All posts filed under: Unit 4 EU Issues


LSE Audio: Does Europe Have A Future? Professor Walt

Professor Waltz discusses the strategic challenges facing the European Union and explores the geopolitical implications of a weaker Europe for the West. Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS

European Union debate

Clegg’s Conscious Uncoupling

The debate political hacks were waiting for, Clegg Vs Farage on EU membership treated viewers and listeners to a spectacle generating more heat than light. Both sides were in combative mood. Farage playing the ‘I’m a real man’ act, not part of the ‘Westminster bubble’, ‘I feel the pain of ordinary hard-working people’. Whilst Clegg presented himself as a numbers man ready to undermine UKIP hyperbole on immigration and champion common sense liberal values over political scaremongering. Political pundits and pollsters now begin the work of chewing over the audience response. So who won it? Well there are no losers. Both win, some polls place Farage ahead but Clegg probably doesn’t mind very much.  A closer look at Clegg’s strategy shows us that he is not after the Farage vote, like Paltrow, Clegg is going through a conscious uncoupling of his own. 


Tories plan to scrap the Human Rights Act

The Conservatives plan to scrap the Human rights Act After World War Two the European Convention of Human Rights was created to prohibit any breach of our basic human rights. This was a convention signed by European countries, so in order for it to be enforced you had to take the long road to Strasbourg for a decision to be made. The Human Rights Act was passed in 1998 so the UK could clarify and safeguard the rights of its people through bringing the ECHR on UK statute. Examples of these rights include the right to life and the right to a fair trial. Theresa May vowed to scrap the Human Rights Act back in September should the Tories win the next general election. The Home Secretary also spoke of a new Immigration Bill that would allow an easier deportation if there was no risk of serious harm to the deportee. It is understood that this is a reaction to the extensive effort to deport hate preacher Abu Qatada. Considering the consequences, Theresa May confirmed …


Cameron VS the Liberal Democrats: The Green Tax Promise

  David Cameron is said to be going back on his word about green taxes despite obligations from Lib Dems.   David Cameron has come under fire for his statement on reviewing energy bills. The Prime Minister said that the green taxes had helped push up household bills to “unacceptable” prices, but a source close to the prime minister said his message in private was blunter than that. He is claimed to have said, “We’ve got to get rid of all this green crap.” Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne’s Autumn Statement in December will set out new plans to reduce the impact of environmental impacts on fuel bills. The changes have set out to cause disruptions in the coalition government because the Lib Dems vowed to prevent in any falls in levies during this parliament.   The Lib Dems are also keen to keep the green taxes, arguing they are essential to creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly energy supply for the UK. Cameron wants to scrap most of the charges, which help subsidise wind farms and pay …


The Timeline of the UK’s Uncodified Constitution

Timeline of the UK’s constitutional changes The role of a constitution is to organise, distribute and regulate state power. By doing so, the constitution creates the structure of the state and sets out the principles of governing for the state’s citizens, whilst also outlining the role of government. Britain is unusual in that it has an ‘unwritten’ constitution. Unlike the great majority of countries, such as the USA, there is no single legal document which sets out in one place the fundamental laws outlining how the state works. Thus, Britain’s lack of a ‘written’ constitution is often explained via its history. In other countries, many of whom have experienced revolution (E.G. France) or regime change, it has been necessary to start from scratch or begin from first principles, constructing new state institutions and defining in detail their relations with each other and their citizens. The British Constitution has evolved over a long period of time, reflecting the relative stability of the British Government. Britain has never truly been close to a written constitution, although the …

The Split Coalition

Coalition United? I think not When the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats formed a coalition in the aftermath of the general election of 2010, it was uncharted territory for the UK. Not only was it the first ever Coalition government between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives in history but  was also the first time the Lib Dems gained some real political power in decades – poor Lib  Dems. So the people of Great Britain were naturally curious to see whether the new government would last. Leading members of the Coalition David Cameron and Nick Clegg have continuously said that they support the Coalition and that it is ‘getting things done’, but today, the cracks are appearing within this partnership of parties.   Firstly, one of the big cracks is this issue about the European Union. Now this causes a huge divide already within the Conservatives as they are naturally sceptical about the European Union. The fact that Tory backbenchers want to leave the EU is quite drastic compared to the leading Tory MPs such …


Would an A&E visiting fee be a ‘clear departure from the traditional NHS vision’

