After waiting for two days for permission to dock in Lampedusa, Italy, Sea-Watch 3 — a humanitarian boat carrying 40Libyan migrants rescued from a flimsy dinghy in the Mediterranean — finally defied Italy’s orders and entered the port on Saturday. As soon as the vessel docked, the ship’s German captain, Carola Rackete, was arrested and, according to her lawyer, accused of “resisting a war ship” — a charge that carries up to 10 years in prison.
Sea-Watch immediately tweeted a statement from its chairman, Johannes Bayer, which read: “We are proud of our captain, she did exactly the right thing. She upheld the law of the sea and brought people to safety.”… Seguir leyendo »
In the wake of the Dutch election, in which the far-right candidate Geert Wilders was comfortably defeated, it seems clear that despite this setback, a common set of fears and concerns are pushing millions of voters into the arms of nationalist, populist politicians.
The loss of national identity. Disillusionment with mainstream politicians. Unemployment. Globalization. None of these are new features of Western societies.
The problem is that these issues have collided with the refugee crisis and poor economic growth across the continent, leading some to conclude that their countries are in decline.
This challenge to the status quo has, it seems, been aggravated by new forms of rebellion and political activism, made possible through the Internet -- which is something that traditional political parties seem to have not gotten their heads around yet.… Seguir leyendo »
Last, week, Antonio Tajani was elected President of the European Parliament. Considering the myriad challenges currently facing both the EU and the wider continent, his job should be one of the busiest in politics.
His victory was the result of a newly established alliance between Guy Verhofstadt's liberals, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), and Tajani's center-right European People's Party (EPP).
"We want to act together to bring results for European citizens and guarantee Europe's stability. Our partnership is based on content and on reforms for Europe. It is a pact for results," the parliamentary leader of the EPP, Manfred Weber, said.… Seguir leyendo »
The election of Donald Trump as US president is causing turmoil across the world.
The other side of the Atlantic cannot escape this. Leaders of European governments and of the EU itself are naturally taking a politically correct line, praising the new American leader as someone they are ready to "work with."
Yet, a Trump administration might become a nightmare for all involved in the EU's international relations; especially when it comes to dealing with Russia and the situation in Syria.
More worryingly, the repercussions of the US presidential election could have a wider, and longer-term, impact on European politics.
Indeed, nationalist and xenophobic forces are celebrating.… Seguir leyendo »
It may seem bizarre that two far-right, nationalist politicians — Marine Le Pen of France and Geert Wilders of the Netherlands — have reached across borders to form a Pan-European group dedicated to weakening the European Union. Their aim is a transnational political alliance that would compete in the May elections for the European Parliament; once in power, they would cooperate to try to rein in the power of Brussels.
Are these politicians, who share an opposition to immigration and a skepticism about the free flow of labor and capital across the Continent, simply hypocritical opportunists, as many Europeans of the left believe?… Seguir leyendo »
The convulsions that seized Italy in recent days have created new hopes that the country can be reborn, the European Union reassured and the markets stabilized. The respected economist and former European Union commissioner Mario Monti — effectively placed in charge of the country by the Italian president, and, even more, by Western political and financial powers — is trusted to have the skills and balance to deal with Italy’s economic crisis and enormous public debt.
Many believe that this is the end of the anomaly of the Berlusconi era.
They are wrong. Silvio Berlusconi, the self-proclaimed “best prime minister ever,” turned Italy into an abnormal country by aggravating the existing flaws of its relatively young democracy.… Seguir leyendo »