Category Archives: Europe in the world

Down with the ‘Bogeyman’: Why Protests and Marches Against Trump Are Missing the Target

 

Women's March

Participants to the Women’s March on Washington, 21 January 2017

 

Tommaso EMILIANI

 

Trump Inauguration Day on the 20th of January was marked by widespread protests around the world, with two millions of pacific demonstrators worldwide taking the streets to rally against the newly installed administration. Political protests reached their apogee with the so-called Women’s March on Washington, which gathered more than 470.000 women (and men) to denounce the President’s worrying agenda on civil rights – starting with the restriction of women’s control over their own bodies.  While protesting against a Weltanschauung so blatantly opposed to the values of gender and social equality is not only a good thing but also a true civic duty, the current mainstream framing of American politics appears quite peculiar.

Liberal media across the world unanimously hailed to the ‘resistance’ opposed by peaceful demonstrators against the advance of right-wing populism embodied by Trump. Media coverage significantly abstained from a firm condemnation of the riots that resulted in at least 217 arrests for the clashes between demonstrators and the police. As if violence were somehow justified by its ultimate target, namely undermining Trump’s legitimacy. In this regard, it is quite interesting to observe reactions of European media to the unrest created by this ‘Black Bloc’ – an expression that is European in its essence, having being invented in Germany in 1980 to label Berlin squatters involved in violent clashes with the police. While, for instance, European liberal outlets had no problems with evoking the Black Bloc threat in occasion of the clashes between the No Border movement and the Austrian police at Brennero, or for the demonstrations against the loi travail in Paris, riots in Washington received a rather different coverage. Burning bins and broken windows were regarded as the product of ‘America’s political division’, and violent perpetrators as ‘American demonstrators’ . Little reference was made to ‘guerrilla-like scenarios’ or ‘Russian infiltrators’ this time. European liberal media seemed to suggest that yes, violent protestors exaggerated, but: “hey, this is what you get when people have enough of dictators”. The ‘Liberal Bloc’, they seemed to say, brings more good than evil to the cause of the free world.

The huge impact of such a narrative appears in all its evidence when one compares audiences’ reaction to two recent viral videos featuring naïve individuals advocating violence in different contexts. In the first one, a Baltimore woman angrily slaps her son in order to remove him from the riots that ensued the death of the African-American Freddie Gray at the hands of the local police department. In the second, a Washington youngster brags about starting a small fire because: “I’m saying ‘screw our President’”. The Baltimore boy was immediately shamed on the internet and on television, while his mother became a celebrity and was praised as ‘mom of the year’. The Washington kid, on the other hand, raised to the status of public hero on social media and was called ‘a legend’ for his actions.

Unanimous condemnation of Trump by liberal media on the left and on the right mirrors the dismay of a Trans-Atlantic political elites that do not miss a chance to express their discomfort with the new President. This transversal alliance against the man considered to be the source of all problems reminds closely of the united front created in the early 2000s in Italy to counter Silvio Berlusconi’s political raise. In both occasions, liberals identified in the ‘anti-democratic’ practices of the leader the biggest threats to an open society. What they failed and keep failing to acknowledge was that acute social crisis brought about by liberal globalism, that disenfranchised wide sections of the middle class throwing them into poverty and moral humiliation.

The liberal world struggles to grasp the nature of the beast. In a desperate search for landmarks, it is waging war against the only enemy it can make sense of, that is, a slightly less liberal version of itself. Hence, the media reaction to Melania Trump’s expression during the Inauguration Ceremony, to the lack of taste of the presidential gift to Michelle Obama, and to the alleged good prospects for Barron Trump to evolve into a “homeschool shooter”.

All this also leaves the awkward impression that there would have been no Women’s March without Trump, nor protests or clashes, as if structural racial and gender inequality in the U.S. would have disappeared with the election of Hillary Clinton. No protests, for instance, surrounded Clinton’s campaign, although she voted for the 2006 Secure Fence Act Mr. Trump refers to when he speaks about building a wall at the border with Mexico.

The paradox is that an anti-Trump front composed by a mainly white, educated bourgeoisie takes the street to protest against that fraction of America’s (female and male) white, economically privileged population that Trump embodies, with both sides completely forgetting that many of Trump’s voters are to be found among those discriminated people that liberals claim to support. The Women’s March – with, on the one side, female CEOs subsiding employees’ attendance and, on the other side, Black Lives Matter activists recusing the initiative – accounts as a perfect example for the paradox. Very few representatives of the African-American and Latin communities, as well as the so-called ‘white trash’, could be found among the pussy hats that demonstrated for equality.

While liberals worldwide fight against what Donald Trump represents, they keep ignoring who he does represent. Which is, to a great extent, large sections of a deluded middle class that globalisation and thirty years of neo-liberal policies have pushed down to the redneck ranks. These people will hardly listen to those who preach social inclusion and offer an historicised and literate version of feminism. Rather, they found in Trump’s assertive campaign those promises of enduring resilience to globalisation they were denied by the Republican and Democratic establishment alike.

