Merkel and Schäuble face an increasing number of party rebels

Version 2We are currently witnessing a new chapter in the politicisation of EU affairs in the German parliament, the Bundestag. German legislators were asked to vote on further aid measures for Greece three times this year, and support within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s and Finance Mininster Wolfgang Schäuble’s own party (the Conservative CDU) has gradually declined. On the 19th August, when the Bundestag ratified the third financial aid package for Greece, 1 in 5 Christian Democrats voted against the government. Who are these dissenters? Can the party leadership expect an increase in defecting voting behaviour?

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Gender equality in the EU: the mountain that gave birth to a mouse?

Lucie MartinUCD politics student Lucie Martin argues that on paper, gender equality is high on the EU agenda, but in practice major political and institutional hurdles remain.

In his 10 ‘Commandments’, President Juncker has committed to a more gender-balanced Commission; the European Parliament has maintained continued pressure on other institutions to present and adopt regulatory measures; and, just last month, Commissioner Jourova pledged to present a comprehensive legislative package on gender equality in 2016. This focus on gender equality shouldn’t come as a surprise; women can be the edge Europe needs to stay ahead in a competitive global setting.

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A Map of the Southern European Party System

AlexA guest post from Dr. Alexandre Afonso (University of Leiden).

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the rise of left-wing Euroscepticism in Southern Europe in the midst of the Eurozone crisis, with parties like Syriza and Podemos conquering power (in the case of the former) or appearing as serious challengers to mainstream parties (in the case of the latter). In the graphs below I have used recent data from the last round of the Chapel Hill expert survey 2014 on parties’ ideological placements, combined with the latest poll results I could find as of August 2015. The horizontal axis shows the position of parties on the economic left-right dimension, and the vertical axis their position regarding European integration. The size of the bubbles corresponds to to the electoral strength of each party as measured by polls. Here’s how it looks:

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Ryanair and Dublin’s Role in Undermining European Labour Rights

Andy-Storey_avatar_1433160166Dublin has long been known as a key base for tax avoidance by multinational companies, often setting up “brass plate” operations in the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) and elsewhere in order to channel profits through their “Irish” subsidiaries and thus minimise their tax liabilities. As Jim Stewart of Trinity College Dublin has shown, such operations undermined regulation of the global financial sector as a whole and contributed to the current financial crisis. By Andy Storey

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Taxing Labour: Beyond “too much” or “too little”

Regan_Aidan HDLouiseThe question of taxing labour income continues to elicit fierce debate in Ireland. Much of this has centred on the question of whether Ireland has a “high” or “low” income tax regime. Confusingly, there has been a lack of consensus on the fundamental question: do workers in Ireland, relative to workers in other countries, pay more or less income tax? In this blog post Dr. Louise Caffrey and Dr. Aidan Regan argue that public debate needs to shift away from the narrow question of how much workers pay, toward a discussion on what people actually get in return for their tax contributions.

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Don’t fear the Grexit (Unless you’re Greek)

Sam BrazysOver a month ago I declared that the Grexit was a fait accompli. As soon as Chancellor Merkel publicly declared it was a possibility it was the only end game. Why? Because Greek debt is (and has been) unsustainable and there were ever only two finishes to the crisis: debt-relief or Grexit. The former would be a nice thing to do in a world devoid of political reality, but, for several reasons, it is never going to happen. First, the overwhelming sense of many important creditor nations (and several peripheral ones) was that Greek debt has been a result of Greek profligacy, and those countries can’t ask their tax payers to foot the bill for early Greek retirement. Second, even if these leaders could summon the “statesmanship” necessary to face down their own electorates, relieving Greek debt would create an incredible moral hazard for the other Eurozone debtor nations. If Greece is worthy of a debt write down than surely Ireland? or Portugal? or Spain? How could the ECB, IMF or European Governments refuse? 250 billion € can be managed (heck, Quantitative Easing has printed that much already), a trillion+ would be a bit more challenging. Finally, while it has certainly been bad in Greece, many parts of the EU (and EMU) are still far poorer. As this chart shows, per capita spending on pensions of the Baltic states is significantly less than half that in Greece. Other social spending shows similar relationships. Those invoking the “morality” of debt relief in Greece must think that the Greek elderly are somehow more deserving than their Lithuanian counterparts. The Slovakian finance minister recently made clear that nominal debt relief is a “red line”.

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Greferendum: The Last Battle of Economic Ideas in Europe

Regan_Aidan HD

The Greek people have sent a resounding message to European institutions that they have had enough of their one-sided failed policy of austerity. The very fact that so many Eurocrats, policymakers, politicians and academics across the European continent, lambasted Alexis Tspiras and the Syriza leadership for daring to consult Greek citizens on whether or not they should accept the Troika bailout program, speaks volumes about just how out of touch they are with the impulses of democratic politics. In this commentary, Dr. Aidan Regan argues that the “Greferendum” can be considered the last battle of economic ideas in Europe and a direct challenge to the irresponsible economics underpinning the European policy response to the crisis.

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Whither Ireland and other Neutral and Non Aligned states in the new European Security Environment?

20140303-212650.jpgA fascinating and perhaps unforeseen corollary of Russia’s invasion, occupation and annexation of parts of Ukraine, is the reappraisal of security and defence in Europe’s neutral and non-aligned states. In the post-Cold War interregnum, these states were ideally placed to contribute to the construction of a new EU foreign and security policy grounded in collective security and active engagement in international security missions. Finland and Sweden in particular worked pro-actively to define an EU foreign policy shaped by a comprehensive security approach using the full range of tools at the EU’s disposal. Austria and Ireland overcame initial hesitancy to find themselves regular and sometimes significant contributors to UN-authorised, EU-led civilian missions and military operations in Africa, Asia and Europe – such as the Irish-commanded EUFor military operation in Chad in 2007. By Prof Ben Tonra, Head of School Politics and International Relations, UCD.

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Debunking Myths: What Really Explains the Irish Economic Recovery?


Regan_Aidan HDIt has been a truly remarkable few years for Ireland and the European Union. In the space of five years Ireland has gone from being the basket case of the European Monetary Union to it’s number one success story. Economic growth is now the strongest in the Euro area, and according to the most recent data, this growth is having a real impact on employment. The dominant narrative among policymakers in the EU is that other peripheral states of the Eurozone should follow the Irish adjustment back to the market. This leads to two important questions. First, what explains this remarkable turnaround in fortunes for Ireland? Second, why are other Eurozone countries who pursued a similar adjustment still struggling to recover? Dr. Aidan Regan argues that the Irish recovery has nothing to do with the Troika-led adjustment of austerity and everything to do with the path dependent effect of a state-led developmental strategy.

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Negotiating in Bad Faith: Who Should Decide the Grexit?

Regan_Aidan HD“It’s your fault, you got into this mess yourself”. “No, it’s your fault, you lent us all that money”. “You need structural reforms to generate growth”. “We have a humanitarian crisis on our hands”. “This is a Greek crisis of your own making”. “No, this is a crisis of the Euro area”. “You must implement reform if you want to stay in the single currency”. “You are trying to push us out of the Euro currency”. “This is about reform”. “No, it is about economic ideas”. 

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