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?

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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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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. 

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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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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.

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Struggling for recognition: esports in the EU

By Anna Oliwia Wierzbicka. Anna Oliwia Wierzbicka comes from Poland. In 2020, she graduated with honours from the Beijing Language and Culture University with a BA in Chinese Language. Currently she is interning at the Centre for International Relations in Warsaw (Poland) as a part of her Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree in Euroculture at University of Strasbourg (France) and University of Groningen (the Netherlands). LinkedIn.

What are esports? Are they a sport at all? It is just for fun, right? As video games become increasingly popular, a new profession has appeared: esports player. Nevertheless, they, like us, are ceaselessly confronted with these and many other questions. However, there is no doubt that esports are getting more and more visible. 11% of Europeans watch esports at least once per week. 50% of the European population between 6 and 64 years old play video games. Women constitute 47% of all players. The size of the European video game market increased by 22% in 2020 and reached €23.3bn. The numbers speak for themselves. And these figures translate into good moments to make our world a little better. Did you know that girls who play video games are 3x more likely to choose a STEM-related profession compared to girls that do not? The video games sector is constantly growing, creating new opportunities for Europeans. Esports could be the future of international sports competitions in Europe and beyond. So what is the stance towards esports in the European Union (EU)?

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Why the EU should pay more attention to video games

By Bryan T. Bayne

One hundred young men rent an old Neogothic castle in southern Poland for a weekend to dress like medieval noblemen and play games. It sounds like the plot of some B-list horror movie, but it was part of a video game competition in 2019. It is one among many examples of the growing influence of video games on European culture and youth.

Video games have become a huge industry in Europe. The EU market is estimated to be worth over €21 billion in 2020, having grown 55% since 2014. The EU is home to some of the biggest companies in the world. In 2020, CD Projekt Red briefly became the most valuable company in Poland and released a game that—despite much controversy—sold 13 million copies at a €60 price tag each. The continent’s second video games giant, the French Ubisoft, is worth some €8.6 billion, four times as much as AirFrance-KLM.

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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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Swedish Politics: boring no more?

By Bryan T. Bayne. Special thanks to Jonas Axelsson, who provided valuable commentary and insight.

Swedish politics have a reputation for being a boring, predictable, and consensus-driven low-key affair. Not anymore. Last Thursday (17.06) the formerly-Communist Left Party announced that it no longer had confidence in Stevan Löfven’s Social Democratic government and was leaving the coalition. Today a supermajority in the Riksdag has voted to oust the prime minister and ushered in a new era of political instability in Sweden. At the heart of the issue is a dispute over the housing market, however, its causes harken back to the instability produced by the 2018 elections and broader debates on immigration.

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