To mark the end of the year we’ve compiled the top five EUROPP articles from 2014 (measured by visits and number of shares on social media).

Should we conceive of Europe as a collection of individual states or as a group of distinct cities and regions which are part of a larger whole? Dimitris Ballas, Danny Dorling and Benjamin Hennig present figures from their new ‘Social Atlas of Europe’, which provides a new way of illustrating the key social and geographic features across European countries. They argue that by viewing Europe in this way it becomes apparent that most of the real social divides across the continent are within states rather than between them.

Despite having a positive effect on the economic situation within the Eurozone, the European Central Bank’s Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) programme has proved controversial, with the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe deeming it illegal under EU law. Writing in the spring, Paul De Grauwe argued that the ruling reflects a serious misunderstanding of central banking on the part of the German Court.

Many of the decisions made in the Council of the European Union are based on qualified majority voting, in which EU legislation can be passed if a certain threshold of support is met among member states. Frank Häge assesses the potential implications of the changes to qualified majority voting rules under the Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in November 2014. He notes that while the precise impact of the changes remains to be seen, they will have important ramifications for the overall legitimacy of the EU’s legislative process.

One of the most widespread arguments about the Eurozone crisis is that countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy have been hamstrung by their lack of monetary sovereignty and the ability to devalue their own currency. Deborah Mabbett and Waltraud Schelkle assess this perspective by comparing the experiences of Greece with Hungary, which does not use the euro, and Latvia, which previously pegged its currency to the euro before joining the single currency in 2014. They find that while there are real problems with the crisis management in the Euro area, monetary sovereignty is not the solution.

One of the great concerns for EU states over the on-going situation in Ukraine is their reliance on Russian gas to meet their energy demands, with around 60 per cent of these imports being delivered through pipelines in Ukraine. Jack Sharples and Andy Judge provide a comprehensive assessment of what the impact would be if the transit routes via Ukraine were suspended. They note that while the situation has generally been portrayed as an ‘EU problem’, the risk to Western Europe would be minimal. Rather, the problem would be a distinctly regional one, with Bulgaria and Macedonia facing a serious loss of gas supplies. Other states in Central and Eastern Europe would not face immediate problems due to existing gas stocks, provided the suspension of transit through Ukraine did not last longer than approximately two months.

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Note: Interviews give the views of the interviewees, and not the position of EUROPP – European Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics. Featured image credit: European Parliament (CC-BY-SA-ND-NC-3.0)

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