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N째14

Summer 2010

The Story

Next destination

Europe All roads don't just lead to Rome!

The Controversy

From Lisbon Strategy to Europe 2020 More than a change of name?

PLEASE TAKE ONE


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Content N°14

Next destination: Europe

Summer 2010

The Story

Next destination

Europe All roads don't just lead to Rome!

All roads don’t just lead to Rome! Cover illustration by Frédéric Hayot

More than a change of name?

Photos © Bachmont, Mindfulness, Freddie Boy, Bob Mc Caffrey, Muneaki, Jule Berlin, Atomic Jeep, Fortes, Leo Setä, Håkan Dahlström, Roman Sulovsky, Brron, Chrisdlugosz, Evgni Dinev, Michal-Osmenda, Arndw, Jinx, Jule Berlin, Michal Osmenda

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SHIFT Map – Where to find and read the SHIFT Mag in and around Brussels

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Warm Up – An Erasmus for everything

The Bill – 21.03.2010 – 21.06.2010: remember, erase and rewind... or not. The Diary – Summer 2010 The Controversy – From Lisbon Strategy to Europe 2020: more than a change of name? Europe across the world – The (malicious) spirit of Europe

Cover Story Next destination: Europe 16 18 21 22 23 24 25 26 28 30 32 35

Globetrotting – Bores without borders: the art of boring with travel tales Postcards – Plan your escape... off the beaten track Silver jubilee – 25 years of European capitals of culture On the road – “The spirit of the beatnik, the attitude of the freak”

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©Damien Raclot-Dauliac

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Carte Blanche – Rond Point Schuman, Bundestag or Élysée?

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Status quo – Europe’s (not-so) nomadic citizens Awareness-raising – Occupation: Easy Rider Sleepless nights in the EU27 & “BE.WELCOME” Brownie points – Stockholm and Hamburg: the two greenest destinations for 2010-2011

Interview – Shifting with Malted Milk The Book – “The man who Led Zeppelin” by Chris Welch Music festival – “Balkan mayhem” in Brussels Snapshots – Lightmasters (by LICHTFAKTOR) And now…?

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© RBKrecords

PLEASE TAKE ONE

© European Union, 2010

The Controversy

From Lisbon Strategy to Europe 2020


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WarmUp

An Erasmus for everything When, in 2000, all European leaders set the EU the ambitious goal of becoming the most competitive market in the world, mobility was then considered a central feature. What better example than Erasmus for students to illustrate successful mobility. So what keeps us from creating offshoots at every possible opportunity? After the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, initiated in 2009, came the recent first steps towards an Erasmus for tourists, an Erasmus for young military officers as well as an Erasmus for locally elected representatives, the last invention being the Erasmus for young farmers.

DrawingBoard BY JOÃO SILVA

Greece football team at the World Cup

Although this sounds quite positive, and although all these by-products of Erasmus can contribute to develop forms of European culture and identity, once again, is it not going too fast? Again the EU seems intent on putting the cart before the horse. About ten years ago, Erasmus was a sub-brand among sub-brands under the umbrella of the Socrates Programme. Today it has rightly become "THE" brand. But like most of these success story factories, it is also overvalued. Without casting doubt on the programme’s clear benefits, let’s not forget that Erasmus mobility is a concrete reality for only 3.5% of students in Europe, and that Erasmus grants (about 200 euro per month) are too low to be really inclusive. Moreover, although it is perking up, the programme has run out of steam over the two last years. So, of course Europe needs to bridge gaps and establish new connections between Europeans, but is it not preferable to consolidate what works before launching an allout offensive?

How far will European solidarity go?

SHIFTMAG EDITORS

OFF-THE-CUFF MR SHIFT: “Is a country that has no more stable national leadership able to play a leading role at EU level?”

© Peter Verplancke

HERMAN DE CROO, BELGIAN MP, MINISTER OF STATE, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE BELGIAN CHAMBER OF REPRESENTATIVES: Belgium is a stable country! Minorities are well protected and a lot of safeguards are present so that even if we utilize a lot of ink and saliva, we never spill a drop of blood. Belgium is founded on the strength of its federated entities. Those who know Belgium very well are not at all anxious about anything except further solidifying the federal system, which on a world scale is rather weak. We are much less federalist than different areas in Spain, the 50 states of the USA or those of Mexico. The whole of the social security system (the most important factor in expenditures), justice, defence, foreign affairs, development cooperation, and internal and security affairs are under federal authority. Few people know that when regions spend 100 euro, they are collecting no more than 20 of those 100 euro by their own means. The 80 other euro are recycled through a very sophisticated system of centralised taxation and reimbursement.


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Carte Blanche

Rond Point Schuman, Bundestag or Élysée? Where to next on the long and winding path that has led Europe to the closest these main institutions have been in decades? Despite a period of uncertainty – a focus on euroskepticism by some and apparent public bickering by others – it seems that all Parliaments of Europe just got much closer, as in one fell swoop on 10 May all their budgets now pass by Brussels’ microscope before making their way through the national house. It’s been a battle of wits, economists and mighty markets that has marked the beginning of this new decade for Europe.

A NEW ERA Brussels has a way of smoothing things out with funding, conferences, white papers, regulations, directives and parliamentary co-decisions as the Lisbon Treaty moves aside to lead us into a new era. The era of austerity? The IMF era? Just when you thought regulators and the IMF were out they come back in, stronger and now more oft found amongst those at Rond Point Schuman, the Vouli in Athens and doling out tax reforms in Bucharest, Romania amongst other countries also partially boosting their economies with IMF funds. The debt crisis era? A perpetual evolution of the economic crisis era? The euro is facing not only a battering, but also what Angela Merkel the German Chancellor has called an ‘existential crisis’. Despite trillion euro efforts, calls for solidarity from the world over, and seismic market shifts due to its imbalance, we have forgotten where this all originated, as a recent conference speaker at the OECD Forum pointed out “America refuses to take any of the blame for the economic crisis.” And so the attention shifts over to that Rond Point we’ve been talking about. Any moment the tide swirls over to the US (see Gulf of Mexico and bad public opinion lashing against even the almighty Obama) a new bombshell hits Europe – Italy is now swallowing the bitter pill of austerity and cutting 23 billion euro. A Spanish bank which played heavily in the real estate market goes bust, Fitch downgrades its capital, and liberals and economists (once again at the OECD Forum in Paris) debate why banks

and governments are too big to fail? Can’t we have it any other way – let them fall? Rumours abound that the eurozone is not as intrinsic as some may feel, and that Germany is lobbying to exclude weaker members from the eurozone if such a situation were to be deemed necessary – through Treaty changes and European Court of Justice interventions, but how much of it would help Europe grow out of this mess created by a lack of foresight? New Europe is a European It is hard to see the application of things unweekly magazine, published less you put them into practice, but the bare since 1993, presenting facts are simple – the European Union has news and analyses from 49 afforded nothing but sound growth and vericountries, with a particular table leaps in trade freedom accompanied by emphasis on the EU social firsts that are the envy of all. institutions and EU-world relations.

New Europe

EUROPE HAS LIVED THROUGH FAMINE AND WARS

Perhaps this is a reason why all are so eager to watch it fall, albeit an implausibility in real terms, complicating matters in ways that would be far too expensive to be sustainable in these times of economic crisis. Europe has lived through famines, wars and the Great Depression, far be it for a debt crisis to be the one issue to bring it to its knees. As summer slowly inches its way north and towards Rond Point Schuman, one thing has been made clear, Brussels and the Berlaymont still make Europe tick. Alia Papageorgiou, European Affairs Editor, New Europe

Alia Papageorgiou Alia Papageorgiou is the European Affairs Editor for New Europe in Brussels, and has worked for various newspapers, radio shows, social media and magazines in her career as a journalist in the UK, Australia and Greece. Her background is in European law and she is currently undertaking a Master of Arts in International Politics.

