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Friday, 26 February 2016 13:19

What the EU-UK deal means for Europe

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Brexit
Photo: Number 10 (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

"#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.

Thursday, 18 February 2016 16:12

Italy's troubled path towards civil unions

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pic EM Italy
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. 

Thursday, 11 February 2016 17:30

A Low-Cost Trip to Europe.

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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.

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Photo: Marvin (PA)(Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0 

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

8frances

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.

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