The EUROPP team take a look at the week in Brussels blogging

The EU centre and the crisis

José Manuel Barroso delivered his annual ‘state of the Union’ speech at the European Parliament on Wednesday. The statement that arguably received most attention, however, came in the Q&A session afterwards when he argued that the UK’s Conservative Party were “increasingly looking like UKIP”. Open Europe hold this up as evidence for the idea that the Commission would rather help Eurosceptics “than work for reformers who don’t share a belief in ‘ever closer union’.”

Credit: EPP (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Credit: EPP (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

European Commission proposals to extensively reform Europe’s telecoms market also made headlines this week, in particular due to a plan to eliminate mobile roaming charges. Reflecting on the discussions, Jon Worth has a simple proposal that would help travellers a great deal: allowing consumers to use any EU address when registering for pay as you go SIM cards in another country.

Meanwhile, Kate Alexander and Jonathan Hopkin, writing at Policy Network, assess the spread of austerity politics across Europe. They argue that austerity and globalisation processes are not ‘immovable features’ of the political landscape and should be challenged by parties on the left.

Across Europe

On Monday, Norway elected a new government, with the Conservative Party’s Erna Solberg winning enough support to become the country’s next Prime Minister. The Economist has a rundown of the results and a profile of Norway’s new leader, while Alf Gunvald Nilsen describes Norwegian voters’ support for the country’s Progress Party as a ‘disturbing lurch to the right’, despite the party actually losing votes in comparison to the previous election.

Elsewhere, Catalonia celebrated its ‘national day’ on Wednesday, with hundreds of thousands of Catalans forming a ‘human chain’ to support the territory’s independence. To mark the date, Agenda Pública compiled responses from a number of contributors on the issues of federalism and separatism in Spain.

As we near the last week of the German election campaign, Charlemagne’s notebook turns its attention to the leader of the Free Democrats (FDP), Philipp Rösler. The article details the recent controversy over an interview Rösler conducted with the newspaper taz on his Vietnamese heritage, which he later refused permission for publication.

The European neighbourhood

The Syrian crisis continued to dominate coverage this week, with a US-led military intervention looking increasingly unlikely. Judy Dempsey at Strategic Europe argues that the Syrian issue has exposed fundamental weaknesses in European foreign policy and that the EU appears ‘devoid of any strategy’. Ian Bremmer, writing at Project Syndicate, takes a wider focus, claiming that we are now entering a ‘G-Zero’ situation in which no single country or power bloc will accept the burdens that come with global leadership.

Away from Syria, Antoaneta Dimitrova at Eurosearch takes a look at Russia’s efforts to dissuade Ukraine, Armenia and other neighbouring countries from signing association agreements with the EU.

Graph of the week

Writing on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights across Europe, Richard Bränström at the Oxford University Press blog includes a graph showing public opinion on the issue in 26 European countries.

And finally…

Chris Dillow at Stumbling and Mumbling wonders whether we live in a ‘post-seriousness’ age.

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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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