EUROPEAN UNION
     

The European Union (EU) is an economic, monetary and political union of democratic (member) states that itself is a democracy too, and a union of citizens, located primarily in Europe.
With over 500 million citizens, the EU combined generates an estimated 30% share (US$ 18.4 trillion in 2008) of the nominal gross world product and about 22% (US$15.2 trillion in 2008) of the PPP gross world product
. But what a
differences in motivations and perceptions; on one hand battles held in the Ukraine to join the EU and on the other war language in the UK exit the EU.

Only the Union can bring true added value in defence of many important voters’ interests and to the geopolitical challenges within a globalised world and which can only be implemented at this level, insofar as
the necessary powers are conferred upon it and that the European executive is held accountable to - and can be sanctioned by - the democratically elected Parliament. It is only after defining the policies which, by their nature, should be a competence of the Union that one can agree on the optimal structure of the institutions that should ensure their implementation. The European Commission is to serve European interests, the Council of the European Union defends the interests of Member States and the European Parliament that of its citizens.

Estonia Presidency of
the Council of the EU

energy union

EU politics



political logic of disintegration

(Ivan Krastev)

EU organization and decision making

strategic agenda for
the Union in times of change


some previous predating
notes and interrogations
on the future of the EU

ADMINISTRATION:
- EU as polity in IL
- on governing Europe
- multilevel governance
- the role of the EP

 facing the Europe-Central Asia relationship. State of the Union. The Post-Crisis EU: Phoenix from the Ashes? with Martin Schulz on opportunities in crisis for a stronger Europe

HISTORY:
- history of the EU
- CVCE
- navigating the EU
- EU adm. history

The Europe 2020 strategy, CEPS paperback EUGS
Lisbon Treaty
website European Union federal Europe
EIAS
access to EU law The Rome Declaration
towards a democratic foundation of Europe's economy and finance


'towards a genuine
EMU':

- banking union
- economic governance
- political union

draft guidelines following the United Kingdom's notification under Article 50 TEU
capital cities
of the EU
variable geometry European Commission
European Commission on Justice

on sovereignty,
subsidiarity & powers

what is a directive
and what does it do?

national parliaments
and EU law making

(R. Corbett)

bridges between
national perspectives
on the EU

Cyprus | Germany |Slovakia | Croatia | Hungary | Malta |
Ireland |
Italy | Poland
France |
Romanian politics | Greece | Czech Republic | Latvia | Netherlands

An independent Reflection Group was established under the Conclusions of the European Council, with the objective of assisting the European Union more effectively anticipate and meet challenges in the longer term horizon of 2020 to 2030
Herman van Rompuy awarded

common foreign &
security policy
(cfsp)


common security &
defence policy
(csdp)

March 2007, 50th anniversary of the EU. Berlin Declaration: Over the years ahead it would be crucial to safeguard the European way of life and assume global responsibility. That meant, the Chancellor pointed out, that "Europe needs to be able to act, to act more effectively than it can at present." The European Union needs more and better defined competences than it has today: in energy policy, foreign policy, in justice and home affairs. And it must ensure, she noted, that even with 27 or more Member States its institutions function efficiently and democratically

EU weekly

financial programming
and budget


investment plan for Europe
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Europa is the largest area of peace and prosperity in history, biggest humanitarian aid provider, and operates with the most comprehensive diplomatic network of the world. Moreover, the polity provides security, the successful Erasmus+ program, yields the single market, fosters the trade agenda, agreed the Europe 2020 growth strategy, is creating a common energy policy, and is working to reform of the financial sector. But these days, instability and populism makes the European project seen as monster; member states jointly have not completed and complied in a timely manner several common agreements with big impact.
To regain stability and trust, Europa needs an agile and decisively form of Authority to cooperate, allowing sovereign states to be as free as possible, to clean up and resolve old vicious issues and unfinished business, to retain what works, and to agree, run, comply and finish on matters that require joint approach. Only after the order that carries us is restored and works, we can trust Europe again.

