Chris Gilson and Stuart A Brown take a look at the week in Brussels blogging.
The EU centre
The EU Energy Policy blog examines efforts by energy efficiency experts to reduce the level of electricity consumption in Europe. They wonder if “smaller households, smaller dwellings, better insulated homes, and more efficient appliances lead to lower electricity consumption?” Meanwhile, EU Logos at Blogactiv.eu looks at recent moves by the European Parliament to tighten anti-corruption rules for extractive industries like oil and mining.
Con Acento Hispano writing at Blogactiv.eu, says that despite youth education programmes like Erasmus, labour mobility is still a major problem in Europe – only 0.1 per cent of the working population in the EU has changed its country of residence since 2000. On her blog this week, EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström reports on her recent efforts to combat human trafficking as well as her talks with politicians from EU member states about other issues such as visas.
Rhein on Energy and Climate at Blogactiv.eu takes a look at the European External Action Service (EEAS), saying that while it has now been set up as a diplomatic service with 3,000 staff, it is now in need of a common EU foreign policy. Reporting on the ‘Future of Europe’ report, which was published last week, Open Europe says that many commentators see it as essentially a fantasy by Germany’s foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle. Meanwhile, Place du Luxembourg kicks off its ‘Visions of the Political Future of Europe’ series with a review of European Central Bank President, Mario Draghi’s views on recent institutional failures and the potential for reform.
This week, Open Europe also reports that the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, will soon announce that the UK will repatriate more than 100 crime and policing laws from the EU. Meanwhile British Labour MEP Mary Honeyball praises Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski for debunking a number of myths about the UK’s membership of the EU.
EU Foreign policy and the European neighbourhood European Geostrategy looks at geopolitical ‘triangles’ across Europe, with one of the most important ones being Britain, Germany and Russia. The European Council on Foreign Relations assesses the EU’s future role in the Arab Spring. The article argues that Europe still has a key role to play in reform processes, particularly France, Italy and Spain due to their links to the region.
The European Citizen reports that the USA may be breaching its Passenger Name Record Data agreement with the EU by collecting data from people who are on flights that do not take off from, or land in, the USA. The Fride blog has a look at the summit between the EU and China. They write that the geopolitical situation is increasing the importance of the EU’s links not just to China, but also to other Asian countries.
The Euro Crisis
Revolting Europe says that, at least according to French economists, the EU Fiscal Compact Treaty is an offensive by neoliberals against Keynesian style stimulus packages, and that it confirms the austerity policies that will lead to an ‘unending recession’. In a separate article, they say that the austerity policies being implemented in Greece are pushing the country towards a general strike.
Au cafe de l’Europe looks at the 20th anniversary of France signing up to the Maastricht Treaty (now the Treaty on the European Union) and comments that the fiscal compact, is a kind of Maastricht 2.0. According to the FT’s Brussels Blog, Germany and France are now pushing for a ‘scaled-down’ financial transactions tax potentially to be instituted by 9 member states, down from original plans for it to cover all 27 EU-members.
The New Federalist asks whether the crisis may lead to a positive outcome in promoting further integration between EU member states. Specifically, proposals by 11 EU countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain) for wide ranging reforms, including the creation of a ‘Eurozone Parliament, might lay the foundations for the ‘future of Europe’. Along similar lines, Lost in EUrope wonders if the crisis may do some good if it moves focus from financial markets to the ‘real’ economy, as well as making Europe an election issue in member states.
Kielsprat in Europe looks at internal disputes in Germany’s ruling coalition between Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and the Free Democratic Party. Open Europe points to Germany’s culture of saving and financial prudence as an explanation for their strong opposition to the ECB’s intervention in bond markets, while they also examine what local elections in Finland might mean for further EU integration. Meanwhile, Croatia Calling says that Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic is actually a “very funny bloke”, but warns that his ‘jokes’ about the country’s differences are really not very funny to his electorate.
Revolting Europe has four suggestions of how Portugal can close its budget gap: a new financial transactions tax, a tax on dividends, higher corporate tax, and a crackdown on fraud and tax evasion.
Writing at Blogactiv.eu, Spotlight on Geopolitics writes that Romania is stuck in a never-ending constitutional crisis because of its flawed constitution which has been in place since 1991. Also at Blogactiv.eu, Protesilaos Stavrou has an in-depth history of Golden Dawn, which argues that they are a symptom of the current economic troubles in Greece, not the problem.
Marek Siwiec MEP at Blogactiv.eu reflects that Brussels may be fast becoming a centre of activity for ‘political espionage’.
Google’s European Public Policy Blog looks at European Commission President José Manuel Barroso’s first Google+ hangout, where he fielded questions from Irish homeowners, Greek workers and the the Italian head of the Europe Youth Forum, among others.
Spanishwalker has a round-up of the most #epicfail videos from European institutions.
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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