Conversations (258)

We've focused mostly on the internal friction within the continent, and it's already been mentioned in some of the replies already, but how does the sheer number of refugees compare to previous years? Is there a significant uptick coming out of the conflict in Syria? How necessary will it be to assist in resolving the situation there (and elsewhere) in order to relieve the migration tension in Europe?
I agree with Todor that there is no reason for resignation,

The problem is not that there is no dialogue among EU and EU member states' officials. The problem is that in the absence of any agreement on the joint responsibility and management of the reception of asylum seekers within the EU, a new policy of lowest common denominator has emerged since last year, falsely labeled as "protection of the EU's external borders." Yet in fact this policy is aimed at keeping as many asylum seekers away from the EU as possible.

It is thus of utmost importance to counter the official EU narrative and to engage with policy-makers on the serious mid- and long term damage this short sighted policy will do, both to the EU internally and to its international role.

DPC has just finalized a report we produced for the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation to be published in the coming days, that is trying to exactly do that by looking into the fate of the Balkan route since March 2016 and how the policy of the states along the route interrelates to the wider EU policy. You can clearly see that every and each measure undertaken by the EU to close the Balkan route and the wider Eastern Mediterranean route is happening in a grey legal, non-transparent area - in fact it is mostly dark black. And at the same time is not really functioning the way foreseen. The EU-Turkey deal in only functioning in one respect - in keeping refugees and migrants away from crossing the Aegean in large numbers.

The safe third country concept is failing in Greece to return most of those on the island back to Turkey, due to the Greek asylum service's refusal to join Brussel's legal stunt and despite serious pressure from the European Commission to undermine the independence of the Greek asylum procedures. The non-Syrian majority of those few hundreds so far returned to Turkey have since "voluntarily" returned to their countries of origin - with no independent access to these procedures but strong indications of returns took place under pressure of the Turkish authorities.

In the Balkans, the route has shifted direction and back to the use of smugglers, has not been really closed. Attempts to seal it off are based on a collective policy of systematic, illegal, often violent pushback of refugees and migrants and the violation of national, international and EU laws and conventions. This policy implemented by the EU member states located on the southern entry and northern exit on the Balkan route - Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia - is not met with consistent public criticism within the EU and the initiation of infringement procedures - clearly pointing to a new tacit agreement among EU member states governments, that has replaced the liberal-illiberal divide of the time of the European refugee crisis. Such a new tacit policy consent not only undermines a European Union founded in the rule of law. It also forces countries on the Balkan route not yet members of the EU - Macedonia, Serbia - to copy their EU neighbors' illegal asylum policy and practise.

In the Western Balkans you can clearly identify the collateral damage this EU asylum policy is inflicting in its neighborhood. Not only does it undermine the Union's own efforts to strengthen the rule of law through its enlargement policy and and discourage pro-European political and civil society actors. It also encourages autocratic tendencies unfolding in recent years in this politically unstable region that continues to pose a potential security threat to the EU. In Macedonia, support for the former autocratic leader Gruevsk by such high-level EU politicians as Austria's foreign Minister Kurz, in return for the March 2016 closure of the Macedonian-Greek border (illegal by Macedonian law), almost led to civil war this month.
I regret nothing!
The funny thing is that I'm having my own challenges with acting appropriate.
Speaking of coalitions, what is the status of the coalition government in the Netherlands following the election? How will it compare to the recent past?
Examples of those liberal solutions are for example to take action against those who have been denied asylum but nevertheless ignore orders to leave (that's also unfair to those asylum seekers who respect the rules), tackling lawlessness in dodgy areas where poorer people live and liberalising labour market rules and high taxes on labour as this destroys jobs, certainly for those with poor language skills, which as a result complicates their integration into society.

As for the elections in France, it will be interesting to see if far right politician Marine Le Pen makes it into the second round. If she then would face independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, one risk could be that he would be perceived as someone representing the status quo, especially as he's now being endorsed by politicians from President Hollande's socialist party.

In Germany, we'll likely see either a new big coalition of christian democrats and social democrats, with the real question being whether Merkel or Martin Schulz' formation will come first and deliver the Chancellor. A small chance is a coalition with Schulz including greens and far left or one with Merkel including greens and liberal. The rightwing populist AfD has lost support but is still quite certain to enter the Bundestag, all a result of Merkel's turn to the left.

It's because they've tackled people so many times. And each time you tackle someone your nose takes a beating. But, fear not, after getting beaten up, your nose actually gets harder, you see. It forms a hard outer layer, a shell if you will, hence "hard nosed."

Yesterday during the Seahawks game they put up a graphic of how Seattle has all of its elite defensive players locked up for the next 2-4 years. Guys like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, et cetera et cetera.


My first thought was "Wow, that's a hard-nosed defense"


My second was "Exactly how much harder are those noses than your league-avg. defense? And why are their noses hard?"

Zach, you had some ideas on how to increase the number of followers signing up to follow conversations.


I think the longest-running idea we've had is to freeze the Follow button, so at any point while reading the conversation it was visible.


Another great one is to have the Follow button right at the top of the conversation. Even before someone starts to skim they might click to follow. That's pretty common behavior, and something I do in places like Facebook a lot. I'll save a link to read later, or share it before reading it myself.