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Europe or Not! Multiple Conversations and Voices

With Alberto Martinelli, Vittorio Cotesta, Nadia Urbinati and Alain Touraine

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Edited By Monica Simeoni

Europe is in crisis and the EU project risks disintegration. The refugee and Brexit issues, as well as recent events in Turkey, demonstrate how serious matters really are. In a EurActiv interview, in February 2016, Edgar Morin, the French sociologist and philosopher, speaks of a «planetary crisis» and the need «to change civilisation» in order to respond to the complexity of today’s world. Furthermore, the drama of terrorism, a new phenomenon for contemporary western democracies requires serious reflection regarding jihadism and its radicalisation.

These are but some of the issues addressed during the multiple conversations held with the three sociologists, Alberto Martinelli, Vittorio Cotesta and Alain Touraine and with the political scientist, Nadia Urbinati. All the interviewees are leading experts on European issues and institutions, as well as on democracy put to the test currently by rampant populism in almost all the EU countries. Alain Touraine fervently holds that «it is madness» not to want a united Europe at a moment when we need a new political and economic project capable of defeating the nationalism, walls and separation between states that now seem to prevail.

Europe finds itself in a dramatic position: it must choose innovation and construction, or disintegration, with all the unpredictable consequences this may entail.

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More and more, contemporary Europe shows that its process of integration is collapsing. In many EU Countries the strong resurgence of national politics, the persistent economic and jobs crisis, (especially as far as the young are concerned), the waves of migrants and refugees pressing against its borders (including its sea ports) and increasingly devastating acts of terror, do not provide respite to people who are frightened, dumbfounded, almost unable to react. Many national premiers, as well as a number of political parties see the Union as a Europe of bureaucrats and of austerity, led by Germany, insensitive to requests from some of the other Countries to “slacken the Stability Pact”. Moreover, inside Germany itself new extreme-right political forces are springing up to glean the support of EU and Euro sceptics.

A short-sighted reaction to German Chancellor Merkel’s choice, in the summer of 2015, to allow close on a million refugees to enter the Country, contributed, in neighbouring European Countries, to the closure of borders and the construction of walls and fences. This was the case with Hungary, Austria and some of the Balkan Countries. Furthermore, the recent terrorist attacks on Paris and Brussels are jeopardizing the Schengen Treaty, which, until now, has permitted the free exchange of goods and circulations of people within the EU.

Populist and xenophobic groups became numerically significant as early as 2014, in the regional elections of many states and, subsequently, in the national and European ballots.

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