There are still choices: status quo / muddling through, federalism, improved continuation of full supranational collaboration, dismantling of Europe to regain the flexibility of the smallness, God back on the throne, or weapon. Over 2000 years there has been a vision of a future in which Europa would acquire some kind of unity. The idea will not disappear. We are equipped with a repository of tools that can shape our life and therefore able to find appropriate relevance that gives Europa glamor. We have to compare our best practices and use these with each other for our common destiny.

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The principle of precaution should not impose on our political masters the obligation to enforce urgently the necessary reforms to shelter us from foreign arbitrary decisions which encroach on our sovereignty and increase our degree of subordination. For example, the Euro must become a credible alternative to other strong currencies. This implies accelerating the finalisation of the Economic and Monetary Union. Such an EMU would become the privileged counterpart to the ECB. The latter could then deploy successfully the full range of monetary tools available to a fully fledged Central Bank, including its role as lender of last resort to the “EMU Government” and the hands on management of an appropriate exchange rate policy.

"Europe” is not the cause of our present difficulties, it is its transformation towards a resolutely “federal” structure. There are uncountable dynamics to bring under the spotlight, from  the most beautiful to the ultimate destructive. To counter occurrence of destructive dynamics, the European idea has emerged and is, using the concept of differentiated integration and approach of multi-level governance, a direction sought to achieve common goals. A list of reasons to like the EU might read as follows:

it has helped bring a lasting peace to Europe, mainly through the single market, it has promoted prosperity, innovation, opportunity and choice, also thanks to the single market, it has raised standards and expectations, it has helped Europeans understand their shared values and what they have in common, it has reduced – yes, reduced – regulation and red tape by harmonizing national laws in numerous areas of policy, it has helped replace self-interest with shared interests, and exclusion with inclusion, it has promoted democracy and free markets at home and abroad, by bringing together 28 governments and more than 500 million people, it has allowed Europe to speak with a louder voice, it offers a benchmark model of civilian power, showing what can be achieved through peace rather than the threat or use of violence and it has encouraged a rules-based approach to international affairs.

Europe is for the community a place to feel at home. Citizens in EU-member-states have European citizenship and have therefore opportunity to help with preparation of texts, decision-making and the evaluation of the EU's work. But there is much more. To provide people feel home, there are also non-material trends. Not only languages, literature & poetry, history, philosophy (within which ethics), religion, visuals, performing arts and music, health, and sports are part of it, but also cultural values, identity, virtues, tolerance, solidarity, equality, rule of law & justice are aspects that contribute to improve well-being.

If Europe wants to be a global player, it should also have the disposal of a strong economy, a solid foreign policy and a proper policy for security and is therefore focusing on:

  • how to handle the short term pressures associated with the present global economic downturn. But it is vital to look to the longer term to ensure that economies, enterprises and industry are in a strong position to strengthen multiple forces and to set GDP growth. To achieve these goals and to provide a strong economy the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) emerged and was afterwards underpinned, and recognizes Europe recognizes '2020-strategies (digital agenda, innovation, youth on the move, resource efficiency, an industrial policy for the globalisation era, an agenda for new skills and jobs and a platform against poverty)

  • foreign policy, necessary about the kind of society we want to live in because fundamental changes in the relations and the balances between world powers are in full swing;

  • security & defence policy. Political leaders  that made reasonable and responsible decisions came on stage and changed the course of history. Several generations of Europeans have lived their whole lives in freedom and have, except an incursion into Georgia, not been witness to war in the Old Continent. This is a valuable legacy that we should all keep in mind and which must be responsibly managed to guarantee its future success.

Aspects asking for outlooks, for narratives about freedoms, forms of polity, peace, less inequality, solidarity, tolerance, justice and for commitments. With use of time, step by step, and inter alia using the concept of differentiated integration and approach of multi-level governance, at this time Europe is fixing its problems on economy, finance and in politics and tries a direction of more unity, but possible lack of sufficient support and resistance from nationalistic and populistic movements may delay that desire.