By demonising the Donald Trump parvenu and neglecting the structural issues affecting U.S. society, organisers of protests and marches that look up at the French strike model may be missing the target. Instead, they might look at Spain for inspiration. The Iberian country is one of the few in the West to have so far escaped from the rise of a strong right-wing populism. Among the other factors, analysts have identified a lack of fundamental conflict between natives and non-natives over welfare resources to account for the absence of a significant racist rhetoric in politics.

A fairer redistribution of resources among the population – this was the notable stone guest at the Washington protests.

 

Tommaso Emiliani is an IRD Academic Assistant at the College of Europe in Bruges and an alumnus of Falcone & Borsellino promotion at the College of Europe in Natolin.

The author wishes to thank the ‘Militant’ collective for the inspiration to write this article.

Much Ado about Labeling: EU’s guidelines on the products imported from Israeli settlements

 

Israeli minister Ofir Akunis said Europeans lost sight of "terrorism of extremist Islam" by focusing on boycotting Israeli goods.

Israeli minister Ofir Akunis said Europeans lost sight of “terrorism of extremist Islam” by focusing on boycotting Israeli goods.

Sante FIORELLINI 12/01/2017

 

In November 2015, the European Commission issued an interpretative notice on the “indication of origin of goods from the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967”. The document, formally related to customer protection, is drafted so as to sound non-political and unbiased; yet, it bears a remarkable diplomatic weight. It is in fact aimed at responding to Benjamin Netanyahu’s government policy of building Israeli settlements outside Israel’s recognized borders, an agenda widely regarded by the international community as being in stark contrast with international law and already condemned by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2234 as recently as December 2016. This intervention will cover the main points of the document and its consequences for the EU-Israel relations.

In spite of its ambitious political intentions, it is appropriate to start with highlighting the (limited) scope of this interpretative notice, which is, giving guidelines to the Member States on how to apply existing EU legislation on product labeling. In other words, the EU recommends avoiding the label “Made in Israel” for goods produced in the occupied territories should be avoided, in favor of expressions such as “Made in the West Bank (Israeli settlement)”. However, the responsibility to implement said indication rests solely on the member states. It is worth noting that United Kingdom, Belgium and Denmark had adopted similar rules even before the the issuing of the Commission guidelines.

Second, the document only concerns those goods produced in the settlements to be exported to the EU (mainly grapes and dates, wine, poultry, honey, olive oil, and cosmetics). According to the Israeli Ministry of Economy, their value amounts to a mere €45 millions, a drop in the ocean of the €30 billions total value of Israeli exports to the EU.

Third, the EU identified as occupied territories the Gaza Strip, the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. Interestingly, the latter, annexed from war-ridden Syria, were not mentioned by the above mentioned UNSC Resolution. Commentators close to Israel, such as Eugene Kontorovich, felt that the mention of the Golan Heights accounted for clear evidence of EU’s real intention, namely, to indiscriminately sanction the state of Israel.

Finally, and most importantly, labeling products from the settlements is not the same as declaring them illegal, as the EU is not imposing a ban on their import.

It is clear that the document has a mere symbolic value: it neither affects Israel’s economy, nor it changes the existing agreements between the two parties, or really affects the situation on the ground.

As predicted, Israeli firms were barely touched by the Commission policy: since it was implemented only Ahava, a multinational cosmetics company, decided to relocate out of the West Bank – and the correlation with the EU labeling policy is dubious at best, as it was already facing financial difficulties prior to the issuing of the Commission notice, and it ended up selling its shares to a Chinese investment group soon afterwards.

Still, Israel’s response was quite assertive, to the point of chilling down diplomatic contacts with the EU. Amongst other reasons, Netanyahu, acting as interim Minister of Foreign Affairs, lamented EU’s double standard vis-à-vis Israel compared to other conflicts. A questionable argument, as the EU, simply does not have “one standard” and decides its position on a case-by-case basis, taking into account both international law and political opportunity. For instance, it can be argued that, on the one side, it quietly acquiesced to Moroccan’s control over Western Sahara, and it is not involved in the Chinese-Tibetan issue, while, on the other side, it banned any import of goods from Crimea and Sevastopol carrying the label “Made in Russia”.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu’s decision to play hardball over the document paid off, as he won the diplomatic standoff. In fact, more than a year later, EU’s expectations crushed under the weight of pragmatism and political divisions. If anything, the document served an unintended purpose: highlighting and exacerbating EU’s internal rifts. The majority of the member states essentially ignored the guidelines, while Hungary, Czech Republic and Greece openly opposed them. With these premises, in February 2016, the EU and Israel resumed talks through a phone call between Netanyahu and Federica Mogherini. The High Representative stressed that the implementation of the guidelines depends exclusively on the member states: implicitly, the EU admitted that it doesn’t have the political power to propose further restrictive measures. Overall, if the objective was to put pressure on the settlement policy, it certainly failed.

At the time of writing, only one country implemented the guidelines: France, in November 2016.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process goes into 2017 with no progresses between an increasingly assertive Israeli government and an increasingly weak Palestinian leadership, with the issue slowly fading out of the international agenda. The EU, for its part, after the labeling guidelines’ blunder, is in search of a new role: a first indication of the Union’s intentions will come from the Middle East Peace Conference, to be held in Paris on January 15.

