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The talk of the continent


Violence against women: Europe is no exception

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 08:19:43 +0100

Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa, Trento – Despite new laws and rules, femicide cases are still alarmingly high all around the world, included in Europe. See more.

Social Justice Index 2017: Economy recovery is increasing social justice

Mon, 27 Nov 2017 15:50:57 +0100

In the EU’s recent social summit in Gothenburg on 17 November, leaders approved the launch of 20 additional measures to reinforce the social pillar of the EU and to fight against the effects of economic crisis and against populism – the major beneficiary of this crisis. The 20 principles that guide it can be divided into three categories: “equality of opportunities” in accessing the labour market, “protection and social inclusion” and “fair working conditions”. The text on the European Pillar of Social Rights is not binding, since Member States have kept social policy within their national competences, but it represents a serious commitment to an EU with more social and economic justice. A study published by the Bertelsmann foundation concludes that Europe is recovering from the economic crisis and is also making progress in the area of social justice. The index was created taking into account five basic criteria and countries’ measures in these areas: poverty prevention, equal educational opportunities, access to labour markets, social cohesion and non-discrimination, health and intergenerational justice. The positive trend is visible for all countries in the last few years, but there are important differences between them. Scandinavian countries, like Denmark, Sweden and Finland find themselves at the top of the index, followed by the Czech Republic, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Austria and Germany. The group of 28 has Greece at the bottom, preceded by Bulgaria and Romania. class="localfocusvisual" frameborder="0" style="width:600px;height:600px;overflow:hidden" src=""> Recovery in the labor market has been the primary driver of improved participation opportunities in the EU. Job opportunities have improved in 26 of the 28 states as compared to the previous year. Recent data show the unemployment rate as a cross-EU average to have fallen to 8.7 percent. In 2013, at the height of the social crisis, this was 11 percent on a cross-EU basis (in 2008: 7 percent). An additional positive sign is that the recovery in the labor market has visibly reached the countries hit hardest by the crisis, even if the overall volume of joblessness remains very high – particularly in southern Europe. In Greece, for example, the unemployment rate has fallen from 27.7 percent (2013) to 23.7 percent (2016), while in Spain a decline from 26.2 percent to 19.7 percent has been evident in the same time period. Youth-unemployment rates in southern Europe have also dropped back somewhat from the absolute record levels seen in past years. In Greece, for example, this rate has fallen from nearly 60 percent in 2013 to its current level of 47.3 percent. A similar picture appears in Spain, with a decline from 55.5 percent to 44.4 percent. In Italy, the youth-unemployment rate is now 37.8 percent – a decline of nearly five percentage points from its peak of 42.7 percent in 2014. Overall, the youth-unemployment rate EU-wide has fallen from 23.6 percent in 2013 to a current rate of 18.7 percent. class="localfocusvisual" frameborder="0" style="width:100%;height:500px;overflow:hidden" src=""> As a result of this overall positive employment trend, the risk of poverty and social exclusion has also fallen slightly across the EU. While a total of 24.7 percent of the EU population faced this threat at the height of the social crisis in 2012/2013, this is now ‘only’ 23.4 percent, according to the most recent data. However, the social gap between northern and southern Europe remains very large, as many of the crisis-struck states continue to tread water or show only very minimal progress with regard to poverty prevention. For example, the share of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion in Greece still sits at a shockingly high 35.6 percent, followed by 27.9 percent in Spain and 28.7 percent in Italy. As a comparison, in Denmark, Finland and the Czech Republic – the three best-scoring countries in the area of [...]

Migrants crisis: Europe and the Libyan gulag

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 17:36:25 +0100

France Inter, Paris – The living conditions for migrants detained in Libya on the basis of EU agreements are inhumane and unworthy of the values that Europe should be defending. See more.

Xenophobia and European cities: Foreigners are not welcome everywhere

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 08:31:12 +0100

Despite the growing influence of racist movements and political parties in Europe, xenophobia isn’t generally on the increase in European cities. Between 2009 and 2015 the attitudes that citizens hold towards foreigners have become more positive overall — even if there are exceptions and noteworthy counter-trends (and it shouldn’t be forgotten that urban areas are often the most tolerant).

Every three years, Eurobarometer studies the opinions of the inhabitants of around eighty cities across Europe: in the last survey, conducted in 2015, more than 76 percent of those interviewed thought that the presence of foreigners was good for the city in which they lived.

The term "foreigners" is used here in a broad sense, ranging from Erasmus students to refugees coming from Asia or Africa: the origins and breakdown of the foreign population in a given place are probably mirrored in the citizens' attitude towards it – it is thus necessary to put in context the measured levels of xenophobia. For instance, it is possible that the very positive attitude of Cluj people towards foreigners is influenced by the high number of European students in town.

Xenophobia in European cities

Attitude of citizens towards foreigners: the map shows the level of agreement with the phrase “The presence of foreigners is good for my city” (Eurobarometer, 2015). The colours indicate variations from the European average and the findings in each city.

class="localfocusvisual" frameborder="0" style="width:100%;height:550px;overflow:hidden" src="">

The countries which clearly showed higher than average xenophobic values were Italy, Turkey and Greece. In the first two countries, the opinions of the citizens have clearly become more negative since the previous survey, with a growing diffusion of more hostile attitudes towards foreigners: 5 of the 10 most xenophobic cities surveyed are in Italy.

