“I’m neither a dove nor a hawk. My ambition is to be this owl that’s often associated with a little bit of wisdom”. This is what the new President of the ECB says about herself.
While most think tankers and Policy makers are concentrating on how the Balkan EU accession process can be kept alive, they are missing a far more fundamental, if less sexy, topic: depopulation.
The challenge of returning foreign fighters affects the whole of Europe. France adopted a clear-cut unofficial policy of outsourcing, asking Iraq to prosecute French fighters to keep them away from Europe. In fact, the issue of returnees cannot be swept under the carpet and needs a proper strategy that combines prosecution and de-radicalization.
“Would you like some nice ISIS fighters?”, US president Donald Trump asked French president Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the NATO leaders meeting in London this month. “I can give them to you”. Macron didn´t think it was funny. “Come on, let’s be serious”, he replied. The awkward exchange between the two leaders was emblematic of the wider question at hand; should countries take back their foreign terrorist fighters? And if so, what would that mean for their national security?
For a few years, the return of experienced jihadi fighters from the Levant was perceived as the main threat to Belgium. With hindsight, the 2016 Brussels attacks were the last operation prepared and staged by the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Europe, involving returnees. With the disintegration of IS’s caliphate, the threat posed by the group has evolved significantly. Returnees are no longer the sole – or even main – concern of security services.
The conflict in Syria and Iraq has left a strong mark on jihadist milieus throughout Europe. This impact has been particularly striking in Finland. The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) has estimated that over 80 adults and about 30 minors have left from Finland to the conflict zone. While the size of the Finnish mobilisation is relatively small compared to many countries in the region, this is a high number for a country of 5.5 million inhabitants which has a small muslim population and no significant history of jihadist activism.
When and whence will the new recession come? Some believe it’s time to seek shelter from the storm brewing on the other side of the Atlantic...
Today’s European Union is in an identity crisis as it seems to be losing its points of reference. The principles that upheld its creation are being increasingly questioned around the world and within the EU itself. Its chances to survive hinge upon its ability to deliver at home and abroad, without abandoning its values and principles but rather adapting and re-launching them.
It was a visit worthy of a plethora of superlatives. The arrival of China’s President Xi Jinping in Athens (November 10-12) was termed a “vote of confidence” for Greece. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis underlined that Greece and China are bound together by their cultural heritages, linking ancient civilizations of the West and East. President Xi described China’s multi-decade anchor investment in the Port of Piraeus as the “biggest project of the One Belt, One Road Initiative” (OBOR, the official Chinese term for the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI)).
As we all know, urbanisation is a crucial ingredient of our century and of globalisation. In this perspective, examining the features of European cities can be very useful. As a region of ancient city-dwelling, the Old Continent can provide a paradigm that, far from having to be reproduced as it is, can be the source of precious starting points for those areas of the world that deal with this challenge today, and in a much stronger way. Moreover, this issue is particularly significant today, just a few months after the European election round.