Sociologist, Local Councillor, Politician from Malta
MEP Candidate - Partit Nazzjonalista (EPP).

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The post-referendum witch hunt

I support the abolition of hunting in Spring but disagree with tribal demonisation. We have gone back to the medieval practice of parading the "enemies of society" through a public spectacle. Liberalism my foot. Hysteric 'partisanship' is everywhere, and is not only about PN and PL.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Investing in Social Capital


The Times of Malta, April 27, 2015
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150427/opinion/Investing-in-social-capital.565723


Civic engagement, voluntary work, social networks and trust are all key elements of social capital. In turn, these help foster social cohesion, integration and a better quality of life. In his new book ‘Our Kids’, sociologist Robert Putnam makes a compelling argument for the importance of investment in social capital.

Putnam had previously achieved international scholarly acclaim through his book ‘Bowling Alone’ in 2000. He had highlighted what he saw as the decline of social capital as evidenced through loneliness, lack of trust and lack of reciprocity. The book inspired a generation of sociologists and policy-makers involved in areas such as community, education and social networks, though the reasons given by Putnam for a decline in social capital have been subject to much debate.

In his most recent book, Putnam carefully analyses how American children from higher social classes tend to do have better educational outcomes than children from lower classes. This is hardly a novel argument, and studies in many countries around the world, including Malta, had similar conclusions. If anything, however, this shows the importance of such findings. In ‘Our Kids’, one reads how upper-middle class families tend to provide nurturing to their kids which is more in synch with the demands of the educational system and which, consequently, provides for more social mobility.

Such nurturing includes more dialogue between parents and kids and encouraging them to be reflexive. This is less common in working-class families, for various reasons, which can also include less social networks which can assist kids for their personal development.

Putnam suggests a mix of policies which can help improve children from poorer families, and this includes educational, psychological and social assistance. This ranges from subsidies to increased access to clubs and childcare, as well as the teaching of parenting skills.

Even though Putnam’s arguments have an American focus, the lessons he provides can have a wider appeal. In a small society like Malta, where social networks are of great importance, perhaps this is very relevant.

Malta is not lacking in volunteering and civic engagement, as can be witnessed from the high participation in charitable events, political candidatures and a whole range of voluntary activities, including NGO membership. Like other social characteristics, however, social networks are not equal. There are those whose economic wealth and social status can buy them easier access to certain networks. And there are those whose precarious situations is resulting in exclusion, daily hardships and stress.

At the same time, however, political, religious and civic networks can transverse social classes, where people from different backgrounds encounter opportunities and obligations. Yet, in an increasingly individualised setting, not everyone belongs to such networks, and here one should also include non-Maltese persons living in Malta, who should not be excluded from community life.

Local councils and educational authorities have a very strong role to play in this regard, and there are some positive policy-directions which should be replicated across the country. These include lifelong learning courses for adults and kids in languages and in other areas – such as reading, drama and sports – which can help increase social integration. Here, persons who have lack of financial capital and lack of access to certain networks, can obtain social capital though participation.

Malta’s educational policy is adopting positive measures based on equity and universalism by giving targeted consideration to particular needs, as I argued in a recent article in The Times. Indeed, one-size-fits-all approaches can often unintentionally result in exclusion of those who do not belong to mainstream networks and higher social classes. More focus should be given to the concept of schools as universally-accessible community centres which can provide after-school activities such as sports, social events and various courses. The comprehensive extension of Klabb 3-16 should -be emulated.

Investment in social capital should also enable local councils to have increased say in community initiatives and local development. This should not only include having local councils being responsible for facilities such as playing areas and libraries – as is already the case, albeit with limited funds – but also to give them a stronger voice in decisions by national authorities.

More consideration should be given to the voice of local councils when Mepa and Transport Malta take decisions and devise policy. Very often, economic concerns ride roughshod over other considerations relating to people’s quality of life and community development. For example, if a development proposal will lead to increased traffic, lack of open spaces and more pollution, this can have a strong impact on family and community life. Why should the latter be relegated to minor concerns by decision makers?

