Chris Gilson takes a look at the week in Brussels blogging.

The EU centre and the crisis

Jon Worth looks at six potential candidates from the European People’s Party for the President of the European Commission, including the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, and the current IMF head, Christine Lagarde. Meanwhile, Ralf Grahn profiles how some of the Europarties are beginning to prepare for the European Parliamentary elections in May, 2014, while Décrypter la communication européenne makes the important point that the political parties and parliamentary groups have been allocated €92 million for political communication in 2013. The Verfassungsblog looks at the debate in between some of Germany’s political parties and its Constitutional Court over the threshold for German parties to enter the European Parliament. Romanian MEP Corina Cretu writes that the decision of the country’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta, to attend the upcoming European Council meeting on 22 May is a sign of normalcy for the country.

Craig Willy has an in-depth look at how the Euro crisis has accelerated the continent’s demographic decline. Real Time Brussels reports that Sweden’s Finance Minister, Anders Borg has had a change of heart over austerity – he had previously been in favour of greater cuts, but now argues that the EU countries need to spend more. The Centre for European Reform argues in favour of a dose of inflation for the eurozone, saying that in combination with low interest rates, inflation could encourage greater spending.

By Justus Dahinden (Archiv Justus Dahinden) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Justus Dahinden (Archiv Justus Dahinden) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, Open Europe looks at splits in Germany over banking union: Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has argued against it until further treaty changes occur, while German ECB Board Member Jörg Asmussen has expressed the view that a centralised banking authority should be set up as soon as possible. As emergency loans to portugal of €2.1 billion are approved, Lost in EUrope has a catalog of austerity measures that the country must now undertake, including the loss of 30,000 civil service jobs, the raising of the retirement age to 66, and an extended working week of 40 hours. Open Europe has a good roundup of where each EU state stands in terms of bail-ins – some big splits still remain.

Rhein on Energy and Climate, writing at Blogactiv.eu, looks at how the EU might achieve a 45 per cent reduction on CO2 emissions by 2030, which will be necessary if it is to achieve its 90 per cent reduction targets by 2050.

The New Federalist looks at how we might be able to make things better at the European level, without spending more money. They suggest that more local power, or more people power (through the European Parliament) might be the answer. Meanwhile, Europe is talking calls for a renewal of the European federalist project, saying that it has taken on an aura of uncertainty, that is easy for eurosceptics to attack. Eva en Europa looks at the problem of lobbying in EU law making, and what some claim is a lack of transparency.

Across Europe

In the UK, the dust continues to settle after eurosceptic party UKIP’s successes in local elections last week. On Tuesday, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron indicated that his party would put forward a draft bill for a UK referendum on the EU by 2017, according to The European Citizen (Open Europe looks at how it might become law). They write that the Conservative party’s negativity towards the EU may make any renegotiation of the UK’s membership terms difficult to portray as a victory which can be accepted by the British public. Mary Honeyball MEP says that Cameron is putting his party before the country, especially given that EU membership is peripheral to the priorities of most voters.

This week sees confirmation that France has entered a triple dip recession. Lost in EUrope looks at the further reforms that the European Commission is pressing for the country, while the OFCE blog examines the Commission’s growth projections for France to 2017. French Politics looks at recent attempts by France to slow the ‘invasion’ of American movies and cultural products into France and Europe. Lost in EUrope says that anti-EU feeling in France is on the rise, according to a new survey by Pew. Open Europe reports on Francois Hollande’s press conference to mark the first year of his presidency, where he called for greater EU economic and political union within two years.

Despite its current problems (its bonds were recently given ‘junk’ status, by ratings agency Moody’s), Lost in EUrope says that Slovenia is trying to avoid requesting a bailout, given the harsh conditions imposed on Cyprus.

Croatia, the war, and the future looks at what it describes as the country’s ‘desperate’ economic situation, with falling exports, declining government income, and rising expenditure. They suggest that Croatia’s over-sized state is the culprit for the country’s woes and should now be cut.

EU Foreign policy and the European neighbourhood

Lost in EUrope reports that this week German Economic Minister Phillip Rösler has been in talks with the European Trade Commissioner De Gucht over the EU’s punitive tariffs against China. Rösler is concerned that the tariffs, designed to punish China for dumping, may harm German exporters. Meanwhile, Coulisses des Bruxelles looks at one of the main barriers to an EU-US trade agreement – the harmonization of regulations, which many EU countries are worries will be to the advantage of the US.

European Geostrategy looks at the French armaments industry, saying that in the context of the crisis and falling defence spending, it must do more to encourage military-industrial cooperation in Europe. Kiels Prat in Europe is exasperated at Germany’s spending of over €500 million on a military drone project.

Writing at Blogactiv.eu, eestiglew argues that it is now time for Sweden to abandon its longstanding policy of neutrality, and become a member of NATO, especially given greater military cooperation between Belarus and Russia.

Graph of the Week

The OFCE blog looks at which factors have put the brakes on growth in France, as the country has not yet returned to its pre-crisis GDP levels:

And finally…

What has President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy been up to this week? This week he attended a development conference in Mali, the European business summit, and met with the Speaker of the Turkish Parliament, Cemil Ciçek.

Kiels Prat in Europe has a tongue in cheek guide of how to become a British Eurosceptic, while German Joys looks at what was once called Schwabylon.

Coulisses de Bruxelles thinks that Brussels is definitely not beautiful.

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Note:  This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of EUROPP – European Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics.

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