Ideas on Europe

Informed analysis, comment and debate

Category Archives: Democracy & Citizenship

The Conference on the Future of Europe: vehicle for reform versus forum for reflection?

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The approach of the European Union’s institutions to the Conference on the Future of Europe is muddled, with risks for the outcome. The European Union after several delays opened the Conference on the Future of Europe on 9 May 2021. Its purpose, according to a March 2021 Joint Declaration from the presidents of the EU institutions, is […]

Is the grass greener on the other side? Norway’s assessment of Brexit

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Brexit may expose the special arrangements that EFTA states have to the EU. The European Union has over time developed quite a comprehensive system of affiliations with neighbouring states. Both actors in the UK and in the EU have discussed these affiliations as possible templates for how the UK and the EU could organize their […]

Who made the decision to leave the EU?

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So, here’s THE key question: Who made the decision for the UK to leave the EU? It wasn’t the referendum. The referendum, as agreed by Parliament, was advisory only and not legally capable of making any decision. This was confirmed by the Supreme Court, who also ruled that the decision to leave the EU had to be taken by […]

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 […]

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 […]

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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