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Category archive for: EU

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

2015: the year in elections

The following short articles come from academics with the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR) and discuss the 2015 elections in Nigeria and Poland.  These blog posts form part of a wider series from The Conversation that discussed all major elections that year.

Nigeria: matters of urgency

Written by Catherine Gegout.

When Muhammadu Buhari was elected president of Nigeria in March, he certainly had his work cut out. Nigeria’s economy badly needs to be diversified; petroleum exports revenue represents more than 90% of total export revenue, even as only half of all Nigerians have access to electricity. Education is in a dismal state, especially in the north, where only 6% of children have primary education.

There have already been some promising moves. Buhari has renewed Nigeria’s beleagured fight against corruption, including oil corruption and both he and his deputy took a symbolic pay cut. He must now start honouring his promise to improve gender representation in politics. Currently, only 16% of cabinet members are women, and only 6% of senators and members of the House of Representatives. Continue reading 2015: the year in elections

All I want for Christmas… is a democratic political culture in Hungary

Written by Fanni Toth.

It is that time of the year again. People rushing by with endless shopping bags hanging from their hands, Christmas music blasting in the shops, fairy lights decorating every street in sight. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, the season for love and peace on Earth. Well, maybe not everywhere on Earth; in Hungary, this Christmas the sounds of jingle bells are being drowned out by a cacophony of angry voices, shouting insults on each side, arguing – perhaps rather surprisingly for most of the Western world – about the place of women in society. Continue reading All I want for Christmas… is a democratic political culture in Hungary

What actually happens if Britain leaves the EU?

Written by Christopher Grey.

Europe is always a heated topic at a Conservative party conference. This year much debate has focused on David Cameron’s ongoing renegotiation of terms for staying in. By contrast, relatively little has been said about the terms on which Brexit might happen. Those advocating it oscillate between – and often treat as interchangeable – quite different and incompatible scenarios.

The truth is that anyone who works for, or consumes the products of any organisation – in other words everyone – would be affected by a UK exit from the European Union. As someone who studies organisations for a living, I believe that it is strongly in Britain’s interests to remain in; it is why I am a member of the European Movement. Now, you may disagree with that view, but it is surely vital that when it comes to the Brexit referendum, voters know what happens next if Britain chooses to leave. Continue reading What actually happens if Britain leaves the EU?

Can the EU keep the peace in Europe? Not a chance

Written by Chris Bickerton.

The European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 because of its “six decade-long contribution to peace and human rights in Europe”. In 2015, as the UK gears up towards its referendum on EU membership, we hear very often that the EU played a key role in building peace after World War II. For all its faults, the argument goes, the European Union is the best peace project Europe has.

There are three reasons why this is wrong. The first is that European integration contributed very little to the building of peace in post-war Europe. The second is that the EU’s record in keeping the peace on its external borders is poor. The third is that the Euro has aggravated conflicts between the members of the Eurozone: between north and south, creditor and debtor, exporter and importer. Continue reading Can the EU keep the peace in Europe? Not a chance

How Poland’s political landscape was redrawn overnight

Written by Fernando Casal Bértoa and Simona Guerra.

With the results of Poland’s parliamentary election finally in, the Law and Justice (PiS), the nationalist conservative Eurosceptic party of the notorious Kaczyński twins, has won with 37.6% of the vote. It was trailed by the incumbent market-liberal and socially conservative Civic Platform (PO), which managed only a very weak 24.1%.

There was some good news for Poland’s three smaller parties. Two of them are new: the populist Kukiz’15, led by former presidential candidate and rock-star Paweł Kukiz, which won 39 seats in the 460-member lower house; and Modern (.N), a pro-market and socially liberal party founded just five months before the vote by economist Ryszard Petru, which won 31 seats.

Then, with 5.13% of the vote, there’s the agrarian Polish People’s Party (PSL), currently the junior party in the losing PO-led coalition and the only party to have sat in every single Polish parliament since 1991. The German Minority is expected to have secured two seats. Continue reading How Poland’s political landscape was redrawn overnight