Brexit: a summary of the situation (Part 2)

Barbara Zak

Brussels’ response : you can’t have your cake and eat it too

British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) welcomes President of the European Council Donald Tusk (R) to 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, 08 September 2016. May and Tusk held talks on Britain's exit from the European Union. EPA/ANDY RAIN

British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) welcomes President of the European Council Donald Tusk (R) to 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, 08 September 2016. May and Tusk held talks on Britain’s exit from the European Union. EPA/ANDY RAIN

Following the announcement of the results of the referendum on the membership of the United Kingdom (UK) to the European Union (EU), it was understood that the EU respected the change of heart of the majority of the UK citizens. EU leaders do not want to go back in time but agree on the UK leaving the EU as soon as possible. Brussels is simply waiting for the formal notification of the UK to trigger the article 50 of the TEU. Even Donald Tusk (the President of the European Council) told Theresa May “the ball is in your court”. However the EU refuses to negotiate with the UK until the government has triggered the article. The reason may be the fear of contagion of a “Brexit” in other EU member states – Brussels is afraid of the ripple effect. With the rise of nationalism and populism, we can expect from far-right ruling parties to claim a referendum about leaving the EU in their countries. Moreover, the current uncertainty around the economy of the UK can have repercussions on the EU’s trade. The decrease of investments in the UK can be contagious to the European continent. There is an economic and ideological cost to the delay of the withdrawal of the UK.

            The heads of the member states, without the head of state of the UK, met informally on the 16th of September 2016 in Slovakia in what is called the Bratislava summit. The aim of this meeting, which was already planned before the referendum, was to discuss the stability and security of the EU. The withdrawal of the UK was not on the agenda of this gathering. However, it was more a way to show the unity and thus the strength and solidarity of the EU. However, on the inside, the EU is at a crisis – it is only a matter of time before another member state reveals its intention to withdraw from the Union. For instance, a referendum on the EU relocation plan will be held in Hungary on the 2nd of October 2016, which goes against the EU refugee policies. This “EU Quotas Referendum” illustrates the fact that some members of the EU disagree with the policies of the EU – it may be the beginning of their rebellion. As a matter of fact, the heads of states of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia recently met several times as the Visegrád Group in order to discuss the issues related to the EU. As a consequence, the EU cannot be too soft towards the UK in order not to incite other member states to do the same. The argument of the economy is the strongest: the single market can be open to the UK only if they accept the free movement of people. Leaving the EU does not mean abandoning its drawbacks while still benefiting from its advantages.

The conundrum of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar

            Even though the “leave” won over the “remain” in the EU referendum, anti-Brexiters still cannot recover from the results, in particular in the parts of the UK where the “remain” was overwhelming: Scotland (62%), Northern Ireland (55.8%) and Gibraltar (95.9%).

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland (Photo: GETTY)

            Many Scots, right after the announcements of the results of the UK referendum, asked for a second referendum on this topic. However, May’s government declared that a second referendum would not be held. There are some possibilities about a second Scottish independence referendum though – but not before the article 50 of the TEU is triggered. Nevertheless, both Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians, along with polls, are against the will of the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon to have a second independence referendum. Actually, the “Reverse-Greenland” concept may be the solution for Scotland as they wish to stay in the UK and in the EU. Parts of the UK can maintain Britain’s membership of the EU. This means that Scotland does not need to apply to access the EU. The Greenland solution refers to the Greenland treaty which entered into force in 1985, following the Greenlandic referendum of 1982: Greenland, at that time part of Denmark, could leave the EU while Denmark was still a member state of the EU. In the case of Scotland, it is the opposite situation. Scotland would have an associate membership of the Union, namely the access to the single market, EU citizenship and free movement of goods/people/workers/students. They will pay membership dues. In a nutshell, they would take the seat of the UK in Brussels.

The case of Northern Ireland is a bit different from Scotland. Leaving the EU would mean too big economic consequences for Northern Ireland in comparison with Britain. There is the fear of losing the agricultural subsidies that are actually much needed and in demand by farmers. In addition, the transaction costs for trading in the EU (that did not exist before) would be overwhelming for Northern Ireland. Instability would resume in Northern Ireland’s situation. Another problem, that is geographical this time, would be the border with Ireland, which is a member state of the EU. Irish people are afraid to turn back in time to the Troubles period (conflict in Northern Ireland during the late 20th century). Thus they aspire to keep the free movement and the customs union across the border – the trade between two states decreases the possibility of them being at war. However, everything is in the hands of May’s government and the EU’s willingness to be flexible during the future negotiations. Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s First Minister stays confident – Theresa May should not negotiate a Brexit that simply suits English interests. Yet the best option for Northern Ireland would be the same as Scotland: the Reverse-Greenland solution, that is to say to remain in the UK and in the EU.

Gibraltar was one of the territories where the “remain” vote was strong: nearly 100%. The main reason is the economy: Gibraltar imports exclusively from the EU. The transaction costs for trading with the EU would be utterly crushing Gibraltar. The Reverse-Greenland solution could be effective, only if there was no hiccup – more precisely, a Spanish hitch. In fact, Spain has a sovereign claim over Gibraltar due to its history. If the UK leaves the EU, Spain could isolate Gibraltar from Europe by building a wall alongside the border. Crossing the wall would mean paying border fees. In the case of applying the Reverse-Greenland solution, Gibraltarians are afraid that Spain would not accept it and veto it. The Spanish Government could veto the terms of any Brexit negotiation between the UK and the EU that sought to include Gibraltar. Indeed, Spain is fully entitled to do so: as soon as the UK activates the withdrawal process, the European Council must agree the broad terms of the withdrawal negotiation by unanimity. Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation José Manuel García-Margallo is resolute and says Spain will not leave the case until it receives at least the joint control of Gibraltar. As a result, Gibraltarians call for a second referendum explaining that the “leave” option was not clear enough – yet it is well understood that it is probably their last hope to stay in the EU.