In contrast, xenophobia in Greece has decreased since previous years. It is probably connected to the country’s partial economic recovery, since a similar change in opinion can be seen in Spain, Ireland and Portugal.

Evolution of the phenomenon

The arrows show the evolution of attitudes towards foreigners in 75 European cities, according to 2009-2015 Eurobarometer data.

class="localfocusvisual" frameborder="0" style="width:100%;height:550px;overflow:hidden" src="">

Overall, central and south eastern Europe appear to be more tolerant than they are usually given credit for. If it’s true that xenophobia is on the rise in Poland and Slovakia, it is also true that 5 of the 10 least xenophobic cities are in this region – starting with Cluj Napoca, where 95 percent of citizens claimed to appreciate the presence of foreigners (but cities like Burgas, Piatra Neamț or Gdańsk are also much more tolerant than average).

The most xenophobic cities in Europe: Athens, Istanbul, Turin, Ankara, Rome, Bologna, Palermo, Naples, Liège, Ostrava

The least xenophobic cities in Europe: Cluj Napoca, Reykjavik, Copenhagen, Piatra Neamț, Zurich, Lisbon, Vilnius, Dublin, Burgas, Gdańsk

Early childhood: In Europe too equality comes with daycare

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 10:10:49 +0100

Alternatives économiques , Paris – Creche or grandparents? Forms of daycare vary between countries, with major implications for equality. See more.

Europe’s parliaments: A middle-aged man’s world

Sun, 05 Nov 2017 21:24:23 +0100

Der Spiegel, Hamburg – As the newly elected Bundestag enters into office, we had a look at the gender and age balance in Germany and other European countries. See more.

Student mobility in South-East Europe: Moving beyond Erasmus

Mon, 30 Oct 2017 07:00:02 +0100

Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa, Trento – Every year, thousands of students from South-East Europe enroll in universities abroad. Most of them, however, tend to stay within the region, because of the bureaucratic and financial obstacles on the way to Western European faculties. See more.

A Soul for Europe conference 2017: Europeans of all nations unite!

Tue, 24 Oct 2017 12:58:07 +0100

A Soul for Europe, Berlin – The EU and Europe as a whole would be well advised to become aware of the fact that the very concept of political and cultural sovereignty originates from the city, its citizens and their citizenship, says Architect and co-founder of “A Soul for Europe”. See more.

Contemporary art and migration: Sadika Keskes’ tribute to victims of the sea

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 08:57:48 +0100

, – Tunisian artist Sadika Keskes, with her latest performance on 1 October in Tunis, wanted to "restore dignity" to the thousands of migrants who died as they tried to cross the Mediterranean in search of a better life, and reminds Europe of its tradition of hospitality. See more.

Youth in Europe: More than one young person in ten is a NEET

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 13:21:36 +0100

Alternatives économiques , Paris – They are neither employed nor enrolled in college, and are often in transition, but they can end up remaining inactive for all-too long. They are NEETs. Most numerous in Southern Europe, their population exploded with the crisis of 2008. See more.

Europe and migrants: A multi-speed solidarity

Thu, 28 Sep 2017 14:11:44 +0100

Alternatives économiques , Paris – Two years have passed since the European Union signed agreements on the sharing of migrants to provide relief for Italy and Greece, who are dealing with the overwhelming majority of new arrivals. Meanwhile, the landscape of migrations across the Mediterranean has changed, and the record of the European Union’s collective efforts is, at the very least, a mixed one. See more.

Federal election in Germany: The Merkelisation of Europe

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:38:01 +0100

Der Spiegel, Hamburg – Angela Merkel is the most powerful of the EU’s heads of state and government, and she is running for a fourth mandate in Sunday’s general election. A data-driven look at what has changed in Europe during the twelve years of her chancellorship. See more.

Demography: Old Europe

Wed, 12 Jul 2017 09:54:28 +0100

Cartoon movement, Amsterdam – Cartoon. See more.

Migrants in the Mediterranean: No vacancy

Sat, 08 Jul 2017 21:15:49 +0100

Cartoon movement, Amsterdam – Cartoon. See more.

Social Rights: A plan to strengthen the social dimension of Europe

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 09:10:03 +0100

Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa, Trento – The European Commission's proposal to create a European Pillar of Social Rights is a step towards an integrated and coherent framework on social rights at the European level. This will also provide member states with a frame of reference for developing their own individual policies. See more.

Social Europe: How to set up a universal basic income for all Europeans

Fri, 02 Jun 2017 14:27:05 +0100

, – Belgian Economist François Denuit suggests introducing the euro-dividend as a new pillar of social rights on which member states could build up their own basic income policies. A big leap forward towards building a truly and ambitious Social Europe. See more.

Violence against women: The EU’s potential accession to the Istanbul Convention

Thu, 25 May 2017 17:45:28 +0100

Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa, Trento – Half of the EU member states have not yet ratified the Convention on violence against women. The European Parliament and the Commission have decided that the EU as such should adhere to the Convention, which could signal a breakthrough for a genuine European policy against violence. See more.

Refugee crisis: Happy Europe Day!

