Issue 0 | LXX Magazine | July 2012
Dear all, the Issue 0 is a special edition of the LXX Magazine, the official newspaper of the 70th International session in Tallinn. While it may not convey to the fullest the excitement for the session and everything that awaits, we hope it sheds new light on the topics and deepens your understanding of the issues involved. From the insightful Chinesemade fish and chips, over the ever-complicated relations between the EU and Russia, all the way to the everyday problem of balancing personal and professional life, the Issue 0 is a benevolent attempt to bring you closer to comprehending the complexity of perspectives you are about to embark on tackling. Much luck in your preparation and see you all very soon!
Yours, The Media Team
Content 3 Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs 2 (LIBE 2) Other side of Censorship 5 Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs 1 (LIBE 1) Parking Space, Outer Space and Closet Space 7 Committee on International Trade (INTA) Fish & Chips: Made in China 9 Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) Reinventing European Union both for the sake of today and tomorrow 11 Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs 3 (LIBE 3) When Europe becomes the new Dreamland 13 Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) The (un)likely triangle 15 Committee on Development (DEVE) Water everywhere... and not a drop to drink? 17 Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety 2 (ENVI 2) Thirsty for some action 19 Committee on Regional Development (REGI) Ecotopia 21 Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety 1 (ENVI 1) Time to choose your own natural disaster 23 Committee on Industry, Research and Energy 2 (ITRE 2) Playing God: Science and its Future 25 Committee on Industry, Research and Energy 1 (ITRE 1) Everything comes down to... more investment? 27 Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) Banking Union: breakthrough or breakdown 29 Committee on Employment and Social Affairs 1 (EMPL 1) No princes here, only paupers 31 Committee on Employment and Social Affairs 2 (EMPL 2) Europe is turning grey 33 A teaser, a spoiler; Tallinn will see a new speech at the General Assembly
Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs 2 (LIBE 2)
The Other Side of Censorship By Felix Makarowski (SE)
nternet policy – the debate on how to prevent cyber crime while ensuring freedom on the internet – has quickly become one the most controversial topics in politics. Considering the recent public outcry over attempts to pass legislature such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), how should we approach a topic to which, cynically put, every solution seems to create more problems than it solves? Here are four things to keep in mind.keep in mind.
Firstly, when discussing cyber crime most people talk about free file sharing, or piracy. Piracy is the act of sharing and downloading copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder. Some people equate this to stealing, and many industries have tried to lobby governments to introduce anti-piracy laws. Although such laws have been introduced in European countries such as France and Sweden their efficiency has to be questioned. Sweden’s soft Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) has done little to curb file sharing. At the same time revenue in the music industry has decreased by 3,9% in France since the introduction of the Haute Autorité Pour la Diffusion des Œuvres et la Protection des Droits sur Internet (HADOPI), which allows the govern-
ment to turn off all internet access if you are caught illegally downloading files three times. Secondly, if we return to Sweden, and focus on the music industry, there has been a clear decline to music piracy. However, this is not due to the legislature but rather the rise of the music platform Spotify. Spotify offers 10 hours of free music with commercials each month, and if you pay a fee you get unlimited monthly music access which you can also download to your computer or phone. But what does this teach us? That it is possible to make a profit off music in today’s digital age. Maybe there is not a problem with the legislature, but rather a problem of the market clinging tightly to old and inefficient methods.
Thirdly, there is certain paranoia about how states can use internet laws to censor and monitor its citizens. What are such concerns based on and how seriously should we take them? According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2011 Democracy Index, only 16 of Europe’s roughly 50 states rank as full democracies. That is roughly 30%. Six states are ranked as either hybrid or authoritarian regimes, Turkey, Ukraine and Russia among them. The rest of Europe is considered to consist of flawed democracies. Although most European countries scored high on civil liberties, the rise of the extreme right in Europe and the declining democracy in Hungary and Romania are a cause of serious concern. In light of this assessment – how can we move on as one united Europe?
Fourthly, although this article has so far focused on the critical aspects of new internet legislature, there is a legitimate concern about internet fraud. Nigerian princes and bankers from places you have never heard of waiting to give you your non-existing aunt’s inheritance need to be dealt with, so do web sites and people selling counterfeited goods. In order to achieve this, we need to look at our existing laws and ask ourselves: Do we feel safe that an independent court would uphold our case if we were defrauded today? If yes, then fine. If not, action needs to be taken to protect all European citizens from scams on the internet. To conclude, before beginning discussions on the topic, I invite you to see what really needs to be done, and
why. Also consider who needs to change and how we should implement these changes. Finally, I ask you to consider this: in a free society, things have a way of working themselves out. •
Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs 1 (LIBE 1)
Parking Space, Outer Space and Closet Space By Sandra Harney (IE)
amilies: A social unit where the father is concerned with parking space, the children with outer space and the mother with closet space.’ The 1950’s comedian Evan Esar’s definition of the word family. While the definition which can be found in “Esar’s Comic Dictionary” is by no means official, it does remind one of how the family unit has evolved over the past few decades.