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Sources:

Brussels’ response

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/sep/08/donald-tusk-theresa-may-article-50-brexit-negotiations-eu

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/25/uk-faces-brexit-crisis

https://theconversation.com/brexit-et-dependances-61830

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/16/bratislava-summit-donald-tusk-urges-eu-leaders-not-to-waste-brexit-crisis

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/15/bratislava-summit-what-is-on-eu-27s-agenda—and-what-is-not—a/

http://www.france24.com/fr/20160916-sommet-bratislava-ue-relancer-apres-brexit

Scotland

http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/683056/Brexit-will-Scotland-leave-UK-Britain-second-Scottish-independence-referendum-break-up

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-scotland-nicola-sturgeon-eu-uk-theresa-may-scottish-veto-block-withdrawal-a7141231.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-3805290/Sturgeon-call-second-Scottish-independence-referendum-autumn-2017.html

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/17/nicola-sturgeon-would-consider-2017-scottish-independence-referendum-brexit

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/706467/Nicola-Sturgeon-humiliated-Scots-second-independence-referendum-vote-Brexit-EU

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/28/the-guardian-view-on-a-second-scottish-referendum-sturgeon-has-no-choice-but-caution

http://www.itv.com/news/2016-08-13/uk-could-do-a-reverse-greenland-to-allow-scotland-to-remain-in-the-eu/

Northern Ireland

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/aug/10/northern-ireland-leaders-set-out-brexit-demands-to-theresa-may

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jul/25/theresa-may-hard-border-fears-northern-ireland-visit-brexit

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2016/07/brexit-beginning-end-northern-ireland

http://www.lemonde.fr/referendum-sur-le-brexit/article/2016/07/27/l-irlande-casse-tete-de-l-apres-brexit-pour-theresa-may_4975155_4872498.html

Gibraltar

http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/665033/EU-Referendum-2016-What-Brexit-Mean-for-Gibraltar-Rock-British-Territory-Spain

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/650355/Brexit-threat-Spain-will-control-Gibralter-soon-as-Britain-leaves-EU

http://chronicle.gi/2016/07/spain-could-veto-brexit-talks-margallo-says/

http://chronicle.gi/2016/03/britain-must-include-gibraltar-in-post-brexit-negotiations-report-says/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36618796

https://www.ft.com/content/bea8ecf4-452a-11e6-9b66-0712b3873ae1

Read more:

https://theconversation.com/the-eu-bratislava-summit-explained-65604

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/13/expel-hungary-from-eu-for-hostility-to-refugees-says-luxembourg

http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-scotland-greenland-idUKKCN0ZJ0A1

Reklamy

European Youth Event 2016 #2

Kamil Augustyniak

 

Photo: Vako Karchava

Photo: Vako Karchava

European Youth Event was a great opportunity not only for young generation to meet and share already gained experience, but also for EU authorities to understand better what ideas, concerning European matters, are hidden in students’ and pupils’ heads. Great place, great forum, great discussion with great people – this is the essence of the mentioned event. Since all meetings were held in Strasbourg, everyone could see European Parliament from inside, try to vote, hear simultaneous translations and finally decide whether this place suits them or not. Personally I was absolutely excited about the work of interpreters. When observing how this profession is essential when talking about communication and fighting its barriers, I saw numerous advantages of being one of them in the future.

Photo: Vako Karchava

Photo: Vako Karchava

Two days of participation in discussions made me think about some matters in which my opinion was totally opposite. Before I came to Strasbourg I was convinced that Union should do all its best to guarantee payable apprenticeship at all steppingstones, no matter if someone is at the very beginning of its career or already has some professional experience. The issue concerning payments was raised by one of the participants who claimed that all internships should be paid in order to move to another country to intern and allow young generation to become independent. In response, experts said that such idealistic approach would have catastrophic consequences due to drastic decrease of trainings in Member States as well as in EU institutions. Such practice would scare off enterprises and it is not a point we all want to achieve. The solution was proposed by another clever participant who highlighted the necessity of cooperation among universities or even schools with companies, so that students could start their professional path in befriended firms. However, as long as this matter exceeds EU competences and concerns only MS’s internal management, the Union can only promote and encourage such cooperation. Though there were numerous panels to participate in, it was impossible to take part in every single one.

Photo: Vako Karchava

Photo: Vako Karchava

The last I have picked was about robotics and its purpose in real life. Various experts were talking about how the world is rapidly changing in the sphere of computers, robots and other electronic devices. Since the meeting was interactive, students were willing to ask different questions concerning near future scenarios. Final conclusion was that even if technological progress reduces employment in some occupations, surely it will create brand new professions we cannot currently even imagine.

Being the one who is interested in working in EU structures I appreciate the effort of European Youth Event 2016 organizers. Even if I know many issues concerning creating good CV and cover letter or the idea how Union works, the others’ opinions, points of view or their stories made distant career closer and more tangible.

Click HERE to read the first part of our coverage.

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Multilingual Europe

Kamil Augustyniak

In the very beginning, the European Union was established in order to challenge the politics and economy, to give Europeans a field to cooperate and to unify their nations even on grounds of culture. Through all these years various mechanisms were implemented to clarify and stabilize the situation, no matter what background it had. Surely, Europe experienced a lot of conflicts but thanks to that it learned how to react in certain situations and to what focus its attention the most. Although, currently, the EU is struggling with migrants and the presence of United Kingdom within the Union is questioned, there are some issues which are not being discussed almost at all but seem to be crucial when talking about European integration.

Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

Multilingual Europe

Europe of multitude of languages is both advantage and disadvantage. International arena is a place where not only political and economic interests intersect each other but is also a background highlighting cultural differences, especially languages. Hence international communication is difficult on any grounds, dealing with multilingualism is a first challenge of all international organizations gathering entities which speak in different languages. This is why, in order to ensure good communication within its structures, some languages are established to be official and to which all the documents, declarations or agreements are being translated. The bigger the organization is, the demand for smooth communication increases.

EU likes every language

Although the European Union does not outstand by its size among the organizations all over the world, its multilingualism policy is much more complex than any other. Along with expansion of the Communities (later the European Union) specific regulation was amended by adding a new official languages of the member states joining the Union. Starting from one official language (French), the list of them expanded to reach 24 in 2013 after last accession of Croatia. The language system of the European Union has very deep foundations based on principle preserving national identity of all member states. One of the most important act concerning this issue is EU Charter of Fundamental Rights – art. 22:

“The Union shall respect cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.”