Some argue that Malta has too many local councils given its small size and that this is an unnecessary waste of resources. But from a social capital perspective, one can take the opposite view and argue that, if anything, local councils are closer to everyday concerns of residents. Consequently, they should be equipped with stronger fiscal and legislative authority to invest in initiatives which increase social inclusion and strengthen the sense of community belonging.

Seen from this perspective, the smallness of Malta’s localities could be seen as a boon which merits more recognition.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Local Council Elections Analysed

Times of Malta, Monday, April 20, 2015
Analysts warn: Labour’s cracks beginning to form
by Claudia Calleja
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150420/local/analysts-warn-labours-cracks-beginning-to-form.564668


The local council elections suggest cracks have appeared within the Labour Party, giving the struggling Nationalist Party a ray of hope, according to several political analysts.

“The Nationalist Party made satisfactory gains within the context of a Labour majority. It is crystal clear that Labour is still ahead but the PN did make some inroads. I would agree that the PN is back in business,” independent observer Michael Briguglio said.

Martin Scicluna, another observer, agreed: “The huge gap is narrowed and the PN can take consolation from that. Simon Busuttil has a slender hope that things may be turning in the Nationalists’ favour. To Joseph Muscat the message is: ‘You are not invincible and a lot can happen’.”

Labour won 54 per cent of the votes in the local elections, held in 34 localities (half of the total 68) and the PN got 45 per cent, closing the 17-point gap of three years ago to nine.

When the results were announced, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said his party, which lost the 2013 general elections by 36,000 votes, was “back in business”.

The Prime Minister said the results showed a “massive vote of confidence” halfway through his Labour government’s term.

But Dr Briguglio, a sociologist, university lecturer and former chairman of green party Alternattiva Demokratika, feels that while results do show the PL is still ahead, it lost ground to the PN, perhaps due to overconfidence.

He cautioned that one had to keep in mind the dynamics of local council elections, which, as opposed to general elections, have a strong local and personal element that allow voters to be more adventurous.

In this case, the mobilisation of voters for the spring hunting referendum worked in Labour’s favour and one had to remember that this round of local elections had largely taken place in Labour-leaning localities.

Yet, the PN still managed to narrow the gap. One should not underestimate protest voting, common in local elections, to send a message to the government.

“All this shows that even though Joseph Muscat is very, very popular, there might be some cracks within the Labour majority and some things might be changing. I think Simon Busuttil managed to make some form of impact, even if there is still a long way to go. There is a glimmer of hope,” he said.

Political analyst Hermann Schiavone – who was elected to the Birżebbuġa council on a PN ticket – said this was the first time in this legislature that the government had experienced protest votes, which included invalid votes and votes for the PN. This had not been the case during last year’s MEP elections.

“We are starting to see the first cracks and this is very normal. The message to Joseph Muscat is that he remains popular but the aura he had, that he is invincible, is ending,” Dr Schiavone, who has a PhD in political science and whose thesis was entitled ‘The single transferable vote (STV) system and its consequences for representation – the case of Malta’, said.

He added that both parties had achieved their targets, with the PL retaining a majority and the PN narrowing the gap.

Mr Scicluna, a former government adviser on defence matters, agreed that both parties have something to take away from the results.

While people should not read too much into the results – since the “councils remain the same in terms of Nationalist and Labour councils on the ground” – there are the underlying messages, “which a wise politician will take note of”.

Labour MP Marlene Farrugia, known to be critical of her own party, is also seeing cracks.

While retaining 54 per cent of the votes was a good mid-term result for Labour, the Prime Minister should recognise the need to act and stem the haemorrhage of PL votes, she said, mentioning as examples the outcomes in Paola, Santa Luċija, Marsaxlokk and Birżebbuġa.

“Environmental concerns are only the tip of the iceberg of concerns... The people are getting disenchanted with the government and its tactics... Regarding the PN, they have certainly achieved a very positive result and have thrown a light on the cracks appearing in the workings of this young government,” she said.

