While putting the finishing touches to this edition of the Green European Journal, news reaches us that a majority of voters in the UK have opted for their country to leave the European Union. If there was already a sense that the European project is in danger of stalling or even unravelling, this latest development only compounds those fears. We certainly need a profound reflection on this seismic outcome. But what underlies the apparent malaise the EU is experiencing?
The architecture of the European Union institutions is flawed. Its leaders seem to deny the ineffectiveness of the response given to the financial and economic crisis as we see inequality and extremism on the rise. The European Union will be unprepared for the next crisis unless it profoundly reforms its governance and enhances democracy.
To what extent were the outcomes of the recent plebiscites held in the UK determined by the formulation of the question and the method of counting votes? If these are significant factors, this points to some puzzling quirks in the country's voting system, as well as some far-reaching flaws in its democracy.
Unlike many other post-communist countries which experienced fragmentation and instability, Croatia’s party system has retained its basic stability for a long time. Yet a significant section of the electorate has sought an alternative – and as a result a succession of new political actors have emerged, with varying degrees of success. But how are they likely to fare at the country’s September parliamentary elections?
Mass migration is the 21st century’s revolution - leading, in turn, to a counter-revolution which threatens the core idea of the European Union. The refugee crisis has resulted in the reinforcement of stereotypes that Eastern and Western Europe already held about each other.
The case of the small village of Trun in Bulgaria - threatened by a new gold-mining project - is a stark illustration of how the interests of biodiversity, nature and ordinary people living in the area can simply be dismissed. A proliferation of such projects could have a serious impact on the ecology of the entire region, as well as contributing to a global impact on the climate.
Theoretically, there was a progressive case to be made for Britain exiting the European Union via the referendum held on June 23, 2016. But the campaign for Brexit - the infelicitous name given the political process - was, from the very first, fought on the grounds of xenophobia and racism. Moreover, what has transpired in Britain since the Leave campaign won has only shown how easily the veneer of civility and conviviality can be peeled back to reveal the virulence of racism and xenophobia seething under the skin of British social life.
Brexit has been a shock. It wasn't the European Union that smashed the trade unions, depleted Britain's social housing stock and then went on an orgy of privatisation, but Brexit has handed complete, unregulated control over to those who did, and the potential consequences reach far beyond Britain's borders.
It's difficult to point to a time in recent years when European integration was not under pressure. Yet presently, the problem-solving capacity of the European Union definitely seems to be exhausted, for two crises simultaneously challenge it: the Euro crisis and the Schengen crisis. But the calculation that two crises cause double trouble might be too simple if these two overlapping crises neutralise each other.
The book The Entrepreneurial State by Mariana Mazzucato takes an original approach towards the debate of how to create growth in Europe. By highlighting the role of innovation within a demand-related economy (Keynes), and through various concrete examples from within the corporate and industrial world, Mazzucato describes how State-directed institutions contribute to innovation and suggests how financial returns could be brought back to the State, thereby positing innovation as a key for creating societal growth.
In the wake of the attempted coup of July 15th, a crackdown on human rights has been taking place across Turkey, with arrests, sackings and infringements on the freedom of movement. The only way to ensure that rights are respected and that Turkey becomes a democracy governed by the rule of way is to re-engage with the EU accession process and to relaunch the stalled peace process in the Southeast of the country.
Even a democratically elected president of the European Commission, or the elimination of the circus that is a European Parliament based in two cities, will not make citizens fall in love with the Union. Maciej Kuziemski interviews Jan Zielonka, who says that what's required is a form of European integration able to meet the needs of societies put under pressure by current geopolitical tensions and the digital revolution.
Much of the coverage of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union has focused on the political and economic fallout of the vote, but what is the emotional impact of Brexit likely to be on those living in the UK? Drawing on the breakup of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia illustrates how the emotions of individuals on both sides of the debate might develop over the coming years.
The European Union is far from perfect - from a Green perspective - yet at times when it is threatened, we must rally to its defence as an idea and as a project. This is because it offers the most promising path to making fundamental Green values – sustainability, solidarity, solidity – a reality for European citizens.
Both pro-Kremlin and independent media in Russia tend to oversimplify and ‘tabloidise’ news about the European Union, painting it as weak, excessively tolerant and eager to forsake Christian values. Politicians and media outlets inside the European Union help spread fabricated stories among their constituencies. This circulation of misinformation can have far-reaching implications, and can influence not only the European Union’s relations with Russia and its neighbours, but also its own internal process of integration.
Can democracy be the project that leads to further European integration? Social scientist Donatella Della Porta provides a diagnosis of the current state of European democracy, and tells us whether today’s pro-democracy movements have the potential to become the driving forces of a more united Europe.