1/3 of GPs BACK £10 CHARGE OF A&E A poll carried out by Press Association for with more than 800 family doctors found that 32% were in favour of the charge seeing it as the most cost effective way of cutting down on the people who could have gone to their GP or a pharmacist. One doctor argued: ‘If patients had to pay a £5 charge to attend A&E – that could be refunded for appropriate attendances – they would be more inclined to take their coughs to the pharmacist where they belong.’ Recent overcrowd and increased demand  of A&E have prompted some doctors to back the charge of either 10 or 5 pound to significantly reduce the number of  unnecessary visits where people are in no need of urgent medical attention. If the condition of a patient is shown to need attention then their money would be refunded to them. Around 30% to 40% of all visits to A&E could have been seen elsewhere because illnesses were minor or not urgent believed by A&E specialists.   …

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 13th-19th January 2014

Parliament Roundup – 13/01/14-19/01/14   Labour Speech This week, Labour leader Ed Miliband and his shadow ministers will make speeches for the electorate in order to announce Labour’s upcoming plans. The speeches are designed to broaden the debate away from spending and the deficit. Shadow Housing Minister Emma Reynolds made a speech on Tuesday reemphasising on Labour’s plans to build more than 200,000 homes a year by the end of the next Parliament in 2020 by stressing that we need to increase social housing. However, this might prove tricky for Labour as they will have to allow more borrowing in order to reach this ambitious goal. This goal in particular might be seen as Ed Miliband’s way of proving that Labour is not just about short term goals such as his established energy price freeze. Euro sceptics unsatisfied   95 of Conservative backbenchers have recently signed a vote for the law to be changed for the House of Commons to veto new EU regulations. There has been much recent disagreement with this vote and William …

The Coalition Welfare Reforms Explained

Coalition Welfare reforms Job Seekers Allowance (JSA): The Department for Work and Pensions have set up schemes aimed at getting unemployed people back to work, it has caused much controversy Critics have dubbed the programmes as “Workfare”, likening them to unpaid labour, or forcing people to work for their benefits. To get people back to work by either Work Experience (November 2011, 34,200 people had started a Work Experience placement), Sector-based work academies, Mandatory Work Activity, Community Activity Programme and the Work Programme. JSA has been cut to at least £56.80 a week, varying on an individual’s situation. Universal Credit: A new in- and out-of-work credit, which integrates six of the main out-of-work benefits. The aim is to increase incentives to work for the unemployed and to encourage longer hours for those working part-time. “The main differences between Universal Credit and the current welfare system are: Universal Credit will be available to people who are in work and on a low income, as well as to those who are out of work most people will …

Woodhouse Weekly Pick of the Papers: 5th-12th January 2014

Woodhouse Pick of the Papers (5/01/2014 – 12/01/2014) Woodhouse’ weekly pick of the papers is devoted to keeping A level politics students up to date with the political news and on track with the Unit 1 and Unit 2 syllabus. 1.  Political Parties must be reformed: they are the best ways of delivering democracy. source: The Guardian Politics Topic: (Democracy and Participation) Summary: Voters are engaged with issues that affect them and do want to get involved, but they are turned off by how politics is implemented in Parliament as well as the adversarial parliamentary style in the House of Lords. All of this has to change, writes the Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umuna. 2. Miliband’s enemies’ don’t know what to make of him- the trouble is, neither his friends. Source: The New Statesman Politics topic: Party, Policies and Ideas Summary: Miliband has split the Conservative opinion on him, whether he is dangerous to them or just outright ridiculous. Optimists write him off while pessimists respects him. But his own cabinet don’t know what goes through his …

Weekly Parliament Roundup:4th-11th December 2013

Parliament Roundup: 4/12/13-11/12/13 MPs to receive 11% pay rise: Click for a video explanation IPSA(Independent Parliament Standards Authority) have recently proposed to provide MPs with a pay rise of 11% which will increase their salary to £74,000. They have stated that there will be changes to the pension scheme which will save tax payer 2.5 billion pounds if the rise is to take place. Even though this might be seen as a great thing for the MPs, lots of them are scared to state publicly that they think it is a good idea. The main issue with this proposal is that it might be the wrong time to make such high rises in MP’s salaries when other public sectors are facing difficult freezes. However, of this proposal is to go ahead, it will take legislation in 2015 to stop this from occurring. The public might not like the sound of the proposal at first because many might feel that the MPs don’t deserve such a high pay rise as they have failed to improve costs …

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Labour Leader Ed Miliband – Does he have what it takes?

