à-vis SHIFT mag and in terms of reading and information in general. Globally positive image The first lesson to draw from our survey is that the content and graphic design of SHIFT mag are rather highly regarded. About 60% (59.7) of the people interviewed gave the magazine’s content a mark of at least six out of ten while its layout got at least seven out of ten among 70% (68.7) of them. A special mention goes to passers-by since 95% of them had a very positive first impression (mark of eight or nine out of ten) of the magazine (only 5% knew it). Regarding the type of content, interviews are preferred over articles and infographics by 35 % of those interviewed (in comparison to 30 and 20% respectively). The length of the articles is sometimes considered too long. If SHIFT mag gave up its paper version (only 30% of the people interviewed are in favour of it), significant efforts would need to be made to improve its online presence and visibility (a large majority of subscribers and readers never visited SHIFT mag’s website, Facebook page or Twitter account). Another aspect we should work on is the relationship with our subscribers and readers. Although the majority of them (65%) declare that the next issue of SHIFT mag is something they look forward to, most of them are unable to say in which months it is that SHIFT mag is actually published and admit they don’t follow the magazine from one issue to the next.
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Only (or maybe we should say at least) 25 % of respondents would be willing to pay to read SHIFT mag. Connecting using a PC: the best way to stay informed While the printed press is still favoured by 13% of respondents, the internet (70%) and television (15%) are seen as the two main information media. Radio and social media are insignificant with only 3% of votes. The PC remains the main tool used to access the media, with 85% of interviewed people using it to connect the Internet, far ahead of tablets (9%) and Smartphones (6%). Lastly, although these topics seem to have already been addressed extensively in all the media – due to the current international context – finance and economics, the future of the EU and Europe as well as society and culture, are the topics our readers are most interested in reading in the coming months.
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fLearning f about ourselves Worldwide
fThe f Future We Want? Report from Rio+20 Looking east
fCulture f caught in a political mess The Arts
fSolidarity f Action event – 12 Hours for Greece The Diary
fThe f Cyprus’ special Shifting With
fCyprus f EU presidency – “The Cyprus Presidency will not be distracted or otherwise affected by internal Cyprus economic conditions” The Controversy
fCorruption f Alert for Europe Think Tank
fIs fthe EU a social media dinosaur? The Snapshots fCopenhagen f Photo Festival
Visit us: u www.shiftmag.eu Like us: u www.facebook.com/SHIFTmag.eu Follow us: u http://twitter.com/SHIFTtweet Cover: Photo from the series "Perfect Childhood" ©Lærke Posselt
The Story fEducation f in the EU Investing today for growth tomorrow
fFocus f country 29 “Romania’s next challenge: competing with the EU’s top universities” Interview with Professor Ioan-Aurel Pop, rector at the University of Cluj “Romanian students ask for practical knowledge” Interview with Catalina Apostol, president of the student association, V.I.P (Volunteers for Ideas and Projects), and Alexandra Bucataru, president of AIESEC Bucharest fCivic f education The EU on the blackboard
fReaching f for control School shootings raising in Europe?
fRanking f QS Best Student Cities
The Future We Want? Report from Rio+20 Twenty years ago, the world watched as the leaders and representatives of over 170 countries gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the 1992 Earth Summit. George Bush Sr and Fidel Castro rubbed shoulders with the Dalai Lama and Pelé as a bold new vision for our world’s development – sustainable development – was forged. This vision, embodied in Agenda 21 and the Rio Principles, called for the integration of environmental and social concerns into our models for growth. By Aoife O’Grady
© Carmen Paun
wo decades later, a crop of different world leaders and representatives made the pilgrimage to Brazil between 20 and 22 June for the Rio+20 conference. Guided by the UN, their task was to chart a new, equally bold pathway forward for a sustainable century. However, most would say that’s not exactly what happened...
Before even a single world leader had touched down in Rio, the delegates negotiating on their behalf had presented the conference ‘outcome’ text entitled ‘The Future We Want’. The 49-page document, pieced together by the Brazilian hosts after months of difficult negotiations, represented what was widely acknowledged as a ‘compromise
text’. Needless to say, the words ‘bold’ and ‘vision’ did not dance in the warm, wet Rio night air as details of the document spread to NGOs, activists and media. A day later, the conference began with the strange knowledge that the outcome was all but fixed. Some world leaders descended
The Future We Want [outcome document] With a strong focus on a worldwide transition to a ‘green economy’, the text introduces the concept of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to complement the Millennium Development Goals, and outlines the need to mobilise financing for sustainable development and promote sustainable consumption and production, with a particular emphasis on the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies. It establishes a secure budget, a broader membership and strong powers to initiate scientific research for United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and encourages companies to place a higher value on nature by considering the environment within their financial reporting. Major criticisms include: the failure to mention concrete commitments or figures (an ongoing criticism of developing countries), the failure to guarantee the reproductive rights of women and to layout a rescue plan for the oceans.
on the buzzing Rio Centro conference centre, including EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso, France’s Francois Hollande, China’s Wen Jiabao, India’s Manmohan Singh and, more controversially, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Zimbabwae’s Robert Mugabe. However premiers such as Obama, Merkel and
Cameron were notably absent. Leaders (or their representatives) took to the UN podium on a rolling basis over the next three days to make their statements to the world. Meanwhile outside, NGOs and activists continued to lobby their governments (in vain) and stir up protest with colourful chants and demonstrations.
A sign greeting delegates landing in Rio de Janeiro airport for the Rio+20 conference.
There was a flurry of excitement with the arrival of US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton who said that the outcome document marked a ‘real advance’ forward for sustainable development and called on the world to be ‘pragmatic, but also optimistic’. Meanwhile, Bovilian President, Evo Morales was typically rousing, warning against a green capitalism “that converts every tree, every plant, every drop of water and every natural being into a commodity.” For the most part, the conference rolled lazily towards its undramatic, foregone conclusion. UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon assured that the text would guide the world on to a more sustainable path but warned that words must be matched by actions. Echoing the thoughts of many leaving the soon-to-be deserted conference centre on the final evening, he noted, “The road ahead is long and hard.”
On the side... While weary resignation at the failure of the UN process was palpable, many commentators found hope in the activities, partnerships and initiatives that emerged from the pool of the 50,000 gathered activists, and representatives from NGOs, regions, industry and international organisations.
“Rio is not the end of the road, it is a beginning. A beginning build on the Millennium Development Goals, to safeguard
The People’s Summit. The People’s Summit which ran parallel to the main conference in the beach-side Flamengo Park brought together social and popular movements, trade unions, civil society organisations and environmentalists to protest, perform and debate on alternatives to the path that was being paved for the world across town. The summit concluded with its own final declaration. The Zero Hunger Challenge. During the conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon launched the ambitious ‘Zero Hunger Challenge’ which invites all countries to work for a future where every individual has adequate nutrition and where all food systems are resilient. The challenge has five main objectives: to achieve 100 per cent access to adequate food all year round; to end malnutrition in pregnancy and early childhood; to make all food systems sustainable; to increase growth in the productivity and income of smallholders, particularly women; and to achieve a zero rate of food waste. Declaration of the Regions. Cities and regions from across the world have vowed that they will take the lead if their governments
Read more: u The Future We Want (Rio+20 outcome document) http://bit.ly/NqruJB u The
People’s Summit Final Declaration http://bit.ly/NqNwaB
don’t. In reaction to the outcome of Rio, the Assembly of European Regions (AER) urged regional and city leaders from across the world to sign its ‘Declaration of the Regions’ which sets fixed commitments for sub-national governments, such as committing to a 30% or more reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 (based on the 1990 level of emissions).
What they said... Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo “The outcome document is an epic failure that will cook the planet, empty the oceans and wreck the rain forests” EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso “None of us has achieved in full what was wanted initially. But we have all worked together to develop common ground. Let me reassure you that the EU will continue to strive for more ambitious actions that our planet and its people require.” Oxfam GB Chief Executive Barbara Stocking “Rio will go down as the hoax summit. They came, they talked, but they failed to act.” Martina Bianchini, Dow Chemical and Chair of International Chamber of Commerce Green Economy Task Force “We welcome the outcome document and we applaud the multilateral approach to the dialogue - as we know, economies across the world are interconnected. This summit has recognised that business plays a vital role in achieving sustainable development.”
of a process to define sustainable development goals that people and our planet, to create the future we wantâ€?.
ÂŠ Tashi Dorji
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon is understandably exhausted during the demanding three-day Rio+20 conference. By 7pm at night he had made a total of 13 speeches at various events in the conference.
Culture caught in a political mess The debate about the Ukrainian language and culture consists of constant rows and going from one extreme to the other. “If your given name happens to be Russian, pack up and go back where you belong”, was the advice given to kindergarten children by one extreme-right activist. By Natalia Sniadanko (Translated by Agnieszka Rubka)
uring a literary evening in Basel last autumn, I was asked if language really was such a hot issue in Ukraine and why Ukrainians are dead set against the Russian language. Multilingual Switzerland has proved that having more than one official language can only work to their advantage. I tried to answer the question, although it had never occurred to me to compare the language situation of both countries, by explaining that Ukrainians are not trying to eradicate Russian from everyday use, and doubt if there is anyone who still believes that it would actually be possible. Rather, their aim is simply to hold onto the Ukrainian language. If Russian were declared the second official language, Ukrainian would practically disappear from official use, where it presently only functions in theory.
Cursing and swearing Such fear is not unfounded given the Russification of Ukraine. In Switzerland, on the other hand, all languages have been granted equal rights and state policy is geared towards supporting and not eradicating languages. Explaining certain typically Ukrainian phenomena to outsiders is somewhat difficult; and not only for reasons of their complexity. The problem is that even Ukrainian intellectual circles have not gained full awareness of these issues and have not worked them through entirely. The Russian-Ukrainian language conflict happens to be one of these issues. Why, then, do Ukrainians refuse to see bilingualism as an advantage?
It seems that the best starting point in explaining this situation would be to examine everyday situations, for example when people are refused to be sold juice somewhere in Crimea unless they ask for it in Russian. Local people stubbornly claim to “not understand” Ukrainian, although the phrase sounds almost identical in both languages. Alternatively, we could start with the argument of the necessity of translating literary works from Ukrainian into Russian (and the other way around) which generally leads to the conclusion that nobody needs translations, as Russians do not read Ukrainian writers anyway, regardless of whether the text is in Russian or Ukrainian. Then we have those typical swearing rants on the streets of Lviv, where a couple of old ladies dressed up in smart hats are asked the way to Taras Chuprynka Street (Taras Chuprynka was the nickname of Roman Shukhevych, a Ukrainian nationalindependence activist during the Second World War – editor’s note). Cursing and swearing, the old ladies answer in Russian, spouting a series of complaints about the new name of the street which used to be named after Pushkin: “Why would they change it in the first place? What was wrong with Pushkin Street? He was a great Russian poet after all. And who is this Chuprynka anyway?” The belligerence of the issue can be seen if you look at the Ukrainian parliament, where a fist fight broke out in May 2012 between ruling politicians and the opposition during the debate on whether to make Russian a recognised official language.
pieces or the translation of foreign film subtitles (into Russian) are often regarded as “unpatriotic” and pro-Russian – even if the translation happens to be really poor. It is generally believed that “everything Ukrainian” deserves promoting regardless of its true value; and by the same token, there’s a firm belief that the Ukrainian language and the art of translation in Ukraine are still in their infancy, and for that reason the latter is assumed a priori to be of worse quality than the Russian translation. Such convictions, although going to opposite extremes as far as the subject matter is concerned, bring about identical results. The lack of critical judgement leads to the poor quality of translated texts, and this along with the increase in the number of such texts, makes them more and more unpopular. If you talk to someone in Switzerland using French, they won’t necessarily understand you. It is accepted that there are multiple languages in the country. But the issue of language is perceived by both Ukrainian and Russian speaking Ukrainians as one of constraint and choice rather than a matter of peaceful co-existence stemming out of one’s own free will. This way they become a target of political manipulation at their own request. “If your given name happens to be Russian, pack your bags and go back where you belong”, is the kind of advice given to kindergarten kids by Irina Farion, an extreme-right activist and a scandal-monger from Lviv, during her “Ukrainisation campaigns”. Just as ruthless in their argumentation are her language adversaries, including the equally infamous Dmytro Tabachnyk, the current minister of education. Tabachnyk has introduced Stalinist versions of history into Ukrainian school programmes. He also uses a lot of invectives that originated in Soviet times to refer to anything that is Ukrainian, some typical examples being: “nationalistic”, “pro-west” or “banderish” (after Stepan Bandera, the leader of a Ukrainian nationalist movement in the 1930s and 40s – editor’s note).