Wed, 10 May 2017 10:42:38 +0100

Cartoon movement, Amsterdam – Cartoon. See more.

Worker‘s rights: Konstantína Koúneva, from victim to model

Tue, 02 May 2017 17:55:09 +0100

Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa, Trento – A former cleaning employee, MEP Konstantina Kuneva personally suffered serious violence. She now fights for female workers' rights and for a Europe where less is said about finance and more about human rights. See more.

Femen’s Sasha Shevchenko: ‘The main struggle is the fight against nationalism’

Wed, 08 Mar 2017 11:02:54 +0100

, – For Feminist activist Sasha Shevchenko, "the main struggle for feminists today", apart of "the fight against patriarchy, the Church, the sex industry and any kind of totalitarianism", is "the fight against nationalism" and "Nazi ideas" that are "growing like mushrooms after the rain". See more.

Gender equality: A map showing the power gender gap in Europe

Wed, 08 Mar 2017 06:22:31 +0100

src="//" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" width="600" height="754">

These map and chart, based on the 2012 Gender Equality Index, show the representation of women and men in decision-making positions in EU countries.

According to the Index' authors,

Gender-balanced representation in positions of power is crucial from a gender equality perspective: firstly, from the point of view of social justice, regarding the equal access of all and secondly, from a democratic point of view in terms of the importance of reaching a balanced representation of society as a whole. It is also necessary to consider the potential of women’s increased presence to disrupt and change institutional practices, when they access domains previously dominated my men, which in turn can effect positive changes in society.

Political power is measured by gender indicators that examine representation in ministries, parliaments and regional assemblies. Economic power focuses on the share of women and men on the boards of the largest quoted national companies, in conjunction with the share of women and men in all key decision-making bodies in central banks across Member States.

"Women, compared with men, are grossly under-represented in some parts of political and economic decision-making", write the authors, though noting that

while slight increases in women’s political representation are visible in the period from 2005 to 2012, men remain over-represented in ministries, parliaments and regional assemblies. […] There is a significant dearth of women and an excess of men in representation in the political sphere, and this is even more pronounced in the economic sphere. Men are greatly over-represented among board members in the vast majority of Member States, with women accounting for more than a fifth of members in only a few. Men’s over-and women’s under-representation in economic decision-making is even more amplified in the context of the decision-making bodies of central banks. Men’s over-representation is considerable, with women not being present in these decision-making bodies in about a fifth of Member States, with trends over time indicating a further decrease, rather than an increase.

This is why, the authors conclude,

It is crucial to address these democratic and economic gaps to ensure that gender equality is seriously promoted by and addressed throughout policy in Member States and that both women and men are involved in the recovery following the current economic crisis.

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EU asylum policy: Defending in Court the case of humanitarian visas for refugees

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 10:35:12 +0100

Internazionale, Rome – The EU Court of Justice Advocate General Paolo Mengozzi demonstrated that governments are legally obliged to grant asylum to Syrian refugees. In a landmark verdict to be delivered on 7 March, the Court could decide to adopt Mengozzi’s arguments or to strike a blow to the hopes of so many Syrians. See more.

Human trafficking: Women are the first victims

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 13:49:10 +0100

, – Trafficked women in EU countries most commonly end up in sexual exploitation. And Member States’ different legal processes and legislation are not helping to combat this evil. See more.

Syrian refugees in Turkey: The working minors’ lost childhood

Thu, 26 Jan 2017 11:15:01 +0100

Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa, Trento – It is estimated that in Turkey one Syrian minor in ten is working to support the family. A situation that threatens to wipe out an entire generation. See more.

Cécile Kyenge on Europe and migration: ‘A global approach is the only way to manage the largest exodus since WW2’

Thu, 22 Dec 2016 19:45:50 +0100

Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa, Trento – Facing the migration problem means keeping the European project alive. We spoke to the author of a recent report on the issue, Cécile Kyenge, Italian member of the European parliament See more.

Social justice in Europe: ‘The upswing isn’t reaching everyone’

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 11:08:15 +0100

SGI news, Gütersloh – According to the latest Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Social Justice Index (SJI), social participation is on the rise in Europe, as the labor market recovers. But many people are still in danger of poverty, warn the authors of the 2016 SJI in this interview. See more.

France: Bikini vs. burkini

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 15:13:16 +0100

Cartoon movement, Amsterdam – Cartoon. See more.

Refugee crisis: What future for “Quechua babies”?

Mon, 08 Aug 2016 10:03:50 +0100

, – This is the nickname given by medics to newborns whose mother did not make it to the hospital and who are born in a tent. For all babies born in refugee camps, proper registration is key to establish their nationality. See more.

