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.
Regarding Russia's drive to end the sanctions and at the same time claiming that they have no effect, it is clear Russia is caught up in its own propaganda. If the sanctions have no effect then who cares? Yet they do have an effect, and quite a big one.
According to data, more than half of Russia's population is now living below Russia's official poverty level and the economy is in very bad shape. The environment around Putin is angry because they accumulated billions and now they can't spend. The circle is becoming smaller and smaller, as a result of which Putin's paranoia is increasing by the day. Yet the message is that the sanctions have no effect. He could not say otherwise: to acknowledge would mean to acknowledge defeat.
One thing to keep in mind though is the particular Russian trait of survivalism: even under the most dire circumstances they are able to continue, survive, accept and swallow. So in that sense, the sanctions did not bring the country to its knees, for sure. But from a political and moral point of view, giving them up would be the worst possible scenario and would expand the life-span of Putin's regime considerably. Patience is the key here, but patience is what most Western European politicians don't have.
I think one of the big problems is that Putin c.s. are very effectively using Soviet propaganda methods by creating the impression that Russia is encircled with enemies ("fascists") and has the right to defend itself. By doing so it denies a number of very fundamental issues that are too complex for a wider public that wants simple answers.
First of all, it was the USSR that helped build the German army in the 1920s; it was the USSR that concluded the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact with Nazi-Germany; the republics that suffered most from the Nazi invasion were Belarus and Ukraine, not Russia. And then a sad fact is that Russia currently has the largest fascist movement on the European continent, has a government and leader that is quite fascist in its ways of operating and is currently the biggest threat to world peace. So I think a prolongation of sections is logical, but knowing Western politicians I also know they won't maintain this forever and Putin is just counting on this.
As soon as Trump is in power the whole political constellation in the world is going to shift, and with the US gone (e.g. because Trump will be bogged down by scandals at home) Europe will have a hard time standing up to a dictator who has no norms or values whatsoever - has, as Simon Baron-Cohen puts it, no or negative empathy.