EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – Opposition to the Bologna Process, an EU-inspired series of university and college reforms, has expanded substantially across Spain in recent weeks, as students protest, occupy school buildings and even block rail lines.
In the last week, demonstrations and occupations have in particular stepped up in Madrid with sit-ins taking over faculties or otherwise protesting at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), the rectorate of the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and University of Alcalá de Henares northeast of the capital. Actions have also taken place in Valencia, Seville and further afield. In Barcelona, students blocked railway lines. The Bologna Process has also provoked significant student opposition in Italy, Finland and Croatia.
The charming city of Leyden in the Netherlands (’Leiden’ in Dutch, pop. 120,000) could without much hyperbole be called the Dutch Oxford. The town boasts the country’s oldest university and is home to museums, libraries, botanical gardens and other institutions connected to its position as the country’s prime centre of learning. Leyden is also home to Oudt Leyden, Europe’s (and possibly the world’s) oldest pancake house. VIA
BRUSSELS – The global financial crisis has already highlighted both the strengths and the weaknesses of the European Union. Had it not been for the euro, the shock waves from the meltdown of September and October would have spread to the currency markets, creating tensions that would have set Europe’s political and economic integration back by decades, perhaps imperiling the whole project.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is trying to reach an agreement with the opposition to prevent internal infighting from negatively affecting the Czech Republic’s efforts as holder of the EU’s rotating presidency in the first half of 2009, EurActiv Czech Republic reports.
Europe’s system of border-free travel expanded in the early hours of this morning as Switzerland formally abolished police controls on its frontiers with France,
OXFORD – The growing Muslim presence in Europe has become a central issue for all European countries, east and west. The numerous debates that have been breaking out across the continent about “multiculturalism,” “secularity,” or even “identity” are almost always connected to this “Islamic” factor.
Despite being overshadowed by climate change and other pressing discussions at last week’s EU summit, improving supervision of the banking and insurance sectors remained among the key priorities of European leaders, who called for "decisions to be taken quickly" to address the issue.
In 1998, I attended a conference on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia. The event was co-organized by the Universities of Münster and Enschede on both sides of the Dutch-German border. Given that Westphalia is a standard reference point for the genesis of the territorial system of sovereign states that became the predominant way of organizing world politics in the 20th century, it is no surprise that one of the highlights of the conference was the bus trip from Enschede across the border into Germany. Yet ten minutes into German territory, most delegates had missed the border crossing. To the amazement of many non-Europeans on the bus, and to the dismay of those looking forward to collecting another stamp, there had been no border guard, no barrier – only a small blue sign with the yellow twelve-star circle of the European Union and “Federal Republic of Germany” written onto it. And yes, the color and style of the road signs and the majority of license plates had been changed.
The Union’s leaders today (12 December) wrapped up negotiations on a contentious climate and energy ‘package’ and hailed their deal as a symbol of European leadership in fighting climate change, despite widespread criticism that the compromise will seriously undermine the bloc’s CO2 reduction agenda.
By Edward Hugh
David Vickrey, editor of Dialog International, wrote this guest blog post:
In the final days of the 2008 US presidential campaign, John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, accused his Democratic rival Barack Obama of being a "European socialist". McCain based this characterization on Obama’s taxation reform program, a plan to "spread the wealth around", which, in fact, is nothing more than a reaffirmation of the tradition of progressive taxation in America.
La Croix (France)
8 décembre 2008
Dans le cadre de la présidence européenne de la France jusqu’à fin décembre, La Croix propose une série d’expressions liée à la vie des instances communautaires à Bruxelles.
L’Europe a grandi. Elle est passée des 6 États fondateurs, à 9, 10, 12, 15, puis d’un coup à 25 et aujourd’hui 27 États membres. En étirant autant que faire se peut les institutions communautaires d’origine, bricolées au fil des traités, l’Europe s’est mise à sentir des courbatures dans le fonctionnement. Surtout après l’adhésion en 2004 de 10 nouveaux États d’un seul coup. Le rejet français et néerlandais du traité constitutionnel en 2005 a été analysé comme une mauvaise digestion de ce qui restera pourtant comme une réunification historique du continent. On a diagnostiqué alors une « fatigue d’élargissement » dans l’opinion, « enlargement fatigue » en anglais. Avec pour seul remède conseillé : du repos en la matière.
By Ronald D. Asmus
Greece has been in a state of turmoil since Dec. 7. People took to the streets for demonstrations and vandalism when the police killed an adolescent during a protest. The opposition held the government responsible for the ongoing situation, recalling that the administration and the security forces failed to take adequate measures.
The Greek riots which followed the shooting of a boy will eventually burn themselves out. More problematic is whether the underlying causes of the strife between radical anarchists and the forces of law and order will be dealt with seriously.
If there’s one thing the global economic turmoil has taught us, it’s how suddenly everything can change. Angela Merkel definitly doesn’t need to be told this twice. Just a few months ago she was Europe’s champion; a practical, no-nonsense leader whose pragmatism and spirit of compromise had earned her great respect throughout Europe. But since the onset of the financial crisis she has largely been in the background, failing to come up with new ideas or solutions.