||Everyone loves Europe. The EU, by contrast, is, to many people within Europe and outside its borders, an entity that is hard to understand. An entity that many would rather avoid any contact with. Its structure, including 27 member states and a number of political bodies, is complex, decision-making is not tranparent and, even by liberal-democratic standards, the opposite of participatory.
Media generally do not report a lot on EU politics, and, as a consequence, what happens at the EU level is much less a topic of public debates than politics at the national level. It is unclear how and where we can discuss the European dimension of politics and its impact on our day-to-day lives. The protest and struggles against the signing of Treaty on the European Union 1992 in Maastricht were motivated by concerns about the EU‘s legitimacy, a territorial re-structuring of Europe and an increasing role of capital within the EU. Since then the „EU“ has all but disappeared from the agenda of social movements – with few exceptions such as migrations policies. The Lisbon Treaty was hardly at all an issue for leftist debates. In our view, social movements must once again take a position and engage in struggles and debates on the EU and its foreign policy – and the seminar is to make a contribution here. The revolts in most of the countries in North Africa and the Arab world which came as a surprise to many in Europe show clearly that a thorough, differentiated analysis of the EU’s relationship with its Southern, Mediterranean neighbours is missing. The Mediterranean area, which is situated in the vicinity of the EU, is of special importance for the EU; the Mediterranean is thus the area that the seminar focuses on.
Some of the topics we would like to discuss:
• The EU has numerous trade agreements with Mediterranean countries and is an important trading partner for the region. Development cooperation is another channel used by the EU to influence the region. Some Mediterranean countries are important providers of resources to the EU, e.g. Algeria for oil and gas. More recently, there are some plans to supply Europe with renewable energy produced in the Mediterranean countries, e.g. through huge solar projects. Some of the EU countries were formerly colonial powers in the Mediterreanean. The seminar will serve to discuss the economic relations betweeen the EU and the Mediterranean countries, including from a post-colonial perspective.
• Most EU policy-makers were suprised by the revolts and changes in different Arab countries. The EU in the past supported many of the autocratic or dictatorial regimes in Northern African and was not as very outspoken advocate for democratic reforms or human rights. We would like to discuss what is happening in Egpyt, Tunesia, Lybia… currently. With activists from some of these countries we would like to speak about the uprisings and revolutions, their expectations on what will happen in the future, and their view on Europe and the EU.
• An area where the EU’s influence in the Mediterranen is particular visible is migration and security politics. In the past few years, many EU countries have closed their borders to migrants wishing to enter the EU from North Africa and have increasingly used military measures for border control. Many peopole have died while trying to cross the Mediterranen or the Atlantic to reach the EU. We would like to discuss EU migrations politics, together with migrants active against restrictive EU politics and – hopefully – initiatives from the countries of origin of migrants.
There is clearly much to criticise about EU politics. The EU is a political entity dominated by a market liberal economic perspective and governed by elites. What is less clear is whether there could be a „European project“ from an emancipatory perspective. Is the EU as such a bad idea? Are there alternative visions of Europe or is Europe simply no useful point of reference for the left? More questions we would like to discuss in the seminar.
The seminar will be an open space, to where participants can bring the issues they would like to discuss. We plan to invite people from different countries to provide us with short inputs. The seminar invitation will be distributed internationally, and we hope that people from different countries will participate. During the seminar we will speak English and French, and we will organise translations among ourselves in Salecina.
The seminar will take in the self-organised guest house Salecina located in the Graubünden region in Switzerland. We will ourselves be responsible for buying and preparing food as well as cleaning.
We will have time for discussions, but also for joint walks in the mountains and spending time together informally.
We are currently applying for financial support and assume that participants will pay between 50 and 120 Euro. Participants must cover their own travels costs. However, one of the BUKO principles is that lack of money should not prevent anyone from participating, so in doubt, please contact us.
For registration and questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are looking forward to meeting you in Salecina!