The European Union’s ‘Game of Thrones’: Who Will Be The Next President of The European Parliament?

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EU Parliament in session

Bastian Bayer

Who will be the next president of the United States of America seems to be the big question of 2016, but in the European Parliament another game of thrones has begun.

At the last European Parliament elections in 2014, the conservative EPP and the social democratic S&D made a deal and signed a written agreement that meant that Martin Schulz, the S&D candidate, would become president for the first half of the legislative period and  that the EPP would pick the president for the second half.

Now with the first half coming to an end in January 2017,  the current president Martin Schulz does not seem to be willing to leave office, despite the EPP insisting on the instillation a new president from among their own ranks.

The face of EU policy

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Martin Schulz, President of the EU Parliament

Schulz has been, with interruptions,  president of the EP since 2012 and a Member of the EP (MEP) since 1994. He is often portrayed as a down to earth politician, ingrained and diligent. He is said to have strengthened the position of the European Parliament and even critics say he has made the EP more visible to the European public and the world.

He is considered to be the most influential president in the history of the European Parliament.

However his path to power and appreciation was rocky. The son of a police officer, he wanted to become a football player in his youth but a knee-injury made a professional career impossible. As a result this crushed dream Schulz became an alcoholic in the mid-70s which saw him lose his job and almost get thrown out of his own apartment.

However, despite this inauspicious start, Schulz eventually overcame his addiction with the help of his brother.

What followed is a remarkable career.  After a career  as a bookstore manager Schulz became mayor of his home town, Würselen, following his first engagement in the German Social Democratic Party. In 1994 he was elected member of the European Parliament and became its president in 2012. He reached a high point of his career when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize together with van Rompuy and Barroso on behalf of the European Union.

In 2014 Schulz wanted to become president of the EU Commission, but in the European elections the Conservatives became the largest party and their candidate, Jean-Claude Juncker became president of the Commission, a post he still holds to this day. Nevertheless, this setback did not stop Schulz from being re-elected as President of the EP.

Power play in the middle of the greatest crises in the existence of the EU

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Tusk, Schulz and Juncker

Schulz’s future, however, is unclear, as the first half of this legislative term comes to an end. According to the agreement, Schulz will be replaced by EPP member. However, for some, the agreement does not fit the new circumstances Europe finds itself in.

The S&D argues that with Juncker as President of the Commission and Tusk as President of the Council, already two of the key positions are held by EPP members; and to keep the balance between the largest EU parties, the presidency of the EP should stay with the S&D.

Even a prominent EPP politician and former competitor supports the idea of Schulz retaining the presidency after January 2017, with the simple reason:

“We need stability.”

Just recently Juncker spoke about the many challenges the EU faces in his ‘State of the Union’ address. Brexit, the refugee challenge, economic stagnation and youth-unemployment among many other things.

“Our European Union is, at least in part, in an existential crisis.” said Juncker.

To keep stability in these difficult times, Juncker would like to keep the leadership of the institutions as they are, namely, Schulz as president. It is no secret that Martin and Jean-Claude work closely together, Der Spiegel has even accused them of mutually securing each other’s posts.  Juncker said:”The relationship between the Commission and the Parliament has probably never been as good as it is now”, so “Why change a reliable team?”

However the EPP has made it crystal clear that they will not have Schulz for the next half of the legislative period. Schulz has been heavily criticised for not sticking to the agreement and the same critics have claimed that he has made the representation of the European people a one-man-. These critics claim that “if Schulz gave the parliament a face, it is primarily his face”.

On the other hand, if Schulz id removed; whom is the EPP going to nominate? For an internal primary on 12 December candidates need to be found. However, they lack strong candidates:

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Antonio Tajani

So far the Italian Antonio Tajani, the French Alain Lamassoure and the Irish Mairead McGuinness have been mentioned as possible successors to Schulz. However Tajani is weakened by being close to former Italian PM Berlusconi, who has been disgraced by many scandals.  Also as former commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship, he supposedly involved in the emission scandal and has already been summoned before the investigation committee. All of this means that he is seen as unenforceable in the parliament.

