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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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Can we still speak, today, of a European project, or do fear and ensconcement behind national frontiers prevail within those Countries which once excogitated a Union or federation as a means to put an end to war, poverty and isolation? It seems very difficult to answer this question now.

The twenty-eight EU countries offer a scenario more akin to the disintegration than the construction of the shared-goals model. The single national governments seem to be prevalently concerned with addressing emergencies: jihadist terrorism, the refugee issue, the crunch, which, in reality, is probably a systemic crisis, (to pinpoint a new one is very difficult), welfare systems that need to be redefined for an increasingly aging population and a society where few young people entering employment late.

We are in the presence of several Europes, each risking clashing with all the others. First of all, we have the Europe of rigour and austerity of the northern Countries led by Germany, which clashes with the nations of the Mediterranean which are, for obvious economic reasons, more and more critical of the pro-Union project which they perceive as “exclusive” “rather than “inclusive”. Then, there is the Euro-sceptic and xenophobic Europe represented in the European Parliament, which, in many EU Countries from France to Spain to Austria, advances steadily at each ballot whether general, local or presidential. There are also bids for independence and secession (from the Brexit referendum in the UK to demands for secession of the Scots...

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