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Journalist Jean Quatremer published as usual a bright comment on a French news with European meaning – President Macron rejected the idea of both leftist Jean-Luc Mélanchon and rightist Front National to substitute the EU flag with the UN one.

He announced on the contrary the EU flag and symbols will receive official recognition in France: http://bruxelles.blogs.liberation.fr/2017/10/10/macron-condamne-melenchon-vivre-avec-le-drapeau-europeen/

This little but meaningful event is but a new face of an old misunderstanding: Macron is decidely clarifying the playing field of the battle for European unity. Since the beginning of the European integration process, that I personally date back to World War I, we could see the same: world movements and advocacy for world integration as a paradoxical ally of conservative nationalism against European supranational institutions.

It's just like thinking you are going to promote your home-made cakes without even having a home nor a oven... The only result is you will keep selling second-hand cakes! 

In the very same way, we can see today that right and left extremists join forces to defend national sovereignties and to fancifully promote global institutions instead of European ones...

But we won't have global democracy until we show first that democracy can go supranational right here, in Europe, where the nation State model was born! We won't have more local and global justice, freedom, equality, security we take our responsibilities as Europeans. So, thank you Mr Macron for defending the EU flag: it's also the best way to strengthen global institutions.

Posted by Francesco Pigozzo - CesUE

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Theresa May has chosen an inspirational setting, Florence, for her Brexit speech on September 22. The British prime minister is not known for her flights of fancy, so what might link this storied Tuscan city, whose art and architecture draw millions of tourists annually, to the political project she seeks to promote?

Florence has served as a canvas for legions of writers in search of a backdrop to explore the enduring themes of love, conflict, creation and destruction. British novelists are no exception, so we might expect to hear May name-dropping E.M Forster. Or, if something more colourful is required, Robert Harris, the creator of cannibal killer Hannibal Lector (Harris attended the trial of the Monster of Florence).

A highbrow reference might be the once widely-read Romola, by George Elio. This complex historical novel is set in the time of Savonarola, the charismatic Dominican monk intent on purifying the city whose power reached its apogee during the bonfire of the vanities. Then again, the monk’s fanaticism recalls some of the worst rhetorical excesses of the Brexit debate, so perhaps that’s a subject best avoided.

Lessons from Florentine history

A favourite way to promote a positive vision of the UK without the EU is to point to the rich history of British involvement in European affairs. The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, peppers his global Britain speeches with references to the British diaspora and its long history. A local case in point is John Hawkwood, an infamous mercenary whose service to Florence is commemorated in a famous fresco in Santa Maria del Fiore, better known on the tourist trail as the Duomo.

 Hawkwood’s fresco

 

 

 

Hawkwood was contracted to wage war on behalf of Italian cities constantly at odds with their neighbours in medieval times. Florence itself secured many victories over its rivals, which enabled the civic government to flourish. That success is embodied in stone by the Palazzo Vecchio that dominates Piazza della Signoria (where Savonarola met his own fiery end).

But as with the UK as it embarks on departing the EU, Florentine politics always needed to take account of the world beyond. Quarrels between the Guelphs and Ghibellines – in effect the first modern political parties – were founded on questions of competing international allegiances since Italian cities were caught in a power struggle between the papacy and the Holy Roman Emperor.

There is another uncanny echo from the history of Florence’s struggles for self-government in the political writings of Machiavelli and Dante. These writers understood that the jealously guarded independence of city states such as Florence weakened Italy as a whole. The solution these thinkers promoted was Italian unity – just as 20th century Italian statesmen such as Altiero Spinelli advocated European integration to survive international power politics.

All hope abandon, ye who are about to listen?

Even if Dante’s political ideas would not further May’s agenda, she could find solace in the Divine Comedy, the masterpiece of Florence’s favourite son. The poet’s depiction of what he witnesses in his descent through the ten circles of hell is structured according to the logic of contrapasso. Sins are punished by the opposite action of the crime committed. Flatterers, therefore drown in a sea of their verbal diarrhoea made real. Nothing could please the pro-Brexit British tabloids more than to invoke the grotesque imagery of the Inferno to decry the EU’s demand for a multi-billion euro bill as punishment for daring to leave.