In the opinion of former PN Siġġiewi mayor Robert Musumeci, who switched to Labour, the local elections results showed a “systematic redistribution” of the 2013 general election trends, which, this time round, were evidently conditioned by the referendum vote.

Results showed that, in some localities, Labour should engage better with its traditional electorate.

While one could not discard the PN’s claims to success, “its success ultimately depends on beating Muscat’s ‘invincible’ formula in the creation of a movement which goes beyond traditional party affiliation,” he said.

The Environmental Agenda


The Times of Malta, April 20, 2015
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150420/opinion/The-environmental-agenda.564687


As soon as the hunting referendum result was out, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat made one of those speeches that will probably be remembered for some time. The speech has been interpreted in different ways across the social spectrum.

In my view, there were two key statements in Muscat’s speech.

First, addressing hunters, he gave a stern warning that this is their “last chance” and that his government will not tolerate illegalities and abuse.

My reading of this is that Muscat wanted to give the impression that he has not sold his political soul to the hunting lobby, particularly when many attributed his role in the referendum campaign as being determinant with regard to the final result.

The argument is that Muscat’s intervention in the campaign seemed to give a final push to hunters, something no survey could predict. Indeed, scientific surveys represent a snapshot of a particular moment. They are not prophetic tools. They analyse generic trends but they cannot predict singular moments of great importance. And politics is full of such moments.

Hence, through his post-referendum speech, Muscat performed a show of strength, using tough language to address hunters, thus asserting his authority. The growing strength of Malta’s environmental movement (in the broad sense of the term) probably gave him further reason to use such language.

This part of Muscat’s speech is of special importance when, from a political perspective, it is quite clear that Labour and the hunting lobby are mutually dependent. Labour banks on hunters’ votes; hunters’ organisations depend on Labour’s support.

In turn, this provides political opportunities with respect to environmentalism.

In the rest of the legislature, Labour could carry out an environmentalist turn that wins the support of those organisations and voters who give importance to environmental issues. This would fit in Labour’s ‘politics without adversaries’ approach, which, so far, is reaping electoral results but which could eventually implode, though nothing is impossible in politics.

The Nationalist Party, on the other hand, may opt to remain cautious and bland in this area but could also decide to portray itself as the safest and most realistic bet for the environmental vote.

Alternattiva Demokratika – the Green party could attract increased support for the more radicalised of environmentalists or those who are disillusioned with the main political parties in terms of environmental policy. But, here, one has to keep in mind that, like other parties, AD is not a single-issue party and its positions on other issues and its strategy have to be taken into consideration too.

Even though voters are empowered to elect AD to Parliament, one simply cannot ignore the fact that it is competing against two electoral giants and the accompanying dilemma of whether voting for a third party is a worthy investment. Still, AD’s main political contribution, even as an extra-parliamentary party, is often that of a catalyst with respect to many issues.

Another phenomenon that could crop up, and Labour’s Marlene Pullicino and Godfrey Farrugia have hinted about it, is having certain MPs sponsoring specific environmental campaigns. This happened in the past when, for example, Robert Arrigo championed the grievances of Qui-si-Sana residents and when Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando campaigned against some development proposals.

Previous legislatures also saw the formation of broad alliances on specific environmental issues, which included environmental NGOs, political parties (or individual representatives) and also support by local councils and civil society. One successful example in this regard was the Front Against the Rabat Golf Course, between 1999 and 2004.

One should also note that, in elections, the environment competes with other issues and considerations. It is not as influential as, say, government performance. However, the number of voters who give relatively strong weighting to the environment are growing. The prospects of winning or losing votes on environmental issues – as was the case with divorce and LGBT issues – should not be underestimated.

Hence, Muscat’s warning to hunters can be read in terms of the various windows of opportunities that exist in the environmental sphere.

Another interesting statement by Muscat was his appeal for increased negotiation in environmental policy. He appealed for antagonists to act like partners in a spirit of dialogue.

