As the Irish European Council presidency draws to a close, all eyes are on the big ticket items the Irish Government pledged to address: substantive progress on economic governance and banking union; jobs, growth and the single market; the MAFF; EU-US free trade; fisheries and agriculture reform and a host of others. Somewhat overlooked has been the issue of security and defence. The Irish presidency has worked tremendously hard to contribute to a positive momentum in the run-up to the read more
The challenge of managing the EU’s on-going economic crisis has distracted the Union from worrisome political developments within some of its member states. The worst offender here is Hungary, where the government has initiated legislative and constitutional changes and used political rhetoric and symbolic actions that are clearly incompatible with its obligations as an EU member to ensure democratic safeguards, respect for human rights and the rule of law. As such, the EU as a whole — and the read more
For many decades, geostrategists commented that Germany was too big to live comfortably with its neighbours but too small to control them. After the Second World War, though, and especially after the creation of the EU and NATO, it appeared that Germany had adjusted its identity, its ambitions and its behaviour to the new reality of “tamed power” (as Peter Katzenstein called it). But Germany’s place in Europe is now again being questioned.
From the right, Polish foreign minister Radoslaw read more
This recent story from The New York Times offers several chilling illustrations of the growing threat that extremist groups pose to democracy and human rights in Europe. As I have written in earlier posts, the protracted nature of the current economic crisis inevitably broadens and deepens public support for extremist agendas. The answer is not to offer watered-down versions of the extremists’ agenda, but to mobilise public opposition to all forms of xenophobia and hate speech and to ensure that its read more
With all the attention given to who said what at the EU’s latest ‘crisis summit,’ it would have been easy to miss the news that Alex Salmond and David Cameron have agreed the basic details of a referendum on Scottish independence to be held in 2014. But even if you didn’t miss it, you could be excused for thinking that the referendum’s main implication concerns NATO membership and the basing of British nuclear subs. That’s why I want to draw attention to the radical implications that Scottish independence could have for the citizenship status, and thus the political read more
European integration was launched in response to the horrors that fascist dictatorship had meant for Europe in the 1930s-40s: war and genocide. In other words, fascism was supposed to be part of Europe’s past. During most of the postwar era, neo-fascist movements remained a marginal, albeit morally troubling, footnote in European politics. Virtually nobody imagined that the European integration might somehow, however indirectly, contribute to the re-emergence of violent fascist dictatorship.
After four years read more
The debate over paths to economic recovery in Europe is often presented as a choice between austerity and stimulus. Less often heard in this debate is the range of options related to labour market reform. There are many ways that European states could reform their labour markets in an effort to promote sustainable growth, with various likely consequences for job security, income levels and other social values. Germany’s experience with labour market reform since 2005 is cited by some as an example of read more
Aidan Regan at the EUI has a fascinating account of Mario Monti’s thoughts on a range of European issues here. Monti is particularly keen on increasing the capacity for effective decision-making at European level, and indeed the slow-motion political response to the crisis in the Eurozone has revealed how badly this is needed. Monti wants to see a stronger role for the European parliament relative to the Council, which would over-ride most of the current powers of national systems – something more like read more
Over the last few weeks, various commentators described the multiple events of 12 September (yesterday) as the EU’s D-Day, a make-or-break final assault on the Eurozone crisis.
One day on, things do seem to have gone quite well for EU stability: the ECB has announced an unlimited programme to buy bonds of Eurozone states (albeit with strict conditions); the German Constitutional Court has ruled that the European Stability Mechanism is consistent with that country’s Basic Law (while requiring read more
The Economist published this week a lengthy and well-reasoned guess at the type of extreme options that some within the German government may — with emphasis on ‘may’ — be considering in response to the Eurozone crisis: namely, to break up the Eurozone by forcing a Greek exit, or even by forcing a multi-state exit including Ireland. Is this pure fantasy or a realistic forecast? German economy minister Philip Roesler admitted several weeks ago that the prospect of Greece leaving the euro has “lost its terror,” read more