Europe and refugees: Europeans believe refugees raise risk of terrorism but not crime

Tue, 26 Jul 2016 22:08:53 +0100

In eight of ten countries surveyed by Pew research at least half think incoming refugees will increase the likelihood of terrorism in their country. This figure, from the spring 2016 global attitudes survey, highlights a connection that exists in many European minds between the refugee crisis and terrorist attacks, such as the ones in Paris, Brussels and Nice, where 84 people died as a single attacker drove his lorry into a crowd after the Bastille day firework display on the Promenade des Anglais. This causal link is most perceived in Hungary (76 percent), Poland (71 percent), the Netherlands and Germany (both 61 percent). In France, 46 percent think the arrival of refugees increases the risk of terrorism. In the UK this figure is at 52 percent. id="datawrapper-chart-venaO" src="//" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" width="100%" height="459.53125">var embedDeltas={"100":675,"200":545,"300":518,"400":460,"500":460,"600":460,"700":460,"800":460,"900":460,"1000":460},chart=document.getElementById("datawrapper-chart-venaO"),chartWidth=chart.offsetWidth,applyDelta=embedDeltas[Math.min(1000, Math.max(100*(Math.floor(chartWidth/100)), 100))]||0,newHeight=applyDelta;"px"; “Amongst Europeans, perceptions of refugees are influenced in part by negative attitudes toward Muslims already living in Europe,” Pew Research says. “In Hungary, Italy, Poland and Greece, more than six-in-ten say they have an unfavourable opinion of the Muslims in their country – an opinion shared by at least one-in-four in each nation polled.” But the study says “there is less alarm that Muslims already living on the Continent might sympathise with extremists.” Most attackers in Paris and Brussels were French or Belgian nationals. Pew Research also highlights sharp ideological divides on the refugee question: “In Greece, 81% of those on the right express an unfavourable view of Muslims, compared with 50% of those on the left,” the study shows. “Significant right-left gaps in attitudes toward Muslims are also found in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, France and the United Kingdom,” Pew Research adds. Even if ideology is a driving factor, so is the level of education: “older people and less-educated individuals expressing more negative opinions about refugees and minorities,” the study shows. Resentment also shows on diversity: over half of Greeks and Italians and about 40 percent of Hungarians and Poles say growing diversity makes things worse. Sweden had the highest percentage (36 percent) of people believing diversity makes their country a better place to live. The survey was conducted in 10 EU nations and the United States among 11,494 respondents from April 4 to May 12, 2016.[...]

Migration and demographics: A map showing the increases in foreign-born European population

Thu, 07 Jul 2016 16:17:13 +0100

id="datawrapper-chart-KU5Ed" src="//" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" width="100%" height="600">var embedDeltas={"100":776,"200":688,"300":644,"400":644,"500":600,"600":600,"700":600,"800":600,"900":600,"1000":600},chart=document.getElementById("datawrapper-chart-KU5Ed"),chartWidth=chart.offsetWidth,applyDelta=embedDeltas[Math.min(1000, Math.max(1000*(Math.floor(chartWidth/100)), 100))]||0,newHeight=applyDelta;"px"; This map, based on a Pew Research Center analysis of United Nations and Eurostat data, shows the variation of the immigrant share of the population in Europe over the last year and a half. During this period of time, more than one million people applied for asylum in Europe. The immigrant population increased the most in Sweden, Hungary and Austria, “which each saw an increase of more than 1 percentage point”, reports the Pew findings. This variation might seem small, but the Pew points out that “a 1-point increase in a single year is rare, especially in Western countries”, and reminds that it took “a decade” for the US immigrant share of population “to increase by about one point (from 13 percent to 14 percent in 2005-2015).” Sweden, Norway and Austria already have “substantial” foreign-born populations, with more than 15 percent of the inhabitants being born abroad, while some countries like Hungary or Finland have a fairly small immigrant population. Here, the surge was particularly significant (plus 1.3 percent increase in Hungary), and triggered hostile reactions from the authorities. Other countries who opposed the European commission refugee quota plan, like Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, saw very little or no increase in their already small immigrant share of the population. Some countries with large immigrant populations, like France and the United Kingdom, “received far fewer asylum applicants relative to their population size” in the last two years, while Germany “received the most asylum seekers of any other European country”. The increase in the foreign-born population was modest, due to the size of the German population. id="datawrapper-chart-KeMdG" src="//" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" width="100%" height="824">var embedDeltas={"100":1017,"200":912,"300":868,"400":868,"500":824,"600":824,"700":824,"800":824,"900":824,"1000":824},chart=document.getElementById("datawrapper-chart-KeMdG"),chartWidth=chart.offsetWidth,applyDelta=embedDeltas[Math.min(1000, Math.max(100*(Math.floor(chartWidth/100)), 100))]||0,newHeight=applyDelta;"px"; “On the other end of the spectrum”, adds the Pew Research Center, nations including Lithuania, Spain, Slovenia, Estonia and Latvia saw their immigrant shares decrease during this time. This is in part because these countri[...]

Firearms: A map of gun ownership in Europe

Thu, 16 Jun 2016 20:24:32 +0100

id="datawrapper-chart-rvNI6" src="//" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" width="100%" height="550">var embedDeltas={"100":672,"200":594,"300":567,"400":550,"500":550,"600":550,"700":550,"800":550,"900":550,"1000":550},chart=document.getElementById("datawrapper-chart-rvNI6"),chartWidth=chart.offsetWidth,applyDelta=embedDeltas[Math.min(1000, Math.max(100*(Math.floor(chartWidth/100)), 100))]||0,newHeight=applyDelta;"px";

Every time a mass shooting takes place somewhere in the world, and especially in the United States, like the recent attack in Orlando, Florida, the media – rightly – points the finger on the weapon’s availability in the US.