In this context, it is good to have knowledge of Monnet's vision of integration (a Brookings' essay from Strobe Talbott) and the article below 'Why ‘anti-European populists’ won’t win big in the European elections' by Cas Mudde, published 28 January 2014.

 
Angela Merkel’s victory: What next for Europe?

European Council on Foreign Relations, date: 23rd September 2013  |  Author: Felix Mengel, Olaf Boehnke, Sebastian Dullien

Though Merkel’s victory is very impressive and cements her now unassailable position within the CDU, paradoxically, it might be quite difficult for her to form a coalition. The political reality dictates that compromises will have to be found, which means Germany’s policies are likely to shift slightly to the left. Her previous coalition partner, the FDP, has suffered a historic setback and will not be represented in the new parliament for the first time since the founding of the Federal Republic. Having lost two-thirds of their voters, the Liberals will have to fundamentally re-invent themselves.

In terms of the euro crisis, much depends on who will actually partake in the final coalition. The Green party has been much more euro-friendly and critical of Merkel’s austerity-focused recovery strategy than the Social Democrats, calling for a debt-redemption pact and a symmetric adjustment of current account imbalances alongside stronger policy integration.  However, it is not clear whether a CDU-Green coalition would actually be more euro-friendly than a Grand Coalition. Under a CDU-Green coalition, there would be the danger that the SPD becomes slightly more sceptical towards rescue packages and forces the government to appear tough in the defence of German interests.

That being said, it is safe to assume that any possible coalition will become slightly more constructive towards the rest of Europe and will more coherently work for a prudent outcome in the two main problems to be addressed in the coming months: the
Greek debt problem and the banking union. Nonetheless, change will remain limited as the euro crisis is not the most important issue for either the Greens or the Social Democrats. As we have repeatedly stated in the last few months, do not expect a fundamental shift in Germany’s economic policies.

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The German election: What Europe expects - and what Germany will not do

by Ulrike Guérot - 05 Sep 13

Europeans expect a lot from Germany once its election is out of the way – in particular a vision for Europe beyond simply dealing with emergencies. But they are likely to be disappointed. With its own domestic concerns, such as income inequalities and demographic decline, Germany simply lacks the political ambition to provide clear leadership for Europe in turbulent times. Despite its central role in European politics, it sees itself as a role model rather than a leader, and has a legalistic approach to reform rather than an attachment to grand plans.

In a new ECFR paper – The German election: what Europe expects – and what Germany will not do– Ulrike Guérot warns that Germany’s pragmatic approach is likely to continue, despite many European leaders wanting Berlin to take the lead in three main areas:

  • Banking union – Germany is dragging its feet on an issue that many see as an overriding priority both to disentangle state from bank finances and to stabilise the European project. But legal and political hurdles in Germany are unlikely to disappear after the election, unless the return of dangerous market instability forced it to act.

  • A growth strategy – rather than respond to calls for them to alter their economic policy to stimulate the entire European economy, Germans believe their economic success is the model for others to copy, through hard work, austerity and reform.

  • European foreign policy – many believe Europe cannot have a strategic focus without Germany, but Germany itself lacks such a focus, preferring commerce to diplomacy.

“Europe wants Berlin to put its money where its mouth is, and emerge from its election with a vision for the EU’s future. But Germany lives in a different world to other EU members, with its own preoccupations and concerns. There is a gap between European expectations of a more constructive German role and Germany’s capacity to meet these expectations.

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For months EU politicians have been warning us about the elections for the European Parliament (EP) held in May 2014 in all 28 member states. European Commission President Jose Barroso recently predicted “a festival of unfounded reproaches against Europe” as a consequence of the EU-wide “rise of extremism from the extreme right and from the extreme left.” The media has mostly followed these political messages, publishing countless articles, editorials and op-eds about the upcoming European apocalypse. Most of these stories refer exclusively to the rise of the right wing French National Front (FN), under new leader Marine Le Pen, arguing that her party’s rising popularity parallels that of other extreme nationalist parties across Europe. In addition, as is often the case in European politics, many articles and op-eds also include references to the Great Depression of the 1930s and a return of fascism.
 