New Master in European Journalism ! Less than 900 EU correspondents for 500 million citizens. Democracy is at risk! To empower journalists in their coverage of the EU, the IHECS has decided to organise a one year master full English in European Journalism. Day-time workshops are given by European professional journalists on practical and cutting edge tools the help EU reporters in their daily work. Number of places limited to 20! Website: www.ihecs.be - Contact: laure.englebert@galilee.be - Tel.: +32 2 549 55 37


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TheBill

940 million people

Planned death

in the world are social media users. According to the results of a global study among 2 800 Internet users organized by InSites Consulting, 72% of Internet users are part of at least one social network, which translates to 940 million users worldwide. Eastern Europe and Asia are the regions with the lowest use (4 out of 10), while South America has the highest usage in terms of percentage (95%). Globally, Facebook remains the most popular online platform (51% use Facebook), followed by MySpace (20%) and Twitter (17%).

15 144 Belgian citizens have already made a euthanasia anticipated request since January 2008. (Source: FPS Public Health)

7.40am GMT JeanLouis Etienne, a 63-year-old French balloon adventurer, reaches Yakutia’s Arctic Circle and finishes the first balloon flight expedition from Norway via the North Pole to Siberia.

Malcolm McLaren – Sex Pistols’ former manager – reaches his “no future”.

16.04

Geneva at 4.28pm: mankind is within 1 billionth of a second of copying Big Bang.

USA (5 576 warheads) and Russia (3 909) sign the new START nuclear agreement in Prague. The two powers are also taking the pledge to reduce their arsenal to 1 550 warheads.

09.04

30.03

USA adopts its reform of health insurance. “A victory for common sense”, according to President Barack Obama. “A big f______ deal”, according to Vice President Joe Biden.

10.04

In Knin, southern Croatia, a 13-year old Croatian girl switched to speaking in German after waking from a coma. Local hospital chief Dujomir Marasovic declared: "We are still trying to find out what caused the coma and why she has apparently forgotten how to speak Croatian."

© Victorsounds

Norway is the best country in the world in which to be a new mother, followed by Australia, according to Save the Children’s annual State of the World’s Mothers report, issued in May. The other toprated countries were Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, Finland and the Netherlands. The worst-ranked countries are Niger, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sudan and Afghanistan at the bottom. www.savethechildren.org

08.04

France and the Palestinian National Authority laid the foundation stone last April of a Franco-Palestinian industrial park in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. This first industrial zone in the area aims at creating between 500 and 1 000 jobs. France has set aside 10 million euro to connect the site to the water and electricity networks and to build access roads. The 20 hectare (almost 50 acre) park is expected to be open by January 2011.

21.03

Mothers’ paradise

One season within one minute

Made in Bethlehem

Teaching sleep

27.04

© Oversocialized

21.03.2010 – 21.06.2010: remember, erase and rewind... or not.

John Cleese, the famous Monty Python star, decides to take a cab from Oslo to Brussels after being stranded in Norway by volcanic ash travel chaos. The distance: 1 500 kilometres. The cost: 3 800 euro. If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans, as Woody Allen said.

Sony announces it stops distribution of its 3.5 inch disk drive started 30 years ago.


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TheWord “Like a bank, it's too big to fail.”

© Luxerta

Thierry Dussard, a French journalist, saying that there is little chance that the French daily Le Monde will cease publishing, even if no new investment is found. The paper is faced with about 100 million euro of debt. (Source: IHT)

Peace and tranquillity on Earth With 8 countries ranked in the top 10 of the Global Peace Index 2010 (organized by Institute for Economics and Peace) Europe remains the most peaceful region of the world. New Zealand acquires the distinction of being the world's most peaceful nation for the second year running. www.visionofhumanity.org

“It should give the tuna some breathing room... And it's good news for sharks too”.

Jay Nelson, Global Ocean Legacy director with the Pew Environment Group, on the British government's designation of the Chagos Islands as a marine reserve, which will be the world's largest. (Source: Washington Post)

“The difference between medicine and poison is in the dose in which the medicine is provided”.

Asghar Zaidi, research director for the European Center for Social Welfare in Vienna, saying a balance will have to be struck between welfare protection and fiscal austerity as governments across Europe announce more budget cuts. (Source: AP).

Hamid Karzai, Afghan President, accusing Western governments fighting in Afghanistan of perpetrating fraud that denied him victory in last summer's election and of being on the verge of becoming invaders. (Source: New York Times)

“After the last eight years, it's great to have a President who knows what a library is.” Sir Paul McCartney who was presented with a lifetime achievement award from the Library of Congress by President Obama. (Source: NY Daily News)

“Those who at times are not good, let them for just four weeks be good.”

The longest day of the year for reading SHIFT Mag – just out!

The Jamaican-born, Slovenian veteran sprinter, Merlene Ottey who celebrated her 50th birthday in May runs a 100-meter sprint in 11.72 seconds! God save the "Queen of the Track!

© Ryan Somma – Lord Biro – NASA Goddard Photo and Vidéo – Chascow

Padania football team completes a hat-trick of successes in the Viva World Cup 2010 for non-FIFA nations in Gozo (Malta).

21.06

The EU adopts its 750 billion euro financial plan to save its single currency and approves in the meantime Estonia's hypothetic adoption of the euro from 1 January 2011. He who lives will see...

08.06

06.06

The American adventurer Jonathan Trappe crosses the English Channel in a cluster balloon. He is the first person to do it – after Carl Fredericksen and Russell in “Up”...

Rafael Nadal beats Robin Soderling, wins his fifth French Open title and so becomes the second man to have won five French Opens; only the Swede Bjorn Borg has one more tournament win with six.

07.06

Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, addressing the crowd at a township stadium in the Free State during a World Cup prayer service, on the upcoming competition. (Source: New York Times)

06.06 28.05

29.04

24.05

The list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2010 has recently been announced. If you are planning a grand tour of Europe, here are some tables to book: 1. Noma (Copenhagen, Denmark); 2. El Bulli (Roses, Catalonia, Spain); 3. The Fat Duck (Bray, England); 4. El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain); 5. Mugaritz (Errenteria, Spain); 6. Osteria Francescana (Modena, Italy);...; 9. Arzak (San Sebastian, Spain);...; 11. Le Chateaubriand (Paris, France);...; 17. Hof Van Cleve (Kruishoutem, Belgium);...; 19. Oud Sluis (Sluis, Holland);...; 25. Mathias Dahlgren (Stockholm, Sweden). Read the full list: www.theworlds50best.com

Gordon Brown treats a retired sympathizer of the Labour Party as “sectarian” and ruins his last chances in the race to Downing Street. Here came the banana skin...

Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Prime Minister, at a Paris news conference, quoting from the diary of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini as he lamented his lack of power over Italy's political process. (Source: Reuters)

“There is a thin curtain between invasion and cooperationassistance”.

Tables to sit at in 2010

The eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull stops. Its cloud of ash will have cost about 5 billion euro to the world economy according to an Oxford Economics study.

“All I can do is say to my horse, go right or left. And I have to be happy with that.”


