Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Refugees at the European Borders

By Atiena Abed Nia

Atiena Abed Nia completed her Bachelor in Iranian Studies and Economics in Göttingen, before she started the Master programme Euroculture at the Universities of Göttingen and Uppsala. Currently, she is working on her Master thesis with the topic “Europe’s role from the Afghan perspective.” Next to her studies, Atiena is engaged in migration topics and the corresponding sectors: she works as an interpreter in therapies for traumatized refugees in Farsi and has established a post-migrant youth organization called Ayande.

A few months ago, 2,000 people from Morocco tried to reach the Spanish exclave of Melilla. While  trying to cross the six-meter high border fence, the Moroccan security forces brutally cracked down on migrants and asylum seekers. According to human rights organisations, 37 people died and hundreds suffered serious injuries. As claimed by the Moroccan Human Rights Association (AMDH), paramedics were prevented from treating the injured. 500 migrants have successfully entered the enclave. Many were immediately driven back by force. Unfortunately, such “pushbacks,” although controversial and illegal, rather illustrate the rule than the exception at EU borders. Let’s go a little further and ask ourselves: what is the main cause of such tragedies?

Continue reading “Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Refugees at the European Borders”

Who will chicken out first? Europe facing Russia´s demands for gas payments in roubles

By Barbora Volková

This article is written by the newest addition of the editorial team: Barbora Volková (Czech, cohort 2021/2023). She studied in Udine during her first semester and is currently doing her second semester in Groningen.

It has been more than a month since Russian troops without justification attacked Ukrainian territory on the 24th of February. As a result, Moscow has been facing massive sanctions, pushing the Federation to the edge of its economic limits. President Vladimir Putin at the end of March announced a signature of a decree allowing payments for Russian gas only through accounts in Russian banks. What does it mean for the future of European energy trade?

Continue reading “Who will chicken out first? Europe facing Russia´s demands for gas payments in roubles”

The Green Deal and Russian Oil: is the EU doing enough to become energy independent?

By Laura de Boer

Last summer, on 14 July 2021, the European Commission presented the European Green Deal, a set of measures aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the use of renewable energy, and saving the environment. The Commission is happy to point out that this package of climate policies is ambitious and progressive while remaining achievable. And while it is true that the size of the Green Deal is mind-boggling – it is certainly impossible to analyse its entirety in an article like this – the question remains whether it will be enough. Especially now that the war in Ukraine has made it clear that the European Union is still very dependent on Russian gas and oil.

Continue reading “The Green Deal and Russian Oil: is the EU doing enough to become energy independent?”

Modern Slavery in the Council of Europe’s Member States

By Anna Oliwia Wierzbicka

The phenomenon of slavery has accompanied humanity since the times of great civilizations and perhaps even longer. Its history on the European continent can be traced back to the cradle of European values – Ancient Greece and Rome. Nowadays, slavery is primarily associated with colonial powers or with thousands of people from East Africa being transported to cotton plantations in the United States of America. The 19th century marked the abolition of slavery in many countries. Does this mean that slavery has ceased to exist? In 2017, it was estimated that 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern forms of slavery, which include debt bondage, forced labour, human trafficking and forced marriage

Continue reading “Modern Slavery in the Council of Europe’s Member States”

DEBATE: The European Chips Act — Mission (Im) Possible? 

By Lena Eisenreich. After her semesters in Strasbourg, Kraków and Udine she is now writing her thesis about Youth Lobbying in Strasbourg. She holds a BA in European Business. Recently she was gathering Sales experience from the automotive industry towards Big Tech. Currently, she is involved in various think-tanks such as European Horizons as a Director of Sponsorships and Fundraiser for Culture Solutions.

This article belongs to our new DEBATE series. These are thought-provoking articles meant to start important conversations. We encourage all readers to write their thoughts to our email. We will then publish responses to this article and create a chain of debate pieces on this website.

“Let’s be bold again, this time with semiconductors,” declared Ursula von der Leyen in her State of the Union Speech to introduce the European Chips Act. In an increasingly interconnected world, global events such as the pandemic and the ongoing (trade) wars have worsened the EU’s supply chain challenges. The race to secure a sustainable and resilient supply chain is hastening with geopolitical risks of tech dependencies increasing. In the backbone of our supply chains lays an indispensable good, which is the “lifeblood of modern society:” microchips or semiconductors. Described as the ”new oil of our economy,” life without these little chips the size of a large grain of rice is unthinkable. They are essential to power smartphones, computers, cars and even medical devices, fridges, and dishwashers won’t function. 

