On March 1st European Commission (EC) President Jean Claude-Juncker presented his White Paper on the Future of Europe. The aim of the Paper is to line up 5 potential scenarios for the European integration varying from more deepened federalist-like union to less tight, minimalist economic cooperation. The timing is also not a coincidence: it can give some food for thought for the Rome summit on March 25th celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the European Economic Community. The Paper received criticism from the left, especially from Gianni Pittella S&D president for not giving a clear indication on what is the EC’s preferred way forward and not committing itself to a more advanced, integrated Europe. There was also a reserved interest from the in-generally EU establishment critical Visegrád 4 countries (Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary) warning against the disintegration, while in the meantime not committing themselves much towards further integration either.
In front of the the European Parliament, there is a small square with a lot of little bars and coffee houses called ‚Place du Luxembourg‘. Every workday, it is busy with people who work in the European institutions and the many offices in the vicinity of the Parliament. You can sit there in a coffee house and watch them pass by. It would not be surprising to find, here and there, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and his assistant sitting at a table with a business(wo)man or the representative of a NGO, talking over a file of documents, while having a coffee and a piece of cake. Continue reading “Lobbyists in Brussels – the Dark Side of the European Union?”
The presidential elections in the European Parliament last week have shown low instincts and political intrigues at their best. Opportunism and the strive for power have prevailed over political integrity and the adherence to values and ideas. Guy Verhofstadt has best illustrated how quickly one can fall prey to the little intrigues and deals that animate life in politics. The man who has strongly endeavoured to become known as the fiercest defender of democratic values and pro-European ideals has not shied away from playing Continue reading “Verhofstadt Surrenders to Political Opportunism”
The year 2016 has ended, for some a terrible year where we have lost dozens of famous people. From football legend Johan Cruyff to legendary singer Leonard Cohen. People who were not only great in their profession but who also influenced the world around them. Take Olympic champion and anti-war figure Muhammad Ali. A hero and inspiration for many who showed us we should never give up on our dreams despite our social background, religion, or race. Continue reading “2017: A practical guide for the worried voter”
After the Austrian presidential elections and the Italian referendum there are mixed feelings around Europe. The public opinion praises the fact that the far-right lost an election – despite the fact that their approval rating is still very high meaning they are not going away soon – and some mourned the anti-establishment statement of the Italian people by voting no to the constitutional reforms. In the year of Brexit and the election of Continue reading “Soft Security: A Natural Tool for the EU”
Alors qu’il disposait au moment de son élection des majorités sénatoriale et parlementaire, d’une majorité de communes et de conseils régionaux, le président Hollande s’est, en cinq années d’exercice du pouvoir, révélé incapable de structurer son mandat ou de doter sa politique d’une colonne vertébrale cohérente. L’échec du premier président socialiste depuis François Mitterrand est ainsi révélateur d’une réalité indéniable : sans conviction, sans audace, sans raison, la gauche s’est fourvoyée et semble avoir incarné un leadership du hasard, terne et inconséquent. S’il fallait résumer le président Hollande à un chiffre, ce serait celui-ci, paru dans l’édition du 25.10.2016 du Monde : 4% d’opinion favorable. Aucun président n’avait atteint un tel (non) score sous la Vème République, et si l’on peut à juste titre reconnaître qu’il s’agit là d’une preuve de la ruine d’un système qui depuis des décennies, se complait dans la corruption, le népotisme, l’incurie et la malhonnêteté intellectuelle la plus crasse, force est de constater qu’Hollande, rassembleur mou et solitaire, n’a jamais su ni pu redorer le blason de la politique française, de renoncements coupables et demi-mesures fades. C’est simple : à trop arpenter les profondeurs, Hollande pourra bientôt prétendre au premier rôle d’un remake du Grand Bleu. Comment expliquer qu’avec autant de cartes en main, le pouvoir du président se soit ainsi abîmé d’une manière si complète ? Qu’alors qu’il pouvait mobiliser autour de lui sénateurs, députés, maires et autres élus locaux, Hollande ne soit jamais parvenu à pratiquer un exercice sain et cohérent du pouvoir ? La faute à une erreur multidimensionnelle, à la fois idéologique, stratégique et politique, qui a conduit le mandat Hollande à définir un cas d’école de l’échec en politique.
Lithuania has just elected its new Parliament. On Sunday, 9 October, Lithuanian people gathered to elect 71 members of Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament) in single member constituencies, while 2 weeks later, 23 October, the rest 70 were elected in nationwide constituencies. That is why it is only after the night of October 23 that we could discuss the final results. In fact, many politicians and journalists would expect the new ruling coalition to be announced even by next evening, as it is usually clear, taking into account traditional Conservative-Social democratic dualism in Lithuanian politics. However, with the results being much more unexpected than having previously thought, we can only guess what kind of coalition is possible and what it can bring to Lithuania. Continue reading “Lithuanian Parliamentary election: what to expect”
When I first came into contact with history and philosophy, I fell in love with an ideology that is ahead of its time; an ideology that across Europe has lead the biggest achievements, combining our democracy and social justice. An ideology which has been called “utopia” until our people organized themselves in political parties and together fought for those rights that give dignity and prosperity to every human being, all together contributing to creating our welfare state. I fell in love with the sufragettes and the workers that fought for the labour rights my generation often takes for granted. I fell in love with a European Union that, though fractured, is the beacon of the longest period of peace and prosperity our continental history has seen. Continue reading “Together”
Given the success of the rightwing populist party AfD, the outcome of the regional elections in Berlin last Sunday can hardly be considered a victory for the SPD, which remained the strongest force. If the political parties in Germany do not come up with true alternatives to revive the political debate, the influence of the AfD will continue growing.
What has happened to Berlin? What has happened to the European capital of ‘multi-kulti’, world-openness and progressive lifestyle? The rightwing populist party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has achieved 14,2% of vote at the regional elections and will have 25 seats in the regional parliament. The Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD) has 38 seats with 24,8% of vote. Continue reading “An Alternative for Berlin?”
Five weeks ago I woke up and realized that the British people had just voted to leave the European Union. Since then I sensed that new reality creeping into my everyday life. Squeezing in an overcrowded Tube coach, grabbing a coffee at the newest bar, walking through office corridors, and waiting in the awkward silences of elevators: Brexit was everywhere. Continue reading “Of Brexit, Europe and the Politics of Closure”