Does the EU have a German problem?

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 realityContinue reading “Does the EU have a German problem?”

Back to the future, again: Jews as a “national security risk”

Is this 2012 or 1932? As reported by CNBC, the leader of Hungary’s third largest party has just used a televised session of parliament to call on the government to compile a list of all Jews in the country because, he says, they pose a “national security risk.” Does this sound familiar? Even today, respect for the most basicContinue reading “Back to the future, again: Jews as a “national security risk””

Another look at ‘Europe’s New Fascists’

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 notContinue reading “Another look at ‘Europe’s New Fascists’”

The real spectre haunting Europe

How safe is democracy in Europe? Observers of extremist political movements have sometimes described them as “self-disqualifying” — that is, the louder they shout, the less they are heard (or at least listened to) by mainstream voters and parties. If this were true, and established democracies really have such a built-in circuit breaker, we wouldContinue reading “The real spectre haunting Europe”

It’s time to stop digging

If Europe wants to get out of its current hole, it must first stop digging. Over the past four years, economic crisis management in Europe has been dominated by a narrow obsession with fiscal discipline. The narrowness of this approach reflects in large part the German political elite’s misinterpretation of Europe’s current crisis as aContinue reading “It’s time to stop digging”

Scottish independence – it really matters

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 couldContinue reading “Scottish independence – it really matters”

Back to the future? Fascism in Europe 21st century-style

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 imaginedContinue reading “Back to the future? Fascism in Europe 21st century-style”

EU wins Nobel Peace Prize? Cave hic dragones

The far edges of medieval maps were often inscribed with a warning for travelers “Cave, hic dragones” (Beware, here be dragons.) This is precisely the danger raised by today’s (well justified) decision to award the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the EU for its contribution to peace, democracy and human rights in Europe. Notwithstanding theContinue reading “EU wins Nobel Peace Prize? Cave hic dragones”

What did the EU really agree on sovereign and bank debts last summer?

There has been great furor recently over what exactly EU leaders agreed in the June 2012 summit. Some of that furor concerns the issue of separating member states’ liability for sovereign debt, which nobody contests, from their liability for bank debt, which is widely contested. Here in Ireland, where the country’s economic prospects are seriouslyContinue reading “What did the EU really agree on sovereign and bank debts last summer?”

On structural reforms and job creation

In my recent post Getting beyond Europe’s spend more/spend less debate, I focused on the pros and cons of structural reforms including labour market reforms. This recent article in the Economist, drawing on recent studies from the IMF and OECD (linked at the end of the article), points out that the economic impact of structuralContinue reading “On structural reforms and job creation”