European Union law…Droit de l’Union européenne…Europarecht…Prawo Unii Europejskiej

Source: artelis.pl

Source: artelis.pl

Since the complexity of the rule mentioned above is crucial to preserve proper European integration, the most important goal to protect linguistic diversity is to ensure the availability of EU law to all citizens. For this reason, each EU institution has created departments dealing with language translations and 24 sections consisting of interpreters translating acts of the European Union. All official versions of documents are considered to be equivalent and authentic. What is more, every EU citizen has the right to send petitions, to address the institutions and bodies and even to obtain a reply in their own language. This right is guaranteed under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – art. 20:

Citizens of the Union shall enjoy the rights and be subject to the duties provided for in the Treaties. They shall have, inter alia: (…) (d) the right to petition the European Parliament, to apply to the European Ombudsman, and to address the institutions and advisory bodies of the Union in any of the Treaty languages and to obtain a reply in the same language. (…).

At this point the EU successes since it united in diversity. However, with so many languages and texts, it is easy to notice the danger which the EU has to face with when implementing its innovative linguistic pluralism policy. Multiple translations rise a further risk of not presenting the correct content of the message (sometimes it is a translation of a translation). Therefore, it causes some logistic and financial issues and then all these infringements can have serious consequences, e.g. conflict between member states or inconsistent application of EU law.

For what?

The Union seeks to facilitate crossing language barriers for delegates and representatives of member states, barriers that could limit full and comprehensive participation in the work of EU institutions. This is achieved by simultaneous translations which are especially important during plenary sessions of the Parliament, during which there are 800-1000 interpreters translating the text from original language into their natives. However, taking into account constraints of time and money, translation of all documents to all working languages is impossible. Therefore, the most commonly used are English, French and German.

To sum up, linguistic diversity is one of the factors that undoubtedly distinguishes the European Union but also brings many difficulties when speaking about its practical use. Since there are more than 500 language combinations within the EU working languages and all of these translations have to be done, sometimes the translated versions are not completely identical and, consequently, bring many legal issues in the process of further implementation.

Check out interesting case-law related to linguistic diversity in the European Union:

Case T‑185/05: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=68778&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=936026

 

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Commission starts rule of law debate

Agnieszka S.

It seems that Poland’s actions are perceived as negative in the eyes of the Western European Member States. This time however, the case is much more serious than a missing flag. In the face of the recent developmental changes that the government of Poland had introduced, the European Commission has expressed its concerns regarding whether those changes operate in accordance with the Rule of Law or not. Since the Commission’s task is to ensure the respect of the European Union law along with safeguarding the fundamental values of the Union, some steps had to be taken in order to clarify this situation.

EC

Polish Constitutional Tribunal and the media case

The first issue is related to the composition of the Polish Constitutional Court. The European Union has started to work on that matter on the 23rd of December 2015, when Mr Timmermans wrote a request to have further information about the different Constitutional Tribunal judgements of the Polish Government. On the same day the Polish Government had requested a legal assessment from the Venice Commission (a body of the Council of Europe through which independent experts of constitutional law give advisory opinions that are not binding) as it was proposed in the letter of Mr Timmermans. However without waiting for the answer, the Polish Government began to finish the legislative process. The statement of the Polish Government concerning this matter is very simple – they are trying to clean up the mess that the previous governing party has made. Changes that were made in the Polish Constitutional Court are a fight of gaining power in this area, but what is worth considering is the fact that when the previous government in Poland was acting in the same way, nobody was interested in that and no one wanted to take a closer look on the case. However, it does not justify the actions taken by PiS because as a new governing party, they should try to rule the country in a better way than the previous one. (read more here)

The second topic of this significant attention of the EU is related to the legal changes on the Public Service Broadcasters. In another letter received by the Polish Government on the 30th of December 2015 in which, along with asking for more details on the situation, Vice-President Timmermans asked if the EU law and the need to promote media pluralism were taken into account while preparing those changes. Poland answered by denying the possible disadvantageous impact on the media pluralism claiming and that in other Member States the situation is very similar and no one is judging them for it. (read more)

Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission (EPA/PATRICK SEEGER)

Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission (EPA/PATRICK SEEGER)

The EU has a strong interest in safeguarding and strengthening the rule of law across the Union. However, in order to take some actions, there must be some suspicions about the defect on a system that prevents the country from a well-functioning legal system. Then it has to collect some data – evidences of breaching the law, it was done in a debate that took place on the 13th of January 2016, the main officials responsible for the presentation of the EU’s point of view were: responsible for the framework of the rule of law – First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and two Commissioners – Věra Jourová responsible for justice and Günther Oettinger responsible for media policy. The debate ended with the decision of the Commission to initiate the monitoring procedure of the rule of law in Poland. Next step was the dialogue with the Member State that took place on the 19th of January 2016 in the European Parliament, where the actual Prime Minister of Poland Beata Szydło had to defend the arguments of the Polish Government concerning two mentioned cases. PM Szydło put a lot of effort to convince everyone that Poland is a democratic country and indicated that:

“our history has taught us that our Polish issues should be settle in our Polish home. Because whenever they were fixed for us by others, we ended up very badly”.

The forthcoming steps that European Commission can take are giving recommendations to Poland. In the case of ignoring Commission’s recommendations for changes by the EU member, the very last step would be to put specific sanctions on Poland. Though, voting by unanimity would have to be used in such a case.

Polish PM Beata Szydło (AP/EPA)

Polish PM Beata Szydło (AP/EPA)

Some may think that the EU should not interfere with Poland’s matters. While the whole Europe is shaken and full of fears in regard of what is happening in one of its countries, the EU should always keep the Rule of Law as a main principle. Everyone can agree that Poland has some obligations to fulfil not only as a Member State of European Union but most of all as a civilized democratic country in Europe. They should always put the Rule of Law as a main principle. Although what strikes me the most in this situation is not actually the question of a breach of law but the media influence and their actual input in the whole situation. For the past few months, in Polish newspapers, news on the television or radio we could hear more and more negative statements and criticism about the governing party, even though they have just started their cadence. It seems that the other party is mad following its loss. Unfortunately for them democracy assumes in itself that the majority has welcome PiS as the winning party. Reputation is something that each of us is building up for years and it is a real shame that Poland is losing its standing in the international arena. Thanks to the media, now everyone is scared away from Poland.