© Quinn Dombrowski
Both sides of the conflict use very similar rhetoric. They fall into opposite extremes but don't differ much as far as subject matter goes. Politicians from these opposing political camps have just one aim: to unleash a populist witch hunt rather than strive to fulfil the promises given during their election campaigns.
Lack of true debate We are constantly faced with situations where the main judging criterion for literary work is the language in which it was produced. Critical remarks regarding Ukrainian translations of literary
Reading texts in Ukrainian has become a kind of political manifesto. It's not surprising given that 90 per cent of our bookselling market has been overtaken by publishing houses from beyond our northern border. This is why to the press publishing in Ukrainian or those publishing books in Ukrainian, their own country has become a sort of ghetto and the desire to generate income has been replaced by political and ideological motivation. Sadly there is a lack of true debate on the topic that goes beyond the primitive dichotomy of Russian versus Ukrainian. It is somewhat remindful of the arguments carried out by football fans who are unable to reach an agreement when trying to prove “that their team is the better one”. If they were only willing to analyse a particular match, taking into account the best and worst moments of the game on each side, they would certainly be able to approach a consensus much faster. Perhaps the Russian-Ukrainian language conflict could also be resolved if those involved addressed specific problems rather than focusing on arguing. By being united against their common enemy in the fight for free culture they could in fact reach an agreement much easier. After all, the current cultural policies of both Russia and Ukraine are only pseudo-cultural and are politicised to an equal extent. Spending public funds to print work written by the Ukrainian president and his supporters is viewed as governmental support for Ukrainian publishing. At the same time, most of the Ukrainian authors writing in Russian hardly stand a chance of getting published due to the huge numbers of books imported from Russia. This seemingly wide range of titles available to the Ukrainian reader is usually poor quality pseudo-literature aimed at the mass market. Trying to find any interesting literary phenomena in the modern Russian literature among them
Street scene in Lviv – epicenter of the Orange Revolution – where Russian is spoken much less than in Eastern Ukraine
is pointless. Our government seems to believe that Ukrainian literature can be sufficiently promoted through financing numerous Ukrainian institutions abroad – nepotism flourishes in them and hardly anyone is aware of their existence, let alone their promotional activity. Ukrainian literature is also promoted during international book fairs staffed by state employees who are not communicative enough in English or other foreign languages, and who resent being questioned about this issue. As a result, they are nothing more than just another element decorating the stand already cluttered up with photo albums of Ukrainian mountains, embroidery and ceramics. “How am I to blame for not speaking a foreign language?” an employee from the Ministry of Culture once complained to me during a phone interview. “It’s true, the name of our country on the stand was not written correctly in English. So what? It’s English after all. Our writers would do better to help us rather than harass us.” I asked her if she saw any possibility of Ukrainian writers being
present at international book fairs. She stated categorically that the government grant wouldn't cover such expenses.
Equally depressing situations Modern Ukrainian literature written in Russian finds itself in an even worse situation than that written in Ukrainian as the authors of these books stand a very slim chance of getting published. Russian publishers consider them “foreign writers”. They are first supposed to prove their right to be recognised in the cultural sphere of our brother nation and also break the widespread stereotype that everything Ukrainian is looked down upon, with “intra-family” superiority. Russian authors writing in Ukrainian are perceived even more so as “foreigners” by Ukrainian publishers and advised to publish their works in Russia. The case of Andrey Kurkov, a Ukrainian writing in Russian, is a perfect example. While his writing is quite popular abroad, his status in Russia is not so clear-cut. Despite writing in Russian, he is either attacked for identifying himself with
Ukrainian culture, as he conducts his promotional campaigns in Ukrainian, or he is accused of not doing enough to preserve the Russian language in Ukraine. The wide recognition that Kurkov receives abroad hasn't guaranteed him the same high esteem in Russia. It is not easy to judge which country’s policies do more harm to Ukrainian literature. Is it the expansive policy of Russia or the suicidal policy of Ukraine? But is it really that important who is more to blame? Does it matter which of the two cultural niches disappears first: the Ukrainian or the Russian? If the situation does not improve, the extinction of both is only a question of time. The cultures of the Russian and the Ukrainian languages find themselves in equally depressing situations as their noncommercial segments are not subsidised by the state in any form and are destined to become extinct. As a means of diverting the artists’ attention from this pitiful reality, the Russian authorities, following the ancient Roman strategy of “divide and conquer”, blow Russian-Ukrainian conflicts out of proportion.
© Andrzej Brzeziecki
I was recently given the opportunity to compare the language situations in Ukraine and Switzerland. A highly-esteemed Ukrainian literary journal asked me to conduct an interview with a Swiss poet writing in Romansh (one of the four national languages of Switzerland – editor's note). He lives in Biel, a small bilingual town in which the coexistence of French and German is ensured, even to the point of announcing the names of bus stops in both languages. I asked him if multilingualism stands in the way of literature. In his opinion, it is quite the contrary: multilingualism can only enrich literature, giving it such tones and shades that could never arise in culturally homogeneous countries. The highly-esteemed Ukrainian periodical did not publish the interview, claiming that “the author’s view on multilingualism differs radically from the editor’s opinion on bilingualism” (in the past we published some articles on Switzerland where our negative opinion about this issue was clearly expressed). Focusing on its own, internal and strongly politicised context makes the debate on Ukrainian provincially and internationally marginalised. Even here in Ukraine, the topic does not arouse much interest due to the categorical views and rigidity of judgement of those already engaged in the debate. Young people from the Russified parts of Ukraine have shown a growing interest in the works of modern Ukrainian writers for a long time. Reading these texts somewhere in Donetsk or Dnipropetrovsk brings to mind sports competitions or political manifestations. The basis for this curiosity is not solely the language, but the vividness and openness of Ukrainian literature that offers subjects without taboo. This freedom of expression is what attracts
young people the most. But if the abovementioned selection processes in publishing become common, and if censorship also makes “the loyalty in opinion” a requirement for literary texts, this curiosity will irrevocably die and the literature will lose its vividness. In the long run, the introduction of taboos, even when it is done seemingly for the public good, leads to backwardness, mental benightedness, rigidity of thinking, and intellectual ossification. I would never want the future Ukrainian intelligentsia to display these features and I bet it wouldn't only be General Chuprynka who would agree with me here, but Pushkin himself.
The president’s generosity The Ukrainian parliament has recently inflamed the political-language conflict by voting to reduce the quota for television and radio programmes broadcast in Ukrainian introduced by the previous government. And this reduction is certainly not benign: a drop from the 75 per cent of programmes currently being broadcast down to 25 per cent. Anyone who has ever watched Ukrainian television or listened to Ukrainian radio stations will realise that this 25 per cent is not assured even now. If you doubt your own judgement, have a look at the statistics which show that books written in Ukrainian constitute only 13 per cent of all titles sold in Ukraine. The bill immediately ignited a fierce debate and generated protests. The president, in an act of scornful generosity, assured that he “won’t let it happen” and he would veto the bill as “he doesn’t understand a thing about it”. Thus, nothing will change: the quota might remain as high as before but there is no one to enforce it. And since ignoring the quota is not punishable, our reality will not change in this respect.
Which language is more suitable for Ukraine: Russian or Ukrainian? Which orthography is it more reasonable to adopt: the system introduced during the Soviet era or the post-communist Ukrainian version? Which borrowings are more politically correct: from Polish or from Russian? In the heat of this emotional debate, we usually fail to notice an important issue. In our readiness to fall prey to the government’s provocations regarding language problems, we do no more than what Stalin did to Ukrainian orthography: we politicise grammar once again, letting it go unnoticed how absurd the process is. Łukasz Adamski, a Polish historian and political scientist, touches on this issue very tactfully in his article, “Language: A difficult choice”, published by Nowa Europa Wschodnia (6/2011). Setting the problem against the complex historical background, the author introduces the reader to the topic and explains why the situation looks the way it does and what reasons lie behind it. I completely agree with every sentence of this article, and at the same time I wish that our linguists involved with the subject matter were able to approach it in a similar, unemotional way and see the Ukrainian situation from a broader European context. This would provide them with the comparative material necessary to look at our situation from a distance and reach an agreement on language issues without allowing politics to be involved. They would also be able to solve political and economic problems without using language as an argument.
Natalia Sniadanko is a Ukrainian poet, writer and journalist. She publishes in the Ukrainian press, as well as Krytyka, Dzerkal Tyżnia, Sueddeutsche Zeitung and other publications.
This article was originally published in the Polish bimonthly Nowa Europa Wschodnia and translated for the English quarterly New Eastern Europe. Visit the Web site of New Eastern Europe: www.neweasterneurope.eu
Solidarity Action event
12 Hours for Greece An event to show solidarity with the people of Greece during this time of financial crisis, ‘12 hours for Greece’, took place recently on 16 May at the Halles de Schaerbeek cultural centre in Brussels. It was organised as a day of solidarity action in support of the people of Greece, to counteract the negative stereotypes aimed at Greece in the press at the moment, and to raise money for the Greek children’s charity ‘The Smile of the Child’. by Mark Humphreys
he event was organised as an independent, non-political initiative to show support from the citizens of Europe and friends of Greece, living in Brussels. The main organiser behind the event was Mr Jimmy Jammar, who recently took over as head of the European Commission‘s representation in Belgium. When asked about the background to the event, he explained that “There are lots of negative stereotypes being heard about Greece at the moment, and so this is one of the ways to try and show solidarity and friendship and support and do away with these stereotypes”. When asked about the organisation of the event, Mr Jammar told us that “The real miracle of this story is that we created it in just 10 weeks, you usually need months and months. Everybody, the people of
Brussels, Greek associations, businesses, schools, came and said we have to do something. This whole project has been very moving”. During the day, exhibitions, film projections, talks and other events related to Greek culture and food were showcased. From 10 am to 7 pm, a marathon 9-hour reading of Homer’s Odyssey was organised by two NGOs – the Readers of Homer and Elliniko Theatro. Participation in the reading was free, while tickets to the evening programme of concerts, dancing and Greek food cost € 10. All other donations were encouraged in support of the humanitarian cause of the initiative. Close to 1 000 individuals participated in the reading of The Odyssey during the day, and over 1 000 people paid to take part during the evening.
The readers included representatives of the European institutions and the Belgian federal and regional governments, ambassadors, artists, journalists and citizens and students of all ages and backgrounds. The idea behind the participatory reading was to communicate the collective effort required to protect Europe’s shared cultural identity. The Odyssey was chosen because it highlighted the brave, intelligent and transcendental nature of humankind during such times of trouble. During the evening there were concerts by internationally renowned mezzosoprano Alexandra Gravas, celebrated Greek music composer, lyricist and singer Dionysis Savvopoulos, popular Greek rock musician Lavrentis Machairitsas, and Vassilis Kazoulis, a musician and song writer. There was a talk by Belgian
More information: u 12
hours for Greece http://12hoursforgreece.com/ u The Ssmile of the Cchild http://www.hamogelo.gr/1.2/home u Elliniko Theatro http://www.ellinikotheatro.org/ u The Readers of Homer http://www.thereadersofhomer.org/#!previoius
© Ralitza Soultanova
“If you go around the streets in Greece you will see people feeling sorrow, and anger and frustration, they feel abandoned... so we have to be strong and stubborn.”
writer and lawyer Pierre Mertens and a reading by Tom Lanoye, a Belgian novelist and poet. The evening’s events culminated with dancing from the Greek regions and Rebetika – Greek folk music. All production costs were covered by local and international sponsors. One such sponsor was HR and management solutions company GroupS, their Head of International Division, Hugues Thibaut, explaining why they were involved: “We agreed straight away to support this event and give a financial contribution. We have many Greek clients in Belgium and we want to show solidarity with them but also with Greece. There has been a lot of criticism about Greece over recent months and it is time to start supporting Greece and showing some solidarity”. And this seems to have been the theme throughout the event – solidarity.