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The Controversy

From Lisbon Strategy to Europe 2020

More than a change of name? Following the failure – all right, semi-failure – of the Lisbon Strategy, the European Commission pulled “EU 2020” out of its hat. Beyond what appears to be a new catalogue of good intentions – whether or not it’s more beefy than the previous one – is there some hope that this time, there really might be a strategy, resources and, hey why not, results?

Olivier Lacoste

Economist Director of Studies at Confrontations Europe

Recent times have proven that the European Union can no longer content itself with mumbo-jumbo. During the “Greek crisis” and “euro crisis”, financial markets demonstrated that they were no longer satisfied with token solidarity from members of the EMU (Economic and Monetary Union), instead the members should actually put in place a mechanism for financial solidarity within the zone. The same applies to the Union’s growth strategy, whether we label it the “Lisbon Strategy”, as has been the case since the European Council of March 2000, or “EU 2020”, as it has been known since the end of 2009. Lists of praiseworthy intentions (encouraging the knowledge economy, reshaping the social model for the long term...) are not enough.

THE LISBON STRATEGY WAS BUILT ON AMBIGUITIES To get a handle on the issues of “EU 2020”, we need to examine some of the design faults in the “Lisbon Strategy”. In order to reach a consensus and get past different viewpoints and reluctance, notably on the part of States, this “Strategy” was built on ambiguities. For example, it was often difficult to say whether or not it was focused more on content or form: the changes introduced by the mid-term review

Europe 2020

A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Any resemblance to previous strategies shelved or not is purely coincidental. (2004-2005) following the Kok report, in reality, essentially covered procedures – introduction of Integrated Guidelines (IG), National Reform Programmes (NRP) – without changing policy a great deal. Furthermore, the Lisbon Strategy did not distinguish between political will and faith in market mechanisms. Certain themes (such as those linked with research) appeared to reflect policies more, others (such as network industries) the supposed automatic virtues of liberalisation. The growing strength of the OMC (open method of coordination) offered a convenient way of notably not debating matters where national competences would have merited becoming Community competences. And above all, the Lisbon Strategy saw no real translation into policies, at Community or national level. For example, at Community level, it was not reflected in any notable decisions as regards the European budget, apart from some “Lisbon dressing up” of certain structural funds (earmarking). As such, there was no coherence between the Strategy and the budget instruments deployed. On the part of the States, the objectives set by the Strategy have been viewed with polite indifference, as is the case with equal R&D expenditure across


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the Union of, on average, 3% of GDP. It is not a question here of pointing the finger at guilty parties – between States that were often dragging their feet and procedures that were becoming increasingly technocratic – but rather observing that overall the Lisbon Strategy can hardly justify the term “strategy”, meaning the art of planning and coordinating actions. The Lisbon Strategy has been more like a virtual cathedral with a blurry framework, a sort of rhetorical system of reference, encompassing the economic discourse of the Union. That said, it has had an impact on real life: it has encouraged consensus in relation to several themes; for example, the reform of the public employment service and the work of older people.

TO MATCH DECISIONS WITH OBJECTIVES Under these circumstances, the success of EU 2020 will not stem from “tightening up” the objectives or going from 24 IGs to 10. What is needed is to match decisions (whether financial measures or reforms) with objectives. Here are just a few examples. Do we agree that coordination of macroeconomic policies (which logically should form part of a growth strategy) is necessary? Yes? Then it is difficult

to reject outright the Commission proposal to subject national budgets to multilateral monitoring before putting them to the vote by national parliaments (perhaps one way of reconciling economic coordination and democratic legitimacy could be to involve the European Parliament). Are we in agreement in thinking that training is a key issue? Yes? Then we need to allocate more of the European budget to this priority, for example by tightening up the objectives of the structural funds and, through this measure, conducting a timely audit on how the funds are used – in terms of not only legality but also appropriateness. Is the single market considered a pillar of European growth? Yes? Then concrete decisions are needed, for example investments in interconnection infrastructures. Do we think that better regulation/monitoring of the financial sector is necessary? Yes? Then States should forget their reluctance to hand power over to European regulatory authorities. It is time to match decisions and choices with “guidelines”, priorities, objectives and other “flagship initiatives”. It’s on its capacity to have an effective growth strategy that Europe will be judged by its citizens

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Europe across the world

The (malicious) spirit of

Europe

The recent declarations by France’s president – who, on a visit to Rwanda, acknowledged the errors committed by France without officially admitting the French State’s responsibility – provide an opportunity to address the darker side of building Europe: namely, its structural relation to violence. BY MATTHIEU DE NANTEUIL UCL

Of course, like any political entity whose history has been marked by the temptations of hegemony, Europe does not have a monopoly in this regard. What remains true is that, as the continent emerged from the Second World War, the European project set about ending conflict once and for all. This then became reality with the foundation of the institutions of the European Union: the accidental, yet pivotal, political form for post-war generations.

A CIRCUMSTANTIAL FORM OF PEACE One viewpoint has overwhelmingly dominated the debate so far in this perspective: the EU has allowed us to enter an era of peace, made possible by the formation of a “shared world” whose current problems are linked alternatively to internal institutional dysfunctions and/or the return of traditional political polarisation in the face of the risk of dehumanising globalisation. In some ways the failure of the project involving a Constitution for Europe was the product of this twin critique. Painstakingly, however, the Liston Treaty has made it possible to rescue the essential part of the institutional game and keep the European idea afloat. After such an economic battering, this idea would be politically safe. In Rwanda, however, it has suffered permanent damage.

The free trade agreement with Colombia means it is now in danger of lapsing into disgrace for good. To understand this overlap, three important aspects need to be re-examined.

1.

If Europe had – or still has – a spirit, it was to extol the idea that the way out of violence demanded an end to the incessant clashes between nation states and the establishment of the institutional foundations for an area of peace. Above and beyond the purely historical factors, what we have here is one of the pillars of the European general interest championed by the Commission in its strained relations with the Council and the Parliament. At the same time, the Union has endowed itself with a sizeable civil-rights judicial mechanism, as evidenced by the relative “success” of the European Court of Human Rights. On the whole, the liberal identity card of the European citizen’s rights and obligations has largely taken hold: the generic term of “combating discrimination” (racial, sexual, cultural, etc.) has become a watchword for European institutions, blazing a path to a normative entity that allows abuses to be denounced across the whole of the Union.

2.

However, this “civil-law” construction remains counter-productive if, as the history of the nineteenth century showed, it is not extended in turn by the building of social rights capable of obstructing the violence generated by unfettered capitalism. Indeed, the “invention of social” in the previous century was not so much about distancing the urban middle-class elites from misery, but more to do with building up sociality as a new basis for law, making the rejection of subservience through work the new normative pedestal of the world economy. This was the nodal point – in struggles regulated by law and then by the creation of the welfare state – at which mankind’s relationship with itself was re-invented in a manner that differed from the relationship imposed by market forces. In that sense, G. Esping-Andersen spoke about the decommodification of the worker as a person who, despite depending on wages to survive, held implacable rights in terms of buying or selling a labour force. And yet this construction, as a very consequence of European enlargement, has become the theatre of recommodification. Why? Because the principle of subsidiarity, devised to enable the most advanced social market economies to maintain their lead,


© European Union, 2010

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Jose Manuel Barroso and Alvaro Uribe signing the trade agreement in the margins of the EU-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit in Madrid.

has transformed the “enlarged” Europe in practice into a vast area of competition between assorted social “reference points”, and because the political jurisdictions for rebuilding a Europe beyond such a dissolution are desperately lacking. Included in this are the latest proposals on poverty from the Commission, which fails to address the overall matter of the conditions for escaping poverty (access to public services, right to housing, social rights differentials, etc.). Whereas attempts to increase the regulation of Europe’s economy are making slow progress and require support – chiefly through an industrial policy free of shorttermism, tougher regulation of the banking sector and a tightening of budget solidarity

The latent or real indifference on the part of Europeans towards “others” – the unseen part of their identity between States – the judicial and legal bases of such an evolution increasingly seem to be on the wane. Yet an internal fragmentation of this kind, contrary to the spirit of the Founding Fathers, is not only a problem for Europeans; it is also the conduit for a process of decay affecting the sentiment of universality, of an external fragmentation.