References:

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-62_en.htm

http://www.tvn24.pl/wiadomosci-z-kraju,3/beata-szydlo-w-trakcie-debaty-w-parlamencie-europejskim,612106.html

Blue or White-Red?

Agnieszka S.

Source: interia360.pl/swiat/europa/artykul/dzien-unii-europejskiej-obchody-1-majowe,45430

Source: interia360.pl/swiat/europa/artykul/dzien-unii-europejskiej-obchody-1-majowe,45430

Almost one month ago, in Poland we could observe an enormous conflict concerning the European Union flag. The information about its disappearance during weekly news conference on November 24, between Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło, and the journalists after the first Polish government sitting when the changing of the Cabinet just happened, has spread all around Europe with the question: „What does this action actually mean?”

The European Union flag is not only a symbol of the organization itself but also of the unity, solidarity and harmony between the member states and people living in there. Circle of 12 gold stars on a blue background takes its existence in the year 1955, when it was designed for use of the Council of Europe. But just 16 out of 28 member states had declared the flag „as symbol to express the sense of community of the people in the European Union and their allegiance to it”(1). This would mean, that in countries other than Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and the Slovak Republic usage of the European Union flag is not necessary.

2 Dec. 2015 Cabinet of Ministers' session in Ukraine – not yet in EU, but already using the flag (©Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine )

2 Dec. 2015 Cabinet of Ministers’ session in Ukraine – not yet in EU, but already using the flag (©Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine )

It means, that from the legal point of view, Polish PM did nothing wrong – she just broke the practice of her predecessor and removed the EU flag from the press conference. Mass media, however, are putting to it some different meaning by quoting words of PM Beata Szydło that „we will realize, from now on those conferences on the most beautiful in my opinion white-red flag”(2). Boooomm! And now everyone is gossips that EU flag is not beautiful enough for the Polish PM and that it will be just the first action out of many carried out by Polish national-conservative political party which will turn away Poland from the European Union. Is that really the case? Well, I guess we will see what the future will bring. Now I can just say it is a huge shame that most of the articles concerning this issue are not quoting first few lines of what PM Szydło has said when asked why the flags are not in the meeting – „We are active member of the European Union. I hope that we will be even more active member of the EU […] I am very happy that today in this difficult times we are members of the EU and NATO because as you can see and hear, the situation is not so good „(2). It sounds so against the EU…

For now, I think that we don’t have to worry too much about the place of European Union flag in Poland, as it is still visible in some significant places like the Polish Parliament and the entrance to the Polish Prime Minister Chancellery hanging nicely and proudly. Instead of choosing between blue or white-red, we should focus our attention on the matters concerning future plans of the European Union in the ongoing difficult situations, because in some time in the future, maybe we will have nothing to chose from.

13 Feb. 2014 in Hungary Tamás Gaudi-Nagy throws out from the window "symbol of colonialism" - never mind signed declaration... (Source: pi-news.net)

13 Feb. 2014 in Hungary Tamás Gaudi-Nagy throws out from the window „symbol of colonialism” – never mind signed declaration… (Source: pi-news.net)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: pi-news.net

Source: pi-news.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1) https://www.ecb.europa.eu/ecb/legal/pdf/c_32620121026en_symbols_of_the_eu.pdf

(2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GDDJSKb_7A

http://europa.eu/about-eu/basic-information/symbols/flag/index_en.htm

http://www.tvn24.pl/wiadomosci-z-kraju,3/szydlo-wystapila-bez-flag-unii-europejskiej-zagraniczne-media,597320.html

http://m.dailyjournal.net/view/story/3d5351b469e74087b10fcc94f7ab4468/EU–Poland-EU

http://polska.newsweek.pl/beata-szydlo-pozbywa-sie-flagi-unii-europejskiej-czy-pozwala-na-to-prawo-,artykuly,374672,1.html

Polish Parliamentary Elections seen through Western European Countries’ Eyes

Barbara Zak

Prime Minister Beata Szydło and Jarosław Kaczyński (Leader of PiS), JANEK SKARZYNSKI / AFP

Prime Minister Beata Szydło and Jarosław Kaczyński (Leader of PiS), JANEK SKARZYNSKI / AFP

It has been almost two months since the results of the Polish parliamentary elections have been revealed to the public. The overwhelming victory went to the Law and Justice party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS), which earned 37.58% of the total votes. This succes allowed the party to have 235 seats out of 460 – that is to say that they managed to seize the absolute majority of the Sejm (one of the Polish chambers) which is 230 seats plus another seat. The party also gained the absolute majority in the Senate with 61 seats out of 100. It is significant to note that the party that came in second place, the Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska, PO), which is also the party that won the two previous elections, gained only 24.09% of the votes, namely 138 seats out of 460 seats in the Sejm and 34 seats out of 100 seats in the Senate. The third and fourth parties’ results do not exceed the 50 seats mark and have no seats in the Senate. No left-wing party has won any seat in the parliament – a fact that is utterly inconceivable in Western European democracies.

The significant difference between the results is not to be taken lightly since it illustrates the position of Poles towards the administration of their country : they have entirely trusted PiS with its promises and have provided it with all the tools needed to rule the country (we should not forget that the political affiliation of the incumbent President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda, is PiS). To sum up, PiS has received enough seats to govern alone.

Every victory shall be congratulated, particularly when it is an overpowering victory. Polish press magazines have mentionned the party PiS as the main winner and have praised its considerable success. However, words of congratulations could not be found in Western European countries’ newspapers. The words used in the headlines on French, English, Spanish and Italian newspapers were very negative. The words „Eurosceptic, conservative, nationalist, ultranationalist, populist, extremist, extreme right-wing, far-right party, xenophobic” were used to depict the winner of the elections.

