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

The EU centre

François Hollande and David Cameron participated in a joint press conference on Friday, which was dominated by the issue of EU reform. Open Europe have a summary of some of the main points to emerge from the discussion.

Lucrezia Reichlin and Luis Garciano write at Project Syndicate that despite recent reforms, the Eurozone still remains weak. Although much of the effort has been placed on breaking the link between banks and sovereigns in the euro area, such as through the Single Supervisory Mechanism, banks themselves still hold a significant amount of sovereign bonds. They suggest several ways to address the problem, with a view to preventing another banking crisis.

François Hollande and David Cameron at RAF Brize Norton, Credit: The Prime Minister's Office (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

François Hollande and David Cameron at RAF Brize Norton, Credit: The Prime Minister’s Office (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

The EU’s data protection framework, which is currently under review, should provide greater protection to individuals, says Christopher Kuner at the OUP blog. However, he cautions that it shouldn’t focus excessively on multiplying the number of laws on data protection, and instead should put more effort into achieving greater compliance for both large and small holders of personal information.

Elsewhere, Ed Gavaghan at European Public Affairs evaluates the recently published EU 2030 climate change framework. This includes a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 per cent below 1990 levels. Although this target is binding on the EU as a whole, it does not include required targets for individual Member States. Overall, he suggests that the 2030 framework will not be helpful in incentivising further innovation or investment in renewable energy technologies.

Across Europe

Britain can take some inspiration from northern Europe as it tries to right its economy, say Olaf Cramme and Nick Pearce at Policy Network. They recommend two ideas in this respect: strategic social welfare spending to drive economic growth and making the state more active in the economy – both to reshape the state and the economy in preparation for the future.

The European Parliament elections in Italy will follow the fractious nature of Italian politics in general, explain Piero Tortola in openDemocracy. Offering descriptions of the largest parties campaigning in the elections, classified as Mainstream or Eurosceptic, he predicts that the elections will come down to two big (not surprising) issues: the economy and the structural and institutional reforms the country desperately needs.

Meanwhile, Charlemagne’s notebook reports on the latest trend in Sweden – discovering where former criminals live. A new service which allows users to search the last recorded details of people who have committed a crime, complete with a mobile app which gives an alert upon entering an area with a high number of individuals with a criminal record, has faced criticism for undermining privacy. It has also been argued that it may lead to false assumptions, as the publicly-available data used is not always accurate.

The European neighbourhood

Now that the dust is beginning to settle on the idea of a trade and investment deal between the European Union and the United States, Gabriel Siles-Brügge and Ferdi De Ville at the Manchester Policy Blogs question the supposed gains from such an agreement. They argue that the benefits wouldn’t be as significant as predicted and, following the European Commission’s decision to hold a public consultation, they call for a wider debate on the issue.

At Strategic Europe, Judy Dempsey considers the implication of the US state of the union address for the EU. She notes the turn away from Europe, the pivot towards Asia and the lack of any mention of the US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. While there was not much about Europe, she says, the EU and the US must continue to work together on important economic and security issues.

In the wake of the Turkish Prime Minister’s visit to Brussels for discussions with the EU institutions, Turkey’s path to EU accession is continuing to veer off course, writes Marc Pierini, also at Strategic Europe. He outlines the challenges for the Turkish application and the country’s political stability.

And finally…

Why is the English-speaking media so frequently critical of the French? Vahid Nick Pay at openDemocracy argues that, despite societal and cultural differences, France is facing many of the same challenges as the rest of Europe (including the UK).

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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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