In theory, this could result in ‘agonism’, where adversaries acknowledge their differences but are willing to dialogue in a spirit of democracy, or institutionalisation, where organisations are co-opted into State structures while losing their critical edge.

However, there could also be interplay between these two poles. Hence, different organisations can participate in State structures without resorting to toothless co-option. If anything, both Birdlife and the hunters’ federation (FKNK) have shown they are both able to participate in governmental structures while speaking up vociferously when need be.

Still, one should be wary of having an entire environmental movement becoming institutionalised. Moderate environmentalism is essential to negotiate, to construct policy and to have a formal say. But radical environmentalism is essential to maintain the critical spirit alive and to come up with ideas that may be radical today but mainstream tomorrow.

This year happens to mark the 10th anniversary of the passing away of Julian Manduca, one of the stalwarts of Malta’s environmental movement. Issues that were deemed ‘radical’ when he was active in the field – such as waste management and overdevelopment – have become top environmental concerns today.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Responsibilities in Sliema Local Council

Sliema Mayor Anthony Chircop re-assigned resposibilities to councillors for the current legislature. My responsibilities are as follows:

Chairperson Education;
Chairperson Committee for Accessibility and Disability;
Member - Committee for Public Gardens, Playing Fields and Promenade;
Member - Finance Committee;
Member - Tenders Committee;
Coastal Environment;
Environmental Pollution (Air, Traffic, Noise);
Member - EU Funding Committee

Those willing to assist in any of these areas are welcome to contact me at mbrig@hotmail.com

More information at
http://sliemanews.blogspot.com/
http://sliemalocalcouncil.com/

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Analysing the hunting referendum and campaigns in Malta


The pro-hunting Yes camp was more successful in mobilizing people to go out and vote, as was evident from the turnout figures for the pro-hunting districts.

The Joseph Muscat factor could not be ignored. His statement two weeks ago during a political activity in Qala had an effect in favour of the yes campaign.

The No campaign too easily dismissed the European Court of Justice Ruling in 2009, which condemned Malta on one hand but also left a window of opportunity open.

The No camp was mistaken when it insisted upon minimising the importance of the court's decision, which essentially put the ball in Malta's court again.

However, although the No camp may be disappointed by the result, the 49 per cent is not bad at all and it has significant long-term ramnifications for the environment.

Some environmentalists may lose heart but it may also embolden the green movement, in its broad sense, because it shows there is a significant base of voters interested in environmental issues.

The result will not spell the end of the hunting issue, just like a No victory would not have closed the matter forever.

There are still conservation arguments to be made and cases of abuse will definately crop up that will continue to stimulate the debate

I gave these comments to The Times of Malta, and they featured in the article by Kim Dalli entitled 'No campaign outflanked by hunters' slick and well-funded fight for votes' (April 14, 2015)

The Campaigns and their impacts (featured in the Times, 13 April: http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150413/opinion/Campaigns-and-their-impact.563739 )

I will look into the impacts of the spring hunting referendum campaigns. For this purpose, I refer to concepts used in scholarly literature on social movements, namely sensitising impacts, procedural impacts, structural impacts and substantive impacts.

By means of sensitising impacts, one refers to the raising of public awareness. This may include influencing public opinion and political party agendas and could involve the press, public campaigns, protests and so forth.

Both the Yes and No camps have managed to raise awareness on their respective positions.

In the past 20 years or so, the hunters’ lobby managed to raise the awareness of respective governments and main political parties in Malta and, especially, of certain sections of the Maltese-speaking press.

Environmentalists and Greens, on the other hand, raised awareness especially within the English-speaking press and also managed to sensitise European institutions.

The referendum campaign represented the peak of such sensitisation. If one simply looked at letters in the press, one could feel an increased sense of civil engagement by people beyond the partisanship that often characterises other issues.

Procedural impacts, on the other hand, refer to increased participation of social movements in decision-making structures such as governmental institutions. Organisations may be formally recognised, may be involved in negotiations and could be consulted by governmental structures.

