East Europe

Despite the eurozone crisis, and the ambivalent attitudes of the Turkish public, Turkey still stands to benefit from EU accession.

While the EU continues to work toward a solution to the eurozone crisis, Turkey has experienced a period of strong economic growth. Soli Özel argues that although Turkey’s interest in EU membership has declined in the wake of the crisis, the country could still gain substantial benefits from European integration. The crisis may also have a positive effect for Turkey […]

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Posturing by Romania’s political parties ahead of December elections shows that they are not just competing for power, but for their own survival.

This month has seen massive rallies for Romania’s political parties ahead of parliamentary elections in December, with the European People’s Party holding its congress and the ruling USL alliance hosting an 80,000 strong rally. Clara Volintiru looks at this political posturing between the rival factions of the President and Prime Minister, and argues that these rallies ignore the general political […]

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Georgian Dream’s election victory puts the country at a crossroads between Russia and the West.

This month’s parliamentary elections in Georgia resulted in defeat for President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party, and a clear majority of seats for Bidzina Ivanishvili’s ‘Georgian Dream’ coalition. Hrant Kostanyan assesses the impact of Georgian Dream’s victory, arguing that the country will likely pursue a more balanced foreign policy, maintaining its course of integration with the EU and NATO, but also seeking […]

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In northern Poland, villagers are struggling against shale gas exploration that threatens to transform their lands and livelihoods.

Shale gas exploration, or ‘fracking’, is on the rise, and is not without controversy with many concerned about its potential for environmental damage. In northern Poland, gas and oil exploration companies are increasingly making use of the technique with the full support of the government. Edyta Materka looks at the response of local villagers and Kashubians – a Polish-German ethnic […]

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For people living in the countries of the former Soviet Union, poorer health means a lower chance of working.

In the two decades since its break up, the countries of the former Soviet Union have undergone significant economic growth and development. But current health outcomes in these countries do not reflect this, and this can have significant side effects on other aspects of society, such as the workforce. Yevgeniy Goryakin and colleagues find that the poor health of people […]

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Five minutes with Estonian Finance Minister Jürgen Ligi – “I honestly haven’t seen any austerity in Greece”

After experiencing a sharp recession at the beginning of the economic crisis, Estonia has recorded growth figures well above the EU average. Combined with the country’s austerity policies, this recovery has resulted in Estonia being described as a ‘champion of austerity’. In an interview with EUROPP editors Chris Gilson and Stuart A Brown, Estonia’s Minister of Finance Jürgen Ligi outlines […]

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Poland has survived the economic crisis remarkably well, but the country faces a future dilemma over adopting the euro.

Poland has recorded impressive growth figures since the beginning of the global financial crisis. Witold M.Orłowski assesses the factors behind the country’s economic success, noting that the internal strength of the economy and its relatively low exposure to troubled southern European states have provided key advantages. The main long-term threat stems from the country’s future participation in the euro.  If […]

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The Russian opposition’s move towards a more concrete left-wing platform may be a game changer in the struggle for Russia’s future

The past week has seen the ejection of opposition politician Gennady Gudkov from the Russian parliament and a 20,000 strong march in Moscow to protest against President Vladimir Putin’s rule. Mark Galeotti argues that these events are occurring against the backdrop of an opposition in Russia that has an emerging leftist agenda and that has begun to articulate its own […]

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The anti-democratic tendencies now prominent in some parts of Eastern Europe may soon become an even bigger headache for the EU than the Eurozone crisis.

Twelve countries have joined the EU since 2004, with Croatia’s accession expected in 2013. Tamas Dezso Czigler argues that while the Eurozone’s economic problems are currently dominating attention, the EU is also facing a growing crisis in the new accession countries, with a number of Eastern European states exhibiting anti-democratic tendencies. The article warns that problems in Eastern Europe also […]

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Despite President Traian Băsescu’s referendum ‘victory’, Romanians are continuing to lose trust in their government and governing institutions.

At the end of July, Romanian President Traian Băsescu survived a national referendum on his dismissal, initiated by Prime Minister Victor Ponta. Clara Volintiru looks at the lead-up to the current political conflict in Romania, and finds few reasons to be optimistic. Even as all sides now claim victory, further political turmoil may have severe ramifications for Romania’s economy. As […]

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The politicised nature of many Eastern European institutions means that they are trusted less than those in Western Europe.