 Does Ed Miliband have what it takes to be Prime Minister?     The views of the public depict conflict when addressing Ed Miliband as a leader, not only concerning his strength and influence within the Labour Party but whether he is indeed, too “weak” to act as Prime Minister. With those who are in favour of Miliband such as the likes of  political thinker Anthony Barnett who argues provocatively that “Ed Miliband is an exceptionally effective opposition leader, brave and an adroit party manager” and present PM David Cameron often highlighting his disproval of Miliband  and asserting his leadership as poor by stating “We know Labour’s approach, you go in with your hands up and a white flag” , the public are found torn between choosing Labour for their policies or abandoning the idea of Ed Miliband as Prime Minister out of uncertainty and scepticism. Following the conclusion of the Miliband brothers’ pyscho-drama in the battle to become leader of the Labour party, the aftermath of Ed’s victory seemed strangely anticlimactic. It didn’t seem …

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 13th-20th November

Weekly Parliament Roundup – 13/11/13-20/11/13 Geneva II Conference November 2013   Over the last few weeks, the Geneva conference has taken centre stage in the news, in regards to Iran’s nuclear projects. The conference was postponed to the 20th and has resumed over the past few days. Even though definite decisions have not yet been made, following his visit to Geneva, Foreign Secretary William Hague states that Britain’s aim is to create a “Interim first step agreement with Iran that can then create the confidence and the space to then create a comprehensive and final agreement”. The main question is however, is it too late for Britain to step in and try to give Iran guidance on the decision that it should make? The country seems set on making the brave choice to go ahead with their plans without the restrictions from America. Hopefully, Hague will make an influential effort to try and impose financial and energy sanctions against Iran, with the help of other countries such as France and Germany. Increase in Tax Thresholds …

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 6th-13th November 2013

Weekly Parliament review – 6th -13th November 2013 Commonwealth Summit Prime Minister David Cameron will still attend the Commonwealth Summit in Sri Lanka despite India and Canada boycotting the event. There have been calls for the PM to boycott the event, especially from Labour members who proposed that they would strongly support the Prime Minister if reversed his decision to attend. On the other hand, Foreign Secretary William Hague stated that if the Prime Minister decided not to attend the summit, it would damage the commonwealth without making any positive change in Sri Lanka. The summit will concern the country’s Human Rights records and Cameron has pledged to put ‘serious questions’ to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda  Rajapaksa  about his regime’s widely condemned Human Rights records and allegations of war crimes against the Tamil minority. Concerns over rise in personal debt in the UK The Conservative member of the Treasury Select Committee Mark Garnier has raised concerns over the level of personal debt in the UK. He recently stated on The World This Weekend on …


UKIP: U-keep Or U-Gone?

UKIP, the UK Independence Party is a right-wing political party that was established in 1993. Their views are often seen as being more radical than the other political parties, like their immigration policies and proposed EU referendum. There is constant controversy surrounding UKIP due to its proposal of radical changes to immigration, such as implementing a five year freeze on immigration for permanent settlement and disallowing immigrants to apply for public housing and benefits until they have paid tax for five years. Some argue they are racist, as they are exploiting immigrants’ rights. UKIP deny that, claiming they are not against race but against an ‘open-door’ policy. Nigel Farage stated that in the past 10 years, there has been more migration into Britain than between 1066 and 1950. Anna Soubry, the defence minister, said that Nigel Farage was ‘scaremongering’ and putting ‘fear in people’s hearts’ with his anti-immigration rhetoric and ‘prejudice’. Farage hit back at Soubry’s remarks by calling them ‘abusive’ and it showed how the Conservatives were ‘terrified’ about the rise of UKIP. Its policy to end …


Energy Bill Crisis: Cameron’s dilemma

Energy Bills – Is Cameron ‘panicking‘ yet? Over the past few months, we’ve witnessed politicians persistently speaking of energy prices rocketing and of the ‘Big Six’ making huge profits from the bills of their overcharged customer’s, of whom are without any knowledge of they came to be so high in price.  Many individuals who are unable to afford these high prices are left confused and deceived by their energy supplier and blame PM David Cameron for not taking action against this ever increasing issue. Recently, the problem has been addressed by Cameron in parliament and of who has even been in discussion with Neck Clegg in order to find a way to get household bills down and made sustainable. The “big” questions are;  how soon and how will he make changes to the British taxpayer’s energy bill? According to research by uSwitch, energy bill suppliers such as the likes of British Gas have a current bill at around £1,340 and the new bill is said to raise to a staggering £1,465 – an increase of £125 which …


