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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The EU Migration Crisis and Operation Sophia: Shared Burden of Asylum Seekers is Needed

by  Sydney Walters

Although the European migration crisis, which heightened in 2015 after the Syrian conflict, has relatively steadied, the debate over migration and member-state obligations towards migration continues. Despite the fact that the numbers of migrants entering Europe from the Mediterranean has dramatically decreased since 2015, the number of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean has skyrocketed, alarming many human rights organizations and raising doubts over the humanitarian prospects of the European Union’s (EU) migration scheme. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), an average of six migrants die each day crossing the Mediterranean, a statistic that hardly screams humanitarian.[1]

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What is hindering Kosovo’s goal of European Integration?

by Katrina Yoder

Kosovo, a young state with just over a million citizens, has been hoping to move into the arms of the European Union since its birth in February 2008. However, with a weak economy, internal political fragmentation, opposition from Serbia, and five member states of the EU body who do not recognise its independent sovereignty, the reality of European integration seems to be a rather distant hope.

On the 17th February 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. By the following year, twenty-two of the twenty-seven member states of the EU recognised and accepted Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of its independence. However, this majority acceptance from the EU still faces a large obstacle; Cyprus, Greece, Slovakia, Romania, and Spain have refused to accept the country’s sovereignty. In order to build state relations with these EU member states, Kosovo has taken the intergovernmentalist approach to European integration through the means of traditional diplomacy. While the benefits of this approach have been slow coming, there have been some improvements. Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia, and Romania now officially accept Kosovan passports, while still maintaining their stance regarding Kosovan independence. Furthermore, the contested status of Kosovo is not a definite end to its EU integration. In 2009, the European Commission addressed the European Parliament and Council, stating that, “the absence of an agreed position on Kosovo’s status does not prevent the EU from substantial engagement with Kosovo”. The issue of status, therefore, does not inhibit the EU and Kosovo working together to further its integration.

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With one voice, or none at all? How divisions are impacting EU reforms, and its future

By Marc Planas

The Future is Europe, reads a mural in La Rue de la Loi, in Brussels. A future, Europe certainly has one, but of what kind? Although the European Union has resisted the many threats of the past, the horizon seems far from idyllic. From an uncertain Brexit, the rise of national-populism, to the vivid ghost of a haunting recession, Europe might as well be faced with its greatest challenge yet. With many voices urging for a swift and comprehensive reform as the only possible salvation, the EU seems to be on track for major changes in the upcoming years (Le Parisien, 2019). But with a Union increasingly split among supranational Europeanists, and a rapidly emerging Eurosceptic bloc, to what extent these reforms might take place remains to be determined (Khan, 2019). Yet they will have a profound effect on the Union’s unfolding.

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Exit Stage Left? What Scope for Progressive Politics against the EU?

Review essay: Costas Lapavitsas (2019) The Left Case Against the EU, Cambridge, UK and Medford, Ma: Polity Press.

By Dr Andy Storey

“The EU is not a nation state over whose mechanics the Left could give battle… It is a transnational juggernaut geared to neoliberal and hierarchical motion.”[1]  This claim, made near the end of Costas Lapavitsas’ stimulating new book The Left Case Against the EU, summarises his core argument, and it is an argument he makes with great élan and to considerable effect.

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Why have EU trilogues become so contentious?

By Ruairi Doyle

‘Trilogue’ is the name given to informal meetings which take place between representatives of the Parliament, Commission, and Council. The aim of these meetings, as defined in Lelieveldt and Princen’s The Politics of the European Union, isto identify points of agreement and differences, and find a compromise on a legislative text” (Lelieveldt and Princen, 2015, p. 90). While this definition may seem relatively innocuous, trilogues have been at the heart of a great deal of discussion and debate.

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The EU tackling Climate Change

By Genevieve O’Keeffe

Climate change is the most dangerous issue the world is facing and everyone will be affected unless extreme policy changes are made. As it is an issue that will directly or indirectly face all nations, it makes sense that a supranational organization such as the European Union takes an active role in promoting change.

The EU has set climate change targets in 2014 to be reached by the year 2030 encouraging all member states to achieve them. The three main targets are 40% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, increase renewable energy to 27% and a 27% improvement in energy efficiency.[1] Cutting greenhouse gases by 40% is in the grand scheme of having cut emissions by 80-95% in 2050.[2] Though these targets are feasible, it requires a significant amount of effort from member states. Some of the new policies to assist in reaching these targets include ‘indicators for the competitiveness and security of the energy system, such as price differences with major trading partner’ and a governance system that will create ‘competitive, secure and sustainable energy.’[3] However these EU wide targets are difficult to achieve as there is a lack of a functioning governance mechanism. The 2020 climate change targets are similar to 2030, just different percentage levels. Current data shows that the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% was likely to be achieved.[4]

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The Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base: the end of exclusive taxation competency?

By Joshua Kieran-Glennon

The Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) is an EU policy aimed at harmonising the collection of corporation tax in all Member States. It targets low tax jurisdictions like Ireland, and seeks to prevent multinational corporations from allocating their profits to offices or subsidiaries located in those jurisdictions, taxing them instead at their source. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has stated that “While recognising the competence of Member States, the modernisation of tax systems is essential for delivering on the priorities of the European Semester of economic policy coordination” (Juncker, 2014). EU states generally retain exclusive competency over their taxation policy, and as corporation tax is often used to pursue specific policy outcomes, as well as generating income for the state, interference with it can have wide-ranging consequences. This post explores what economic effects the CCCTB is likely to have on Ireland, and whether it constitutes an infringement on taxation competency.

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The development of EU counter-terrorism policy as a result of critical junctures: has it created a volatile long-term policy lacking effectiveness?

by Hannah Daly

The terror attacks on mainland Europe over the last few years have brought closer attention and criticism to the EU’s current policy on counter-terrorism. The inconclusive policy lacks coherence due to the fact that it is sprawled out amongst a variety of different policy areas with multiple action plans and strategies drawn up by several committees, actors and law enforcement agencies. The lack of a defined, concrete policy and this unruly conglomerate of parts of the policy over different areas is due to the forced development of the policy through shocks and unforeseen ‘critical junctures’. This has resulted in many short-term policy developments but raises concerns for stable long-term developments. This article will assess the development of EU counter-terrorism policy and the issues that go hand in hand with it and what it can do to improve these.

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Ireland and Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in EU Security and Defence

Over the last year Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, has been working with member states on a package of measures designed to deepen EU cooperation in security and defence. This has come in response to a number of developments: the threat of state-sponsored hybrid warfare and the undermining of democratic processes, the threat of international terrorism, major cyber-attacks in Europe (especially threats to energy infrastructure), Russia’s occupation and destabilisation of parts of Ukraine, diminished confidence in the stability of US foreign policy, the humanitarian crisis of mass migration and even Brexit. Ireland faces the same set of threats, with some of these moderated by geography and our traditional military neutrality, while others are amplified by them.

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