The labyrinth of sex work regulations: assessing policy approaches in Europe

By Bryan Bayne (Olomouc, Uppsala, 2020–2022) and Carolina Reyes (Uppsala, Olomouc, 2021–2023).

It is hard not to notice the bright neon of the windows in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. And if you are a Latino like us, that comes as a culture shock – throughout Latin America prostitution is deeply frowned upon and mostly relegated to the darkest corners of society. So we naturally asked ourselves: what is the European sex work culture? How does it differ from other places and what are its effects on society?

As we expected, it turns out there is no single Europe-wide attitude to sex work. There are four different policy approaches and our objective with this article is to analyze them and find out which ones are “the best.” When analyzing public policy, the best approach is a cost-benefit analysis applied to whether that policy achieves its stated aims or not. This allows for a greater degree of objectivity and frees us from most of the moral biases stemming from culture and religion. 

In this case, we argue that the primary objective of any law concerning sex work is promoting the welfare of sex workers — the majority of which are women. The secondary objective should be to curb human trafficking; we rank this as the second objective because we believe law enforcement is primarily responsible for that task and sex work policy is merely complimentary. 

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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?

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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.

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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

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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. 

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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.

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My Third Semester: Internship at the Institute for Minority Rights

By Laura de Boer

Katherine Arena (2020-2022) has done her Bachelor in European Languages and Cultures at the University of Groningen, where she majored in European Politics and Society. Her first Semester of Euroculture was spent in Groningen and her second in Udine. She is currently doing her internship at the Institute for Minority Rights at Eurac Research in Bolzano. She will return to Groningen for her final semester, back to where it all started.

Euroculturer Magazine (EM): What were your expectations when you started the Euroculture M.A.? Were they met?

Katherine: When I started the M.A. Euroculture, I was mainly expecting two things; the first one was to be part of an international group with people sharing a common interest in European studies and the opportunity to have an engaging exchange with them. The second one revolved around the whole moving and travelling dimension, getting to meet new people, and being confronted with new cultures. The first expectation was fully met; I have met a lot of interesting people, and I have shared and learned about different perspectives. The second one unfortunately was not fully met due to the pandemic; I was still able to do the second semester abroad, but the internship track, in the end, happened online, with me visiting the city and the office only once.

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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. 

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Interview with Marcella Zandonai: The International Youth Conference in Krusevo

Interview conducted by Lina Mansour.

Marcella Zandonai is a Euroculture alumni (cohort 2015-2017) from Trento, Italy. She spent her first semester at the University of Göttingen, Germany, and continued her Euroculture studies in Bilbao, Spain. After doing some volunteering, travelling in New Zealand, and working for a local NGO in Trento, she joined Euroculture again in 2020 as the Assistant Coordinator at the University of Göttingen. You can read more about Marcella’s work here.

1. Tell us a little bit about the conference and its objective!

The International Youth Conference was created 19 years ago from a local Macedonian NGO called Youth Alliance Krusevo. Krusevo — the city where the conference is held — is one of the highest cities of the Balkan region (1350 meters) and is a very nice location, where nature and culture meet each other. The main objective of the conference is to gather “the most active young people from 16 countries to work together for the European future of the Western Balkans Region”. This year’s topic was “European values for the future for SEE region – Regional Transformation”. The main focus of the Conference was on the European integration of the Western Balkans and it had 5 thematic areas:

  1. Regional Transformation
  2. Securing the European future of the region
  3. Youth-led transformation of the integrative politics of the region
  4. Sustainable and digital transformation of the region
  5. How much does the future cost?

The Conference was divided into three days of frontal presentations on the five thematic areas and two days of group work and brainstorming to come up with concrete policies: one for each area.

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Europe’s response to Belarus after a year of protest and repression

By Bryan T. Bayne. Special thanks to Euroculture alumna Ala Sivets, from Politzek.me, who provided valuable commentary and insight.

Ever since Alexander Lukashenka rigged the results of the Belarusian elections on August 9, 2020, his country has been mired in turmoil. The state has doggedly persecuted activists and protestors and increasingly committed grotesque Human Rights abuses, culminating in the hijacking of a Ryanair plane bound to Lithuania to arrest an exiled journalist last May. Predictably, these actions have led to harsh condemnation from Western powers and some action, chiefly imposing sanctions against leading figures in Minsk. But to what degree have powers such as the European Union (EU) confronted Lukashenka’s regime? 

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