Pitching Europe

Anti-Corruption International (ACI) is an innovative non-profit organization aiming to bring together young people from around the world to research and combat corruption related issues, share experiences and develop ideas in a constructive environment to fight corruption and to put pressure on institutions to implement anti-corruption mechanisms. We know that ACI can bring about revolutionary change in the world and we are determined to make a world free from corruption a reality.  Following the International Student Festival in Trondheim (ISFiT), we were successfully established the 20th March 2015 and have been expanding across Europe and indeed the world, establishing national chapters and working on local and international corruption issues. Our first national chapter was launched in Dublin, Ireland, the country where the international organisation is now registered.

From our early stages of development we have sought to ensure mutual growth through collaboration, and working with partners such as the European Student Think-tank has been a tremendous help for the work we do. So if you are interested in ensuring corruption finds no home within Europe, then you are more than welcome to join the work we do. Over the next months we have a number of plans to revolutionise not only how corruption is discussed but to explore how it impacts core underpinnings of such important values as democracy, rule of law and development. For us it is important to ensure that young people use the energy and motivation to ensure that we harness their propensity for change and see real tangible results. In this regard, during the next few months we will be working on launching our first young African leaders summit in Uganda and also kicking off projects in Germany on whistleblowers and corruption. We are really excited to be a part of the Pitching Europe project: It is so important to highlight how valuable it can be to work together towards a common goal(s) and we look forward to working more with this initiative over the coming months and years to come.

Anti-Corruption International is looking forward to working with the EST in Macedonia within the next months, where we have a series of Anti-Corruption workshops planned to promote transparency and create corruption awareness amongst citizens and students.

President of Anti Corruption International, Jason Deegan, was an EST Ambassador two years before founding the organization. About his experience in ACI, Jason has stated:

“This is where I am writing from now, because of my experiences in the EST I have been inspired to work with young people from around the world to tackle a global issue, the issue of corruption. Within 6 months we have expanded rapidly and consider to do so, we are reaching out to build partnership with youth organisations such as the EST and will continue to work with young people from around the world in relation to how we can best tackle corruption”.

Lifestyle & InnovationPolitics & The World

Precarity, insecurity and informality are just three of the prevailing terms used to describe the neoliberal climate through which many of us are trying to carve a path. Recently graduated with arms full of confidence to progress, our generation is shaped by the notion that ‘we are the drivers of our own destiny’. It is we who have the power to succeed or fail, or it is we who possess the unabated freedom to choose.

The transition from divine to popular right following the American and the French revolutions placed responsibility from the shoulders of kings onto that of the populace. Citizens found themselves in a condition of unlimited responsibility to be shared and divided between all. However, three centuries and 30 years of neoliberalism later, that same responsibility has been individualised within much of the global North, which many suggest has had an un-abetting impact on our material and psychological well being. The relentless pressure to achieve has been normalised and meritocracy commonplace.

How will we fare in a world of privatised responsibility?

Well, alas, the answer is a bleak one. With inequality rife, unstable job markets and unpaid internships plaguing the European sphere it appears to many that neoliberal policy is having a severe impact on labour relations and security. Some have even envisaged a new class of vulnerable people collectively referred to as ‘the precariat’. Plagued by the meritocratic ethos that success is dependent on individual efforts and talents, members of the heterogeneous precariat class are said to compete with one another for status and position in order to secure their own well being. Highlighting a situation to which many of us can accord towards,

Arguably, it is precarity that now reigns in the position of former kings.

Now I can’t help but think that competition within the job market is nothing new, the caressing classical hand of Smith outstretched from this very principle. So why all the fuss now? Most notably, because the competition driving much of the economy has been monopolised and redefined by multinationals clambering to secure the top position. Most notable of those are tech giants such as Google, who alone has secured a 92% share of the EU’s search engine enclave. If companies so large operate in a sea of their own, is it inaccurate for us to say that competitors are in the same boat, rocked by the same hand? Further, market forces now perverse into all corners of our everyday life, encouraging a climate of consumerism to dictate previously independent choices. The same market that set out to emancipate us has imprisoned us in atomisation and loneliness. Three decades since its precipitous birth, neoliberalism is taking its toll.

It is precarity that contradicts the ways of life that must be regenerated in order for a democratic form of government to sustain itself over time. Individualism has replaced the collectivism and solidarity essential for the success of democracy. The self-management of our own space stands in direct contrast to the rhetoric of collective consensus that so often spawns from the lips of politicians, fruitlessly trying to promote a shared solidarity to a nation of individuals.