3.

This, in effect, is the implication of the immense difficulty which two of the Union’s founding States, Belgium and France, have had in acknowledging their actual involvement in the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda: the impossibility of surveying with clarity the dark side of European identity and, consequently, of embarking on the construction of an authentically universal ethnic community that transcends contemporary divisions. It is also the message conveyed by the Commission’s preparations for the free trade agreement with Colombia: the latent or real indifference on the part of Europeans towards “others” – the unseen part of their identity. Yet does Europe have to be blind to the point where it fails to recognise what the most recent report from Human Rights Watch (www.hrw.org/en/reports), the UN representative office and a host of local NGOs constantly tell us on the subject? Colombia is the scene of a post-totalitarian violence whose virtually boundless nature prizes the Colombian economy’s insertion in the game of liberalised world trade, i.e. disconnected from their cost in terms of working conditions and human lives – as bitterly experienced by Colombia’s trade unions more than others. The European Parliament, which still has to express its opinion, has a right of veto on the matter.

THE NEED FOR A WORLD CONSCIENCE Nevertheless it would be a mistake to incriminate an abstract globalisation in which Europe were no more than a secondstring actor. In this particular instance Europe has the means to act. The current fracture between the economic and social spheres and, within the economic sphere, between several opposing conceptions of the economy, is sowing the seeds of a dissociation of European conscience. However, updating the causal chain, reiterating the crossed complexities binding the indifference between Europeans to the indifference of Europeans, may open up fresh capacities for collective action. For European reconstruction will only come about if Europe awakens within itself one of the driving forces behind its construction: the formation of a world conscience ahead of admitting its contribution to the slaughter. Without such an awakening, the spirit of Europe could only be – and for how long? – malicious in spirit


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Next destination:

Europe

Globetrotting

Bores without borders The art of boring with travel tales All these nights looking at thousands of photos of places where you will never go and listening about unknown people you will never meet. Everybody hates talking about travels of others but nobody admits it – except one man... BY MATTHIAS DEBUREAUX CITIZEN K Truly painful is he, who like Ulysses, has been on a wonderful trip. For every great narrator sharing spellbinding tales, there is a disproportionate amount of unwelcome, tiresome bores. Mythomaniac Carthaginians going on about their journey on elephant-back. Vikings enthusiastically sharing stories of rape under the stars as they toast horns of swirling nectar of the Gods. Knights souring sumptuous banquets by boasting endlessly of their crusades and their truly unique way of driving swords into Saracens. Santiago de Compostela pilgrims proudly displaying their aching feet. Imagine the martyrdom of Marco Polo’s cellmates subjected daily to the onslaught of his tribulations along the Silk Road? We can only begin to comprehend the nightmare endured by the wives of sailors taken on board by Christopher Columbus. An entire life suffering the same tales.

In the 19th century, oral stories took yet another turn for the worse with the boom of pleasure trips and the birth of tourism. Travel was no longer about discovering, it was about visiting. The romantic middle-class embarked on their Grand Tour. Spending time in the East, Florence or along the banks of the River Nile suddenly brought enviable substance to fashionable circles. A trip to Italy would produce a socially adept, sensitive soul. But what exactly is a traveller? “A man who goes looking for a bit of conversation on the other side of the world” suggests Jules Barbey d’Aubrevilly. In 1890, a British manual on good manners warns the gentleman: “If you have travelled, do not introduce that information into your conversation at

every opportunity. Any one can travel with money, health, and leisure”. Several years later, strolling aficionado Vita SackvilleWest slammed travel as the most primitive of leisure activities. Novelist Colette believes it only necessary for poor imaginations. As for Montherlant, who travelled a lot, he saw it as simply a fad for young girls.

Yet nothing has been developed to immunise us against travel stories. Travellers coming back should be quarantined.

Those who have ever endured the story of a crossing of the Yakutia on a tandem can sympathize with their pain. As soon as they get back, travellers are bursting with grandiose images and magical encounters and have only one idea in mind: stoning us with anecdotes, lessons in life and ideals. They’ll paint images of the most beautiful and distant paradises. Meeting up with


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Postcards

Plan your escape… off the beaten track

© Blue Quartz

© www.concrete-mushrooms.com

BY ALEXIA BOEHM, FRIEDERIKE ENDRESS, ESTELLE JACQUES, MARK HUMPHREYS AND DAVID MARQUIE

Freetown Christiana’s gateway

Concrete Mushrooms Project in Albania

THE NEW BUNKER MENTALITY... The concrete bunker: chilling symbol of post-WWII Europe, the Cold War, the two-minute warning and the threat of “M.A.D.” (Mutually Assured Destruction). The nature of the nuclear threat has changed. So much so that some of these super-reinforced underground shelters, fallen into disuse, are finding alternative uses today. Likewise, the pillbox: another familiar sight, these dome-like military relics remain visible across Europe. Arguably, “M.A.D.” is also one way to describe the more original cotemporary uses for these disused military facilities: “Bunkr Parukarka” in Prague, Czech Republic, a disused 1950s nuclear bunker, now operates as a night club, hosting anything from DJ sets to poetry readings. Near Winchester in southern England, another is now home to the Natural Death Centre – a company specialising, somewhat ironically, in DIY funerals. And in the Netherlands, The Pirate Bay – the world’s largest BitTorrent website, having been evicted from Sweden and then Ukraine – has set up shop in “Cyberbunker”, a top-secret location capable of withstanding a 20-megaton nuclear blast. Albania, meanwhile, is Europe’s undisputed pillbox champion. Many of these 750 000 ever-present, mushroom-like legacies of the isolationist Hoxha regime are now transforming into vibrant restaurants, cafés and even eco-tourist hostels. With walls that thick, moreover, noisy neighbours won’t be a problem.

STATE WITHIN THE STATE The alternative free community of Christiania in Copenhagen, Denmark, was founded in 1971. Influenced by anarchist thinking, Christianites declared that “who sleeps in Christiania is a Christianite”. Almost a thousand inhabitants live in “Freetown Christiania”. The citizens of this self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood strongly believe that the collective right of use is important so as to 1) allow room for all, 2) support population’s diversity, 3) support social justice that exists there. Jean-Mathias Peters, a German student, spent six months living and working in Christiania. He describes the neighbourhood as impressive in terms of its nonconformity; everything is hand-crafted. The community ethos features strongly and everyone helps each other. Working in a restaurant, he was amazed to see the social way in which the community operated. A 16 year old student was running the restaurant alongside his 30 year old friend. People could come and eat in the restaurant every Thursday. The food served was sourced from leftover supermarket produce. Nevertheless, he stresses the fact that it is difficult to live in an alternative community in a world that does not permit such practices. He insists that Christiania is primarily a social entity, not a place that was created to be political, repeating one of Christiana’s motto: “Hurry up … slowly”.