 

Sante Fiorellini is an IRD student from the Keynes Promotion.

 

SOURCES:

Vince Chadwick, Maia De la Baume, “How one phrase divided the EU and Israel”, Politico, 04/01/16, available at: http://www.politico.eu/article/best-before-1967-how-the-eu-labeled-israels-occupied-territories-food-labels-european-commission/

Eugene Kontorovich, “The ‘true origins’ of the E.U.’s Israel labeling policy”, The Washington Post, 16/11/2015https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/11/16/the-true-origins-of-the-e-u-s-israel-labeling-policy/

Hugh Lovatt, “EU differentiation and the push for peace in Israel-Palestine”, European Council on Foreign Relations, 31/10/16, available at: http://www.ecfr.eu/publications/summary/eu_differentiation_and_the_push_for_peace_in_israel_palestine7163#a4

Steven Schefer, “Israel fumes over planned EU labeling of ‘settlement’ products”, Reuters, 10/11/15, available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-eu-labelling-idUSKCN0SZ21120151110

Ukraine, the EU and the colorful materialization of misunderstanding

Political reflections on ‘your little Europe in the Kyiv metropolis

Picture: Colorful houses, Comfort Town, Kyiv, Ukraine by Stephen Rush, photo taken on November 3, 2012

Picture: Colorful houses, Comfort Town, Kyiv, Ukraine by Stephen Rush, photo taken on November 3, 2012

David Lodder, 18 November 2016. Originally published on www.natolinblog.com.

Comfort Town is an overly colorful city within a city that promises its inhabitants ‘the real European experience’. In reality the fenced off neighborhood and its alleged 5000 happy families achieve the direct opposite of this goal. They reveal the misinterpretation of a European Union that seems both incredibly close and very far away.

 

What is it that supposedly makes this little oasis on the eastern bank of the Dnepr so European? A long description on the website of the residential complex crowns the non-functional red windmill in front of a bright yellow flat as the symbol of the European conception according to which the town was build. Viktor, a middle-aged resident enjoying the afternoon in the park, chose to move to Comfort Town because “it’s a residential complex of a closed type and of a European type”. A more profound explanation of its European’ character can be found among the many pictures, stories and interviews featured on the website. Safety, color, an easy life and child friendly utilities seem to be the most dominant elements. Olena Yermakova, a Ukrainian student at the College of Europe in Warsaw provides us with a more straightforward answer: “The Ukrainian perspective of ‘European’ comprises that which is not Soviet”. What makes Europe so desirable is not something concrete and tangible, it is determined by its contrast with the relics of a very recent past. Moving away from modern housing into the realm of political considerations, this includes ideas of democratic values, economic prosperity and progressive values.

These strong, often dichotomous perceptions of the EU reached their height during the Revolution of Dignity on the Maidan Square in 2014. The organizers of the protest utilized the European flag as a symbol of freedom and democratic liberty as opposed to the semi-authoritarian rule of Yanukovych. By contrast, in his ‘Ukraine Diaries[1]’ Andrej Kurkov explains how at the same time the anti-European Ukrainian Choice movement managed to persuade many Ukrainians that closer association with the European Union would lead to a universal conversion to homosexuality. Where the last claim is not difficult to debunk, the former seems more deeply rooted in both the convictions of many young Ukrainians as well as in the external communication strategy of the European Union itself. Notwithstanding the political and economic achievements of decades of European integration, to declare the project as an ultimate democratic success seems somehow premature. With record-low electoral participation, what many see as democratic back sliding in Poland and Hungary and increasing dissatisfaction with the unfairly distributed advantages brought about by European integration, it seems there is still quite some trouble in ‘paradise’.

Democratic disillusion

One could ask why defining a somewhat overly glorified goal to strive for should be criticized. The fact that it can motivate an otherwise politically less active community to work together to change the status-quo can only be applauded.  The danger lies in the disillusion that follows the confrontation with a reality that will never be able to live up to the ideal that inspired it. The Russian poet and dissident Joseph Brodsky accurately describes a similar quick succession feeling of high expectations and consequent disillusion among dissidents in the USSR: “Hopelessly cut off from the rest of the world, they thought that at least that world was like themselves; now they know that it is like the others, only better dressed”[2]. Even though the context might be different, there is an increasing risk that the young Ukrainians who turned their hopeful gaze to the West will cultivate a similar feeling of disillusion with the pace and depth of the European project.

The mutual idea of a somehow democratically superior European Union furthermore obstructs the lessons the European Union can learn from Ukraine. A practical and slightly ironic example of this is provided by Prof. Yaroslav Hrytsak from the Ukrainian Catholic University of Lviv, who explains that the Revolution has created an unprecedented level of political participation among the young Ukrainian population. In the process of protesting in favor of the European model of democracy they have, at least in terms of participation, easily surpassed their peers in that very same European Union.

