Justice and home affairs (including immigration, asylum policies etc)

It is unlikely that large numbers of Romanians will flock to the UK, but those that do migrate will benefit both countries.

In December of this year, the UK’s restriction on the free movement for citizens of Bulgaria and Romania will be lifted. Many UK commentators have predicted a ‘flood’ of new migrants from the two countries as a result. Looking closely at Romania, Clara Volintiru finds that the present debate ignores the relatively positive economic situation in the country and the […]

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Immigrants in Switzerland are far more likely to have their application for citizenship rejected if the decision is made using a referendum.

When immigrants in Switzerland apply for citizenship, the decision is made in the municipality where they reside. While in some parts of Switzerland these decisions are made by elected representatives, in other municipalities individual applications have in the past been subject to a public referendum. Dominik Hangartner and Jens Hainmueller assess the impact of direct democracy on citizenship applications, finding that […]

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Muslim immigrants have come to expect discrimination in France because of their religion, and this is unlikely to change

There is growing concern in France that Muslim immigrants from North Africa are poorly integrated into French society, often due to discrimination. But are they discriminated against because of their religion, or because of their national or ethnic origins? Claire Adida, David Laitin and Marie-Anne Valfort address this very issue, and find that Muslims face significantly higher levels of discrimination […]

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There is a complex relationship between legalised prostitution and human trafficking.

New research by Eric Neumayer investigates the impact of legalised prostitution on what is thought to be one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world: human trafficking. Countries where prostitution is legal experience larger reported inflows of human trafficking.  Every year, thousands of men, women and children are trafficked across international borders. The vast majority of countries in the world are […]

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The time is right for Ireland to reform its laws on abortion.

In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ireland’s implementation of abortion laws had violated the rights of a woman who was forced to travel abroad to terminate her pregnancy. Liz Wicks outlines the legal position, noting that although Ireland has some of the most restrictive abortion legislation in Europe, the Supreme Court has interpreted the Irish Constitution as permitting abortion […]

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British politicians need to reclaim leadership over the UK’s EU membership debate.

In 1975 the United Kingdom held a successful referendum on maintaining its membership of the European Economic Community. With calls growing for a new referendum on the UK’s relationship with the European Union, Oliver Daddow argues that political leaders have largely ceded control of the debate to backbench MPs and an increasingly Eurosceptic media. Unless strong and determined arguments are […]

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The eurozone’s struggling economies are increasingly selling citizenship to raise much needed capital.

How far should countries go to encourage foreign investment? Jelena Dzankic writes that in a time of economic crisis, some countries in Europe are now seeking investment in exchange for citizenship. Assessing recent developments in Bulgaria, Hungary, Portugal and Ireland, she argues that despite the obvious financial benefits to such policies, they are not without risks. They may raise the […]

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Efforts to strengthen and promote the role of universities in the UK often ignore the European dimension, to their cost.

Austerity and the impact agenda have led to a rise in campaign groups and think tanks in support of public universities and the social sciences in both the UK and Europe. Anne Corbett examines three recent efforts in this direction, finding a worrying level of insularity in the UK’s organisations. She writes that there is space for a Campaign for […]

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The increase in asylum seekers from the Balkans was a predictable consequence of a foreign policy driven visa liberalisation.

Since the liberalisation of the EU’s visa policy towards the Balkans in 2009/2010, some EU member states have become concerned at what they term a ‘dramatic’ increase in unfounded asylum claims from that region. Mogens Hobolth investigates the controversy, finding that while the number of asylum claims has increased in recent years, it was a predictable outcome for the EU’s […]

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Portuguese drug policy shows that decriminalisation can work, but only alongside improvements in health and social policies.

Today the Home Affairs Select Committee in the United Kingdom releases a report on drug policy. The report draws on lessons from Portugal’s decriminalisation of drug possession and puts forward a case for the UK reconsidering its own policies. Alex Stevens assesses the situation in Portugal, noting that while decriminalisation has coincided with a fall in the most problematic forms […]

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Lobbying from non-state actors is part and parcel of the EU’s foreign policy making process.