The organisers of this initiative chose to donate the proceeds of the event to Greek NGO ‘The Smile of the Child’ (To Xamogelo tou Paidiou). This voluntary organisation is dedicated to children, and was born from the wish of 10-year old Andreas Yannopoulos and a vision he wrote in his diary before he lost his battle against cancer. Since its foundation by Andreas’s father, Konstantinos Yannopoulos, ‘The Smile of the Child’ has managed to provide effective and quality services to families and children in need. Hundreds of thousands of children benefit daily from the organisation’s wide network of activities and services. Commenting on the current situation in Greece, Mr Yannopoulos told Shift that “People seem to think that it is a Greek problem but it is an international problem,
particularly European”. He went on to explain that this event was important because it showed that there was another Greece, one that fights. And perhaps the last word should be left to The Smile of the Child: “If you go around the streets in Greece you will see people feeling sorrow, and anger and frustration, they feel abandoned. And we are needed at the moment more than ever, because there are more children and families in trouble, more children are vulnerable and so we need to come together and be stronger, and of course we need more funding so we have to be strong and stubborn”.
TheDiary Summer 2012
The Cyprus’ special DENMARK BELGIUM
Mapping Cyprus 1191 - 2012: Crusaders, Traders and Explorers
22.06.2012 – 23.09.2012 Brussels
www.bozar.be The Mapping Cyprus 1191-2012: Crusaders, Traders, and Explorers exhibition recounts the island’s eventful history. A crossroads for the major commercial and political exchanges between West and East, Cyprus was long coveted by competing civilisations and was occupied by a succession of them.
1974, The ghost of Cyprus: a photography exhibition about the town of Famagusta
01.07.2012 – 30.07.2012 Copenhagen
www.dengamleby.dk Photo exhibition of the closed city and broader area of Famagusta, accompanied by photos of the old Nicosia airport, archeological places (Salamina), festivals (orange festival), the green line and Mount Pentadaktylos as well as a video-recording. The main theme focuses on Famagusta and the desertion of the city after the Turkish invasion of 1974.
From Arrival to Departure
Cyprus Insula - Maps of Cyprus from the Low Countries
Lanarca International Airport
29.06.2012 – 31.12.2012
02.07.2012 – 30.09.2012
With the rationale that the first and last impression of every traveller visiting a country is the airport, this exhibition of interactive art works by six artists from three Mediterranean countries of the European Union: Cyprus, Greece and Malta has been created.
A presentation of maps of Cyprus from the 16th to the 18th century by mapmakers of the Low Countries from the collections of the Meermanno Museum and Leiden University Library. The exhibition will include maps from some of the greatest mapmakers of their time.
Exhibition: Terra Mediterranea / In Crisis
04.07.2012 – 30.12.2012
Nicosia A dynamic group of artists from Cyprus, the surrounding area and beyond, will be scrutinizing the current turbulence experienced globally, especially as viewed through Mediterranean eyes, from both a political as well as poetic stance. www.nimac.org.cy
Lemesos International Documentary Festival
01.08.2012 – 08.08.2012 Limassol
http://filmfestival.com.cy With documentary films selected from the most current international production and covering a wide range of contemporary documentary language, the Festival functions as the main platform for presenting creative documentaries in Cyprus. In addition to the screenings and in the framework of the festival's parallel activities, a series of lectures and workshops is taking place under the title Docs Talk.
23.06.2012 – 18.08.2012 Lisbon
Contemporary Cypriot Sculpture
28.06.2012 – 26.08.2012 Bratislava http://bit.ly/KOfA7C
Nautilus 2012 – 3rd International Sea Festival
01.07.2012 – 30.11.2012 Limassol
Sports in Cyprus - Centuries of History
29.07.2012 – 08.08.2012 London
20 Young people, 12 Monuments A performance of 12 scenes
23.08.2012 – 25.08.2012 Lefkosia
Presidency Conference on Literacy
05.09.2012 – 06.09.2012 Nicosia
EU Youth Conference
11.09.2012 – 13.09.2012
Healthy Ageing across the Lifecycle
© Courtesy of the Artist, Yenny Huber
www.youthboard.org.cy The thematic priority of the conference is “Youth Participation and Social Inclusion”. During the conference, representatives from various youth organisations and government officials from EU member states, candidate countries and others will discuss how youth participation leads to the social inclusion of young people, with emphasis on young people with a migrant background. The importance of the participation of young people and youth organizations especially in decision making, as an important factor for the creation of inclusive, democratic and prosperous societies will be highlighted. A set of Joint Recommendations on the subject will be adopted at the end of the Conference.
05.09.2012 – 06.09.2012 Nicosia
“Kypria 2012” International Festival
In all major cities of Cyprus
19.09.2012 – 20.09.2012
30.08.2012 – 12.10.2012
email@example.com This festival is one of the top cultural events of Cyprus and it includes musicals, dances and theatrical performances. The detailed programme and information are included in a separate brochure and are displayed on the website of the Cypriot Ministry of Education and Culture.
EU Sport Forum Nicosia
United States of Europe
17.09.2012 – 14.10.2012 Lefkosia (Old Town)
Cyprus EU presidency “The Cyprus Presidency will not be distracted or otherwise affected by internal Cyprus economic conditions” On 1 July, Nicosia took over the EU presidency for the first time since Cyprus entered the Union in 2004 (and the Eurozone in 2008). How are the Cypriots coping with this baptism of fire, taking place in a context of a ‘convalescent Europe’ and diplomatic deadlock with Turkey? Interview with Nikos Christodoulides, presidency spokesperson in Brussels. Interview By Laurent Van Brussel Some officials, when talking about the Cyprus EU presidency, expect that the country’s six-month leadership will “not [be a presidency] in the traditional way”? What does this mean? I don’t know what they mean with this. Nobody mention this to us. What I can tell you is that the particularities of Cyprus as a small Member State without strong national positions in numerous community issues, can act favorably towards its role as the presiding country. A Presidency by a small Member State can present technical issues, which Cyprus is tackling with the help of experts from several of our EU partners. The entire experiment of the EU hinges on solidarity, collective action by all Member States and equality between all Member States. A Presidency by a small Member State – especially a successful one – will act as proof of these principles. Carrying out negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework for the period 2014-2020 is one of your key priorities. Are you not afraid that in the current context this will lead to
an “austerity budget” (with diminished ambitions regarding the Europe 2020 strategy)? The Cyprus Presidency will work hard towards the aim of concluding negotiations by December 2012, in line with the conclusions of the European Council of June 2012. The Presidency will aim to take the negotiations further at Council level, for it to be brought to the European Council for a final agreement before the end of 2012. In this respect, the Cyprus Presidency will follow the community method and will work in close cooperation with the President of the European Council. The overall goal is a fair and effective EU budget aiming at creating growth, competitiveness and employment, especially for youth, through the reformulation of EU policies and their financial instruments, which will be governed by more efficient and simplified implementation mechanisms. The EU Budget should also have the necessary means to deliver the Europe 2020 goals. Negotiations will take place in parallel and in a coordinated manner with those on the various EU sectoral policies, laying the ground for the smooth finalisation on relevant
discussions connected with the MFF negotiations. Simultaneously, the Presidency will push forth discussions on the issue of own resources in order to ensure adequate funding for the effective implementation of the Union‘s policies. The aim will be to reach consensus among Member States on a rational and fair system. In pursuing the above objectives, the Cyprus Presidency will work in close cooperation with the President of the European Council. At the same time, the Presidency will engage closely with the European Parliament, in order to facilitate the adoption of the entire package. In a recent interview, President Demetris Christofias, talking about the troika – the EU, European Central Bank and IMF – declared that it had operated like a “colonial force”. Do you think that taking the leadership of the EU today puts Cyprus in a paradoxical situation/role? The Cyprus Presidency will not be distracted or otherwise affected by internal Cyprus economic conditions. Cyprus will negotiate with the Troika, based on the necessity to improve the imbalances that
which is a key institutional component of the EU. Both, the European Council and the Council of the European Union, in December 2011 have confirmed this, expressing, inter alia, their regret for the Turkish stance and called on Turkey to review its stance.
You also want to focus on the role of the EU on the international stage, especially its relationships with its southern neighbours. Do you not think that the current freezing of all diplomatic relations by Turkey – the main regional power in the Mediterranean basin – will made your task impossible?
It is indeed regrettable that Turkey has taken a strong position to boycott the Cyprus Presidency, by threatening that for the entire six-month period of the second semester, Turkey will have no relations whatsoever with the Presidency. This provocative and insulting towards the EU position has been heavily criticized and condemned by the European Council and the Council of the EU in an unequivocal manner last December. In addition, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Parliament during their recent visits to Cyprus have also reiterated in the strongest terms the EU position on this unacceptable behaviour of Turkey.
Let me start with Turkey’s accession process. The Republic of Cyprus has repeatedly underlined that it firmly support Turkey’s European vocation, provided that Turkey, as a candidate country, respects and fulfils its obligations vis-à-vis the EU and its Member States. It is therefore reiterated that during the Cyprus Presidency, our approach towards Turkey will not be different from the approach of any other member state that presides the Council and we will fully apply the relevant decisions of the Council and of the Negotiating Framework, expecting, of course, full compliance with the legality and founding principles of the EU. In this regard, the Republic of Cyprus will treat Turkey objectively, awaiting to achieve progress in its accession process. Turkey, as a candidate country for EU membership, is obligated to respect the role of the Presidency of the Council,
Turkey’s decision does not affect in any way the priorities and the program of the Cyprus Presidency. 160 cultural events will be organised in the framework of the Cyprus presidency. What do you expect from that? The Civilization of Cyprus will – travel abroad through some very important exhibitions. It is worth mentioning the exhibition, which will be held at the “Centre for Fine Arts” (Bozar) in Brussels
(22.06.2012 – 23.09.2012). This is a central Museum Exhibition covering the period of the Crusaders up to the present day and it includes a series of additional artistic events. These additional artistic events will be taking place throughout the whole duration of the Cyprus Presidency. Worth mentioning is also the Antiquities Exhibition at the Louvre Museum (26.10.2012 – 28.01.2013). Many important antiquities from the Paleochristian period up until the end of the Venetian period will be presented from various museums of Cyprus and France. This is a long period with many important historical events, which will be documented through objects from architecture and religion, for example icons and other objects of worship from various periods with emphasis on technique and other influences. In Cyprus, amongst other events, there will be the “Nautilus 2012 – 3 rd international Sea Festival”, organized by Evagoras and Cathleen Lanitis Foundation (01.07.2012 – 30.11.2012, Evagoras Lanitis Centre, and other locations in Limassol). The Sea Festival is a unique initiative which includes events inspired by the sea world. From fine arts, to photography, music and cinema, the activities which will last for four months will take place at the Lanitis Centre and in public places of Limassol, will promote Cyprus´ important location as a bridge between history and contemporary naval reality. More information: u Cyprus EU Presidency, the official website www.cy2012.eu
exist in the Cyprus economy, and in particular the banking system, in order to secure a package of measures that will provide a solution to the problems. Cyprus will fully respect its obligations, noting also that the crisis cannot be resolved without growth-boosting measures.
Corruption Alert for Europe
New report identifies continent-wide risks A new cross-border report published by the respected anti-corruption NGO Transparency International (TI) claims that there are significant corruption risks across Europe and that not enough is being done to address them. Corruption Risks in Europe, published on 6 June, claims that not only is a blind eye being turned to illegal activities in some countries, but gaps and loopholes allow unethical but perfectly legal corruption to thrive in others. Legal but unethical corruption in particular is highlighted as a problem that isn’t given enough attention, especially in countries which are traditionally considered clear of corruption. By Ferdinand Koenig
he report sounds the alarm about both complacency and resignation. In some countries, the report states that there has long been an assumption that corruption only exists elsewhere, allowing potentially threatening practices to emerge that undermine integrity systems. In other countries, a sense of resignation persists, leading citizens to accept corruption as one of life’s inevitabilities. With the ongoing financial crisis affecting all Europeans, the report makes it clear that fighting corruption must be taken more seriously. It is implied throughout TI’s report that there is a link between the current economic woes of southern Europe and the “serious deficits in public sector accountability” identified, as well as “deep-rooted problems of inefficiency, malpractice and corruption, which are neither sufficiently controlled, nor sanctioned”.
lobbying. Moreover, protection for whistleblowers was found to be severely lacking in almost every country analysed. The report looked at 25 European countries, all of them EU Member States apart from Switzerland and Norway. It synthesised the findings of assessments coordinated by TI’s national chapters to draw regional conclusions. The project was funded
“There is a link between the current economic woes of southern Europe and the “serious deficits in public sector accountability” identified, as well as “deep-rooted problems of inefficiency, malpractice and corruption, which are neither sufficiently controlled, nor sanctioned”.
