The EU and Upholding Human Rights: Are Trade Deal Stipulations Enough?

By Elena Devereux

With a considerable rise in the social awareness of human rights issues/violations globally, many have alerted attention to how international organizations such as the EU use their power to aid or tackle these situations. Whilst some argue that the EU’s use of trade deals and specific stipulations relating to human rights is an effective means of tackling these situations(Hafner-Burton, 2011), I will argue that this is not necessarily always the case. Alternatively, I argue that if fully committed to, using trade deals could be extremely successful for the Union, though currently they are not displaying enough dedication to upholding and insisting on these stipulations. In this blog post I will highlight where the EU has failed at enforcing human rights in trade agreements, specifically in Vietnam and where they have the potential to greatly improve on their approach.

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The Copenhagen Criteria: Coping with Integration?

By Isabella Newton

With the steep decline of democracy in Poland and Hungary, the effectiveness of the Copenhagen Criteria at ensuring integration has been called into question. Does the Criteria ensure integration as it did in the case of Croatia or has it failed as occurred in Poland? In this blog post, it will firstly be argued that integration through the Copenhagen Criteria has been successful for some states however in retrospect its inherent vagueness and lack of enforcement mechanism has been its undoing.

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The Commission’s ‘one stop shop’ of Corporate Tax Harmonisation – Why the CCCTB Proposals are desirable for EU Integration.

By Cara Mooney

The Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB), first introduced in 2011 and relaunched in 2016 is an attempt by the Commission to harmonise corporate taxation within the EU, to provide a sort of ‘one stop shop’ if you will. The Lisbon Goals, declared in March 2000 aimed for the European Union to become the “most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy in the world” and the Commission recognises that such a goal cannot be achieved without reform of corporate taxation (McLure, 2008). The CCCTB is a favourable proposal as not only does it provide greater efficiency for both multinational companies (MNCs) and Member States alike, it also decreases the likelihood of revenue loss to tax havens, or as some like to call it; ‘Moneyland’ (Bullough, 2018). Yet it hasn’t all been smooth sailing as Ireland has taken a strong dislike to the Commission’s proposals. If reform in corporate taxation is a necessary objective for better integration, it might be time for the Commission to go back to the drawing board.

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Why PESCO Membership Does not Threaten Irelands Policy of Military Neutrality

By Alan Kelly

Many commentators have argued that Irish participation in PESCO amounts to de-facto NATO membership, and marks an end to our traditional policy of Military Neutrality. This is not the case. This blogpost will show that PESCO membership falls squarely within the Irish definition of military neutrality. It will assess exactly what PESCO membership means for Ireland, before examining the arguments of those opposed to Irish participation. This blogpost will conclude that these arguments are unfounded, and that PESCO membership presents numerous opportunities for Ireland. This blogpost will also assess the consequences of non-membership of PESCO and will conclude that this would be damaging to Irelands international reputation.

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Terrorism and the Internet – A Step Towards Greater Integration to Prevent a ‘Second Wave’ of Terrorism

By Cathal Keane

Terrorism is inherently a transnational phenomenon. Consequentially, acts of terrorism in Europe require a coordinated response from EU member states. With significant inflows of returning jihadists to Europe in recent times, there is a new sense of urgency for member states to increase cooperation and strive for greater integration in the area of counter-terrorism. The European Commission’s September 2018 proposal to combat terrorist content on the internet represents a significant step towards curbing what Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock has dubbed a ‘second wave’ of terrorism in Europe (Willsher, 2018).

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Are the re-emergence of EU/U.S. trade talks a sign that trade remains the EU’s foremost priority?

By Eva McCarthy

With the discussion of a trade deal between the EU and the U.S. back on the table, the EU faces a crucial decision about whether to prioritise its environmental obligations or future impacts on trade. The EU has stated that it cannot trade with a country outside of the Paris Agreement. But if one of the largest trading markets pulls out of the Paris Agreement and threatens to increase tariffs on EU imports, the EU’s agenda to uphold the Paris Agreement will be seriously tested.