Structural impacts are very much related to procedural impacts and deal with changes in State structures, political institutions as well as the formation of alliances. The formation of the Yes and No referendum campaigns were clear examples of structural impacts by each respective side.

Taking a step back, one can also look at structural and procedural changes that took place in Malta, especially in relation to EU accession. In itself, Malta’s accession provided an opportunity for environmentalists and Greens to raise their grievances at the European level. Birdlife Malta – the most prominent environmental NGO in this regard – clearly relied on its European counterpart and it also benefited from the lobbying of other European ENGOs.

The Maltese government also created the Ornis Committee, featuring representation from the different camps, institutionalising Birdlife and hunters’ organisations within official consultation structures. Yet such institutionalisation did not result in toothless co-option. Indeed, both sides remained vociferous in their claims and have never shied away from criticising respective governments when they deemed fit to do so.

The constant lobbying and the creation of monitoring camps by Maltese and European ENGOs also meant that there was a strong presence by civil society.

Nature conservation sites – often forming part of EU programmes – were managed by ENGOs and, like their adversaries, they benefited from State funding.

The European Commission gave legitimacy to ENGOs through consultation, as did the European Parliament when it endorsed calls for Malta’s conformity with EU legislation. The European Green Party, in particular, was active on this matter.

On the other hand, hunters had the support of certain political quarters, including different Maltese MEPs and from within the European Peoples’ Party and also from the hunters’ federation at a European level.

Substantive impacts, on the other hand, refer to the acquisition of power in terms of policymaking. This may take place through legislation, implementation and enforcement.

Malta’s EU accession was meant to provide this in itself, through the Birds Directive, which prohibits hunting of birds in spring. This superseded national legislation and was in line with the conservationist discourse of environmentalists in order to preserve bird species.

Yet despite this development, enforcement against hunting irregularities was weak and respective governments were criticised by environmentalists for under-reporting when presenting official data to the EU.

To complicate matters further, the ruling by the European Court of Justice on Malta’s situation was given different interpretations by different sides. As I noted in my article in Times of Malta last Monday, this brought the hunting issue back to the realm of national politics within a European context.

The referendum result can be seen as the ultimate substantive impact on the hunting issue in Malta.

Yet will this mean that the hunting issue is now dead and buried? Will the adversaries respect the democratic outcome and stop campaigning on the matter, as was the case with the (non-abrogative) divorce and European referenda?

I don’t think there is a definite answer to this question. Social movement activism and political opportunities go hand in hand. And while some issues experience what seems to be a natural death, others keep coming back.

Further references:

Road to The Referendum
http://mikes-beat.blogspot.com/2015/04/road-to-referendum.html

Bird Hunting in European Malta: A Case of ENGO Empowerment?
http://mikes-beat.blogspot.com/2014/12/new-publication-bird-hunting-in.html

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Road to the referendum

The Times, 6 April 2015
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150406/opinion/Road-to-the-referendum.562772

Malta’s accession to the European Union has undoubtedly raised the profile of the bird hunting issue. However, the issue has also been very much influenced by national political factors. The fact that a national, legally-binding, abrogative referendum will be held on April 11 is a case in point.

The road to the referendum was constructed following Labour’s 2013 electoral victory. However, the roots of this campaign go back to the mid-1990s.

Indeed, when the Nationalist government at the time had attempted to curb excesses in hunting, most notably through parliamentary secretary Stanley Zammit, the Labour Opposition, then led by a new leader, Alfred Sant, quickly saw this as an opportunity to gain support for the subsequent 1996 electoral victory and, in 1994, entered into an agreement with hunters. The Federation of Hunters, Trappers and Conservationists directed its members not to vote Nationalist in that election. The slogan ‘10,000 members = 10,000 votes’ symbolised this strategy.

Subsequently, the PN, re-elected to power in 1998, made an agreement with hunters and trappers, promising that hunting legislation would not be affected by EU legislation. Indeed, the issue was politicised again during the EU referendum campaign. At the same time, Malta’s 2004 EU accession obliged conformity with the Birds Directive, which prohibits hunting in spring.