Moreover, the report also identifies that in some countries in Central and Eastern Europe – particularly the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia – there has been a rolling back of positive progress on anti-corruption since accession to the EU.
with support from the European Commission (DG HOME), which has made ever stronger calls for action in EU Member States on the issue of corruption in recent years.
TI’s report is the first ever comprehensive cross-border assessment of European countries’ capacity to fight corruption. It makes it clear that there are no countries with a “completely clean bill of health”. Across the continent, particular weaknesses have been identified in public procurement, political party financing and
With three in every four Europeans declaring to Eurobarometer that corruption is a ‘major problem’ in their countries, the report’s findings identify the areas that cause this concern. Identifying problems is one thing, solving them however is a whole other task altogether.
TI’s key threats to integrity systems in Europe corruption contexts’ have not managed to insulate themselves against this risk. Sweden and Switzerland, for example, have no mandatory regulation on party financing and many countries have legislative loopholes and weak enforcement mechanisms. Lobbying remains veiled in secrecy: Only six of the 25 countries assessed (France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and the UK) have regulated lobbying to any degree and in many cases the implementation of lobbyist registers is severely lacking. Parliaments are not living up to ethical standards: Important integrity safeguards have not been instituted in many European countries, and where they are in place, practical implementation is often found wanting. Eleven of the 25 countries do not cover all relevant aspects of MPs' interests and/or disclose only partial information (Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands,
© Transparency International
Slovenia and Switzerland).
TI’s recommendations • Institute mandatory regulations on political party financing, including implementing clear rules on disclosure of donations and closing loopholes that hamper their effectiveness. • Introduce mandatory registers of lobbyists, including a broad definition of lobbyists that extends regulations to public affairs consultancies, corporate lobbyists, law firms, NGOs and think-tanks. • Adopt codes of conduct for parliamentarians that provide specific guidance for members on how to deal with ethical dilemmas and spell out mechanisms on addressing the management of conflicts of interest.
Access to information is limited in practice: In 20 of the 25 countries, implementation of access to information laws is found to be poor. Practical barriers to access include excessive fees (Ireland), long delays (the Czech Republic, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden), low levels of public awareness of freedom of information laws (Germany, Portugal and Switzerland), lack of an independent oversight body (Bulgaria, Hungary and Latvia) and municipal authorities’ failure and/or lack of capacity to comply with the rules (the Czech Republic and Romania). High corruption risks remain in public procurement: It is an open secret in many European countries that the rules are systematically circumvented and that this can be done with impunity. Problems with public procurement are most acute in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Romania and Slovakia. Protection for whistleblowers is severely lacking: Of the 25 countries, only six have dedicated whistleblower legislation – Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Switzerland and the UK – and in all but two of the countries assessed (Norway and the UK), whistleblowers do not have sufficient protection from reprisals in practice.
• Ensure that access to information laws adhere to the fundamental principles of the Universal Declaration on Human Right’s Article 19. • Address specific practical barriers to access to information. • Adopt a proactive approach to making information ‘public by default’ in an easily accessible electronic format. • Adopt or amend legislation for the protection of whistleblowers to ensure adequate protection for those working in the public and private sectors, including consultants, temporary workers and trainees, and ensure proper implementation including awareness-raising among public sector agencies, companies and the general public.
© Transparency International
the region: Even countries often described as having ‘low
© Transparency International
Political party financing is inadequately regulated across
“We wanted a comprehensive regional overview” Jana Mittermaier, Director of Transparency International’s Brussels Office, speaks to SHIFT about the Corruption Risks in Europe report. This is the first time that TI has produced a comprehensive regional report on corruption in Europe. Why did you decide to take a regional approach? We wanted to look at the situation across Europe and draw conclusions that apply across the region. The report allows us to engage in regional advocacy and compare and contrast best practice across Europe. The whole process took two and a half years from beginning to end. The national chapters involved took a year to conduct their research using integrity baseline assessments. We would have included even more EU member states – this was not possible for organisational reasons. In Austria for example the national TI chapter was involved in a large report of their own two and a half years ago when the project was launched. As for the future, compiling the Corruption Risks in Europe report took a long time, so there aren’t plans to produce any regional reports in the near future. But we are in discussions about how we can take the work we have done forward. There are certainly a lot of areas where we would like to do follow-up work based on what has been produced. Can one speak of ‘European corruption threats’ or are the regional differences too large? We were able to identify six major threats that are shared across the countries assessed. These weaknesses can be found in political party financing, lobbying,
codes of conduct in parliaments, access to information, public procurement and whistleblower protection. While to a greater or lesser degree these problems exist everywhere, some countries have better frameworks for dealing with threats and we would like best practice to be replicated across the continent. We also noted that, overall, politics and business have very close links and this is worrying for us. The report mentions that corruption may have played a role in the financial crisis. Is there a danger of the report’s findings being used to support a ‘morality tale’ of virtuous northerners and feckless southerners? We were very careful when writing about the link between the crisis and corruption. We understand that there are many forces that have triggered the crisis and that corruption is one of these. Nonetheless, it is clear to us that corruption is a factor. When you look at the financial sector for example, there isn’t enough transparency. It’s very difficult to hold banks to account and it simply isn’t possible for adequate scrutiny of the financial sector’s activities to be done by governments or citizens. So you can see corruption as an indirect cause of the crisis. The European Commission has announced that it is setting up an anti-corruption network across Europe. Do you fear that this might duplicate TI’s work? I think there has been a misunderstanding about this network. My understanding is
that the European Commission will set up a group of researchers in every Member State that will be able to provide ad hoc research when required. For example, the Commission is planning an EU anticorruption report for the end of 2013. This will require high quality information from a range of actors including us and others, such as GRECO (Group of States against Corruption) and UNODC (UN Office on Drugs and Crime). The Commission’s research network will only add to that. We don’t see any overlap; in fact we welcome the interest that has been shown in this subject, which was not so evident some years ago. Are the EU institutions doing enough to tackle corruption? We feel that the European Commission has been speaking out more courageously against corruption recently. Of course, there are areas where we would like more to be done – it will for example be important to scrutinise the European Parliament’s code of conduct which is currently being drawn up. We have not carried out a full integrity assessment however, so I can’t speak about the institutions as a whole. There are some positive developments – we welcome for example the regular reviews of the EU lobbyist register. These reviews give citizens and interest groups a chance to get their voices heard. We will also be interested in subjecting the Commission’s new directives on public procurement to scrutiny. It may be a step forward; it may be an entrenchment of the status quo. It’s too early to say.
© Transparency International
“We understand that there are many forces that have triggered the crisis and that corruption is one of these”.
Education in the EU – Investing today for growth tomorrow By Mark Humphreys, Friederike Endress, Patricia Floric, Laurent Van Brussel, Juliane Gau
Education in the EU
Investing today for growth tomorrow Today, competition for employment is tougher than ever across Europe. On the back of this and as a consequence of the current economic crisis, university degrees, a solid secondary education and a decent primary level system, as well as access to further adult education have become even more essential in today’s market place. By Mark Humphreys and Friederike Endress
f we look back to the evolution of European Union policy on education, we can see that it was only with the Maastricht Treaty (Treaty on European Union, which entered into force in November 1993) that the words ‘education’, ‘students’ and ‘professional training’ really began to appear as part of European vocabulary in a policy context. However, the Erasmus programme, which was created in 1987, shows that the EU had become involved in the area of education policy before then. More recently, Article 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU, 2008) states that the Community “shall develop a quality education system by encouraging cooperation through actions such as promoting the mobility of citizens, designing joint study programmes, establishing networks, exchanging information, teaching languages of the Member States and promoting life-long learning for all”. To highlight the importance of higher education to individuals and to Europe’s economies, we need look no further than the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) 2011 'Education at a Glance' report. It points to the fact that people with a university degree are less likely to suffer job losses during the current economic crisis than those who left school without any formal qualifications. Why? Well the answer should be obvious, because access to a good education and the skills there from, are crucial to improving individual economic and social prospects. The numbers of young people leaving school without any formal educational qualifications are rising, and from this we are witnessing the rise of a ‘lost generation', at a huge cost in both economic and social terms to the individuals concerned but also to society at large.
EU’s economic future rests on education While the EU currently has over 1.5 million staff at 4 000 higher education institutions supporting an estimated 19 million students, there still remains a hole in the numbers of highly skilled workers needed in the coming years, if Europe is to remain a contender on the world stage and become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. These are the three priorities at the heart of the EU’s 2020 Strategy, which is built around five mutually reinforcing objectives – employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy. It is estimated that in order to fulfil the aims of the 2020 Strategy and create high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion, highly skilled workers will be needed in 35% of all jobs by 2020 – currently only 26% of today’s workforce possess the high-level qualifications and skills needed. The EU is therefore investing heavily in reinforcing and developing its education policy to address this shortfall in skills. In the wider context of the EU’s Europe 2020 targets, reducing early school leaving and increasing university graduate numbers and the quality of education is seen by many policy makers across the EU as a top priority, if Europe is to fight its corner on the world stage. The importance of the education system for the EU therefore, cannot be stressed enough during the current economic climate. The 2020 Strategy recognises in light of increasing global competition, that knowledge and innovation are going to become the EU's most valuable assets. This view was reinforced by EU Commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth, Androulla Vassiliou, who explained “It's vital that we continue to invest properly in schools and universities. Education must remain a top priority for the EU, even in a tough economic climate.”
European Higher Education Area The European Higher Education Area (EHEA) is an intergovernmental collaboration on higher education aimed at making educational systems more transparent, comparable and compatible – for instance through the use of common degree structures and the ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System). ECTS allows for the transfer of learning experiences between different institutions, greater student mobility and more flexible routes to gain degrees, aiding curriculum design and quality assurance. The collaboration was originally initiated as the Bologna Process in 1999 and then re-launched as the European Higher Education Area in 2010. Today, 47 countries and the EU Commission participate in the EHEA together with a number of consultative organisations. The next EHEA Ministerial Conference is planned to take place in Yerevan, Armenia in 2015
Strategic framework for European cooperation In order to deal with the shortfalls in the education systems across the EU and address the aims and objectives of the 2020 Strategy, the EU Member States and the European Commission launched a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (“ET 2010”) in 2001; this has recently been strengthened and followed up by the Education and Training 2020 work programme (ET 2020), launched in 2009. The EU’s objective under ET 2020, is to contribute to the development of a quality system of education and to the implementation of a professional training policy. Its long-term strategic objectives – make lifelong learning and mobility a reality; improve the quality and efficiency of education and training; promote equity, social cohesion and active citizenship; and enhance creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training. In particular, and as highlighted under Article 165(2) of the TFEU, the EU’s common action related to education is aimed at: 1. Developing the European dimension in education, particularly through the teaching and dissemination of the languages of the Member States; 2. Encouraging mobility of students and teachers, by encouraging inter alia, the academic recognition of diplomas and periods of study; 3. Promoting cooperation between educational establishments; 4. Developing exchanges of information and experience on issues common to the education systems of the Member States; 5. Encouraging the development of youth exchanges and of exchanges of socio-educational instructors, and encouraging the participation of young people in democratic life in Europe; 6. Encouraging the development of distance learning. 7. Except in the areas of mathematics, science and technology, several specific objectives in the framework of the previous ET 2010 programme were not reached. In an effort to address these deficiencies, and in support of the EU’s 2020 Strategy, the current strategic framework for European cooperation, ET 2020, recognises that high-quality preschool, primary, secondary, higher and vocational education and training are core to Europe's success.
