In May last year, Etienne Balibar wrote of the ‘inequality within inequality’ which is tearing Europe apart, affecting all Europeans while subjecting some to brutal conditions not so different from a ‘dog eat dog’ war. We have tracked the causes and effects of this war through debates including German Europe, Reluctant Radicals, Populism and Golden Dawn, spotlights on Italy, Cyprus, Bulgaria as well as the post-mortem on Iceland’s constitutional experiment, and joining Europe’s dots on football and politics, and the media.
But what I shall remember from 2013 is the gathering voices of Europeans, young and old, as they wrestle with their condition, voices we hope will gather in scope and acumen as we arrive at this year’s European elections: Kristinn Már Ársælsson,Manolis Mavozaharakis and colleagues, Nikolay Nikolov and colleagues, Mirosław Tryczyk and Monika Spławska-Murmyło, Igor Stiks and colleagues, Yudit Kiss, Slawomir Sierakowski and Tristan Sechrest, and our own Francesca Montemaggi, Alex Sakalis and David Krivanek.
When we started the Can Europe make it? debate in 2012, prospects for any kind of union in Europe looked bleak. In 2013, things turned out to be slightly better – as most European economies (sort of) stabilised, we were able to envision a more just and efficient Eurozone and a more democratic European Union. So I look forward to 2014; perhaps it will be the year we finally find the "fraternal words" and the "actions and expressions of warmth" (in Jean-Luc Mélenchon's words) we need to tie solidary links with our fellow Europeans in Spain, Greece, Bulgaria, the Roma or those who come to Europe hoping for a better future – all too often losing their lives in the process.
Next year's European elections will certainly see an unprecedented amount of Europe-bashing spewed by those who don't believe a stronger and more democratic Europe is the best safeguard against increasingly harsh, undemocratic and controlling nation states. Perhaps they're right – but as the recent events in Ukraine or Bulgaria show, millions still look up to European values of freedom, human rights and social justice. Let's make sure Europe doesn't disappoint them – that's what I'll be wishing for in 2014!
In the short time I have worked on Can Europe Make it? I have seen it grow into a vibrant openDemocracy section. I am happy that a relatively small outfit based out of East London has managed to act as a platform for such diverse European luminaries as Ulrich Beck, Jean-Luc Melénchon, Etienne Balibar, Slawomir Sierakowski, Kostas Vaxevanis, Jean Lambert, Gerard Batten, Anna Grodzka, Mattias Gardell, Georg Vobruba, Ulrike Guérot, Catherine Fieschi and many more.
The year 2014 will bring great changes for Europe. The EU elections, previously ignored and ridiculed by many, have now taken on a powerful resonance in an increasingly fractious Europe. As a European, it is certainly an interesting, and unpredictable, time to be alive.