Once Malta formally adopted the Birds Directive in 2006, the European Commission said it would be taking legal action against the island because of spring hunting and the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament recommended the non-renewal of the derogation on spring hunting in 2008 and the abolition of trapping after 2008.

Spring hunting seasons were not opened in 2008 and 2009.

An interesting declaration on the issue was made in September 2009, before the European Court of Justice was due to decide on the matter. Birdlife International and the Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation of the EU (FACE) issued a joint statement urging respect of the Court’s decision with regard to biodiversity. In their words: “We remain convinced that the EU nature directives provide sufficient possibilities to reconcile nature protection, sustainable hunting, bird watching and other recreational activities and socio-cultural traditions, in line with the Guidance Document on Sustainable Hunting.”

When the European Court of Justice decided on the matter, it ruled that “by authorising spring hunting of quails and turtle doves from 2004 to 2007, Malta has failed to comply with the Wild Birds Directive”.

At the same time, however, the ruling noted that hunting for quails and turtle doves in autumn was not a satisfactory solution, even though the number of birds killed in spring was not in line with the Birds Directive.

The Nationalist government, whose legal team was assisted by FACE, said it would respect the Court’s decision. Spring hunting seasons were subsequently opened from 2010. In the meantime, the Labour Opposition was promising even more support to the hunters’ lobby. Yet, this was also a time when civil society was raising its voice on various matters, not only environmental ones but also other matters such as civil rights.

Following Labour’s 2013 general election victory, hunting was generally accommodated by the government. The national dimension of the issue was clear for all to see and this inspired the environmentalist coalition to successfully compile enough signatures to call a legally-binding abrogative national referendum on the matter.

The No camp, comprising Alternattiva Demokratika - the Green party, eNGOs such as Birdlife, a host of public personalities and supported by English-speaking newspapers, are articulating three main arguments on the matter. They are citing the legality of the Birds Directive, they are referring to the conservation of birds and they are speaking on quality of life through access to the countryside.

The hunters’ Yes camp, on the other hand, is minimising the impact on bird populations, is resting on the individual support of Joseph Muscat and Simon Busuttil (among other politicians) and is giving a different interpretation to the Birds Directive and to the ruling of the European Court of Justice.

They are also disputing the environmentalists’ arguments with regard to access to the countryside, stating that significant areas are private property.

The respective campaigns are characterised by antagonistic interpretations even on ‘scientific’ and ‘legal’ facts, thus demonstrating the politicisation and social construction of the issue.

The two sides are also criticising the ‘arrogance’ and ‘credibility’ of their adversaries.

Surveys are showing that the No camp is leading. Some are interpreting Muscat’s recent statements on the issue as an indirect attempt to give a lending hand to the Yes camp, especially since he is constantly riding high on opinion polls.

The PN has been less accommodating to hunters than Labour but when in government it was closer to the hunting lobby than to environmentalists. Yet, most of its supporters seem to be closer to the latter.

The Green party has been consistent on the matter since its birth in 1989. It hopes to be rewarded in Saturday’s local elections by means of a sympathy vote.

Should the No vote win on Saturday, the biggest political winners will be civil society and everyday democracy. The wave of increased civil society activism on a plurality of issues can be encouraged to grow further, possibly increasing empowerment along the way.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Might and turbulence

The Times, 30 March 2015
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150330/opinion/Might-and-turbulence.561958




The latest book by best-selling sociologist Anthony Giddens, former director of the London School of Economics, known for his respective sociological and political theories such as structuration and the third way, is titled Turbulent and mighty continent. The book won the 2014 European book prize and a new revised and updated edition has already been published this year.

Giddens explains the European Union’s current turbulence and lack of might, amidst divisions and conflicts both within as well as alongside its borders. Citing internal examples, such as high unemployment, public debt, north-south disparities and lack of support for the European project, he nevertheless braves the storm and provides realistic suggestions so that the EU can gain its place as world leader in various fields.