 Dante’s Inferno. rutger_vos/flickr

However, rumours are swirling that May will in fact concede ground on the payment dispute in order to boost the chances of securing a “special partnership” after Article 50 talks have concluded. This special partnership is a recurring theme in May’s Brexit rhetoric, just as the Madonna (for instance Giotto’s altar piece housed in the Uffizi) was a ubiquitous reference point in Renaissance art. Perhaps because both offer a beguiling vision of something pure and worthy of devotion.

 Giotto’s Madonna: Inspiration for a harmonious Brexit?

 

 

 

Here the prime minister ought to heed the tale of Henry James’ short story, The Madonna of the Future. If she has not read it, she can find a copy in the British Institute, home to the library of Harold Acton – a personification of aristocratic free movement prior to the EU. Set in Florence, James’ story recounts the tribulations of an American artist who spends years working on a portrait of the ideal Madonna, a project he talks about incessantly. The painful climatic scene sees the narrator, unable to contain his curiosity any longer, barge his way into the artist’s studio, where he discovers a canvas “that was a mere dead blank, cracked and discoloured by time”. It’s a painful and telling lesson: the grander the setting and the more grandiloquent the discourse, the greater the potential for eventual disappointment when nothing of substance materialises.

Posted by The Aston Centre for Europe

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O futuro da União Europeia encontra-se, presentemente, num impasse. Apesar do brocardo latino eppure si muove ainda fazer jus à realidade da integração — a União Europeia ainda continua, apesar dos múltiplos desafios que enfrenta e de um aparente negrume que paira sobre a sua cabeça, a “mover-se” enquanto comunidade política e jurídica — coloca-se em causa a velocidade a que a mesma ocorre. Mais concretamente, o problema situa-se em dois planos. Primeiro, no ritmo a que deve a integração avançar nos próximos tempos. Segundo, deve dar-se autonomia aos Estados Membros para, individualmente ou em grupo, prosseguirem e adoptarem o grau de integração que considerem mais apropriado para si mesmos. Isto dentro de um quadro normativo geral de princípios e regras comuns.

Há quem considere que a opção por diferentes compromissos de integração simboliza o fim da Europa. Em seu lugar, aparecerão pequenas “ilhas” de integração, agrupadas por interesses comuns mais específicos, seja por opções políticas mais proteccionistas do ponto de vista económico ou social, seja por questões mais identitárias e culturais. Esta diferenciação acabará por matar a ideia de uma só Europa unida, criando isso sim distintos agrupamentos estatais com maior ou menor capacidade de relação entre si. Os defensores da Europa a várias velocidades defendem, por seu turno, que dada a actual complexidade das relações entre as nações europeias e aos vários movimentos nacionais de contestação ao projecto europeu que a opção por várias “rotas de saída” individualizadas de acordo com preferências de uns é a única solução possível para se conseguir salvar alguma coisa do que resta da moribunda União.

Os Estados-Membros dividem-se sobre qual o melhor cenário. Alguns dos Estados mais antigos, como a França e a Alemanha já declararam que se deve considerar uma integração a várias velocidades como forma de permitir o avanço do projecto europeu por aqueles que realmente o desejam. Outros Estados-Membros, principalmente do leste, como a Polónia, repudiam a ideia de uma multi-speed Europe. No entanto, como se verifica pelo recente livro branco da Comissão Europeia que delineia cinco possíveis cenários para o futuro da UE, as considerações sobre a necessidade do projecto europeu se mover a diversos “ritmos” ganharam força e são agora parte integrante da discussão política europeia actual, sem prazo de saída à vista.