The Western European countries’ opinions

(AFP Photo/Janek Skarzynski)

Jarosław Kaczyński and Beata Szydło celebrating its victory (AFP Photo/Janek Skarzynski)

Western European countries’ newspapers have explained PiS’ victory as the result of an anti-migration campaign, an anti-internationalisation of the country, a promise to keep young Polish people from moving to other countries because of unemployment, a return to the nuclear family with a ban of the modern Western family, the support of the Roman-Catholic church, a pro-rural campaign and helping poorer areas of the country. They have warned that the possible constitutional reforms could immerse the country into disastrous relations with the European Union (EU). Medias have shared their worries about the future of Poland regarding its membership of the EU. The tensions between Paris/Berlin and Warsaw may arise. Since the pro-European Polish government (composed of PO members) is no longer in office, the relations between EU institutions and the new „excessively” conservative and nationalist government could be turbulent. Moreover, the fact that PiS claims to be more of a pro-American party is very worrisome in the eyes of Western European countries. Poland is gradually looking towards the United States of America, meaning that it seems to be willing to have an ally against the „permanent Russian threat” they’re facing. Poland asked the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to focus on providing it with missile shield – as the EU does not have a common army or defence plans, the only solution found by Poland was beyond the Atlantic ocean.

Source: ALIK KEPLICZ / AP

Jarosław Kaczyński (ALIK KEPLICZ / AP)

The media of Western European countries assimilate the electoral campaign of PiS as propaganda, using fear as its main tool. Every means is good to illustrate how dangerous this party is. The most quoted sentence by Jarosław Kaczyński that can be found in the newspapers is basically that immigrants are like parasites that will bring various diseases. Medias remind the population that this kind of xenophobic speech was used against Jews during Hitler’s ascension to power. The leader of the Polish party is compared to the totalitarian personalities of the XXth century. Authors of these articles say they foresee his eventual coup d’état because of his undeniable thirst of power – Beata Szydło, the current Polish prime minister, is more of a screen to Kaczyński’s actions rather than an independent figure.

After the results of the parliamentary elections were out, Mr Kaczyński’s first words during his speech were a tribute to his late twin brother who died along with his wife in a plane crash while he was President of the Republic of Poland. In addition to the fact that their daughter was also present, the media of Europe perceived this as a means to move the population by reminding them of their well-liked late President.They remarked that he did not speak of the promises the party made.

Online version of the Italian nawspaper "La Stampa" right after the results

Online version of the Italian nawspaper „La Stampa” right after the results

The media said his speech was not appropriate for a winning speech. Moreover, Mr Kaczyński’s admiration for the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who is perceived as Hungary’s next dictator, worries the Western European journalists. They are afraid that Poland’s politics and diplomatical relationship with other European countries would become similar to Hungary’s. The fear of authoritarian government and the weakening of democracy values can be found in every article talking about this subject. The constitutional reforms were the first step Orbán took to cement his position. „Kaczyński’s party is willing to do the same” can be seen in the press in Western Europe.  Furthermore, the medias tend to remind that Poland needs the European funds in order to develop itself. Thus the idea of electing a Eurosceptic government should be unthinkable for Poles. French researcher, essayist and political commentator Jean-Yves Camus has said in an interview with Le Figaro (a French newspaper) that member states from the Eastern part of Europe think they are like lower-ranking associates – however it is untrue, he claims, since they are represented by important European commissionners (the former Polish prime minister Donald Tusk (PO) who is now the President of the European Council, is a revealing example of it).

 Poland’s response to the accusations

"Indestructible - what will Jaroslaw Kaczynski do now?" says Polish magazine Do Rzeczy

„Indestructible – what will Jaroslaw Kaczynski do now?” says Polish magazine Do Rzeczy

Nevertheless, all of these negative views of the winning party are not shared by the Polish people nor Polish media. In theory, PiS is a right-wing, national-conservative party. PO is also a right-wing party. The true far right, Eurosceptic party of Poland is KORWiN (Coalition for the Renewal of the Republic – Liberty and Hope). But PiS’ campaign was depicted as caring about the interests of Poland and of Polish people. In the public opinion, Poland has indeed received a huge amount of funds but in return their political moves were dictated by the EU’s most powerful governments, which are Western European countries. Poles reckon that the PO government has sold everything (especially banks and supermarkets) to foreigners and speculators, thus Polish little companies have perished. The reason why Polish people have voted for PiS is that they have wished for some changes in the internal situaiton of the country but also in their everyday life. PO being pro-EU was not well-perceived by Poles in the end. Harsh critics has been made against the President of the European Council Donald Tusk and the former prime minister Ewa Kopacz, depicted as puppets of the EU. Poland is starting to refuse the authority of Western Europe, for instance regarding the quotas of migrants it is told to welcome. The new government promised to make the voice of Poland to be heard. Right after the elections, Polish newspapers have written that Poles are looking at the new government with hope for a better change.

The main motto of the Western European medias is „be aware of PiS governing Poland”. It is not well accepted that a conservative, Eurosceptic and xenophobic party, as they call it, was allowed to form the new government representing Poland. These are the statements that can be found in Western European countries’ newspapers and their influence on the population is huge. They know they play an important role in shaping the public opinion. The position of the media will divide the EU more and more. However, we cannot hide the fact that this government has been elected in a democratic way. This is the answer of the Polish people towards their difficulties and worries. So rather than being a Polish crisis, as we can read in the newspapers in Western European countries, it should be called a European crisis, and more specifically a European identity crisis : Poles feel before anything else Polish rather than European. The national values got the upper hand on the European unity. We could sense it during Poland’s new prime minister Beata Szydło’s speech : only Polish white-red flags could be seen. No European flag. Not anymore.

Belgium

http://www.rtbf.be/info/medias/dossier/vu-sur-le-web/detail_des-populistes-remportent-les-elections-polonaises-selon-la-vrt-theo-francken-les-corrige?id=9121033

France

http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2015/10/25/pologne-la-droite-conservatrice-remporte-les-elections-legislatives_4796630_3214.html

http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2015/10/23/pologne-la-fin-du-bon-eleve-europeen_4795312_3214.html

http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2015/09/15/face-aux-refugies-des-opinions-europeennes-profondement-divisees_4757942_3214.html

http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2015/10/27/l-ue-inquiete-de-la-victoire-du-pis-en-pologne_4797652_3214.html

http://www.lefigaro.fr/vox/monde/2015/10/27/31002-20151027ARTFIG00346-legislatives-en-pologne-ce-que-revele-la-montee-de-l-euroscepticisme-a-l-est.php

United Kingdom

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34631826

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34640535

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34638483

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/26/poland-election-idUSL8N12Q08J20151026

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/22/polish-elections-2015-a-guide-to-the-parties-polls-and-electoral-system

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6959c838-77fb-11e5-a95a-27d368e1ddf7.html