True to his unquestionable skill in rendering complex concepts accessible to a wide range of readers, Giddens says the EU is essentially characterised by three identities.

The first, ‘EU1’, comprises the Union’s formal structures, namely the Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. ‘EU2’ - where much of the real power lies - comprises German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande, one or two other national leaders and the heads of the Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Giddens adds that the presidents of the European Council and the European Commission often get a look in this power structure. Finally, ‘Paper Europe’ comprises Europe’s future plans, road maps, regional strategies and other designs drawn by the Commission and other agencies.

Giddens strongly argues that the EU should be turned into a ‘community of fate’ in a positive sense. For this to take place, common values and goals, such as solidarity and a sense of belonging, should be fostered, not only within nations and regions, but also for the EU as a whole.

In this regard, he argues that inward-looking nationalisms as well as the prevailing ‘German Europe’ are non-starters.

Here, Giddens tackles Eurosceptics, who are so fond of criticising the European project but then don’t seem to worry about rule from bond markets and giant corporations and who seem nebulous to the possibility of the return of serious national conflicts and to the domination of the US and China should the EU keep losing global influence.

In this regard, a fragmented Europe has little chance of making its voice heard on a global level. Hence the need for common action at various levels, from foreign policy to climate change.

Through ‘Sovereignty Plus’, EU member states have more influence in the world than if they simply act as individual voices.

Turning to specific areas, Giddens argues that, as regards climate change, the EU should not repeat recent flops but should take the lead on a global level.

Opportunity and risk are two sides of the same coin with respect to environmental protection and energy security. Once again, greater political and economic integration will enable better tackling of such challenges through a concrete vision, especially when one notes that, as things stand, some states are very much dependent on energy from external sources.

Giddens, a supporter of renewable energy sources and transitional technologies, does not shy away from discussing paradoxical truths in this regard.

For example, Germany’s decision to shut down nuclear energy and move towards renewables has also meant that, in the meantime, it is also highly dependent on coal, which is the dirtiest fossil fuel.

At the same time, 22 per cent of German energy now is renewable.

On windy and sunny days, as much as 85 per cent of the country’s electricity needs are met. Truly a case of the entanglement of opportunity with risk.

Linking energy to the economy, he adds that many jobs can be brought back to Europe if energy investment becomes the centrepiece of direct European investment.

Giddens also argues for more integration within the eurozone, which should also mean bringing back money lost through tax avoidance and tax havens.

On foreign policy, he argues that the EU should drop its flight from power and adopt a common security strategy. Otherwise, it will keep relying on the US when necessary, while resembling the UN, being ‘well-meaning but without real power’, and being too divided to take effective decisions.

Turning to migration, Europe is seen as being characterised by ‘superdiversity’ or ‘interculturalism’, where people have plural identities and allegiances. Here, Giddens reminds us that the same Europe which has a legacy of human rights, freedom and rule of law is the same Europe which exerted colonialism and experienced totalitarianism.

Europe should avoid one totalising narrative and instead foster and promote dialogue. Presumably, a sense of belonging to a ‘European community of fate’ would also mean intolerance has no place in a dialogic context.

On European social policy, Giddens emphasises his conceptualisation of the ‘social investment state’, which integrates a social model with economic prosperity and which invests heavily in human and social capital, for example in lifelong education. This requires an ‘interventionist’ welfare model that, nevertheless, discourages dependency by empowering citizens and decentralising decision-making.

Turbulent and mighty continent therefore articulates an inspiring message for pro-Europeans to act for a more integrated Europe. The development of ‘EU3’ should be a goal in this regard. This requires a more dynamic and legitimate leadership and increased federalism in economic and political spheres. How to get there is another question, particularly when national interests remain key factors in European policymaking.

The current ‘Grexit’ issue is an important indication as to whether a sense of cross-European solidarity can prevail, keeping inward-looking nationalisms and Euroscepticism at bay.