Politics and Institutions


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15 April 2014

Ever since Prime Minister David Cameron made his major speech on Europe on 23 January 2013, in which he argued for some kind of new deal between the UK and the EU, the rest of the EU as well as the British public have been wondering what he would actually propose in operational terms. On 15 March 2014, the Prime Minister offered at least an interim reply to these questions in an article in the Daily Telegraph newspaper. This paper extracts from the Daily Telegraph article the main ideas that the Prime Minister advances.

11 April 2014

On May 22nd to the 25th, elections to the European Parliament are taking place throughout the European Union. Following a recent EP initiative, most of the European political parties have selected top candidates for the position of Commission President, who are to lead an EU-wide campaign, with the objective of increasing citizens’ interest in the elections and reinforcing their European dimension. This paper analyses the main weaknesses in the process of selecting the lead candidates and how they are approaching the campaign.

08 April 2014

In a new CEPS Essay, Michael Emerson assesses the initiatives taken by the UK and Dutch governments to cut out excessive EU regulatory intrusion, namely in the form of the ongoing British Balance of Competences Review and the Dutch list of 54 items of EU regulation that they would like to see repealed or reformed.

08 April 2014

On 23 January 2014, a group of 73 member states’ officials and representatives from the European institutions and academia gathered at Clingendael Park in The Hague for a day-long seminar co-organised by the Netherlands Institute of International Relations and CEPS for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. The seminar’s aim was to discuss whether subsidiarity can offer a way forward that reconciles the need for better EU governance with concerns about legitimacy.

02 April 2014

Despite the emergence of a critical debate against the EU-imposed austerity measures both at the level of the political elites and on the street, this EPIN Commentary by two Spanish political scientists based in Barcelona finds no sign that the upcoming European elections will have a more European focus than any of the previous ones. While there is no anti-European discourse among the Spanish mainstream political parties, they report that public trust in the European institutions is plummeting and Spanish turnout in European elections has been dropping in the last few years.

19 March 2014

To contribute to the important debate on EU institutional reform in the run-up to the European Parliament elections and the start of a new Commission, CEPS formed a High-Level Group on EU Institutional Reform under the leadership of Danuta Hübner MEP and member of the CEPS Board of Directors. The report of this distinguished group of MEPs, former and current EU institutional members and leading scholars on EU law and institutional affairs focuses on reforms that could be taken within the framework of the current treaties to build a more responsive and accountable Union.

28 February 2014

Surveying the landscape following the Swiss referendum on February 9th, Adam Łazowski observes that once Swiss voters are deprived of the benefits of the EU internal market, they may come to appreciate that their days of cherry-picking from among EU policies are over. This might present the EU with a golden opportunity to press for a comprehensive framework agreement with Switzerland that would simplify the existing regime and provide for a uniform institutional set-up.

14 February 2014

The Greek government would like to promote the idea that the country is an equal partner in the EU system of governance, despite the country's economic, political, and social implosion. This presidency is characterised by poor leadership and a lack of vision. It is being called upon to coordinate a presidential agenda without being substantially involved in its drafting; it simply mediates between European institutions.

06 February 2014

Despite the probable shift towards European rather than national issues in the European election campaign in France, the combined effects of the economic crisis and the unpopularity of political leaders could crystallise a ‘protest’ vote for both national and European leaders, and for the EU as a whole, explain the authors in this EPIN Commentary.

24 January 2014

To counteract the powerful anti-Europe sentiments swirling throughout the EU today and to motivate EU citizens to vote in a constructive spirit in the upcoming European elections, Karel Lannoo argues in this commentary that the functioning of the EU institutions needs to be openly discussed and proposals need to be aired for improving the decision-making process to render it more transparent and democratic.

22 January 2014

Lithuania assumed its maiden term running the rotating Presidency of the Council in the 2nd half of 2013 under difficult constraints: the country’s modest administrative capacities and the enormous time pressures brought on by the urgency of certain dossiers and the abbreviated term of the current Parliament, which ends in mid-April. Nevertheless, as assessed by Sonia Piedrafita and Vilde Renman in this new CEPS Commentary, substantial progress was made thanks to the perseverance and strenuous efforts by the Lithuanians.

06 January 2014

In this new CEPS Commentary, John Bruton considers some likely consequences of the UK’s renegotiation of its membership of the EU, in terms of the UK’s own national interest, its relations with its European neighbours and the future effectiveness of a ‘revised’ EU.

John Bruton is Former Prime Minister of Ireland and a member of CEPS Board of Directors.

20 December 2013

In previous European elections, Polish political parties were not able to draw a large number of voters to the polling stations. Poland stood out in the European Union mainly by its extremely low turnout. In light of the current situation in the Polish political scene, this EPIN Commentary predicts that the chances are that the 2014 electoral campaign will also be lacklustre, focused on domestic issues, resulting yet again in a disappointing turnout.

17 December 2013

The EU has recently been pushing for legislation to strengthen the gender balance on company boards in its member states and indeed, the principle of gender equality is enshrined in the European treaties. Yet, as Vilde Renman points out, women are clearly underrepresented in top positions within EU institutions themselves. The upcoming European Parliament elections are an opportunity for the EU to appoint more women at the highest levels of administration and legislature, thereby setting an example for companies, member states and citizens alike.