Families were once almost exclusively comprised of a mother, a father and a couple of kids. Nowadays this family norm no longer exists; there is no “average family”. Families could consist of single mothers or fathers, two mothers, two fathers, only siblings, foster parents, aunts or uncles or friends as guardians. Does a family even require the presence of a child in order to be defined as a family? Now while it may not be advisable to try and define “family”, it is well worth being aware that each family is unique, that it finds itself in its own specific situation and therefore may have different needs to other families in the country or continent. What needs might a family have and who should provide them? Society has also changed over the years. In the past we
moved around less, meaning extended families lived nearby and reliable granny or granddad could mind the kids when mommy and daddy needed a break, give advice when new parents were unsure and maybe even offer financial support in rough times when that electricity bill seemed impossible to pay off. What about the neighbours that replaced them? They seem to be little relief as many of us no longer really knows our neighbours. Modern lifestyles and the desire for both career and family have us commuting long distances and have resulted in a detachment from what is local and a familiarity of that which is far away. So, as much as progress and modernisation has made our lives much easier, the way in which it has evolved
has stripped families of their natural support mechanisms that supply many of the family services that local governments now find themselves having to supply. What can the European Union do to help local governments to step up their game in ensuring families can live happy balanced lives? Naturally different countries will have varying approaches to how much taxpayer or welfare money should be spent on family related services. What kind of policy should the EU have when on one hand you have states like Finland where high taxes provide for universal daycare, big family benefits and generous parental leave and on the other hand states like Latvia where parents have to juggle multiple jobs just to stay afloat?
Society has changed, family needs have changed. Most countries in Europe offer family services but not at the same level, what can the EU do to ensure equal living standards for all citizens in Europe? We have come a long way from Esan’s Comic Dictionary’s definition of family, the values have stayed the same but in the name of progress we now strive to ensure that no woman’s, man’s, a citizen’s professional ambitions are held back by their wish for a family life. As the playwright George Bernard Shaw once said: ‘Perhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to this country and to mankind is to bring up a family’. •
Committee on International Trade (INTA)
Fish & Chips: Made in China By Saki Shinoda (CH)
ish and chips, that quintessential dish of English cuisine, is traditionally prepared using codfish. Now that the once-plentiful stocks of cod around Britain and in the Baltic Sea are depleted, many chippies are switching to other white fish instead. A common but inferior substitute lacking the exquisite flaky texture of cod, pangasius, is often farmed cheaply in small, muddy Vietnamese ponds. They are exported frozen via China, where the fish are deboned and packaged as fillets. Lower labour costs in Vietnam and China allow pangasius to beat out the tastier traditional Norwegian cod, endangering the quality of one of England’s finest traditions.
The hidden dangers threatening fish and chips reflect some of the costs of international trade. By importing pangasius rather than cod, fish and chip shops can sometimes avoid raising their prices, which benefits consumers. However, not only do Vietnamese pangasius put English culinary culture at risk, they divert revenue from the certifiably sustainable and historic fisheries of Norway and Iceland to fish farms in Southeast Asia where labour is exploited and mismanagement damages local habitats, compromises water supplies and sometimes leads to disease-causing bacteria developing antibiotic resistance. Meanwhile, the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy maintains a tariff and subsidy regime that shuts out imports while drastically
reducing export prices. This raises prices and taxes for European consumers and distorts developing countries’ agricultural markets. Every year, cheap European sugar dumped in Mozambique costs the country more than the total of its national budget for agriculture and rural development. Frozen chicken thighs and wings exported to Senegal and Ghana are 50 per cent cheaper than fresh chicken from domestic farmers. Under-priced surplus powdered milk from the EU forces farmers in Mali, India and Jamaica to let fresh milk run into underserviced gutters. Yet without the CAP, Europe’s pastoral traditions, the fertile fields and the lowing, lumbering cattle that preserve the green beauty and age-old lifestyles of rural regions, could all disappear. The CAP allows Europe to
carry out development in its own rural regions, preserve tradition and keep European agriculture efficient. In many developing countries, imported products from European firms with experience and global economies of scale put great pressure on domestic firms in fledgling industries. While this pressure can push domestic firms to become more efficient, it can also put them out of business. Even in newly industrialised economies, European firms risk crippling technological or service-oriented domestic industries, or prevent homegrown innovation. European countries investing or trading in developing countries may also be accused of continuing colonialism, or be criticized for their exclusive trade deals with former colonies.
For a long time, European countries have had the upper hand in their foreign relations with todayâ€™s developing countries. Compared to the easy and brutal exploitation of resources made possible by colonialism, trade interdependency is undoubtedly riskier. Being dependent on huge quantities of imported crude oil, coal and gas from Russia or rare metals from Congo renders Europe politically and economically vulnerable. Nations must meet their own needs and protect their own interests. Europe does that and more: it often looks out for the rights and interests of populations beyond their borders. Still, some of its actions reflect a waning power clinging desperately to the disproportionate benefits of an outdated system.
Trade and globalisation threaten to change everything: life, language, culture, people, the status quo, even what fish we get with our chips. Inevitably, tradition may have to be sacrificed. Compromises will turn out to be necessary. Difficult, divisive questions will have to be answered. The shape of tomorrow remains unclear as of yet; tomorrow could bring cod, pangasius or even a new national dish for England. Tomorrow is unclear, but it is Europeâ€™s chance to define it today. â€˘
Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO)
Reinventing the European Union: both for the sake of today and tomorrow By Arnolds Eizenšmits (LV)
hile Euroscepticism has been growing for years, the current economic, financial and debt crises seem to be the true catalysers for a profound change in the way the European Union (EU) works. Indeed, now is the time to redesign the institutional framework of the EU, not only to resolve the acute problems of the Eurozone, but also issues that have been present for years. Problems, such as the demographic deficit or the rather delicate challenge of balancing competences between Brussels and national capitals, must be addressed, whilst drawing up new structures.