Key roles; Barroso, Schulz and Council of Ministers presidency

The specification says you need to know the following about key posts in the EU. The significance and influence of key posts and post-holders within the EU, including: the President of the Commission, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy, the President of the European Council, the President of the Council of Ministers and the President of the European Parliament. They’ve already asked about the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and the President of the European Council so you can look at the mark schemes for that but her is an overview of the other three. President of the Commission: The President of the Commission is seen as the face of the EU to the world but they are not democratically chosen and the calibre of the president is dependent on the choice of the Council. They are supposed to provide the vision for Europe over their presidency for example Barroso’s closer union/2020 vision and Delors single market. This is also dependent on the calibre of the individual, if the calibre is low/they …

Symbolic 2004

Policy evaluation 6: Enlargement

The specification says you need to know the following about enlargement. How and why the EU has enlarged: the perceived benefits and criticisms of past enlargement, and the extent to which the new member states have remained transitional states or been fully integrated. This should include a study of the future of EU enlargement and its associated controversies. 1) Enlargement has been criticised because some countries have failed to comprehensively meet the acquis. Romania and Bulgaria (2007) still have problems with corruption and organised crime. Bulgaria is rated as the most corrupt country out of the 27 European states and the reports of corruption are hardening the resistance of other Europeans to further expanding the EU, thus lessening the chances of Turkey or Ukraine to ever join.


Policy evaluation 5: Common Foreign Security Policy

The specification says you need to know the following about CFSP. In particular, candidates need to be aware of developments in Common Foreign and Security Policy – why this has become desirable within the EU; the steps that have been taken towards achieving this and the extent to which such steps are perceived as being successful.  1) CFSP has been hard to achieve because of several reasons. Some countries such as the UK and Poland favour NATO as Europe’s defence wing possibly because the UK has always favoured aligning itself with the US. France on the other hand saw the introduction of a Common Foreign Security Policy as an opportunity for Europe to challenge the US militarily and become more independent however most EU states don’t have the financial ability to back this type of scheme nor the will, pacifist states such as Denmark have little interest in foreign excursions. Historical differences between countries also makes a CFSP difficult for example France’s intervention in Mali occurred because Mali is an former French colony so although …


Neo-functionalism, Intergovernmentalism, Supranationalism and Subsidiarity

You could easily get asked a 15 marker on any of these concepts, the specification says the following about what you need to know: Various theories of integration and the associated benefits and drawbacks of such theories on their own and in comparison to other theories. These include neo-functionalism, intergovernmentalism, supranationalism, ‘pooled’ sovereignty, federalism, multi-level governance, subsidiarity, and enlargement and the ‘widening versus deepening’ debate. Neo-functionalism: The decision that certain functions are better performed at a European level than a national level, it believes greater integration can be achieved by making functions at the European level more attractive. There is a concept of ‘spill over’ where as one sector becomes more integrated it makes sense for the other sector to integrate. For example the technical spill over suggests that increased trade means it makes sense for technical standards between states to be harmonised. Should lead to a more supranational state through incremental integration.


Is the UK still the ‘awkward partner’ in Europe

Although under Blair there seemed to be some movement towards a closer relationship with Europe, taking Britain into the Social Chapter, taking a lead in the proposed constitution and engaging in discussions with the Europeans, there were still ‘red lines’ drawn by Brown regarding tax and other policies. Brown established the 5 criteria that had to be met for the UK to join the euro and even when that criteria was met there were no plans to join, neither parties have any intentions to join the euro. Blair preferred his relationship with the US and this often side-lined him in Europe making him the ‘awkward partner’. The Iraq war 2003 with the US despite strong European opposition showed where UK loyalties lay. Although Blair supported enlargement and the ‘widening’ of the EU. Cameron and the conservatives have supported the idea of a ‘two speed Europe’ something Labour and the Lib Dems dislike.


