Three politicians that will change Europe – for better or for worse.


from left: Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and Beppe Grillo

They’re popular and appealing to young, disenchanted EU voters that in 60 days from now will decide who represents them best in Brussels. Will UKIP, the 5 Star Movement and Front National be the Trojan horse for the European Union?

Two months. On May 25th European voters will cast their ballots to elect a new European parliament that will most likely witness the end of the duopoly center-right/center-left we grew accustomed to.

According to recent electoral polls, the pro-European profile of the EU Parliament will shift towards a more Eurosceptic outline with the rise of three major political parties (or movements) that could wreck the fragile EU integration process.

Nigel Farage’s UKIP, Marine Le Pen’s Front National and Beppe Grillo’s 5 Star Movement are predicted to be the real winners of this year’s EU elections with an average of 20% of preferences each.

The newest electoral polls available show that UKIP might grab 23% of the British votes, Front National 20% and the 5 Star Movement 21.3%.

Enormous figures for Eurosceptic, nationalist, anti-immigration parties that reflect Europe’s increasingly restive electorate.

However, it is way too early to attempt precise projections for seat numbers at the European elections (due, mainly, to the varied electoral systems in each country) but, according to current trends, it is possible that this anti-EU bloc might get something in between 120 and 165 out of the 766 seats available at the European Parliament.

These seats are likely to be divided among these three parties and other hard right movements such as Greece’s Golden Dawn and Hungary’s Jobbik.

If Grillo and Le Pen’s relationship remains tense, it is no secret that Farage is trying to seduce Italy’s 5 Star Movement to team up in Parliament.

Will they succeed in dismantling European institutions and tear apart the single European currency? Not quite but if political inaction continues on both European and member States level, they could trigger a difficult de-integration process that could change the very heart of the European system.


Crimea is not the only one – territorial disputes around the world


The CIA has just published a map of boundary disputes all over the world – and Ukraine seems not to be the only State with territorial issues.

Nations excluded from this list are grey, the other ones in orange are involved (on a different degree, of course) in geographical disputes.

According to the World Factbook, Kashmir is one of the most militarised areas in the world with portions under the de facto administration of China (Aksai Chin), India (Jammu and Kashmir), and Pakistan (Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas).

In Europe, major disagreements remain with Bosnia and Herzegovina over several small sections of the boundary related to maritime access that hinders ratification of the 1999 border agreement; since the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, Croatia and Slovenia have each claimed sovereignty over Pirin Bay and four villages, and Slovenia has objected to Croatia’s claim of an exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic Sea.

Be outraged and have guts – a lesson from the European Press Prize


During award ceremonies it’s easy to get sentimental. 

This year at the European Press Prize, where the best journalism in the continent gets awarded for its true effort of shaping not only the profession but also history, I was genuinely moved by the words of sir Harold Evans during his opening speech:

Could there ever have been a more representative moment for all the European Press Prize aspirations than when the mutinous colonels had the deputies held hostages cowering at gunpoint in Parliament and someone brought in the edition of El Pais proclaiming the king’s call to defend democracy and the Constitution. El Pais, out on the streets was more powerful in that moment than the tanks. The colonel was confronted by his own political obituary in bold glorious print.

Reporters are often overloaded with work and Twitter feeds and we forget at times that, although implicitly, our readership – or audience at large – expects something from us that goes beyond a cold and impartial account of what’s happening in Crimea, Uganda, Turkey, Iran and so forth. They need a voice they can rely on for its brutal honesty.

In a time where real-politik and Machiavellian plots have replaced a frank debate on politics and economy, journalists should hold their heads up high and be outraged in disgust.

And that’s what the EPP winners did this year – they screamed out loud from the four corners of the world what was wrong and what had to be changed. They fought against regimes and Governments, swam against the tide of conformism and they acted as true watchdogs.

In other words, they had guts. And, ultimately, they incarnated the quintessence of journalism.

Here’s the list of winners:

The Investigative Reporting Award

Steve Stecklow, Babak Dehghanpisheh and Yeganeh Torbati, “Assets of the Ayatollah”, published by Reuters, United Kingdom.

The Distinguished Writing Award

Sergey Khazov, “Forbidden islam”, “Vietnam town” and “A Man in Orange”, published by The New Times magazine, Russian Federation.

The Commentator Award

Boris Dežulović, “Vukovar: a Life-Size Monument to the Dead City””, published by Globus, Croatia.

The Innovation Award

Espen Sandli and Linn Kongsli Hillestad, “Null CTRL”, published by Dagbladet, Norway.

The Special Award

Yavuz Baydar for his work as ombudsman. His columns were censored. The award is a symbol of support for his fight for free press. Editor Alan Rusbridger from the Guardian and editor Wolfgang Buchner from Der Spiegel for their persistence and courage in publishing the NSA stories.

– A special mention goes to Paolo Bernacco and his team from La Stampa (by far, the best Italian newspaper) for their interactive projects here and here

Sing for us, Ukraine!

Kiev is burning and the Ukranian government led by President Viktor Yanukovych is repressing the protests that have erupted in the capital.

Nine Thirteen people died already and police is launching an assault to Independence square but Ukranians keep on singing their national anthem, proudly waving their flags and hoping for a better future. Closer to Europe and away from dictatoriship.

“Let’s reform Europe together” Barroso tells UK


President of the EU Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso (courtesy of Wikipedia)

The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, visited London ahead of European elections in May and warned member states, in particular the UK, not to “shoot ourselves in our feet”.

The  head of the EU executive delivered a speech earlier this afternoon at the London School of Economics on the health of the European Union and the reforms needed to push the EU in a more globalized and competitive world.

Barroso’s visit in London was crucial as Prime Minister David Cameron  promised to give an in/out referendum on EU membership if re-elected next year.

“If you don’t like Europe, help us reform it but don’t turn your back on us” Barroso said before LSE’s students, stressing the importance of unity as the basic pillar to overcome economic and political differences.

“We now have the leverage to push reforms,” Barroso said “and of course we could have faced the crisis better but we are democratic states and we cannot impose decisions on member states. We can only advise them.”

Barroso, in his tenth year of presidency, tried ad well to persuade Cameron not to block a fundamental principle of the EU: freedom of movement. The PM has said he’d like to do to stop the citizens of new EU member states from tapping Britain’s welfare benefits.

” We cannot have a single market without the free movement of European citizens,” the president said. “and I don’t want to have first and second class EU citizens because this could lead to class stratification that goes against our ideals.”

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