How stories about China shape our post-COVID-19 outlook on (geo)politics

BY STEVEN LANGENDONK. Whereas the People’s Republic of China (hereafter China) barely made the evening news before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it seems to play a leading role in our outlook on the future and our experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. As attention in our societies shifts from crisis management to (political) issues such as economic recovery and international cooperation, China will likely be more present in the rhetoric of our political leaders than ever. That is why it is important to look at how our conceptions of China shape ongoing intra-European and geopolitical power contests.

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Soil erosion: why EU policies matter

BY COLINE HACOT. Soil erosion may sound like a technical, distant topic that scares off the average non-scientist, even an environmentally sensitive one (myself included). Because the science behind it is intimidating, or because soils aren’t cool, it’s easy to overlook erosion. That’s a pity, because healthy soils are important to all of us, and it matters to look at what EU politicians are doing to protect them.

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Putting a price on clean air?

BY SANDRA ROUSSEAU. Flight taxes, road pricing, and carbon pricing are often named as policy options to tackle climate change and urban air pollution. The concept of pricing undesirable effects is simple and sensible. If market prices reflect the economic damages from emissions, the market forces will work for our planet and help to protect it. Internalising external costs is a way to reflect the total impact of our actions. But how do we know what the correct price is? Ideally, such a price should reflect the social value of reducing emissions and incorporate the benefits of better air quality.

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Self-determining refugees: a story of empowerment

BY HUMA SAEED. Europe in the last years has seen a refugee exodus unprecedented after the II World War. While one rejoices when a refugee makes it to a safe heaven, the Eurocentric, liberal view presents ‘the refugee’ as a victim who can only find hope within the borders of Europe, the civilized world. This is fallacious in several ways. Firstly: the overwhelming majority of refugees are hosted in non-European countries. Secondly, it’s not only Western countries that can rebuild a refugee’s life. There are countless refugees rebuilding themselves and their communities, all over the world.

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Going bananas in Belgium

BY RONY SWENNEN AND NORA CAPOZIO. How many apple varieties can you find at your local market? Probably at least four or five. We are used to eating yellow, green, red apples, and they can be juicy, sweet, tart, firm, crispy… What if instead I asked you: how many different kinds of bananas do you know? I bet that most of you will say one.

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Do Mobile Phones Set Citizens Free?

BY KATRIEN PYPE. Today there is a general “hallelujah” mood surrounding the emancipatory possibilities of digital communication technologies (mobile phones, smartphones, and social media). The combination of easy, mobile internet access and social media has been hailed as revolutionary: Citizens can now gather information and organize protests like never before, with the democratic uprisings of the Arab Spring collectively serving as poster child for the trend. Some even claim that mobile phones and social media will lead to more democratic, more transparent, more peaceful societies. Lees verder

Pass the chocolate, hold the beer: my year abroad at KU Leuven

BY HELENA WAREHAM. Moving abroad had never been an option until a lecturer enthusiastically convinced me that I had run out of reasons to not go. Three years later, I am near the end of an amazing year studying at KU Leuven in Belgium. I was particularly fortunate that another UEA law student also moved here because it has been great fun to have a friend from home to share the year abroad experience with. I have found new independence, confidence and interests including taking up photography. A particular favourite I have learnt from Belgium is to have chocolate sprinkles and toast for breakfast. I’m also proud to say I have learnt some Dutch, but sadly to the extent of translating menus, counting to ten and asking “Mag ik een zakje alstublieft?” (Can I have a bag please?)

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