Ideas on Europe

Informed analysis, comment and debate

Category Archives: Current Affairs

A bit of trade and not much cooperation: The hard Brexit deal

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This is a draft version of a piece published in Political Insight. Please refer to that version for any citations. Even before Covid, it was evident that 2020 was going to be a difficult one for British politics. The December 2019 general election might have given Boris Johnson the majority he needed to push through the […]

Hijacking Europe: Counter-European strategies and radical right mainstreaming

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Nativist visions of a Europe’s Union opposed to the EU belong to a classical inventory of radical right (RR) parties. However, an antithetical redefinition of Europe where ‘the image of Europe as a shining city perched on the hill of perpetual peace, social welfare, and inalienable human rights is replaced with the cry of ‘“Europe […]

Yes, the Prime Minister is useless, but that’s not enough to shift him

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By a strange set of circumstances, which some of us would call a perfect storm, we now have the most incompetent and dangerous Prime Minster in living memory. He is popular, although his popularity rating seems to be in decline. Nonetheless, with a weak and uninspiring Opposition, there is a chance that Boris Johnson could be […]

Procedural Cosmopolitanism: Europe’s Normative Power Beyond Eurocentrism

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How can we be sure the concept of normative power Europe is anything but another expression of self-proclaimed superiority? While the European Union (EU) itself is unlikely to ever free itself from European exceptionalism, the EU can become a non-Eurocentric normative power and lighthouse of international cooperation – if the promise of its normative foundations, […]

Morocco uses migratory pressure to force Spain and the EU to give in to the Sahara

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We experienced an unprecedented crisis at Spain’s southern border last week. On the 17th and 18th, nearly 8,000 people entered Ceuta through the border breakwaters in the face of the passivity and even cooperation of the Moroccan authorities. This attitude on the part of the Moroccan authorities has surprised some people, given the role of […]

Trading ambition for cooperation: What’s next for the Eastern Partnership?

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The European Neighbourhood Policy and its Eastern Partnership are key strategic policy frameworks for European Union external action. However, after little effective transformation and many unanticipated consequences, the EU admitted in 2015 that its once prized policy was overly ambitious. In response, it was scaled back to an incentivized reward mechanism for good government behavior, […]

“What if the EU ruled that we must all wear knickers on our heads?”

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After the referendum, and before Covid, I sat down at one of my favourite eating places to enjoy a vegetarian curry. Hot stuff! But more heated was the discussion that took place afterwards. Brexiters to the left of me; Brexiters to the right of me. I was outnumbered, but I put up a good fight. Here’s […]

Making the WA/TCA work, institutionally

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As I noted in an earlier post, if the first priority in establishing the Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade & Cooperation Agreement was the legal text, then the second has been their implementation. Part – a very visible part – of that has been the politics of getting that done, from domestic arrangements and infrastructure […]

Will multinationals’ hunger for tax benefits prevail?

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Multinationals have taken advantage of tax benefits for a long time. Leading the fight against multinationals, Margrethe Vestager, Vice-President of the European Commission and DG-Competition Commissioner, has been referred to as “Silicon Valley’s dragon slayer”. The idea that large companies can finally be held accountable by Vestager has gained her a worldwide reputation as a […]

Some useful legal concepts for understanding the TCA/WA

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As I mentioned last week, the focus so far on the Trade & Cooperation Agreement (and, to a lesser extent, the Withdrawal Agreement) has been on the legal aspects. Part of that has been driven by the growing realisation among non-legal scholars (like me) that there’s not merely a need to read the fine print […]

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