West Europe

Despite Luxembourg heading for snap elections, long term political change seems unlikely.

Earlier this month, Luxembourg’s centre right Prime Minister Jean Claude Juncker ended a debate on the parliamentary inquiry on the dysfunctions of the Luxembourgish secret service by calling snap elections, after it became clear that he no longer had the support of his coalition partner, the social democratic party. Martine Huberty presents the background to this extraordinary event and argues that […]

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Growing discontent within the European Union provides an opportunity for David Cameron for reform

Recent surveys suggest that Euroscepticism in Britain is most highly associated with those identifying as English. Adam Evans argues, however, that it is important to take a broader view of public attitudes to the EU. Declining levels of confidence in the institutions and policies of the Union and the repositioning of formerly enthusiastic integrationists like the Dutch and Germans appear to offer Cameron a […]

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As questions abound about the monarchy’s role, Belgium’s new King Philippe must now convince the public of his legitimacy and credibility.

On Sunday, King Albert II of Belgium abdicated in favour of his son, Crown Prince Philippe. Benjamin Leruth looks at the challenges facing the new king in the lead up to 2014’s ‘meta-elections’, that will see Belgians go to the regional, federal and European polls. He writes that while King Philippe is now more popular than he was in previous […]

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‘Brexit’ talk is already hurting the UK economy

David Cameron has promised to hold a referendum on Britain’s EU membership in 2017. Costas Milas argues that talk of an exit from the EU has been a hugely unnecessary distraction that has led to economic uncertainty and higher borrowing costs. He shows this by plotting the 10-year UK yield together with the Google trends search queries index for “Brexit”. Policymakers […]

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Book Review: Women and ETA: The gender politics of Radical Basque Nationalism

In 2011, the Basque separatist and nationalist group, ETA, declared the definitive cessation of its armed activity, bringing more than five decades of paramilitary activities to an end. Carrie Hamilton’s book, ‘Women and ETA’ examines the history and evolution of ETA from a gender perspective, charting the often very different roles of men and women in the organisation since the […]

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The decline in UK immigration is exaggerated and signals a broader crisis in society and the economy

Hein de Haas examines what is behind the decrease in immigration to the UK and finds that politicians have overstated the impact they have had. A large part of it may be explained by reasons other than the government’s tough rules, such as the poor performance of the UK’s economy, wage levels, and labour demand. Student migration, which explains most of […]

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Spain’s new transparency law could become the first step into a real process of institutional regeneration.

Public scrutiny through freedom of information is a fundamental element of a well-functioning democracy, and Spain is one of only three EU nations that do not have such an access to information law. However, recent moves by the new government to introduce a transparency law could pave the way towards greater public trust of the government. José Javier Olivas and Fabrizio Scrollini […]

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Designing a new UK-EU relationship and how it could be achieved

The Eurozone crisis has brought the EU’s division into two types of membership into relief, with the euro member states moving closer towards deeper fiscal and economic union, and the others, such as the UK, who remain in the single market with no wish to join the Eurozone, at risk of becoming ‘second class’ states. Damian Chalmers, Simon Hix and […]

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France’s Front National and Front de Gauche are both labelled as populist. But they are far from two sides of the same coin.

In recent years, France has seen a rise of parties that have been branded as ‘populist’ by media and academics. But what is populism, and is it necessarily a bad thing? Philippe Marlière argues that, in France, the concept of populism is an ambivalent one, often used by those in the mainstream to brand those who disagree as demagogues. Ultimately, […]

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Anti-Hollande sentiments have fuelled the popularity of France’s Manif pour Tous movement

In May, France signed gay marriage into law, a move that was met with mass protests from the right wing Manif pour Tous movement. How has this movement met with such success in a country that is predominantly tolerant in sexual matters? John Gaffney argues that the movement’s success has fed on the negative sentiment towards the French President, François […]

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Small isn’t always beautiful: The cost of regulation on French firms

France has a raft of labour-market regulations that kick in for firms with 50 workers or more. Luis Garicano and John Van Reenen use this threshold to identify the economic effects of size-contingent regulations. Such policies seem to subsidise small firms at the expense of larger firms. But since small firms are on average less productive than large firms, the […]

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Immigrant children in schools have a near-zero effect on the educational achievement of native born children

In a time of austerity and rising unemployment across Europe, immigration has become an increasingly hot topic. One concern, frequently brought up by the media is that the presence of immigrant children in schools may reduce the educational outcomes of native children. Using data from the Netherlands, Asako Ohinata and Jan C. van Ours have taken an in-depth look at […]

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Leaving the EU will not only fail to secure what Eurosceptics desire but would likely make the UK’s position worse

Seamus Nevin argues that the UK would still be strongly influenced by the EU even if it were to leave, contrary to what many Eurosceptics imagine. Moreover, it would find itself with much less power on the outside, which is important when considering that the EU is far from perfect and in need of reform. To ensure a bright future, the UK must be at the […]

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Low bond yields have saved the German government €80 billion in interest since 2009.

The Eurozone crisis has created huge volatility in the market for government bonds, with the heavily indebted countries on the Eurozone’s periphery facing significantly higher rates. One side effect of this volatility, writes Jens Boysen-Hogrefe, is that Germany has been seen as a “safe haven“ for those who wish to invest in government debt, leading to unusually low yields for […]

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François Hollande can recover only if he spells out a more ambitious vision and delivers on reforms

One year on from his election to the French Presidency, François Hollande now faces criticism from all corners over his handling of the economy and apparent failures to address France’s structural weaknesses. Renaud Thillaye writes that while some of these criticisms are misplaced, Hollande must nevertheless work hard to spell out a clear vision of how France can match growth […]

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Poor economic performance may leave the UK with no choice but to join the euro if it wishes to remain in the EU.

In light of the Eurozone crisis, many commentators in the UK maintain that the Eurozone and the EU are doomed. Recalling the UK’s desire to remain apart from embryonic attempts towards European integration in the 1950s, Tim Bale argues that, should the euro survive, the UK may be unable to resist further integration. With a relatively poor outlook for growth […]

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No Triple Dip does not mean a good recovery for the UK

John Van Reenen reacts to the news this week that the UK has avoided economic contraction in the last quarter. Whilst Osborne may see this as cause to celebrate, there is nothing commendable about an economy that continues to stagnate. This news should not be taken as a sign to continue down the path of austerity. Rather, a policy change, starting […]

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The costs of the UK’s opt-out of EU justice and policing measures would far exceed any benefits.

The UK government has indicated that it would like to pursue an opt-out of EU measures on police cooperation and criminal justice in 2014, in order to ‘repatriate’ criminal justice back to the UK. This week a UK House of Lords joint committee reported on its investigation of the opt-out, concluding that it could have negative repercussions. Alicia Hinarejos gave evidence […]

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The blurring of the border between the mainstream right and far-right in France has helped to normalise the Front National.

A recent poll suggests that one-third of French people agree with the ideas of the Front National. Nonna Mayer looks at what lies behind this apparent normalisation of France’s once outcast far-right. The most recent poll on the popularity of France’s Front National (FN), a regular barometer conducted since 1984, shows that one third of respondents agree with the ideas of the […]

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The troika should recognise the efforts made by Portugal to rebalance its finances and adjust the country’s bailout conditions.

In May 2011 Portugal negotiated an IMF-EU bailout package of 78 billion euros, designed to help the country stabilise its finances. In return Portugal agreed to implement a number of reforms, with a target to reduce its budget deficit to 2.5 per cent by 2014. Paulo Trigo Pereira assesses the country’s progress over the last two years, and suggests some […]

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