Young bloggers from across the EU tell us what’s on their minds. Leading this week are the issues of Ukraine, French socialism and northern Italian nationalism.

There is always someone more northern than us

by Jacopo Barbati

The idea that ‘northern is better’ is typical of contemporary Italian society, and in the last twenty five years it has been promoted politically by a well-known party called Lega Nord (the Northern league).

The ideological drought of the French Socialist Party weakens Europe as a whole

Since the turn of the twenty-first century, it has become much more apparent that the reservoir of ideas on the left in France has dried up. Read more from our You Tell Us bloggers.

The French left?s ideological drought affects Europe. The crisis of European progress can be understood as the outgrowth of crises in a number of western welfare states, such as France, where austerity, immigration and global capitalism are associated with doom, insecurity and risk.

WRAP-UP: EU summit on Ukraine – Avoiding a new Cold War?

EU heads of state and government gathered in Brussels on Thursday (6 March) to take measures in response to the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine. Follow all the developments as they happen in our live feed, below.


The phoney currency debate in Scotland relies on misunderstanding and is helping to marginalise the real alternative.

It?s not clear what impact David Bowie might have had on the Scottish independence referendum with his ?Scotland? stay with us,? plea at the awards ceremony. Then again, Bowie was in New York at the time and his speech was actually delivered by Kate Moss dressed in a Ziggy Stardust outfit, so the message might have become a little confused.

Young bloggers from across the EU tell us what’s on their minds. Leading this week are the issues of Ukraine, French socialism and northern Italian nationalism.

There is always someone more northern than us

by Jacopo Barbati

The idea that ‘northern is better’ is typical of contemporary Italian society, and in the last twenty five years it has been promoted politically by a well-known party called Lega Nord (the Northern league).

Ukraine, the west, and the issue of strategic thinking

Despite many weeks and months having passed since protests erupted in Ukraine in late November 2013, the west has continued to act like a passive and awe-struck bystander.

Developments in Ukraine follow in quick succession. Russia continues to flex its muscles by threatening to send even more troops across the Strait of Kerch, the small channel between Crimea and southern Russia, and by considering a take-over of Ukrainian military and naval bases. The west seems overwhelmed by Russia?s de facto annexation of the Crimean peninsula and by considerations in the Kremlin to also intervene in eastern Ukraine. This is surprising and reveals a serious absence of strategic thinking in western capitals and Brussels alike.

Watching for a Crimean Cyberwar Crisis


An info-war is under way as websites are blocked and telecom cables to Crimea are mysteriously cut.

NATO announces review of cooperation with Russia as EU freezes assets of ousted leader


Both NATO and the EU are increasing pressure on Russia and Ukraine’s former pro-Kremlin rulers

 Hungary criticises EU Commission?s ‘lack of flexibility’ on Roma policies


Presenting its programme on Roma inclusion, Hungary asked the European Commission to be more responsive to national circumstances regarding minorities, while EU officials called for legally-binding integration measures.

Invited to speak at the plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the Hungarian minister for human resources, Zoltán Balog, presented Budapest?s Roma inclusion programme to a European audience.

The minister took the opportunity to criticise what he described as the ?lack of responsiveness and flexibility? of the European Commission on national Roma strategies.

Chizhov: For Russia Ukraine is more important than G8

Vladimir Chizhov big

EXCLUSIVE / If the West decides to sanction Russia by boycotting the G8 summit in Sochi, this gathering of the world?s major players will not become a G7, but will simply disappear, and Russia will not see it as a blow, because it considers Ukraine as more important than G8, Vladimir Chizhov, Russia?s ambassador to the EU, told EurActiv in an exclusive interview.

Vladimir Chizhov is a career diplomat. Before being appointed ambassador to the EU in 2005 he was deputy minister of foreign affairs. He spoke to EurActiv’s senior editor Georgi Gotev yesterday (4 March).

The Maidan is alive and well and planning its future

The eyes of the world may be fixed on Crimea, but back in Kyiv the Maidan isn?t going away and is looking forward to a future mission spreading people?s politics around Ukraine.

MAIN FOCUS: Crimean parliament votes to join Russia | 07/03/2014

The Crimean parliament voted on Thursday for the annexation of the territory by Russia. The citizens of the peninsula are now to take part in a referendum on March 16 on whether to be part of Russia or Ukraine. Commentators describe these resolutions as clever moves by the Russian president, and fear that the entire Black Sea region could be destabilised.