Eastern Europeans trust their political system and institutions less than their counterparts in Western Europe. But, the foundations of institutional trust at the individual level are not that different between Western and Eastern Europe. What is causing the gap, then? Zsolt Boda and Gergő Medve-Bálint argue that the persistently low levels of institutional trust in the East may be explained […]

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Referendums may help to reduce tax evasion by fostering greater tax morale amongst citizens

In several countries across Europe, tax collection is patchy and likely contributes to economic problems. In a comparative study of countries engaged in transitions from communist rule to democracy and market economies, Simon Hug and Franziska Spörri assess the interplay between trust and institutions and how this affects tax morale. The study finds that allowing for referendums can strengthen the […]

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Romania’s President Băsescu remains suspended, despite surviving the impeachment referendum brought against him.

In the recent referendum in Romania, 88 per cent of voters supported impeaching President Traian Băsescu, yet the President survived on the basis that the turnout did not reach the required 50 per cent +1. The ambiguous nature of this result has prompted Romania’s Constitutional Court to announce that it will rule on the validity of the referendum in September. […]

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Five minutes with Paul Sum on the political situation in Romania: “Romanians not only lack confidence in their governing institutions, many hold disdain for them.”

On Sunday, Romanian President Traian Basescu narrowly survived an impeachment referendum after voter turnout fell below 50 per cent, the level required for the vote to be valid. In an interview with EUROPP editors Stuart A Brown and Chris Gilson, Paul Sum of the University of North Dakota details the factors behind the political crisis, assesses the EU’s role in […]

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Romania’s efforts in the fight against corruption may not be effective if they increase mistrust in political figures and institutions

Clara Volintiru looks at the recent indictment of Romania’s former prime minister on corruption charges. Whilst it is undoubtedly positive to pursue justice for corrupt politicians, there is a dilemma in how to tackle corruption and other sources of institutional mistrust, when questionable and selective prosecutions may reinforce this distrust. On the 20th of June, the international press enthusiastically announced […]

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In the Czech Republic, austerity has provided a window of opportunity for healthcare reform

Austerity policies adopted all over Europe have provided momentum for painful reforms of healthcare sectors. Tomas Roubal explains which policies the Czech Republic has adopted since the beginning of the crisis, and argues that the country’s health care system has started the process of fundamental modernization.   The Czech Republic has had one of the most stable and prosperous economies in […]

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Tighter times mean that Russia can no longer continue to ignore the corruption which is endemic to nearly every aspect of society.

Russia is well known for the systemic corruption that characterises its society, politics and institutions. But this may be about to change. Mark Galeotti argues that as Russia moves on from its period of post-Soviet state-rebuilding, the sheer costs of corruption and pressure from Russia’s new middle classes may force the government to take tougher action. It’s a cliché to […]

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Corruption is not just endemic to the Russian system, it is the system. It is in the EU’s interest to increase its engagement with Russian society

Authoritarianism and rampant corruption characterize the Russian political system. Adam Balcer argues that the EU now needs to build closer relationships between the EU and Russian civil society to foster change in the country. He suggests Russia’s join the Erasmus program and the establishment of a comprehensive network between Russian NGOs, think thanks, scholars, opposition parties and EU leaders. A […]

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Preventing racism at Euro 2012 is not just the responsibility of Poland and the Ukraine. UEFA must take a harder line.

Hosted by Poland and the Ukraine, the lead up to the Euro 2012 football competition has been fraught with concerns about racism. Daniel Burdsey argues that the organising body, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) must do more to show that it will not tolerate racism, both on and off the field. After a domestic Premier League season that […]

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In Romania, electoral reform is taking a backwards step, to the benefit of the ruling parties.

Since the fall of communism, Romania has used a system of proportional representation in its parliamentary elections. But now, according to Cristina Bucur, a month after the collapse of the coalition government led by the Democratic Liberal Party due to a motion of no confidence, the new ruling coalition of the National Liberals  and the Social Democrats are set to […]

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