It is hard to imagine Comfort Town in Amsterdam, Paris or Berlin; not because the people in these cities categorically despise color, but because of an increasing dissatisfaction with anything associated with ‘the European experience’. Comfort Town nonetheless has more in common with the European Union than meets the eye. Both started out in a relatively open and inclusive manner and ended up as communities fenced off from their neighbors. Both promise a set of European values that in reality rarely live up to the ideals that inspired them. This should not dissuade those living in these two communities to keep on striving for this European ideal. It should make us aware that its realization will require more than buying a house or signing an association agreement.

[1] Kurkov, Andrey. Ukraine Diaries: Dispatches from Kiev. Translated by Sam Taylor. Random House UK, 2015.

[2] Brodsky, Joseph. Less Than One: Selected Essays. 4.1.1987 edition. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1987.

 

 

David Lodder is currently a student of the College of Europe, Natolin Campus. 

European Parliament to EU Governments: ‘Ban nukes in 2017!’

Leo Hoffmann-Axthelm, 29 October 2016

Brussels/Strasbourg. European Union’s legislature takes clear stance on upcoming negotiations on international treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons: the EU’s Member States should “support the convening” and “participate constructively” to its negotiation.

Non-proliferation we can agree on. The EU scored a major foreign policy success in brokering the talks between Iran and six major world powers on the dismantling of parts of its nuclear programme. It is less vocal on the nuclear weapons of the other countries pictured here.

Non-proliferation we can agree on. The EU scored a major foreign policy success in brokering the talks between Iran and six major world powers on the dismantling of parts of its nuclear programme. It is less vocal on the nuclear weapons of the other countries pictured here.

Even as the EU expands its foreign policy machinery and acquires new powers to represent its Member States at the United Nations, it has been oddly silent on one of the most exciting topics at this year’s UN General Assembly meetings.

Its silence on nuclear disarmament and the humanitarian-led push to ban nuclear weapons, is even more striking if one considers the EU’s status as “civilian super-power” and the world’s largest provider of humanitarian assistance.

So what is its stance on the last weapons of mass destruction not yet subject to a universal treaty prohibition? In two words, embarrassingly reactionary. On the occasion of the 2015 NPT Review Conference, when 185 countries joined statements entitled “Humanitarian Initiative” or “Humanitarian Consequences Group”, the EU’s representative was unable even to utter the word “humanitarian”, positioning the EU on the outer fringe of the nuclear discourse.

Nuke watchers will not be surprised to hear that a veto is to blame for this diplomatic blunder. The EU’s Foreign Affairs Council is the Council formation composed of foreign affairs ministers, which formulates EU foreign policy – if they can reach unanimity. France’s reticence in particular left the EU with only one option to show that it cares about nuclear disarmament: ensuring highest-level attendance and sending Federica Mogherini, the EU’s “Foreign Minister” and Chair of the Foreign Affairs Council, to deliver the EU statement in person. Ms Mogherini is known to be a longstanding supporter of nuclear disarmament.

With the Council and by extension the European Commission’s foreign affairs apparatus deadlocked, attention turned to the European Parliament. Freed from formal obligations in foreign policy matters, the European Parliament – like most national parliaments – finds it easier to ‘do the right thing’ and put moral considerations above so-called ‘realist’ constraints, e.g. the claim that NATO states cannot be leaders on disarmament matters, having to move at the speed of the slowest members.

Alas, after progressive resolutions reinforcing the global calls for complete nuclear disarmament in years past, the 2014-19 legislature had so far remained silent on the matter. Leading up to the 2015 debacle, the parliament declined to pass a resolution to call for a progressive EU position, in spite of efforts to the contrary. Ms Mogherini voiced her dismay in the next plenary session.

As the Humanitarian Initiative unfolded into a movement to negotiate a treaty prohibition of nuclear weapons, parliamentarians took notice, however. Unlike the majority of the EU’s governments, who appear to prioritise NATO cohesion over their moral convictions, the European Parliament took a clear stance last Thursday. With impeccable timing, on the same day as the start of voting in the United Nations General Assembly’s First Committee tasked with disarmament matters, the EU’s Parliament:

  • “Welcomes the recommendation to the UN General Assembly … to convene a conference in 2017 … to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons”
  • “Invites the EU Member States to support the convening of such a conference in 2017 and to participate constructively in its proceedings”
  • “Invites VP/HR Federica Mogherini and the European External Action Service to contribute constructively to the proceedings of the 2017 negotiating conference”

In a particularly encouraging development, almost all of the EU’s centre-right and conservative parties also voted in favour of this language. While their governments at home are almost the only countries globally to oppose a Ban Treaty, except for the nuclear-armed themselves, the people’s representatives took a view that much closer mirrors what surveys have been showing for a long time: we reject nuclear weapons, and will not want to entrust our “security” to a deterrence gamble that has failed far too often to guarantee 100% reliability. Even while condemning Russia’s nuclear sabre-rattling, the resolution sends a clear signal of de-escalation. No nuclear warfare in Europe, please.