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/23/poland-election-law-and-justice-party

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-16390574

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-21748878

Spain

http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/10/26/opinion/1445893343_097387.html

http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2015/10/26/actualidad/1445861367_552444.html

http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2015/10/25/actualidad/1445764644_924199.html

http://www.elmundo.es/internacional/2015/10/26/562e145322601dbc1e8b45bf.html

Italy

http://www.repubblica.it/esteri/2015/10/25/news/elezioni_polonia_-125883255/?ref=search

http://www.repubblica.it/esteri/2015/10/24/news/polonia_intervista_czarnecki-125812685/?ref=search

http://www.repubblica.it/esteri/2015/10/24/news/elezioni_polonia-125809157/?ref=search

http://www.corriere.it/esteri/15_ottobre_25/elezioni-polonia-primi-exit-poll-avanti-destra-anti-unione-europea-cccbd0a4-7b53-11e5-901f-d0ce9a6b55d1.shtml

Poland

http://www.fakt.pl/swiat/wybory-parlamentarne-2015-okiem-zagranicznej-prasie,artykuly,586388.html

http://www.wprost.pl/wybory-parlamentarne-2015/

http://www.wprost.pl/ar/523739/Zagraniczne-media-o-wyborach-w-Polsce-Prawicowa-zmiana/?pg=6#strona-komentarzy-1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_parliamentary_election,_2015

Newspaper wSieci nr 46 16-22 november 2015 : article „Niezły rząd wielkich nadziei”, Piotr Zaremba

Bonus:

United States of America

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/10/26/europe/poland-election/

Press Review

Maria Moroniak

Let me invite you for our new press review containing brief summaries of the European news of last two weeks. The topics have been selected subjectively, but I hope everyone would find something interesting among the variety of them. Once you find yourselves interested in the synopsis, I encourage you to reach the sources and read the original article.

press

Great Britain in doubt

Great Britain will be carrying out a referendum, which is going to show if the British want their homeland in or out of the European Union. The country is divided into two opinions, as it’s not difficult to guess, for and against its membership. The negotiations between EU and the Government are being held, but it is believed that the referendum will occur in not so distant future. To find out more read the brief interview with EU Parliament’s committee chair Danuta Hübner, one of the delegates of Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee taking part in the discussion with UK authorities in London on 16 and 17 of November.

Read the full article here

Source: European Parliament News

European Commission goes green

The Commission chose 96 of 1117 applications to be financially supported under the environmental LIFE programme. It covers five main issues: air, environment and health, resource efficiency, waste and water. That effort is going to improve the protection of both: the Earth and the European economy.

Read more here

Source: European Commission

Pets rights valued in the European Union

Not only humans own their liberties. EU law regulations watch over every single citizen’s pupil freedom and their right to travel within EU borders. Official Euro Parliament News Portal prepared a brief video released due to increasing number of abandoned animals looking for a new home, but not necessarily in their previous owner’s country. For more information about these pets or simply about how to get ready for a journey with your beloved small ones Click here.
Source: European Parliament News

Europe-new innovation centre

Statistics show that Sillicon Valley or Asia are no longer the axis of world digital and IT development. Specialists say that there has never been more beneficial time for Europe due to its enterprise, as the famous IT companies invest there more and more. We encourage you to read more here.

Source: Bloomberg

 Refugee policy verification

How is European community going to cope with a huge flow of migrants? What type of solutions is going to undertake and what kind of choices does it have? Can we be learnt by the past? Is it worth a risk and how much does it cost? Find out more about how Europe is going to face the fact of massive migration here.

Source: BBC

Greek bargain

Greece will be given €86bn in total after meeting the conditions of rescue loans offered by the eurozone. This is supposed to repair the situation of Greek banks, which had announced a ‘controlled capital transfer’ in June, leading the country to dire straits. The third part of the loan- €13bn- is about to be unlocked.

Find out more
Source: BBC

The role of „soft power” in shaping EU’s external image

Emil Wojtaluk

Defining instruments for creating EU’s external image can be problematic. The conference held at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin on November 9-10, entitled “Cultural dimension of the European integration” gathered scholars from different universities to help us understand these processes.

The conference was co-organized by the Polish Society of European Studies

The conference was co-organized by the Polish Society of European Studies

Defining soft power

Taking culture into account should be connected with its external image. The problem of EU’s perception is very complex, looking at all crises the Union is struggling with, its image decreased. Another thing is that the Union itself has problems with defining its external image policy. What is more, the incapacity to inform its own citizens leads to ignorance about functioning of the European Union, let alone countries outside of the EU. A way to solve this problem could be effectively acting diplomacy of the Union (as the element of soft power).

According to J. Nye soft power could be defined as ability to receive what we expect thanks to attractiveness, not violence, compulsion or payment. The ability of one’s entity to form an alliance and to get more influence is possible thanks to three factors. These are culture, political values and foreign policy – realized on the basis of previously mentioned values and culture. The essential instrument of conducting foreign policy by the EU is shaping positive image on the international scene, via these three soft indicators.

If we are to discuss main merits of EU’s soft power, one of them is that EU is perceived as “civilian power”, having its origins in the 70s. The concept was based on the assumption that the Communities are founded on peace. A distinctive factor is that civilian power means also economic activities. In the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU we can find that in exercising foreign relations the Union is relating to universal values such as democracy, human rights or EU enlargement policy. These provisions as well as other EU legal acts referring to external policy create the so called set of values, which are components of soft power. One of the essential features of Union’s involvement in the world is multilateralism, also seen as soft power (cooperation with other countries). The European Union is perceived as one of world’s mediators on the international scene, but rather as advocate of only peaceful resolutions, which sadly have low efficiency. Especially looking at recent crises inside the EU and internationally, it is said that the Union use the methods of “cheating reality”.

Public diplomacy

Beata Piskorska, PhD during the conference

Beata Piskorska, PhD during the conference

Another part of soft power is public diplomacy – understood as dialogue between countries, realized with using media and direct communication. That is why using means of Public Relations is also crucial. The EU is currently trying to meet this challenge by the use of social media and digital diplomacy. We could observe it looking at the activities of former and current High Representative of the Union, especially during the “Arab Spring” – seen as the test for digital diplomacy and using social media. The national example of using digital diplomacy is former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Radosław Sikorski and his twitter account – it was debatable whether his commentaries were his private opinion and whether it reflected his position as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, that’s why using such means is debatable everywhere in the world.