© Friederike Endress

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A nuclear bunker from the sixties, part of the catacombs in the 15th arrondissement The "Newborn" sign in downtown Pristina has become the most visible icon of Kosovo's independence celebration

DESTINATION UNDERGROUND: CATAPHILIA IS CATCHING A labyrinth of mysterious passageways, subterranean ossuaries and forgotten nuclear bunkers housing relics from the Cold War – what sounds like the setting for an Indiana Jones movie is in fact the underground world that lies beneath your feet when you are walking around Paris. Accessible through various manholes, the Mines of Paris attract scores of clandestine visitors – the quarries are off limits to the public for safety reasons. The only exception to this rule is the Municipal Ossuary, also called the ‘Catacombs of Paris’. The latter term is popularly used to refer to the network as a whole. Why do the ‘cataphiles’ keep coming back in spite of police raids and heavy fines? “When I was a kid, the books I read […] were full of ancient architecture and all sorts of subterranean structures and labyrinths,” says Édouard, a regular. “Visiting the catacombs brings these stories to life.” Even though he deplores the ban on visits as ‘patronising’, he enjoys the liberty of exploring them without guardrails and warning signs: it adds to the sense of adventure. Paris is not the only European underground destination: other cities with catacombs worth a visit include Vienna, Edinburgh and Granada. The catacombs beneath the Capuchin monastery in Palermo are worldfamous for their mummified corpses.

WAR? NO. MACCHIATO? YES. When talking about Kosovo (or “Kosova” in Albanian), the first word on the tip of our tongues is “war” rather than “tourism”. The usual image that springs to mind is a grey, unstable and gloomy region that most of us would prefer to avoid. Yes, power cuts are frequent in Pristina, the country’s capital that “many love to hate”. With more than 40% of the total population living in poverty, the overall picture does not scream tourist attraction. Yet, 10 years after the end of the war, Kosova has evolved considerably, and remains untainted by the western global culture assault. If you focus on the “post-war reconstruction” cliché, you may well miss out on breathtaking natural spots and a wealth of cultural heritage. A stone’s throw from Montenegro, the luscious Rugova Valley is a nature lover’s paradise. With Islamic, Orthodox and Catholic influences populating the area, Prizren is home to the biggest ethnic melting pot and undeniably one of the Balkans’ most beautifully preserved historical towns. No wonder these discoveries led a UK citizen, Elisabeth Growing, to create the “Ideas partnership”, an NGO that supports sustainable tourism projects across Kosova. And if you enjoy a touch of urban comfort, don’t panic: you can sip an allegedly memorable cup of macchiato and update your blog in one of Pristina’s funky cafes equipped with wifi. If you’re lucky, you may even come across Arta Dobroshi, who starred in the internationallyawarded Belgian film the Silence of Lorna. I hear she enjoys them better than Starbucks.  The

Ideas Partnership website: www.elizabethgowing.com

 Pristina

“In Your Pocket” city guide: www.inyourpocket.com/kosovo/pristina


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Destination EDEN 2010 for “Aquatic Tourism”

© Bjørn Andresen

If you want to know which are the best tourist destinations in each EU member country, and for that matter each candidate country which currently includes Croatia, Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, then EDEN is the place for you. EDEN which stance for European Destinations of Excellence, a project promoting sustainable tourism development models across the European Union.

The Stegastein lookout, 650 meters above the Aurlandsfjord

FJORD FOCUS Most of the time roads are the means of travel; not its objective. Since 1997, Norway has reversed this thinking. The country, which possesses an astonishing array of natural treasures and striking landscapes, has decided to capitalise on these tourism assets to stimulate business and settlement in rural areas. The National Tourist Routes are the main instrument of this strategy. Six of them have already been granted this status, but there should be 18 by 2011. These exclusive stretches of road not only give access to the most famous spots, mountains, fjords and waterfalls of the country, but also offer a very contemporary dialogue between nature, architecture and arts. Indeed, to encourage road users to get out of their cars and head into nature, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, which is conducting the project, has asked talented architects and contemporary artists to create original lay-bys and attractions. In harmony or in contrast with the surrondings, spectacular or discreet, these structures fascinate and intrigue, and see visitors spending hours discovering places they may never have noticed otherwise. The designs range from rest areas to promenades and platforms, including the spectacular Trollstigen panorama viewpoint and the Stegatein wooden observatory, which looks like a dead-end road falling into the Aurland fjord. In Norway, thrills are not always brought about by the cold...

Each year there are national competitions resulting in the selection of a tourist “destination of excellence” for each participating country. But another travel award – why you may ask? Well, the awards aim to highlight a commitment to social, cultural and environmental sustainability, and to help turn these places into year-round destinations, at the same time helping to take away some of the pressure on overvisited tourist destinations. The 2010 edition will see 25 countries participating, up from only 10 in 2007. This year’s theme is set to be “aquatic tourism”. The winners will be officially awarded in the Autumn of 2010. So come and jump on in and visit Europe, and find out what all the fuss is about!  EDEN

Awards website: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/tourism/eden/

People’s attitudes abroad Who are the corniest tourists? Who are the ones most able to disconnect from their everyday life? Who are those who adapt themselves best to the visited country? 2 700 Europeans were recently asked these questions as part of a survey organised by the travel website TripAdvisor. According to them, British and German are the worst-dressed tourists of Europe. The most stylish when travelling are conversely the Italian, French and Spanish. Results reveal that French are the most dependent visà-vis their job: 87% of them admit checking their work mailbox when away, while only 25% of British do. 93% of British claim that they try to say a few words in the local language, while 20% of French questioned admit not making any effort in the same situation.


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Silver jubilee

It's more than a name – it's our heritage!

25 years of European capitals of culture

On 9 March this year, the European Commission proposed to establish the ‘European Heritage Label’ as an EU-wide initiative. An existing scheme launched in 2006, has seen sixty-four sites in 17 Member

Between forging a European identity and the economic dimension, ECoC are at crossroads.

States already receive the European Heritage Label.

© Jérôme Urbain

BY ALEXIA BOEHM

José Manuel Barroso, Doris Pack, Androulla Vassiliou and Robert Palmer at the opening session of the 25th anniversary of European Capitals of Culture.

On 13 June 1985, two European culture ministers, Melina Mercouri and Jack Lang, launched a new initiative: the European capitals of culture (ECoC). “It was time for our voice to be heard as loud as that of the technocrats. Culture, art and creativity are no less important than technology, commerce and the economy”, explains Melina Mercouri. This project initially championed cultural centres like Paris, Florence and Rome. Yet who would have guessed that it would go on to honour cities less famed for their culture such as Lille, Liverpool or Essen? A quarter of a century on, the project has chalked up 25 years of creativity with the onus on European cultural diversity. At the same time, however, the European angle has not been optimally emphasised. Although this particular dimension features as one of the

selection criteria, at times it can play second fiddle to economic criteria, tourism and the enhancing of local identity. The ECoC label is expected to combine various themes and projects, organised within a carefully defined structure involving long-term strategic management. However, the European dimension represents the heart and soul of ECoC and is the key to its success. Culture should play a role in terms of European integration. Not only does this mean inviting artists from the continent and further afield, but thinking of European challenges. Without a doubt, this notion is not perfectly constructed and requires better conceptualisation – logically, a job for the European Commission. Our advice for future ECoC projects: make the distinction between ‘European Capital of Culture’ and ‘Europe’s Capital of Culture’.

The label aims to highlight and celebrate those ‘sites’ which not only symbolize European integration, ideals and history, but also, in the words of European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou “help to increase public awareness of our common yet diverse cultural heritage as well as to stimulate cultural tourism and intercultural dialogue”. Under the new scheme, an independent panel of experts will choose one site per year from two proposed by each member country, the 27 chosen sites will then receive the official EU-wide European Heritage Label designation – something along the lines of the UNESCO World Heritage List or the Council of Europe’s ‘European Cultural Routes’, except that the European Heritage Label will focus more on the cultural and historic

relations a site has to European integration.