While individual EU countries are responsible for their own education and training systems, EU policy is designed to support national actions and help address common challenges, such as ageing societies, skills deficits among the workforce, and global competition. These areas demand joint responses, best dealt with by sharing experiences. As a result therefore, ET 2020 is focussing on the following five new objectives, to be reached by 2020: yy At least 95% of children between four and primary school age should attend preschool; yy The average rate of 15-year-olds with reading, mathematics or science difficulties should be reduced to less than 15%; yy The average school dropout rate should remain below 10%; yy The average rate of adults aged between 30 and 34 with a third-level education qualification should be at least 40%; yy An average of about 15% of adults between the ages of 25 and 64 should be involved in lifelong learning. While these objectives are important within the context of the EU’s overall education policy, it has been recognised that higher education, particularly lifelong learning, need to be focussed on as priority areas. These are seen as the keys to employment, economic success and social inclusion within the wider context of participating fully in society. The long-term strategic objectives of EU education and training policies are working towards making lifelong learning and mobility a reality, while improving the overall quality and efficiency of education and training. Alongside this is the realisation that the EU needs to promote equity, social cohesion and active citizenship and to encourage creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Higher education Responsibility for higher education within the EU rests mainly with Member States and higher education institutions themselves. By sharing examples of good policy practice, taking part in Peer Learning activities, setting benchmarks and tracking progress against key indicators, the 27 EU countries aim to address common challenges, whilst retaining their individual sovereignty in the field of Education policy. The EU is also a partner in various
Education in the EU – Investing today for growth tomorrow
inter-governmental projects, including the Bologna Process whose purpose is to create a European Higher Education Area by harmonising academic degree structures and standards as well as academic quality assurance standards throughout EU Member States and in other European countries. EU actions, such as the Erasmus student grant to study abroad, complement and coordinate Member States’ efforts, while the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and the European Research Area make up the framework for an EU higher education policy.
Higher Education Modernisation Agenda The EU's 2020 growth strategy highlights higher education as a key policy area linking collaboration between the EU and individual member countries and pushing through positive results for jobs and economic development. Member countries agreed to a target of 40% of young people, between 30 and 34 years-of-age, who should be expecting to gain higher education qualifications or equivalent by 2020. In support of these reforms, the Commission published a new agenda for modernisation of Europe's higher education systems in September 2011. This Higher Education Modernisation Agenda covers a number of areas, the main ones being: yy to increase the number of higher education graduates; yy to improve the quality and relevance of teaching and researcher training; yy to equip graduates with the knowledge and core transferable competences they need to succeed in high-skill occupations; yy to provide more opportunities for students to gain additional skills through study or training abroad, particularly crossborder cooperation to boost higher education performance; yy to strengthen the “knowledge triangle”, linking education, research and business; and yy to create effective governance and funding mechanisms in support of excellence.
Lifelong Learning Programme European universities often lack the management tools and funding to match their ambitions. Although Europe has around 4 000 higher education institutions, and some of Europe’s universities are among the best in the world, the overall potential is not being fully realised. Curricula are not always up to date, not enough young people go to university, and not enough adults have ever attended university. In order to expand opportunities, encourage lifelong learning and address the shortfall in quality, the Commission has developed educational, vocational and citizenship-building programmes supported under the EU’s Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP). Its aim is to enable people at all stages of their lives to benefit from stimulating learning experiences and take advantage of opportunities to live, study and work in other countries, such as the Erasmus programme; as well as helping to develop the education and training sector within Europe. With a budget of nearly €7 billion for 2007 to 2013, the programme funds a range of actions including exchanges, study visits and networking activities. Projects are intended not only for individual students and learners, but also for teachers and trainers involved in education and training. Today, European higher education is going through a major transformation aimed at supporting mobility within Europe and around the world. Common principles apply everywhere, making it easier and more transparent for outside partners to cooperate with European universities. The question now is: will this ambitious reform process answer some of Europe’s most pressing social and economic challenges by enhancing the quality of its education, research capacity and graduate employability?
The Bologna Process The Bologna Process was launched in 1999, and led to the creation in 2010 of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). There are currently 47 participating countries signed up, in which students can choose from a wide and transparent range of high-quality courses and benefit from smooth recognition procedures. The main Bologna reforms have concentrated on the three-cycle degree structure (bachelor, master, doctorate), quality assurance, and recognition of qualifications and periods of study. The Bologna degree structure is generally being adopted – in three-quarters of the EHEA countries, between 70 and 90% of students are studying in programmes that correspond to the Bologna bachelor and master system. The most recent ministerial meeting on the EHEA was held in Bucharest, in April this year, to take stock of the achievements of the Bologna Process and agree on the future priorities of the EHEA. The Bucharest Communiqué identifies three key priorities – mobility, employability and quality – and emphasises the importance of higher education for Europe's capacity to deal with the current economic crisis and to contribute to growth and jobs. Ministers also committed to making automatic recognition of comparable academic degrees a long-term goal of the EHEA.
There are four main sub-programmes which fund projects at different levels of education and training Comenius – schools The Comenius Programme focuses on all levels of school education, from pre-school and primary to secondary schools. It is aimed mainly at pupils and teachers but also local authorities, representatives of parents’ associations, non-government organisations, teacher training institutes and universities. Comenius “mobility” actions enable individuals to travel abroad:
• Individual pupil mobility: gives secondary school pupils the chance to spend a study period abroad for up to ten months; • In-service training of staff grants: enable teachers and other education staff to undertake training abroad, for up to six weeks; • Assistant grants: fund student teachers to work in a school abroad for up to ten months.
Erasmus – higher education The Erasmus Programme funds university students to study or work abroad. The EU has allocated around €3 billion for Erasmus for the period 2007-13. It is the world's most successful student exchange programme, with nearly three million students benefiting from a study or work placement abroad since 1987. In the 2011/2012 academic year, more than 250 000 students will have benefited from Erasmus. Work placements for students in companies abroad have also been supported through Erasmus since 2007. Teachers and other staff can also benefit from EU support to teach or train abroad under Erasmus.
Today, 33 countries take part in the scheme – the 27 EU Member States, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.
Leonardo da Vinci – vocational education and training The Leonardo da Vinci Programme funds practical projects in the field of vocational education and training (VETs), ranging from those giving individuals work-related training abroad to large-scale cooperation efforts. It funds many different types of activities – ‘mobility’ initiatives enabling people to train in another country, cooperation projects to transfer or develop innovative practices, and networks focusing on topical themes in the sector. Key to the programme are innovation projects, which aim to improve the quality of training systems by developing and transferring innovative policies, courses, teaching methods, materials and procedures.
Grundtvig – adult education Launched in 2000, Grundtvig aims to provide adults with more ways to improve their knowledge and skills, facilitate their personal development and boost their employment prospects. It focuses on the teaching and study needs of learners taking adult education and ‘alternative’ education courses, and funds a range of activities, including particularly those supporting adult learning staff as they travel abroad for learning experiences. It covers not only teachers, trainers, staff and organisations working in the sector, but also learners in adult education.
The Power of Erasmus €19 bn budget (€1.8 bn for international cooperation) 2.2 million HE students 1 million teachers, trainers, youth workers and other staff 735 000 vocational education and training students Volunteer and youth exchange schemes - 540 000 young people Master's degree loan guarantee scheme - 330 000 students 135 000 international students 34 000 joint degree grant students 20 000+ Strategic Partnerships 115 000 institutions 200 Knowledge Alliances set up by 2 000 education institutions and businesses 200 Sectoral Skills Alliances set up by 2 000 education institutions, training providers and businesses
Education in the EU – Investing today for growth tomorrow
Jean Monnet, Tempus, Erasmus Mundus There are also a number of European programmes to promote cooperation in higher education with countries beyond the EU, including the Jean Monnet programme, Tempus and Erasmus Mundus. Launched in 1989, the Jean Monnet Programme aims at stimulating teaching, research and reflection in the field of European integration studies at the level of higher education institutions within and outside the European Community. Between 1990 and 2011, it helped to set up approximately 3 700 projects in the field of European integration studies, including 165 Jean Monnet European Centres of Excellence, 879 Chairs and 2 139 permanent courses and European modules. The programme is now present in 72 countries throughout the world.
Tempus supports the modernisation of higher education and creates an area of cooperation in countries surrounding the EU. Established in 1990, it covers 27 countries in the Western Balkans, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. Tempus funds two types of actions: Joint Projects (partnerships between higher education institutions in the EU and partner countries) and Structural Measures (to develop, reform and aid convergence of higher education institutions and systems in partner countries). Erasmus Mundus is an extension of the Erasmus Programme and aims to enhance quality in higher education through scholarships and academic cooperation between Europe and the rest of the world. It provides financial support for institutions and scholarships for individuals, covering European joint master and doctorate programmes, partnerships with non-European higher education institutions and scholarships for students and academics, and projects to promote European higher education worldwide.
Knowledge Alliances Towards a European dream (candidate) factory
Film schools as engines of creativity – and growth: a project is matching skills and jobs in the European film sector as part of an EU move to better link universities and industry. Still from "The Swing of the Coffin Maker"
© Elmar Imanov
German short film on an Azerbaijanian carpenter who learns the hard way how to get his priorities right has just been awarded one of this year’s Student Oscars, the little cousins of the coveted Academy Awards. ‘The Swing of the coffin maker’ is the graduation film of a team of students from the International Film School (IFS) in Cologne. There is no lack of talent among Europe’s next generation of young film makers, yet many of them spend the years after graduation waiting tables while their artistic production remains a labour of love. The IFS is among the partners of a ‘Knowledge Alliance’ set up to bridge the gap between education institutions and business
by making young graduates more hireable. It intends to achieve this through close collaboration with the industry, innovative learning technologies and improved mobility. The EU-funded ‘Knowledge Alliances’ aim to bring European graduates closer to future employers, ultimately benefiting the job market and the economy. The film school alliance is among the first three selected initiatives. Launched in 2011, happy endings are not to be expected any time soon.
F.E. u Find
out more: tinyurl.com/knowledgealliances
Focus country “Romania’s next challenge: competing with the EU’s top universities” Despite the 2011 national reform of the education system, the ranking of the higher education system in Romania remains one of the lowest in the EU. Highly qualified people are left behind and the country is experiencing considerable brain drain. “There are no Romanian universities among the top 500 universities of the world” laments Professor Ioan-Aurel Pop, rector at the University of Cluj. He explains the reasons for this situation to SHIFT Mag yet remains optimistic about the future prospects of his country. Interview by Laurent Van Brussel Has Romania’s accession to the EU in 2007 changed anything in higher education?
How do you view the work carried out by the EU and its programmes in the field of higher education?
Prof. Ioan-Aurel Pop: Romania’s accession to the Euro-Atlantic structures was anticipated as a salvation, as a chance to find a solution to all the complicated issues the Romanian higher education system faces. Over 80% of the Romanians hoped that the integration of our country into these structures would be a remedy for all problems! Obviously, that was not the case, but higher education did see many benefits: the number of inter-university agreements increased; collaboration agreements were concluded; many more joint degree Ph.D. studies programmes were created; agreements for the mutual recognition of Bachelor’s, Master’s and Ph.D. degrees were concluded; professor and student mobility increased a great deal; many Romanian scientific reviews were included in international databases; and numerous European grants were obtained, especially at doctoral and post-doctoral level, etc.
Over the past few years, I have participated in the implementation of several European programmes (for example, the “Human Resources” programme), which supported doctoral and postdoctoral studies. Through them, around 25 students, who wrote Ph.D. theses under my coordination, obtained substantial scholarships. Those scholarships allowed them to conduct research throughout the country, as well as in archives and libraries in Italy, Hungary, Germany, Austria and France, etc. Unfortunately for research and education in the humanities field, today’s Europe is less and less pragmatic and there is an increasing tendency to measure the results of our research in financial terms. In other words, professors and students are more like managers who calculate everything according to what we call immediate efficiency. However, fundamental or humanistic education and research do not show their results immediately or in precise measurement units that can be expressed in financial profits. To gain access to some of the European projects, one has to become a real bureaucrat, to specialise in filling in forms and in efficiently using funds, which is not necessarily bad, but can take away from the educational and research activities.