Olhando para o presente, é possível ver que já existe uma segunda União Europeia dentro da actual. O que as distingue é o compromisso acrescido da moeda única e da necessária integração a que tal factor obriga, quer do ponto de vista económico, quer do ponto de vista institucional e político. Assim, cabe verificar que ao lado do Conselho Europeu já existe uma formação autónoma para lidar com a coordenação política dos países que adoptaram a moeda única: a Cimeira do Euro. Dentro do Conselho de Ministros tem-se assistido, igualmente, à crescente influência do Eurogrupo, a formação que acolhe os Ministros das Finanças dos países da Zona Euro. Convém também não esquecer, do ponto de vista normativo, o desenvolvimento verificado na crise económica, com a aprovação de vários documentos legislativos que vinculam os Estados-Membros da zona euro ao cumprimento de apertadas regras de coordenação macro-económica, com importantes implicações na sua autonomia orçamental nacional. Assim, já se pode dizer que é um facto a existência de pelo menos duas velocidades dentro do projecto europeu — poderíamos até, com o início do processo de saída do Reino Unido, dizer que existem três velocidades, diferenciadas por distintos graus de integração jurídica, institucional e política. Ou seja, a europa das múltiplas velocidades já é uma realidade, e de certa forma já o era desde 1992 com Maastricht.

Esta profunda integração existente actualmente entre os países da União Económica e Monetária torna difícil que sejam possíveis avanços relativos a uma maior colaboração e desenvolvimento político sem que todos os países do euro participem. A pressão para manter a Grécia dentro do quadro, apesar da sua dificuldade em adoptar reformas estruturais demonstra o quão importante é a unidade do colectivo face a saídas individuais que poderiam ter efeitos nefastos na generalidade dos outros países. A zona euro parece, deste modo, condenada a entender-se e a manter-se unida, reformando-se em conjunto ou arriscar ser desmantelada.

A questão coloca-se de forma diversa quanto aos países que estão fora do bloco monetário. A situação destes Estados afigura-se como mais aberta, mas não menos complicada. Têm de decidir partilhar da moeda, mas sabendo de antemão dos constrangimentos macro-económicos e políticos a que estariam adstritos (situação não muito provável), ou então decidir manter o estatuto actual ao abrigo dos Tratados, procurando colaborações em bloco com os outros países e perante a fortalecida zona euro, ou então procurar encontrar isoladamente ou em conjunto com outros membros alterações face ao seu compromisso, mormente ao nível da política de fronteiras. No entanto, precisariam sempre do acordo dos dezassete membros da zona euro para avançar nesse sentido.

Parece-nos assim que o futuro da União se fará, necessariamente, dentro de um quadro de integração incluído na zona euro, ou então no aprofundamento de um espaço de liberdade segurança e justiça para fazer face aos novos problemas relacionados com o terrorismo e a emigração. Excluída estará, à partida, uma integração à la carte contra os princípios bases estabelecidos nos tratados. As velocidades poderão ser duas, mas nunca serão muitas, e dificilmente deixarão de ir no mesmo sentido, ainda que com uma diferente passada.

 

Posted by Martinho Lucas Pires

PhD candidate, Faculdade de Direito at Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Lisboa Nova Law School)

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A genuine European Union to ensure welfare, security and democracy

 

We European citizens are worried and scared. The economic and financial crisis has impoverished many of us. Youth unemployment risks creating a lost generation. Inequality grows and social cohesion is in peril. The EU is surrounded by war and instability from Ukraine to Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa. The flux of refugees and migrants has become a structural feature we must address together, in a human and forward-looking manner. In many Member states we witness authoritarian tendencies and the rise of nationalist and xenophobic forces. Democracy and the core values of the European modern civilization are under attack. The EU itself is questioned, although it ensured peace, democracy and welfare for decades.