Policy evaluation 4: Monetary Union

The specification says you need to know the following on Monetary Union Monetary Union: why monetary union has become an aim of the EU, and the extent to which this has been embraced by member states; the steps taken towards achieving monetary union; the perceived benefits and drawbacks of monetary union; the extent to which monetary union is perceived as a success – including the impact of the current (July 2011) global recession and how the Eurozone has dealt with this, the impact of measures take to deal with it and the impact this has had on the workings and future of the Eurozone. Definition: Monetary Union was seen as a key step towards economic integration. The euro, introduced in 1999 has become the key aspect of monetary union with the use of a single currency and single interest rate. 1) The euro survived the 2008 global recession, coming out stronger that it had been before against the pound and is a currency to challenge the dollar. There is still confidence in the currency seen …


Policy evaluation 3: Justice and Home Affairs

The specification says you need to know the following about Justice and Home Affairs. Justice and Home Affairs: how and why the influence of the EU has been extended into the area of Justice and Home Affairs; the controversy that this has caused within the EU and for member states; the extent to which this pillar is likely to be extended further. Issues include the Schengen Agreement, the impact of the Maastricht, Amsterdam and Lisbon Treaties, Europol, the changing role of the institutions, opt-outs, immigration & asylum and terrorism. Definition: EU JHA policy aims to reduce cross border crime, it recognises the different legal systems across the borders and is working to have a more similar legal system. It is controversial because of the strong link between criminal law and national sovereignty. The opening of borders led to a lot of cross border crime so the JHA pillar was introduced at Maastricht to combat that. 1) Maastricht identified the areas of common interest and gave the European Council the head role in the discussions but …


Policy evaluation 2: The Social Chapter

The specification says the following about what you need to know on the Social Chapter The Social Chapter: how and why the issue of social rights became an issue for the EU; the main provisions of the Social Chapter; how and why the Social Chapter has caused controversy- with the associated benefits and drawbacks of its provisions; the impact it has had on labour markets- including flexibility, mobility and competitiveness; the extent to which the Social Chapter has been perceived as successful. Definition: The Social Chapter was introduced at Maastricht where Britain used its opt-out to stop it becoming part of EU law. It included protection of social rights and EU level regulation of social policy. Blair signed up in 1997. 1) The main argument against the Social Chapter is that it prevents competitiveness. Regulations such as the Working Time Directive and increasing workers rights mean that EU countries are less able to compete with emerging markets who have cheap deregulated labour markets. For example industrialising Poland is not sticking to the Working Time Directive …


Policy evaluation 1: Single Market

The specification says the following about what you need to know on the Single Market The Single Market: the extent to which this concept has been embraced by member states; the steps taken towards achieving a Single Market; the perceived benefits and drawbacks of the Single Market; the impact it has had on labour markets – including flexibility, mobility and competitiveness the extent to which the Single Market is perceived as a success. This should include concepts such as free trade areas, opt-outs, tariffs, harmonisation, social dumping, judicial activism, impact of globalisation Definition: The Single Market is the free movement of goods, labour and capital across the EU countries. Exemplified by policies such as the Schengen convention. The Single European Act 1986 set the deadline of 1992 for the full completion of the Single Market. 1) Single Market is good because the free movement of people has made tourism easier and opened new employment and education opportunities across the EU with the number of ERASMUS students steadily increasing year on year . Widening the skills …


How do the majors parties differ on EU policy?

Historically, the Conservatives were pro-EU taking us in, in 1973 and Labour was anti-EU under Foot seeing it as a ‘Capitalist club’. Since then, the tables have turned as the EU helped topple Thatcher and Major and unify Labour. However the differences between the party have typically been seen through rhetoric as opposed to action. The Conservatives have typically spoken tough on Europe to feed British euro-scepticism, but this has done little more than create problems and divisions for the party internally. Labour has been more inclined towards the EU after Blair announcing he wanted Britain at the ‘heart of Europe’. The most pro-EU party typically however is the Lib-Dems. Ultimately, the Conservatives were in government when the single market was established and Major passed Maastricht in 1992 although he did add in the subsidiarity clause. Labour spoke about the possibility of joining the euro but never did anything so both parties seem to be in some sort of political limbo.