But are we a nation of individuals, or do we have the power to muster collective action for the betterment of all? The success of collaborative ventures, such as Wikipedia and Kickstarter, certainly indicate a route beyond the recognised market system. But are we ready to venture on such a path and bid our precarity farewell?

Further reading: Paul Mason “Post Capitalism: A Guide to Our Future”

Picture by Lee Thatcher (Flickr)

Politics & The World

The last European elections were special. For the first time, each party group nominated a candidate for Commission President. Among my fellow European Studies students at Maastricht University this raised much excitement. It was widely seen as a step in the fight against the much debated democratic deficit and for endowing the Commission with more popular trust – a vital resource in a democracy, especially when the link between decision-makers and the electorate is as indirect as in the European Union. For the European project to succeed in the future, heightening the level of trust in the EU is of utmost importance.

Before I go on, let me tell you some things about myself. I study and live in Maastricht, a vibrant, international, student city. During my first year of studies, I lived in Belgium, crossing the Dutch-Belgian border every day and driving home to Germany every other weekend. The administrative effort of studying in the Netherlands and living in Belgium was minimal. Moreover, I just got back from an Erasmus semester in France, also with close to no paperwork involved at all.

During these last years, I came to realize what European integration really meant. I started taking pride in the fact that the EU won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. I am aware that it was European integration that – after the horrors of two world wars – ended the ever-present bloodshed on our continent. I feel truly European. By now you might have guessed (or maybe feared) it: I am a federalist. Yeah, I said that. Hence, the remarks that follow are, of course, biased, but I firmly believe in them and I wish to share them.

Back to the European elections: The European People’s Party emerged as winner and, therefore, Jean Claude Juncker as designated Commission President. How exciting! The first more or less directly elected Commission President (even if it was not my preferred candidate) was about to assume office. But, initially, not many outside of my European Studies bubble seemed to really care. Another random politician was elected to a random position. It was only some months later, with the Lux leaks scandal, that Juncker got confronted with full-blown, mainstream, first-five-minutes-of-the-news media attention – and, hence, with widespread public interest. The new scandal then fit perfectly with the popular image of the EU as a strange entity composed of corrupted elites that could not be trusted.

The first quasi-directly elected President of the European Commission, who ideally should stand for consensus-building, cooperation and European solidarity, exposed to have enacted tax-avoidance schemes to reap gains for Luxemburg to the detriment of other member states. Politically, this is what we call a “Super-GAU” in German (meaning the greatest possible accident, the term was originally introduced to refer to the threat of accidents in nuclear power plants). Of course, the right-wing Eurosceptics in the European Parliament, who won unprecedented support in the last election, were not hesitating a second to feast on the meal that had been prepared for them. And as so often, those who yelled the loudest were being heard.

UKIP’s Nigel Farage organized a motion of censure against Juncker, and he and his FN and AfD colleagues made sure to feed the media with some quotable, easily understandable stuff about the nonsensical nature of European integration to print and broadcast. A motion of censure against a Commission President that has just assumed office, paired with media-savvy populist parliamentarians, is – in terms of trust – let’s say, not ideal. The fact that Juncker in the vote then received even more support than in the initial vote of investiture did not find much attention. The damage was done.

However, this whole scandal might also offer an opportunity. To use it Juncker now has to follow up on his announcements to tackle the lack of fiscal harmonization that made the controversial tax-scheme possible. Although often forgotten, Luxembourg was is not a single case. Countries such as Ireland, the UK, and Austria used similar schemes. Debates about a common corporate tax base had have been around for a while. With the electorate momentarily focused on the issue however, the Commission should now use this attention and push for advances in this field. This is the way Juncker should present it: Here is a problem that affects all of us. This is what we are going to do collectively to solve it! Of course, there will be many objections to this. After all, fiscal policies are at the heart of national sovereignty. Time for Juncker to assert himself! He should be wise and use the public pressure that the scandal generated to his advantage.



Image by European People’s Party.



Two out of three Europeans do not trust the EU. In some countries, it is even 80%.

But why is this? And what does it mean for us young Europeans? To find out the answers to these questions, tune in to our latest episode of Campus Europe.

During our first episode we visit the European Commission, and talk to Mr Soufflot de Magny who shows us how trust in the EU is measured, and what the role of the EU public opinion analysis is. Afterwards, we will jump to our corresponding Student TVs TVAAC from Coimbra in Portugal and Tudeng TV from Tallinn in Estonia, who give us insights into the situation in their respective countries. They have made it their task to see what students think about the EU, and where they see potential problems.

Finally, we go all the way to Maastricht in the Netherlands where the local student TV BreakingMaas held a very insightful interview with Prof. Shackleton, who explains what has affected the European Trust and what the EU has to do before people lose their faith in it completely.