Most media coverage remains vague on the exact electoral strength of the “anti-European populists”– a political construction by the pro-EU elite that includes far left, far right, populist, and hard Euroskeptic parties. Editorials mainly stress that “rampant right-wing populism” will make significant gains and the anti-Europeans will become important players in the new EP. Most of these commentators believe that the anti-European camp will gain between one-quarter and one-third of all 766 seats in the EP. Whatever the exact number of seats, many fear an American scenario, where the “European Tea Parties” could force a shutdown of the EP and, thereby, the EU.

These predictions, however, are highly unrealistic and seldom substantiated by logic. My own predictions, based largely on the results of the last national elections and adjusted on the basis of recent opinion polls, show rather small gains. Far right parties will probably only gain around 40 seats, which is less than the 44 they won in the 2009 European elections. I exclude some parties that other commentators wrongly include in the far right category, like The Finns and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which I include in the amorphous group of “anti-European populists.” All together these latter parties, which often oppose each other even stronger than they oppose the EU, are estimated to win some 125 seats (approximately 16 percent), against the 92 they hold now. That looks like a significant increase, of roughly one-third, but almost 20 seats are gained by just one party, the Italian Five Star Movement (M5S), which is among the least Euroskeptic of this motley crew.

So why are predictions about the far right’s ascendancy so wrong? In part, because they are born out of the erroneous assumption that economic crises lead to big electoral gains for anti-system parties. This theory is based on the specific case of Weimar Germany, in which Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party won big during the Great Depression and entered a coalition government, which ended democratic rule. Weimar Germany was the exception rather than the rule, however.

There are at least four interconnected reasons why the far right will not win big in the European elections of 2014. First, economic crises do not automatically lead to a rise in support for far right and other anti-system parties. A recent study of the support for far right parties during the Great Depression found that the effect of the economic crisis was greatest “in countries with relatively short histories of democracy, with existing extremist parties, and with electoral systems that created low hurdles to parliamentary representation. Above all, it was greatest where depressed economic conditions were allowed to persist.” Such a perfect storm exists only in a few European countries, most notably Greece.

Second, the previous European elections were held in 2009, when the crisis was already a reality for most of the now-hardest hit countries. Consequently, the 2009 elections took place in economic and political circumstances that are fairly similar to what Europe is experiencing today. So it’s unlikely that voters, despite bailouts that have led to even more dissatisfaction, will show dramatically more support for the far right than they did amidst similar economic conditions four years ago.

Third, anti-European populists need a credible political party to express their hard Euroskepticism in a more convincing way than the soft Euroskepticism of some of the mainstream parties, such as the British Conservative Party. The most successful party family that expresses hard Euroskepticism is the far right. However, only 12 of the 28 EU member states currently have a far right party in their national parliament. The situation for the far left and other anti-European populists is even less impressive.

Fourth and final, most of the credible far right and anti-European populist parties exist in the smaller EU member states, which only have a limited number of seats in the EP. Germany (97) has no credible far right (the NPD is battling bankruptcy and internal strife) and only a new, so far untested, Euroskeptic party. Italy (73) has only a regional far right party, the Northern League, which has recently lost credibility because of scandals, but a soft Euroskeptic populist party, M5S, whose estimated 20 seats account for most of the total increase in anti-European populist seats. The UK has the weak far right British National Party, which gained its best nationwide result in the 2009 elections, but has since become irrelevant because of internal strife and financial problems. And notwithstanding all the media attention for UKIP, it will have a hard time repeating, let alone topping, its record 16.5 percent of the vote in 2009. Finally, Spain (54) and Poland (51) have neither a credible far right party nor a credible anti-European party.

In the end, France (74) is the only large EU member state with a credible and popular far right, which will probably account for almost 50 percent of all far right seats in the next EP. France is the exception rather than the rule. This makes the many generalizations based on the specific case of the FN in France as misguided as the historical generalizations based on the Nazi Party in Weimar Germany. Expect small gains from the far right in May.