This is a blog written by alumni of the EPA MA programme in Maastricht.
Bursting the Bubble

Having learnt from mistakes of past, the EU must avoid new ones: Need for a more inclusive & enlarged Union

30 July 2014 | by

Europe, in its long and eventful history, has become both victim to and perpetrator of the most horrific acts of brutality. This year marks the hundredth anniversary of one of the bloodiest displays of carnage that human kind has ever seen. World War I was bound to end all wars and a decisive victory of one side or the other was to cement the world order for centuries to come. Instead, one bloodshed was replaced by another; World War II. Not having learnt lessons from the Great War, Europe was again plunged into a conflict, which this time proved far more consequential than anticipated.

The heaviness of individual and collective suffering served as an impetus to rebuild Europe on the grounds of mutual economic, cultural and social dependence. Although this moment marked the end of a long and painful evolution, by moving from conflicts to cooperation, it has proven to be the beginning of something even bigger: the birth of the European integration. This has consequently led to the creation of the European Union, which is now the best testimony to Europe’s understanding of the lessons of its violent past.

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European Crisis: 28 July 1914 & 28 July 2014 – Marking the Centennial of World War I

28 July 2014 | by

“Against the vast majority of my countrymen… in the name of humanity and civilisation, I protest against our  share in the destruction of Germany. A month ago Europe was a peaceful comity of nations: if an Englishman killed a German, he was hanged. Now, if an Englishman kills a German, or if a German kills an Englishman, he is a patriot who has deserved well of his country.” Bertrand Russell

“We see men living with their skulls blown open; we see soldiers run with their two feet cut off …Still the little  piece of convulsed earth in which we lie is held. We have yielded no more than a few hundred yards of it as a prize to the enemy. But on every yard there lies a dead man.”  Erich Maria Remarque

The word [Economic] ‘crisis’ or ‘The Crisis’ has been a fixture of global and European headlines since 2008. The World Financial Crisis (although this continues to change) became the European Sovereign Debt Crisis and still forms the fundamental base for many policies being adopted at European level, as well as a mantra for many Eurosceptics, who recently increased their presence in the EU’s policy machine. 100 years ago to this day, 28. July 1914, crisis was also the mot de jour. The July Crisis was the final tipping point before the Ausbruch of the First World War – the first shots of which were fired “today” between Austrian and Serbian forces – the first of the many great traumas Europe, and the wider world, were set to endure in the 20. Century.

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Eurosceptics are not anti-European. They are just wrong!

18 July 2014 | by

Those of us who believe in a more integrated Europe have moved too closely and too comfortably to the idea that the best way to fight Euroscepticism is to label it as an anti-European movement operating on the fringes of our societies. Yet the recent surge of anti-EU parties, wishing to turn the time back proves that they are but a marginal force. Eurosceptics may represent a vision for Europe that is backward looking and outdated, but they do represent a vision that is becoming increasingly popular with more and more people. They despise the EU and wish to return to a system of limited cooperation (if any at all) between nation states. Some would say they love Europe but hate the EU. Clearly their vision of Europe does not fit with that of those arguing on behalf of the ever closer union. However, this does not make them the anti-Europeans that we often make them to be. For our own sake and for the sake of the future of the European Union, let us be honest: Eurosceptics are not anti-European. They are just wrong!

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A Return to Pragmatism? Lord Hill announced as UK Commissioner Designate

17 July 2014 | by

British Prime Minister David Cameron has just announced Jonathan Hopkin Hill, Baron Hill of Oareford (ergo Lord Hill) as the British Commissioner designate. This nomination may prove to be the most important in UK-EU relations, and indeed in the history of the College of Commissioners, given the ever-more precarious position of the UK within the European Union. The choice will speak volumes about Cameron’s strategic calculations, as regards his proposed “renegotiation” (a concept as abstract as the constantly mooted, but never defined, “reform” of the EU) and the negotiating tactics he will use.

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Resisting Complacency – EU Citizens in UK Strive to Fix European Election Voting Problems

16 July 2014 | by

Prior to the European elections this past May, the alarm had been raised that the voter registration procedures throughout the European Union were convoluted, difficult to navigate for those trained, and the sheer number clouded most organisations from providing aid to citizens. While the EU stresses democratic legitimacy of voting, and encourages mobility amongst citizens, the hurdles, which citizens residing in a member state other than their origin had to overcome, were simply ridiculous with unequal voting rights, directly contradicting basic European principles. With over 112 scenarios for voter registration in European elections and only one known organisation who took on the challenge to sort through these scenarios, citizens in the European Union who were exercising any right to freedom of movement in May were often disenfranchised from having their voice heard in the largest democratic exercise in the world.

As predicted prior to the election, these convoluted voter registration procedures were the direct cause of issues that inevitably led to European citizens being upset, and discouraged after their attempt to vote resulted in defamatory remarks and not being allowed a vote. These sentiments are not something European politicians want to see at a time when scepticism of the European project is on the rise. In this past election, politicians and others in the field highlighted 2014 proceedings as being more democratic than ever before, but how can this really be when many member states are pushing aside or were unaware of voter registration problems ? Most assuredly, the issue of citizen disenfranchisement in the European elections has not received much attention at the EU level, though these problems occurred in multiple member states. In the United Kingdom, Europeans are continuing to resist this complacency, pushing for this problem to be addressed at every level possible. It is through these efforts that the fight for mobile citizens to maintain their democratic rights that hopefully politicians, both in the member states and the European level, will take heed of more citizen dissatisfaction than the mere increase in Eurosceptic election results.

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