Gay to Jihad
Photo: Surian Soosay(Flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0

Join E&M for a discussion on radicalization in Europe as we try to figure out whether terrorists are evil by design and look at the factors and circumstances that turn personal stories into the next episode of “final destination”.

Looking at footage of terrorist mayhem is no picnic. Images of damage caused to human beings, like the ones from two weeks ago in Brussels, look all too overwhelming. Reactions in such cases tend to be no less intense: without knowing it we, peace-loving Europeans, might even go as low as to briefly align with radical agendas ourselves and want the motherfuckers burned.

Published in Sixth Sense
YEC 2014
Photo courtesy of Young European Leadership
Getting to the heart of the matter: YEC delegates talk policy in Brussels


Move over MEPs, there's a new assembly in town! Last week, Giorgio Nicoletti and Petya Yankova attended the Young European Council 2014 on behalf of E&M. Here they provide a run-down of the main recommendations put forward by delegates.

Brussels calling

Imagine a group of brilliant future leaders, from almost every part of the European Union, gathering in Brussels to negotiate recommendations and ultimately influence EU institutions. This is what happened between 20 and 23 October, when the Young European Council, organised by the up-and-coming NGO Young European Leadership, took place, with astonishing results. Sustainable development in cities, education and employment, digital revolution and technologies were the topics for discussion at an event which attracted more than 100 young people.

Published in E&M Reports
Tuesday, 13 November 2012 08:28

Creating the European prototype citizens?

When you think about institutional Brussels, you picture suited up adults carrying a suitcase on their way to work. Cheerful kids are harder to imagine in the grey bureaucratic bubble that many have built in their minds, but evidently, the so-called eurocrats have children too, and nurseries and schools also have a place in the city's institutional life.

The European School, or Schola Europaea, stands out among all the educational options provided to EU officials and workers because of its initiative to promote European citizenship and common values among the students. Created in Luxembourg in 1953, the project tried to bring together kids from different mother tongues and nationalities, an educational experiment supported by the Coal and Steel Community of the time. Today, there are 12 schools spread across Europe, all financed by member states, and all with the following words sealed in the foundation stones of each building:

"Educated side by side, untroubled from infancy by divisive prejudices, acquainted with all that is great and good in the different cultures, it will be borne in upon them as they mature that they belong together. Without ceasing to look to their own lands with love and pride, they will become in mind Europeans, schooled and ready to complete and consolidate the work of their fathers before them, to bring into being a united and thriving Europe."

Matilda Sevón, a 31-year-old Finn living in Brussels, arrived at the school when she was 15, after her father got a job in the Parliament. Today, looking back at the  statement, she doesn't feel it quite fits her situation. "I think of other Europeans as much closer to me than I did before going to the European School, but in some ways I have also become more fond of my own country," she says.

Published in Brussels Bubble
Monday, 20 August 2012 09:30

European identity is in its childhood

Imagine Europe in ten, thirty, fifty years. Will we ever be able to build a European identity or will Europe turn into one large museum? Leire Ariz investigates what young Europeans in Brussels have to say about Slavenka Drakulić’s predictions for the old continent.

Carmen Păun is a volunteer for the European Youth Press in Brussels. Like many of the young people in the bubble, she came from Romania to study in a masters programme, and after several internships, settled for a job. She has a German friend of Chinese origin who once told her jokingly: "China can turn Europe into a parking lot." 

Museums are for the past

It is a similar statement to that made by journalist Slavenka Drakulić, who was interviewed in E&M's latest issue. Her vision of Europe's future suited that of a theme park. "The continent will be flooded with tourists, mostly from the east, who look at the Old Continent as we now look at Babylon."

Păun is sceptical about the EU's future the way we know it, but doesn't believe Europe will be reduced to a tourist attraction. "Did Russia become an iconic park for communism? Not really," she says.

In general, people in Brussels tend to disagree with pessimistic views about Europe's coming years. It may be because people who come here usually do so because they are convinced Europeanists, or because many have academic backgrounds related to the EU, or simply because their work future is often closely related to that of the continent.

Carmen, Jeremy, Francesco, Mourad and Kaltrina - all five of the bubble-inhabitants I spoke to had amendments to make to Drakulić's prediction. Jeremy, a Belgian journalist, put it in a way that summed it up: "museums are for the past! European identity is in its childhood."

Published in Brussels Bubble
Thursday, 22 March 2012 17:33

Brussels stereotypes for beginners

National stereotypes are relative to your own nationality. Especially when it comes to Belgium and its capital, Brussels. Because, let's face it, the home city of the EU institutions is rather unknown to most Europeans. You know that Parisians are snobby, Berliners are alternative and Romans are loud. But...what are Brusselians like?

The adjective you choose will most likely depend on the place you come from. When asked by a newly arrived Italian, my German colleague said they are "disorganised," the Brit chose the word "boring," and I, the Spaniard, just replied that the city was "cold" and "grey." The French apparently look at Belgians as their "villager" neighbours, while everyone else agreed on the word "bureaucratic." 

It is not a very warm list of stereotypes for a welcoming... Until you realise that Brussels is an acquired taste. Like coffee and beer, you might not like it on the first try, but by the end of a long stay, you will have learned to love it. Its charm, as with most true treasures in life, is a bit hidden.

You will, however, only wonder about Brussels' identity once you are done with the touristy stage of admiring the beauty of Grande Place and wondering about the importance of the Manneken Pis, the peeing boy that has become the city's emblem. And when you do, you might just reach the conclusion that there is no such thing as a Brusselian identity.

After all, what can be the unifying factor of a country and city that is divided into Flemish and francophone communities? Not to mention the multiculturalism provided by the presence of the EU bubble, as well as the immigration waves from Congo and the French-speaking Arab countries. (You probably wouldn't have guessed that the #1 name among new born children in Brussels is Mohammed.) The doubt is reasonable. But the fact that the identity of Brussels is hard to comprehend according to our own systems doesn't make it non-existent. It is just complex. And it mirrors the complexity of the institutions the city hosts.

Published in Brussels Bubble
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