Why we occupy: Dutch universities at the crossroads

The Netherlands, a mere 10 years behind the UK, seems eager to catch up. Twin pressures of authoritarianism from above and neoliberalism from below make it necessary to develop the democratic alternative put forward by the movement for a new university.

Maagdenhuis occupation, Amsterdam, February 27,2015.

Maagdenhuis occupation, Amsterdam, February 27,2015. Guido van Nispen/Flickr. Some rights reserved.It has been two weeks since the first occupation of the Bungehuis, one of the main buildings of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). The more recent occupation of UvA’s Senate House – the Maagdenhuis which was famously occupied back in 1969 –

The German government on Wednesday dismissed demands by the Greek prime minister for reparations for Nazi crimes committed during World War II. Speaking to the the Greek parliament on Tuesday, Tsipras had called for billions of euros in compensation. The Greek leader is once more going way out on a limb in the debt crisis, some commentators complain. Others praise Tsipras for holding up the mirror of history to Germany.

Iceland yesterday (12 March) announced it was dropping its bid to join the European Union, in line with pledges made by its Eurosceptic government after its election two years ago.

Germany ends teacher headscarf ban

Germany’s highest court decides that a ban on teachers wearing the Islamic headscarf in state schools is unconstitutional.

EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker complained Friday (13 March) about a lack of progress in talks on Greece’s bailout, but insisted there was no chance of a failure that could drive the country out of the eurozone.

Spain shaken up by anti-corruption parties

Anti-corruption parties turn back on old guard
‘Germanies’ in lieu of Europe

Mr. Schäuble remains convinced that the peoples of Europe have given a mandate for financial austerity, which is favored by the German government. What gives Mr. Schäuble such certainty?

Building people power before the Paris climate summit

As we approach yet another climate summit this November, the question is: how can we reverse the continuing climate catastrophe over the next quarter-century?

Greek threat to seize German assets

The Greek government threatens to seize German property as compensation for the relatives of victims of a World War Two Nazi atrocity.
Euro hits 12-year low against dollar

The euro has fallen to its lowest level in 12 years against the US dollar after the European Central Bank (ECB) began its bond buying programme.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel narrowly averted a far bigger rebellion last month on Greece’s bailout extension among her conservatives, many more of whom would have voted ‘Nein’ but for her finance minister’s powers of persuasion, lawmakers said.

How the Home Office keeps getting it wrong on LGBTQ asylum seekers

The Home Office says that asylum seeker Aderonke Apata can’t be a lesbian as she has had children with a man. The new Solidarity with Aderonke Tumblr project tells a different story.

“Growth theory was invented to provide a systematic way to talk about and to compare equilibrium paths for the economy. In that task it succeeded reasonably well. In doing so, however, it failed to come to grips adequately with an equally important and interesting problem: the right way to deal with deviations from equilibrium growth……..if one looks at substantial more-than-quarterly departures from equilibrium growth……….. it is impossible to believe that the equilibrium growth path itself is unaffected by the short- to medium-run experience…….So a simultaneous analysis of trend and fluctuations really does involve an integration of long-run and short-run, or equilibrium and disequilibrium.
Robert Solow, Nobel Acceptance Speech

Spain’s Year of the Polls

Spain appears to be heading towards an evolved party system in which the big players will be now four, not two. Español

MAIN FOCUS: Juncker triggers debate over EU army | 10/03/2015

With his proposal to create an EU army Jean-Claude Juncker has kicked off a debate about the Union’s security policy. The Commission president called on the weekend for the formation of a joint army in response to threats above all from Russia. Only as a single entity can Europe defend its values, some commentators concur. For others, strengthening Nato would be a more sensible reaction to Moscow’s power politics.

The finance ministers of the Eurozone will discuss Greece’s new reform proposals today, Monday. Sources close to the German government described the proposals as inadequate on the weekend. Some commentators call on Athens to stick to the rules and present concrete reforms. Others believe the country can only get back on its feet after a Grexit.

MAIN FOCUS: Draghi leaves Athens without cheap money | 06/03/2015

The ECB will launch its large-scale bond-buying progrramme on Monday. ECB chief Mario Draghi confirmed on Thursday that Greek bonds wouldn’t be included for the time being. The bank is smothering the Greek economy with this policy, some commentators criticise. Others argue that the ECB should never buy the bonds of a bankrupt state.

MAIN FOCUS: Is Athens provoking a “Graccident”? | 05/03/2015

Despite the agreement with its creditors, the Greek government has questioned the repayment of government bonds and once again tabled the option of a debt cut. Athens’ irresponsible behaviour will have it thrown out of the Eurozone, some commentators fear. Others believe Greece is simply a good negotiator.

A Great German Greek Grexit Game?

Curzon Price is clearly right that the “game” is not “chicken.” It is not zero-sum. But the real question is, is it a game?

Demonstration against the European Central Bank in Thessaloniki, February 2015.

A new low for German-Greek relations?

A new low for German-Greek relations?

Yesterday’s threat by Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos of the Independent Greeks to ‘flood’ Europe with refugees including potential IS members has arguably brought German-Greek relations to a new low.

 

David Cameron is receiving a lot of advice on how to ‘renegotiate’ the terms of Britain’s EU membership, if he wins May’s general election. Janan Ganesh’s recent Open Europe essay, ‘From a reluctant European: a memo to the prime minister’, is an excellent contribution to this debate. However, Ganesh mistakenly urges Cameron to seek UK opt-outs from EU social policy and financial regulation, neither of which is feasible, and he misreads the German position on some key dossiers.
The Greek Game: Dominance or Chicken, Fear or Reason?