Moreover, in order to make the new framework sustainable, it must also take into consideration megatrends which will shape Europe in years to come. At the height of the current crises, when crucial decisions regarding Europe are taken by a handful of people that have not even been directly elected, increasingly many are losing faith in European institutions. Consequently, anti-EU parties are gaining ground across Europe. This has also been confirmed by, for instance, the persistently decreasing voter turnout at elections of the European Parliament. While no simple and rapid solution exists, in addition to increasing the number and role of bodies chosen by all citizens, other options, such as informing Europeans better, could be discussed.
In the long-term, various megatrends will change our continent profoundly and the new model must be able to adapt to those developments. For example, taking into consideration the increasingly important role women will play in society, the EU should contemplate the introduction of ‘pink quotas’ which would foster the participation of women in its institutions. Another megatrend is the increasing speed of development in the field of technology, which will accelerate even more in the future. That raises several questions, for instance, about how digitalised the EU should become. Furthermore, bearing in mind climate change, the new framework needs to take into account environmental aspects, too. Inevitably, the Committee will need to agree upon the
general direction of the EU – should the new framework pave way for more European integration, or quite the contrary? Is it time for the EU to take up new competences, such as determining a common policy regarding education? Which way would individual Member States be stronger to face future challenges? And how can it be ensured that European citizens will consider this new order legitimate? We eagerly wait to find out what would the young European minds of this Committee do, if they could start from a scratch. •
Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs 3 (LIBE 3)
When Europe becomes the new Dreamland By Elisa Martinelli (IT)
he search for wealth, freedom and the improvement of living conditions have always moved masses and entire populations from country to country, from a continent to another one. A constant desire for a better life, where human rights are respected and where oppression is just a shadow of a former existence, remains one of the main causes of migratory flows. During the centuries, the name of the dreamland has changed several times. Once European masses moved to America for a better future, now it is the European Unionâ€™s turn to represent the hope of the oppressed.
Every year thousands of people risk their lives and give all they have got to human traffickers with the promise of a safe passage through the European borders. While a conspicuous number of immigrants dramatically die while trying to reach our shores, the ones who manage to arrive in their dreamland have to settle in new countries, embrace new laws and obtain a residence permit. However the migratory flux towards the EU does not have the same impact on all Member States. Southern Europe is obviously the core of this phenomenon, as it offers the easiest way to reach the continent and move north to settle in other regions. Another widespread conthem back sequence is the involvement of immigrants in illegal traffics, worsening the living condition of the hosting country.
This led some states to establish a prevention policy aiming at reducing the migration towards their own soil, a decision that seemed to go against the principles of united borders and mutual help.
hand Italy considered this policy hostile and opposed to the principle of cooperation among the Member States. It is therefore fundamental to find a solution that can protect the borders of every state.
A recent example can be found in the attitude France adopted after the events of the Arab Spring. An increased number of refugees fled from their own countries to start a new life in Europe, far from war and its horrors, landing on the Italian shores. They then moved towards the French border trying to join some of their relatives, but the French government sent them back to Italy as soon as they got caught. This event triggered a clash between the two countries: on the one hand France tried to protect its own borders, on the other
Should all the countries join forces and find a reasonable compromise to solve this problem or should they act independently? The EU has always acted as a single body, basing all its strength in its unity. In a moment where a severe economic crisis is striking every single country and outside their borders people struggle for their living, is cooperation the only way to deal with this issue? Europe can help these people finding a better future, bearing in mind the importance of protecting not only its borders but also its
interests. Finding a balanced policy is definitely the key to success, but the question on how the EU should reach this goal remains open. â€˘
Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET)
The (un)likely triangle By Jan Nedvídek (CZ)
f we realise that the main raison d’être of NATO was to counterbalance the power of Russia (or the USSR), it seems to be a fairly extraordinary idea that NATO and Russia now cooperate. Nevertheless, the situation today is very different from the one 50 years ago, and the threats faced by today’s nations differ substantially from the ones of the Cold War. As we have realised, the current status quo can no longer be held and the EU needs to come up with a clear strategy on how to deal with its vast eastern neighbour.
For many people in Eastern Europe, it is still difficult to accept that Russia should be taken as an equal partner in military negotiations. They still remember the Red Army invasion into Hungary in 1956 or the Warsaw Pact occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Even in Russia, some people still believe that the fall of the USSR is the ‘’greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century’’, and that Russia needs to keep its sovereignty rather than share it with the US or indeed the EU. The recent protests against Russian membership in the WTO have shown that there is still some level of distrust towards the West among Russia’s citizens. On the other hand, the facts are undeniable – Russia has been one of the most important business agents east of
Germany, and without Russian resources, more than 100 million Europeans would have no jobs, no heating and would not be able to drive their cars. Due (or thanks to) the current economical interdependence of Russia, the EU and the US, isolationism is clearly not an option. The EU’s hopes to establish an alternative source for our energy consumption have sadly enough failed. The Nabucco project is extremely unlikely to materialise due to Turkey’s demands. Keeping the recent Arab Spring and the huge political instabil-
ity of that region in mind, it would not be very smart of us to rely solely on oil from the Middle East. Renewable sources of energy being not efficient and the nuclear energy not popular
enough, the fact that Russia will carry on being our main source of energy is self-evident. At the same time, we can observe a shift in the priorities of American foreign policy. Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans are no longer the US’ main interest. We might therefore ask whether the US Secretary of State is not willing to make some concessions in terms of the EU-Russia relations in order to secure Russia’s support in the Asia-Pacific region. All these facts, together with Western criticism of the unsatisfactory situation regarding human rights in Russia create a difficult environment for a real and honest military partnership. Nonetheless, scholars have described politics as the “art of the impossi-
ble”, and therefore we ought to at least try. Perhaps the traditional military cooperation is no longer desirable. Perhaps we need to focus more on terrorism, cybernetic safety and humanitarian catastrophes. I can merely conclude that we must not underestimate the importance of the EU-NATORussia relations, especially after the crisis in Syria, where these three entities seem to disagree. It is undeniably a very complex issue, but the possible outcome- a safe and energetically secured Europe is. •
Committee on Development (DEVE)
Water everywhere... and not a drop to drink? By Randolf Carr (DE)
t has to seem a bit ironic that while 70 per cent of our “blue planet” is covered by water, only 0.007 per cent of that water is readily accessible for human use. Still, as small as 0.007 per cent sounds, that water would be sufficient to comfortably cover the global industrial and domestic demand of 7 billion people living on this planet. That is to say, it could be sufficient, if geography and politics would not distribute the access to it so unequally.
