EU institutions, government and politics and enlargement

The UK government’s review of EU competences offers valuable academic insights into both Britain and the EU

The British government’s ‘Review of the Balance of Competences’ into the European Union’s role in British life is surrounded by political tensions. Tim Oliver argues that beyond the controversy, the review also offers a unique insight into the operation of British government, the politics of the UK’s coalition government, UK-EU relations, and the evolution of the EU. Academics may well […]

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It’s time for European governments to embrace a real reform agenda for the EU

David Cameron has announced his intention to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the European Union ahead of an ‘in/out’ referendum in 2017. Hugo Brady writes that rather than attempting to negotiate the re-nationalisation of EU powers to Westminster, he and other European leaders should consider some practical, feasible reforms that the Union can begin to implement immediately. Outlining a series of […]

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Europe: an end to fallacy

The Eurozone crisis has generated a number of structural reforms at the European level. In light of the democratic implications of some of these reforms, Andrew Duff and Guy Verhofstadt propose a new ‘fundamental law’ to replace the EU’s existing treaty framework. This incorporates a federal union in which the European Commission is transformed into a full democratic constitutional government […]

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Concerns over the European Commission’s use of expert groups are misplaced

The European Commission has set up a number of expert groups to aid the development of European policies. As John Moodie writes, a balance is generally required between the gains in effectiveness and efficiency which expertise can provide for policymakers, and the democratic implications of relying too heavily on experts in the European policy process. He argues that while there […]

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Hand-waving as renegotiation: The UK’s (and EU’s) limited options

David Cameron has committed a future majority Conservative Government to a renegotiation of the terms of British membership of the European Union, followed by an in/out referendum. While much has been made of the political implications of a British exit, less attention has been paid to the substance of what a renegotiated settlement might amount to. Simon Usherwood argues that […]

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The EU’s unwillingness to discuss the possibility of a ‘Brexit’ is playing into the hands of Eurosceptics

British Prime Minister David Cameron has made a commitment to hold a referendum on the UK’s EU membership, should his party win the next general election. Tim Oliver writes that while the possibility of a ‘Brexit’ has been much discussed in the UK context, across the rest of the EU the issue has largely been downplayed or avoided. He argues […]

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Europe should reject Jürgen Habermas’ vision of a federal European state and instead create an enduring association between sovereign nations.

What should the ultimate aim of European integration be? Simon Glendinning writes on the argument put forward by Jürgen Habermas in favour of creating a ‘supranational democracy’ in Europe, with a common European government. Taking issue with Habermas’ interpretation of the philosopher Immanuel Kant, he argues that the creation of a supranational democracy is not only unlikely, but conceptually flawed. […]

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Fifty years after Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, the European Union could still learn a lot from his words.

This week saw the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, which was marked at an event by US President Barack Obama. Rune Kier writes that while King’s speech still has a great deal of relevance for Americans; Europeans could also learn from it in the context of the Eurozone crisis. He argues that Europe lacks […]

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Raising MEPs’ salaries causes them to attend fewer meetings, but cutting their salaries increases their attendance rate.

What impact does a parliamentarian’s salary have on the amount of effort they put into representing citizens? Naci Mocan and Duha Altindag outline results from a study on salary changes which took place as part of a change in procedures in the European Parliament in 2009. They note that MEPs who experienced an increase in salary in 2009 attended fewer […]

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Why the Dutch version of the balance of competence review will not please the Brits.

The Netherlands has been viewed as a natural ally for the UK in efforts to reform the European Union. Andrew Duff MEP looks at the Dutch government’s policies on European integration and the outcome of the country’s recent ‘subsidiarity review’, published in June. He argues that despite containing some useful advice, the review does not rise to the occasion. Moreover […]

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The European Court of Justice’s growing role in the domain of fundamental rights is not a sign of judicial activism, but political insufficiencies.

A common criticism of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is that it engages in ‘activist’ rulings aimed at increasing its own power as an institution. Andreas Grimmel argues that many of these criticisms fail to put ECJ rulings within the context of wider EU integration. In the field of fundamental rights, for instance, the ECJ is required to make […]

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    If the European Parliament voting system were changed to an open-list system, many voters would switch their support from UKIP to the Conservative party

If the European Parliament voting system were changed to an open-list system, many voters would switch their support from UKIP to the Conservative party

Britain currently uses a closed-list system for the European Parliament elections, allowing voters only to express support for a parties as a whole. An open-list system would allow a voter to choose a candidate from one of the mainstream political parties, whilst still expressing her preferences on the European issue through the selection of a party. Since their exists substantial intra-party diversity. Jack […]

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A Eurozone-wide IMF programme could save both

In past decades, the International Monetary Fund has had a potent reputation, especially in the developing world. In its programmes in Europe, however, the IMF has had to take a back seat to the desires of the European Commission and the European Central Bank, whose policies have thus far been less than successful. In light of this, Sony Kapoor makes […]

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Book Review: Policy Without Politicians

In Policy without Politicians a leading expert on public policy has devoted four years to interviewing middle-ranking civil servants in three languages over six jurisdictions to construct a comparative survey of bureaucratic influence on secondary legislation.  The venture may sound worthy at best, but Patricia Hogwood finds that Edward C. Page has produced a little gem: an intellectually honest, well-constructed, […]

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The UK’s proposed referendum on Europe would test British commitment to the European Union

How can European states test popular commitment to the European Union? Richard Rose assesses the use of referendums to gain consent from European citizens for the integration process. While three quarters of member states have held at least one referendum on Europe, the UK is notable for allowing major changes in the powers of government to be approved by a […]

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The European Council’s latest agreement to tackle youth unemployment is unlikely to have any immediate impact.

Last week the European Council held a summit largely devoted to the issue of youth unemployment. Mikkel Barslund assesses the outcome of the summit, which saw extra funding committed to tackling the problem. He argues that while the measures agreed are a step in the right direction, they are unlikely to have any immediate impact on youth unemployment levels. The […]

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The EU’s incremental adjustments to the eurocrisis may not be enough to meet the coming challenges to its governance and democratic legitimacy.

Since the beginning of the eurozone debt crisis three years ago, the member states have been forced to change the governance of the eurozone in a long period of crisis management. Daniela Schwarzer looks over the major changes to the EU’s governance structure, arguing that the European Council, Germany, and the European Central Bank have moved to the centre stage, […]

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Euroscepticism is rooted in a broader authoritarian worldview that also includes higher levels of nationalism and hostility to ‘outsiders’.

What factors are likely to lead to citizens opposing European integration? Erik R. Tillman notes that a number of recent studies have attempted to explain opposition to the EU in terms of social identity. Drawing on these studies, he argues that those who oppose the EU are likely to subscribe to a particular ‘authoritarian’ worldview which includes a predisposition towards […]

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The European Commission is stronger and better equipped to meet Europe’s challenges than is often thought.

Hussein Kassim presents findings from a new book that reveals the inner workings of one of the world’s most powerful international administrations. Examining the backgrounds and beliefs of officials, and how the organisation has changed over the past decade, he argues that the European Commission is stronger and better equipped to meet the challenges that confront the European Union than […]

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Falling support for the European Parliament, not the economic crisis, has led to a decline in support for the EU in Spain and Portugal.

In April, a major Eurobarometer study reported that there had been a decline in support for the European Union across Europe, especially in countries where the Eurozone crisis’ effects had been most severe. Mariano Torcal takes a closer look at the reasons behind falling support for the EU in Spain and Portugal. Using panel data, he finds that a significant […]

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