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Category archive for: EU

Brussels terror attacks: a continent-wide crisis that threatens core European ideals

Written by Fiona de Londras.

The attacks of March 22 in Brussels were shocking, but not surprising. They reinforced what many have known for years: Belgium has a serious problem with terrorism.

For a long time, security analysts have expressed anxiety about the depth and extent of radicalisation and fundamentalism in the country. It is thought that Belgium has the highest per capita rate of foreign terrorist fighters of any EU country. A February 2016 “high-end estimate” puts that number at 562 out of a population of just over 11 million.

Last November it was revealed that some of the Paris attackers had Belgian connections and were known to the security forces there, and Brussels was virtually locked down for almost a week. Continue reading Brussels terror attacks: a continent-wide crisis that threatens core European ideals

Iain Duncan Smith resignation: flesh wound or more serious blow to Cameron?

Written by Tim Bale.

If there were a Richter Scale of Political Resignations, then prime ministers such as Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson and Harold Macmillan would register at the very top – on nine.

Big beasts such as Conservative Chancellor Geoffrey Howe and Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine would register at about seven. Iain Duncan Smith’s departure, on the other hand, would probably score around six.

The work and pensions secretary’s departure is the sort of earthquake that would only inflict slight to moderate damage on solid structures but is capable of causing more severe problems for less stable edifices. Unfortunately for the Conservative Party, at least in the run up to the EU referendum, it fits all-too-easily into the latter category . Continue reading Iain Duncan Smith resignation: flesh wound or more serious blow to Cameron?

The forgotten side of Tony Benn

Written by Steven Fielding.

Most of the reactions to the death of Tony Benn in early 2014 focused on the man who turned left in the 1970s, embraced union militancy and became “the most dangerous man in Britain”. That was, however, Benn Mark II, arguably the less interesting version, and certainly the one less relevant to our own times, one in which the parties are desperately seeking to regain a connection with the people.

A while back I wrote a book about how Labour responded to the many cultural changes generated in the 1960s. In that decade Benn emerged as one of the party’s few leading figures who tried to seriously think though how the party might engage with at least some of them. Continue reading The forgotten side of Tony Benn

Giulio Regeni, Egypt, and the deafening silence of Europe

Written by Catherine Gegout.

Giulio Regeni, a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge, disappeared in Cairo on 25 January, and was found dead with signs of torture on his body on 3 February. Giulio Regeni conducted research which contributed to our knowledge of social and global justice, the impact of civil movements on power structures before and during revolutions, the role of women in political activism, and the role of trade unions in providing living wages to citizens.

Over 4,600 academics worldwide asked the Egyptian authorities to ‘cooperate with an independent and impartial investigation into all instances of forced disappearances, cases of torture and deaths in detention during January and February this year, alongside investigations by criminal prosecutors into Giulio’s death, in order that those responsible for these crimes can be identified and brought to justice.’ Continue reading Giulio Regeni, Egypt, and the deafening silence of Europe

Just a reminder that Spain still doesn’t have a government

Written by Paul Kennedy.

There appears to be little chance of Spain’s political stalemate being broken any time soon. Just listen to the divisive tone of parliamentary debates held in the first week of March – two-and-a-half-months after a national election failed to deliver a government.

Pedro Sánchez, leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) had sought to form a coalition government with the centre-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) Party. He secured the backing of his own party and his proposed coalition partner but failed to get enough support from other MPs following heated debate in the chamber. Continue reading Just a reminder that Spain still doesn’t have a government

How Macedonia found itself at the centre of Europe’s refugee crisis

Written by Ljubica Spaskovska.

Distressing scenes have been unfolding on Macedonia’s border with Greece, where police have been using tear gas on refugees attempting to break through a razor wire fence designed to keep them out.

Given the recent tone of the debate about the migrant crisis, it is all too easy to dismiss this response as heavy handed. But Macedonia is a small state caught up in a domestic crisis of its own. It aspires to join Europe but has seen many of its would-be partners turn their backs on this shared burden. Continue reading How Macedonia found itself at the centre of Europe’s refugee crisis

Sovereignty is Illusory! The UK should embrace its power-sharing experience at home to engage with the EU

Written by Simon Toubeau and Jo Eric Khushal Murkens.

A fascination with control

David Cameron returned from Brussels last Friday with the most politically feasible deal for the re-negotiation of Britain’s terms of membership in the EU. The outcome is a far cry from the ambitious set of reforms he laid out in his Bloomberg speech of 2013. But, nevertheless, having secured a special status in the economic governance of the EU, an “emergency brake” and a temporary four year suspension on the in-work benefits of EU migrant, he feels confident that the UK now has the best of both worlds: the access, affluence and security of membership are now balanced by greater national control. Control over borders, control over policy, control over the future evolution of the EU. And this allows him to recommend to the British people that they should vote to remain ‘in’. Continue reading Sovereignty is Illusory! The UK should embrace its power-sharing experience at home to engage with the EU

Voters are sceptical about Europe, but that doesn’t mean they’ll vote for Brexit

Written by John Curtice.

After all the haggling around the dinner table in Brussels, voters in Britain will now have to make their big choice. In a referendum to be held on June 23, they will either have to say they want to stay in the European Union on David Cameron’s renegotiated terms or indicate that they would prefer to leave.

For many voters this will not be an easy choice. New research based on NatCen’s latest British Social Attitudes survey reveals that scepticism about the EU is widespread. Yet at the same time, many are not sure about the wisdom of actually pulling out. Continue reading Voters are sceptical about Europe, but that doesn’t mean they’ll vote for Brexit

How the European Union could still fall apart

Written by Ettore Recchi. 

Some say the true capital of the EU is not Brussels, where the European Commission, Council and Parliament lie, but rather Frankfurt, the seat of the European Central Bank (ECB). After all, it is the ECB that has done most to overcome the severest threat to European integration. In the wake of the sovereign debt crisis, ECB president Mario Draghi’s 2012 promise to do “whatever it takes” to rescue the euro is one of the most successful speeches ever made by a EU politician.

In Frankfurt, a short walk from the new ECB headquarters takes you to the Paulskirche. There, in 1848 an early parliament was elected by all the small sovereign states of the German-speaking world. It was an exciting moment, a forward-looking project towards a unified Germany. But the fire of enthusiasm was soon extinguished. The parliament lasted no more than a year, and in 1849 its representatives started to desert it until it was eventually disbanded. Continue reading How the European Union could still fall apart

Europe wades into debate over Poland’s constitutional crisis

Written by Fernando Casal Bértoa and Simona Guerra.

Poland’s prime minister Beata Szydło recently found herself summoned to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to defend her government over accusations that its commitment to democratic values is on the slide.

This was an unprecedented meeting. The parliament had called a debate under the auspices of a law introduced in March 2014, giving it the right to question a national government if it thinks a systemic threat to democracy is about to take place in a European country.

In Poland’s case, concerns were raised over government plans to limit the power of the national constitutional court, and change the way the media is governed and civil servants hired. Continue reading Europe wades into debate over Poland’s constitutional crisis