We European citizens don’t want our national politicians to care only about their next local or national election. They ask for European solutions to European problems but then they act to render those solutions impossible or ineffective. They disregard sensible Commission proposals or fail to implement decisions already taken , including when agreed by all. They claim, one day, for Europe to do something and protest, the following day, Europe’s proposed actions. We ask national politicians and the media to stop depicting integration as a zero-sum game, thus pitting nations against one another. In an interdependent world no nation can satisfy all of its citizens’ basic needs and appeals for social justice. In this context, integration and supranational government is a positive-sum game. Our European social model based on liberal democracy and a social market economy can only survive in a multi-level framework of government, on the basis of the subsidiarity principle.

We European citizens are aware that globalization is transforming the world. We need a European government to foster our common values and contribute to the solution of the global problems threatening humanity. The world needs an outward-looking cosmopolitan Europe to help build a more effective and democratic global governance to cope with climate change, peace, global poverty, and the transition to an environmentally and socially sustainable economy.

We European citizens recognise the EU as an incomplete Res Publica. It has a ridiculous budget (0,9% of GDP) and no financial autonomy from Member states, while its current competences are out of date for what is necessary to successfully answer the challenges of the current crises. It has a federal like legislative, judiciary and central bank. But democracy is the possibility for citizens to choose the government and make it accountable. For the Union to work and be democratic its decisions, including budget, foreign and defence policy, and the reform of the Treaties, should primarily be taken by a qualified majority representing the majority will of European citizens and states. The Commission should evolve into a fully-fledged government, setting and promoting a political agenda legitimated through elections. European parties should present their candidates to the Presidency at the European election. The alternative is a directly elected President of the EU merging the Presidencies of the Commission and the European Council.

On 14 February 1984 the European Parliament adopted the Draft Treaty establishing the European Union, the so-called Spinelli Project, pointing towards a political union, which Member states disregarded. On 14 February 2017 we call upon the European Parliament, the only directly elected body of the EU, to take a new initiative to kick-start the EU on strengthened democratic basis. Talking about banking, fiscal, economic, energy, security, defence and political unions makes sense only within a genuine democratic European Union, with all those policies under a European government.

On 25 March 2017 the Heads of state and government will celebrate the Treaties of Rome establishing the European Economic Community and Euratom in 1957. We call upon them to match the vision of the Founders. They should open the way to the re-foundation of the EU on the basis of the European Parliament proposal, and immediately exploit all the Lisbon Treaties’ instruments to strengthen EU institutions and policies, especially on foreign and security, economic and social policies. We call upon the Europe’s youth, its civil society, workers, entrepreneurs, academia, local governments and European citizens to participate in the March for Europe in Rome on March 25 (http://www.marchforeurope2017.eu). Together we shall give the political leaders the strength and courage to push forward the EU to a new beginning. European unity is key to solve our common problems, safeguard our values and ensure our welfare, security and democracy.

The appeal, promoted by Prof. Roberto Castaldi together with Giuliano Amato, Yves Bertoncini, Stefan Collignon, Anthony Giddens, Ulrike Guerot, and Miguel Maduro, in few days was subscribed by more than 400 intellectuals, academics, think tanks directors and experts, and personalities in all the EU, and beyond. It was published by some of the main European Newspapers including Le Monde, El Pais, Corriere della Sera, and many others. Among the people who have already signed are: Edmond Alphandery, Enrique Barón Crespo, Vitor Bento, Emma Bonino, Massimo Cacciari, Alessandro Cavalli, Anna Diamantopoulou, Luigi Ferrajoli, Marcel Grignard, Emilio Gabaglio, Enrico Letta, Tomasz Koguc, Monserrat Guibernau, Julius Horvat, Daniel Innerarity, Paul Jaeger, Jean-Victor Louis, Jo Leinen, Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, Claus Offe, Gianfranco Pasquino, Dusan Sidjanski, Javier Solana, Natalie Tocci, Jose Ignacio Torreblanca, Loukas Tsoukalis, Nadia Urbinati, Vladimiro Zagrebelsky.

