Saturday

28th May 2022

Ultraconservatives in Putin's shadow

Vladimir Putin's Ukraine war has threatened to be a public relations disaster for hard-right gatherings like the Conservative Political Action Conference — now meeting in Budapest and featuring Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who remains highly-cordial with the Kremlin.

To Kyiv — and back

Would you pick up a gun and fight for Ukraine? The injustice of the Russian invasion has led white-collar professionals like Florent and Thomas to trade suits and ties for camouflage and Kalashnikovs.

Foreign fighter diaries — Part 2

In this episode Thomas and his unit arrive in Kyiv, as part of efforts to try to stop Putin's army from taking the capital.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms
Foreign fighter diaries

Last week, Thomas lived in Brussels with a white-collar office job. Today, Thomas is in the international brigades, comprised of foreign fighters from all over the world, patrolling Ukrainian streets against Russian incursions, on Europe's new frontline.

Eurafrique

Could Françafrique — the French sphere of influence that outlived the end of French colonialism — still be revived on a European scale, as Eurafrique?

European shibboleths

Europe is green, humane and has defeated populism. These are common views among the EU chattering classes. But they often seem more reflexive than reflective, and some of them amount to shibboleths.

Transparency, Interrupted

The European Union adopted its access regulation at the turn of this century. But as work went digital, the rules have failed to keep pace. A lot still goes unrecorded or unregistered, and cannot be accessed easily, if at all.

Quick Take: Enrico Letta

Speaking at the Global Progressive Forum, former Italian prime minister Enrico Letta describes the victim-shaming of Italy and Spain during the financial crisis - and explains how a big bag of money from Brussels may be helping heal the wounds.

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The climate allies Europe needs

With the COP26 climate conference about to get underway in Glasgow, major breakthroughs look elusive. Among the spectres at the feast are raging geopolitical tensions, high energy prices, the ongoing pandemic and a lack of diplomatic vigour from Europe.

Hedegaard on the hazards of stalling climate action

In 2009 Connie Hedegaard presided over the Copenhagen climate conference that ended in rancour - and left Europe on the sidelines. Hedegaard went on to become the first European commissioner for climate action.

A hunger strike at the heart of Europe

This summer some 450 undocumented workers and migrants in Brussels refused food during two months. They were protesting Belgian immigration rules that human rights officials and campaigners say arbitrarily obstruct them from legal and stable residency.

Eurocrats who look like Europe

There is a double standard at the heart of the European Commission. Women — mostly white women — benefit from affirmative action when applying for jobs. But people of colour seeking advancement do not benefit from special consideration.

First aid for Polish democracy

Parallels with the Soviet era are increasingly evident in Poland - where the ruling coalition hounds judges and captures courts.

Why Ursula von der Leyen won't go

Ursula von der Leyen appears secure in her job as president of the European Commission. That's despite a troubled vaccine rollout in which delayed deliveries can cost lives and livelihoods.

Taking Brexit personally

James Crisp has Boris Johnson's old job in Brussels covering EU affairs for The Daily Telegraph. He often writes with that jaundiced eye on the European project you'd expect from a correspondent on a venerable Conservative UK newspaper.

When Conservatives endanger democracy

In this episode Daniel Ziblatt discusses the dilemmas facing Europe's modern-day conservative parties - including the German Christian Democratic Union and the European People's Party.

Citizen deliberation in light of an insurrection

Can the EU do more to hold back the kinds of malign forces that overran the US Capitol? It's not an idle question. Democratic shortcomings in the EU are regularly invoked by the far-right to whip up nationalist sentiment.

Honesty is the best policy

Politicians mostly talk about shutting migrants out. That endangers migrants' lives and obscures an important truth: that Europe already relies on large numbers of migrants for farming and manufacturing.

Showdowns over the rule of law

Brussels is increasingly expected to serve as the European Union's sheriff on rule of law - but its ability to enforce adherence to democratic norms and values remains weak.

Europe on a power trip

"Strategic autonomy" has become the mantra for European Union officials. But now with Joe Biden as US president-elect, and prospects for a renewal of trans-Atlantic ties, the urgency and relevance of the concept are again up for debate.

Apostles of intersectionality challenge Europe

Intersectionality is the concept that overlapping identities - disability, gender, race and sexual-orientation for example - create forms of discrimination that can go unaddressed. But many EU leaders are wary of the kind of identity politics that intersectionality implies.

Online violence: Stories from Bulgaria and Spain

Bigots and far-right extremists are using online violence to try to silence feminists and LGBT people. It's a cowardly tactic since perpetrators don't even have to meet their targets. We hear stories from two Europeans on the receiving end

Ylva Johansson on Migration and Drama Queens

Commissioner for home affairs, Ylva Johansson, would like to win the approval of all EU member states for a new proposal for a common asylum and migration policy - something her predecessors failed to do.

Data and Dystopia

Despite concerns about civil liberties and activities of companies like Clearview AI and Palantir, EU authorities are shaping a new industrial policy around artificial intelligence.

Standing up to bullies with Frans Timmermans

To succeed Timmermans needs to stand up to governments and vested interests rushing to reboot economies crashed by the coronavirus. That means ensuring the trillions of euros the EU and its member states spend transform rather than entrench polluting industries.

Winning the Car Wars

Lockdowns in response to the coronavirus mean quieter cities, clearer skies and easier breathing. For many city dwellers the lack of cars has been a revelation amid the suffering and loss inflicted by Covid-19.

Angst over 'Italexit'

Italians were hit hardest when the coronavirus landed in Europe but the European Union was slow to help the country. The president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has apologised — twice.

The high price of muzzling media

The coronavirus outbreak has been a pretext for government censorship and a crackdown on journalists, who have been exposed to new criminal charges as well as violent attacks.

Crisis communications

When journalists were barred from the EU commission press room in March because of coronavirus, the relatively-new chief spokesperson, Eric Mamer, amiable Frenchman, had to improvise.

Věra Jourová on surveillance and Covid-19

Commissioner for values and transparency, Věra Jourová, says Brussels will vet moves in Hungary to give prime minister Viktor Orbán scope to rule by decree and urges Facebook and Google to push official health advice to WhatsApp and YouTube.

Coronavirus vs Democracy

Concern is growing that emergency powers deployed to control the coronavirus pandemic will be used to erode democracy and civil rights.

A Field Guide to Autocrats

Beware the modernisers and saviours - autocrats often play the 'saving democracy' card as they undermine it.