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Alain Lamassoure

The other candidates have similar shortcomings. Lamassoure has the reputation of being uncontrollable and prideful, some say thinking of himself as the French president. McGuinness, as a woman, current EP vice-president and a representative of a small EU Member State, seems to have the best chances of getting  a majority in the parliament. Nevertheless she is perceived as a rather plain Jane candidate and has not excited much attention.

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Mairead McGuinness

Currently, Schulz is fighting to forge a coalition with Liberals, Greens and EPP renegades. Yet it seems to be unlikely that he will cobble together enough votes without the backing of the EPP.

So what is next for him? Luckily another throne, perhaps a greater one, is up for grabs. In Berlin, some people would like to see Schulz as chancellor- the candidate for the SPD in place of the unpopular Sigmar Gabriel, to challenge Angela Merkel in the elections for the German parliament 2017 Regardless, it looks like Schulz has only begun to play.

For more by Bastian, click here.

The Euroculturer Recommends:

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“Who Polices the Internet? Content Removal v. Freedom of Speech” Julia Mason guides us through the trenches of the internet’s most contested battleground and asks is ‘Hate speech’ the same as ‘Freedom of Speech’.

“Immigrants, Visas and Silver Bullets: How will UK migration work post-Brexit” Eoghan Hughes examines the promises, pledges and pitfalls surrounding the UK’s immigration policy in a post-Brexit reality.

 

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Lost in Freedom? The Dilemma of Having Too Much Freedom

Is too much freedom a dead-end-road? How does it feel to be stuck in too much freedom? This article describes the challenges of a generation born into too much freedom.

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“Our freedom can be measured by the number of things we can walk away from.” – Vernon Howard

Eike-Maria Hinz │eike.maria.hinz@gmail.com

Freedom has many facets: freedom of speech, freedom to vote, freedom of religion, the list goes on…. In modern western societies, these freedoms have been established, through clashes, conflicts and wars, which lead to the establishment of democracies, where the value of freedom is one of the greatest intrinsic values of society.

If we look at the young generations in western modern societies there is a dilemma with all these freedoms. What do I mean by this? One could argue that there can never be enough freedom on an individual and society basis these days. Yes and no.

“There is a dilemma with all these freedoms…”

Young adults enjoy a life of freedom in many areas of their lives. Not only that they are able to vote freely, speak out loud what they feel or think or choose their life partners liberally with no societal restrictions. They are also able to travel the world, connect via social media with more than half of the earth’s population, take and find jobs all over the globe, and make individual choices to have friends without any restrictions aside from individual choices. Continue reading “Lost in Freedom? The Dilemma of Having Too Much Freedom”

Would you choose Erasmus Mundus Master’s Programme again if you could rewind time?

The Euroculturer Poll My Erasmus Mundus Life”

Thank you very much for your answer! We wish you the best with your (Post) Erasmus Mundus life!  

The result of the poll will be collected and delivered during the General Assembly of Erasmus Mundus Student and Alumni Association (EMA) which will take place on 14-15 June 2013 in Barcelona. The EMA General Assembly (GA) will gather Programme Representatives from over 150 Erasmus Mundus Masters and Doctorate Programmes to enhance the quality of your Erasmus Mundus student lives. If you have any other concerns about your Erasmus Mundus life that have not been covered by this poll, feel free to contact Eunjin Jeong, 2013-2014 Programme Representative of MA Euroculture via eunjin.lynn@gmail.com. For more information about Erasmus Mundus student and alumni Association, visit here and also find it on Facebook

Futuristic Sunday

Once upon a time – in the future

Borislava1

Borislava Miteva │borislava.miteva@gmail.com

I had been waiting for years for the day when I would wake up naturally at dawn like most elderly people, but on that particular Sunday morning my deep sleep was once again interrupted by my annoying alarm clock. Still sleepy, I extended my arm over the chip-reader on the nightstand and the intelligent device informed me, by means of my new ceiling-integrated screen, that it was a meat day: the people on Earth born before the year 2015 were allowed to have one portion of meat every 250 days. What a celebration it would be for my husband, who was still grieving over the prohibition of the unsustainable factory farming following the Earth’s catharsis! Love is such a marvellous phenomenon, I thought. Not the fiery passion that blurs our sight, but the genuine affection which leads to a conscious overcoming of differences and disregarding of certain principles. And thus, rather shamelessly, I hurried to make a wire transfer for two portions of veal ham, contented by the fact that the lie detector was not yet integrated in the chip-readers in our region, as otherwise my 50 year-long veganism would have certainly deprived my beloved Ivan from his additional meat serving.

