< SWITCH ME >
If 21 April 2002 is a date all French citizens remember as the historical breakthrough of the extreme-right Front National party, 23 April 2017 will be remembered as a turning point in French politics. The two parties which have structured and dominated the French political scene for the past decades have crumbled to pieces and have been washed away by a so-called “anti-system” wave.
With major changes under way in Europe, issues such as widening economic and social disparities, growing Eurosceptic sentiments and the uncertain future of European integration are looming larger than ever. Policy-wise, an indication of the things to come is the recently published White Paper on the Future of Europe, where only two (No 1 “Carrying On” and No 5 “Doing much more together”) of the five outlined scenarios envisage piecemeal change. In terms of human capital, however, both the issues and the solutions are contained in EU staples, such as the European Voluntary Service (EVS), a youth-oriented mobility programme, reflecting the existing social gaps, but also, subject to reform, uniquely positioned to narrow them.
Photo courtesy: Bernhard Ludewig
Musical Opening by Cielo Faccio Orkestar
These are the words of the manifesto “We Are Europe!” proposed by Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Ulrich Beck in 2012, a conceptual platform, driven by the far-reaching aspiration to create a Europe for everyone and reform the prevailing Europe of elites and technocrats. “Don’t ask what Europe can do for you but ask what you can do for Europe – by Doing Europe!” reads the manifesto. Motivated by the manifesto’s strong messages back in 2012 Allianz Kulturstiftung together with 14 partner organisations across Europe launched the European Voluntary Service for All (EVS4ALL) project – an ambitious plan striving for more inclusive and accessible European Voluntary Service (EVS), one of the European Union’s flagship instruments for boosting mobility, youth employability and social cohesion in Europe. On the 20th and 21st of March 2017, this pilot project came to a close with the conference “Volunteering for Social Change”, where the project’s outcomes, policy recommendations, and experiences were shared and further steps discussed.
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.