Nobody said banning nuclear weapons was easy: otherwise, it would have happened decades ago. Banning nuclear weapons takes courage, or, as President Obama would say, it takes a “moral revolution”. Let’s ban the worst weapons of all under international law, and help his successors to overcome obstacles in taking more decisive steps to reduce investment, posture and numbers.

Nuclear disarmament is a process, after all, not a black-and-white dichotomy. A ban helps.

@leo_axt

 

Leo Hoffmann-Axthelm (Voltaire Promotion) has followed nonproliferation and disarmament diplomacy since 2010. After a stint as disarmament envoy for the Republic of Nauru, he co-founded the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in Germany. Today he is in Brussels for ICAN and Transparency International.

 

A la source de la radicalisation: comprendre les causes, imaginer des solutions

Tommaso Emiliani, 1 September 2016

Post originally published on ForYouth.

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Students from the Chopin Promotion at the College of Europe taking part to the project “EUnited against Extremism”

Un concept qui échappe une définition univoque. L’Europe contemporaine vit quotidiennement l’échec de ses services de sécurité et d’intelligence vis-à-vis de l’élaboration d’une stratégie efficace de prévention des attentats. Une des raisons principales reste dans la difficulté de définir le processus de radicalisation des aspirants terroristes et d’identifier les conditions et les sujets aptes à faciliter la réussite de ce processus. Cela s’explique par le fait que la radicalisation ne se suffit pas à elle-même, mais existe selon un contexte déterminé par des facteurs sociaux, politiques et économiques.
Dans le cadre de l’Europe, le radicalisme actuel peut être mieux décrit comme un développement progressif de croyances extrêmes et d’idéologies qui remettent en question les valeurs et le régime politique au nom de l’islam politique. Si à cet aspect plutôt théorique s’ajoute une composante pratique – ce qu’on appelle « extrémisme » – le chemin vers l’acte criminel est marqué.

Push factors et pull factors. Dans la différence de cas particuliers, le trait commun à l’origine de la radicalisation semble être une prédisposition des individus aux sentiments de frustration par rapports à leur vie, à la société qui les entoure ou au système politique qui les incube. Les mouvements extrémistes sont capables d’intercepter ce mécontentement et d’offrir, selon le besoin, un « sens » et une « mission » aux jeunes désorientés; une réaction à l’ « injustice » vécue ou aperçue; un sentiment d’appartenance aux membres de communautés désormais atomisées.
L’impossibilité de dresser un profil unique de l’« extrémiste potentiel » et l’incapacité de cerner les motifs individuels au cœur de la quête radicale sont justement à la base de l’inefficacité de la réponse portée par les autorités européennes.

Des facteurs de risque différents pour des profils personnels variés. L’action de persuasion des mouvements extrémistes vise un public vaste et mélangé. Les jeunes à la recherche d’un sens existentiel trouve dans l’extrémisme violent cette dimension utopique – plutôt eschatologique que religieuse – qui manque à leur vie. C’est le « grande récit » dont parle O. Roy, qui offre une lecture simplifiée et manichéenne de la réalité. Ainsi s’explique le changement soudain opéré par la radicalisation sur des sujets occidentalisés et peu croyants auparavant, qui se transforment en prédicateurs de l’Apocalypse en très peu de temps.
Sur un autre front, plusieurs jeunes cultivés, issus de familles relativement aisées et bourgeoises, sont motivés par le désir de redresser les « injustices » de la société contemporaine. Que ce soit l’oppression de l’héritage colonial en Afrique et Moyen-Orient, l’« impérialisme » américain en Afghanistan et en Irak ou la situation de la Palestine actuelle, ces injustices provoquent un élan de révolte radicale que seul les mouvements extrémistes semblent comprendre et apaiser.
Enfin, un autre segment social constituant le squelette des groupes terroristes est représenté par des individus marginalisés à l’intérieur de leur communautés et qui cherchent un point de repère dans la « camaraderie héroïque » typique des bandes vouées à l’(auto)destruction. Ces jeunes, qui agissent souvent sans l’appui ou la connaissance de leurs familles et groupes d’amis, sont très loin de ce que l’approche culturaliste de certains média définit comme « exemples de la population musulmane radicalisée ». Bien au contraire, il s’agit de sujets qui – n’étant pas intégrés dans le réseau des mosquées et dans les pratiques sociales communautaires – choisissent de s’échapper de la société pour essayer de la détruire et prendre ainsi leur revanche.

