13.August 2018

Romania’s Presidency of the Council of the EU: opportunities and challenges

by Miruna Butnaru-Troncotă 

2019 is a year with heavy symbolism for the European Union – we celebrate 15 years of the CEE enlargement, 30 years since the fall of communist regimes in South-Eastern Europe, but also 20 years since the war in Kosovo and NATO’s bombing of Serbia. Will 2019 be a year of renewed opportunities for the Western Balkans? Will the member states become more enlargement-friendly and opt for a ‘widening EU’ type of scenario? Let me explore some of the challenges and opportunities both for Romania as a member state holding the Presidency, and for the EU itself in relation to the WB countries.

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06.August 2018

#EURoad2Sibiu via the Western Balkans

by Miruna Butnaru-Troncotă 

Any discussion about the European Union’s (EU) enlargement is implicitly a discussion on the future of Europe and vice versa. Brexit seems to have brought a visible shift towards exploring the possibilities of including new members, in an EU that has been affected for years by signs of ‘enlargement fatigue’, especially after Romania and Bulgaria’s accession in 2007. The so-called ‘road to Sibiu’ which sought to shape the future of the European Union started in Rome in March 2017 and will come to an end in May 2019. Will we experience then a new ‘hour for Europe’? How will the debate on the ‘future of Europe’ affect the Western Balkans’ accession process?

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10.July 2018

We are all endangered species: lessons from Portugal

by Henrique Tereno

We live in a connected world, that is no secret. Everything we hear and see can be shared in a split second, thanks to new technologies. Precisely because we live in a ‘shared’ world, we are more conscious of the problems that our planet is facing and more aware of the fact that the actions we take in one place can have consequences in other parts of the world. A connected world also means that there is a need for a global, ecological mindset, with policies and politicians that work towards a common sustainable future.

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05. July 2018

How Sweden tackles environmental challenges

by Kawthar Karout

The world’s greenest country (6)

In September 2015, the world’s countries gathered in New York at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit and agreed on 17 goals and 169 sub-goals as part of the new global agenda on sustainable development. These objectives cover the three dimensions of sustainable development: social, economic and environmental. At that time, Sweden was already a step ahead. Back in 1999, Sweden had  adopted 16 environmental goals that covered different aspects of environmental protection, with the aim of achieving them by 2020.

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12. June 2018

How the migration crisis has challenged the free movement of people in Europe

by  Anna Saraste

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At first, I see only barbed wire and then, walking through the front gates, people from all corners of the globe. A dirty, smelling stream of a liquid dimly resembling water runs down the street. Inside the camp, people huddle together in make-shift homes. One tent can hold up to ten people, daily food rations can only be obtained after queuing for hours. Up until few weeks ago, over 3,000 people had to share a single shower.

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08. June 2018

European Union and Western Balkans complex relationship: should we be disappointed by the Sofia Summit?

by  Hatidza Jahic

Sofia summit
Copyright: European Union, 2018

The European Union (EU) has developed close relationship with the Western Balkans (WB). The EU is the biggest trading partner and financial assistance provider (in terms of pre – accession funds, loans, support to civil society organisations etc.) for most of the WB countries. In 2018 alone, €1.07 billion of pre-accession assistance funds is foreseen for the Western Balkans, on top of the €9 billion during the 2007-2017 period. However, security challenges and other competitors such as Turkey and Russia have emerged in the region. This, among other factors, creates the demand for  new approach, instruments and actions. And Balkan people continuously ask themselves: is this really going to happen?

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28. May 2018

Finland 100 years after the Civil War: reconciliation at last?

by Tuure-Eerik Niemi

finland-2697637_1920In the months following the declaration of Finland’s independence on 6 December 1917, the country descended into political, economic and institutional chaos that eventually escalated into one of Europe’s bloodiest civil conflicts.

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09. May 2018

How to get more female political representatives

by Zilla Boyer

I used to be a kid with glasses that dreamt of being the first female prime minister of the Netherlands. My dreams have changed since then, but I expected that the Netherlands would have had a female prime minister by now, and that women and minorities would be better represented into politics. But this is not the case.

