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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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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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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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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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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The Eurovision Song Contest: A Non-Political Song Contest Filled With Politics

By Leyre Castro

The Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) is an international song competition organized annually since 1956 by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The idea behind this contest was to unite European countries following the end of World War II. Now, it is the longest-running annual international televised music competition as well as the most popular song-contest in the world. 

After the contest being cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, next Saturday, 22nd of May, 2021, the 65th edition of the ESC will be held in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. 

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