Utblick #2: Whither Europe?

The second issue of Utblick is here!

Europe is once again heading for the voting booths. With the rise of nationalist, populist and right-wing extremist parties across the union, this election is of critical importance. It is not only about which parties will win but also the type of values that the voters would like to promote at the European level. It is about the future of Europe, the type of cooperation it would like to pursue in the upcoming years, and the policies it would implement. It is an election between the right and the left ideologies.

The European Parliament Elections raise concerns in every aspect of life in Europe. How will the election impact feminist movements? What is the role of religion in the European elections and how do parties mobilize anti-Islamic rhetoric to attract voters? How can the youth in Europe be mobilized to participate in the election and increase turnout? These are some of the key questions which will be discussed by various articles in this issue.

Other articles look at the role of democracy in the European Union and how a higher turnout can increase the legitimacy of this polity. You will also read about how Swedish parties in the European parliament position themselves in relation to climate change, migration, and how they envision the future of Europe. The issue further covers articles on how recent events, such as Brexit and the rise of right wing parties, would impact the upcoming European parliament elections and shape the future of the union.

Categorization of political parties at the European level remains a mystery to a majority of voters in the upcoming election. This issue thus contains an article which looks at the different groupings within the European parliament and how different national parties ally with others at the regional level to maximize their interests and promote their political agenda, at home and in Europe.

Despite the continuous concerns, critical debates and the blurred future of Europe, a majority of the articles emphasizes a valuable point: to vote!

Since participation in the election is a key pillar of democracy, we hope that this issue will serve as an encouragement to take more youth to the voting booths and engage them.

The editors,

Nazifa Alizada and Egil Sturk 

UTBLICK Nr 3 is finally here!

The first issue of the autumn 2018 is finally HERE!! In this number we’ve talked about the broad subject of MEDIA.

For more than a decade the press freedom has declined in the world, but at the same time new kinds of media are on the rise.

Recent events have made us wonder about which changes media will go through in the near future (digital revolution?). Since cases such as Snowden’s whistle-blow or Cambridge Analytica, how much do we know about how the data we provide and the data we receive is being handled? Furthermore, could the current state of a decentralized and extremely rapid flow of information have any consequences with practices like biohacking?

But we should not forget the people behind technology, and for instance, how the information is being moderated outside of algorithms; who are the people behind the reporting button?

This leads us to social media and how we interact with it; from the narcissistic use of social media to the unconsented recording of Korea
n women in public spaces. And also fake news, a term that has come up and been discussed all over during the last couple of years. But what exactly is fake news and how does it affect you? We hope you can find some answers with the specific case of Macedonia and how fake news managed to disband the country’s renaming referendum.

We also want to build your hopes up with a very inspiring inte
rview with Swedish news reporter Carina Bergfeldt and her thoughts on the journalistic career, the current politics and how has she managed to do some amazing things such as reporting the KKK from within.
We should also be aware of the role of the more conventional media, by some cases such as Singapore and LGBT rights, performative violence and its treatment by the conventional media and lastly, Spain and its controversial freedom of expression. And on a bigger trend, the tu

rn to illiberalism in democracies. So, to wrap it up, you will be able to find an “authoritarian handbook” :)

You can check the magazine here.

Pleasant reading!

Moa Persson and Ariadna Carrascosa

Innovation with Chronic Symptoms

In our last issue, our contributors speak about a number of inventions related to a notion of scientific progress with implicit problems needed to be resolved: the 3D-printer, Grafen, MAVs, fracking and air pollution in China. As technology develops, political decisions are to be taken in order for the inventions to keep their promises and ‘deliver’ the supposed relief that comes with it. Here, technology often runs into a contradiction: financing. Before anything is innovated, research and development is a cost that has to be paid. For every technological innovation that is being produced, a part of the profits generated through its release is used for further research, pushing for new technological innovations further down the line. To set the innovations – say, a new leukemia medicine – free to the public where it has its greatest effects, requires someone to pay for the tab of funding new innovations. This is the challenge that faces the world’s patent-orientated industries, such as that of pharmaceuticals.

As developing countries such as India and Indonesia has figured out, to reject patent laws for much-needed medicines and instead produce your own copy of the medicine at a much lower cost, benefits a larger amount of your poor citizens. In India, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of granting their own licenses for developing and distributing specific drugs treating leukemia, Hepatitis B, kidney and breast cancer in spite of American patents for those medicines. Indonesia has followed the Indian example, while China and the Philippines have reconfigured their pharmaceutical laws in an attempt to try the same solution.

Access to treatment of diseases that in the developed countries would be preventable or treatable is often very limited in these areas. Medicines patented by Swiss or American companies are not affordable to the common man, something that has put pressure on the governments of India and China to address the health issues of a citizenry that enjoys longer lives, but have the fastest growing increase in cancer rates world-wide. By bypassing the patent laws, the developing countries not only address the issue, but get their hands on a very lucrative business model for breaking into the pharmaceutical market: just as with industrial jobs a decade ago, patents are unimportant if you have a cheaper work-force and bureaucracy. Local producers lower the cost for the governments and the patients, and in the long run, with other diseases such as diabetes and respiratory illnesses on the rise in developing countries, the cost is likely to go down for consumers in other parts of the globe as well.

But it does raise the question of funding. Patenting drugs and charging high prices for them in order to develop more drugs generates new medicines but limits the access to those medicines to those affording them. Is the choice really between developing new medicines with limited accessibility or distribute what we have and stop the innovation completely?
The pharmaceutical companies seem to have answered yes to that question, investing enormous sums on the emerging markets of an increasingly aging and ailing Asian population, while the countries themselves seem more reluctant to give an answer. The current patent system for funding research and development of new medicinal innovations serves Europe and U.S. very well: trillions of dollars and millions of workers, but it needs to be revised with the emergence of the new powers of the East. How should that be done?

First and foremost, the price-tag for developing new medicines must be lowered in the pharmaceutical business, something that is currently being done in the labs where research failure rates of obscene levels up until now have been a common way of spinning the wheel. But it also has to be done in the board meeting rooms: lower the costs and channel the licenses and patents so that developers in the developing countries can afford producing the drugs without having to go around the legislature or making up their own.

The patent system will not survive a developing world working on their own terms; instead the patent system needs to be reconfigured to suit the needs of those requiring the medicines and treatments, not big business.

Text: Josef Svantesson