News update

Mon 29th -Iain Duncan Smith suggested wealthy pensioners should voluntarily hand back their universal benefit payments -The commons public accounts committee said the Chancellors £310bn plan to boost economic growth through infrastructure projects was unrealistic about how much private capital there was and said that taxpayers could end up shouldering the cost. This follows IMF comments on a week private sector -Gov proposing to encourage communities to drop opposition to local fracking in exchange for cheaper energy bills -Surgeons commissioned by government to determine when patients should be offered treatment in acknowledgement of the postcode lottery Tues 30th -A majority of the public believe the governments economic plans have failed according to a com-res survey -EU votes for ban on pesticides -Cabinet launches attack on ring-fenced NHS budget, uprising within the cabinet is being dubbed the ‘national union of ministers’ by the treasury -Cuts may be hit hard on early years as Department of Education looks to cut 2.5bn but the schools budget remains protected -Prisoners have to work harder to earn privileges, 10,000 is …

News from the week

Headlines from this week EU -Cameron enacted collective responsibility on proposed EU referendum meaning all ministers would be required to campaign to stay in the EU during the referendum – problem people – Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson -Cameron’s speech has provoked Austrian’s far right to call for an EU referendum -Brussles has demanded that Britain pay a fine of nearly 300,000 euros a day for failing to liberalise its energy sector. The Commission sought permission from ECJ to impose fines on UK, Bulgaria and Estonia -Spain jobless rate exceeds one in four as plans are laid out for more austerity, as the Spaniards have been asked to make 30bn euros worth of savings -Tobin tax (a financial transaction tax) is introduced in 11 eurozone countries -MEPs in the agriculture committee voten to weaken environmental proposals made by the Commission while agreeing to reduce subsidies to big farms – all proposals will be finally voted on in March: for the first time, the EP has legislative powers over policies that will govern agriculture UK Policy Economy …

BAE Systems and EADS in talks about merger

Audio Report: BAE EADS merger

Today Programme: Friday 14th September An excellent report on the proposed merger between the British BAE Systems and EADS, a French and German company. This merger illustrates the tensions surrounding a strategically important company and Britain’s relationship with Europe and the US. Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS


LSE Talks

LSE talks are a great way to go that little bit further with your A Levels, these are the ones that are relevant to Politics/History but there are plenty more related to Law, Economics and Sociology. It’s a good thing to be able to talk about on UCAS and will hopefully be something you find interesting so check it out! A European policy outlook: the crisis and beyond – Monday 17th September – 4-5:30pm French Minister of the Economy and Finance, playing a key role in European politics, good for A2 Politics. Ticket is needed, can be booked online from 10pm on Monday 10th September. Twenty Year of Inflation Targeting – Tuesday 9th October – 6:30-8pm Professor Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England explores the financial crisis, monetary policy and whether we need a new approach, good for A2 Politics. Ticket is needed, can be booked online from 10pm on Tuesday 2nd October. Reinventing Europe: one crisis, many futures – Wednesday 10th October – 6:30-8pm Taking a bit of a different angle, …


Austerity and the End of the European Model

The following article appeared in the May edition of Foreign Affairs, it is a very useful article for the unit 4 EU unit. The author argues the recent shift to policies of austerity will create a wider crisis and lead to social unrest. How Neoliberals Captured the Continent Abraham Newman Since the onset of the European sovereign debt crisis in 2010, countries across the continent have responded by imposing fiscal austerity. From Greece to Ireland, governments have cut spending by double digits. Spain, which is in the midst of a recession and has an unemployment rate nearing 25 percent, slashed its budget by eight percent and plans to shrink its deficit by an additional 27 billion euros this year. Even Germany, whose economy is considered the healthiest in Europe, has pledged to eliminate 80 billion euros in spending by 2014. These national austerity policies will be reinforced across the continent by the EU fiscal compact, a treaty slated to go into effect next year that will require European countries to maintain balanced budgets. Tea Party …


François For France!

The biggest news story of the weekend was the resurgence of left-wing politics in Europe. Okay, this is a slight over-exaggeration. I’m a bit too excited – I haven’t blogged in a while. But François Hollande’s victory in the first round of the presidential election in France is a huge boost to the waning left-wing politicians who are coming to be termed as the “Old guard” of Europe. Right-wing policies on economics and immigration seem to be at the tip of a far deeper ideological battle taking place across the continent. But that’s the subject for a (very long, detailed, jargon-filled) feature another day.


A Socialist President of France?

In less than two months time voters in France will head to the polls to elect the next President of the Republic. Conventional wisdom is that Socialist party candidate François Hollande, who is far ahead of President Nicolas Sarkozy in the opinion polls, will prevail. But nothing is certain in French politics, particularly where the Socialist party is concerned. They haven’t had a candidate win the presidency since the days of Mitterrand, 17 years ago. What will the election of Monsieur Hollande mean for France, if he wins and more importantly the impact on the wider European community?