Public diplomacy is realized by the EU in various ways: by study visits, cooperation with local MS’ governments, cooperating with international organizations, as well as by development aid and supporting cultural institutions. Here the essential element of public diplomacy is cultural diplomacy. In 2007 document “European agenda for culture” it was emphasized that promoting of cultural dimension is significantly important, and it should be supported by cooperation with other international organizations dealing with cultural policy.

“United in diversity” is perceived as one of the biggest achievements of the EU as an attempt to connect different cultures and identities. Nevertheless, it becomes an contentious issue. Especially when it’s crucial to create mutual legal framework for the functioning of culture. It is the problem how to create laws common to all, indeed different cultures.

Summing up, despite all difficulties with communication and creating unified image of the EU by 28 Member States, the European Union is still seen as a model of integration processes. It is extremely important to understand that values that are important for EU members (like the rule of law or equality in a broad sense) may not be so crucial for people coming to Europe or living outside the EU.

The article is based on the speech of Beata Piskorska, PhD (Department of Political Science/John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin) entitled “The role of „soft power” in shaping EU’s external image” at the conference entitled “Cultural dimension of the European integration” held at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (Poland) on 9-10 November 2015.

Discovering the Universe

Kamil Augustyniak

From the space our planet appears to be a tiny blue point surrounded by endless black of the Universe. This is quite funny since from the perspective of ourselves the situation is completely opposite. We see the magnitude, diversification of species and mystery still not leaving our home. However, the essential role with challenging the difficulties, here on our planet, plays the cosmic space.

Source: spaceagenda.com

Source: spaceagenda.com

Today, the Earth is undergoing global changes. In order to react accurately we need to look for the solutions collectively and to be frank, we know how to do it in Europe. Since Europeans cooperate efficiently from the end of the II WW, they know how to change the idea into reality. The collaboration in the area of politics, economy or even environment does not surprise at all, but the investigation of cosmic space – not necessarily. One can ask why the cooperation in this field among European countries is the primary condition while the United States, Russia or China do it on their own initiative. Well… it’s all about the money. Since Europe is full of small states, separate financial capabilities are relatively limited.

ESA’s mission and structure

“ESA’s purpose shall be to provide for, and to promote, for exclusively peaceful purposes, cooperation among European States in space research and technology and their space applications, with a view to their being used for scientific purposes and for operational space applications systems.”[1]

This is why, in 1975 the European Space Agency (ESA) was created bringing together at first ten European countries. Considered as an intergovernmental organization established for the implementation of a common European program of research and exploration of space in its tasks also include supporting development of a modern and competitive industry in all member states. The number of participant states increased significantly throughout years to reach 23 members this year (based on a separate agreement Canada is its participant as well). Since not every EU member state is affiliated, the ESA is not recognized as the European Union’s agency and still stands as an independent organization. However, since 2004, pursuant to the Framework Agreement[2] legal cooperation between these two organizations is tangible because for now, the EU is the largest donor to ESA’s budget.

Source: esa.int

Source: esa.int

ESA’s programs

  1. Mandatory programs: funded by contributions from the member states (their amount is proportional to the national income of individual countries). These programs include space exploration (the construction and use of the equipment for such research), scientific programs (physics of the solar system), astronomy and fundamental physics, technology research, educational programs, etc.
  2. Optional programs: financed only by countries committed to them. Participation of respective countries is determined by negotiations conducted separately for each program. The scope of such operations is not precisely specified. They include inter alia the construction of a European rocket, robotics and software techniques (telecommunication, earth observation, navigation) and more recently the Space Situational Awareness (SSA)[3].

Recent operations

Source: rosetta.est.int

Source: rosetta.est.int

There is about 500 million inhabitants in Europe nowadays. Therefore we are facing fundamental challenges having a real influence to our future. Not talking only about social, cultural or religious transformations caused for instance by current inflow of immigrants, but also technological, industrial and ecological changes. What is more, sometimes the only appropriate solutions for the Earth are hidden far away above our heads. This is why Europeans work on a milestone projects and they do it right. In 2004 the Rosetta mission was launched and is described as a key mission of ESA’s space research program Horizon 2000. In its implementation the agency cooperates with national space agencies and NASA. The purpose of the mission is to carry out necessary research to know the origins of comets, as well as to explain the relationship between cometary and interstellar matter and their significance for the formation of the solar system. In August 2014 the space probe has arrived to its target and entered its orbit being simultaneously the first probe in history landed on the surface of the comet. Polish contribution to such crucial project is essential for the success of the mission. Constructed by the methods developed at the Warsaw University of Technology, a penetrator MUPUS carries out geological research on the comet.

Source: esa.int

Source: esa.int

Another program, this time only for Europe, is Galileo – Europe’s own satellite navigation system and finally will consist of 30 satellites spread on the Earth’s orbit. The system is about to be the alternative to American GPS and Russian GLONASS but, in contrary to them, will be controlled by civil institutions. However, the navigation system is still under construction and is not going to be efficient till 2020. Satellite navigation systems are used in many areas of the economy, including the energy network monitoring, logistics, air traffic management or even live saving. It is estimated that 6-7% of the European GDP depends on satellite navigation applications. The satellite technology market itself is worth 124 billion euro. Thanks to Galileo, till 2020 this amount is expected to increase to 250 billion euro.[4]


References:

[1] Convention of establishment of a European Space Agency, Article II Purpose, SP-1317, 2010.

[2] Framework Agreement between the European Community and the European Space Agency, OJ L261, 2004.

[3] http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Operations/Space_Situational_Awareness/About_SSA

[4] http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-11-717_en.htm?locale=en

Fighting a losing battle or taking a long view? – The Migration issue and what we can do

Theresa Miniarti Fehlner

Kenya, Eritrea, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq… just to mention some of the countries from which most of the refugees currently come. They flee due to political and religious persecution, civil war and poverty. The need for help is obvious as the facts show.