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04. May 2018

9 Facts about MAY ’68 in France

Untitled design (3)

by Samson Son

Samson SonI have a background in Economics, Entrepreneurship and IT Engineering. I am based in Paris but have lived and worked in Lima (Peru). My main interests are new technologies, drawing and video making.

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30. April 2018

Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation: an EU story

by Chrysi Chrysochou and Benjamin Wilhelm

25 May 2018: many have marked this date on their calendars. While some are simply waiting for the release of the highly anticipated new Star Wars movie, numerous IT and legal departments are instead preparing for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to come into force. EU citizens are about to enter a new era, yet few are aware of it.

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10. April 2018

Two schools under one roof – I want you to fight it!

by Hatidza Jahic

SchoolAn education system that segregates children based on their ethnicity unfortunately still exists in the 21st century in the heart of Europe. Motivated by the cases of children who decided to fight and the children segregation in buses, which took place at the beginning of this school year (2017/2018), I feel responsible to discuss this issue. I want you to be aware of this problem and fight it!

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6. April 2018

In search of clever voters

by Andras Varga

Hungarian voteHungarians should brace themselves; elections are coming…On 8 April, general elections are taking place in Hungary. According to the polls, 45% of voters have indicated they still support the current PM and his ruling party. However, 46% have indicated they want a change in government. This high level of support for change is a new development in Hungarian politics. Corruption scandals, anti-EU policy measures and xenophobic rhetoric have made some voters turn away from Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party (Alliance for Young Democrats) and mobilised some of the passive ones the past few years. But despite the growing criticism, the governing party is still in the lead. How is this possible? Is there any hope for the opposition or is the game already over?

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27. March 2018

Proposals for a more effective European Plastics Strategy

by Kawthar Karout

garbage 2According to a new Ellen MacArthur Foundation report launched at the World Economic Forum, there is going to be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. Plastic production has increasing all over the world: in 2014 alone 311 million tonnes of plastic was produced, which represents a twentyfold increase since 1964. (1) This includes the production of plastic packaging material, only 5% of which is recycled and retained in the economy according to the European Commission. The rest is lost after first-time use, costing the Union between and the European Commission has put this problem on the agenda.

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26. March 2018

Enlargement and engagement? Making the Western Balkans fit for EU membership

by Tuure-Eerik Niemi

The Western Balkans have long played a special role in the European Union’s foreign policy. During the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s, the EU member states failed to act decisively and provide security and stability in the region. Since then, the EU has struggled to come up with a strategic direction for its relations with Western Balkan countries. The prolonged conflicts, economic stagnation, governance issues and Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia have presented a set of significant foreign policy challenges. Nevertheless, since Slovenia’s (2004) and Croatia’s (2013) accessions to the Union, the EU has come under increasing pressure to elevate its presence in the other countries of the region.

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08. March 2018

The impact of the #MeToo campaign on the Russian society: is something about to change?

by Yulia Gershinkova

The #MeToo campaign has become one of the most influential movements against sexual abuse, leading to the biggest scandal in Hollywood in recent history. It brought stories of harassment and sexual assault to the foreground and united millions of women across the globe against all forms of abuse. It was not so in Russia, where the campaign generated different reactions from Russian state media, the film industry and the general public.

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08. March 2018

#MeToo’s echo in Germany: has German society finally overcome the power of silence?

by Miriam Mona Müller

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In the international press, Germany is often portrayed as one of the champions of human rights. However, the #MeToo movement has shown that neither politicians nor German society at large has a common understanding of women’s rights. The country struggles to talk about patriarchy, gender-based power relations and sexual abuse, the majority of German people prefer to remain silent. But that situation is about to change; Germany now has its own Weinstein: Dieter Wedel.

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26. February 2018
Italian elections – an expat exercise

by Elisabetta Vitello

How does a young Italian expat like me stay informed about what is going on in his/her country? I must confess that I haven’t always done a good job, preferring to read international newspapers where, I thought, I could find more unbiased information, as opposed to the national Italian news. In doing so, I sometimes missed out on some Italian drama (without regrets) and focused more on world politics and international affairs. But…

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15. February 2018

Polish Holocaust bill

duda v.0.4

by Samson Son

Samson SonI have a background in Economics, Entrepreneurship and IT Engineering. I am based in Paris but have lived and worked in Lima (Peru). My main interests are new technologies, drawing and video making.