The full list is published here, and it is open to the adhesion of all citizens who wish to support it. The Appeal is available in several language versions here.

- Sign the APPEAL -

- Join the MARCH FOR EUROPE -

@RobertoCastaldi

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The latest terrorist events that took place in Europe had impact on the EU legislative work, accelerating the approval of acts regarding the fight against the transnational threat. One of those is the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime, the EU-PNR Directive 2016/681, approved on April 21st, 2016.

The scope and application of the mentioned Directive, as enunciated on Article 1, are: the transfer by air carriers of PNR data of passengers of extra-EU flights; the processing of the data, including its collection, use and retention by Member States (MS) and its exchange between them. The Directive also allows MS to extend its application to all intra-EU flights or only to selected ones, but the interest on the extension shall be notified in writing to European Commission.

In order to comply with abovementioned provisions, each MS has to create a branch or designate an authority to act as Passenger Information Unit (PIU). According to Article 4 (2), the PIU responsibilities are: collecting PNR data from air carriers, storing and processing those data and transferring them – or only the result of the data processing – to the competent authorities; and, exchanging both PNR data and the result of data processing with the PIUs of other MS and with Europol. The PIU shall also appoint a data protection office, as established on Article 5 (1), which will analyse the exchange and the processing of PNR data, guaranteeing the passengers’ personal information will not be used for other purposes than those enumerated on Article 6 (2), namely:

- Identifying persons who require further examination by the competent authorities due to suspicion of involvement in a terrorist offence or serious crime;

- Responding, on a case-by-case basis, to a duly reasoned request based on sufficient grounds from the competent authorities to provide and process PNR data;

- Developing and updating the PNR data analysis to improve the identification of persons who may be involved in a terrorist offence or serious crime.

Concerning what states the Article 12, the PNR data provided by the air carriers to the PIU shall be retained in a database at the PIU for a period of five years after. However, after six months of the transfer, all PNR data shall be depersonalised, aiming to avoid the passenger direct identification and to protect his/her personal and human dignity.

Even those objectives seem to adjust themselves to the current environment of security control in Europe, it is important to bear in mind that EU was not the first one to legislate the use of PNR data with counter-terrorism purpose. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in 2001, the United States of America (USA) established an obligation to all air carriers provide electronic access to the data contained in PNRs of passengers who were flying from or to USA. In 2002, in response to this request, the European Commission declared some concerns regarding the direct access to PNR data, as the processing of personal data could violate some fundamental and human rights. In disregard to this argument, in 2003, the USA administration established penalties to the air carriers which refuse or do not provide access to PNRs of passengers who would fly from/to USA.

Facing this sensitive situation, in December 2003, the Commission issued a Communication to the Council and the European Parliament with "a comprehensive EU approach" to the transfer of PNR data to US authorities. In this approach, the Commission indicated as important topics to be considered regarding the transfer of Passengers’ data were:

- A legal framework for the existing transfers of PNR data to US authorities;

- The provision of complete and updated information to passengers in order to let them consent the transfer of their personal data to US customs;

- The substitution of the method of direct data extraction by the US government (pull method) for the method of data exportation (push method), in which it is possible to use filters that prevent the leakage of information by other channels;

- The development of an EU position regarding the use of passenger data for surveillance and border control;

- The creation of a multilateral framework for the transfer of PNR data within the framework of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Following this, on April 29th, 2004, the Council issued the Directive 2004/82/EC, which considered as legitimate acts the PNR data processing for border control and the use of such information as a type of evidence in legal proceedings. The air carriers became obliged to transfer to US authorities the Advance Passenger Information (API), until the end of the ship registration. However, the 2004 Directive also established that any data treatment in any way incompatible with the legislative purpose would be contrary to the principle set out in point (b) of Article 6 (1) of Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC1

It is important to mention that API is a transcript of passport data, which only allows the identification of terrorist and organized crime suspects who were already known by the authorities. To fill this gap, in November 2007, the Council forwarded a proposal for a Framework Decision on the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data by the MS. The proposal stressed that cooperation and exchange of information between MS and their services, as well as with Europol, would be a necessary tool to face the transnational threat. By collecting and analysing the PNR data, the competent authorities could identify persons who would have a link to terrorism or serious crime and take appropriate action in advance.