For example, in the Jordan Rift Valley, where the eponymous Jordan River provides water for Israel, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, the river’s flow has decreased by 90 per cent due to human utilisation. Israel’s daily water usage amounts to 350 litres per capita, compared to 60 litres per Jordanian and 30 litres per Palestinian, while a mutual limit of 200 litres daily per capita could grant all parties a sufficient supply. Fortunately, in the last decade, the effort to increase access to drinking water has made a dent in the water scarcity of the Middle East and Africa. According to EuropeAid, the UN Millennium Development Goal to decrease the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by half was reached in 2010. Projects supported by the European Commission
alone contributed to that goal by improving water access for 32 million people between 2004 and 2009. Yet Europe has the possibility to make a still greater impact on both the geographical and political factor of water scarcity and conflicts that arise from it. On the one hand, Europe can contribute to ensuring that existing water supplies are utilised fairly and efficiently. On an international level, that means stressing the importance of “hydro-diplomacy” between neighbouring states in arid regions, as well as between the aforementioned states and the European countries themselves.In developing countries, official institutions for (esp. transnational) water management
often lack capacities and
Effective water management in these countries also includes fair cross-sectorial coordina tion between different water consumers, such as the general population, public services, and (oftentimes European) industries or corporations. “Public ownership” – participation of actors at all levels – is essential for water management policies to function. Therefore individuals, corporations and governments must be aware of their relative responsibility for the sound management of scarce resources. On the other hand, equalising water distribution is not doing enough. Population growth, urbanisation, and economic development are increasingly taxing the limited water resources in developing countries. Therefore, a major
task is also to sustainably increase the supplies in regions where water is scarce. Europe as a leading force in the development of environmental technology can play a great role in meeting this practical challenge. For example, the technique of desalinating seawater has proven effective in Australia and the Arabian Peninsula. Constructing desalination plants with European help could also increase freshwater supplies for African countries, many of which suffer from very limited water access despite long coastlines. Next to increasing the amount of available freshwater, recycling it is equally important. It may not be glamorous, but European aid to improve sanitation infrastructure and agricultural techniques to prevent water contamination could have a crucial impact. The World Health Organisation
estimates that 1€ invested in drinking water and sanitation can generate returns of up to 34€ that save lives and increase prosperity. In Europe water is taken for granted and used abundantly, often even carelessly, while people in other regions of the world suffer. If this abundance apparently cannot be sacrificed and shared with these less fortunate regions, it is up to Europe to at least foster their regional development and take the edge off their water distress. Either Europe takes action to alleviate water scarcity now, or it will have to deal with the dire consequences of water conflicts and migration already tomorrow. •
Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety 2 (ENVI 2)
Thirsty for some action By Aida Grishaj (AL)
t primary school one learns how vital water is for life on our planet. However, the European Commission (EC) seems to have only recently started paying attention to this little fact. Not only the European structures, but also important international actors, such as the United Nations (UN), have promptly brought water into the spotlight.
The increasing worldwide demand for safe water for human and animal consumption, especially in the emerging economies, along with the growing fears of potential conflicts caused by water insufficiency, have mobilised policymakers, economists, environmentalists, consumers and civil society. Worrying about water seems to be the new trend in international politics. Despite the attention, what we know for sure is that we know very little. The data offered by the EC are not recent and does not cover all aspects of this problem. One of the most important steps so far, has been the launch of the â€œRoadmap to a Resource Efficient Europeâ€? by the EC in 2011. Nonetheless, the water issue is not optimally addressed in this publication.
The upcoming “Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Waters” seems to be the most promising action for improving the EU water policy. The Blueprint will go along with the EU 2020 Strategy and is expected to be implemented by 2020. It will include analysis on the current waters in the EU, as well as setting future targets concerning water efficiency, water management, governance in water policy, global dimension of water resource management. Moving the water issue from a national to an EU level is a request gathering more and more followers. The idea of the EU standardising practises regarding water management, controlling the quality and prices of this resource, seems to be the most acceptable one. There are several reasons for this. First of all, the prices across Europe dif-
fer a lot from one region to another. Secondly, the new incentive of privatising water resources has led to objections from different stakeholders. They claim that a common good such as water is better for specific groups or enterprises. Improving technology is another important step to be considered since it is estimated to significantly reduce water leakage. The consumer behaviours in Europe are also a matter of concern. European citizens often lack accurate and upto-date information on this issue. Taking water, its quality and supply for granted, and therefore not doing enough in using it wisely, is an attitude that must be changed. Even though the quality of tap water is very good in many countries, for example Germany, citizens
continue to buy bottled mineral water. Not knowing that mineral water is not any healthier than fresh water that they have access to at their homes, leads to a negative ecobalance due to the plastic waste caused by their consumption habits. By making water a central topic in the political discussion, the EU is trying to put itself in a globally leading position in offering the issue long-term and sustainable solutions. The commitment to meet the Millennia Goals set by the UN, as well incentives such as the “Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Waters” seem promising, but in order to set standards , which are supposed to be a reference point for the whole world, the EU needs more than words and documents. •
Committee on Regional Development (REGI)
Ecotopia By Saki Shinoda (CH)
n a metropolis double the size of another in area or population, average per capita electric cable length and number of gas stations falls by approximately 15%, while income, patents, savings and other indicators of wealth rise by 15%. In developed countries, many cities, including Madrid, Seoul, Brussels and New York, have lower per capita greenhouse gas emissions than the national average due to high population densities and public transit systems.