What role do lobbyists play in shaping the EU’s external relations? Using the Israel-Palestine conflict as a case study, Benedetta Voltolini investigates the role of non-state actors in providing information, raising awareness and shaping the EU’s policies in the region. Discussions about lobbying in the EU are not new, but recent events have made it a topic of particular importance. […]

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In Italy, social capital can bridge disconnected communities and encourage innovation.

Economic performance is highly dependent upon underlying social and institutional structures. Riccardo Crescenzi and Luisa Gagliardi write that Italy has proven a very interesting ‘laboratory’ to test this link by looking at the impact of different forms of social capital on innovation. Although social structures and behaviours tend to be resilient and difficult to alter, recent research suggests that forms […]

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Book Review: The Rule of Law in Central America: Citizens’ Reactions to Crime and Punishment

Mary Fran T Malone’s study of public opinion in six central American countries is a treasure house of empirical data on citizen responses to rule-of law dilemmas in the region, but disappointing to a reader keen to apply its insights to the similarly crime-afflicted region of Southern Africa, writes Tamlyn Monson. The Rule of Law in Central America: Citizens’ Reactions […]

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Suffering from the eurocrisis and enlargement fatigue, the EU’s influence on Serbia and Kosovo is on the wane.

In recent years, the EU has had a great deal of influence on the Balkans, particularly through its close involvement in Kosovo. However, as Philip Cunliffe notes, the EU is now suffering from the effects of the economic crisis and has little appetite for enlargement. The EU’s declining power in the region, and the removal of any incentives for progress […]

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The eurozone crisis has increased demand for cheap labour across Europe. However, the return of EU internal migration controls is unlikely.

Rather than reducing labour migration flows within the European Union, the economic crisis seems to have amplified them. Alexandre Afonso argues that the return of internal migration controls within the EU is unlikely, and that domestic battles about the regulation of migrant employment may give rise to surprising alliances. Many had expected that the economic crisis would reduce labour migration […]

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While the EU remains committed to gender equality, the reality still falls far short of policy-makers’ goals.

Gender equality is one of the founding values of the EU, and one which the EU’s institutions have been mandated to integrate into all of their policies since the 1990s. Ania Plomien looks at EU legislation aimed at reducing inequality between men and women, finding that while some improvements have been made in recent years, gender relations remain stubbornly unequal […]

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For the peace process in the Basque Country to be successful, it is vital that authorities understand the discourses which have been used to legitimise ETA’s political violence.

In October 2011, the Basque separatist group ETA announced the cessation of its armed activities. While studies of terrorism typically focus on the consequences of violent acts, Javier Martin-Peña and Ana Varela-Rey argue that the discourses used to legitimise political violence are just as important. Without this legitimation it would be impossible for groups like ETA to carry out violent […]

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In the UK and Germany, rising immigration may not put health services under undue pressure

One of the main arguments against increased immigration is that it puts pressure on public services, by ‘crowding out’ other parts of the population. Using evidence from Germany and the UK, Jonathan Wadsworth investigates immigrants’ use of health services, finding that while there may be some difference in health outcomes, immigrants do not use health services substantially more than the […]

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The EU’s Nobel Prize means that it must do even more to overcome its current crises, and increase its role as a force for peace and prosperity.

This morning the Nobel Prize Committee announced that they had awarded its annual peace prize to the European Union in recognition for its efforts in promoting peace and reconciliation in Europe over the past 60 years. Maurice Fraser argues that it would be a pity if the award goes down in the history books as belated recognition of a job […]

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The UK’s “audit” of EU law is a waste of time. The EU is simply too complex to divide up into costs and benefits.

In July, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office launched a review of the balance of competences in the EU. It aims to review the EU’s powers and what they mean for the UK. J Clive Matthews argues however, that the EU is too complex to be divided up into simple costs and benefits, and that any such review is doomed […]

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