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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Ireland’s European Security and Defence Questions

While everyone is (understandably) focused on Brexit, there is much more going on in Brussels that needs attention. Near the top of that list has to be plans for closer EU security and defence cooperation. Big decisions are due before December and – as of yet – the arguments have not had much of an airing.

The reasons for this intensified activity are clear: the security threats to EU member states and citizens are multiplying even as traditional defence structures come under pressure. As Donald Trump veers from dismissing NATO, to embracing Russia, to threatening North Korea and Iran, Europeans look to what they might do together to strengthen their own security. As terrorism strikes indiscriminately across Europe, governments seek new ways to counteract those threats. As budgets in Europe have tightened, defence departments search for creative ways to share costs and coordinate planning. As cyber attacks proliferate – crashing national computer systems or undermining democratic elections – EU governments hunt for means to secure these and other critical infrastructures. Another catalyst for all this activity has been Brexit itself. The withdrawal of British military capacity from the EU is a big hit, but this will be offset by the disappearance of long-standing British vetoes against further security and defence cooperation.

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The EU Global Strategy and Academia – new avenues for cooperation

On 12 June 2017, I was invited, along with about 70  other academics, foreign and security policy experts, think tank staff and policy makers to a ‘high level’ Jean Monnet thematic seminar on the “EU’s Global Strategy – From Vision to Action”. This was organised by the EU Commission’s DG Education and Culture and the European External Action Service in Brussels. The brief for the meeting was to discuss and gain insights from a variety of actors with a view to coming up with concrete proposals and recommendations to the European Commission and European External Action Service on how the ambitions behind the EU Global Strategy might be realised. I was specifically asked to make a presentation on the relationship between academia and EU foreign policy makers and how that might strengthen/improve policy making. While the presentation was not based on a formal paper and was designed more to provoke a conversation in the room, I was asked to write it up for the purposes of a conference report. The following results:

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The State of EU Foreign Policy Scholarship

EU foreign policy scholarship has made an undoubted contribution to our understanding of politics at the global level. First, it has added to our understanding of what EU membership means for member states. The complex and reciprocal relationship between national political systems and a developing European-level polity poses many challenging questions to comparative politics and international relations. EU foreign policy studies has outlined – in some detail – how and why member states have contributed to the creation of collective foreign policy making at European level and how this process of collective policy making has in turn impacted the foreign policies of the member states and the impact this has/has not made on the global system. Second, this scholarship has offered varying conceptions of what the EU represents as an international actor. This debate is ongoing – but it has added richly to conversations concerning the role of interests, identity and institutions in International Relations. In doing both these things, EU foreign policy scholarship has also created a visible – if multilane (!) – bridge between European Studies and International Relations. At the same time, we can’t overlook the mote in our eyes. Our fascination with the processes of this unique multi-level policy making machinery does lead us – from time to time – to excessively thick description, to the ever finer parsing of diplomatic and treaty language and the reinvention of too many wheels.

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Are young people turning away from democracy?

richard o'neillRichard O’Neill is a UCD Master of Public Policy student. Here he questions recent claims about the rise of anti-democratic sentiment among millennials, but warns that there is no room for complacency in the defence of democratic values.

Millennials get a bad rap. In the last year we’ve been blamed for ruining the American wine industry, the Canadian tourism industry, golf, and even the E.U. Our voracious appetite for destruction has now turned to democracy. That is according to Roberto Stefan Foa, lecturer in politics at the University of Melbourne and a principal investigator of the World Values Survey, and Yashca Mounk, a lecturer in political theory at Harvard. Their paper, ‘the Signs of Deconsolidation’, in the January 2017 volume of the Journal of Democracy demonstrates a disturbing trend of young people losing their faith in democracy. Their graph below starkly illustrates the point. The proportion of Americans believing it is “essential” to live in a democracy has reduced from 72% amongst those born pre-Second World War to 30% amongst millennials. A similar pattern is evidenced in other established democracies including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Australia. Their conclusions are all the more worrying as they coincide with the rise of populism and anti-system parties, with the election of Donald Trump, Brexit, the rise of populist parties in Poland, Hungary, Finland and more as well as the popularity of the Front National, Alternative für Deutschland, and the Freedom Party of Austria. But is all as it seems – are millennials such a serious threat to democracy in the West, as the figure below seems to suggest (Foa, Stefan & Mounk, Yascha (2016) The democratic disconnect. Journal of Democracy, 27, 3, 5-17):

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Public Integrity and Trust in Europe

marie-therese culliganMarie-Therese Culligan is a UCD Master of Public Policy student. Here she assesses the report on Public Integrity and Trust in Europe, prepared by the European Research Centre for Anti-Corruption and State-Building (ERCAS), Hertie School of Governance, Berlin 2015. Principal Investigator: Prof. Alina Mungiu-Pippidi.

This report was commissioned by the European Commission during the Dutch Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2016, as one of a number of reports to contribute to ‘ongoing international dialogue on strengthening the public administration and developing evidence-based integrity and anti-corruption policies’.

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