Having left my morning toilette to the care of the hygieneazator (how unreal its existence seemed to me in my long-gone childhood when I used to watch with excitement the “The Jetsons” on Cartoon Network) I went over the cosmic news: another intake of a Saturn probe by a black hole; unproductive negotiations at the Intra-Martian Council with regards to the location of the second Earth-passage station; and finally, the level of the Atlantic Ocean had risen by another 10cm over the last month. Once again I asked myself whether I’d rather die in a flood, earthquake or another natural disaster, close to Ivan or far away from him – from old age on Mars. Instead of reaching a decisive conclusion, however, my awareness was suddenly directed to the neighbouring planet, which for decades had been the home of my children. My relationship with them weakened after the birth of my youngest grandchild when I refused to move to Mars so as not to leave behind Ivan on Earth. Yet, the interaction with my family on Mars significantly diminished over the past year due to my various excuses for not going for a visit, coupled with a full examination by means of the newest Martian technologies. It hurt me profoundly that my sons blamed Ivan for his stubbornness and Earth-rootedness but the pain could never kill neither my motherly affection, nor the strong bond I had with my soul mate.

I text messaged all the children and while eagerly waiting for at least one reaction, I handled some of the housework: I turned on the dust-manager (one of the few machines that I secretly worshiped, given my aversion to hand cleaning and even the old vacuum cleaner); I ordered the refrigerator to supply itself with the missing products from my “favourites” list after washing up and arranging itself; I prepared my much loved seaweed-agave-walnuts breakfast (how much I still missed the bees and their honey!); and I finally decided on the meat dish with which to surprise Ivan. As for him, like every morning since the shutting down of all tobacco-production companies, he had woken up before sunrise in order to gather his daily dose of tobacco, which he would then gently dry up. And just when his routine was over and he joined me at the kitchen table with a cigarette in mouth and a cup of coffee in hand, the screen above our heads lit up, prompted by a call on the M-Essenger.

It was our eldest grandson, Bright-743, who was in the final stage of his system re-programming required for obtaining the title of Interplanetary Substance Investigator. His eyes were completely mechanized by now, and he looked more confident and mature. I wished I could be at his graduation from the laboratory. I wished I could hug him whenever I wanted. In a way to distract such thoughts, I started with a brief update about the latest events around us, but eventually returned to the issue at heart, asking him when he would come to Earth, as his last visit was back on my 70th anniversary. I hurried to promise that I would welcome him with his favourite dried fruits-cocoa cake, but he replied even faster declaring that he had finally adopted an entirely energy-source diet, which he highly recommended to me (knowing that Ivan would never give up on food). While condescendingly observing his grandfather who was finishing his cigarette and flipping through a paper book, Bright-743 rebuffed any possibilities for a near-future visit to Earth. Upon graduation he was off to Saturn to investigate the close-by black hole (I could finally understand why my parents used to worry whenever I presented them with an adventure I had in mind), and later he would be involved in an expedition to another galaxy, plus there was an opportunity for an additional project together with a colleague of his called Stela-13. How incredible his lifestyle appeared to me (I wonder whether my grandmother felt in a similar way when she listened to my scuba-diving and sky-diving stories?!), and although I could not comprehend the details around the execution of those complicated operations, I was very proud of my grandson.

Our conversation was interrupted by the meat delivery. Ivan got excited like a child in a pastry shop, in a stark contrast to my grandson who punished me with a disapproving stare. The burden of silence fell upon us.

Good luck with Stela-13, I said. –You’ll understand one day…I hope…

Borislava Miteva, Copy Editorborislava

Borislava is Bulgarian-Canadian and has a BA in Social Sciences (UBC) and in Italian Studies (UniBo). As part of MA Euroculture (2009-2011), which she undertook at the University of Groningen, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and the University of Pune, she relied on her previous academic studies by focusing on sociological issues, often related to migration and discrimination practices. Since graduating from her MA, she has continued her commitment to these fields by becoming involved in a relevant trans-European NGO, thus exploring the respective legal and human rights approaches. When she’s not in work (and sometimes when she is), she laughs a lot, pretends to be a cook, and fights for her right to write.