Raffiner l’étude de la radicalisation: fondamentalisme ≠ djihadisme. Toute stratégie de prévention de menaces terroristes de la part des autorités publiques doit tenir compte de la différence existante entre le salafisme doctrinal et l’action politique terroriste de soi-disant djihadistes.
Le fondamentalisme enseigné par certains imams érudits, qui prévoit une approche littéraliste à la lecture du Qu’ran et une stricte observance des mœurs et rituels traditionnels, exprime sans doute une vision anti-moderne et ultraconservatrice de la société. Cependant, très rarement ce courant religieux trouve une débouchée politique dans l’action radicale violente. En effet, la pratique de l’exposition à la mort, les attaques médiatisées et les techniques employées par les extrémistes sont eux même des éléments trop modernistes pour le fondamentalisme. En outre, le salafisme requiert une connaissance et une maîtrise du texte sacré qui requiert des années d’étude, et qui s’adapte mal aux profils des jeunes occidentales radicalisés décrits plus haut.
Le djihadisme, par contre, travaille sur le plan de l’action. Charmés par la dimension totalisante de l’aventure radicale, les jeunes « moudjahidins » ne passent pas par l’étude approfondie du Qu’ran – souvent ils parlent très peu d’arabe – et se dédient plutôt à la « lutte ». C’est le cas de tant de jeunes combattant parmi les troupes de DAESH en ce moment : ils font la guerre à leurs « ennemis », s’occupant très peu des questions religieuses, et se mêlant encore moins au contexte de la société civile locale. Si le fondamentalisme procède par « endoctrinement », le djihadisme travaille par « embrigadement ».
Cependant, il serait naïf de ne pas reconnaître un lien entre le deux phénomènes. En effet, lorsque les jeunes radicalisés se vouent au djihadisme, un certain degré de fondamentalisme apparaît – et cela complique ultérieurement la situation et rend le travail de prévention et réaction encore plus difficile.

Des recommandations stratégiques. Le ton martial récemment assumé par le président français Hollande et nombre de ses collègues reflet le choix européen en faveur d’une politique contre-terroriste strictement sécuritaire. Le risque reste en la
mise en scène d’une guerre des identités, dans laquelle l’islam est censé être l’ennemi antisocial. C’est-à-dire que l’on provoque ce que DAESH attend: que l’Europe s’en prenne à l’islam afin de sortir le djihadisme du cercle restreint des individus actuellement concernés.
L’incapacité de distinguer entre fondamentalisme et djihadisme mène à l’insistance sur la nécessité de surveiller (ou même fermer) les mosquées. Mais comme l’on voit souvent, les groupes extrémistes recrutent en dehors des mosquées et sur internet. S’en prendre aux mosquées, c’est aussi méconnaître les dynamiques locales de surveillance qui existent entre les celles-ci et les autorités publiques locales.
D’autre côté, attribuer une importance excessive à l’ « asocialité » et au « nihilisme » des djihadistes, comme le fait Roy, implique une déresponsabilisation des gouvernements européens par rapport à l’échec de leurs stratégies d’intégration sociale qui ne joue pas en faveur d’une approche préventive et efficace à la menace terroriste.

Certaines actions doivent être mise en place au plus vite possible. Premièrement, dans nos sociétés, l’islam n’est pas suffisamment encore un objet de savoir. A présent, il est enseigné dans les manuels scolaires comme un objet de croyance, notamment à travers des mythes fondateurs, mais il n’est pas expliqué ni aux croyants ni aux non croyants. Cela n’alimente pas simplement le fondamentalisme islamiste, mais également les préjudices occidentaux qui renforce l’attrait de l’offre djihadiste. Deuxièmement, la réponse sécuritaire doit s’accompagner de moyens et d’actions sur le long terme dans des secteurs clefs comme l’éducation civique, l’emploi, l’enseignement et la cohésion sociale. Le chemin pour faire face à la radicalisation est long et difficile, et l’Europe a sans doute un rôle à jouer.

Bibliographie
Burgat, François, Réponse à Olivier Roy : les non-dits de « l’islamisation de la radicalité », Nouvel Observateur, http://rue89.nouvelobs.com/2015/12/01/reponse- a-olivier-roy-les-non-dits-lislamisation-radicalite-262320
Deroubaix, Christophe, Raphaël Liogier : « Le risque est de provoquer ce que l’on veut éviter », L’Humanité, http://www.humanite.fr/raphael-liogier-le-risque-est-de- provoquer-ce-que-lon-veut-eviter-590011
Lamlili Nadia, Rachid Benzine: « Pour faire face à Daesh, il est temps de nettoyer l’imaginaire islamique »,  Jeune Afrique, http://www.jeuneafrique.com/279520/societe/rachid-benzine-faire-face-a-daesh-temps- de-nettoyer-limaginaire-islamique/
Puwels, Lieven et Fabienne Brion (coord.), « Comprendre et expliquer le rôle des nouveaux médias sociaux dans la formation de l’extrémisme violent », Etudé commissioné par la Police Belege Fédéral (BESPO), 2013
Roy, Olivier: « Le djihadisme est une révolte générationnelle et nihiliste », Le Monde, http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2015/11/24/le-djihadisme-une- revolte-generationnelle-et-nihiliste_4815992_3232.html#RcSp4GwHwRUJKmOL.99
Torrekens, Corinne, Comprendre le basculement dans la violence jihadiste, La Revue Nouvelle, http://www.revuenouvelle.be/Comprendre-le-basculement-dans-la- violence-2835

Tommaso Emiliani is Academic Assistant in the Department of EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies at the College of Europe, Bruges. He is an alumnus from the Falcone&Borsellino Promotion, Natolin.