 

Photo: U.S. Navy photo, flickr, CC-by-2.0 https://www.lpb-bw.de/fluechtlingsproblematik.html

Photo: U.S. Navy photo, flickr, CC-by-2.0
https://www.lpb-bw.de/fluechtlingsproblematik.html

Facts and Figures

According to the United Nations the number of refugees has risen up to 60 million since World War II – 86% are from developing countries and more than 50% are children. UNHCR distinguishes between refugees, applicants for asylum and internally displaced persons. In 2014, about 625.000 asylum seekers tried to come to Europe and they often do not have any other possibility than to use the questionable help of human smugglers who profit from the misery of other people. As a result, dramatic scenes took place at the external borders of the EU. The Geneva Convention on Refugees from 1951 binds the EU member states, according to article 2 and 35, on the protection of refugees. In practice, the current situation is different as some dramatic events since 2013 have shown: On the 3rd October 2013, one of the first disasters, involving migrants being smuggled to Europe, took place south of the Italian island of Lampedusa. 400 refugees from Somalia and Eritrea drowned. In April 2015, up to 800 refugees lost their lives in a ship accident in the Mediterranean Sea. Since then, the EU has tripled the remedies for sea rescue. In May 2015, the EU foreign ministers resolved on a common military mission against the gangs of people smugglers, with a fund of 12 million Euros from the EU countries. On the 26th June the EU heads of state and government decided to assign the growing number of refugees to all 28 member states – on a voluntary basis.

Our obligation to humanity

The demand for answers seems to be obvious. Nevertheless, this article cannot deal with the whole range of the migration issue. But it can focus on some questions which arise when we look at it from different perspectives. The migration question is by no means solved as the daily news, the media coverage and the pictures of suffering humans going around the world show. It seems to be an impasse which raises the question of whether it might be the problem of a dead-end policy. What remains is a large uncertainty and the feeling of fighting a losing battle.

This article does also not mainly deal with the question if Europe has to help the people in danger and in need – that is beyond all discussion – of course we have to help. So, several countries assume responsibility and try to help by receiving refugees, hosting them or helping them to integrate themselves. And all of this accompanied by prejudices against foreigners, administrative barriers and integration problems due to cultural diversity. In each instance, all those who are helping – a lot of who are volunteers – do humanitarian work and it is indispensable. But it is also quite evident that somehow it is just treating symptoms like bridging the time until most of them get deported again. Thus a lot of voluntary commitment and funding is needed. But it is not only a question of money, medical care, accommodation or dealing with cultural diversity. It is, above all, the question of how to accompany the short-term help with a long-term help.

Empathizing means to sneak a peek beyond the European borders

Photo: European Commission

Photo: European Commission

Against this background, focussing on some questions might be justified. Shifting the attention to the countries from which the refugees come, means to empathize with them. Migration movements from Syria, for example, might be different motivated than those from Serbia or Kosovo. Let´s take, as another example, the continent Africa. It seems to be reasonable to pose the question how Europe treated those African countries. After a long colonial history, European states started a program of development aid to support those countries. “Money” seemed to be the keyword, but let´s risk to ask how long that kind of support continued and how effective it was. In consideration of the status quo of the African countries, the question arises who the money received and in what way the states have used it. Did it change the situation for those countries? Obviously not, as the growing number of emigrants from even stable African countries shows. Financial help is reasonable as long as the supported country has the preconditions to use it in the right way. What kind of preconditions are we talking about? Are they states with a democratic system? How do they deal with corruption? Is there a knowledge of the importance of education and self-responsibility? Furthermore, does their way of understanding politics comply with our European policy?

Taking a look at some Arab countries raises the question: Are the political and cultural systems of countries like Libya, Syria or Iraq compatible with the Western way of political and cultural thinking and could it, at all, be possible to solve their conflicts and problems with our European understanding of governance?

Another example: The Kosovo War from 1998/1999, subsequently claimed thousands of victims. What has changed after the NATO military intervention? There is still discrimination of minorities, a shortage of jobs and poverty in consequence and a high incidence of crime. There was no stable polity until 2014, but even then, a lot of Kosovars claimed asylum especially in Germany and some other European countries.

It seems to be a long shot to write a master plan to find a solution which meets the responsibility we all have, to give a hand to people who ask for help as well as to support the development of their countries. Therefore we have to ask: What does it make worth, for those refugees who flee from economic grievances, to come to Europe? Which kind of incentives do we offer? If we provide a welfare system which is more attractive than the system in their home country, how do we help those states to develop?

Misinterpreted development aid: A Western failure?

Photo: dpa

Photo: dpa

The pros and cons, the discussions concerning the question if and how each European country can take part in helping people knocking on Europe´s door are numerous and more or less helpful. But looking at it from another perspective extends the short-term help a little bit more towards a long-term help. Terminating all the wars on one day might be a dream; alleviate the world hunger, guarantee religious freedom and physical integrity for everyone probably as well, but the dream ends before it starts when the countries in need are empty. On the “Meeting of Pan-African Catholic Youth and Children” in Kinshasa last month, Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola said in his opening speech: “Use your talents and other resources to renew and transform our continent and for the promotion of lasting justice, peace, and reconciliation in Africa. […] You are a treasure for Africa.” [1] This quote expresses what we, from our European point of view, maybe sometimes fail to see: In what way do we help the countries if we integrate each immigrant into our social security system? If we integrate one qualified man or woman successful into a European country, it means conversely that one qualified man or woman is missing in his or her home country. As a result, we deprive these countries the main source of life and thus the possibility to prosper.

Without a doubt: Each one is ethically and humanly obligated to give a helping hand to those who are persecuted, hungry or in danger – even more a community of states, based on a Christian fundament. That is certainly the main issue. But then it might be worth to pay attention to a long-term help which recognizes the differences between individual political systems and cultural backgrounds. And, to the same extent, raising awareness of their own responsibility towards their home countries. Then this dream of a better world where there is no need to flee because of war, persecution or hunger could come true – even though not in one day.

References:

[1]

http://www.fides.org/en/news/38338- AFRICA_DR_CONGO_Bishops_appeal_to_young_Africans_Stay_in_Africa_to_build_a_better_continent

https://www.lpb-bw.de/fluechtlingsproblematik.html

http://www.bundesregierung.de/Webs/Breg/DE/Bundesregierung/BeauftragtefuerIntegration/beauftragte-fuer-integration.html

[Last access: 26.08.2015]