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On the road

“The spirit of the beatnik, the attitude of the freak” The evolution of the techo movement in England in the 90s gave rise to a community of nomads, the travellers, who embodied a certain spirit of electronic music. From Europe to Africa, journalist Damien Raclot-Dauliac has followed several of these tribes on the road. INTERVIEW BY DAVID MARQUIE How did the travellers movement come about? It is difficult to separate the travellers movement from that of the free-parties. With the boom of the techno movement in England, rave organisers gradually began charging for entry. In response, groups started launching free-parties. Politics soon got into the fray and banned electronic music gatherings. The travellers headed to France to live out their passion. The movement was born out of this repression.

The travellers were the hard core. Their goal was to produce and play their music away from the usual social environments, to create “temporary autonomous zones”. It was a cultural movement, with an imagery, musical language and reappropriation of places. Do the travellers follow an older tradition? The travellers come from squats and the punk movement. We could also put them in together with the hippies, in all but the message. This is the whole paradox of this movement.They don’t ask for much, just the ability to meet together. When talking about them, I sometimes use the term “beat-freak”: they have the energy and nomadic spirit of the beatnik and the attitude of the freak. There is a social criticism in this movement but it is not voiced. There is no speech, they embrace experience.

©Damien Raclot-Dauliac

What did travellers do? At its foundations, the movement is hedonist. What brings them together is this need for freedom, a physical freedom forgotten in our daily lives. The tribes hit the road out of a desire to experience this freedom and live the adventure.

Some noticed the power of this movement which created a new space for communication and new social relations. They understood they could go further and embarked on electro-humanitarian journeys, with intentions that were more human than cultural. This is the case with the Desert Storm tribe which headed to Sarajevo after the end of the war. So what’s become of the travellers today? Today, there is a legal system in place for penalising offenders. So people no longer dare set up their “sounds”. Some still wander around, in Argentina and Mongolia, or have stayed active in the music world… But there are dwindling numbers of them. Life on the road is OK for a while. Today these people are all aged 35-40. Society has caught up with them. Some feel a certain bitterness about this. They shouldn’t. They didn’t want a star

system, there wasn’t one. They didn’t want money, they didn’t earn any. They said they wanted to be outside of society, they’re there. In the end, it’s been a success. They can be proud of that.  Damien

Raclot-Dauliac’s next documentary ”Tekno is beautiful” will be released in September.


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Awareness-raising

Occupation: Easy Rider

There are many reasons why people with disabilities should abandon the idea of travelling. As a scout Johann Kreiter paves the way for trips accessible to all. BY JULIANE GAU The Buddhist Temple at Ahungalla in Sri Lanka is a tourist attraction. A set of steps leads up to the temple – an almost insurmountable obstacle for a wheelchair user. Not that it stops Johann Kreiter, who slides out of his wheelchair and pushes himself backwards up the steps by pressing down on his hands. "I am travelling under the slogan ’Let’s risk it '," says the 60 year old, who works as a scout for travel agencies to identify disabled-friendly tours, and who himself uses a wheelchair. Kreiter is also chairman of the National Coordinating Office of Tourism for All (Natko). The German-based association has been lobbying since 1999 on behalf of disabled travellers, combining the activities of several disability organisations. In the 27 EU Member States, according to the "European Disability Forum" NGO, there are some 65 million people with disabilities, representing roughly 13% of the total population.

assistance? What if the wheelchair does not fit through the hotel room door? "Breaking down barriers through communication" is the buzz term for Kreiter, by which he means both disabled and non-disabled fellow travellers. "I want to see less ignorance on the part of tour operators towards potential customers. Accessibility is often simply overlooked, yet is important for many people," says Kreiter. Whether a hotel is accessible to the

disabled, or which cultural activities can be visited without barriers – the available information is often poor to non-existent." A coordination authority like Natko in other countries to share information" is something Kreiter would find helpful. Although there are some very good ideas across Europe, there is still much to do before all barriers are removed, both structural ones as well as those in people’s minds

never have experienced otherwise," says Kreiter. "Locals often want to help – but you have to be prepared to accept that help too,” he adds. Often people with disabilities give up on travel, because it is too complicated and expensive or because they just do not want to be dependent. Transfer without

© Johann Kreiter

"An open approach to deal with my disability helped me to experience things I would


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Exhibition “BE.WELCOME”

© atomium.be

IMMIGRATION AS A MUTUAL APPROACH What is more European than migration? Europe is a story of moving people and nations. Each of its countries is a chapter of this story. Coinciding with the Belgian presidency of the EU, the Atomium in Brussels will host “BE.WELCOME” for three months – 22 May to 31 August – an exhibition dedicated to 200 years of Belgian immigration. Although the theme seems a priori hackneyed, the way it is presented offers a fresh eye to the visitor. Constructed as a “quest of paper”, it puts the visitor in the shoes of the migrant, and also the native. Through photos, testimonials, documents, letters, portraits, audio and video extracts, and objects, this exhibition succeeds in conveying the key idea that leaving is hard; welcoming too. And on both sides, it is a constant new beginning. L.v.B.

Sleepless nights in the EU27 A survey carried out by the EU’s statistical office – Eurostat, has shown us that there has been a decrease of 5.1% in 2009 compared to 2008, in the number of nights spent in hotels across the EU27. However, the only country in the EU which hadn’t seen a continuing fall in its total ‘nights in hotels’ stats for 2008 and 2009 was Sweden, although the general decline across the EU27 is slowing.

© everland.ch

There is some solace for Spain, Italy, Germany, France and the UK though, who remain on top of the list. Spain sold 251 million nights, Italy 238 million, Germany 216 million, France 191 million and the UK 170 million nights. These five combined managed to take close to 70% of the total nights sold across the EU27 in 2009. M.H.

Hotel Everland is a Swiss project by the artist-duo L/B (Sabina Lang and Daniel Baumann). It was a hotel with only one room. From 2006 to 2009 it was successively exhibited and run in Leipzig and Paris.


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Brownie points

Stockholm and Hamburg The two greenest destinations for 2010-2011 Stockholm and Hamburg are the first winners of the European Green Capital award created by the European Commission to highlight efforts made by cities in sustainable development. The Swedish capital will be the European Green Capital in 2010 followed by Hamburg in 2011. We couldn’t wait any longer for interviewing the two happy mayors. INTERVIEW BY LAURA TORLUCCIO What does this award mean to you? Sten Nordin (Stockholm): This is clear and solid proof of the fact that it is possible to have a growing and vibrant city, with growing population and economy, industry and ports, and at the same time drastically reduce CO2 levels and improve the quality of water. Ole von Beust (Hamburg): This title is an immense honour as well as a challenge. We presented ourselves to the jury as Europe in a nutshell – we experience all of the developmental and economic problems most cities across Europe are dealing with. Rather than ignoring the problems we have, we face them. We incorporate them into what has become a long history of maintaining an integral approach to climate change. This award has encouraged us to work even harder towards achieving our future objectives. Simultaneously, as one of the first cities to have the honour of this title, we intend to set high standards and show fellow Europeans

what their city might be capable of achieving. Therefore we focus on improving Europe-wide city-to-city cooperation. Which “green” actions of your city are you most proud of? S.N.: District heating, and then public transport. No doubt about it. In Stockholm we turn waste into electric energy, by burning it. This way we get rid of landfills. When we burn it, we get heat. This heat is used to warm the overwhelming majority of all houses in Stockholm. It’s clean, efficient, and does not require bags of coal or oil-tanks in the back yard. O.v.B: Well, if you look at the jury’s indicators, you will see that Hamburg really performed well in all areas. Our motto “the whole city joins in” also reflects the enthusiasm in Hamburg. We won the title because of a wide range of projects, a city dedicated to promoting forward thinking, and citizens willing to change their awareness of the need for climate protection.