The EU’s Response to the Refugee Crisis: Ideas from the G20 Youth Summit

Nicola Del Medico, 8 October 2015

The flow of refugees to the shores and borders of the EU member states is putting to the test their ability to show solidarity and protect the rights of thousands of human beings. This challenge recently made its way on the UN agenda, and it is growing in relevance also within the G20, which does not formally deal with peace and security and maintains an economic and financial focus.

On 16-21 August 2015, the Syrian refugee crisis was discussed by the G20 Youth Summit (the so-called Y20) on the initiative of the Turkish presidency, which is particularly sensitive to an emergency that is impacting heavily not just on European countries but also on Syria’s neighbours, including Turkey. Continue reading

This content is not available in your location – Copyright and intellectual monopoly

Gil STEIN, 24 September 2015

Andrus Ansip, Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, is famous for promising to end “geo-blocking” [1], allegedly since he wants to watch soccer matches when he’s travelling across borders. Geo-blocking is the technical term given to the practice of blocking access to media content available on the internet, based on the geographic location of the viewer.

Commissioner Ansip is on the right track, but I would like to suggest he might be missing the big picture. The big picture is the enormous database which is the internet, and all the content which it holds. We’re not talking soccer matches. Server networks are constantly active, holding unfathomable amounts of information. A considerable amount of that information is popular creative content, scientific and academic knowledge, public media communications, and of course also soccer matches. However, despite the undoubted value this content has, the obvious benefits from its frictionless exchange and the relative low-costs that would be required to widely disseminate it under existing network infrastructures (theoretically even globally), much of this content is blocked based on user location. Indeed, according to a report of the Commission[2], 35% of broadcasters in the EU have used geo-localization to restrict access to content online (the data refers to 2012). The content that is blocked, absent or inaccessible is typically international creative media content (e.g. US films, BBC shows, etc.), while access to the most well developed services is often the most restricted. More evidence of the trend to limit accessibility can be seen in the ever increasing amount of claims brought before Google to remove links to content which is (allegedly) infringing copyrights (See Figure 1).

Figure 1: Requests for removal of content due to copyright claims 2011-2015 (weekly)[3]

Untitled

Why do creators and distributors of interesting content utilize geo-blocking on the internet to limit access to their content? Politico suggests that geo-blocking is a marketing strategy that is taken “… in order to protect an air of exclusivity” by major production studios and distributors[4]. I would argue that categorizing geo-blocking simply as a marketing strategy is a too narrow frame. A better answer could be that geo blocking strategies are utilized to maintain power over the supply of copies (of the original content) circulating in the market. Copyright, which governs the legal realm of this market, allows content producers and their related agents to control distribution methods, timeframes, and capacity by which they supply their content to the public, as well as the legal right to enforce their exclusivity. This fact has led some to argue that the existing copyright regime is equivalent to that of “intellectual monopoly” rather than intellectual property[5].

However the use of copyright to maintain market power, made by established content producers and distributor chains in the creative industry (including among others global TV broadcasters and large production studios for film or music), is seriously challenged by increasing connectivity and the rise of digitization. These major actors in the creative industry are indeed cultural giants, playing a key role in history that could never be forgotten. They pioneered the creative audiovisual sector and invested in distribution networks and technologies that brought to the whole world the wonders of Pink Floyd and David Bowie (EMI), Mickey Mouse (Disney) and Terminator 2 (Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group). Not forgetting of course broadcasters of World Cups and Olympic Games. We should all be grateful.

Nonetheless, we should perhaps look again at the big picture. While much respect is due to the great investments made by these production studios to pioneer the creative audiovisual industry roughly a century ago, it is important to mention that their capacity to maintain considerable power over the distribution of information (some might even argue their ability to exercise control over the content itself) has allowed them to reap astronomical profits. A fact that has gone largely unnoticed by most users. Perhaps it has not been noticed because the amount of information and content which is available to the common users is staggering as it is. Have you ever paused to ask yourself why you are being “redirected to a local website” when shopping at Amazon online? Or why does Netflix makes different content available in different territories? The abundance of information available online allows producers of quality content to “work in the shadows”. Since a lot of content is still available in traditional channels (which are being strongly guarded), most users never wonder why the newest Hollywood movies are not released online on a global scale, directly upon their completion. Instead users accept without question that such content is mostly distributed based on old fashioned “release windows” focusing on geographical and market segmentation. These distribution strategies focus on profit maximization, giving little or no importance to universal consumer accessibility.

But limited accessibility is starting to draw the public’s attention. The EU has recently become very aware of the need to seriously address its digital handicap[6], and is now tackling head on the issue of geo-blocking. Indeed, two months ago the Commission launched an anti-trust investigation against six major Hollywood studios: Disney, NBC Universal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros, as well as Sky TV in Ireland and UK[7]. This development resonates with the public’s increasing demands to have access to any published content, anywhere, at any time, and the rising awareness of citizens, businesses and institutions to the costs of geo-blocking.

