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Connecting Europe – EU Elections (1) April 21, 2009

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 By Dídac Gutiérrez-Peris 

This is the first of a series of articles related with the June 2009 European Elections.  

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European what?

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The starting point is something called Predict09 (www.predict09.eu), a website where we can find an accurate prediction of the European elections results. Combined with the conclusions of the last Eurobarometer (EB71) (http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb_special_en.htm) one thing is pretty clear: people don’t care about these elections, and more than 40% will probably not even vote. ConnexionOne could argue that that’s the natural reaction when you have an election with an incredible lack of “politicization” but there’s another crucial factor while explaining the social disinterest and that’s the absence of a tough strategy of political communication. What do we have to do to motivate the national media, the newspapers, the radio stations and TV to speak about different subjects from an European point of view?

 

At this point if someone expected a “yes, we can” and a list of things to do he will be probably disappointed. The answer to this question is that these medias will continue to inform mostly about national issues. And the reason is purely economical.

When you have an election where the second major party (the Party of European Socialists) does not present any candidate for President of the Commission (giving almost automatically before the vote the presidency to the conservative candidate J.M Barroso), you don’t have that much to write about.. No political battle, no political interest, no selling, no covering by the traditional media. That’s the equation. That simple. (more…)

Copenhagen Summit 2009: What Can the EU Expect from Obama? March 11, 2009

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by Marek Kubista 

Obama’s attitude towards the environment creates hope that the US will be more supportive of green issues. The upcoming Copenhagen summit could end in great success. To this end, the US should first secure cooperation with Europe and then both should focus on consulting and including the BRICS.in BusinessWeek EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The Copenhagen Summit is a crucial date for the international community, whose outcome will determine the future possibilities of global cooperation against climate change. This date is obviously a challenge for the EU since they consider themselves at the forefront of innovation, but this will be also be a huge challenge for Obama in light of his very ambitious environment. Yet, before an agreement is reached, he will have to restore trust with the EU and secure its cooperation, to stand united against more skeptical countries; the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China).

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France is back – let’s call them “NATO fries” February 26, 2009

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by Anita Kirpalani

Nicolas Sarkozy hit again with his politics of reform. But this time, by deciding to bring France back into NATO’s military command, he struck against the mythology of his own political family. It is too bad that, for once, the Gaullist narrative of independence from the United States is, in France, actually shared by both the left and the right.

NATO Summit: French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. (Photo: AFP)

The fearless President is trying to bring down what appears to be a national monument, creating havoc at a particularly dreary time of strikes and plummeting public support, and not so long after a French NATO soldier was killed in Afghanistan. At least, one must grant Sarkozy that he finally managed to bring consensus amongst the French political elite – against him.

But if Charles de Gaulle would probably turn in his grave in protestation, US President Barack Obama might hope for more. Will France finally become tame and docile and pull the curtain on its dissident period of the opposition to the war in Iraq? Will she take important position in NATO in exchange for sending more troops to Afghanistan, answering Obama’s call? Will she nip in the bud the nascent attempts to create a European defense she actually advocated for? Is this the long anticipated reconciliation between French fries and Freedom Fries? Did somebody actually win?

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Anyone but Barroso February 16, 2009

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by Dídac Gutiérrez-Peris

What makes us democrats? Is it some kind of passion for a set of values and principles? Is it the will to be ruled by ourselves more than by an established, distant, authoritarian power? When is democracy “democracy”? If we have to choose one concept, one word, this would be responsibility. Responsibility understood as accountability, as the power and the guarantee given to the citizens to “judge” the political action of the governors. Max Weber said that a politician needs three things, passion, sense of responsibility and sense of distance to take the right decision at the right moment. Responsibility is what makes us democrats.margot-wallstrom-us-lied14oct03

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What drives euroscepticism? December 10, 2008

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By Dídac Gutiérrez-Peris

picture-11

“(…) instruire c’est construire”

Victor Hugo, 1850

Even if some authors like Majone (2002) and Moracsivk (2002) find it exaggerated and too idealistic to speak about a “crisis of legitimacy”, for me there exist too many signs of an erosion between citizens and the European Union to still deny a certain “malaise” towards the European Union.

A “malaise” that could be defined first of all as a “crisis of justification,” as Hannah Arendt puts forward, that is: “as the feeling of losing the direction of things, when doubt is the reaction that a purpose or a project provokes”. In other words, a situation where citizens are unable to answer to the questions for what purpose? with who? and in which direction? in relation to European Integration.

To my mind, two main factors are shaping the current attitude of mistrust towards the European Union: first, the disinformation and second the political disconnection between European institutions and citizens.

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Europe and its time November 10, 2008

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 by Dídac Gutiérrez-Peris

Around this time of year in London everybody walks around with red flowers pinned to their coats. They are the flowers of opium—poppies— that, despite their exotic name, are quite frequent in Europe. They are flowers that grow in removed soils, in bad conditions, abandoned places. Like battlefields.

They are also the flowers that the Royal British Legion sells in the undergrounds and buses to commemorate Armistice Day, November 11, in honour of all those who lost their lives in the First World War. It feels strange to see so many young men and women, a lot of them born in the 80s or 90s, wearing poppies. They are like live monuments to death. (more…)

Why does Europe love Obama? November 10, 2008

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 by Dídac Gutiérrez-Peris

Perhaps because he is a citizen of the world?

His last speech in Chicago was more than a “national” speech, and in Tiergarten, in Berlin, some months ago, he showed that he can mobilize people who are not necessarily American.

Do we like him because is not the typical “American hero” like McCain is? Because he seems like a political outsider in the United States, neither extremely linked to the Democratic Party, nor depending on being funded by lobbies?

Perhaps we like him just for more obvious things: he’s young, attractive, intelligent, fascinating, a good speaker and he promises a change from the most unpopular American administration in history. (more…)