< SWITCH ME >
"#UKinEU done. Drama over” tweeted Lithuanian’s president Dalia Grybauskaite right after European Council President Donald Tusk’s announcement that a deal between the European Union and the UK had been struck. But is the drama truly over? The Referendum about the Brexit is still to take place on 23 June 2016 so that Britain’s membership to the EU is all but guaranteed. So then what was this deal about? Does it change anything for the UK or for the EU?
For the British Prime Minister David Cameron, the purpose of the deal was to obtain a European Union closer to Britain’s wishes and demands. In the Conservative manifesto for the 2015 general election he promised reforms that would render UK’s staying in the EU beneficial. This deal will serve as the basis for the “In” campaign. European leaders’ aim was to help the UK remain a member of the EU while protecting the EU’s core values and principles. According to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it was also a good opportunity to implement much needed reforms: “Mr Cameron’s demands are far from being demands that are just for Britain. They are also European demands and many of them are justified and necessary”, she said before the deal was struck.
|Photo: SignorDeFazio (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0
As the Cirinnà Bill is currently debated in Italy, Nicoletta Enria spells out what this legislative text is about and explains why civil union is such a contentious topic for Italy
I distinctly recall observing the beautiful scenes of jubilation when the US Supreme Court ruled gay marriage as legal nation-wide; I couldn’t help but wonder if this could ever occur in Italy. Italy remains the only country in Western Europe that does not recognize civil unions or gay marriage. Italy fosters a deeply catholic society, probably due to the Vatican and the Pope residing in the heart of Rome and a long Catholic history that came along with this. Despite Prime Minister Matteo Renzi having promised to pass a law on civil unions, this never seemed to be a priority. With the European Court of Human rights (ECHR) condemning Italy for failing to provide enough legal protection for same-sex unions, sentiments yearning for change were in the air. The controversial Cirinnà Bill seems to finally be paving the way for Italy to legalise civil unions.
Photo courtesy of Rosa Vroom
Old woman walks next to a closed road. Behind the scene a truck is collecting lifejackets left on the shore.
It's Christmas in Lesvos, а Greek island 9 kilometers off the Turkish coast. It's too cold to stay outside. The sea is quiet. Not many boats are expected, but volunteers keep their walkie-talkies on. The tent of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is active, the lighthouse illuminates the coast and at the dirt road surrounding Eftalou beaches there are two American volunteers stopping the cars: 'Volunteers of Lesvos, Welcome to Christmas Eve Services!'
Since Lesvos is part of the route of asylum seekers in Europe, thousands of volunteers have also been arriving at the Greek shores. Spanish firefighters, Israeli lifeguards, Norwegian doctors and nurses, etc., some of them under the umbrella of an NGO, others on their own. Organising themselves just by arrival order, their aid has been providing materials needed for the rescue along the beaches of the North and South of the island. Among these materials, aluminium foil and piles of firewood to beat the cold of the migrants that have just arrived.
In the first Good Reads of 2016, former editor Frances Jackson shares a few articles that have got her thinking about Europe over the last few days. Read about contrasting efforts to integrate asylum seekers in Germany and Finland, the publication of a new annotated edition of Mein Kampf, and why the AZERTY keyboard could soon become a thing of the past.
Frances, former Diaphragm / Baby editor
IN search of a common ground
I suppose it’s inevitable that, in the face such a torrent of depressing news stories and seemingly insurmountable hurdles as is the case with the ongoing refugee crisis, we are drawn to examples of journalism that give us hope for the future. Certainly, I think that is what made Herbi Dreiner’s recent guest post for the Guardian stand out for me. He is part of a team at the University of Bonn that has started putting on physics shows with Arabic explanations to help engage young asylum seekers who are still finding their feet in Germany. I love the simplicity of the idea, its optimism and the way it encourages us to find a shared understanding, rather seeking to emphasise differences and deficiencies.
…the new editorial board. We are excited to introduce Alex from Bulgaria, Isabell from Germany, Justine from France, Sam from the UK and Victoria from France. With five new editors, our board is now complete and everyone is already eagerly working on the upcoming issue for April. But first, we want you to get to know the new faces at E&M.
|Photo courtesy of Isabell Wutz|
Alex is from Bulgaria, but currently living in Poland. He used to be a pseudo intellectual of sorts, but after a recent cathartic about-face, he recently started to work in a multi-national corporation in Poland. Brought up by a pack of wolves, he despises cars everywhere and is complimented for his zany remarks in inappropriate moments. For him, Europe means ever so titillating waves of post-traumatic chill. Alex decided to become part of E&M to push towards more sincerity in discussing present-day Europe. While working as editor for Diaphragm, a glass of good rum always seems to do the trick.
|Photo: Chris (Flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0|
On behalf of everyone at E&M, we'd like to wish all of our readers and contributors a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year. Here's hoping 2016 will be a good one for Europe. And don't forget: the new edition of the magazine comes out tomorrow, jam-packed with thought-provoking articles and interviews. Highlights including predictions for the year ahead, a European burger guide and insights into the new political order in Spain. We can't wait to share it with you!
With Euroscepticism on the rise, what can be done to get Europeans to start debates around constructive criticism about Europe? E&M editor Nicoletta Enria met Paola Buonadonna, director of the Wake Up Europe! campaign run by the Wake Up Foundation for a chat about the challenges of creating a transnational discourse, Brexit and how to create a conversation about together building a Europe we want to see.
|Photo courtesy of Paola Buonadonna|
E&M: Hello Paola! To begin with can you let us know what the Wake Up Euope! campaign is?
Paola: The whole thrust of the Wake Up Foundation is educational and awareness-raising, the starting point is that there are trends that threaten our way of life that we don’t realize yet. The motion of these tectonic plates is something that we should be aware of now and be talking about now and you know Europe is one part of this.The idea behind Wake Up Europe! is to get people together to start thinking, talking and acting about Europe. It’s an interesting mix, we want to use the Great European Disaster Movie to promote this transnational conversation and this will happen for most of the time online on various channels such as social media. The interesting thing I think about it is that we don’t just want people to download the film and watch it, we want people to organise events so that they can meet face to face with other people and talk about these things. The idea is that it’s the face to face sort of activism of that kind that is slightly missing at the moment. Europe is what the media, politicians , think tanks say and they give you a version of what Europe is about and they interpret and percolate for us how we should look at Europe. Depending on where you live and depending on what’s in the news that can be a very highly skewed or narrow perspective or you’ve got, as my colleague James, calls it, click activism – various petitions websites that send you constant requests for very pointed, limited action. But you sit on your own in your house and you click a button, you are not really connecting in any meaningful way with anybody else. The idea behind this is to use the film to bring people together both physically, face to face, and with an online conversation that continues after they watch the film, we ask them to get back in touch with us, tell us what they thought and tweet throughout with the #WakeUpEurope.
Do you have a passion for photography and journalism? Do you like getting to know people and discovering their stories? Do you want to find out how people relate to "Europe"? Then why not become a reporter for Faces of Europe!
Faces of Europe is a photoblog launched by the Your Vision for EUrope project, a new project by our partners AEGEE-Europe. Inspired by the famous Humans of New York, the photoblog aims at making Europe more personal and exploring the human diversity of our continent. The organisers want to collect and spread the faces and voices of people from different social, cultural and national backgrounds and to find out what "Europe" means to them.
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