As the proposal was not contemplate by the Commission, on the “Stockholm Program - An open and secure Europe serving and protecting the citizens”2, the Council called the Commission to adopt a position regarding the use of PNR data with a high level of personal data protection. In September 2010, the Commission issued a Communication3 with a comprehensive approach on the transfer of PNR data to third countries. On this document, it is possible to remark the EU intention on creating a specific legislation about the transfer of PNR data for flights that arrive or depart in/from Europe, «the EU-PNR». However, as a practical issue, EU had some concerns regarding the possible evocation of reciprocity from third countries which allow their air carriers to transfer PNR data to European authorities.

Working to overstep the obstacles for an EU-PNR legislation, on November 11th, 2010, the European Parliament launched the “EU External Strategy on Passenger Name Record (PNR) data”4. In this strategy, the Parliament stressed the importance of combating terrorism and transnational crime without lessening the protection of civil liberties and fundamental rights. In this context, it is important to pay attention on Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. With regard to the legal basis, the EU-PNR legislation would be based on Article 16 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, especially on the first number, which states that «everyone has the right to the protection of personal data». The strategy also pointed out the principles of necessity and proportionality, as the political and legal measures could not violate the personal data protection. In fact, what the EU Parliament wanted to avoid was the use of PNR data for “data exploration” or “determination of Profiles”.

After almost 6 years since the EU External Strategy was published, the debate about the EU-PNR came up as a response to the terrorist attacks in Paris (2015) and Brussels (2016). As above mentioned, the EU-PNR Directive was issued in April 2016, in which there is the reference, on Article 14, for MS establish the rules and penalties applicable, including financial ones, against air carries which do not transfer the PNR data of the EU-extra flights (and Intra-EU flights, if it is the case) to the PIUs. According to Article 16, all referred transfers shall be made by electronic means, complying the level of security for that kind of transactions.

It is possible to verify that the referred articles are based on the North American legislation on the subject. However, it is important to note that the way in which the terrorist attacks happened in Europe was different from that of the United States. In America, foreigners with a study visa hijacked planes and threw them at buildings that represented American economic and military power. In Europe, the attacks were mostly triggered by nationals of Member States, clad in the figure of “foreign fighters” or “lonely wolves” against European cultural and ideological symbols. Therefore, it does not seem that massive control will provide many indications of terrorist suspects as the EU wondered to, this because the character of terrorism has changed over time, becoming more diffused and transnational.

Also, it is important to highlight the report of the European Regions Airlines Association (ERA) on the subject. In the report, ERA explains that “API and PNR are located in different systems and their transmission requires programming by the airlines, which can take 3 to 6 months for a standard API request and 6 to 12 months for a PNR request”5. Besides the high costs to create the infrastructure to transfer faster all PNRs, the air carriers face the penalties for not sending on time and under a high level of security the PNR data to the PIUs.

Summing up, the MS shall transpose the Directive to their internal law by May 25th, 2018, in accordance with the Article 18 (1). The relation between security and privacy and the effectiveness of exchange information will be re-evaluated by May 25th, 2020, when the Commission shall review all elements of the EU-PNR Directive, submitting the report to the European Parliament and to the Council, as established on Article 19.

As trick issue, it is too soon to say for sure if the EU-PNR transfers will work properly, but it is possible to foresee the deadline postponements for transposition and review of the Directive. Firstly, based on the example of other directives, the transpositions do not happen at the same time MS, each one transposes the EU legislation on its own time and according to its capacity to provide the necessary means for the legislative implementation. Secondly, during the transposition MS use their discretion, adjusting more or less than other the European rules to its domestic rules. And finally, there are MS that do not transpose at all the directives on the deadline and they must be notified and/or penalized to comply with this obligation.