And there’s more good news, particularly when considering the amazing advancements in information and communication technologies (ICT) and the adaptability of the economy to the digital age. Never in history did individuals have a tool to access such deep databases of content and information. Moreover, the shift to digitization of cultural and media works, and the development of innovative business models such as Spotify, Netflix and similar Digital Service Providers are a huge step forward, and could be argued to constitute the best content distribution models possible under existing legal constraints online. They constitute the best since they enjoy legal certainty and business legitimacy by providing access to quite a large variety of content, for which copyright usage has been cleared in advance. Nevertheless Spotify and Netflix build their content repertoire from the ground up, not relying on information available (“illegally”) online. This is due to the legal constraint to clear the use of copyright protected content with the original creator (or his agent) before making copies of it available for distribution. This approach will forever yield a smaller variety of content (compared to all “legal” and “illegal” content available online) at a higher price, and could create a bias towards distribution of content holding mainly commercial value (as opposed to artistic value for example).

It is important to stress that access should not come at the expense of the content creators’ right to be rewarded for their contributions. Good content producers should get well paid and have good incentives for creating beneficial and interesting content. Nevertheless, the protection of the economic interest creators have in their creation has nothing to do with market segmentation strategies. Geo-blocking which is often implemented in the name of copyright protection could actually reduce the total revenue creators and distributors can collect (given universal distribution capacity and the ability of users to pay for access to content). Said differently, In a perfect world, all published information will be cataloged and made available to the public, together with the option to pay for access to the content itself, thus allowing universal access to valuable data while providing sufficient incentives for creation. What is mind-blowing is that today’s content producers prefer to grant only limited access to their creations, despite their potential capacity to distribute them on a global scale online. In excluded markets users don’t have even a possibility to pay for access to content which is valuable to them, since it is blocked on a purely geographical basis. This is exactly where users encounter the famous disclaimer – “This content is not available in your location”.

Framing the issue in this way, one might argue that content producers and creators are essentially “leaving money on the table” by refusing to supply cross-border demand. However we cannot assume that these major creative industry actors would behave in what seems to be an irrational way. This analysis would imply that while creators and distributors are indeed reducing their total revenue by refusing to supply demand, their control over the quantity supplied in the market enables them to increase prices, thus allowing them to maximize profits and extract high rents (e.g. by providing access only to high-demand areas). Thought of in this way, the removal of geo-localization based market segmentation in the online creative market would increase overall content consumption, eliminate monopoly prices, and still allow content creators and distributors to cover their investment costs – thus providing sufficient incentives for creation. In other words the removal of geo-blocking would make everyone better off without undermining incentives for the production of content.

We may find it hard to think of a world without the restrictions of copyrights, but ample examples exist in the markets today. Simply consider the fashion industry, gastronomy and pornography sectors which have essentially no copyright protection at all. I don’t think anyone can argue that in these sectors creativity is curbed to a standstill due to little or no protection of intellectual property. On the contrary, the ubiquity of imitation and “knock-offs” seem to push creative motivation to extremely high levels, while allowing for fringe competitors to have a major part in the sector, thus increasing the variety of creations available in the market. Examining a radical approach which envisions a world with no copyright protection on the internet might also be beneficial for the understanding of the forces at play. If tomorrow everyone would be allowed to access all creative content available today online (which is by large illegal due to copyright infringement in today’s world), content producers and distributors will find themselves in direct competition with these formerly illegal distributors. This will present established content distributors and creators with the two options, either stop producing-distributing, or find a way to supply all demand at a cheap enough price to kill the competition. In this theoretical scenario the legitimate creators and distributors will push for universal accessibility since this will be the only way they could survive – by providing universal access to their interesting creations, at a cheap price, benefitting from global scale and negligible reproduction costs, thus eliminating any incentives illegitimate distributors might have to copy their creation and supply it themselves.

I would like to conclude by saying that indeed the disruptive nature of the internet, developments in ICT, and revolutionary ideas such as the sharing economy and the information society, loom as a destructive threat over the value chains established by the big production studios and distribution chains in the creative sector. Resistance to similar developments has been common throughout the ages, yet proved to be futile in the long run. If we ask Schumpeter[8] however, this may not be all bad news.

Endnotes:

[1] see https://euobserver.com/news/129997

Commissioner Ansip is also famously quoted for saying that EU copyright laws are “pushing people to steal”, see http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/06/eu-vice-president-copyright-legislation-is-pushing-people-to-steal/

[2] see http://bookshop.europa.eu/en/the-economic-potential-of-cross-border-pay-to-view-and-listen-audiovisual-media-services-pbKM3113732/

[3] see http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/removals/copyright/?hl=en

[4] see http://www.politico.eu/article/commission-questions-companies-on-geo-blocking/

[[5] Boldrin, M. & Levine, D.K., 2008. Against Intellectual Monopoly. Review Literature And Arts Of The Americas, 21(6), p.306. Available at: http://ebooks.cambridge.org/ref/id/CBO9780511510854.

[6] For examples see EU policies such as the Digital Agenda, the Roaming Regulation, etc.

[7] see http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-5432_en.htm, and

http://www.euractiv.com/sections/competition/top-hollywood-studios-face-eu-antitrust-probe-316558

[8]]Schumpeter, J.A., [1911], The Theory of Economic Development: An Inquiry into Profits, Capital, Credit, Interest and the Business Cycle.