According to you, what difficulties has Romania faced in fully integrating into the EU education system? Romania felt it had entered a European system of communication vessels; however there are still many shortcomings. Romania’s isolation during the communist regime, as well as the legislative instability, are still being felt nowadays, and the achievement criteria established in Europe and, to a greater extent, in the US, are not always compatible with the tradition of the Romanian education system, nor with some of its customs. Gradually, however, we have adapted to the European model; this can only be beneficial for Romanian higher education.
What do you expect from the EU in the future? As a Romanian, as both a child and teenager, I went through the experience of a forced “integration” into the “socialist system”, which led to disastrous results. The leadership of the “socialist countries” from the centre called Moscow was just as damaging as the so-called “national communism” applied by the Romanian dictator (from 1970 until 1989). This is why, we, the Romanians, still have high expectations from the EU and why we trust the
Education in the EU – Investing today for growth tomorrow
European institutions. The current crisis has of course toned down the enthusiasm of Romanians and nowadays only half of them are still euro-optimistic. Personally, I believe in European integration, in the power of a group of states and in a unity functioning through diversity. My expectations from the EU relate to greater decision-making power in the integration process, less national pride, more altruism and more understanding from the EU for the Eastern countries, deeply marked by the communist experience, which they had never wanted and which was imposed upon them. People often say that Erasmus is student mobility provided for and by rich Europeans. What's your opinion? I believe that is a harsh judgement! The Erasmus Programme represents a real opportunity for mobility within the European university environment for thousands of Romanian professors and students. Obviously, funds are minimal, but EasternEuropeans are used to receiving even less! Perhaps, from the perspective of rich people from the West (i.e. the traditional EU countries), the above statement is true, i.e. the programme was made by the rich for the rich. That explains why, most of the time, mobility programmes have had a certain directional flow, from former communist countries to rich ones; with it being quite difficult to find Westerners wanting to come to those poorer countries that had just come out from behind the “Iron Curtain”. Some students came more out of curiosity than anything, and were not disappointed, as they had the opportunity to live and study and gain experiences that were quite unique. Gradually, many misconceptions have been dispelled thanks to these mobility programmes, so that
of view of their content, are simultaneously offered in the three languages specific to the historical ethnic groups in Transylvania. From this perspective, our university is unique in Europe. During the academic year 2011-2012, we had 858 foreign students enrolled in full-time courses, but in fact, there were 1,212 foreign students in all mobility programmes. Most of them come from EU member states, such as Hungary, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and France. Those outside Europe come from China, Vietnam, Cameroon, South Korea, India and Japan. Students of Romanian origin who come from outside Romania to study at our university come from the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Albania. Foreign students coming to study in Romania are mostly motivated by: the specialisation in Romanian and South-East European studies; learning and even specialising in the Romanian language; lower tuition fees; the high degree of prestige enjoyed by certain specialised schools and fields; the desire to have unique life experiences in an exotic place, etc. Students from the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, etc. coming to Cluj do this because there is no linguistic barrier (Romanians and Moldovans speak the same language). The same explanation is also valid for Hungarians in Transylvania who come to Babeş-Bolyai University: they can study in their mother tongue.
According to you, what are the main challenges and issues that higher education is currently facing in Romania (notably regarding research and innovation)?
The most important challenge is the need to adapt to the level of the competitive education systems in the USA and in Western Europe. There are no Romanian universities among the top 500 in the world (according to the Shanghai ranking, “My expectations from the EU relate to greater decision-making power for instance), but Babeş-Bolyai is the in the integration process, less national pride, more altruism and more University that comes closest to such understanding from the EU for the Eastern countries, deeply marked by an achievement. A series of standards the communist experience, which they had never wanted and which was should also be achieved; the objective imposed upon them.” could be attained if our scientific production were doubled. This is not as difficult as it may seem, as 90% of the scientific nowadays no one asks (as I was personally asked in the USA work of our professors, researchers and students’ scientific is on in 1991) whether vampires still live in Romania and if we are a par with the most competitive work out there, but is not always Dracula’s descendants. published by the renowned scientific reviews and publishing houses. Approximately how many students from other EU countries Research in the Romanian higher education system faces numerous and from the rest of the world are studying in your university? problems. First of all, we should mention under-financing! In Romania, What has motivated them to come to Romania? Has this number research is only supported with minimal amounts of money from the increased since 2007? state budget; therefore, there are no efficient ways to attract the most Our university has a special situation, as it now has approximately talented and accomplished researchers, who mostly prefer to find 45,000 students enrolled for Bachelor’s, Master’s or doctoral level jobs in Western Europe and in the USA. Only a few of the young elite studies, together with their professors, split into 21 faculties and researchers choose to work in Romania, in return for a monthly wage over 100 specialisations. The official languages of instruction are of a couple of hundred Euros. On the other hand, Romanian laboraRomanian, Hungarian and German, but there are also courses tories rarely have state-of-the-art equipment and when they do it is in English, French and Hebrew, among others. For instance, a unrepresentative of the general situation as this equipment is hard to Hungarian student may take all courses and seminars in his/her obtain. Furthermore, the frequent changes to the legislation in this own language. Many courses, which are identical from the point field have also led to uncertainty and confusion.
Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania © Roamata
The unemployment rate in Romania (7.1) is lower than the EU-27 average (10.2), however the employment rate remains low (5.3 behind the EU average). Does Romania have to reform its higher education system to close this gap? It most certainly does! A new law on education entered into force in 2011 and has started to be gradually implemented this year. This law entails a real higher education reform, with many positive aspects, but with some which are debatable as well. Many people criticised the law and, as we are in an electoral year, the law may be modified by the new Parliament which is going to form at the end of 2012. This is not something new for Romania, where the degree of legislative stability is quite low! Even so, I believe that some of the most important provisions of the law will be maintained and will have to be implemented. They will have to lead to the Romanian higher education adapting to the demands of the labour market. We will need to start to train not just general specialists, but rather those specialists that Romanian society and Romanian business need. This aim can be achieved through more consistent cooperation between universities and the business environment, especially with those companies that need highly qualified personnel. Lastly, regarding access to higher education, the situation of the Roma community has improved, but remains problematic. What are, according to you, the ways forward? The Roma community in Romania does indeed find itself in a special situation. Among the national minorities we have in Romania, this is the second largest (around 3% of the entire population), after the Hungarians (around 6%). Furthermore, the highest rate of illiteracy is recorded among this community. Schooling of the Roma children itself creates huge problems, including with regards to procedures. Two main methods of schooling have been implemented for them: the enrolment of Roma children in regular classes, attended by Romanian children, or the setting up of special classes (and even schools) attended exclusively by Roma
children, where they can study in the Romani language, with native speaker teachers etc. The results were and are still far from satisfactory in both cases. While, for instance, the Hungarian community in Romania prefers special schools and classes, isolated from the Romanian ones, where only Hungarian students study, and they do so exclusively in their mother tongue (except for the Romanian language classes), the Roma request, through some of their leaders, to have mixed classes, where their children are taught alongside Romanian children. As a result of ethnic misconceptions and of the discrimination that has been practised for centuries, Romanian parents are reluctant when it comes to solutions involving integration. Still, these solutions are becoming increasingly common and they have been rather successful over the past few years.
In higher education, Romania has good examples of multilingual and multicultural education, especially at Babeş-Bolyai University, among others. A native Hungarian or German living in Romania can study all subjects in their mother tongue, if he/she so wishes, from preschool to university level, in either separate or mixed institutions. Similar solutions have been tried for the Roma students as well, but the results were minimally satisfactory. We are, however, still a long way off from being able to solve this problem and we hope to be able to progress through a series of European projects and to make use of European aid. I am not only referring to European funds (a great deal of Romanian and European funds have been wasted in the past without obtaining any results!), but to European expertise. We are ready to learn from the European experience, from the success achieved in Western countries in terms of the education of the Roma population, as well as in preserving their identity and ensuring non-discrimination. It is very easy to send the Roma – as some of them are still nomadic in accordance with their traditional way of living – to their so-called indigenous countries, without implementing any other measures. If the EU is committed to the principle of freedom of movement and freedom of access to the labour market for all, then the Roma population from the EU member states should also benefit from these rights! This should undoubtedly be done by taking supplementary measures if necessary, not by finding new ways to discriminate against them. The Roma have been enslaved, exploited, humiliated and isolated for centuries by the European Christians (perhaps more in Central and Eastern Europe than in any other regions) and, for these reasons, they managed to adapt to certain living arrangements, sui generis, which may seem unfamiliar and can generate distrust. It is important however to keep this kind of behaviour in check, to come together and to ensure that they are treated in the same way as other citizens of the European Union, from all points of view. The Roma are a (quite heterogeneous) ethnic community, but even more than that, they are, to a quite large extent, a social and economic community, which is discriminated against, disadvantaged and even despised. And this is shameful for a contemporary Europe that proclaims itself to be democratic, generous and fair with all its citizens.
Education in the EU – Investing today for growth tomorrow
Focus country (cont'd)
“Romanian students ask for practical knowledge” Catalina Apostol, president of the student association, V.I.P (Volunteers for Ideas and Projects), points out that there is a “lack of practical examples, debates and real internships” in the Romanian higher education system. According to her, the programme is not work-oriented enough and there are still many things to be improved. She explains that switching the focus at universities from theoretical lessons to real work experience could help young graduates to find a job. Alexandra Bucataru, president of AIESEC Bucharest, one of Bucharest’s student unions, deems the current Romanian education system ill-adapted to students’ needs. According to her, there are still many obstacles to overcome. In this interview, she clearly describes the situation facing students in Romania today. Interview by Patricia Floric How would you describe, in a few words, the current state of the education system in Romania? Catalina Apostol: It is rather difficult to address this subject in a few words, but I’ll do my best; the Romanian education system is a mixture of the Communist one and the Bologna system. Because of this our system lacks a clearly defined goal. The Bologna system is centred on active participation, debates and research so that the student becomes more analytical, open-minded and self-confident. Furthermore, the student is able to sustain his/ her own opinion and is always able to analyse the information he/she receives on his/her own and to do so based on his/her own values and experience. In contrast, the Communist system encourages and rewards hard work and the blind belief in what your elders (the professors in this case) say. Therefore, I strongly believe that our educational system desperately needs an overall goal which should shape the whole curriculum beginning with primary school and ending with higher education so that the students follow a consistent and sustainable set of preparatory lessons.
almost nothing to do with what you will do. Of course, you can find exceptions in Romania with faculties that really teach applicable knowledge. One good thing is that universities are more open to collaborating with foreign universities in order to set up exchange learning programmes, something that is encouraging Romanian students to travel and learn in a multicultural environment. Since the last reform of the Romanian education system, in 2011, what has changed and according to you what still needs to be changed? Catalina Apostol: I can honestly say that I don’t feel like anything has really changed. And this is because a reform cannot change people’s attitudes and way of thinking – this takes time and exposure to other ways of dealing with a problem (in this case direct exposure to and experience of other types of education – and the more of them, the better). With the exception of some operational changes, the most important problems remain unsolved. These problems mainly relate to the lack of real expertise our professors have, even in the area they are teaching (real expertise = really being involved and in-touch with that specific field, not just reading books – for example being active on the market, running their own company and so on), and a lack of practical examples, debates and real internships in that specific field.
Romania has the lowest rate of adults taking
part in education and training in the EU.
Alexandra Bucataru: I would describe it as inefficient, because you learn a lot of theoretical things but you don’t really put them into practice, and after 2 years you cannot see the relevance of what you learn because you realise at your first interview that what you learn has
ince 2000-2001, 7 050 students S and 7 541 teachers (from the EU) have opted to spend several months attending a Romanian university. Conversely, 30 259 Romanian students and 9 683 Romanian teachers have taken the opportunity to study or teach elsewhere in the Union.
Alexandra Bucataru: Some things have changed, but they are not addressing the source of problems. For example, the last baccalaureate exam (for high school students in their final year) was very well organised in terms of quality, such that students were unable to copy or communicate with each other. The results however were very poor, but they did prove the bad state of the education system in Romania. Nonetheless, this is a step in the right direction towards change. What are the biggest difficulties that Romanian students are facing in their everyday lives? Catalina Apostol: To me, the two main difficulties our students face are the following and one of them even exacerbates the other to some extent. As I already mentioned, the lack of practical situations or examples to follow and the teachers’ lack of real experience in the field is a problem. Secondly, because of the fact that they are not prepared for the real conditions of the market place, employers do not want to hire or even offer an internship to those students who do not have any work experience. And this is a real problem as it’s a vicious cycle – there are no students with work experience so the employees will not hire anybody since they do not have that labour pool they need and if they do not hire, the students will never gain any work experience and so on.