If the gun possession in the United States is the highest in the world, with 88.8 weapons for every 100 inhabitants (the second being Yemen, with 54.8), Europeans tend to believe they are very far from those figures. Which is not completely true, as this map, based on data collected by The Guardian in 2012, shows: There are 45.7 weapons for every 100 inhabitants in neutral Switzerland, which leads the ranking. At the bottom lie Lithuania and Romania, with 0.7 weapons every 100 inhabitants.

Greece: Why refugees don’t want to resettle

Wed, 08 Jun 2016 12:17:47 +0100

, – Many of the refugees expelled from the makeshift camp of Idomeni, near the Macedonian border, refused to be resettled in the facilities set up by the Greek government. We give eight reasons behind this choice. See more.

Refugee crisis: ‘An unprecedented failure by the EU and its member states’

Sat, 04 Jun 2016 13:48:55 +0100

Commentators across Europe have almost universally condemned EU countries’ migration policies and their obsession with security."Given this consistency in the development of laws promoting human rights, it is deplorable to witness the exponential failure of the EU to deploy a comprehensive political solution that effectively tackles the refugee crisis Europe is facing", Christina McCollum and Anastasios Antoniou argue in the English version of I Kathimerini. For the two lawyers –EU efforts to address either the causes or effects of this crisis have been largely ineffective and contaminated by various political agendas. The Union has passively observed the transformation of the Mediterranean into a vast graveyard, doing little to allow those refugees arriving on European shores safe passage into Europe and increasingly looking to the militarization of borders as a stopgap solution […] Shortsighted political agendas must not be allowed to diminish the European Union. The unprecedented failure of the EU and its member-states to take action to prevent loss of life and uphold European values poses a risk to the very existence of the Union itself. The refugee crisis has gruesomely unmasked a vacuum at the heart of civilized society which transcends the ethical and legal angles of any human rights debate. As the crisis unfolds it becomes increasingly evident that protection of the human being, her life and her dignity, is not at the forefront of our European civilization. If only our leaders were to realize that it is not so much the physical borders of Europe that are at risk but rather its ethical and moral boundaries.At least 700 people drowned in the Mediterranean last week. But that has barely affected Europeans. “They have got used to these deaths right at their borders,” Maximilian Popp laments in Der Spiegel.The photo of Aylan Kurdi, dead, became a symbol of Europe’s failure and of its neglect towards refugees. Another photo, taken by Sea-Watch [showing a dead baby in the arms of a coast guard on the Libyan coast] sends a different message: Europeans have got used to the fact people are dying at their borders. Drowned children in the Mediterranean, Syrians gunned down by Turkish border guards, families living in misery in Greek camps – faced with all this, Europeans now at most give a tired sigh. [...] There was a time when the EU had at least tried to give the impression of caring about this catastrophe. [...] Now it does not even put up the pretence. [...] The series of deaths of refugees at Europe’s borders is accepted and considered collateral damage. And yet, shipwrecks like those of last week are not caused by some random tragedy, but are the result of Europe’s migration policies.“Once again, tragedy in the Mediterranean. It returns each spring. It is the season when, in the middle of the sea, people start dying en masse,” Oliver Meiler observes in Internazionale. For the Rome correspondent of Tages-Anzeiger and Die Süddeutsche Zeitung,the tragedy is that after all these years Europe has not managed to create a shared vision for dealing with this recurring horror. We continue to silently hope that the images of capsized boats and floa[...]

Syrian refugees resettlement: Turkey, a place called home

Sun, 29 May 2016 11:34:01 +0100

, – A few weeks into the EU-Turkey agreement on refugee resettlement, a report from Turkey’s Aegean coast shows that a growing number of migrants are choosing to stay. See more.

Refugee crisis: Citizens more open to refugees than their governments

Mon, 23 May 2016 17:04:02 +0100

The vast majority of people (80 percent) would welcome refugees with open arms, with many even prepared to take them into their own homes, according to a global survey commissioned by Amnesty International. The new Refugees Welcome Index is based on a global survey of more than 27,000 people carried out by GlobeScan. It ranks 27 countries across all continents based on people’s willingness to let refugees live in their countries, towns, neighbourhoods and homes. src="" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" width="100%" height="400">var embedDeltas={"100":630,"200":486,"300":428,"400":414,"500":414,"600":414,"700":400,"800":400,"900":400,"1000":400},chart=document.getElementById("datawrapper-chart-1aXgS"),chartWidth=chart.offsetWidth,applyDelta=embedDeltas[Math.min(1000, Math.max(100*(Math.floor(chartWidth/100)), 100))]||0,newHeight=applyDelta;"px"; Chinese people appear to be the most welcoming to refugees in the world. The United Kingdom and Germany are close behind. Spain and Greece are also amongst the top ten, with Russia closing the rank. In Germany, where 1.1 million asylum seekers arrived in 2015, “almost every respondent (96 percent) said they would accept refugees in their country, while only 3 percent said refugees should be refused entry. And 76 percent of German respondents said their government should be doing more to assist refugees”, notes the Guardian. “Only nine of the 27 countries covered by our survey have committed to taking in any of Syria’s 4.8 million refugees. But they have only agreed to share fewer than 174,000 people between them”, says Amnesty. According to the human rights organisation, another four countries in our survey – Turkey, Jordan, Greece and Germany – are hosting millions, with very little help from other countries. Because most governments still pretend that protecting refugees is somebody else’s problem. Their attitude is badly out of touch with the inspiring “can do” attitude among their citizens. Our survey shows that politicians have run out of excuses not to do their fair share: Instead of chasing headlines with anti-refugee rhetoric, they should be making brave decisions. “These figures speak for themselves,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general: People are ready to make refugees welcome, but governments’ inhumane responses to the refugee crisis are badly out of touch with their own citizens. The Refugees Welcome Index exposes the shameful way governments have played short-term politics with the lives of people fleeing war and repression. Governments cannot allow their response to the refugee crisis to be held hostage by headlines. Too often they use xenophobic anti-refugee rhetoric to chase approval ratings. This survey suggests they are not listening to the silent majority of welcoming citizens who take the refugee crisis perso[...]

