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Young Europeans are marching for Europe in demonstrations taking place across Europe’s capitals – but why today? Today, leaders of 27 European Union countries are meeting in Rome to celebrate 60 years since the Treaty of Rome was signed. The EU27, now officially excluding the UK, will sign a new declaration to honour the 1957 treaty, and pave the way for European Union in a post-Brexit era. On the 1st of March the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, released his White Paper on the Future of Europe – a document where he presents 5 scenarios in which Europe can face the challenges it has lying ahead. Juncker pointed out that this paper is to serve as the beginning, not end, of a debate on the future of Europe. The paper itself underlines that Europe is facing "unprecedented challenges" which "show no sign of abating". And Juncker is certainly not wrong there. With rising populism, violent extremism and a hateful, divisive, rhetoric of exclusive nationalism beginning to dominate public discourse – we need to have a serious conversation about how Europe is to overcome these challenges and return to its founding principles of peaceful cooperation, respect of human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality and solidarity among European nations and people. Having said this, what is the Treaty of Rome and what precedent does it set for Europe's celebrations today? And most importantly, what Europe does Juncker's White Paper set out, and how effectively will any of these scenarios help Europe face its perilous journey ahead?
Europe faces an abundance of challenges which erode the values upon which the EU was founded. Inequality and social exclusion are some of the issues European communities and societies are facing on a daily basis. Faced with increasingly rigid labor markets and growing risks of economic and social exclusion, young people on the continent find themselves in particularly vulnerable situations. In this context, civil society organizations are the trailblazers that have committed to addressing those challenges and finding ways to strengthen social cohesion and inclusiveness in Europe. One such CSO-driven initiative is the European Voluntary Service for all (EVS4ALL), a two-year project aiming to demonstrate the need to make mobility programmes such as the European Voluntary Service (EVS), focusing on bridging economic, human and social capital in Europe, more accessible for young Europeans, regardless of their educational level or social status.
Conference: “Volunteering for Social Change” | 20-21 March 2017
Allianz Forum Berlin | Pariser Platz 6, 10117 Berlin
Our editor Victoria Jordan points you in the direction of a few articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about the danger of denial, what truth means today, how countries yearn for the past exceptionalism, and if historical comparisons can help us understand contemporary situations.
Victoria, Editor of Brain & Baby
As much as I wanted to avoid Trump in particular, and the topic of populism in general, in this edition of E&M’s Good Reads, it has been no more escapable in my latest reads that it is in reality, and seems to be constantly lurking in the background of topics I touch upon. But this might actually be positive, because the last thing we need right now is passive acceptance, or even denial, of recent developments in our surroundings in the hopes of making ourselves feel better about the world. (Obviously, that is not to say that we shouldn’t be happy about other things, and smile at the sight of a puppy.)
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.
On the 4th of December 60 % of Italians voted against the constitutional reform package proposed by then PM Matteo Renzi, that resigned in line with his promise to step down if he did not win the referendum. On the same day green candidate Alexander Van der Bellen won the Austrian elections for President of the Republic, against extreme right wing Norbert Höfer. And it seems that in a post-Trump, post-Brexit Europe news can only be reported in binary mode, with reference to their effects on the European Union: in this case the Austrian victory stands as a positive result for Europe, while Italy’s results would be the next domino to fall in an extremely disheartening 2016, towards dissertation of our Union. Now, whilst I too fear for the great political uncertainty this referendum result presents for Italy, it is far too nuanced a situation to befit most of the polarised mediatic representations. So with the extreme parties on the rise around Europe and the world and increasingly divisive, hateful rhetoric permeating European mainstream discourse, what do the Italian referendum results mean for Italy, Europe and the world?
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Luckily, America has finally bloody decided. Unluckily, they've managed to elect the sort of demagogue who will, to be euphemistic, challenge the rest of the world for four years minimum. If he makes it that long without being impeached that is.
Photo courtesy: Alexander Neofitov
The EVS4ALL project consortium spent a few days in Paris in the beginning of October 2016 to discuss the progress of the European Voluntary Service for All – a two-year civil initiative striving for more inclusiveness and flexibility of the European Voluntary Service. The latter, a European programme that has been running for twenty years and one of the undisputable successes of European integration, has built many of the social, professional and cultural ties, necessary for nurturing a healthy European citizenry. The EVS4ALL project partners, on the other hand, have made a substantial contribution to the practical and policy aspects of extending the programme’s benefits to each and every European citizen. To learn more about the challenges addressed by the project, its conceptual underpinnings, structure and results follow the link.
Having been an EU migrant in the UK for almost the majority of my life, Britain’s Brexit aftermath never ceases to torment me. Since the UK voted to leave the European Union on the 23rd of June, it has been dominating European headlines, with more and more controversial content. The unexpected outcome of the Brexit referendum shocked people across Europe and the globe, despite exit polls having already pointed to this result – nobody wanted to believe the turn that the UK was about to take. With cries and promises for curbs on immigration by Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Prime Minister Theresa May, my anxiety for the future in a country I was so used to calling my second home has been growing. The truth is, we can discuss the growing xenophobic, racist comments permeating the Conservatives’ rhetoric for days, but what does this all actually mean for migrants in the UK?
|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.
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