The EU should focus on selective engagement with Russia, following Mogherini’s five guiding principles. Selective engagement should not be limited solely to nominal and secondary issues, but also include strategic sectors and decisions, as we saw for example with the Iranian nuclear deal. Keeping cooperation channels open is not only necessary to address pressing issues in the international arena but can also serve as a very first basis to reduce mistrust and promote an understanding of the other party’s position.
At the same time, the EU should invest in measures to counter Russian propaganda in European soil. The EU East StratCom Task Force is a good iniative in this direction but more should be done to assess tools, channels and methods that Russia is using. This should be done in close collaboration with the member states.
Finally, the EU should continue investing in people-to-people contacts and in the support of Russian civil society organisations. Nurturing an active and resilient civil society matters today and will make a difference in any future post-Putin scenario.
Examples of those liberal solutions are for example to take action against those who have been denied asylum but nevertheless ignore orders to leave (that's also unfair to those asylum seekers who respect the rules), tackling lawlessness in dodgy areas where poorer people live and liberalising labour market rules and high taxes on labour as this destroys jobs, certainly for those with poor language skills, which as a result complicates their integration into society.
As for the elections in France, it will be interesting to see if far right politician Marine Le Pen makes it into the second round. If she then would face independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, one risk could be that he would be perceived as someone representing the status quo, especially as he's now being endorsed by politicians from President Hollande's socialist party.
In Germany, we'll likely see either a new big coalition of christian democrats and social democrats, with the real question being whether Merkel or Martin Schulz' formation will come first and deliver the Chancellor. A small chance is a coalition with Schulz including greens and far left or one with Merkel including greens and liberal. The rightwing populist AfD has lost support but is still quite certain to enter the Bundestag, all a result of Merkel's turn to the left.
Rome will be everywhere on the 25th of March. Hundreds of gatherings and marches will take place around Europe this Saturday. Again, only through a bottom-up approach will we be able to see a proper, consequential and sustainable debate on Europe's future. This will produce, surely, a reaction within the majority of political parties across the Union and hopefully will change the engagement and commitment of the mainstream European political families.
The plane is about to depart to Rome. Inspiration is high as well the pragmatism. Let's do our best and start the talk about what kind of Europe we want.
It's a beautiful and inspired message. Time is running short, but what's the best way for anyone interested to join in? And what if someone is unable to make it to Rome, is there a way for that citizen to participate?
Could Magda substantiate the claims she made in her last paragraph, on the basis of the very text of the treaty that the overwhelming majority of MEPs’ have voted in favour? Does Magda consider that all MEPs who just approved CETA are in favour of an unjust world, with more pollution, more social inequality and more power for the powerful multinationals? Isn’t that just absurd? Isn’t it just another dangerous and unsubstantiated claim against the “elites” (similar to the personal attack regarding the “clear beneficiary of investor-state dispute mechanism”)? Who is destroying the public’s trust in our institutions, if not those who falsely claim that the institutions have negotiated treaties behind the back and on the back of the people, allegedly just for the sake of the happy few?
I am sorry, but if we are going to have a meaningful debate in national and regional parliaments, it is to be hoped that debates are not based on slogans but on the basis of the text to be approved or rejected itself, unless one is eager to fuel populism and nationalism, and ultimately to destroy our Union.
It is VERY telling that the far-right and the far-left have voted hand in hand at the EP.
The EU-Canada CETA agreement goes now to national parliaments for their decision. I would advice that during the considerations the national parliaments debate the following aspects:
- How much the agreement benefits citizens and what are the risks it brings?
- What are economic impacts not only on trade, but on citizens, municipalities, SMEs from the agreement?
- What are the environmental, social and labour related impacts?
It would be also wise for any of the EU member states to consider asking a question to the European Court of Justice if art 8 of CETA agreement on the Investment Court System is compatible to EU Treaties?
There is one clear beneficiary of investor-state dispute mechanism, a handful of law firms who advise the suing company or the sued government, whichever side, they can count on their hourly fees to be paid. We should not underestimate that at the moment there are 9 EU member states that have ISDS type of agreements, with CETA through such a system will extend to EU 28(27).
And finally, regaining trust in EU project can not be done by agreeing to one of the most publicly opposed deals but by having guts to take decisions and regulate in the interest of citizens and the planet. The far right parties are exploiting grievances of people who feel left behind by the current model of corporate-led globalisation – that’s why it is important to work towards a fair and sustainable trade regime, which does not contribute to rising inequalities and injustice. CETA in its current form does not fulfil these requirements. It also means creating an international trade system that works for the poorest and respects their rights, instead of withdrawing into national boundaries.
Jo, the point you made about raising awareness and action on political and public level is an interesting one. However, I am of the view that there is enough awareness about energy poverty, but perhaps majority of the concerned people choose to ignore it. Different initiatives have been set up at national, regional and international level but the problem of energy poverty keeps escalating mostly because it is the poor people who are largely affected especially those in rural areas.
The challenge of energy poverty is actually a complex one considering the fact that we have to address the issues of accessibility, reliability and affordability. Efforts to address the issue of accessibility and perhaps reliability can be envisaged regionally through the development of regional power grids and establishment of regional power pools- but there is still a big challenge with regard to the issue of affordability given the fact that majority of the people in rural areas will not afford modern energy like electricity since most of them rely on less than 3 dollars a day. So, even if modern energy is accessible and reliable, if the majority of people mostly in rural areas can not afford it, then they will opt for cheap energy such as biomass fuel-and this will definitely escalate deforestation (and of course climate change comes into play here)
I would suggest that the global community especially those international organisations such as UN and World Bank, take some steps to address the challenge differently. There is a need to re-define the problem of energy poverty and all the strategies that have been used previously, because clearly the challenge of energy poverty keeps escalating in Sub-Saharan Africa despite all the efforts and initiatives we have been seeing globally. The global community also tends to duplicate initiatives instead of discussing how the challenge can be tackled differently.
Affordable energy is or
should be a basic right for all people. As I mentioned before it is also a
matter of justice. If it is not guaranteed we risk social uprisings as
energy is a facilitator for other fundamental needs like lightning, heat
and a decent level of comfort.
We definitely must raise the
awareness and action on political and public level. Compared to
environmental problems like global warming and ozone depletion, the social
dimension of energy poverty is even more visible. This might help
to stress the urgency of the matter.