Unfortunately, this efficiency boost is offset by urban sprawl. New York has much lower carbon dioxide emissions than most other American cities because the latter are characterised by suburban sprawl. Many homes lie beyond walking distance of workplaces and shops. This sprawl gobbles up clean air, farmland and energy. Though seen occurring all over the world, notably now in developing countries, sprawl is not necessarily the organic way for a city to grow. It historically occurred, and still continues to occur, because people desire more living spaceâ€”a preoccupation probably agricultural in originâ€”and because cars are affordable and available. Both these factors can and will change. In the face of pressing environmental concerns and growing global populations,
they must. Reformers must not be afraid to dream big. While Europe does not have the problems of rapid population growth and mass ruralto-urban migration as many developing countries do, it stands to benefit just as much, economically, socially and environmentally, from innovative urban reform. This does not have to be in the form of designing and building eco-cities from scratch as China and Abu Dhabi are doing in Dongtan and Masdar City. Smaller plans that affect specific facets of life in specific cities can do as much good. Visions for future cities are necessarily limited by inevitable constraints. Many cities, including London, do not have a single central authority with the power to completely transform an entire metropolis with a unified plan for large-scale
infrastructure, as in historical Seoul. Existing homes cannot simply be demolished. Cultural heritage must be protected. Geographical factors have to be accounted for. High-polluting heavy industries cannot just be wished away. Nonetheless, technology and clever thinking can offer many solutions to the vast range of growing pains that a city might experience. Tokyo, with its limited space, high population and frequent earthquakes, has somewhat extreme requirements that are effectively fulfilled by a strict building code that allows for seismically stable skyscrapers, prevents tall buildings from blocking sunlight to neighbouring buildings, and maintains adequate space between buildings to increase quality of life. Urban farming techniques, especially high-density farming, while
still largely untested, could potentially reduce transportation costs for food, act as local carbon sinks in urban centres, and allow for more rural land currently used agriculturally to be restored to natural conditions. Walking, cycling and public transit becomes more efficient and attractive in more compact, densely populated areas, and sprawling cities based on the car could become vertical cities built around elevator backbones. The concept of the â€˜aerotropolisâ€™, a city built around air traffic just as 19th-century cities were built around railways, further investment in high speed rail, or development of more efficient air travel, as with sub-orbital spaceflight, could increase connectivity between these compact urban hubs while preventing encroachment on valuable rural resources.
This vision is still only one of many possible forms that the city solution to growing populations and environmental pressures could take. It is still vague and riddled with problems, but the radical changes that the human population and the world environment are undergoing require both shortterm measures, and long-term visionary strides that can truly transform cities into sustainable solutions for the future. â€˘
Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety 1 (ENVI 1)
Time to choose your own natural disaster By Ilias-Marios Oikonomou (GR)
t cannot be disputed by anyone; nature, our own world, is becoming more and more dangerous. From draughts to tsunamis, from earthquakes to tornados, our environment has always shown its great power. In an era of financial turmoil, our ability to tackle this kind of challenges is much more difficult than the past years. The reflexes of European Union are being questioned more than any other time in the past; if EU Member States could not control their own finances, how can they deal with unpredicted and sudden natural disasters?
Τhis situation is not only limited to great disasters. The impact of climate change is obvious in our everyday life. The last five spring periods in Greece have been recorded as part of the top 20 of the warmest ever, while the last one (March-May 2012) was the warmest since 1987. One is also to expect warm winters, considering the fact that scientists claim that Earth’s average temperature is climbing. Nevertheless, this is not the case. Winter periods across Europe are harsher than ever, while many people lose their lives because of the low temperatures.
we need to focus on. For instance, regions facing flood danger or those exposed to an increased earthquake risk need to take the respective measures. A higher level of preparedness can also help a country’s economy get back on track after a disaster. The need for quick and effective response mechanisms is undoubted. However, the means of succeeding a goal like this is still under discussion. Who should take which measures, and what role should the EU play in this process?
Therefore, it is of the vital importance for Europe to find the way to tackle this kind of crisis. To start with, the level of preparedness is definitely something that
accused of being very slow, when needed to react quickly. This point is referred to a number of different aspects; from
And yet there is even more we need to focus on. The European Union is often
decision-making to crisis management. Slow crisis management for climaterelated disasters could even create greater problems than the ones that came up from natural causes. Thus, how should Europe prepare for extreme weather conditions? How can all the agencies in charge provide the people with the best possible solutions? Is there any proper way for them to be coordinated? There are numerous points to be taken into account in order to provide high quality services in a crisis situation. Furthermore, some argue that the European Union needs a crisis management mechanism that focuses on the right level. Extreme weather conditions can be present either throughout Europe or limited to a small region. On the other hand, natural phenomena such as
great floods usually influence a big yet specific area. Accordingly, all diversities between different regions, as well as the common ground that can be found in greater areas should be taken into consideration. A variety of regional and larger reaction schemes could be created or more attention could be given on town planning in proportion to the demands on protection by extreme natural phenomena. Last but not least, one has to think about the prevention of an even increased number of similar phenomena. The implementation of an environmental policy and the cooperation between Member States could bring progress, and is part of the Treaty of Lisbon; however, its implementation is still in an early stage.
