Chris Gilson takes a look at the week in Brussels blogging.
The EU centre and the crisis
Portugal’s constitutional court recently rejected the terms of that country’s bailout by the EU/ECB/IMF Troika. Lost in EUrope praises the judges for upholding the country’s constitution, even as some media and Germany claim that the decision will mean the worsening of Portugal’s financial problems. Meanwhile, Craig Willy has six reasons why the euro should be broken up. Former Dutch Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkesten agrees with the sentiment, according to Open Europe. Eva en Europa discusses the role of the European Central Bank, in light of recent comments by its President, Mario Draghi, that he regrets that the institution does not have more leeway to stimulate the European economy.
Friday sees the meeting of the Eurogroup (the eurozone’s finance ministers) to endorse Cyprus’ bailout. Several documents are leaked in the lead-up to the meeting, including the Troika’s Debt Sustainability Report for the country. It’s not that simple… says that the document’s economic forecasts for Cyprus are worse than laughable, and that the bailout has now risen by €5 billion from what had been originally envisaged. Reflecting on the Cyprus crisis, Protesilaos Stavrou at Blogactiv.eu says that the crisis was not the EU’s fault, despite the attempts of some to place blame in that direction. He argues that we must not forget the role of previous governments in supporting an ‘hypertrophied’ banking system in the country.
Lost in EUrope says that many in Germany are tuning out criticism of its policies and are expecting praise from Europe’s southern countries for ‘rescuing’ them. Open Europe looks at Germany’s new eurosceptic Alternative für Deutschland party, saying that while it is very unlikely to win seats in the upcoming elections in September, it may influence results by taking votes away from some of the other parties. French Politics says that Ollie Rehn, European Commissioner for Monetary and Economic Affairs, has recently called for Germany to do more to boost its own spending and thus stimulate growth in the eurozone. John Worth looks at a new study on solidarity across Europe, saying that people in eurozone countries feel more solidarity towards tackling the crisis, while people in the UK feel that individual countries should look after their own interests.
The Verfassungsblog writes at length on citizen participation in EU democracy, and how the EU might do more to address the erosion of constitutional democracy in member states such as Hungary. Meanwhile, Décrypter la communication européenne looks at European Commission’s communications directorate (DG COMM) could be improved, saying that it is currently too fragmented and hampered by a lack of coordination. Rhein on Energy and Climate at Blogactiv.eu says that though the Treaty is silent on their reconfirmation, a ten year term for EU Commission Presidents is more than long enough.
Croatia, the war and the future reports on recent demonstrations where 60,000 people protested against the introduction of the Cyrillic script in the city of Vukovar. For them, Cyrillic is a symbol of Serb ‘aggression’ during the Croatian War of Independence. Meanwhile, EU Hemicycle at Blogactiv.eu assesses Croatia’s readiness for EU accession later this year.
Monday sees UK Prime Minister David Cameron embark on a ‘charm offensive’ in EU capitals, according to Jon Worth, with the aim of making the case for the repatriation of more powers back to Britain. However, Cameron’s European trip was cut short on Monday with the news of the death of former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s death. When he returns to Europe on Friday, Open Europe has a list of ten things he should not say to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Open Europe examines Thatcher’s European legacy, while euroMove at Blogactiv.eu says that perhaps her biggest legacy to Europe was the driving forwards of the single market. Beyond the Transition is not too happy about the effusive praise for Thatcher from Poland’s Foreign Minister, Radosław Sirkorski, while New Eastern Europe examines her role in the collapse of communism.
The GMF blogs looks at the controversy in France over the wearing of the hijab and laicité – the French government’s principle of neutrality towards religions. French Politics reports that Arnaud Montebourg has become the first Socialist minister to criticize President Francois Hollande’s austerity policies. Meanwhile, OFCE looks at whether or not France’s austerity policies have actually been more effective than those in other EU countries.
Charlemagne wonders whether or not Spain’s beleaguered king Juan Carlos will abdicate, following the example of the Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix, who is due to step down at the end of this month.
EU Foreign policy and the European neighbourhood
Contentious Politics Russia covers a small demonstration in central Moscow over the weekend in support of political prisoners arrested last year. This is a prelude to a much larger expected demonstration on 6 May. New Eastern Europe takes a close look at Russia’s strategy in the Arctic, saying that it is concerned with possible resource competition with the EU in the region.
Looking at the EU’s relationship with Georgia, The European Council on Foreign Relations says that it should stop its practice of backing leaders and factions and move to a more engaged and impartial relationship with the country. New Eastern Europe covers the release of Yuriy Lutsenko and Georgiy Filipchuk, former Ministers in the Ukraine by President Victor Yanukovych. Their release is ahead of the EU’s expected review of progress towards establishing an Association Agreement with Ukraine in May.
Lost in EUrope discusses the potential EU/US free trade agreement after the leak of the European Commission’s negotiating mandate, saying that the deal might open up many sensitive areas to US commerce, such as media, education, health, water supply, and energy and transport.
As North Korea appears increasingly belligerent this week, the Centre for European Reform wonders if there is a role for Europe in the crisis, given the likely global impact of any conflict.
Revolting Europe discusses Ecosocialism as a ‘humanist’ alternative to capitalism in Europe that moves the economic focus away from growth and consumerism.
A Fistful of Euros explorers and unpacks the nazi-era term völkisch, pondering if it is more racist, or simply nationalist.
Graph of the week
Nada es Gratis looks at which eurozone member might be the next to apply for a bailout. Looking at the net international investment position of some of the eurozone’s members since the euro began, they think that Slovenia might be next:
What has President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy been up to this week? This week he met with the US Secretary to the Treasury, Jack Lew, the Prime Minister of Slovenia Alenka Bratušek, and the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon.
French Politics looks at the curious case of François Hollande’s camel.
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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