The EUROPP team take a look at the week in Brussels blogging

Across Europe

Reaction to Germany’s federal elections, in which Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU won around 42 per cent of the vote, dominated most of the coverage this week. Mats Persson calls the result a ‘triumph’ for Merkel which ‘firmly establishes her as the most powerful female politician ever’.

Credit: momentcaptured1 (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Joschka Fischer, former German Foreign Minister, writes at Project Syndicate that the real story of the elections was the demise of the FDP, who failed to make it into the Bundestag for the first time in the German Federal Republic’s history. Kai Arzheimer at the Conversation sticks with this theme, arguing that by instructing CDU/CSU voters to avoid strategically voting for the FDP, Angela Merkel has put herself in an awkward position over coalition negotiations.

Charlemagne’s notebook draws attention not just to the FDP, but to the poor result for the Greens, which led to the resignation of their parliamentary leader, Jürgen Trittin. The article also notes that if a grand coalition between the CDU/CSU and SPD occurs, the Left Party will be the main opposition in the Bundestag.

The EU centre and the crisis

Away from Germany, David Ellwood at the OUP blog traces the history of French ‘cultural exceptionalism’ in light of EU-US free trade negotiations. The French government has taken the position that cultural products, such as film and television, should be left out of the discussions.

Open Europe outline the details of the UK’s legal challenge against the cap on bankers’ bonuses across the EU. They note that the ruling may have broader implications, in particular with respect to the capacity for Eurozone countries to implement wider measures under the Treaty framework. Jon Worth also assesses the reaction from politicians and media figures to the challenge.

Elsewhere, Simon Wren-Lewis writes at Mainly Macro on what he calls the ‘austerity deception’. Briefly put, this is the notion that governments across Europe have justified austerity policies as a short-term response to a debt crisis, when their real aim is to permanently reduce the size of the state.

On a completely different subject, Coulisses de Bruxelles looks at the role of the European Commission in protecting the rights of Roma in France.

The European neighbourhood

Ulrich Speck at Strategic Europe argues that the new German government’s foreign policy should look beyond Europe and the Eurozone crisis. He writes that with the United States reducing its role in global affairs, Germany has a responsibility to take a stronger stance over international crises such as Syria. Strategic Europe also collates responses from four experts on whether Merkel and French President François Hollande will now be able to co-operate more effectively on foreign and security issues.

On the situation in Syria, Jean-Marie Guéhenno at Project Syndicate argues that Russia’s initiative to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles offers the West a ‘second chance’ to resolve the crisis. Elsewhere, Open Democracy have an article from Burak Kadercan assessing the consequences of Turkey’s Middle East policy for security in the region.

And finally…

Chris Dillow quotes a recent psychology experiment which found that human beings tend to blame individuals for negative outcomes, even when those outcomes were produced entirely by bad luck. He notes that this may have some influence on social attitudes with respect to welfare, in particular the argument that the poor can be blamed for their economic circumstances.

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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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