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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?
Our editor Justine Olivier points you in the direction of a few essays and articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about how the EU plans to renew itself, the political consequelces of the refugee crisis in Germany and the risk of Erasmus being a bargaining chip of the Brexit negotiation.
Justine, Sixth Sense and Heart editor
THE RENEWING OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
How to make the European Union appealing again? Does the EU need structural reforms? How to tackle our current security, economic and legitimacy challenges? These are the questions that all leaders of the EU keep mulling over these weeks. Indeed, Brexit, in addition to all the economic and political uncertainty it has brought, has acted as a wake-up call no one can ignore. What's wrong with the EU ? On the day of the referendum results, several European leaders called for substantial reforms. But now is the time for more concrete propositions. This was the aim of the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union speech on Wednesday the 14th of September. Juncker made many propositions, including cutting red tape and boosting investment through the completion of the capital markets union. However, these are neither new nor original. As Tim King analyzes in POLITICO, his speech was not as inspiring as it was meant and expected to be. The speech aimed at being reassuring, as Juncker stressed that in spite of its numerous challenges the EU was strong enough and “not at risk”. The Commission President also emphasized that the way forward is through more union. But at a time of increasing skepticism concerning the positive impact of integration and cooperation among Europeans, there is no certainty that Juncker's words were enough rekindle the much-needed faith in Europe.
Our editor Isabell Wutz points you in the direction of a few essays and articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about the underrated danger of social media in times of terrorisms, how different languages change personalities, and how a young Chinese swimmer reminds everyone what the Olympic Games really are about.
Isabell, Sixth Sense and Legs editor
The underrated danger of social media news in times of terrorims
Almost two months ago an 18year-old man shot several people at a Munich shopping mall. Not long after the news spread, my phone started buzzing with several texts from friends and family living in the city assuring me of their safety. At this point little was known about the incident but the rumour mill was already in overdrive. It was then a friend messaged me, asking if my family was alright concluding with the sentence: “I would have guessed that it catches Berlin or Cologne first…crazy times”. Here I realized how dangerous unfiltered information and speculation can be, especially on publicly accessible social media channels. Interpreting events on the grounds of only a few confirmed facts and much uncertain information can lead us to premature conclusions and as seen in the case of Munich, fear, panic and false accusations. Particularly, in these, well-described, “crazy times”, people tend to quickly condemn situations without having the required knowledge, and thereby we contribute to creating and spreading potentially false narratives online for everyone to see and believe.
What is Europe? Is Europe more a geographical, cultural, political or economic concept? What defines the European identity? These are all questions E&M has pondered from the very beginning, and over the years we’ve come up with many very different answers. Indeed, our vision of what Europe is and should be is influenced by many factors. With this new regular feature, My European Bookshelf, we wanted to consider one of those factors: literature. In this space, E&M has invited young Europeans to share the books that have shaped their understanding and perception of Europe.
The idea of this column —to be written by someone new each time — is that on our bookshelves we keep an idea of Europe. Over days and weeks and months of reading we travel across borders we might never even dream of in real life. I've written about a few examples of (at times only vaguely) European writing and why I feel they're important; if you're scratching around for something good to read, this list might be a start. You see, on my bookshelves, there are many versions of Europe, from the bloody and historical to the whimsical, the factual, and the symbolic. It is worth noting too, that I have used this space to write what I can only describe as a literary prescription: at least some of these books will be good for your soul.
|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.
Millennial “Liberals” Across the Globe Shocked at Martin Schulz’s Tolerance of a Different ViewpointWritten by Richard Culp Robinson
A few weeks ago, in Brussels, an unpopular fellow named Nigel Farage flouted his Brexit victory in the face of his fellow Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). After boos from Europeans of many persuasions, Martin Schulz reminded the MEPs that “a major quality of democracy is you listen to those even if you don’t share their opinion.” British and American “liberals” are aghast that such tolerance would take place.
“Is that what democracy’s about? I thought it was about protecting the institutions of the EU, no matter what the people say,” a Labour supporter in London reported to your correspondent. He declined to be named for this article, describing himself as “a voice of the people.” When asked if the votes of 52% of British citizens should be overruled, he said, “Yeah, that’s right.”
Our editor Nicoletta Enria points you in the direction of a few articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about refugees who revive a small Italian village in Calabria, the growing trend of “voluntourism” and how European countries deal with non-physical abuse.
Nicoletta, Baby and Legs editor
A non-conventional Refugee story
The other day I had a rather depressing conversation, or more precisely argument with some people I went to school with about the refugee crisis and more specifically refugees in Italy. This really reminded me of the importance of fair representation of refugees, reminding people that they are not just a mass of displaced people making their way through Europe but are humans coming from a variety of cultures, countries, religions and social backgrounds. This article and photo reportage by Al-Jazeera’s Thomas Bruckner really fit this criteria by representing refugees as humans and casting a light on the positive impact they have had on some societies. In this reportage he casts a light on the story of the mayor of the village of Riace, Domenico Lucano who saw the presence of refugees in Italy as an opportunity to save the shrinking community of Riace and thus started the ‘refugees welcome’ project. I found this article particularly important in standing against the majority of articles about refugees that focus on depicting refugees as a mass of people on rickety boats and the societal problems they cause in society. The photographs show the community of Riace which is not ‘hosting’ refugees but rather incorporates them, reminding us that refugees are humans seeking safety. This really made me think of the importance to keep stories like this circulating to fight against prejudice and diminutive stereotypes. When reporting on a phenomenon like the refugee crisis today, it is of vital importance to keep the bigger picture in mind
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.