 The far right in Ukraine’s revolution

Role of far right in protests and new government

Euro elections 2014: You tell us (05/03/14) part two

Young bloggers from across the EU tell us what’s on their minds. Leading this week are the issues of minority rights, Ukraine and the euro.

Creating radically democratic solutions to the financial abduction of Europe

by Lotta Tenhunen and Adrià Rodriguez

Last weekend we participated in the European meeting and seminar The New Abduction of Europe -? Debt, War and Democratic Revolutions in Madrid. The meeting, organized by Fundacion de los Comunes in the framework of the network of museums L’Internationale, took place in Museo Reina Sofía and other spaces close by.

EU gives ultimatum to Russia over its ?aggression? against Ukraine

At their extraordinary summit held today (6 March), called in response to the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine, EU leaders demanded that Russia immediately withdraw its forces from Crimea, grant access to monitors, and begin negotiations. If it does not comply, Moscow has been threatened with travel bans and an assets freeze, which could also hit Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Following a seven-hour summit which was called ?stormy? by the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, EU leaders agreed on a tougher than expected warning to Russia, which was presented to the press by Council President Herman Van Rompuy

In reaction to the Crimea crisis, the foreign ministers of the US and certain EU states are meeting their Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov today, Wednesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin made his first public remarks on the crisis yesterday, levying serious accusations against Ukraine’s interim government but also stressing that he didn’t see the need for military intervention. Some commentators see Putin’s remarks as an expression of a distorted view of reality, while others talk of a carefully calculated strategy

Ukraine’s crisis, the west’s trap

The dangerous stand-off with Russia over Ukraine is also a display of the west’s skewed perceptions and moral vanities.

Video of the confrontation went round the world in just a few hours and seemed to capture the huge risks of a crisis transiting to war. A group of unarmed Ukraine soldiers was filmed marching determinedly from one part of their base in Crimea towards Russian troops, singing the national anthem on the way. The images were graphic, and became alarming when a few Russians fired warning-shots. After a brief exchange, the tense mood subsided. The Ukrainian soldiers failed to get through the Russian line, and retreated; the Russians were left looking aggressive, the message of Russian belligerence reinforced.

First he was abducted by unidentified gunmen. Then, he wasn’t. Now, Robert Serry, the United Nations’ special envoy for the Ukraine crisis, is leaving the Crimean peninsula as fast as his plane can return him to Kiev.

Switzerland far outranks EU on innovation


New statistics from the European Commission show that Switzerland far surpasses the EU in innovation. But it is uncertain how long the country can hold its top spot, as the Swiss continue to distance themselves from the EU, EurActiv Germany reports.

Switzerland is the most innovative country in Europe, according to figures in the latest EU Innovation Union Scoreboard.

The results come just weeks after the European Commission announced it would freeze negotiations over Switzerland’s participation in the EU’s multi-billion-euro research programme, Horizon 2020, and the student exchange program Erasmus+.

MAIN FOCUS: EU seeks position on Crimea crisis | 06/03/2014

The leaders of the EU are meeting today, Thursday, to discuss measures againstMoscow. While Eastern European countries call for tough sanctions, Germany is pushing for mediation between Russia and Ukraine. Some commentators fear that threatening Moscow will do more harm than good, while others say the time for military action against Russia has come.

EU Summit: Leaked draft conclusions on Ukraine

Ukraine’s prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, left, and France’s François Hollande at summit’s start

Today?s emergency summit of EU leaders has just gotten underway and the Brussels blog has got its hands on an early draft of the official three-page concluding statement on Ukraine.

As if it weren?t clear enough already, the draft reveals deep fault lines among member states over the appropriate response to Russia?s actions in Crimea, since there is very little substance in the text thus far. Indeed, the moderates ? led by Germany and including countries with strong economic ties to Russia, like Italy and the Netherlands? appear to have succeeded in keeping any specific threats against Russia out of the declaration.

Could Ukraine’s shale gas turn the tables on Russia?Ukraine is currently both dependant on Russian gas imports (60% of Ukrainian gas comes from Russia) and a major transhipment route for gas to Russia’s export markets in the EU. This has historically put Ukraine in a weak position vis-a-vis its eastern neighbour. A fact underlined in the last few days when Gazprom increased the price it charged following the change of government in Kiev, forcing Ukraine to seek emergency finance from the west.

