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

The European neighbourhood

Coverage this week was dominated by the ongoing situation in Ukraine. Andrew Wilson at the UCL SSEES Research Blog traces the historical context behind the events, through the country’s independence from the USSR to the ‘Orange Revolution’ in 2004. He writes that while the current unrest will have more long-term impact than the Orange Revolution, precisely where it will lead is still unclear.

Credit: (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Credit: (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Irakli Kotetishvili at the Oxford Blavatnik School of Government Blog takes a similar approach, arguing that one of the key differences between now and 2004 is Russia’s ability to play a more direct role in events. Meanwhile Ulrich Speck at Strategic Europe asks whether the EU has failed Ukraine in its response.

Away from Ukraine, George Weidenfeld at Project Syndicate writes that Europe’s role in the Middle East is likely to increase due to the United States down-scaling its involvement in the region. He argues that Europe should carve out a role as an ‘honest broker’ by avoiding taking either side in existing conflicts. Dmitri Trenin at Strategic Europe also has an analysis of Germany’s capacity to take a greater role in global politics. He argues that Germany should work more closely with other EU allies such as France, the UK and Poland to exert more regional influence.

The EU centre

This week saw the launch of Pollwatch2014, a new website containing opinion polling data and seat predictions in every EU state ahead of the 2014 European Parliament elections in May. Karen Melchior at openDemocracy also has an overview of the different electoral systems used by each EU member state in the elections. She argues that the diversity in different systems potentially undermines the quality of the elections overall.

Elsewhere, Open Europe have a discussion of opinion polling in France ahead of the elections. They note that 59 per cent of French citizens in a recent poll would be in favour of reconsidering the Schengen agreements on passport free travel in Europe.

Frank Markovic at European Public Affairs also writes on the issue of freedom of movement in the EU. He argues that with many EU countries facing economic hardship over the last five years, it is important not to allow populist sentiments to undermine the economic benefits brought about through freedom of movement.

Across Europe

Charlemagne’s notebook reports that former French President Nicolas Sarkozy may consider running again in the upcoming 2017 French presidential election. Although there is little more than speculation to go on, the article notes that Sarkozy’s popularity with the French electorate has risen significantly since his defeat in the 2012 presidential election to François Hollande. However there is no guarantee that he would maintain his current popularity should he return to frontline politics.

Bernhard Clemm at writes on German Euroscepticism. He notes that Euroscepticism has risen in Germany, most noticeably through the rise of the new Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) party, which came very close to entering the German parliament in September 2013. Despite this, the general movement may not be as hard-line as other forms of Euroscepticism across Europe, with a more similar flavour to the UK Conservative Party rather than far-right movements such as those in France and the Netherlands.

Meanwhile ahead of negotiations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Vassilis K. Fouskas at openDemocracy argues that it is time for the country to engage in a new strategy. He suggests an outline for creating a united constitution and writes that the focus of any new strategy must shift to building a common identity which would ensure a stable new state.

And finally…

Are political scientists still relevant? The E-International Relations blog collects responses to the arguments of Nicholas Kristof, who claimed in a recent op-ed piece that political science is becoming increasingly undermined by “turgid prose” and a “publish or perish” attitude which favours publications in academic journals over genuine public engagement.

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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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