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

The European Commission’s provision of a free online collection system for statements of support for its European Citizens’ Initiative shows that it takes its own citizens and legislation seriously.

At the beginning of this year, the European Commission launched its European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) which allows groups to collect support from at least 1 million citizens across a quarter of the EU’s member states to propose new laws. Despite its initial failings, Maja Troedsson argues that the European Commission’s provision of an online system for the collection of signatures […]

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Until negative stereotypes are addressed, Roma will continue to be the most marginalised minority group in Europe.

The forced closure of Roma camps in France has recently attracted criticism from UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay. Aidan McGarry assesses some of the main issues facing Roma in Europe, arguing that Roma are often seen and treated not just as a problem community, but as a problem in their own right. Any solution must be focused on challenging […]

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The Bundestag is now a major player in the functioning of the European Stability Mechanism. Its constraints may lead the EU to recover some measure of democracy.

On 12 September, the German constitutional court ruled that the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) did not violate the country’s constitution. Damian Chalmers argues that the constraints placed on the ESM by the Court in Karlsruhe, that national parliaments must be associated with fiscal transfers and support, mean that national representatives rather than EU officials will have a greater say in […]

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Anti-Semitism is still a significant part of European culture. However, it should not be conflated with criticism of Israeli policies.

The history of European anti-Semitism can be traced from medieval Christian influences, through nineteenth century nationalism and racism. Göran Therborn argues that while institutionalised anti-Semitism largely died out after the Holocaust, it remains a significant part of European culture. Nevertheless, the tendency to assign anti-Semitic motivations to criticism of Israeli policies is both empirically unfounded and problematic, not least because […]

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The experience of East European migrants in the UK suggests that there is racism towards newcomers regardless of racial difference

Jon Fox looks at the racialisation of migration in the UK. While immigration policy can be seen as managed to maximise economic benefits, it is also done in a way that seeks to minimise social disturbances. Migrants are often portrayed in the tabloids not as upstanding workers trying to eke out a living, but as dangerous social parasites preying on their well-meaning hosts. However, for tabloids, shared […]

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Promoting social innovation may help reinforce social cohesion in Europe’s cities

The rise of European cities as ‘engines of growth’ has seen them radically transformed in recent years, but often with the side-effect of increasing inequality and falling social cohesion as exemplified by riots in London and Paris. Against the background of increasing social problems, Annette Zimmer and Andrea Walter argue that social innovations might help eliminate social inequalities by offering […]

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Once again, the law in Russia is becoming a tool of political control

Successive Russian leaders have regarded the law as an instrument of the state rather than a constraint on it. Reflecting on the recent trial and imprisonment of Russian band Pussy Riot and moves to oust dissenting politician Gennady Gudkov, Mark Galeotti argues that while further expansion of Russia’s state security apparatus is planned by the Kremlin, opposition, including from legal […]

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Cultural differences may explain why riots and violent protests against austerity have occurred in Greece, but not in Spain.

While rioting and violent protests have been a frequent occurrence on the streets of Greek cities since the start of the debt crisis, Spain has not yet experienced similar scenes. Aikaterini Andronikidou and Iosif Kovras assess why this is the case, noting that the two countries have very different cultural attitudes toward anti-system politics. This partly reflects the historical transitions […]

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Norway’s Breivik judgement shows that Europe’s ban on the death penalty is now irreversible.

While the death penalty is a part of many criminal justice systems across the world, it has been abolished in almost all European countries. Andrew Hammel argues that reactions to the recent trial of Anders Behring Breivik in Norway illustrate how far removed capital punishment is from the political agenda in Europe. There was little appetite within Norway and the […]

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The sacking of anti-austerity journalists is part of a worrying trend for press freedom in Spain.

In recent months a number of high profile dismissals have been made at RTVE, the body which manages public TV and radio services in Spain. This follows criticism from the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and other left-wing parties in the country over the appointment of officials at RTVE with links to the governing Partido Popular (PP) party led by […]

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By leaving policies up to member states, the EU is failing in its commitments to protect minorities

The Treaty of Lisbon firmly states that respect for minorities is a value of the EU. As Tawhida Ahmed writes, however, this declaration has not been acted upon by the EU institutions; in particular, the creation of an explicit EU strategy on minority rights has still not been realised. In fact, the matter is still largely left to the member […]

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Five minutes with Lord Boswell of the UK’s House of Lords’ EU Committee – “We have some arguably existential crises in the European Union”

The UK’s House of Lords’ EU Committee aims to hold the UK government to account for its actions at the EU level, and also considers EU related documents prior to decisions being made on them. In an interview with EUROPP editor Chris Gilson, Committee Chairman Lord Boswell discusses how the Eurozone crisis has affected the work of the House of […]

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Greek society is now stuck between neo-Nazism, racism and austerity

The aftermath of June’s fresh elections in Greece saw the formation of a three-party coalition government. The election also saw the neo-Nazi party “Golden Dawn” come fifth place in the polls, and gain seats in the national parliament. Alexandros Sakellariou and the the Greek MYPLACE team at Panteion University of Social And Political Sciences discuss neo-Nazi influence, austerity measures and racism following the Greek […]

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EU plans to ‘fingerprint the world’ for new border controls are bound to generate controversy.

The EU is currently exploring a range of new initiatives aimed at improving the functioning of Europe’s borders, including the use of biometric checks such as fingerprinting and face scanning. Simon Davies assesses the nature of these reforms, noting that the new system has the potential to provoke controversy not only within Europe, but also in the wider international context. […]

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Attempts to ‘re-nationalize’ Schengen highlight the contradictions within Europe’s border control regime

For nearly two decades, the Schengen border control regime has allowed free movement across 26 European countries, but recent efforts by some member states to effectively ‘renationalize’ the regime has caused some commentators to question its democratic legitimacy. Ruben Zaiotti argues that in light of these questions and the potential for the expansion of the scheme into Romania and Bulgaria, […]

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The Greek government’s recent crackdown on illegal immigrants illustrates the risk that racism and xenophobia are becoming mainstream.

Last week, the Greek government rounded up thousands of illegal immigrants in Athens, with many now awaiting deportation. Vassilis Monastiriotis argues that while illegal immigration is an issue that needs to be addressed in Greece, the government’s tactics of zero-tolerance show that it is jumping onto the bandwagon of xenophobia and shifting the blame for the country’s economic problems. Illegal […]

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London’s Olympics show that the links between sports, citizenship, politics, and national identity are as tangible as ever

As London’s Olympics commence, Jelena Dzankic argues that sports are closely related to national identity and can have a deep symbolic meaning for states such as those in the former Yugoslavia where they are central to the development of emerging national identities. She also argues that there can also be a strong link between sports and citizenship, with many countries […]

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The EU’s new human rights strategy is a step in the right direction, but whether or not it will be implemented and enforced successfully remains to be seen.

At the end of June, the EU launched its new Strategic Framework and Action Plan on human rights, and announced a new special representative for human rights. Sionaidh Douglas-Scott argues that while the EU’s new strategy is strong in its aspirations; its operational details still need to be clarified. It may also need stronger powers to tackle human rights violations […]

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Recent developments in the EU single market suggest an increasing hostility towards labour market regulation

Can workers still fight for wage increases and the protection of their rights during times of economic crisis? The current mood of austerity in Europe means that this is becoming much more difficult. Yet, Anneliese Dodds argues that just as responses to the financial crisis are socially constructed rather than being ‘natural’ or ‘inevitable’, the same applies to pressures on […]

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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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