Unpaid internships set to continue to shame Europe


Poor quality, unpaid internships are a big issue across Europe: rather than being a valuable learning experience and stepping stone, they are modern day slave labour in all too many cases, writes Giuseppe Porcaro.

Giuseppe Porcaro is the secretary general of the European Youth Forum (YFJ).

The news this week that the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER), in its Recommendation on Quality Framework for Traineeships (QFT), has neglected many key elements that make a quality internship was extremely disappointing for young people across Europe.


9 Essential Questions About Ukraine, Answered


How the Situation in Ukraine May Impact Kazakhstan

by: Aqnyet Tolendi

KazNU student, in Almaty Kazakhstan

At present the whole world discusses Ukraine. Each message about “Maidan” extends worldwide. The European Union and the CIS countries think of the future of this country. Because a challenges or progress of one country impacts other countries. Especially neighbors.

Socialist MEP: A ‘single’ idea of Europe no longer exists

Top candidates for the European elections met at the Allianz forum in Berlin on Monday (3 March) under the heading “A Soul for Europe”. In an interview with after the event, MEP Jo Leinen spoke of Europe’s importance as a community of values and why this year’s election is unprecedented.

Jo Leinen is a German MEP for the Socialists & Democrats Group and a member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety in the European Parliament. He spoke to EurActiv Germany’s Ewald König.



Matteo Renzi: Italy?s fake revolution


Last week, Matteo Renzi?s government obtained the backing of the Italian Parliament, aiming to revolutionise the country’s old politics. But can his political style and smart tweeting be enough?


Former NATO Commander Explains Ukraine Crisis


Russia has invaded the Crimean region of the sovereign nation of Ukraine with a military force, many of whom are not wearing appropriate military insignia, that numbers more than 15,000.


Who loses from punishing Russia?

Robert Peston on who loses most from sanctions on Russia

MAIN FOCUS: Crimea crisis hits the stock markets | 04/03/2014

The crisis in the Crimean Peninsula has sent the rouble and Russian shares into a downwards spiral. While Russia reportedly boosted its troops in the region on Monday night, the US has suspended military cooperation with Moscow. The EU and Nato are also discussing sanctions. Some commentators believe the conflict will cause the RNo real threat to Ukraine?s Russian speakers

40 open Democracy News Analysis – by Uilleam Blacker  /  1d  //  keep unread  //  hide  //  previewWhat are the ?legitimate interests? justifying Putin?s intervention into Ukraine? The most frequently identified interest is the situation of Russians and Russian-speakers. Is the Russian language really under threat?

ussian economy to collapse. Others fear that the West has a lot more to lose

EU-Russia sanctions: 6 areas of manoeuvre

Moscow faces European sanctions unless it recalls its troops in Crimea, but what are these measures and how likely are they to be used?



The Dutch EU reform agenda – a primer

In previous we’ve described the Dutch as ‘thought leaders’ on EU reform. The Dutch Government’s ‘subsidiarity review’ and the Tweede Kamer’s report on the role of national parliaments, with its proposals for ‘red’, ‘green’ and ‘late’ cards, all spring to mind.

Putin and Obama discuss Ukraine and ?Realpolitik?


In a telephone conversation with US President Barack Obama, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin pleaded that Russian-US relations should not be sacrificed by ?disagreements on individual issues?, such as Moscow’s de facto annexation of Ukraine?s Crimean peninsula.

In a one-hour call during the night of 6 to 7 March, Obama urged Putin to accept the terms of a potential diplomatic solution to the crisis, which has triggered the worst crisis in US-Russian relations since the end of the Cold War.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week addressed a joint gathering of the Commons and Lords, with the rare quality of reception usually reserved for important heads of states, followed by a press conference. Before all this, the Tory press built it up: ?Merkel to back PM?s bid for a new EU deal? said the Mail, writes Alan Donnelly.

Alan Donnelly is a former leader of the British Labour party in Europe and current chair of South Shields Constituency Labour Party.

This ?overspin? unravelled very quickly. The Chancellor restated a comprehensive case for Europe. She outlined that she was dashing hopes of a special offer of a redesigning the EU for the benefit of British Eurosceptics, but would not be saying the opposite, that European partners do not want the UK at all. Of course, it is true that Cameron has not said what he wants, bar vague UKIP-vote-chasing notions.

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