The EU and refugees: A call for a humane migrant policy and a Federal Europe

Sat, 07 May 2016 10:54:35 +0100

Europa in movimento, – Promoted by the Young European Federalists of Pescara in collaboration with Europe in movimento, the following appeal calls on European leaders to suspend the agreements recently signed with Turkey in the field of refugees and the adoption of inclusive migration policies. See more.

EU-Turkey: Nothing’s really new on the Turkish front

Fri, 22 Apr 2016 15:41:37 +0100

, – On the eve of Angela Merkel’s and some top EU officials visit in Turkey, Turkish columnist Cengiz Aktar reviews the country’s implementation of the refugee flow stemming agreement and the current state of Ankara’s EU accession path. Contrary to what Ankara or Brussels may say, both are in some kind of stalemate. See more.

Refugee crisis: Hanging on Turkey

Tue, 05 Apr 2016 12:14:06 +0100

, – Cartoon. See more.

Refugee crisis: A European Marshall Plan to take in asylum seekers

Mon, 07 Mar 2016 07:23:04 +0100

In an article that appeared in French newspapers, Guillaume Duval, the editor in chief of Alternatives économiques, and MEPs Pervenche Bérès and Yannick Jadot suggest paths the EU could take to ensure a humane welcome to the tens of thousands of refugees arriving at its borders. While the financial crisis is now receding, following the introduction of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and the fading threat of “Grexit”, “the massive influx of refugees, coming particularly from Syria, has fanned the flames of Europe’s crisis,” the trio writes. It is an influx that has “especially weakened Greece and Italy, two of the countries at the centre of the eurozone crisis.” And so “this new challenge has further entrenched the hostility between these countries and EU institutions, with the threat of excluding Greece from the Schengen zone.” As if this were not enough — the rift between central and eastern Europe has deepened, while adding fuel to the fire for Brits tempted by Brexit. Finally, this crisis has considerably weakened Angela Merkel’s position domestically. She now finds herself alone in Europe because of her open stance towards refugees. [...] What’s more, when it comes to refugees, Angela Merkel has taken on the honorable mantle for Europe. So it is vitally important to stop other leaders from seeing her misadventures as a sign that only cynicism and demagogy are rewarded. In this context, the trio ask how “we can find a win-win solution”. They remind us that “in the first instance, this question is absolutely about economics.” Indeed it would be “intolerable” to bring up “an aging Europe’s need for labour” just as the advantages of Europe welcoming more asylum seekers would be felt by the elite from these war-torn countries rather than the very poorest. “If there is an absolute imperative to lower the drawbridge of ‘fortress Europe’,” Bérès, Duval and Jadot write, “it is primarily for humanitarian reasons” — because these people would be risking their lives to stay in their country and because we can no longer leave the burden of care exclusively on the shoulders of neighbouring countries like Lebanon, Turkey or Jordan, who are now also at risk of destabilising. After the Second World War, and again after the Algerian War of Independence, Europe and France dealt with migratory movements on a vastly bigger scale. Why were they not more of a burden? Essentially because taking in refugees was financed on credit. Believing that the solutions proposed by the EU are only “setting up conflicts”, they instead suggest learning from the Marshall Plan, which “allowed, particularly in Germany, the resettlement of millions of refugees fleeing from the east” — if we finance refugee resettlement on credit, funds allocated to the rest of the population will remain untouched, while the amount of global economic activity will proportionately increase… And these refugees will pose fewer problems the more generous we are wit[...]

Refugee crisis: Europeans want a fair and common response

Sat, 27 Feb 2016 10:25:03 +0100

“European governments are split when it comes to the migrant crisis. Some want to accept asylum seekers; others are refusing to take them point-blank. European citizens see this issue very differently. They want a fair distribution and above all demand a common response to this new challenge and they strongly reject the idea of individual countries acting unilaterally", says the Bertelsmann foundation as it has released a vast survey on the issue among all EU 28 countries. According to the survey –

79 percent of all Europeans are in favor of a common European asylum and migration policy. 52 percent of those questioned say that the EU should assume primary responsibility for this. By contrast, 27 percent support shared responsibility between the EU and member states and only 22 percent are in favor of migration policy simply being left to their own country.