© M. Prinke

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As one of the largest ports in the world, Hamburg has proved that economic growth and environmentalism are not conflicting issues. This saw the German city recognised by FDI Magazine in March 2010 as having the best strategy in Europe for attracting investors.

S.N.: The European Green Capital award is given to cities so that they can inspire others. We take this inspiration very seriously, and will have a number of seminars, tours and conferences for international guests who want to learn more about how to build environmentally sound urban areas. I think this is the best way to honour this award. O.v.B: I think the most beneficial component of this award is the cityto-city awareness and cooperation it promotes. Hamburg may be doing great things, but so are the rest of our fellow cities throughout Europe. We hosted a City Climate Conference in November 2009, which more than 300 mayors and representatives attended. What’s more, our Train of Ideas will be a mobile exhibition in containers featuring best practice examples of 15 fellow cities and travelling throughout Europe in order to showcase best practices in new ways. What’s next now? How are you going to put your commitments in action? S.N.: I have set out high goals for the city of Stockholm. I want this city to be fossil fuel free by 2050, and some districts to achieve this already by 2030. We will plant 15 000 new trees, one tree for every new apartment built, and will ensure that all people in Stockholm continue to be close to parks and green areas.

O.v.B: Well, Hamburg is not an ecological paradise. We have ambitious climate objectives that we are on the way to achieving and that can be found in our Climate Action Plan. We intend to reduce our CO2 emissions by 40% by the year 2020. To celebrate European Green Capital 2011, we will have an Infopavillion, Eco Tours, an Environmental Youth Summit, environmental aspects at the Hamburg Film Festival, the Train of Ideas project and many more initiatives to come. In May 2009 we will open the Hamburg House in Shanghai, China. A passive house first presented at the Shanghai Expo 2010 will remain in Shanghai after the Expo has finished. One of the requirements of the European Commission is to act as a model and promote your environmental activities across European cities. What will you do to fulfill that role? S.N.: As I said, we will host a number of seminars, conferences and tours with international guests in Stockholm, focusing on different aspects of being a green city. I myself will be engaged in meeting some of these groups, and I look forward to sharing our experiences with others. O.v.B: Our Train of Ideas project will help to promote this. We already have 11 cities on board (with more to come), so if you live in Antwerp, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Copenhagen, Malmö, Oslo, Vienna, Warsaw or Zürich – you can expect a visit from us!

Unveiled last April, a system now captures the body heat produced by the 250 000 or so daily passengers at the Central Station in Stockholm and turns it into heating energy for neighbouring office buildings.

© Wrote

Do you think this new initiative can have a real beneficial impact on urban environment – beyond its symbolic dimension?


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Shifting With

Malted Milk

James Brown is dead and chilling out in Nantes, France Our last edition “European Idols” got us revved up to get out there and meet those making a mark on their local scene. On the road, we came across Malted Milk, a young soul-blues group from Nantes whose 3rd album “Sweet Soul Blues” has already brought more than one music fan out of the torpor of winter, whether along the banks of the Loire or elsewhere. INTERVIEW BY LAURENT VAN BRUSSEL Our passion for this artist was such that we chose one of his numbers for the name of our group. 12 years already…! People are only just getting to know you. Looking back, how would you sum up the last 12 years? 12 years of musical and human adventures. Several musicians have been part of the group since the outset. Essentially a traditional blues group to begin with, Malted Milk has gradually become a group blending influences from American Black music (blues, soul, funk, gospel, etc.). Albert King, Syl Johnson, Al Green, Freddie King, Sly and the family Stone... All your influences are American. What about inspiration from the French and European blues scene, in as much as we can say European blues exists in its own right? Why “Malted Milk”? Why not “Lait malté”? Malted Milk is a group that has sung in English since the beginning. Our passion for American Black music is such that we don’t see ourselves singing in French for the moment. French is a wonderful language, no question. But it’s up to us to find an original way of using it. The soporific properties of beverages are generally praised... This is quite the opposite with your music, isn’t it? In fact, our name finds its origin in a song by Robert Johnson, a famous blues artist from the 30s who some say sold his soul to the devil.

I think there are a lot of groups who can give American artists a run for their money, whether in France or other European countries. But I also think that Europeans need to find their own style without necessarily cloning what we hear in the USA. We also have our own culture. We shouldn’t forget this. Your influences are also relatively unknown among the wider public. When we say “blues” or “soul”, people think about “James Brown” or “Ray Charles”. We have this image of an old, Black American, forehead glistening with sweat, playing the guitar or sax like a God. We inevitably think of the 30s, 50s and 60s. “Malted Milk” is really the total opposite, “a young group of White


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Europeans launching themselves in the late 90s”. Is this an exception in the soulblues world? I don’t think we’re the only “young people” playing this music today. The repertoire we play is still quite different from the numbers repeatedly re-produced from the repertoires of James Brown or Ray Charles. What we want to do is introduce lesser known numbers to the wider public and also give them a taste of our compositions. In most cases we play before audiences that haven’t yet heard our discs or seen us live. The fact that the public knows little about us is to our advantage. Are racial undertones really present? Put simply, is there a “White blues” and a “Black blues”? Do you come across this in your work? There’s Music with a capital M! For us, music has on the contrary encouraged races and cultures to mix. The Blues is a perfect example of this. Blues groups are flourishing across the planet. The blues is all about feeling, not colour. Your main scene remains France, but you’re also in Belgium and Holland (any other countries in Europe?); and what about the United States? How would you describe the different audiences you play for? It’s a different atmosphere with each audience. We’ve always received warm welcomes in every country we’ve toured in. We have no preference. The most important thing

is to connect with each audience, whether Dutch, French or Japanese. Outside France, what’s your international ambition for the years to come? To play in as many countries as possible. To discover other cultures. This is the opportunity our passion offers us. We need to seize it. Nantes is more of a Rock city. How did you go about fitting into the cultural scene? Can you share a bit about your early days? For 15 years, blues groups offering a vast array of styles have been thriving in Nantes. We all know each other and there is genuine respect among the musicians. Today, Malted Milk is recognised on the cultural scene outside of the local “blues circuit”. Nantes has an abundance of groups playing incredibly diverse musical styles. There are rock groups for sure, but also loads of other styles played. Tell us a bit about your latest album “Sweet Soul Blues”. How has it evolved from the two previous albums, namely “Peaches, IceCream and Wine” and “Easy Baby”? The brass section makes the new album different. The style comes out in the much stronger soul and funk influence, in comparison to ‘Easy Baby’ which still had a lot of influences from the Chicago blues. With this album, we wanted to get away from the classic blues pattern.

