A smart or a bold move: how Merkel dealt with the refugee crisis

Ying Zang, MPP

Ying Zang is a Master of Public Policy student in UCD. This blog was written for POL40160 Comparative Public Policy. The best blogs from this module were selected to enable talented graduate students in UCD to contribute to ongoing debates about contemporary policy issues affecting European societies. 

Ever since the Syrian refugee crisis erupted in the summer of 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door stance on refugees has been controversial, not only internationally but also domestically. At first, Germans gathered at train stations to welcome refugees arriving in their cities as if they were long-lost friends. Refugees were greeted with rounds of applause and songs, as well as sweets, pastries, and toys, on station platforms across the country. Germany stopped enforcing the EU’s ‘Dublin’ rules, under which asylum seekers should register in the first member state they arrive in: Merkel made her dramatic declaration that any Syrian who reaches the country could claim asylum in Germany. Merkel also appealed for a common action of EU member states to cope with the crisis. She has said that EU states ‘must share the responsibility for refugees seeking asylum…. If Europe fails on the question of refugees, this close connection with universal civil rights … it won’t be the Europe we want.’ She pressed for quotas to spread asylum-seekers out among more countries in the 28-nation grouping.

read more

TTIP and the erosion of environmental regulation

Marie Therese Power is a Master of Public Policy student in UCD. This blog was written for POL40160 Comparative Public Policy. The best blogs from this module were selected to enable talented graduate students in UCD to contribute to ongoing debates about contemporary policy issues affecting European societies. MT Power, MPP

There has been much discussion in recent times about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), arguably more than about any such trade agreement in history; and the popular discussion, at least, has been largely negative. In 2015 nearly 3 million people signed a petition across Europe calling for the negotiations to be scraped, while protest marches have drawn crowds of up to 250,000 people. The New Statesman claims that conspiracy theorists are inciting unfounded fears, incorrectly depicting the TTIP as a covert attempt by EU governments to deregulate. On the other hand, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz argues that such an agreement will effectively allow “rich corporations to use provisions hidden in so-called trade agreements to dictate how we will live in the twenty-first century.”

read more

‘Taking back control’? After the Brexit referendum

A fortnight after the British referendum on EU membership, Britain is still in turmoil. Some of the negative lessons are all too clear: don’t try to solve party political problems by invoking existential issues; referendums are volatile and uncertain; if you must have one, get a crack team together first. But, as weary politicians are fond of saying, we are where we are. So what is likely to happen now? There are different views about what course of action the referendum requires; but there are also very different views about what it might mean to ‘take back control’, which was the core theme of the campaign.

read more

The German Federal Constitutional Court – Defender of Parliamentary Democracy or an Alternative ‘Political’ Arena?

Version 2In its EU-related judgements, the German Federal Constitutional Court has frequently reminded the Bundestag of its government-related responsibilities, that is, to hold the government accountable and to scrutinise executive behaviour in EU-level negotiations. During the eurozone crisis, the parliament’s budget autonomy has also entered the limelight. One the one hand, the Court has been eager to defend parliamentary democracy. On the other hand, the judicial arena seems to become an alternative arena for settling political disputes.

read more

Brexit and the Idea of European Disintegration

Regan_Aidan HDBritain has voted to leave the European Union (EU), or more accurately, England has voted to leave. The majority in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar voted to remain. The opinion polls, the bookies and the markets did not predict this outcome. The mood of the nation, it would seem, is becoming increasingly difficult to measure. Or is it?

There is a lot of data suggesting that ‘immigration’ was the dominant concern for those who voted to leave the EU. This should not be too surprising. In the latest Eurobarometer data, immigration was cited as the main concern of UK citizens, alongside Germany and Denmark.

read more

Intergovernmentalism and the crisis of the Euro

AlShammaryThis blog post is the fifth in a series of posts that come from students of our 2nd year undergraduate “Politics of the EU” course. As part of the course, students were asked to write about an issue pertaining to EU politics. The best blog posts have been selected to provide an opportunity to exceptional young scholars at UCD to contribute to the debate on the future of the EU, and to promote the insightful scholarship being undertaken at UCD to a wider public audience.

