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Category Archives: Democracy & Citizenship

The poisonous heritage of François Mitterrand

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20 years ago, when television broke the news around midday that François Mitterrand had died aged 79, the collective emotion in France was almost disproportionate. A surprising number of Parisians simply stopped what they were doing, went to their flower shop, bought one red rose and deposited it on the doorsteps of the former president’s […]

Jealous of Spain

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Looking south from France in December 2015, how can you not be jealous of Spain? Sure, there’s no need to be envious of the weather, the wine and the beaches. We’ve had more than a fair share of these, too. There is also no reason to minimise the pressing problems of Spanish society, starting with […]

Post-post-materialist politics in Portugal: The left is back!

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A guest contribution by Cláudia Toriz Ramos. (Im)possible – this was the adjective I used to describe the probability of a union of the left after the Portuguese parliamentary elections. The brackets were supposed to mean ‘not excluded in theory, but far from likely to happen in practice’. Never in the history of Portuguese democracy […]

A Union of Shared Values – The Jean Monnet Conference 2015

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A report by Pam Barnes. What is the role of education and civil society in the promotion and transmission of ‘A Union of Shared Values’? This was the topic of the Jean Monnet Conference 2015, which took place in Brussels on 9/10 November. Only a few days later the horrific events in Paris on 13 November […]

10 years ago: Giscard defends the constitutional treaty at ESSCA

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Ten years ago, in mid-April 2005, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing came to Angers in order to exchange with ESSCA students. Just six weeks before the French referendum on the constitutional treaty his visit was part of a campaign for an increasingly uncertain ‘yes’ vote. Given his role in chairing – with diplomatic skills and political know-how – the European Convention […]

All alone

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Two weeks after the shootings in Paris and ten days after the memorable rallies of 11 January, emotion gives way to lucid analysis. There should be no illusion: France stands all alone. Of course, there were millions of individuals all around the globe who instantly displayed the “Je suis Charlie” slogan in order to show […]

European Values

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The debate has been ongoing for as long as the expression ‘European integration’ has existed, and it is not likely to stop any time soon: is the self-proclaimed ‘European Community’ underpinned by a set of ‘shared values’? ‘Values’, like ‘culture’, is a sufficiently vague term to allow very divergent interpretations. It is one of these […]

Please remain faceless!

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Now that Donald Tusk has officially taken office as new President of the Council, the Trinity of European leadership as provided by the Lisbon Treaty is complete. In due course there will be plenty of opportunity for Euro-scoffers to ridicule the fact that one never really knows who is in charge of the EU. They […]

How to kill a premium brand

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Remember when they wanted to change the recipe of Coca Cola? Very bad idea. If there’s one golden rule in marketing, it’s not to mess around with well-established household brands. You may surprise the customer with brand extensions – diet coke, cherry coke, coke zero – but you never ever alienate him from the core […]

Is the peace narrative really obsolete?

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30 years ago, the photo of François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl holding hands in Verdun, the emblematic battlefield of World War One, went around the world. It is true that their gesture – which Kohl always insisted was a very spontaneous one – was quite unusual. Still, it was appropriate. After all, reconciliation between France […]

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