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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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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