The Split Self: Europe in the Age of Populism European Affairs Event Review

From Friday 13th to Sunday 15th of November after months of excel spreadsheets, plenty of emails, slack notifications, and careful planning; the Policy Centre of European Affairs’ second event came to fruition: the KTT Policy Hackathon.

Loosely inspired by MIT’s virtual hackathons, it presented a 24-hour challenge to finish a comprehensive policy brief in teams of three to four people. Participants were invited to debate the issue of European cohesion in the age of populism: How should the EU strengthen European identity to counterbalance Eurosceptic forces?. Over 24 hours the participants debated and discussed questions of European identity, how to counter Eurosceptic forces and much more, to come up with a policy paper that provided solutions to these questions. The hackathon saw 18 participants come together in 5 small teams and successfully present a diverse range of remarkable policy briefs on Sunday morning.

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The European Union and the future of post-Covid multilateralism

The novel coronavirus pandemic has already sparked much speculation on how the international order as we know it will undergo profound changes, with suggestions that it will forever be divided between what happened BC (before coronavirus) and AC (after coronavirus). If some lament, others cheer and others are not yet willing to accept the end of the liberal international order, yet few would neglect that a return to the past is unlikely. The pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing dynamics from protectionism and nationalism to great power politics and ideological competition. While this definitely means that the health crisis has highlighted the deep flaws of our current multilateral system, it has simultaneously exposed the world’s tremendous need for an international system of collective problem solving, of which, this article argues, the EU should be at the forefront. 

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New Faces on Old Tensions: Understanding the Decline of EU-Russian Relations

Following the fall of the Soviet Union’s European empire in 1989, there was some hope within security circles that the end to near-constant confrontation and conflict in Europe had finally been achieved. In 1991, three quarters of a century had passed since the outbreak of the First World War; very few in government could remember a time when the threat of continent-wide conflict was lower than in that year.

The newly-formed European Union (EU) saw the potential to establish a new security situation on the continent; as late as 1999, the EU declared it its aim to see “a stable, democratic, and prosperous Russia…governed by the rule of law and underpinning a prosperous market economy”. Fifteen years later, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill incorporating Crimea into the Russian Federation, directly violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in the process. So what happened? How, in less than two decades, did we get from the end of history to the new Cold War?

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Tackling the EU democratic deficit by increasing the representativity of the European Parliament

  1. Background

In recent years, political participation of European citizens has been decreasing. Voter turnout has declined from 62% in the first European Parliament (EP) elections in 1979 to 43% in 2014. At the same time, the 2018 Eurobarometer shows low levels of trust of citizens in the European Parliament (50%) and the European Commission (46%). Many critics argue that the EU suffers from a democratic deficit, noting that EU decision-making procedures are either inaccessible or excessively complex for ordinary citizens to comprehend and engage with. The latter accusation contradicts the notion of liberal democracy, which is one of the EU’s core values and a condition of membership.  

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Will the EU finally tend its own garden?

Why the talk of a new ‘European awakening’ in the defence sphere is just rhetorical window-dressing.

‘We will not protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army.’ Ever since Emmanuel Macron uttered these words in November 2018, the idea of a European Army is back in vogue. A year and a half later, it might appear like the stars are aligning to create the perfect conditions for a ‘golden Era’ of European defence cooperation.

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The worrying rise of authoritarian police responses to protests in Europe

The right to protest is a fundamental right in European democracies. Yet in recent times, states have infringed upon this right, whether through legal restrictions such as the declaration of a state of emergency, or through more tangible responses such as  policing forces on the ground. This is a worrying trend, which throws into question European governments’ commitment to protecting this right. 

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The EU’s (Next) Asia Strategy

The ascension of Josep Borrell to the position of European Union (EU) High Representative (HR/VP) on 1 December 2019 places an EU strategy for Asia that reaches  beyond ‘connectivity’ at the center of the political agenda towards the region. This article does not seek to comment on whether this strategy should be carried out. Rather, it assumes that the inherent limitations of the EU’s first coordinated attempt to formulate an EU connectivity strategy for Asia – officially entitled a Joint Communication on ‘Connecting Europe and Asia – building blocks for an EU strategy’ – are sufficiently pronounced to warrant consideration of the question: What should the next strategy be called? 

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European Affairs and Energy & Environment Visit the EU in Brussels

On 29 January, members of the King’s Think Tank European Affairs and Energy and Environment policy centres, and one of the Head Editors visited the European Union institutions in Brussels. Mere hours away from the final vote on the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement from the EU, the visit was one of anticipation, uncertainty, and excitement. Upon arrival in Brussels, we split into two groups: the Energy and Environment policy centre visited the European Parliament, and the European Affairs policy centre first visited the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and then the Parliament, before reconvening in the afternoon at the European Commission and experiencing the unexpected opportunity to witness the aforementioned vote. Below, the two groups detail their visits.

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Perceptions and Realities of Migrants in Southern Italy

Migration has become a highly debated and fairly misunderstood topic in contemporary politics. While taking part in the European ARISE project (Analysing Refugee Inclusion in Southern Europe) in Southern Italy, I met Hamady, a migrant from Senegal. Whilst telling me about his own perspective on migration, he explained that if you have not ‘witnessed it’ you are unable to fully comprehend it. This is why he believes in the importance of recounting his own experience to sensitise the general public on the issue. ‘It is part of the integration process’, he says. 

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Burden-sharing: EU Solidarity at Stake– Insight into the Case Studies of Italy and Romania

According to the Geneva Convention, the EU is responsible for people who need international protection. The Dublin Regulation, which is part of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), establishes that the first country a refugee enters is responsible for processing his or her asylum application. This system has proven problematic over recent years. Since the European refugee crisis reached its peak in 2015, the necessity of reforming the Dublin Regulation in the spirit of burden-sharing has become clearer than ever. Burden-sharing involves states taking on responsibility for refugees of other states. For example, countries facing less immigration pressure, such as Romania and Poland, would accept a certain quota of asylum-seekers from countries that receive the most migrants, such as Italy and Greece. 

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