The controversial free trade deal between the EU and the U.S., known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), has already been years in development but was halted by protests from left leaning members of the European Parliament and the public (Keating, 2018). Protestors said that a trade agreement with the U.S. would require the EU to lower its environmental, health and safety standards to American levels (Keating, 2018).  In 2015 the EU signed the legally binding Paris Agreement, with the goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels (European Commission, 2018). The Trump administration has threatened to withdraw from this agreement, in November 2020, when the treaty rules allow (Keating, 2018).

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Is a Land-Swap Deal with Kosovo Necessary for Serbian Accession to the EU?

by Arisa Herman

Serbia, a small Balkan state, has long had its eye on accession to the European Union. One of the foremost candidates for accession, Serbia is in the process of negotiating the conditions of membership. Many of these specifications have been detailed in the Commission strategy titled ‘A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans’ which tentatively proposes an accession date of 2025 (European Commission, 2018). Most of the target areas require Serbia to continue making progress along the lines of the Copenhagen Criteria (European Newsroom, 2015). Yet, among all the standard criteria is one condition that stands out. The European Union requires Serbia to further normalize its relations with its southern neighbor, Kosovo, before it is eligible for EU accession.

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‘Hostile takeover’ or much ado about nothing? Determining the political legacy of the entry of Democratic Left into the Labour Party 

by Darren Litter

At first glance, the Labour Party and the Workers’ Party are distant political entities. The Labour Party is a “very much a party of the Irish mainstream”[1], whereas the Workers’ Party have tended to operate within the sphere of “Soviet-style” Marxist-Leninism[2]. While there is undoubtedly considerable accuracy to this perception, an oft-ignored overlap in this context is the short-lived Democratic Left party (1992-1998). Formed by “reformist” Workers’ Party activists such as the then Workers’ Party leader Proinsias de Rossa (TD); this democratic socialist ‘breakaway’ movement ultimately merged with Labour in 1998[3]. As opposed to a mere outlier influence, the Democratic Left faction ‘quickly began to occupy the main positions’ within the Labour Party [4]. When Labour won a record 34 seats and entered government in 2011 for instance, two of its five ministers (party leader Eamon Gilmore and the prior party leader Pat Rabbitte) were extraordinarily first elected as Workers’ Party TDs[5].  Building upon the pioneering work of authors like Brian Hanley[6], this blog will probe the extent to which this so-called “reverse takeover”[7] has drawn Labour toward the more pronounced leftist space occupied by the Workers’ Party.

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European Commission v Republic of Austria (2007-2017) Why Austria’s quota system for medical studies is not an infringement of EU law

by Katharina Stöbich

Art 45 (1) Every citizen of the Union has the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.

Art 21 (2) Within the scope of application of the Treaties and without prejudice to any of their specific provisions, any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited. (European Union, 2012)

As constituted in the Treaties as well as the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, one of the most important principles of the EU is the equal treatment of all citizens. There are, however, exceptions, one of which I, as an Austrian student, am very familiar with. In this blogpost, I want to focus on Austria’s higher education quota system for medical and dental studies and the infringement case brought against Austria following this regulation. The main question is how can ‘this exception to EU Treaty rules on free movement of citizens, which normally guarantee EU nationals with relevant entry qualifications full access to higher education in any Member State’ (European Commission, 2012), be justified?

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Nord Stream 2: A Step Forward for Growth, a Step Backward for Unity

by Matthew Teasdale

This blog was completed for the UCD Politics module: Introduction to EU Politics.

Nord Stream 2 (NS2) began laying down its pipes on September 5th, 2018 and ever since has been flooded in controversy. Headlines recently have been jumping back and forth from last-minute French bargaining, to a shaky EU compromise, and landing on Russo-German negotiations which have raised eyebrows as to the German commitment to Europe. The pipeline begins in the St. Petersburg region to descend southward into the Baltic Sea and strike land off the Pomeranian coast in Greifswald, Germany. The construction of NS2 would bring fifty-five billion cubic meters (bcm) to Germany[1], but European growth and unity have come at odds as the implications of this new pipeline begin to unravel.

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