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29. September 2017

The state of the public debate: Polarization at play?

by Anna Kristense Naterstad Berg Harpviken

anna-harpvikenA few years ago, a headline reading: Erdoğan calls Merkel’s stance on EU membership ‘Nazism,’ would have made me raise an eyebrow. Today, such headlines seem entirely normal. This makes me wonder about the development of our news, and in particular about the state of the public debate. It seems as if the debates have gotten harsher, the statements bolder and the headlines bigger. At the same time, people appear increasingly convinced that they are right – less interested in dialogue and reflection. As a student of psychology, with a particular interest in interactions between people and society, this development has both fascinated and frightened me over the last couple of years.

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31. August 2017

What to do about Turkey´s EU membership bid?

by Doris Manu

doris-manuNearly one year ago, Turkey faced a domestic crisis of international significance, which interrupted the summer holidays of many, including those of the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. While the all too powerful Turkish leader was the only target of the putschists in mid-July 2016, the consequences of the attempted coup affected far more people than anyone could have imagined.

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28. July 2017

We don’t need no education – Bosnia and Herzegovina’s higher education reform

by Hatidza Jahic and Adnan Rahimic

hatidza-jahic1-adnan-rahimic The word ‘reform’ is the most commonly used word in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). One way or another the country has been in some kind of reform process for the past 22 years. Reform became like a family member: we live with reform every day; we eat fruits and vegetables that are produced according to ‘reform’ instructions. The constant use of this word by politicians, teachers, family members and media create the sense that if you want to succeed in life, you have to reform.

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27. July 2017

The Western Balkans Summit in Trieste – Are the Balkans stuck in the EU’s waiting room post-Brexit?

by Hatidza Jahic and Miruna Troncota

hatidza-jahic miruna-troncotaIt’s been almost 15 years since the 2003 Thessaloniki promise of EU membership for the Western Balkans, and the countries in the region are still in the EU’s ‘waiting room’. The EU Commission’s ‘White Paper on the Future of Europe’, published on 1 March 2017 does not mention EU enlargement at all. In the context of the 2017 Western Balkans Summit in Trieste, the first one to be organised after the Brexit vote, Miruna Troncotă (Ro) and Hatidza Jahic (BiH) ask: Are the Balkans forever stuck in the EU’s waiting room?

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09. May 2017

Emmanuel Macron – a populist elitist?

by Enja Sæthren

Enja Sæthren NEWWe got lucky this time. France said no to xenophobia, closed borders and hatred by electing Emmanuel Macron as the next president of the French Republic with 66 % of the votes. The French refused to follow in the footsteps of the British and the Americans, but how confident can we really be that this was the last battle? Has the fight against right-wing extremism already been won?

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03. April 2017

Let’s do it: Integration

by Fiona Fritz

fiona-fritz

Closing borders, limiting immigration and a faster expulsion of criminal asylum seekers. These topics currently dominate the discourse on migration all over Europe. The numbers of people seeking refuge in Europe has been on the rise for the last 5-10 years. But since 2015 this topic is on the front pages of news outlets in Germany almost every single day. Merkel’s “Wir schaffen das!” (We’ll make it!) was met with scepticism by parts of the population and many politicians. In the recent debates, however, the issue of integration is too often neglected. This is partly due to the fact that ‘integration’ is a fuzzy and unclear concept. Who is responsible for integration? What does it mean to be integrated? In my opinion, integration requires time and effort by both the host societies and their new members.

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20. March 2017

The fog that never fades – welcoming the EU friend who never came

by Adnan Rahimić

1-adnan-rahimicIt was a sunny and beautiful day in Sarajevo on 2 March 2017.  The city was full of blue and yellow flags, signs of celebration from the day before – Independence Day. Flags were left hanging from buildings a day longer, probably on purpose – to gently sway and greet very important guest our country was about to receive: Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission. Her visit to Sarajevo was part of her Western Balkan’s tour of countries that are EU member state candidates/candidates-to-be. The plan was to meet with the members of the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), to talk about the country’s current issues and problematic path toward EU candidacy and also, to give a lecture on the same subject to the academic community of the University of Sarajevo.

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