The EUI Times

Here you can find all the articles that I have written for The EUI Times, a current affairs magazine affiliated to the European University Institute.

‘Beware of fashion, beware of orthodoxy, think for yourself’

Michael Ignatieff knows a thing or two about authoritarianism. As President and Rector of the Central European University in Budapest, Ignatieff has found himself on the frontline of the fight for academic and intellectual freedom in Viktor Orbán’s Hungary. In an interview, Ignatieff reflected on what has caused the rising tide of authoritarianism, where academics have gone wrong, and what they must do to start fighting back.

A ‘magnificent achievement,’ imperilled

As dignitaries gathered in Belfast last week to commemorate twenty years since the Good Friday agreement was signed, ending over three decades of bloody sectarian conflict on the island of Ireland, a Brexit-shaped shadow loomed large. According to Professor Brigid Laffan, Director of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, London’s apparent reluctance to take the Irish problem seriously could lead to the unravelling of Good Friday and the reappearance of violence on the border.

Building South Sudan

South Sudan is the world’s youngest country. After nearly 99% of eligible voters opted to secede from Sudan in 2011, people like William Lochi set about putting in place the building blocks that he and many others hoped would lead to South Sudan becoming a successful democracy. Progress has been fitful thus far, marred by on-off civil conflict and political upheaval. However Lochi, the Deputy-Secretary General of the South Sudanese government, remains optimistic that South Sudan’s future is bright. In Florence to undertake a Young Policy Leader fellowship at the School of Transnational Governance, Lochi hopes to return to Juba with a fresh perspective on governing and policymaking in his fledgling home country.

How do you solve a problem like globalisation?

When Dani Rodrik published ‘Has Globalisation Gone Too Far?’ in 1997, his contention that not everyone stood to gain from increased global economic integration was laughed at. Twenty years later, with populist candidates riding a wave of anti-establishment, anti-globalisation anger at the ballot box, Rodrik’s insights seem more revelatory than ridiculous. Fast forward two decades, and the Turkish-born economist has a lot of ideas about how to re-write the rules of globalisation for the better. This time round, everyone would be wise to listen to him.

The ‘rule of law crisis’, Europe’s most existential challenge

For all its travails in recent years, the European Union has generally been adept at responding to crisis. However, creeping authoritarianism in eastern Europe, and the EU’s subsequent inability to muster a coherent response, is posing a unique and threatening challenge to Brussels’ authority. Speaking with EUI Times, Professor Kim Scheppele – the Lawrence S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School – argued the contravention of the rule of law by aggressive governments in Hungary and Poland in particular are exposing an uncomfortable reality for the EU: it seems unable to discipline its own member states.

Social media are democracy’s poisoned chalice

Not long ago, social media were being hailed as an unprecedented force for plurality and progress in modern-day democracies. The impact of platforms like Facebook and Twitter are widely seen as integral in organising and mobilising the popular protests that brought about the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt in 2011 and Victor Yanukovych in 2013. Yet, as evidence continues to surface about Russian attempts to subvert the 2016 US election, talk of social media’s power has become inextricably linked with the danger that it poses to democracy. How did we get here? And, looking ahead, what can be done to return social media to their former glory?

Reassessing the Brexit battleground

Despite the fogginess of the British government’s approach to Brexit, there is little desire among the electorate to see the referendum played out again, according to Matthew Goodwin, a politics professor and Brexit expert from the University of Kent. Speaking at an event organised by the Migration Policy Centre at the Schuman Centre last week, Goodwin pointed out that there has been little change in public opinion towards Brexit in the eighteen months since the referendum. In fact, if anything, Leavers and Remainers’ positions have hardened. After delivering his lecture at Villa Schifanoia, Goodwin sat down with EUI Times, to discuss what comes next for Britain and the EU, and how we got here in the first place.

Central banks ‘have never seemed so powerful,’ says Patrick Honohan

When the European Central Bank woke up to crisis in 2008, they quickly realised that it was their responsibility to stabilise the money market, despite some saying they were acting above their station. Speaking at Villa La Fonte last week, Patrick Honohan, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, argued that the crisis drew the ECB and its affiliates into policy areas where its mandate was implicit, though no less real. Now, he claims, those central banks have ‘never seemed so powerful.’

The road from Damascus

When the Arab Spring spilled into Syria in 2011, Dima Hussain believed that the time had finally come to change her country’s long-entrenched status quo. Today, Syria’s civil war still rages on, and the regime that so many Syrians had sought to topple seems as strong as ever. Nonetheless Hussain, now a first-year Law researcher at the EUI, remains optimistic that one day she will return to Damascus, to a Syria imbued with the idealism that sparked a revolution over six years ago.

The historical roots of the world’s ‘racism emergency’

The world is in the grips of a ‘racism emergency’, according to James Renton. Typically for a historian, he believes that it is essential to look back in order to plot a route forward. In 2017, Europe commemorates two major milestones: the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. Both these landmarks, Renton argues, can teach us a great deal about modern-day racism, and governments’ responses to it.

Smuggling as care, not crime

For all the bombast coming from Washington these days, it would be easy to think that the US-Mexico border is in crisis. Yet that is far from the truth. In fact, Gabriella Sanchez explains, life on the border is as it has been for centuries. Rather than building a wall, Sanchez suggests adopting a more considered and conciliatory approach to people smuggling as a way to alleviate suffering and increase our understanding of migration on the US-Mexico border.

Rebuilding trust in experts after Brexit

‘The paradox of our times,’ according to Jean Pisani-Ferry, is that people are more educated than ever before, yet ‘distrust’ in expert opinion has never been stronger. Professor Pisani-Ferry, who served as Director for Programme and Ideas for Emmanuel Macron’s successful presidential campaign, argues that institutions like the EUI have a fundamental role to play in rebuilding the public’s trust in the relationship between science and politics.

Catalonia in crisis

The Catalan referendum on independence, held on 1 October, has plunged Spain into its deepest constitutional crisis in over forty years. With the Spanish government set to suspend Catalonia’s regional autonomy and impose direct rule from Madrid, one of the EU’s largest and most stable member-states is entering uncharted waters. ‘Nobody really knows what’s going on,’ says Carlos Closa, part-time Professor at the EUI’s School of Transnational Governance. ‘It is impossible to predict what will happen next.’

Beyond reaction: The EU’s challenge in tackling antisemitism

‘Hate cannot be contained in one corner,’ says Katharina von Schnurbein, the European Commission’s first specialist coordinator on tackling antisemitism, ‘sooner or later it spreads.’ For that reason, she argues, it is the responsibility of society as a whole – not just the Jewish community – to combat antisemitism. Von Schnurbein recently joined the EUI as an EU Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, where she will spend the next year formulating policy proposals on how the Commission can help stem the rising tide of antisemitism in Europe.

Europe facing a ‘Sputnik moment’, says EU Commissioner Moedas

For Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, the series of crises which Europe has endured over the past decade has felt like being repeatedly ‘punched in the stomach’. Speaking at the opening of the School of Transnational Governance at Villa Salviati on October 4th, he told the audience that Europe is facing a uniquely challenging moment, ‘a time when change is needed, and complacency must give way to action.’