At the same time, the survey shows a gap between the old and the new member states:

While a majority of citizens (54 percent) in the new member states think that the burden of asylum seekers should be fairly distributed, in the old member states the figure is 85 percent. Only 41 percent of citizens in the new member states demand that those states which refuse to accept their fair share of asylum seekers should be subject to financial penalties, whereas in the old member states 77 percent are in favor of such a measure. All are in agreement that EU external borders should be secured jointly (91 percent in the old and 87 percent in the new member states are in favor).

Not all Europeans are enthusiastic, though, when it comes to the issue of the unprecedented refugee influx and its possible consequences:

50 percent state that they sometimes feel like foreigners in their own country and 58 percent are afraid of negative consequences for social welfare systems. 54 percent of EU citizens think that the criteria for asylum seekers should not be interpreted too generously.

As more Schengen area countries are shutting their borders to asylum seekers and reinstating border controls, Europeans fear one of the EU's major achievements is at stake:

The survey suggests that people do not wish freedom of movement in the Schengen area to become a casualty of the current crisis: 79 percent of Europeans want to be able to continue to enjoy their freedom to travel and consider Schengen as the European Union’s second most important achievement, just behind the internal market.

Europe and the refugee crisis: A perfect storm on its way

Wed, 17 Feb 2016 09:45:17 +0100

I Kathimerini, Athens – As migrants continue to flock in from the sea, Greece is facing the threat of having to comply both with its commitments to manage the refugee crisis and with the demands of its creditors. Will it cope? See more.

Italy’s battle for gay unions: A relic from the past century

Sun, 14 Feb 2016 18:31:36 +0100

, – The vagaries of a country where the Vatican has much too much impact. See more.

Germany and the refugee crisis: Why political tensions are likely to get worse

Thu, 11 Feb 2016 20:46:06 +0100

Social Europe, London – The consequences of a million refugees arriving in Germany last year are yet to play out fully. Its impact on the labour market, the volatility of the economic situation and some crucial upcoming elections might well shake the country’s stability. See more.

Employment: When will we get a social “triple A” rating, Mr Juncker?

Sun, 31 Jan 2016 10:26:20 +0100

L’Echo, Brussels – Employment is still high on the list of Europeans’ concerns and was the central feature of Mr Juncker’s programme when he first landed the top job at the European Commission. But his plans have been derailed by growing rifts between member states. It is time for the EU to regroup and keep to its promises, a Belgian PhD student argues here. See more.

Refugee quotas across the EU: Towards a fairer distribution of asylum seekers

Thu, 28 Jan 2016 10:02:04 +0100

, – The European Commission’s distribution key for refugees across the EU is wanting in many respects. Two LSE researchers defend an alternative key based on pragmatic and realistic criteria. The outcome is sometimes surprising. See more.

Germany and refugees: The violence in Cologne is changing everything

Wed, 13 Jan 2016 11:21:04 +0100

“New Year's Eve may have marked a dramatic turning point”, writes Der Spiegel. Sexual assaults were perpetrated en masse in several cities, as if coordinated by some invisible hand. Two of the alleged attacks in Cologne ended in rape. What happened in Cologne – and to a lesser extent in Hamburg – on New Year's Eve and in the following days “adhered to a script that many had feared would come true even before it actually did. The fears of both immigration supporters and virulent xenophobes came true”, writes the magazine — For some, the events finally bring to light what they have always been saying: that too many foreigners in the country bring too many problems along with them. For the others, that which happened is what they have been afraid of from the very beginning: that ugly images of ugly behavior by migrants would endanger what has been a generally positive mood in Germany with respect to the refugees. What is certain, adds Der Spiegel, is that “difficult days are ahead”, and they bring at least two questions: Is Germany really sure that it can handle the influx of refugees? And: Does Germany really have the courage and the desire to become the country in Europe with the greatest number of immigrants? […] It seems as though the time has come for a broad debate over Germany's future -- and Merkel's mantra "We can do it," is no longer enough to suppress it. […] Integration, integration policy, repression, immigration policy, caps on immigration: The events in Cologne have profoundly changed the dynamics of Berlin politics. Chancellor Merkel and her confidants fear that it will only get more difficult to enforce their current refugee policy. The Chancellor has already shifted her position, at least when it comes to discourse. Talking surprisingly soon after the violence in Cologne, she said that it deserved a “tough response by the government" and dismissed as “nonsense” popular claims that she “likes the fact that many refugees are coming to Germany”. But Angela Merkel cannot deviate too much from her initial political path either: were Germany to begin turning people back at its borders, the Schengen system of border-free travel in Europe would collapse. While it took the media some days to grasp the full extent of the violence in Cologne and Hamburg and of the lack of response from the police and political establishment, Der Spiegel believes the first thing to be done is to be completely honest about the facts and the situation: Germans are not children who need to be protected from the truth for well-intended reasons. And part of the truth is the fact that politicians like to talk about integration but have not yet given any indication that they understand the magnitude of the challenge facing them. Another part of the truth is this: German society is [...]

