< SWITCH ME >
Dear Europeans. We, the editorial team of E&M, have an urgent matter to discuss with you.
E&M is an independent transnational media outlet that was created as a student project back in 2007/8 by a bunch of heady graduates that knew no boundaries in Europe. They were driven by a firm belief that an inclusive pan-European civil society, based on unbiased dialogue and freedom of expression, is possible. Over the last nine years we have been on the lookout for bits and pieces that can explain the European “psyche” through a more personal lense and we have largely succeeded. In recent months, however, we have been feeling increasingly overwhelmed by the incoming news, which have somehow stopped making sense. We are struggling with a persistent feeling of unease: at the direction Europe is taking, at the prevailing political wind globally, and with our seeming inability to find reasonable solutions. Please find below our thoughts, fears and a call for action, we would very much want you to take part in.
|Photo: duncan c (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0|
Europe is on the edge. Brexit, the anti-democratic developments in Eastern Europe with authoritarian governments in Poland and Hungary, and the rise of the far-right in Germany with the AfD and Pegida movement as well as in France (Front National) anticipate the imminent collapse of the European Union as the biggest peace project in our common history. Nevertheless, in all the debates on which direction our continent and the world should take, the political elite ignores young people. They fail to recognise that they cannot set the course for the future without paying attention to those who will be most affected by today’s decisions.
Photo courtesy: Isabell Wutz;
Unsurprisingly, waking up this morning to see that the people of the United Kingdom had voted to leave the European Union was a tough pill to swallow. It's not how I voted, and it's not how my lefty-liberal bubble voted. Alas that doesn't matter, and as a progressive Brit, it feels like it's now partially my responsibility to work and campaign to make sure that the scenarios we've all been scared of don't come to pass.
There is something devastating about this though.
My fear now of course is that 'popular opinion' is irrevocably different from my own: That I share very little with the people who have voted to put the UK on an ill-defined, probably isolationist cause. Rhetoric in my comforting Twitter corner had been reassuringly reflective of my state of mind—tired, hysterical, a little desperate but yet again it leaves me beyond apprehensive about the political conversations other people are having.
Photo Courtesy of Stronger in Manchester
Our former editor Chris Ruff gives an enriching insight into the experience of those volunteering for Britain Stronger In Europe.
At my first campaign stop, decent-length conversations were at a premium. Somewhat awkwardly positioned outside Manchester Victoria train station, with staff having kicked us out, we were at the mercy of the biting winds characteristic of that part of the world. Yes, even in May.
Our editor Sam Volpe points you in the direction of a few essays and articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about the lengths the European community has gone to in the name of justice, the stunning work being done by volunteers on Lesvos, and the way in which European myth and history has influenced modern fantasy.
Sam, Diaphragm editor and Project Manager
One of Europe's longest manhunts
A few months ago, former E&M editor Frances Jackson recommended reading Julian Borger's writing about the anniversary of the Srebenica massacre. In January, Borger was at it again, with a fascinating account of the hunt for Bosnian Serb war criminal Ratko Mladic. Borger's writing on the Balkans is rapidly becoming unmissable, and is a fantastic advert for the routinely excellent Guardian Long Read column.
Mladic is one of the more two-dimensionally hideous characters of recent history, and this account of his eventual capture is both nail-biting and bathetic. Dive in to read of the increasingly paranoid manner in which Mladic spent his final days of freedom, and to remember some of the groundbreaking work done by the International Criminal Court.
"#UKinEU done. Drama over” tweeted Lithuanian’s president Dalia Grybauskaite right after European Council President Donald Tusk’s announcement that a deal between the European Union and the UK had been struck. But is the drama truly over? The Referendum about the Brexit is still to take place on 23 June 2016 so that Britain’s membership to the EU is all but guaranteed. So then what was this deal about? Does it change anything for the UK or for the EU?
For the British Prime Minister David Cameron, the purpose of the deal was to obtain a European Union closer to Britain’s wishes and demands. In the Conservative manifesto for the 2015 general election he promised reforms that would render UK’s staying in the EU beneficial. This deal will serve as the basis for the “In” campaign. European leaders’ aim was to help the UK remain a member of the EU while protecting the EU’s core values and principles. According to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it was also a good opportunity to implement much needed reforms: “Mr Cameron’s demands are far from being demands that are just for Britain. They are also European demands and many of them are justified and necessary”, she said before the deal was struck.
With Euroscepticism on the rise, what can be done to get Europeans to start debates around constructive criticism about Europe? E&M editor Nicoletta Enria met Paola Buonadonna, director of the Wake Up Europe! campaign run by the Wake Up Foundation for a chat about the challenges of creating a transnational discourse, Brexit and how to create a conversation about together building a Europe we want to see.
|Photo courtesy of Paola Buonadonna|
E&M: Hello Paola! To begin with can you let us know what the Wake Up Euope! campaign is?
Paola: The whole thrust of the Wake Up Foundation is educational and awareness-raising, the starting point is that there are trends that threaten our way of life that we don’t realize yet. The motion of these tectonic plates is something that we should be aware of now and be talking about now and you know Europe is one part of this.The idea behind Wake Up Europe! is to get people together to start thinking, talking and acting about Europe. It’s an interesting mix, we want to use the Great European Disaster Movie to promote this transnational conversation and this will happen for most of the time online on various channels such as social media. The interesting thing I think about it is that we don’t just want people to download the film and watch it, we want people to organise events so that they can meet face to face with other people and talk about these things. The idea is that it’s the face to face sort of activism of that kind that is slightly missing at the moment. Europe is what the media, politicians , think tanks say and they give you a version of what Europe is about and they interpret and percolate for us how we should look at Europe. Depending on where you live and depending on what’s in the news that can be a very highly skewed or narrow perspective or you’ve got, as my colleague James, calls it, click activism – various petitions websites that send you constant requests for very pointed, limited action. But you sit on your own in your house and you click a button, you are not really connecting in any meaningful way with anybody else. The idea behind this is to use the film to bring people together both physically, face to face, and with an online conversation that continues after they watch the film, we ask them to get back in touch with us, tell us what they thought and tweet throughout with the #WakeUpEurope.
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