No More “I don’t know” on Euroculture Housing Issue

Eunjin Jeong l eunjin.lynn@gmail.com

Housing is a very important issue for MA Euroculture students because they get to move constantly as part of the curriculum. For some, getting a room in new places has been easy but as most of them admittedly say, they were lucky. The truth of Euroculture housing is here: It can be very difficult and if you are not lucky, you are all on your own. Looking for a room in a foreign country can be a very stressful process especially if you don’t speak the local language. Also, it’s possible that the semester already started and you are without ‘home’, living in a hotel or hostel. I examined the housing situation of Euroculturers, in collaboration with Niccolò Beduschi (Euroculture 12/14) who brought up the issue and ask three questions in an attempt to get more housing support from MA Euroculture Consortium and some universities which are not providing any housing service.

Why don’t we start by looking at ‘very good’ cases?

BILBAO

The University has helped us find a place. You send some necessary documents before a set deadline and one month after you receive information about your place. They send you information of your apartment (address, cost etc) and ask if you’d like to accept the offer. Bilbao is really good in that service.”

KRAKOW

Euroculture Krakow team was really helpful throughout the process. They gave us advices on web pages, kept track of our accommodation status via E-Mail and coordinated semester rooms with Laborooms (kind of dorms from a private company). I am really happy with the “service” of Krakow.”

Question #1. How could Bilbao and Krakow so good at these services when others are not?

And here are some ‘could have been better’ cases.

GRONINGEN

It is possible to find a place “through the university” but only by paying a fee of one month of rent.”

STRASBOURG

You can get student housing, but it is not in a good condition (ok, it’s cheap but that should be the only positive thing!). The application process for the student rooms was easy and worked out well. But you definitely need French in order to get along with everything.”

Question #2. Should we not expect a decent room if we cannot afford a high fee or speak good French?

And here are some ‘could have been a lot better’ cases. The problem not only comes from the lack of support from the university but also the fact that there are too many students looking for a room at the same time. Still, they can do more than just saying “I don’t know.”

UDINE

Most landlords want you to have a contract for a year. Actually, there are many ads from people looking for roommates, but because they all look for people who will stay long, finding a place is very difficult, although if you have time, it’s not impossible.”

UPPSALA

The university at the beginning did not help us find a place until at last we were told that some rooms were reserved for international master students. Many of us got those. However, it’s very hard to get rooms in Uppsala in general.”

GOTTINGEN

Everyone had to search for their own accommodation as far as I know, and we didn’t receive any help from either Euroculture Goettingen team or the university. They just recommend me websites for the private market. You can apply for student dorms, but you get on a waiting list with the average waiting time of 20-24 months. Some people even had to stay in a hotel for a few weeks, even when the semester had already started.”

Question #3. We all know we are adults who need to take care of our own affairs. But what if it’s REALLY DIFFICULT?

This simple poll and possible following comments/debates will be collected and sent, in a month, to the Consortium and each university to show Euroculturers’ opinions on the issue. Many thanks go to Niccolò Beduschi and other Euroculture students for providing the information(quotes) I used to write this article.

Eunjin Jeong, Editor-in-chief

Eunjin is from South Korea and studied Education for her BA. She began MA Euroculture in October 2011 in the University of Göttingen, later studied in the University of Strasbourg, did a research track in Uppsala University and currently finishing her MA thesis in Strasbourg. Her research interests lie in finding ways for diaspora groups to feel as ‘citizens at heart’ in host countries. Eunjin is a part-time realist and a full-time idealist.