Migrant crisis in the Balkans: Too much barbed wire between Slovenia and Croatia

Tue, 22 Dec 2015 08:23:19 +0100

Milo Cerar’s government has decided to construct a fence of barbed wire along 500 km of Slovenia’s 671 km long border with Croatia, in preparation for the expected wave of migrants in the spring. The decision was met with protests in Zagreb, where the regime has criticised Ljubljana for profiting from the opportunity to lay down a demarcation line between the two countries: determining the path of the shared border is still under international arbitration. Likewise, in Slovenia the barbed wire fence has drawn criticism, particularly when security services began constructing it along the coast, in Istrie, a tourist hotspot, and along the river Kupa, the natural border between Slovenia and Croatia. Opponents point to the Second World War, when the Nazis surrounded Ljubljana with barbed wire; people living in the border regions fear for the impact on tourism, while animal rights activists have criticised the damage barbed wire does to wild animals, who regularly cross from one country to the other, and have published photos of bloodied animals trapped in the fences. The government has justified its measure through the need to “protect the State, its citizens and their property,” while also claiming that the barbed wire, installed by the same company that constructed the enclosure for Ljubljana Zoo, “has been put in place to ensure [migrants’] safety” and “to stop the humanitarian situation from worsening.” On the Slovenian side of things, Delo claims that the “kilometres of barbed wire cropping up all along the sloven-croat border”, notably “in the Dragonja Valley and in Bela Krajina appear as a foreign element in the natural setting. Yet this has become our new reality. The population has been living with it despite the lack of any democratic debate, with restrictions on liberty, the dehumanisation of refugees, the worsening of relations with Croatia and the radicalisation of society. And this comes at a time when, paradoxically, the migratory wave has been slowing and the routes taken up to now by refugees are closing. In Zagreb, daily Vecernji Iist has attacked the attitude of its European partners towards countries at the Union’s periphery. The newspaper claims that “Brussels and Angela Merkel did not show any understanding for Hungary when it began constructing a barbed wire fence. When Slovenia begins to build its own, Merkel says nothing. What is the difference?” the paper asks. “Hundreds of thousands more refugees in Germany and a 10% lower approval rating for the Chancellor,” it explains. For Vecernji Iist, the European Union, without a common foreign policy and divided by individual interests, has shown its tragic inability to manage its borders. So it has ceded the task of erecting barbed wire to countries at its periphery, in this ca[...]

Germany and the refugee crisis: All-powerful Merkel is under fire

Tue, 10 Nov 2015 08:55:25 +0100

Despite being recently awarded as the second most powerful human on Earth by Forbes, German chancellor Angela Merkel is looking increasingly vulnerable as her refugee policies turn sour, argues a team of writers for Der Spiegel. The continued influx of refugees to the country’s south-east has placed aid organisations and municipal bodies under unprecedented strain. Meanwhile, political opponents and allies alike are campaigning to see a limit on the number of refugees allowed to enter Germany, a move that would see the end of Merkel’s vision for a borderless Europe. Der Spiegel’s writers claim that the situation has spiralled into chaos, as resource-starved municipalities struggle to keep up with the ever increasing migrant numbers. Experts expect 10,000 to 12,000 new refugees a day, with virtually no more shelters available anywhere in the country. “The government, in short, has lost control,” the authors claim. “And Germany is in a state of emergency.” Meanwhile, traditional conservative supporters of Merkel’s party, the CDU, are growing increasingly concerned that the new arrivals could give rise to “a parallel society of Muslims in the country.” All this has had a dramatic on Merkel’s approval rating, with knock-on effects for the CDU. More worryingly, it is the Alternative for Germany (AfD), an extremist right-wing party, that has most benefitted from this shift in the national mood, scoring 8% in a recent opinion poll. Over the summer, Merkel’s position appeared unassailable. Now, commentators speculate, she could face a coup from within her own party. And Merkel herself is well aware of the dangers of her position — One of Merkel's great strengths is an unerring sense for political reality. [...] Nobody knows better than Germany's chancellor just how precarious the situation in the country has become. At the heart of the crisis is Merkel’s shaky relationship with Horst Seehofer, head of the CDU’s sister party in Bavaria, the CSU. While Seehofer is strongly opposed to the drastic measures to cut migrant numbers proposed by the AfD, he is nevertheless pushing for a cap on the number of people the country can take in. The situation in Bavaria is, according to the authors, “pre-revolutionary”, with increasing anger in the party about the actions of the federal government. What’s more, it has emerged that nothing was done to support local communities, who as early as February has appealed to the government for assistance with the refugee arrivals.The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees also found itself unprepared for the scale of the crisis, after it was refused permission to hire additional staff for processing asylum applications. Merkel is also vulnerable internationally. Once called the “Queen of Europe[...]

Child refugees in Europe: Twice a victim

Wed, 28 Oct 2015 09:56:40 +0100

, – Children represent up to one quarter of the total number of migrants that have arrived in Europe over the past months. NGOs and charities say that monitoring and managing them is full of difficulties. See more.

Migrants coming to Europe: The map showing who should tackle the refugee crisis

Fri, 23 Oct 2015 11:12:15 +0100

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This map, by Giulio Zucchini, shows who Europeans think should take decisions on migration. According to the survey, which was conducted in all member states in September 2015, nearly two thirds believe decisions on migration should be taken at the EU level rather than nationally, while eight out of ten said asylum seekers should be “better distributed among all EU member states”. However, the answers vary considerably from country to country.

Meanwhile, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker called a mini summit with the leaders from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia to discuss the refugee flows along the Western Balkans route. "The objective of the meeting will be to agree common operational conclusions which could be immediately implemented," a Commission's statement said.