Another thing is the lack of cafeterias near their campus. Last but not least, the financial situation. They can’t really afford to get full-time jobs because they need to attend courses, and when you live in a big town you need alternative ways to support yourself if your parents don’t have money to give to you. Since Romania acceded to the European Union in 2007, have you noticed, through your work in your student association, an increasing number of foreign students coming to study in Romania? Catalina Apostol: Unfortunately our student association, Volunteers for Ideas and Projects, does not currently have any foreign students as members or participants in our projects nor have we ever in the past. This is a strategic goal we have in the medium to long term, mainly for the International Affairs community which deals with cross-cultural management and differences, intercultural diplomacy and economical and political differences between states. Alexandra Bucataru: I wasn't studying before 2007, however each year we had some foreign students. The number probably grows every year, but this may just be a personal perception. According to you, what are foreign students looking for when they come to study at Romanian Universities? What can Romanian universities offer them? Catalina Apostol: To me, given the less than encouraging reputation of the Romanian educational system, foreign students either are looking for a better place to learn than the institutes in their home country (in a small number of cases), or they are willing and interested in seeing a very different culture and lifestyle, or (probably in most cases) their parents had to move here, maybe for work. Unfortunately, at this point our universities cannot offer much more than a cross-cultural experience. Bureaucracy causes further problems, especially regarding arranging student accommodation here. By being so inaccessible for foreign students, our universities undoubtedly offer them a life experience, as they have to figure everything out on their own and it also provides them with a snapshot of how things happen in Romania in terms of processes, procedures and bureaucracy.
Furthermore, a rather frustrating problem is that our students are not intrinsically motivated to come and attend the courses regularly, but rather are more extrinsically motivated by means of punishments in terms of their results if they do otherwise and so on (a Communist tool). We do not have intrinsic motivation in most cases, because our courses are boring, only using one-sided communication and no real life examples or case studies. Some of our professors did begin to use case studies as an educational tool, but in addition to this practice being quite rare, they also do not really know how to teach this way.
Alexandra Bucataru: Compared to other universities in Europe, Romanian universities don't have any real value-added. I say this in view of my friends’ educational experiences abroad. I don’t have information about universities outside Europe.
Alexandra Bucataru: Well, living conditions are a bit rough in dormitories where they have to share a small room with 2-3 different people with different personalities. Also, they lack special places where they can study or prepare their meals.
Catalina Apostol: Well, we have certainly benefited from discounts in fees and taxes with regards to access to the education system in EU countries and visiting some EU countries. Moreover, the Erasmus exchange programme has created a broader choice of
When you think about taxes, indeed you can see a difference; in Romania taxes are lower and living costs are not as high as in other countries. What have the benefits been (if any) for Romanian students since Romania acceded to the EU?
Education in the EU – Investing today for growth tomorrow
subjects and specialisation areas for each and every faculty and, to me this is a real opportunity for us to broaden our perspective with regard to different cultures, different ways of doing things, professionalism, and foreign languages.
that once they have international professional experience, they return home, as some of them have the feeling of belonging and they want to help the country grow. Of course, there are not as many as the country hopes for.
Alexandra Bucataru: Greater mobility. A lot of students started to study abroad. There are also possibilities to work for NGOs doing international internships. These offer the chance to experience a different mindset, to see things from different perspectives, and to dream and hope that you can work, study and live in another country without visa problems.
Are young people in Romania today suffering from a very high rate of unemployment? Are people with a degree in a better position to get a job in Romania? If not, why?
What about the Erasmus programme; is your association supporting this programme? Please state how?
Catalina Apostol: As I mentioned before, students find it very difficult to get hired and consequently, the unemployment rate for students is very high – it was estimated at 50% in 2011. Still, people with a degree are in a better position to get a job than those who do not have one, but in most cases they do not necessarily find a job in the area they specialise in or they find one with a lower salary than their expertise, confirmed by their degree, should command.
Catalina Apostol: My association is not yet prepared to deal with Erasmus programmes, but we have a community, International Affairs, which offers exchanges using Youth in Action programmes and Although registering a clear fall across we organise projects the entire population (affecting almost with foreigners here in Romania and also trav600 000 people in 1992, then dropping el to other countries to to only 440 000 in 2008), the illiteracy participate in different rate among young Romanians (aged 15 projects.
Alexandra Bucataru: Having studies is an advantage, but it is never enough without experience or without good motivation and proven skills. The unemployment rate is not the biggest problem, because young people usuto 24) rose sharply between 1992 and Alexandra Bucataru: We ally find it more easy to have one partnership 2008, skyrocketing from 34 000 to 80 000. get a job; it is more the signed with Erasmus in Today, more than half of young people low level of salaries and Galati and we always try the profile required for a aged 15 have very poor reading skills (one to involve them in our injob. Students and young ternational projects. The of the worst figures in the EU). graduates can only get participation rate from entry-level jobs where their side is still low, but the pay is low in relation we can increase it by proto their studies and their moting our activities in a work. Most of the vacancies require 2 years of experience, but different way. Having more international students throughout as a student you cannot have that and have good marks at the the year will bring added value to our organisation. same time, so it’s always a compromise. What are the prospects Romanian students have in terms of the future of the European Union and what are their hopes? Romanian universities occupy a low position in the ranking of EU higher education system. Last but not least, what do you feel Catalina Apostol: Unfortunately, I am not a student who is are the main challenges that Romanian universities are facing interested or was ever interested in studying abroad (maybe in order to climb to the top of the ranking list? an MBA or Executive MBA abroad) so I do not know very well the opportunities in this area, but I can suppose that more and Catalina Apostol: To me the first and the most important step more universities will be willing to accept Romanian students our higher education system should take is to hire professors and will not be so reserved when offering internships for their who are younger, yet more experienced, who can understand the Romanian students. Even their fees may decrease after the students’ needs, can engage them in debate sessions and make economic situation will get more balanced. them study more on their own. Alexandra Bucataru: A large number of students are planning to leave the country. However, there are still many who hope to change things and build a "new" Romania. What I have seen lately in the market is that the social entrepreneurs sector is developing really fast. A lot of Romanians think about social problems and find solutions to them, solutions that can lead to a business a couple of years down the track. Another thing is
Alexandra Bucataru: Change the way they deliver information. They have to focus on practical things, on case studies, on team projects, on bringing students into contact with professionals, and less on just delivering pure information. The examinations should also focus on the ability to use information to solve a real problem situation, not just to rewrite the information from memory. So it’s more related to the curricula of each university.
Civic education The EU on the blackboard How should the EU be introduced to children at school? Educating children about the European Union at primary school level and teaching them that they are part of a big family made up of 27 brothers and sisters are ideas endorsed by European schools and approached hesitantly by EU national schools. But what are the methods used today to help spread European values? BY Patricia Floric
or Kari Kivinen, the SecretaryGeneral of the European Schools, “working together, studying together, playing together, celebrating together and sharing together” is the right recipe to use to teach EU principles to pupils. “We aren’t asking our students to read European Union blue books. But we respect the different European mother tongues and cultures. From the first year of primary school, we provide pupils access to teaching in their mother tongue and exposure to other languages.” Mr. Kivinen strongly believes that learning languages and encouraging communication between children from different background is the key to successful teaching. “The students at the European Schools are fluent in many languages. They have learned to deal with different kinds of classmates and teachers. In fact, they have learned tolerance in quite a natural way and thanks to that we have very few issues with racism”, he explains. In order to launch the programme, European Schools are working closely with all member states. Mr. Kivinen clarified that “all our syllabuses and rules are recognised by all 27 Ministries of Education; and all teachers working full-time are seconded by the government of their country of origin”.
A school for EU children In the beginning, the first European schools, created in 1953, were designed to educate the children of the employees of the EU Institutions. Later on multinational businesses would signed agreements to offer their employees’ children access to the schools, and although today some places are reserved for children who have no direct link with the EU institutions, the fees remain too expensive for most families and therefore for the majority of the schools, children of EU employees make up the bulk of their students: “I really appreciated the intercultural teaching method at the European Schools. Today, I can speak many languages, four to be precise, and I can easily function in a multi-cultural work environment. However, once I finished my final year in
this school, I realised that during my studies I did not really interact with many Belgian people. Today, I enjoy spending time with the broader community, including local people” says Diego Risso, a former student of one of Brussels’ European Schools.
The EU taught in EU national schools Outside of the context of the European Schools, teaching children about the EU is a national area of competency and is not regulated by the European Commission. Today there are therefore some disparities between the way children are taught about the EU in primary schools as well as across the whole spectrum of education systems. Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth admits that there is a need to focus on this particular issue: “We lack comprehensive and reliable data about the extent and quality of teaching on the EU in schools. My services in the Commission's Education and Culture directorate have commissioned a study on the state of play on this issue and the results will be published early next year. The findings will also be the basis for developing the 'Learning Europe at School' initiative in order to support teaching and learning about the EU in the most effective way.” Teaching material u Material produced by the EU to support teachers when giving lessons on EU subject matters: http://europa.eu/teachers-corner/index_en.htm
Q and A with Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth
Education in the EU – Investing today for growth tomorrow
Reaching for control
School shootings raising in Europe? US school shootings like the one at the Columbine High School in 1999 seem far removed from the old continent, but European school shootings in Finland and in Germany made headlines worldwide. We spoke with Gisela Mayer who lost her daughter in a school shooting in Germany and Peter Sund, Chief Inspector of Police in Finland. By Juliane Gau “Like my daughter, I became a teacher out of vocation, it is a nearly a family tradition” said Gisela Mayer, an ethics teacher. “I enjoy working with young people. They are open-minded, they are interested in new things” she said. Mayer lost her daughter Nina, a 24 year old student teacher in language, ethics, religion and arts, in a school shooting in Winnenden, a town located in the southwest of Germany. On 11 March 2009, a former student of the sc hool Albertville-Realschule returned to his school to carry out a deadly mission. Within just a few hours the 17 year old killed nine pupils, three teachers and three people outside the school premises, before committing suicide. Are young people getting more and more violent, and is teaching a risky profession?
Less frequent yet more serious violence
is escalating violence where people just do not stop hitting someone and that is an important change” she said, referring to the situation in Germany. “Some teachers do indeed fear going to school, and they have reason to feel that way” Mayer said. “Changes in the violent behaviour of young people also affect teachers, and violence towards the authorities has increased and has changed in nature”she added.
Prevented school shootings not reflected in statistics “School shootings are seemingly increasing in Europe, but this might be just an impression. In some countries there are no incidents at all” said Peter Sund, the Chief Inspector at the Police College of Finland who is also in charge of International Relations. In June 2012 the College organised a course on “Crisis Management and Emergency planning: School Shootings and AMOK” for some 30 police officers from all over Europe as part of the activities
of the European Police College (CEPOL). “Germany has seen an increase in school shootings, some other countries as well. In Finland, over a long time there was very little severe violence and then in less than a year two shootings took place (Kauhajoki and Jokela). However, it is difficult to draw up useful statistics. Shootings that were prevented are not usually reflected in statistics, and different European countries collect data in different ways” said Sund. Explaining the situation in the US compared to Europe Sund said that “in the US, there is a greater volume of school shootings and therefore more potential examples”.
Staying in contact with young people is crucial “Warning signs might come in the form of comments, verbal threats, e-mails or as a sense of identification with former school shootings such as Columbine, openness to violent fantasies, and drifting into virtual
“Youth violence has decreased in terms of quantity, but the ‘quality’ of violence has changed” said Gisela Mayer. She talked “Germany has seen an increase in school shootings, some other countries about the violent death as well. In Finland, over a long time there was very little severe violence of her daughter in the book “Die Kälte darf and then in less than a year two shootings took place (Kauhajoki and nicht siegen” (“The cold Jokela). However, it is difficult to draw up useful statistics. Shootings shall not win”). “Young that were prevented are not usually reflected in statistics, and different people do not recognize European countries collect data in different ways”. borders any more, there
worlds” said Mayer, referring to the “Leaking project” to prevent school shootings, run by the Free University Berlin. “Parents also have a responsibility” she said, underlining the importance of communication. “We need to ensure that we do not lose contact with young people” said Mayer, commenting on the shortcomings of parents and teachers when it comes to new technologies and the responsible handling of information. “The internet is one important issue which raises concern. Information about previous school shootings is available on the Internet, and there are discussion fora” said Sund. He added that the school shooting copy-cat phenomena are of concern for the police services. “Prevention of school shootings is a complex question and is also related to long-term development in the personal life of an individual” said Sund, mentioning that prevention must already start in the early development stage of childhood. “Red flag behaviour” is an indicator for parents, teachers and other adults, but trained professionals also need to follow-up any concerns using structured professional judgment, including providing a behavioural threat assessment, according to Sund.