Continue reading “DEBATE: The European Chips Act — Mission (Im) Possible? “

What is the impact of Western sanctions against Russia?

By Bryan Bayne (2020-2022, Olomouc and Uppsala).

The West has often been criticized for not doing enough to stand up to Putin’s war in Ukraine. Viral social media posts imply that Ukraine fights alone, while Western powers talk tough but do nothing. That could not be further from the truth. In addition to the considerable military and financial aid that Western countries have provided to Ukraine, they have also imposed harsh economic sanctions on Russia. This article aims to analyze the sanctions imposed on Moscow and their likely impact. 

Continue reading “What is the impact of Western sanctions against Russia?”

The Utopic State of the Union concerning European Covid-19 Management 

By Laila M. Lange

In this opinion piece, Laila Lange (Groningen/Bilbao, cohort 2021/2023) scrutinises the 2021 State of the Union speech and argues that Von der Leyen self-aggrandises Europe’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is argued that she, thereby, disconnects her description of the state of the Union from reality and harms European credibility.

The seemingly everlasting Covid-19 pandemic has changed and dominated the life of everybody from March 2020 onwards. Despite the high percentage of vaccinations in European countries and one and a half years of experience with the virus, the situation in winter 2021 shows that Covid-19 is far from being conquered. Uncountable infection waves are followed by stricter Covid-19 measures. Not to mention that the regulations differ per member state and that Covid-19, once more, pinpoints the dominance of national power in the European structure. So to say, Covid is a major contributor to and factor of the current state of the European Union.

Continue reading “The Utopic State of the Union concerning European Covid-19 Management “

Cultivating Consent Culture: Shifting Attitudes in Public and Politics

By Loura Kruger-Zwart

This article is the third of a short publication series in which articles written by the new editorial team will be showcased. This article is written by Loura Kruger-Zwart (from Australia and New Zealand, cohort 2021/2023), currently doing her first semester at the University of Groningen.

Content Note: this article discusses rape, assault and violence; reader discretion is advised.

Continue reading “Cultivating Consent Culture: Shifting Attitudes in Public and Politics”

Pushbacks in Poland – putting Human Rights enforcement in the EU in focus

By Leonie Glaser

This article is part of a short publication series in which articles written by the new editorial team will be showcased. This article is written by Leonie Glaser (Dutch, cohort 2021/2023), currently doing her first semester at the University of Uppsala.

This year, Poland experienced a large influx of refugees arriving over the border of Belarus. Poland claims that they are not able to host all the refugees, so they pursue controversial and illegal “pushbacks”. The refugees, most of whom claim to be from Afghanistan and Iraq, cannot ask for asylum. What might be more striking than the illegal pushbacks, is the openness that the Polish government talks about this policy. There is no effort made to conceal the pushbacks of refugees to Belarus. The refugees find themselves now stuck between the armies of the two countries without help – eight refugees have already died of hypothermia. They are victims of a geopolitical struggle, which does not seem to end soon. The EU, self-proclaimed promotor of Human Rights, now sees violations of these rights on its own territory. What is the EU’s role in this conflict and with the new geopolitical tensions? 

Continue reading “Pushbacks in Poland – putting Human Rights enforcement in the EU in focus”

The World Post-Brexit: Where do EU-UK Relations Stand After Their Break-up?

By Laura de Boer

This article is the first of a short publication series in which articles written by the new editorial team will be showcased. This first article is written by Laura de Boer (Dutch, cohort 2021/2023), currently doing her first semester at the University of Uppsala.

Ever since the United Kingdom European Union Membership Referendum in 2016, Brexit has been a prominent topic in media and public discourses. Since the UK officially is no longer an EU member state, however, news reports on the topic have seemingly died down. National news agencies in Europe have largely refrained from writing about the situation, apart from the occasional articles on supply chains or the situation in Northern Ireland.  As the eleven month anniversary of the end of the transition period is approaching, this article will discuss the most noteworthy developments and current standings of EU-UK relations. 

Continue reading “The World Post-Brexit: Where do EU-UK Relations Stand After Their Break-up?”