The recent sovereign debt crisis witnessed during a tumultuous period of financial recession in Europe raises critical questions about the management of its seemingly multi-faceted system of economic governance. There is no doubt that the integration of economic systems at the supranational level comes with faults that end up affecting this economic union as a whole. This essay focuses in particular on the Greek crisis in order to explore the limitations of intergovernmentalism in addressing crises within the framework of regional integration. Further, it contends that structural challenges demean the current intergovernmental approach to solving existential problems related to regional integration.

read more

A victory for the ‘internationalist’ pro-Brexit left?

By Roland Erne*Roland

All European citizens have just been stripped of their European citizenship rights in Northern Ireland and Britain. Hence, no European right to vote in local elections, no European social rights (e.g. no European Health Insurance Card), and no European right to be treated equally anymore. What a ‘success’ for the ‘internationalist’ pro-Brexit left of Britain and Ireland!

As a result, European migration to the UK will be reduced significantly. But note, I mean student migration not labour migration.

read more

The Democratic Deficit of the Common Security and Defence Policy?

IMG_8819This blog post is the fourth in a series of posts that come from students of our 2nd year undergraduate “Politics of the EU” course. As part of the course, students were asked to write about an issue pertaining to EU politics. The best blog posts have been selected to provide an opportunity to exceptional young scholars at UCD to contribute to the debate on the future of the EU, and to promote the insightful scholarship being undertaken at UCD to a wider public audience.

The European Union (EU) has long been criticised in many of its aspects for lacking democratic legitimacy. Despite the presence of an elected European Parliament (EP), there are concerns that other institutions within the EU do not have the oversight or accountability that should be required of a supranational government. This is especially critical in the matter of security and defence, a policy area that is often cloaked in secrecy. The European Parliament and national parliaments, which do have democratic legitimacy, have only a limited range of power over the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and it’s actions. Whether this was an intentional action for leaders to evade domestic control or an unforeseen outcome of integration, it is clear that the CSDP is lacking in oversight and accountability. This democratic deficit within the CSDP creates several problems for both the EU and its member states, as it damages their legitimacy, continues a pattern of a lack of accountability in defence policy, and even further removes the European people from control over their peace and security.

read more

European Parliament election turnout: What is wrong, what has been done, and what further action could be taken?

Gareth Phelan PhotoThis blog post is the third in a series of posts that come from students of our 2nd year undergraduate “Politics of the EU” course. As part of the course, students were asked to write about an issue pertaining to EU politics. The best blog posts have been selected to provide an opportunity to exceptional young scholars at UCD to contribute to the debate on the future of the EU, and to promote the insightful scholarship being undertaken at UCD to a wider public audience.

Across Europe, voter turnout in European Parliament elections has been significantly lower than in national elections. As seen in Fig. 1, voters seem much more inclined to vote in their national level elections as opposed to those on the European level. Our aim is to examine the causes which produced such a phenomenon, before considering the measures introduced by the EU which seemed to encourage voter participation and, finally, what further action could be taken to close the wide gap we see in turnout between European Parliament and national elections.

read more

The Refugee Crisis: Pushing EU Integration to its Limit

JNCThis blog post is the second in a series of posts that come from students of our 2nd year undergraduate “Politics of the EU” course. As part of the course, students were asked to write about an issue pertaining to EU politics. The best blog posts have been selected to provide an opportunity to exceptional young scholars at UCD to contribute to the debate on the future of the EU, and to promote the insightful scholarship being undertaken at UCD to a wider public audience.

By the end of 2015, an estimated 1.2 million refugees applied for asylum in Europe [1]. The refugee crisis has put European Integration policies to the test, in particular the Schengen Agreement, which for many states continues to be questioned. In January 2016, Dutch migration minister Klaas Dijkhoff stated that EU member states would ask for permission to enforce strict border controls from May onwards, in order to control the staggering flow of immigrants from the Middle East and Africa [2]. The crisis itself, having stemmed from issues outside the EU has undoubtedly shed light on the conflicting interests of the various EU member states and their willingness to cooperate in times of crisis, thus posing one crucial question: can increased integration really work in the long run?

read more