Chris Gilson takes a look at the week in Brussels blogging.
The EU centre and the crisis
The Common Agricultural Policy blog reports on last week’s farm council meeting which focused on the nature and scope for support for young farmers. A deal is more likely this year under Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which has experience in these matters, than under Lithuania, which is due to take over in the summer. Public Affairs 2.0 examines how Europe’s transport networks are the ‘engine’ behind the single market, and what further liberalisation is still required.This week also saw controversy across Europe over the European Commission’s plans to ban refillable containers for olive oil across European restaurants. The plan was dropped after a public outcry, which Open Europe says shows that the Commission is capable of rethinking ‘silly’ ideas in the face of consumer pressure
This week sees reports in the German paper Der Spiegel on ‘secret’ plans by the European Commission to stick to the one European Commissioner per country rule, according to Open Europe. Under the Lisbon Treaty, there should be 19 Commissioners after Croatia’s accession in July, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to defend having 28 (at an extra cost of millions). Kiels Prat in Europe takes the other side of the argument, saying that it is important that each Member State be represented with a European Commissioner.
Lost in EUrope looks at a recent IMF report which characterises Holland’s economic situation to be more like that of the countries of the eurozone periphery, given high levels of domestic debt, and weak domestic demand. Lost in EUrope reports that one of the outcomes of the recent bail-in deal for Cyprus, is that the economy will contract by more than 10 per cent this year – which would be a record fall for the EU.
In 2014, the positions of High Representative for EU Foreign Policy and President of the European Council will need to be filled once again. Jon Worth looks through some of the potential candidates for the positions. PolsciEU says that a look back to the selection process for the positions in 2009 may well give some insights as to what may happen next year.
Wednesday sees the meeting of the European Council, focusing on energy policy and tax evasion. Romanian MEP Corina Cretu says that one of the key challenges for the meeting is to ensure that the development of renewable energy is not over-subsidised by the EU to a point where it is unsustainable without the subsidy. Coulisses de Bruxelles looks at the attractiveness of shale gas exploitation for Europe’s leaders who may face having to import more than 80 per cent of the continent’s energy by 2035.
Lost in EUrope says that ‘big’ decisions on fighting tax evasion are not planned for the summit. This is reflected in Coulisses de Bruxelles’ report afterwards which says that an agreement on banking secrecy was not reached due to the resistance of Luxembourg and Austria. Cafe Babel reflects on the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which ends in June.
Revolting Europe covers a large protest in Rome on Saturday against Italy’s new government. Led by the Fiom union of metalworkers, the protest launched a series of demands around workers’ rights, pensions, and public investment.
Coulisses de Bruxelles looks at the latest calls by French President Francois Hollande to expand the EU’s powers, saying that many are surprised at his increasingly ‘German’ line. Grahnlaw has an in depth dissection of Hollande’s speech, saying that his proposals towards political union in the EU are relatively vague and are likely to be ineffective. French Politics ponders whether or not the German Social Democrats (with their relative pragmatism in recent years) might be a good model for the future of the French left. Meanwhile, the Verfassungsblog looks at attempts by the French National Assembly to remove the word ‘race’ from legislation, as part of a larger societal move towards becoming a ‘post-racial’ country.
This week sees continued infighting in the UK’s Conservative party with a senior party member calling local members “swivel-eyed loons”. In this context, Jon Worth looks at declining party membership in the UK, and why so many members of political parties are ‘odd-balls’. Later, Jon Worth also looks at the many ways in which the EU is beneficial to the UK – not just to business. Open Europe looks at the ‘oddness’ of the UK’s EU in/out debate, and suggest that people in the UK may actually be more interested in the restoration of powers from the EU.
Croatia, the war, and the future looks at some potential reasons behind relatively low turnout of 47 per cent in local elections in the country on Sunday. They write that Croatian voters either don’t care, or are afraid to vote.
EU Foreign policy and the European neighbourhood
New Eastern Europe reports on last week’s summit in Poland of foreign ministers of Eastern European states, the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton and Štefan Füle, the EU Commissioner for enlargement policy. They say that there is no plan B if the Ukraine does not sign an association agreement with the EU at the upcoming Eastern Partnership summit.
The FRIDE blog examines the evolving relationship between Brazil and the EU, saying that in the context of the economic crisis, there may be new opportunities for cooperation between the two on trade, development, and security issues. Dimitris Rapidis at Blogactiv.eu looks at how Greece is courting investment from China.
Nada es Gratis makes the case for increasing bank’s capital requirements, saying that it would make banking far less risky. A transition to this model, however, might prove difficult and slow, especially if banks would need to issue more shares to cover their recapitalisation.
Horatiu Ferchiu, writing at Blogactiv.eu looks at the identity of Europeans, and asks where can Europeans feel at home?
What has President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy been up to this week? This week he spoke at the European Council meeting on Wednesday, and visited Turkey, meeting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The New Federalist wonders whether or not the UK’s financial centre – the City of London – should move to Frankfurt.
Kaj Embren, writing ay Blogactiv.eu argues that we should be moving towards a ‘lagom’ society – a Swedish term meaning ‘a fine balance’.
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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