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Europe’s Military, Stronger Together?

Parliament welcomes Croatia to the EU with a special flag ceremony at the entrance of the EP in Strasbourg. Source: European Parliament, Flickr.With the crisis in Ukraine and the growing antagonism between Russia and the west, security and defence is an increasing concern for many in the European Union. The EU was created as a peace project after the two devastating World Wars. In this mission it has been remarkably successful, so successful that the 2012 Nobel Peace prize was awarded to the EU precisely for its success in creating peace within Europe. But as it did during the years of the Balkan war, the shadows of war seems to once again loom close to our borders; the situation in Ukraine has reminded Europe that peace must not be taken for granted. While national defense forces and NATO are still the cornerstones of Europe’s security, the EU is starting to play an increasingly important role when it comes to military matters. The EU has an extensive military cooperation, with its own standing armies. In the face of conflict, how will the EU as a joint security and peace project develop in the future? Your vote decides on the 25th May 2014. 

By Lotta Herz

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Sanctions: An efficient diplomatic tool?

"Keep Sanctions Against South Africa", at a march in the UK in 1990. Source: Craig Bellamy, FlickrOn the 29th of April 2014 the BBC reported Russia’s condemnations of the ‘Iron Curtain’ style sanctions being imposed on them due to their recent actions in Ukraine. Since late November last year there have been ongoing changes in Ukraine, with mass protests organised to oppose President Yanukovych and his government. On the 1st of March 2014 the Russian Parliament approved President Putin’s request to use force in Ukraine in order to protect the rights of Russian people living there, and to protect Russia’s interests. Both the United States and the EU have begun imposing sanctions in the form of travel bans and asset freezes from March 17th. Throughout this crisis there appears to have been firm opposition from both the US and the EU to using military force to protect Ukraine’s borders, and therefore sanctions have played a vital role in the West’s response to this crisis. Sanctions have become a popular method in diplomatic relations; but have these measures really had the desired effect? Can sanctions be appropriately targeted in order to impact the higher echelons of a society, while not crippling the domestic economy so that ordinary citizens do not suffer indirectly?

By Kate O Donnell

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Asylum-Seeking Pirates: What is the EU to do?

Pirates captured in the Gulf of Aden in 2009 by the U.S. Coast Guard. Source: Wikimedia CommonsEveryday, the men and women of the European Union Naval Force do what they can to protect shipping from the threat of pirates around the Horn of Africa. Over the last five years the EU Naval Force has captured and detained countless Somali pirates. But to what end?

By Kristoffer Johansson

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Kremlin expresses concern for Russian minority in Skåne

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, housing the Ministry of CIS Affairs, Compatriots Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation Source: wikimedia commonsIn the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, based on the pretext of protecting the rights of Russian minorities in foreign countries, an important question in foreign affairs has become which other Russian populations may be a target for “protection”. Moscow has already expressed its dissatisfaction with the treatment of Russians by the Estonian government, and a recent Kremlin memorandum from the Ministry of CIS Affairs, Compatriots Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation (the authority tasked with supporting Russians abroad) reveals that allegations have also been directed against other nations where Russian minorities exist. The memorandum underlined the importance of “supporting countrymen abroad, and their right to protect their traditions, customs and way of life from the incursion of nationalists”. Alarmingly, the Swedish region of Skåne received a mention of its own in a brief passage of the full document, signed at a meeting where Russian politicians discussed the preservation of cultural and linguistic Russian minorities in Europe. Russia has previously been keen to market itself as a neighbour country to Sweden, and not a far off alien nation, by emphasising historical and cultural ties, ties which it may now regard as being under threat.

By April Fools

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Interview: Cecilia Malmström on Migration and Asylum Policy in the EU

Cecilia Malmström speaking at the UPF/LUPEF lecture. Source: UPFThe EU’s Common Migration and Asylum policies often spark heated debate between member states and parties. The Lampedusa boat disaster in October coupled with the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis have reinvigorated the debate on the EU’s responsibilities toward asylum seekers. On November 25, 2013, the current EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, was welcomed to Lund by UPF and LUPEF to speak about the challenges facing the EU’s asylum and migration policies.

By Likki Lee Pitzen

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The British Press: Sensationally Eurosceptic

Inflammatory rhetoric by the British Press. Source: Duncan Hull, FlickrEuroscepticism in the United Kingdom is hardly a new concept. Ever since the UK joined the European Communities in 1973, British people have been particularly sceptical about the way cooperation with continental Europe impacts their country’s internal affairs. The UK has traditionally been characterised by a remarkable capacity to be unhappy fully inside the European Union, while also being unhappy to be completely outside. An instrument often used to convey this Eurosceptic sentiment is the country’s press. A large part of the British press has traditionally been in the habit of employing inflammatory rhetoric when reporting EU affairs.

by Nikolaos Tsitonakis

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The Roma in Europe: 700 Years of Discrimination

Italian authorities evict residents of a Roma camp. Photo by roma.rights/FlickrWho are the most persecuted people in Europe? Jews? Muslims? Homosexuals? You could easily argue that any of these groups qualify, but there is another minority that could be considered to have good claims to the title of most persecuted; the Roma.

The Roma minority has been living in Europe since at least the 14th century and its history has been marred by persecution since.  Often they were slaves and there are many gruesome examples of the harsh attitude directed towards the Roma; e.g. a law in Switzerland in 1510 that stated that any Roma found should be put to death. England adopted similar rules in 1554 and Denmark followed in 1589. Portugal took a different approach and decided to simply deport Roma to its colonies in 1538.

By Lotta Herz

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The Eastern Partnership: An Escalation of Russian Realpolitik

Thousands of Ukrainians Protest Scrapping of Trade Pact With E.U. Source: jamesryananderson10/FlickrOn the 28th and 29th of November, Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, will host the European Union’s Eastern Partnership Summit. It has been announced that the signing of an Association Agreement with Ukraine and the initialization of similar agreements with Armenia, Moldova and Georgia are going to take place during this milestone event. However, over the course of the year, it has become evident that Russia will not give up its sphere of interest without a fight. Putin seems ready to strong-arm Russia’s neighbors into joining its own Customs Union, founded in 2010, as a move to bring the former Soviet Republics back into the fold.  

By Yana Brovidy

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Lobbying in the Name of Democracy

View of the EU district, Brussels. Source: John & Mel Klots, FlickrThere are 15,000 active lobbyists in Brussels according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). These 15 000 lobbyists are divided between 3 000 different groups that are all stationed in Brussels. They work every day to try to influence the commissioners and lawmakers of the European Union, by trying to sway them into making decisions that would benefit their organizations. In anticipation of the first ever EU anticorruption report, which is expected to be published in November this year, one may start to question the influence of these groups and the EU’s approach to them. Can the lobbyists be considered representative of the people, thereby protecting public interests, where citizens are given a chance to communicate with the lawmakers directly? Or do they pose a potential threat to democracy? How fine is the line between lobbying and corruption?

By Erik Roshagen

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