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Photo: CAFOD Photo library(Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 

On Sunday [14 May 2017] the Italian coast guard saved 484 people crossing the Mediterranean, whilst also finding 7 dead bodies. These 7 deaths, have meant that this year 1,222 people have died crossing the Mediterranean – a tragic new record. Yet these figures have not been met with grief by everyone. The news of this record was drowned out amongst criticisms of NGOs operating in the Mediterranean and of refugees as perpetrators of sexual violence. It seems impossible, but the discourse regarding refugees in Italy has taken an even darker turn. Italy’s geopolitical location has meant it has always been at the centre of debates surrounding the "European refugee crisis", especially regarding its rescue missions (or lack thereof, since the rescue mission Mare Nostrum was replaced with the significantly less resourceful Trident). What’s happened, and more importantly what impact will this have on the lives of asylum-seekers attempting to reach Europe and refugees seeking to integrate into an increasingly impermeable Europe?

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Photo: doubichlou14 (flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Our editor Isabell Wutz points you in the direction of a few articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about the hard choice between voting strategically and per your beliefs in the upcoming French elections, how social media influences our lives, and watch how and where human population developed over the last 200,000 years.

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Photo: Nacho Rascón (flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If 21 April 2002 is a date all French citizens remember as the historical breakthrough of the extreme-right Front National party, 23 April 2017 will be remembered as a turning point in French politics. The two parties which have structured and dominated the French political scene for the past decades have crumbled to pieces and have been washed away by a so-called “anti-system” wave.

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Photo: Outi-Maaria Palo-oja (flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0

With major changes under way in Europe, issues such as widening economic and social disparities, growing Eurosceptic sentiments and the uncertain future of European integration are looming larger than ever. Policy-wise, an indication of the things to come is the recently published White Paper on the Future of Europe, where only two (No 1 “Carrying On” and No 5 “Doing much more together”) of the five outlined scenarios envisage piecemeal change. In terms of human capital, however, both the issues and the solutions are contained in EU staples, such as the European Voluntary Service (EVS), a youth-oriented mobility programme, reflecting the existing social gaps, but also, subject to reform, uniquely positioned to narrow them.

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