For now, the future can wait

When we submit the thesis and when the last Eurocompetence class ends, we will say “Have a nice summer” and “Good luck with that interview”. And after that, many of us will not see each other again. We will not say it, of course, but we will be thinking it as we hug, cry and laugh. The future will be bright and sunny (hopefully) and everyone will have to walk their own paths and live their own lives. Each of us will run for that prize we get after we cross the finish line. All that will happen in a few months…

penelope2 Penelope Vaxevanes │prosiliomani@hotmail.com

As students of MA Euroculture 2011-2013, we have  78 classmates scattered all over Europe, currently sitting in libraries or cafés, reading and taking notes, scribbling or doodling, trying to make sense of their Master Thesis. Most of us read and read and read, trying to form an idea of what it will be like; some of us even have a plan, while a few of us have done the preliminary work and are already writing and anticipating the outcome of our results, hoping that it will not be just another academic paper. In any case, the majority will take tonight off because it’s Friday: we will go have a drink with our classmates or our partner and we will tell ourselves that we deserve it because we have done so much work and because there is so much more still to come.

The days will pass one by one; and we will become progressively more stressedas time becomes a constraint (June will not always be two months away). And, as we start getting emails from our supervisors asking about our progress while our coordinators invite us to upload documents from our research on STUD-IP (that’s for you Gottingers), we will slowly realise that we are reaching the finish line. This is not the kind that only one can reach. Everyone that crosses it is a winner. Because the real prize, the one that is in everyone’s mind, is not at the finish line: it is far beyond it; so far that most of us don’t know yet where it is.

And here is the awkward part of this last semester of ours. As we spend every day thinking about the work we have put into writing the thesis and regretting all the work we haven’t done, we fail to see the one and only truth: the thesis will give us a degree, but it will not give us a future. The degree may become the key to our future, only if we learn to use and promote it. We are after all, in a MA “of excellence”, meaning that we are, by association, excellent ourselves, are we not?

We are also forgetting something else. For some of us, these will be the last few months of our university lives. Soon, we will be university graduates for the second time. But what does that exactly mean? By the end of July we will not be students anymore, yet more likely we will not be employees either. What will we be? Who are we without our student identity? Are we unemployed? Are we in between places? Will we become a mere number in a statistic that shows how university graduates are absorbed by the market? No one knows.

And then there is another thing: we cannot avoid being adults anymore. For some now is the last chance to stay out late thanks to the excuse that “class is boring anyways, so I might as well skip it”. It will also be the last time we can take a class about something that sounds cool (Philosophy of Math, anyone?) but which will not give us credits or make our degree stronger. In other words, this could be our last chance to delve into things that we always wanted to try: Portuguese, Quantum Physics, Comparative Theology and everything else our universities can offer.

Moreover and most importantly, when we submit the thesis and the rest of our papers, and when that last ‘Eurocompetence’ class, which no one ever understood the point of, ends we will say “Have a nice summer” and “Good luck with that interview”. And after that, many of us will not see each other again. We will not say it, of course, but we will be thinking it as we hug, cry and laugh. The future will be bright and sunny (hopefully) and everyone will have to walk their own paths and live their own lives. Each of us will run for that prize we get after we cross the finish line.

All that will happen in a few months; but for now, without further ado, put your pens down, save all your documents, log out of Facebook and call your classmates to go out for a drink (or a cupcake, a movie, a tea). Do it, even if you did not do as much work as you wanted, or even if you have to wake up early tomorrow to go to that Portuguese class. Don’t be lazy; you can watch The Big Bang Theory tomorrow! Do it as if your life depends on it. For no one will ever remember that Master Thesis you wrote, but we will all remember that party we had that night, which ended in the dodgiest place, at 9am, on a Tuesday; that night when everyone was lazy and didn’t want to have that drink.

One more night off because, for now, the future can wait.

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Penelope Vaxevanes, News Editor

penelopePenelope is from Greece and has studied French Language and Literature in the Philosophic School of the University of Athens. She spent the first two Euroculture semesters in Goettingen and Krakow. After her internship in Hamburg she is now back in Goettingen to finish her MA thesis. She wants to make a career in Cultural diplomacy but so far, she enjoys going out with friends in Goettingen.