03 December 2013

A new Commentary published by the European Policy Institutes Network (EPIN) offers an interesting piece of advice to the UK if it is to succeed in winning over Germany on EU reform, The author, Almut Möller, asserts that the UK needs to understand how Germany’s federal system, with its intricate balance of competences between the various levels, is an integral part of modern Germany and key to the country’s thinking on Europe.

25 November 2013

The role of national parliaments in the EU has been at the centre of a long debate. Since the Maastricht treaty, new powers to the EU level have been accompanied not only by an increasing role of the European Parliament (EP) in the legislative process, but also by a number of declarations and protocols to ensure that national parliaments received the information and documents required to effectively monitor their governments in EU affairs. The Lisbon Treaty extended the guarantees and also included new modes of direct participation.

29 October 2013

The first in a series for a CEPS-EPIN project entitled “The British Question and the Search for a Fresh European Narrative” this paper is pegged on an ambitious ongoing exercise by the British government to review all the competences of the European Union. The intention is that this should provide a basis for informed debate before the referendum on the UK remaining in the EU or not, which is scheduled for 2017.

28 August 2013

The Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU (January-June 2013) faced numerous challenges, not least of which was to negotiate the financial framework for the period 2014-2020 and the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy with the European Parliament, as well as the pressure to advance the banking agenda. Moreover, the fact that it was the start of a new Trio Presidency, the small size of the Irish administration and its fragile financial situation gave rise to some doubts as to how much it could achieve.

22 August 2013

Declining support for the European Union in many member states is causing some disquiet about the possibility of an even lower voter turnout in the upcoming European Parliament (EP) elections to be held next May. This discontent might well be exploited by populist anti-European parties and boost protest-vote participation, cautions Sonia Piedrafita in this EPIN Commentary, and this would pose a serious risk for EU decision-making and undermine the sense of common identity and any plans for further integration.

29 July 2013

As Europeans speed down the road to Dubrovnik, Croatia's treasured jewel of the Adriatic coast, Michael Emerson discusses in a seasonal commentary one topical issue: What to do now over the 9 km of Bosnian coastline that separates north and south Croatia? Several options are under consideration, one of which would mean a very expensive bridge and dubious use of EU structural funds.

Michael Emerson is Associate Senior Research Fellow at CEPS.

01 July 2013

The Dutch government set out the results of its review of EU competences on June 21st, under the slogan “European where necessary, national where possible”, claiming that the EU does not adequately respect the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. It published a list of 54 points for corrective action, which Michael Emerson assesses in this new CEPS Commentary.

28 June 2013

To become a prosperous country devoid of institutional preconditions for corruption, Croatia will have to define its own goals, persevere in reaching them and introduce some sort of internal monitoring. True political will, democratisation, government accountability and appropriate policies are crucial, particularly for the institutions and mechanisms that monitor government accountability and citizen participation.

03 June 2013

Recent opinion polls suggest that most Icelanders are against joining the EU. By the same token, however, a majority of those polled are in favour of continuing accession talks.  These results show that Iceland’s relationship with the EU is a deeply divisive issue within the country. Although no date for the referendum has been set, the new centre-right coalition may thus want to settle this matter as soon as possible.

13 March 2013

This study focuses on the European Economic Area (EEA), which is a very ‘deep’ instance of market integration between the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.  The EEA in fact is just the ‘internal-market-minus’, i.e. minus agriculture and fisheries, for its three non-EU members. As an extension to the single market of a mere 1% in GDP, the EEA has attracted little attention, not least because it functions quite well. Even less known, however, is the role of Liechtenstein within the EEA, which this book also attempts to clarify.

07 March 2013

Twenty years after the split of Czechoslovakia, expert analysts from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the UK shed light on the political geography of this part of Central Europe in an extended three-part Commentary. The end points in the Euro-Atlantic integration processes of the successor states may be similar, argue the authors, but the journeys have been very different. Recent experience would suggest that in terms of EU politics, the Slovaks will be rather passive whilst the Czechs might be a little more troublesome.

21 February 2013

This essay discusses how recent developments have modified the existing allocation of tasks between the EU and national levels and the legitimising mechanisms in decision-making by the EU institutions.

15 February 2013

Against the current background of a sharp decline in public support for the EU and an emerging reinforced centre to manage the euro crisis, this commentary finds that the only way Europe’s leaders can hope to keep the fragile equilibrium afloat is to summon up the courage to go forward with concrete proposals for political union.

Karel Lannoo is Chief Executive Officer and Senior Research Fellow at CEPS.

31 January 2013

British Prime Minister David Cameron has clearly made the political assessment that he must appease the eurosceptics in his party with a plan for renegotiation and then an in-out referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

In the second of a series of analyses on the UK’s relationship with Europe, Michael Emerson considers the seven hazards of Cameron’s approach.   

Michael Emerson is an Associate Senior Research Fellow at CEPS.

24 January 2013

Despite several daunting obstacles, the low expectations and the high level of apprehension that accompanied the start of the Cyprus Presidency, Thomas Linders and Steven Blockmans find in a new CEPS Commentary that the small, remote and politically divided island nevertheless succeeded in scoring a number of positive results, thanks in part to the country’s pragmatic approach to the job and the perpetual motion of the EU legislature. As a corrective instrument to big state politics in the EU, however, the role of the Presidency remains limited.

22 January 2013

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty between Germany and France, CEPS Director Daniel Gros acknowledges the fundamental contribution made by the Franco-German motor but also takes the two countries to task for their refusal abandon the pretence that they still perform individually an independent role at the global level.  France and Germany should allow European institutions to formulate and implement common external policies.