The group As the title of his first book was “The United States of Europe”, we decided to ask him to imagine what should symbolize them the most. Originally from Nantes, Malted Milk is evolving in the purest tradition of AfroAmerican music by mixing blues, soul, and funk with brio. Led by guitaristsinger Arnaud Fradin since 1998, the group has become one of the key figures on the French blues scene. This recognition has reached well beyond France’s borders, as the group has also performed overseas on a number of occasions, whether as a supporting act for main performers or taking part in the final of the 2007 International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

Between compositions and covers, the music ranges from the Memphis soul style of Al Green or Syl Johnson to the funky blues of Albert King, with Malian blues influences also a feature (Ali Farka Touré).  To

keep tabs on Malted Milk, check out:

www.myspace.com/maltedmilkmusic www.facebook.com/maltedmilkmusic


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The Book

“The man who Led Zeppelin” by Chris Welch A gripping biography of Peter Grant, the shadowy figure behind Led Zeppelin’s phenomenal success. A true rock ’n’ roll story, but also a subtle portrait. BY DAVID MARQUIE Who better than Led Zepellin has personified the great rock’n’roll circus of the 70s with its bright sides – cult albums, legendary concerts, a rare combination of talent and power – and its dark ones – paranoia, inflated egos and prima donna manners? A bright rock biography, “The man who Led Zeppelin” by Chris Welch, tells these stories of gifted musicians, venal promoters, passionate fans, ruined hotel rooms and even ponies, chickens and geese… and a whole lot more. As an insider – he was a journalist for Melody Maker during the 60s and 70s – Chris Welch draws a subtle portrait of Peter Grant, the manager of the quatuor also known as Led Zep. From his first job as stagehand earning 15 shillings to the multimillionaire manager, Welch tells us about the rise and (relative) fall of this man who contributed to revolutionising the music market. Praised (by most) for his kindness, humor and cleverness, loathed (by few) for his brutal manners, Grant was, like his band, larger than life, able to disarm a man with a simple glance or thump of

his massive belly, but also to charm the King, Elvis, himself. But above all, Peter Grant was a roadie at heart, convinced of Led Zeppelin’s talent and eager to help them reach the top. For the adventure. While he was at it, he contributed to changing the rules of the music market, managing to put musicians’ interests first, banning any single release or TV appearance, and hunting bootleggers systematically (what would he have thought of the current debate on music piracy?). The description of the pre-60s music business (guns, bags of cash and Mafia) is one of the best parts of the book. But Peter Grant paid the price for this success with a divorce and long depression. The man who used to help others was, this time, unable to help himself. Chris Welch also tells the story of the rebirth of the man and the late recognition of the manager. A well deserved tribute for an unsung hero of the rock’n’roll show.

THE AUTHOR Chris Welch is a music journalist, reviewer and critic. As a reporter he notably worked for the weekly newspaper Melody Maker, popular during the 60s and 70s, covering bands such as The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Traffic, If, Cream , Jeff Beck and Led Zeppelin. He is today recognised as a truly prolific biographer, writing many books based on his career memories.


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Music festival

“Balkan mayhem” in Brussels Brussels was on Balkan time from the 8th to the 11th of April. During the Balkan Trafik Festival, the Bozar was invaded by a fusion of colours, sounds and images from Zagreb to Ankara. This year, the magic came thanks to a very Balkan-like recipe: a touch of chaos, a tint of irreverence, a spoonful of exuberance and a lot of good spirit. BY ESTELLE JACQUES Unique in Europe, Balkan Trafik is no niche festival but an encounter between Eastern and Western cultures. One part of the festival is also dedicated to Roma cultures, music, documentaries, and exhibitions. The 2010 edition opened on a grave note, with Tony Gatlif – a French film director of Romani ethnicity, born in Algeria – presenting “Korkoro” (Freedom), a film meditating on the little-known genocide of Roma during the Second World War. The film follows a Roma family struggling to survive while travelling the roads of occupied France. Taloche, the eccentric family hero, is played by James Thierrée. No-one other than this acrobat, clown and grandson of Charlie Chaplin (whose own mother was of gypsy ethnicity), could have better interpreted a childlike character, symbol of the everlasting gypsy free spirit.

As always, Tony Gatlif beautifully mastered emotional intensity and striking visuals (such as the scene where Taloche finds a Jewish watch between train rails, not understanding what it means). A more political topic compared to his previous productions, as Gatlif explained: “I found it necessary to ring the alarm bell, as the situation for Roma in Europe today is not that far from these dark times”. But this grave atmosphere did not last long as music soon invaded the music halls, corridors and even the streets around the Bozar. Switching from Serbian brass bands to Romanian tango and Macedonian dance, one could only be transported by the Balkan philosophy to “live the present”. The high point of the event came when Romanian brass demons – Fanfare Ciocarlia, Macedonian Gypsy Queen – Esma Redzepova and Bulgarian Mahala rocker – Jony Iliev, among others, cast a spell over the audience in a flamboyant expression of the

soul of Gypsy music. Everyone was on their feet (some even on stage) as “Queen Esma” sang the wellknown tune “caje shukarije” together with the crowd. However, one should not assume that Balkan music is only about brass bands and weeping violin tunes. The Bornian choir “Sejfullah”, which has been touring Europe since the 90s with its repertoire of Islamic Sufi songs, brought a more spiritual note to the festival. And for late-nighters, DJ Robert Soko, the Berlin-based creator of “Balkan Beats” sounds, as well as the Belgian DJ Gaetano Fabri drew a less spiritual crowd during two nights of insanity. For those who missed this 4th edition, Balkan Trafik will be back in 2011 for more mayhem.


35

Andnow...? © SHIFTMag • 2010 Avenue de Tervueren 270 1150 Brussels – Belgium www.shiftmag.eu Publisher: Juan ARCAS • juan.arcas@shiftmag.eu Editor in chief: Laurent VAN BRUSSEL • T. +32 2 235 56 19 • laurent.vanbrussel@shiftmag.eu Deputy Editor: David MARQUIE • T. +32 2 235 56 41 • david.marquie@tipik.eu Editors: Alexia BOEHM (France), Friederike ENDRESS (Germany), Juliane GAU (Germany), Mark HUMPHREYS (UK), Estelle JACQUES (France), Laura TORLUCCIO (Belgium) Proofreading: Kevin BIRDSEYE (Ireland), David BYWELL (New Zealand) Contributors to this issue: Mathieu DE NANTEUIL (France), Olivier LACOSTE (France), Alia PAPAGEORGIOU (Greece), LICHTFAKTOR (Germany)

Autumn 2010 Issue

Europe in the vanguard Everyday “THE” revolution of this or that is announced. The first to carry it out gives way to another faster, stronger and more inventive revolutionary. Pioneering in the 21st century: what does it mean? Innovating or simply reinventing the wheel? Furthering human knowledge or playing God? SHIFT Mag went out and met some of these people who prove that – for better or for worse – the age of discovery is not over yet... Released on September 21

Till then:

Illustrators: Mi Ran COLLIN (Belguim), Frédéric HAYOT (Belgium), João SILVA (Portugal), François TACOEN (Belgium) Special thanks to Pierre VAN DEN BROECK, Yuri MALU and Paul CURTIZ for producing our “Making of” video-clip; Loïc VERSTAVEL for developing our new website. Production & coordination: Brieuc HUBIN • brieuc.hubin@tipik.eu Benoit GOOSSENS • benoit.goossens@tipik.eu Administration: editors@tipik.eu Advertise: advertising@shiftmag.eu Subscription & Distribution: distribution@shiftmag.eu Design & Graphics: Tipik Studio Printed by: Manufast-ABP, Brussels Free quarterly publication (cannot be sold). Published by Tipik Communication. Reproduction in any form is prohibited without prior consent. The views expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent those of SHIFT Mag.

All our pictures are under Creative Commons licenses

This magazine is printed on recycled paper

ISSN: 2032-8273 Cannot be sold – Please do not throw on the public highway

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SHIFT mag [n°14] - Next destination: Europe  

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