Editorial: Way back home

way back home editorial

The 3rd Edition of The Euroculturer

March – May 2013

Helen was right when she said that it was about time to ask Euroculturers the question: Where is home? Is it possible to feel at home in the city that you will live for only a few months? It sounds difficult to answer until Liga says: Home is where love exists, and you can make anywhere home as long as love follows wherever you go. Sounds like a simple answer except it’s difficult to find… No? What Edith suggests sounds a bit easier: My kitchen is your kitchen! Home is where the kitchen is. Yes, definitely! Mi cocina es tu cocina también! Speaking about kitchens, Maaike wants to tell you about German au pairs who are making pancakes in the kitchen for their Spanish host kids. Don’t say buenas noches, say gute nacht so that the kids can learn German. A Greek girl, Penelope, is also learning German, and very intensively. But she says: Not tonight, because I have to go out with my friends! Yes, she says that the future and even the MA thesis can wait, especially tonight. Paul seems upset by the unfair reception of the EU in the UK, making his point by introducing the English city of Nottingham. If you have only one minute to live, what would you think? Rashid seems to know the answer.

The third edition of The Euroculturer starts with the theme of Home and will continue with a special feature on Asia, and other themes such as Trend, Future, Humanities, and the IP 2013. Don’t miss the chance to read our wonderful articles one by one every few days and have lots of Euroculture fun. Shall we begin?

Eunjin Jeong, Editor-in-chief

So, you want to be a journalist?

As a journalist for twenty years and a journalism educator for a further twenty years, I am often asked what preparation is best for a young person seeking a career in journalism. I avoid answering the question directly, generally saying it depends on the individual, their interests and their abilities. I came into journalism by a series of accidents and I hope that others can continue to have such opportunities.

blue world  Brian Trench

The media industries are in crisis. Advertising spending has collapsed. Public trust of the media is in decline. Editorial staff numbers are being cut. And nobody’s too sure any more just who is and who isn’t a journalist.

And you still want to be a journalist?

Certainly journalism remains a popular choice across Europe for studies and a (hoped-for) career. Journalism training and education courses of various kinds continue to proliferate. Private colleges compete with public universities. More practice-oriented courses compete with more theory-based.

Some courses emphasise the convergence of digital technologies, others follow the traditional demarcations between print, broadcasting and online. Some prepare students to be media entrepreneurs, others train them to be effective employees of large corporations.

I am often asked…

As a journalist for twenty years and a journalism educator for a further twenty years I have been many times through the debates that lie behind these differences. I am often asked what preparation is best for a young person seeking a career in journalism. I avoid answering the question directly, generally saying it depends on the individual, their interests and their abilities. I came into journalism by a series of accidents and I hope that others can continue to have such opportunities.

Good preparation for Euroculturers…?

Doing a European Masters in European culture and writing for this lively online magazine may be as good preparation as any for a career in journalism. There are good reasons for thinking that the mobility between cultures and contexts that the Euroculture experience brings is especially valuable in journalism in these challenging times.

The hard work is done by the students themselves

Journalists are increasingly expected to move between topics, audiences, technical platforms, even languages. But some of the basic attributes of the journalist are unchanged and, it has to be said, some of those attributes can hardly be taught. Journalism education can create an environment in which they are fostered but the hard work is done by the students themselves, more than by the educators.

Some basic attributes of great journalists can hardly be taught

Curiosity, endless curiosity, is essential: how does this work? why is this like this? how did we get here? Keen imagination is needed too: how do I turn this person’s experience into a story of interest to thousands of people? A compulsion and a competence to communicate are required; the journalist needs to tell others what she has found out and must have the tools to do so.

Scepticism is necessary

Journalists are often thought of as cynical – not caring about the consequences of what they do – and many of them do become like that. They get to the point where they have seen “everything”. When they get there, they should know it’s time to stop. Often confused with cynicism, scepticism is in some ways the opposite: it is an enabling, rather than debilitating part of the journalist’s make-up. The sceptical question keeps the journalist moving forward: why should I believe what they are telling me?

Future journalists from MA Euroculture?

The Euroculture student or graduate is, or should be, open to many possible answers to questions that are of public interest, thanks to operating in cross-national, comparative contexts. European media are generally national or sub-national but I would love to think that there are openings, and that there will be more in the future, for journalists who bring broader perspectives and reflexive thinking to the issues of the day.

Brian Trench is a former senior lecturer and Head of School in the School of Communications, Dublin City University

Nora and Prof.TrenchEditor’s words: We express our sincerest gratitude to Brian Trench who accepted the invitation to share his expertise in Journalism with The Euroculturer. His daughter, Nora Trench Bowles, is Copy Chief of The Euroculturer, and is a 2011-2013 MA Euroculture student.