Chris Gilson and Stuart A Brown take a look at the week in Brussels blogging.

The EU centre

This week, the EU Energy Policy blog examines cost escalation in the French nuclear industry. They find that bigger reactors don’t necessarily mean cheaper reactors. This is timely then, as Bulgaria went to the polls over the weekend to decide whether or not to build the country’s first ever nuclear reactor. According to the European Citizen, the cold weather led to a turnout of 20 per cent, far below the 60 per cent needed for the referendum to be valid.

French nuclear power plant Credit: Sarah Elzas (Creative Commons BY NC ND)

The New Federalist ponders if the new head of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem will help to build a consensus between the core and periphery nations of the eurozone. Lost in EUrope reports that the European Central Bank chief, Mario Draghi is in danger of being drawn into the current scandal over Italian bank Monte del Paschi. Meanwhile, Bankwatch, at happily reports that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has dropped a joint project with Monsanto after public protests. The project would have financed some farmers in Europe to buy Monsanto’s seeds and agri-chemicals.

EU Foreign policy and the European neighbourhood

Citing troubles in Slovenia which may delay the ratification of Croatia as the 28th EU member state, Global Perspectives at looks at how the politics of small nations can constrain EU foreign policy.

The European Council on Foreign Relations looks at Russia’s future as a ‘post-BRIC’, and wonders if it will pivot towards Europe or more towards China and the Pacific.

Open Europe says that the UK’s decision to send troops to Mali to support the French operation there is a sign of its solidarity with Europe, something that some of the other EU member states have yet to show. The Centre for European Reform takes a look at EU defence spending, noting that most EU countries have significantly reduced their defence budgets since 2008. They argue that one of the EU’s key priorities should be to ensure that member states coordinate their defence spending and avoid needlessly duplicating the development of military technologies.

The Euro Crisis

Craig Willy examines whether or not unemployment in Europe is worse now than it was in the 1990s. He concludes that  “only” in Spain, Greece and Portugal are levels exceptionally high, with the others having similar rates as they did 15-20 years ago. Meanwhile, Nada es Gratis says that the pace of fiscal consolidation in Europe is too fast, and should be tempered, and the OFCE blog looks at whether or not the eurozone crisis is over.

Bruegel has a summary of all its coverage of the financial crisis over the past five years. They take a look at how accurate some of their predictions were when the crisis begain in 2008, and the way in which opinions have developed since. Meanwhile Alessio Pisanò at the New Federalist writes on efforts to prevent future European banking crises.

Across Europe

Jon Worth says that the UK Labour party’s critiques of potential immigration from Romania and Bulgaria into the UK must stop. He says that there is no longer any potential for ‘big bang’ migration as was the case after the new accessions in 2004. Meanwhile, as the debate over the UK’s EU Referendum announced by Prime Minister David Cameron drags on, Liberal Europe looks at the 1975 referendum on Europe, and whether the UK voted for the “common market”. Jonathan Portes at Not The Treasury View has a detailed look at the track record of austerity in the UK. He argues that austerity policies have largely failed in the country and tackles some of the arguments against increasing public spending.

Open Europe discusses recent claims that Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy may have received improper payments between 1997 and 2008.

German Joys wonders if crime has been dropping in Germany because there isn’t as much lead around.

On her blog, Romanian MEP Monica Macovei writes that a new report by the European Commission that is critical of the country is the fault of its Prime Minister, Victor Ponta and his government.

Sunday was Holocaust Memorial Day, a day that former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi chose to praise Benito Mussolini, Italy’s World War II era fascist dictator. Charlemagne says that there are grounds to believe that Berlusconi’s ‘mistake’ was a deliberate attempt to woo voters and draw attention to himself. Berlusconi was also criticised this week by EU Currency Commissioner  Olli Rehn, who said that Berlusconi did not fulfil Italy’s EU obligations when he was Prime Minister, according to Lost in EUrope.

Graph of the week

Place du Luxembourg has an impressive summary of 2012 in graphs – here is the first on interest rates in Europe and across the world.

And finally…

What has President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy been up to? This week he attended the EU-CELAC business conference in Chile, spoke at the European Parliament, met the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mahamoud, the Prime Minister of Lithuania, Algirdas Butkevicius, Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monti. and met with a delegation from Northern Ireland.

The OFCE blog looks at whether it is fair to levy high taxes on high earners.

Chris Dillow at Stumbling and Mumbling writes that the sale of Manchester City footballer Mario Balotelli illustrates a standard Marxist critique of capitalism: the party in the strongest bargaining position gets most of the surplus from any trade.


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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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