It is now up to us to come up with the solutions in order to protect Europeans for future natural disasters and extreme weather conditions. It is up to you to find the way for everyone to be and feel safer at those hard moments. â€˘
Committee on Industry, Research and Energy 2 (ITRE 2)
Playing God: Science and its Future By Erdem Osman Topçu (TR)
umans are “playing God” and many things seen in science fiction films are far from fiction. Mankind is at a turning point because science and technology have combined in a way no one ever thought possible.
Dr. Craig Venter, who is leading a special area in human genome analysis, has been working to create synthetic life forms for years. In his own words, his company Synthetic Genomics Inc. is very near to creating world’s first man-made living creature. Many argue that this can lead to irrevocable problems, both accidentally and consciously. No one has made any headway proposing some sort of control criteria either. There is a gamble between maintaining biological balance and taking a step too far and actually abusing science. Many are crying out the magic word “ethics” in order to stop the possible consequences. Despite all the hype around ethics, science and technology have improved the life of the “normal person” immensely.
Stem cells are used to regenerate and repair diseased or damaged tissue. Before using new drugs on people, researchers can also use stem cells to test the safety and quality of experimental drugs, therefore, putting PETA well at ease, too. From a social viewpoint, biometric passports offer a good example. Data security is the direct result of using biometric passports, which reduce the risk of theft, forgery and embezzlement. Of course, the EUo take into consideration that people have different perceptions of what is right and what is wrong. There are still many people who oppose the x-ray machinesin airports despite welcoming biometrics passports. In order to bring some objectivity into research, some are suggesting scientific experiments be supervised by control mechanisms. They
would support the scientists by publishing feasibility studies without interfering in the actual work. However, legislations are different in many EU countries, no actual control mechanisms, criteria are considered yet. And should the EU even limit and control scientific freedom? Many feel such a step needs to be taken. Recent Eurobarometer surveys show that Europeans want ethics to play an essential role in scientific research and demand harmony between the methods and goals of scientific research and moral and ethical principles. Those surveys also show Europeans’ strong attachment to social values and ethics. However, a majority give priority to objectivity over moral and ethical issues as far as science and technology decision-making process is concerned. The
positive role scientists play in society is widely recognised, but the way scientists handle information towards the public is criticised. With this societal interest in scientific developments, a balance between ethics and science can be found by taking into consideration the opinions of people and actualising them in control mechanisms that the EU is trying to set up. Who knows what the future brings to scientists like Dr. Craig Venter and if the ethical red line will stay as strong as it has thus far. The doctor, however, is not so easily swayed. “Science in my view is, and should be, fun,” Dr. Craig Venter says. “A lot of people make it tedious. I don’t understand why. ... I’m constantly accused of trying to have the best of all worlds, and I. •
Committee on Industry, Research and Energy 1 (ITRE 1)
Everything comes down to… more investment? By Ekin Arslan (TR)
ith a current electric grid built more than half a century ago, some argue the continent’s ageing grid infrastructure is “creakingly inefficient, hopelessly wasteful and liable to breakdown”. EU has already underlined the urgency to upgrade Europe’s networks toward a European “smart supergrid”, interconnecting them at the continental level. According to the International Energy Agency (IAE), Europe requires investments of €1.5 trillion from 2007 to 2030 for the renewal of the electrical grid. Meanwhile, a report from Pike Research forecasts that during the period from 2010 to 2020, cumulative European investment in smart grid technologies will reach a mere $80.0 billion.
Under the Digital Agenda, EU’s target by 2020 is to get coverage for every European to have fast broadband of over 30 megabits per second; and to get 50% of households subscribing to ultra-fast speeds of over 100 megabits per second. The Digital Agenda Scoreboard confirms that research investments are “falling further behind our competitors”; with a drop in commercial research investment, the EU Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has less than half the R&D intensity of the US ICT sector. With the 2011 White Paper “Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area” the European Commission adopted a roadmap of 40 concrete initiatives for the next decade to build a competitive transport
system that will increase mobility, remove major barriers in key areas and fuel growth and employment. The demand for transport has been estimated at over €1.5 trillion for 2010-2030, while the current value of investments required for developing the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) in the EU is be in the rage of €80-140 billion. Needless to say, at the moment the investment in transportation infrastructure is nowhere near the estimated cost of such a development. To cut a long story short: more money is needed. At present, the numbers clearly show that there is a considerable (!) gap between current and optimal investment in Europe, which can only partly be explained by the current economic crisis. At first glance, the solution seems simple:
More investment is needed to establish reliable, European Union wide energy communications, transport and and knowledge infrastructures to cater to the future market needs. However, “A Budget for Europe 2020” promises a fund of €40 billion to energy, transport and digital infrastructures and the Commission’s research and innovation funding programme proposes an €80 billion investment with ICT as the largest beneficiary. The funds from “Connecting Europe Facility” grants almost €9.2 billion from 2014 to 2020 on pan-European projects to give EU citizens and businesses access to highspeed broadband networks and the services that run on them. And when many other investments are provided by both public and private sectors already, the simplicity of the solution disappears.
