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

The EU centre and the crisis

Open Europe write that the EU’s new banking union has once again found itself in difficulty. They note that the European Commission and the European Parliament are unhappy with the setup of the Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM), the proposed permanent fund to bailout large Eurozone banks, as agreed by the Member States in the Council. This means that the implementation of the Eurozone banking union may be delayed until after the European Parliament elections in May 2014.

Silver medal for the Sochi Winter Olympics, Credit: Andy Miah (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Silver medal for the Sochi Winter Olympics, Credit: Andy Miah (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Elsewhere, Mitchell Young in the Europe of Knowledge blog on Ideas on Europe considers whether Horizon 2020, the EU’s new research funding programme for 2014-2020, really offers anything different from previous programmes. He suggests that European research funding is on a gradual process of institutionalisation, despite the fact that national contributors remain the greatest source of funding.

At open Democracy, Susi Meret and Elisabetta Della Corte argue that the current European refugee and asylum system traps individuals and hinders their integration into society. Nevertheless, they say that civil society is attempting to fill the gap, including in the city of Hamburg, where a wide range of community actors have come together to welcome and support refugees who arrived via the Mediterranean Sea and into southern Europe.

Across Europe

Ireland has formally exited its international bailout programme, but not all of the lessons have been learned, writes Tom Healy at Policy Network. While confidence has been restored to its sovereign debt, Ireland still has very high public debt levels (120 per cent of GDP) and, in contrast to its weak position, debate has begun on cutting income taxes.

Germany may require foreign drivers to pay tolls for using the Autobahnen as a result of the deal for a national coalition government, explains Ana Mingo Jaramillo at European Public Affairs. While directly discriminatory measures would be prohibited by EU law, the German government is considering options to work around this, such as requiring all users of the motorways to pay for a permit sticker, but lowering vehicle taxes so as to indirectly benefit Germans.

Charlemagne’s notebook highlights the proliferation of violence in Greece, mostly against government targets, following the disappearance of a convicted terrorist while on parole. Although small bombs, death threats and shootings, all usually without injury, are increasingly prevalent, many are ignored by local authorities. This raises questions as to the stability of an increasingly fragile country.

The European neighbourhood

Not up to date on all the terminology in use for the political unrest in Ukraine? Open Democracy Russia offers a glossary explaining the key actors and some of the concepts in play in the country’s recent turmoil, which was sparked following the government’s decision not to sign an Association Agreement with the EU, and which has grown into a more general anti-government movement.

The European Union and the United States have lately been at loggerheads over financial regulation, including the ring-fencing of deposits, derivatives and foreign banks, writes Christopher Brummer at Project Syndicate. Nevertheless, agreement on these issues can and should be reached, he argues, to ensure that the international financial system is more stable in the long term.

The 2014 Winter Olympics will soon take place in Sochi, Russia. Bill Bowring at the ­e-International Relations blog has five key facts relating to the political relevance of the event. He writes that they ultimately illustrate the importance the Russian Government has placed on its Olympic moment and the degree to which it is prepared to go to ensure domestic success.

Elsewhere, Tim Finch at IPPR argues that the UK should take an increased share of Syrian refugees.

And finally…

When do you (ever) feel truly European? This is a question posed by Saskia Van Dijk and Rakesh Autar at European Public Affairs. They suggest the lack of a European identity stems from the absence of an understanding of or relation to the political workings in Brussels, and the importance of local identities. In this sense, they say that future European politics should be more inclusive to foster a more common spirit.

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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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