It will be when all MS will be applying all rules established by the Directive and domestic legislations that we could properly verify if the complex data transfer system is a useful tool on the European “War on Terrorism”.

 

By Emellin de Oliveira
Ph.D. in Law Candidate at NOVA University of Lisbon and Researcher at CEDIS (Centro de Investigação e Desenvolvimento em Direito e Sociedade)

 


note1 Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data. Article 6: 1. Member States shall provide that personal data must be: (a) processed fairly and lawfully.

note2 No. prev doc. 16484/1/09 REV 1 JAI 866 from the Council of the European Union of 02 December 2009.

note3 COM(2010) 492 final of 21 September 2010, Communication from the Commission on the global approach to transfers of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to third countries.

note4 P7_TA(2010)0397, European Parliament resolution of 11 November 2010 on the global approach to transfers of passenger name record (PNR) data to third countries, and on the recommendations from the Commission to the Council to authorise the opening of negotiations between the European Union and Australia, Canada and the United States.

note5 ERA - European Regions Airlines Association, API-PNR, available on: http://www.eraa.org/policy/security/advance-passenger-information-api-and-passenger-notifications-records-pnr.

 

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CesUE, in collaboration with the Faculty of Law at the NOVA (New University of Lisbon) and the Jacques Delors European Information Centre, in a joint initiative co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, promoted a discussion on the history and future of the European Union (EU) amid several dozens of high school Portuguese students.

The representation of the musical “Europa: que Paixão! História de um amor atormentado” (written by Daniela Martinelli and Francesco Pigozzo), which presented the evolution of the European Union since World War II to the recent UK Brexit, set the stage for the debate that followed, in which the students had the opportunity to ask questions and share their concerns before a three-women panel of three different generations (Isabel Baltazar, Ana Rita Gil and Joana Vitorino Mendes).

With women of different generations gathered on stage, the young audience had the opportunity to acknowledge how they lived the different stages of the EU (since the Portuguese accession to the introduction of the single currency and to the Brexit), and to experience their personal insight of how the EU evolved over time.

The questions and remarks posed by the students reflected not only their concerns about the future of the European Union and of its Member States, including Portugal, but also their awareness of the challenging times the world is experiencing nowadays.

The students asked the panel’s overall opinion about the main impact of the most recent political worldwide events, as the 2016 referendum vote for Brexit in the UK and the election of Mr. Donald Trump as President in the USA, on the EU – and, subsequently, on Portugal –, and what those events mean to the European political and economic panorama.

The audience was indeed particularly interested in understanding the consequences for Europe of a number of hypothetical situations involving the USA – from leaving the NATO to an economic downfall – and of the unavoidable Brexit. Regarding Brexit, there was a critical remark on the positive impact this isolationist position may actually have in the English economy, which reflects the younger generations’ skepticism to take the present-day EU as an absolute truth.

Moreover, concerning the refugee crisis that has beset Europe, the students were curious to know what specific steps have been taken in practice within the EU institutions to address this major social scourge, and what could EU do to help the millions of people fleeing from their countries of origin.

Thus, in light of the growing sense of pessimism felt by people across all the Member States, in which Portugal is included, the audience mostly looked forward to understand what the EU still has to offer to this young generation in the near future, and how the EU is reacting to the new challenges set by the global scenario.

Nonetheless, all these challenges the EU is currently facing trigger the urge for new answers. In this sense, any discussion – when informed – on the future of the EU is an excellent opportunity to enlighten people, specially the younger generations, of the benefits and upsides of a united Europe. In fact, looking back in time, more integration has been proven to be the most economically viable and peace-oriented solution. .

 

Posted by Ana Rita Gil and Joana Vitorino Mendes

PhD Students at Faculdade de Direito at Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Lisboa Nova Law School)

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