More investment is needed in almost every technology that will make life easier and sustainable – this is no news. However, when EU is already pushing its limits in investments in infrastructure projects, would it not be wiser to focus on other problematic areas on the path to develop sustainable energy, communications, transport and knowledge infrastructures, instead of unrealistically and almost shamelessly asking for more investments? Similarly, it is also lazy to stay passive while waiting for the money to come, when there are other serious barriers stopping Europe from becoming better connected for a better future market. •
Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON)
Banking Union: breakthrough or breakdown? By Cecilia Mihaljek (CH)
hen outgoing World Bank president Robert Zoenick was asked if the latest European nightmare was Spain, he aptly replied: “There’s no shortage of things that can give you insomnia”. European banking policy makers are no strangers to sleeplessness: despite their thorough proposal for a Banking Union, they face skepticism from all sides. While the rough history of the European monetary union and unreliability of the European Banking Agency is discouraging, the newest proposal could represent the dawning of the Eurozone crisis. Many criticisms and reservations are justified, but just as easily taken apart: here are five of the most common ones.
1. “Berlin’s resistance to Eurozone debt sharing suggests it will be unwilling to bail out Spain’s depositors.” Countries in southern Europe would most likely not find themselves in such precarious situations had Germany and France not given them huge loans during the boom. While most of the blame rests on the Spanish government and investors with poor judgment, German banks are the ones that remain vulnerable: by “bailing out Spain’s depositors”, they are actually protecting their own lenders. In fact, Germany is an advocate of the banking union: if they are able to oversee and advise the system, this eliminates substantial anxieties about how their funding is being used by financially weaker members.
2. “Pan-European regulation would make it easier for parent banks to drain liquidity from their often well-funded central European subsidiaries.” This fear is particularly rife in Poland and the Czech Republic: there are few banking problems and savingis favored, but large westernEuropean banks, e.g. UniCredit, make up almost 90% of the sector. Hence, it is a rational concern that in times of trouble, Italy would reach towards stable central Europe. But a banking union does not imply that subsidiaries will have no say about plans for liquidity with regard to their parents. If anything, it should make it easier for the voice of host countries’ supervisors to be heard.
More a matter of technicality than opinion, this statement is only true to a certain extent.
monetary union; fiscal policy will remain an autonomous matter.
3. “Fiscal union” is a weighted term, implying integrated government saving and spending policies.
4. Moral hazard: “If banks ‘know that they will be bailed out when in great difficulty, they have an incentive to offer riskier loans.”
Politically, economically and realistically speaking, this is impossible, and thus it is tempting to write off the banking union with it. Nevertheless, a closer look at Brussels’ proposal is reassuring: the funding of deposit insurance is solely up to banks, leaving only cross-border bank resolution to the European taxpayer. While the portion of government revenue going towards the monetary union will have to increase, this has nothing to do with Danes and Romanians paying the same VAT. Furthermore, the supervision will be limited to banks, i.e. the
I am still waiting for an empirical study that actually proves the existence of moral hazard – in the meantime, it is safe to say that no bank approaches its finances with government bailout as a backup plan. Regardless, the banking union cannot be accused of providing a pan-European safety net for irresponsibility. Due to political pressure, it is difficult for individual governments to let their national institutions fail, but international objectivity and scrutiny would circumvent this dilemma altogether.
5. “Time.” There is no way to refute the claim that the banking union will not be created overnight – considering that the crisis is bedded on years of irresponsibility, this is hardly surprising. But if policy-makers can master a gradual approach whilst maintaining a sense of urgency, they will have developed their own sleeping pill. •
Committee on Employment and Social Affairs 1 (EMPL 1)
No princes here, only paupers By Nives Kaprocki (RS)
couple of years after we saw the United States suffer an economic meltdown proportional to that of the Great Depression, Europe is finding itself on the verge of a similar disaster. News is filled with reports on the fiscal crisis, unemployment and the current inability of governments to cope with it. The international scope of the economic crisis makes it an even more urgent of an issue. Many have turned to emergency measures in the hope of quickly stabilising the situation. This means that enormous amounts of financial means are handed out without paying attention to social consequences.
The results of recent elections across Europe show that people, too, want a change in direction. The question stands whether there is an effective way of using welfare reforms to improve the deterrent state of many European countries. Or even more importantly, will it be fast enough? In most cases the dissatisfaction is caused by unemployment, which in the time of crisis, is getting increasingly severe. However, it is by no means easy for a country hit by a crisis to provide people with enough workplaces, as both the public and private sector are facing financial losses and are forced to make redundancies. The situations such as the one Europe is in at the moment require not only acting on removing the consequences of the crisis, but also coming up with long-term
solutions that would prevent potential problems in the future. That being said, reforming the labour market should also be approached through educational reforms. Although the effects of such measures may not be immediate, they can be implemented right away and have a major influence on studentsâ€™ course choices in the near future. The research speaks for itself. There is a lack of 300,000 engineers in Germany, with new work places created in the ICT sector every day. The need for people proficient in health and social care, as well as green economy, is rising, too. Before moving on with educational and then financial reforms, this all should be taken into serious consideration.
