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

The EU centre and the crisis

The New Federalist looks at efforts to address youth unemployment following the June European Council summit. They say that the €8 billion that has since been allocated to tackle this problem is ‘peanuts’ towards helping Europe’s 8 million youth unemployed. They argue that more needs to be done at a European level to combat the causes of youth unemployment, such as gerontocracy in Italy, corruption in Greece and austerity measures by Germany. Lost in EUrope discusses a recent interview with Peter Hartz, the Volkswagen executive who developed Germany’s Hartz labour reforms in the early 2000s. This time Hartz is giving advice to the French, advising that youth unemployment can be addressed by giving young Europeans language training, and developing an EU controlled database of people and skills that corporations can call on for workers.

Craig Willy has an interesting explanation of EU government in five charts and tables. Meanwhile, Debating Europe examines how lobbying affects European law, saying that the existing Code of Conduct for MEPs, and the Transparency Register for lobbyists may not be enough to prevent conflicts of interest. Also on the theme of transparency, Open Europe discusses a recent interview with board members of the European Central Bank, where they support the release of the minutes of meetings of the ECB’s governing council. One Europe looks at potential barriers to voting in European Parliament elections – regulations intended to prevent people from voting twice may be stopping some from voting at all.

Credit: Pim Stouten (Creative Commons BY NC)

Credit: Pim Stouten (Creative Commons BY NC)

The FT’s Brussels blog looks at the appointment of Cyprus’ Andreas Mavroyiannis as the Greek Cypriots’ lead negotiator with the Turkish part of the island, after a five-month delay due to the country’s troubled bailout. On Tuesday, Cyprus reached a deal on its debt restructuring, according to Open Europe. They write that the terms of the deal indicate that the Troika may be looking to end the capital controls that have been imposed on Cyprus since the spring. This week also sees a new IMF report on the Greek bailout. Open Europe says that the IMF has been critical of the country – they have said that the country only barely qualifies for assistance, and that further ‘ambitious’ fiscal adjustment is needed.

Across Europe

New Eastern Europe looks at the Moldovan breakaway republic of Transnistria, and the increasing weakness of President Yevgeny Shevchuk in the face of foreign pressure from Russia, and domestic concerns, including large-scale youth emigration.

Germany goes to the polls on 22 September to elect a new government. Kiels Prat in Europe discusses the politics of the Eurozone crisis in the lead up to, and how they may look in the aftermath of, the elections.

In May the European Commission gave the French government more time to reach its 3 per cent deficit reduction target. The OFCE blog says that despite this, France has chosen not to relax the pace of its austerity policies, something that may lead to higher unemployment and lower growth rates in the coming years.

On Tuesday, the Italian Supreme Court begins its hearing into Silvo Berlusconi’s appeal against his conviction for tax evasion. Charlemagne says that if his appeal is unsuccessful, Berlusconi’s potential ban from public office would be ‘explosive’, as it would force Enrico Letta’s government to choose whether or not to endorse the ban, at the risk of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party walking out of the coalition. Friday sees the court uphold Berlusconi’s conviction, though it deferred its decision on whether or not he will be barred from public office. Open Europe outlines what might happen next, saying that Enrico Letta’s Democratic Party now faces a lose-lose situation on whether or not to expel him from the parliament in September.

On Thursday Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy appeared before the country’s parliament to explain his involvement in a funding and corruption scandal that has engulfed his Popular Party in recent months. Charlemagne writes that Rajoy’s attempts to divert attention away from the scandal by focusing on attempts to bring the ailing Spanish economy out of recession is unlikely to be successful.

EU Foreign policy and the European neighbourhood

Over the weekend China and the EU reached a deal in their several month old trade dispute over solar panel pricing. Open Europe writes that the deal is largely a win for China, with the new agreed price for solar panels being closer to the recent average price, and lower than what the EU had pushed for. Lost in EUrope blames the poor EU result on Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht, saying that his relative weakness does not bode well for the current free trade talks with the US.

As the number of displaced people worldwide reaches a 19-year high, at 45 million, Debating Europe asks, Are the EU’s asylum rules ready for globalisation?

Friday sees Russia grant US whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum for one year. Lost in EUrope says that in this case, Vladimir Putin has showed more humanity and boldness than Europe’s leaders who seem to want to forget the NSA surveillance affair due to their ties with the US.

One Europe looks at Russia’s emigration trends. A survey in 2012 indicated that 20 per cent of students were planning on leaving the country, but the actual statistics point to a much, much lower number.

And finally…

After a recent road trip to Slovenia, Coulisses de Bruxelles accuses the Slovenian authorities of extorting European motorists over toll charging.

With more students across Europe learning Chinese, One Europe asks Will Chinese become Europe’s lingua franca?

Craig J Willy argues that on occasions, we can in fact predict the future.


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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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