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Volt Europa: A New Path to The European Dream?

Back in November, the Policy Centre for European Affairs ran a Hackathon on “European cohesion in the age of populism: How should the EU strengthen European identity to counterbalance Eurosceptic forces?”. Euroscepticism and populism aren’t the only forces causing division in Europe and threatening the European project, but the motivation behind this event was to try and understand in what ways the European Union (EU) could strengthen its internal ties in order to secure its future. This is a hard question, because the EU is not in the best position to fight these forces. The EU is clearly more than a conventional international organization, but it has not yet become part of policy discussions at a state level. Even if it wished to increase its influence and assert its leadership position, there would always be strong opposition to giving EU institutions the kind of powers it would need to do so. Perhaps the solution for the future of the European project may not exist via top-down approaches championed by EU institutions. Instead, a bottom-up political movement may be needed.

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Crisis in the Near Abroad: Russia’s military build-up, and its place in the post-Soviet story

The West must accept that Russia will continue to speak for its own people in a world it considers unfair.

Russia’s relationship with Europe appears to be falling apart at a worrying pace. Events seem to be moving so quickly that it seems inevitable that the contents of this article will be incomplete by the time anybody reads it. In recent weeks, Joe Biden has ordered new sanctions on Russia, hunger-striking opposition leader Alexei Navalny is reportedly close to death, Russia has increased its military presence on its border with Ukraine, and revelations have shown that the perpetrators of the 2018 Salisbury Poisoning were also linked to a bomb blast in the Czech Republic in 2014. 

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Neither local nor global communities can afford the carelessness of Britain’s High Speed 2 Project

The 31-day tunnel protests beside Euston station have come to a close, after activists excavated and occupied underground networks to hinder the construction of an interim taxi rank – which will be built to adapt the Euston area for High Speed 2 (HS2) railway construction. Reports of the tunnel occupation are the newest of dotted media coverage that reminds us of the relentless opposition this controversial project has faced. The site the activists defended for a month is the only forested haven along the Euston Road – a place where ‘breathing is a risk’, having been frequently awarded the title of ‘one of the most polluted roads in Britain’ for exceeding legal pollution levels staggeringly for years. HS2 threatens this small park and patch of time-worn London planes trees, who will have witnessed the unfolding of this area of the city’s cultural and social history. They have been decorated symbolically with colourful scarfs for years, tied around their sturdy trunks to show visual opposition to the felling they have been threatened with – like preemptive bandages to coming, indelible wounds.  

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The Rassemblement National: mainstreaming far-right ideas in French politics

The Rassemblement National (RN) is a populist right-wing party that plays a prominent role not only in French society, but also in politics. The party was founded in 1972 on the premise of uniting dispersed far-right movements in France and continues to maintain a very strong nativist ideology and discourse. This can be summed up by the idea of a préférence nationale (national preference) which seeks to stop the inflow of immigrants who compete with French workers and ensure that only French people benefit from social welfare. Although the RN has never been in office, they have had a significant amount of influence on French politics. In order to understand the continued success of the RN, it is important to look at the factors that have enabled this.

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Limiting Lies: The Need for Greater Regulation of the Tech Industry in Europe

Although Europe exercises some of the world’s strictest policies towards the technology sector, the EU is considering passing new regulations aimed at ‘gatekeeper’ platforms, including Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, to force big tech companies to remove dangerous content, hate speech, and misinformation. Renewed efforts by the EU to curb the spread of hate speech and misinformation are prompted by concerns over the recent growth of extremist groups, both within Europe and internationally, that are strengthened by their online communities.

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European waters and migration during the pandemic

As a French citizen studying in the UK, encounters with migrants while traveling across the English Channel have become a regular experience. Whether you take the Eurostar from Calais to Dover or the boat from Ouistreham to Portsmouth, you cannot ignore the reality of their situation, especially during the pandemic. One memory will always remain with me: I arrived by car at the harbour of Ouistreham when suddenly a group of migrants started chasing after the lorry ahead of us. They tried to jump on it and, unsuccessfully, attempted to open the back door of the lorry. This shocked me and at that moment I felt privileged. I had a passport and the right to legally cross the border. Meanwhile, they were illegal immigrants attempting something incredibly dangerous to be able to lead a better life. I was unable to help them and felt embarrassed that this was happening in a European country like France. But this is the reality of the lives of many migrants attempting to cross the borders to European countries.

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From anti-mask to anti-state: Anti-lockdown protests, conspiracy thinking and the risk of radicalization

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier declared the attempt at violently occupying the Reichstag, the German parliament building, by far-right activists on 29 August 2020, as a direct attack on Germany’s very “heart of democracy,”. Demonstrations against state-imposed Covid-19 measures have been on the rise in many countries throughout the pandemic. Observers are now worried that extremist hate groups are using pandemic-related protests to advance their political goals – violently if necessary. Since December 2020, members of the Querdenken 711 group, the main organizer of nationwide anti-Covid restriction protests in Germany, are on an intelligence  “watch-list due to its increasing radicalisation”

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‘40,000 years still on my mind’: the marginalisation of Indigenous memory in Sydney

Burnum Burnum, an Aboriginal activist, stated that when the British settled in Sydney in 1788 ‘they landed in the middle of a huge art gallery’. In fact, in the Sydney region, there are more than 10,000 pieces of Aboriginal artwork. From fish painted on rocks in Broken Bay to footprints carved into the ground, the memory of Sydney’s Indigenous inhabitants is etched into the landscape. Yet there is a common perception that indigeneity in Australia only exists in remote outback locations. In reality, 76% of Aboriginal people inhabit urban spaces with over 52,000 living in urban Sydney

Tension between Indigenous and settler memory is an issue in many cities with a legacy of settler colonialism. As the region where British settlements were first founded, this contention is especially apparent in Sydney. This article will explore the ways in which the legacy of colonial dispossession has marginalised, misrepresented and erased Indigenous memory from Sydney. Despite claiming to be a multicultural city, the formal representations of Indigenous history in Sydney conform to dominant national narratives of settler superiority. 

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United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG): A Turning Point in Civilian Policing?

By the end of the Cold War, United Nations Peacekeeping (UNPK) operations had entered a second generation. During the Cold War, UNPK had been largely military and “with the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, threats to peace have taken on a new character,” challenging the nature of peacekeeping. The United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) was deployed to Namibia in 1989, during the “transformation of the international system”, a year after “the new readiness of the United States and the Soviet Union to work together, [which] created a renewed demand for peacekeeping.” The revival of relations, in some way, reflected the nature of the mission of UNTAG. It too marked a revival of its own, in which UNPK attempted to engage “in multidimensional conflict after the demise of the Congo operation (ONUC) in 1964.” 

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Seeking to become a leader in the electric battery industry: what is the EU’s strategy?

Introduction 

The international system is in the midst of a large-scale energy and technological transition to shift away from fossil fuels and move towards carbon neutrality. The electric battery industry is on the rise with major actors like Japan (major producer of electric vehicles) and China (with a battery cell production in 2017 of twenty-two times that of Europe) clearly displaying their ambitions. In this global race for green industrial leadership, how does the European Union (EU) seek to play its card right? 

Answering this question requires acknowledging two premises regarding EU characteristics that shape and condition its role in the future energy transition. On the one hand, the EU is first and foremost an economic power as the strength of its voice in international politics resides in its “material existence”, being the “largest advanced industrialized market in the world”. The energy transition is, therefore, an outstanding opportunity for the EU to foster long-term growth and create millions of jobs on the Old Continent. 

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