Another issue that Europe has been trying to cope with for years is the challenges of an ageing population. Structural changes in the labour market would aid progress as information technology could play a major role in assisting older people to more fully take part in work life, offering many a possibility to work from home. If an increasing number of older people learnt how to make use of IT, thus beating negative stereotypes set by younger generations, they would not only be able to have access to information and different services, but would also become economically more active. A complex issue needs a complex and well-structured solution. The issue of unemployment and the labour market structure is
by all means complex and widespread. When it is the well-being of a population at stake, there are no measures too large or small to be taken into consideration when dealing with problems that can in the end have a major effect on all areas of life. For that reason, different national governments have to cooperate to solve them, and not drift further apart. We cannot solve problems with the same way of thinking we have been used to. The time has come for things to change. â€˘
Committee on Employment and Social Affairs 2 (EMPL 2)
Europe is turning grey By Jonathan Engel (DE)
ne may think that Europe is facing bigger problems than the abstract “demographic change”, being confronted with the challenges of a long lasting financial crisis that evolved into a pan European crisis. Europe’s financial and economic struggle is calling attention all over the globe. In contrast, ageing is a long-term process; Europe’s hair turning grey is left nearly unnoticed.
The continent has enjoyed a comfortable and unique ascent within the last 50 years and yet no one believes in the frightening scenario of the harsh consequences the predicted demographic change can bring along. The problem is something of a blur to be considered in the faraway future.
2050; this means a realignment of interests and needs in all terms of society and economy. According to EU’s 2009 Ageing Report, more than 61 million Europeans will be older than 80 by the year 2060. The working population will decrease simultaneously.
On the contrary, demographic change cannot be more relevant than it is now. The time has come to flatten and reduce the grave impact on Europe’s overall welfare that accompanies the ageing process in all European societies. A brief look on official statistics helps to learn about the extent of the problem, a problem that affects especially the generation aged 30 and younger: the predicted median age will rise from approximately 38 years nowadays to 52 in
The time of the clearly visible pyramid shape of the age distribution chart in European countries is certainly over; Europe’s graph threatens to end up as a ballot box. The main principle of social insurance systems – the intergenerational contract – is in danger and seems unsustainable in the light of worker pension rates decreasing to 1:1 by 2050.
What should the EU do? Most European welfare systems secure pensioners all over Europe with their safe “sunset years”. However, employment and social policy are traditionally national sovereignties. Europe is facing a variety of legal frameworks. The Lisbon treaty emphasises the general need for harmonised and coordinated policies in the field of labour market conditions and employment strategies to maintain and strengthen one of the main guidelines in each and every society: intergenerational equity. Welfare systems all over Europe must be reformed. If not, all European welfare states will certainly struggle, suffering from a huge lack of social security contributions.
In other words, our social welfare systems will only survive if mainly social security contributions and fertility rates can be lifted, and meanwhile unemployment rates, especially youth unemployment lowered. It does not take a lot of creativity and “thinking outside the box” to conclude that age-related spending will go through the roof. What does this mean for the strong European domestic market? It means a realignment of demands. The average customer aged 52 definitely has different interests from that of a 37-year-old, keeping in mind that the number of people aged 65+ will have doubled by 2060 (from 85 million in 2008 up to 151 million). The European market for age-related products will grow, translating into a booming future for economic sectors
which are nowadays not as important and big as they will be in future times. 2012, the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between the Generations, opens a chance to discuss the obstacles and challenges as well as opportunities and the potential that an ageing continent is exposed to. The time to raise continentwide awareness to a future problem is now.•
A teaser, a spoiler:
Tallinn will see a new speech at the General Assembly By Jonas Dreger (DE)
This article tells you nothing in concrete, but it will make your mouth water. Tallinn 2012 will see a new speech at the General Assembly (GA), a speech that has never been tried at an International Session. It has, however, been trialled before. Instead of telling you much about it, we thought we would give the word to those who have experienced it before and still remember it: “Contrary to the GA speeches, I do remember all of the Horizon Speeches.” But why, you may ask? One Delegate at this session had the answer: “They brought passion in the House”, whereas another felt that they were “an inspiring interruption” that was “really helpful for raising up everyone’s spirit”. The speeches were considered “a practical example of intriguing public speaking” and“a cultural insight, a sharing of ideas from like-minded people”. Some compared the speeches to “little TED talks” (check them here, if you don’t know them: Drew Dudley: Everyday leadership [6 minutes]). Many felt that the fact that “Chairs and Journos shared their opinions (…) was tremendously interesting”, whereas those Delegates who delivered a speech “loved (…) that they gave everybody an opportunity to share their story, their vision or their dream.” Some speakers claimed that it was “the most important speech that I have ever held.” Some even went as far as saying that “they stressed (…) the strength of our generation” and were “a nice ‘competition’ to the inspirational speeches of the President”. In any case, many claimed that it was a true “breeze of fresh air” ”to speak on topics not covered by Resolutions to truly inspire”. In short, this new addition to the GA was perceived as “this one thing at a session where everybody is completely free”, also because “the freedom to choose the topic (...) inspired also the speaker.” •
The Issue 0 is brought to you by: Sandra Stojanović, editor Michal Korzonek, editor Konrad Staeger, editorial assistant Karin-Liis Lahtmäe, editorial assistant Liva Kreislere, editorial assistant Ekin Arslan, journalist Randolf Carr, journalist Arnolds Eizenšmits, journalist Jonathan Engel, journalist Aida Grishaj, journalist Sandra Harney, journalist Nives Kaprocki, journalist Felix Makarowski, journalist Elisa Martinelli, journalist Cecilia Mihaljek, journalist Jan Nedvidek, journalist Ilias-Marios Oikonomou, journalist Erdem Osman Topçu, journalist Saki Shinoda, journalist and Jonas Dreger, president
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