Prevention requires a multi-level approach
“The main aim should always be to prevent attacks by identifying and managing persons posing a serious threat, not just concentrating on stopping the attacker in an active-shooter situation” explained the Police Chief Inspector. “The police have a part to play in both, but we cannot solve the problem alone” Sund said. “Prevention requires a multidisciplinary and multiagency approach” he insisted. Responsible parents, trained teachers and a multi-level engagement will ensure we don’t lose contact with young people and this seems to be the best option for preventing another tragedy. More information: u European Police College (CEPOL) www.cepol.europa.eu
© Christoph Hoffmann
Mayer deplores the lack of training provided to teachers both during their education and professional life, in how to deal with violence. “How teachers should deal with violence was ignored after the school shooting in Erfurt [26 April 2002, Erfurt (Germany), where a former pupil killed 12 teachers, 2 pupils, the school secretary, a police officer and himself] and it was only after Winnenden that they woke up to the need to provide training and education on this subject” said Mayer, who is also a founding member of “Aktionsbündnis Winnenden”, a trust that runs projects designed to decrease violence at schools.
Education in the EU – Investing today for growth tomorrow
QS Best Student Cities A university ranking where Europeans finally rule! By Laurent Van Brussel
hen it comes to world university rankings, we have become accustomed to reading tables dominated by US institutions. However, the British research office Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) has been innovative (compared to the regular rankings it has published since 2004) and produced its first Best Student Cities ranking. And, so rare that it deserves mention, European cities monopolise the top places. With ten cities among the twenty highest ranked ones – Madrid, Lyon, Munich, Barcelona, Dublin, Berlin, Zurich, Vienna, London and Paris topping the list, Europe can finally take pride in its university ranking, something generally awarded to North America and Asia. So, what is different here? For the first time we have a study that doesn’t focus its analysis exclusively on individual universities. QS Best Student Cities 2012 treats the experience of studying in the broader context of the city. An approach based on 12 indicators In addition to two selection prerequisites whereby each city must have a population of over 250 000 and at least two universities previously ranked in a QS index to be evaluated (these aspects raise questions about the sufficiency of the ranking and thus its complete reliability), the methodology features 12 indicators divided into five equally weighted categories: rankings (the number of ranked institutions in the city, collective performance of all institutions in the city, position of the highest placed institution from the city), student mix (the number of students at ranked institutions as a proportion of the city’s population, the total number of international students attracted to the city and studying at ranked institutions, the total number of international students as a proportion of all students studying at ranked institutions in the city), quality of living (a score based on the results of the Mercer Quality of Living Survey 2011 – since Mercer only lists 50 world cities, those not listed were automatically assigned a minimum of half the available points in lieu of further data which has been requested), employer activity (the number of domestic employers who identified at least one institution in the city as producing excellent graduates, the weighted count of international employers who identified at least one institution in the city as producing excellent graduates) and affordability (tuition fees, score in the Big Mag Index of retail pricing in cities worldwide published by the Economist Intelligence Unit, score in the Mercer Cost of Living Index).
Affordability: main strength of European cities While leading US universities may offer world-class facilities and research, several European cities offer many advantages of their own when other aspects of the student experience/life are taken into account. One of these key aspects is undoubtedly affordability. At a time when many students have to take on ever greater debts to fund their degrees in North America, universities in Paris and many other cities in continental Europe still offer high-quality education at affordable prices. International students at leading Parisian universities pay annual fees of less than €1 000, compared to up to €15 000 in the UK and €30 000 in the US. This could represent a saving of €115 000 over four years. What make Paris the best student city in the world? Beyond affordability (contrary to what one might think, the French capital ranks only 37th for most expensive city in the Mercer Index), Paris has several convincing arguments. Paris offers one of the largest student concentrations in the world. With sixteen ranked universities, it has an unrivalled variety and concentration of globally recognised institutions (including the Sorbonne, École Normale Supérieure, École des Mines de Paris, HEC, etc.). Furthermore, the city has many student areas that are known worldwide, for example the Latin Quarter. All this contributes to making Paris a metropolitan area with a cosmopolitan student dimension that one might find in a smaller university town. Another aspect in which the French capital excels is the number of domestic and international employers looking to recruit its graduates. Parisian graduates are identified as priority targets by employers in both France and the rest of Europe, reflecting the solid graduate skills gained through its teaching-intensive undergraduate system, and the internationally-minded nature of Parisian graduates. Lastly, despite the continent’s current financial uncertainties, Paris offers a wealth of graduate opportunities due to its central position in the EU. Quality of living recognised Another feature of the top-ranked European cities is their high score for quality of living – based on the annual Mercer Quality of Living Index – which takes into account factors such as safety, public services and infrastructure, recreation and the environment. For example, Vienna, ranked fifth overall here, was the top city in the world for quality of living in 2011.
Rank your diploma PISA for higher education Copenhagen as the black sheep While Madrid ranks 16th and Stockholm 27th, Copenhagen is far behind other European capitals. Despite the high quality of living, the Danish capital suffers from a lack of employment and a high level of living costs. Another part of the answer is the difficulty Danish people have in integrating foreign students. According to Mads Engholm, a researcher at the Ungdommens Analyse Enhed centre, the surveys show that one foreign student out of three who studied in Denmark did not make any Danish friends. In a recent article, the Copenhagen Post revealed that although 75% of foreign students say they might stay in Denmark following their studies, most have the impression that Danish companies are not interested in hiring skilled foreign workers.
More information: u QS
Best Student Cities in the World 2012 http://bit.ly/xK4UYs
‘PISA study’ remains an emotive term in Germany ever since the first ‘Program for International Student Assessment’ famously revealed that German schools did not live up to their good reputation on all counts 12 years ago. In the field of higher education, the EU supports a number of tools for ranking and comparing curricula and results. An overview. • U-Map project. This internet tool relies on a classification model categorising European higher education institutions based on their missions (e.g. research, innovation, internationalisation). u-map.eu • U-Multirank project. This tool, which is not up-andrunning yet, would assess education performances at institutional and at programme level, with a view to allowing users to create their own personal ranking based on their priorities. u-multirank.eu • AHELO project. The OECD is looking at ways to test student and university performance globally. A feasibility study on the ‘Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes’ (AHELO) is underway. tinyurl.com/aheloproject F.E.
Is the EU a social media dinosaur? Personal Democracy Media is an independent media company focused on developing the link between politics and technology, and since 2004 has produced the annual Personal Democracy Forum – now in its ninth year in the United States and its third year in Europe. By Mark Humphreys
his year’s Personal Democracy Forum (PdF) focussed on how technology is changing politics and governance, and how citizens and governments alike are using “new” interactive communications technologies to open up the European public space to greater participation.
to be evolving into a new more dynamic participatory form. With the rise of accessible and powerful media technologies, citizens are now being provided more and more with a place to meet, challenge the status quo and embrace participation and transparency.
the stalled Brussels bubble and reigniting the flame of public interest and helping Europe find its “Public Place”?
The title of this year’s PdF, held in Brussels on 31 May at the Brussels Press Club, was “Finding Europe’s Public Place”. It looked into how technology and social media have played a role in supporting democracy movements all over the world, and how Europe can and should develop an open online Public Sphere for all. More specifically, it examined how interactive communications technologies are now being regularly deployed to address critical civic problems, and make governments more efficient, transparent and accountable. Perhaps the real question here is not so much whether social media technologies will bring Europe closer to the public sphere, but whether Europe’s governing institutions will embrace the opportunity for greater democratic participation?
With a view to this mind, the aim of the PdF is to nurture a worldwide conversation about technology’s impact on government, politics and civil society. It provides a platform for opinion makers, political practitioners, exponents of new-media technology and society to exchange ideas, and develop and synthesise how new media can and is redefining the public sphere.
The conference itself attracted a number of highly distinguished speakers, including John Sullivan, Director of the Public Affairs Office at the US Mission to the EU, Andrew Rasiej, the founder of Personal Democracy Media, Facebook Europe’s Erika Mann, Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake, Aurelie Valtat Digital Media Manager at the European Council, Stephen Clark of the European Parliament Social Media Team, the European Journalism Centre, New Europe Media Group, the Euractiv PoliTech Foundation, NPR’s Teri Schultz, and Tech Crunch columnist and author Andrew Keen.
Politics and for that matter democracy, are changing rapidly or rather, appear
Some would argue that in Europe there has been a lack of real interest in politics from the general public at large, but why? Is it that in the EU we have simply become too bored and switched off by what is coming out of the ivory towers in Brussels? As NPR’s freelance correspondent in Brussels Teri Schultz lamented during the PdF conference, “When you say European Union, I fall asleep”. If so then, is social media really, as the PdF is suggesting, the key to bursting
Connecting Europe with real issues
Marietje Schaake MEP, described as “Europe's most wired politician” by the Wall Street Journal, said in her presentation that we should all contribute in connecting Europe with real life issues
“When you say European Union, I fall asleep” Teri Schultz, NPR’s freelance correspondent in Brussels.
that affect citizens directly – social media is perhaps today’s opportunity for real civic participation. She also drew a link between Internet freedom, human rights and EU foreign policy, among others. During the following panel discussion moderated by Alia Papageorgiou, Eric Karstens from the European Journalism Centre and Alexandros Koronakis from New Europe discussed the online shift in journalism and how this affects the EU press corps. The European Parliament’s Stephen Clark gave a presentation on what Parliament’s evolutions on social media mean for politicians, eurocrats, the media and citizens alike. He touched on the possible reinvention of representative democracy as a result of new online social and political behaviours.
Bottom-up politics Ron Patz, political scientist and euroblogger, noted that while many people might be interested in discussing the EU and how it affects their daily lives, discussion in fact takes place more at the national level, on national blogs, websites and social networks and is therefore limited by language. There are also around 950 EU related blogs – less than a third are on a regular basis. Will social media be one of the tools that help to develop a European public sphere? How is it going to impact democracy and politics in Europe? Is it being over-hyped? And what chances are there of forming a European public space online, if one does not already exist? The key message that was developed during the PdF conference in Brussels is that hopefully social media will help the EU public sphere. Social media has a great potential in bringing democracy to every citizen’s home, but we need to first motivate people to participate, and to motivate people we need to give them the tools to participate.
Copenhagen Photo Festival Everyday photography as an art form
ounded in 2010 by Julie Navne Klitbo and Rasmus Ranum, owners of the photo agencies BLINK and Sumo, the Copenhagen Photo Festival returned for its third edition in June of this year. The festival featured the work of hundreds of photographers – both Danish and international – scattered across the Danish capital, “turning the city into a big gallery” dedicated to everyday and urban photography. Growing ever bigger since its establishment, the festival programme now goes beyond a simple photo exhibition, and includes daily tours, screenings, artist talks and even a seminar. “We wish to create a festival of a high artistic level and with an international aim and yet, maintain a popular appeal,” says Rasmus Ranum.
“Therefore the festival is visible in the urban space so that people outside the narrow art world can open their eyes to the potential of photography. But we do not compromise on quality.” As we missed the two first editions – shame on us – but we invite
you to travel through time and discover with us a selection of the first three editions of this festival. Long may it continue! More information: u Copenhagen Photo Festival www.copenhagenphotofestival.com
© Lærke Posselt
© Susanna Majuri
© Cyrille Panchot
© Søren Rønholt
© Hanna Lenz
© Ricky John Molloy
© David Trood
© Erwin Wurm
© Carsten Egevang
© Mats Bäcker
© Linda Cieniawska
© Bibi Berge
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