The outcome of the Greek game depends on how Syriza sees itself in two possible futures: “Exit” or “Buckle”

First, I’d like to say what a pleasure it is to elicit such a thoughtful counter-analysis to my original depiction of the Greek game from  Frances Coppola.

 

High-stakes European poker: a reply to Curzon Price

Frances Coppola responds to ‘The Varoufakis game is not chicken’, authored by Tony Curzon Price. Greek exit now would be disastrous for both Greece and the Eurozone.

Spain: A four-party country?

Spain: A four-party country?

In light of the extraordinary rise of Podemos, it has been clear for some time that the next Spanish general elections will put an end to the country’s traditional two-party system. But the recent poll surge of another contender, the centrist party Ciudadanos, suggests Spain may be on course to become a four-party country. Our Southern Europe expert Vincenzo Scarpetta introduces Ciudadanos and looks at the potential implications of its ‘irruption’ on the Spanish national political scene.

Cyprus and Iceland: a tale of two capital controls

Both in Cyprus and Iceland foreign funds flowed into the islands, in the end forcing the government to make use of extreme measures when the tide turned. These measures are normally called ‘capital controls’ which in these two cases hides the fact that the measures used are fundamentally different in all but name. In Iceland, the controls contain the effect of lacking foreign currency, effectively a balance of payment problem – in Cyprus, the controls were a way of defending banks against bank run, i.e. preventing depositors to move funds freely.

The DNA of German Foreign Policy

The basic tenets of Germany’s foreign policy – close partnership with France within a united Europe and a strong transatlantic alliance in terms of both security and economic cooperation – have withstood the test of time. But now Germany must address three key challenges: crisis management, the changing global order, and its position within Europe.

 

VIDEO: Austria reforms 1912 Islam law

The Austrian parliament has passed controversial reforms to the country’s century-old law on Islam, including a ban on foreign funding.

The Austrian parliament on Wednesday passed reforms to its Islam law, redefining the rights and obligations of Muslims living in the country. Among other things the law bans funding for Muslim communities from abroad. Vienna is attempting to establish a local brand of Islam, some commentators write approvingly. Others criticise the law for casting a shadow of suspicion over all Muslims.

 

The Eurozone’s finance ministers approved Athens’ reform programme on Tuesday. After the decision the creditors held out the prospect of extending the bailout payments until the end of June but demanded improvements to the proposals. For some commentators Greece has capitulated. Others write that the government now has a unique opportunity to reform the country.

Syriza’s limited options

Unless Syriza changes its rhetoric now and unless it explains the facts about the EU and the economy, it will be incapable of justifying any of these decisions to its voters several months down the line.

 

The EU Commission on Wednesday reached its decision on the budgets of the member states. France will have until 2017 to deal with its problems, but still faces deficit proceedins, while Italy and Belgium have avoided such proceedings. Finally the EU has distanced itself from the strict austerity policy, some commentators write in approval. Others criticise Europe for double standards regarding crisis states.

La tour de Babel vue par Pieter Brueghel l'Ancien CC-BY-20The Tower of Babel by Peter Bruegel the Elder CC-BY-20

Four years on, Europeans seek dialogue with Syria

Some European Union countries which withdrew their ambassadors from Syria are saying privately it is time for more communication with Damascus, even though Britain and France oppose it, diplomats said.

 

There are many ways to study the European Parliament. Votewatch.eu analyses roll call votes. Integritywatch.eu looks into side activities and side incomes of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). And political scientists study the European Parliament’s gender balance and many other topics that are of interest to wider or more limited audiences.

EuropeanParliamentCommitteeNetwork2015

Greece secured a four-month extension of its financial rescue on Tuesday (24 February) when its eurozone partners approved a reform plan that backed down on key leftist measures and promised that spending to alleviate social distress would not derail its budget.

 

What is Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) on about?

The opportunities and temptations of a newcomer among Germany’s political parties.

Alternative for Germany supporters march in Berlin. Demotix/Theo Schneider. All rights reserved.When the decision was taken to furnish all countries of the European Union with the Euro as the only currency–at least those not explicitly insisting on retaining their monetary independence–in the 1990s, this was a momentous choice for Germany.

 

After the victory of the pro-Western Reform Party in Sunday’s national elections Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas is in talks with four parties about forming a government. He has ruled out a coalition with the Centre Party, which is widely regarded as pro-Russian and came second in the election. Commentators attribute the Centre Party’s good results to the social situation in the country and warn the government not to ignore the concerns of ethnic Russians.

Experts of the EU Commission, ECB and IMF will assess the list of reforms presented by the Greek government today, Tuesday. The euro finance ministers will then decide this afternoon whether to approve further bailout payments. But the devil is in the detail as regards the implementation of the reforms, commentators warn, and observe that Greece is worse off after the compromisewith its creditors than before.

The European Commission says it is trying to maintain EU unity after Greece accused Spain and Portugal of conspiring against it in bailout talks.
Syriza’s worst capitulation so far?

Syriza’s worst capitulation so far?

It has now been confirmed that the Greek parliament will not get a formal vote on the extension of the financial assistance agreement with the Eurozone. Open Europe’s Raoul Ruparel asks whether this is another sign of Syriza moving from its election commitments – in this case democracy and transparency.

 

No, we can’t: Why Podemos is not Syriza

2015 will be a hectic year for the Spanish electorate. Over the next few months, Spain, a decentralised state with 17 different regional parliaments, will hold four different elections: to the Andalusian Parliament in March; regional and local elections in the rest of Spain in May; to the Catalonian Parliament in September; and a general election no later than December. All eyes are set on one party: Podemos (‘We can’), the rising star of the Spanish political landscape. Does Podemos stand a real chance of taking power? And what does Podemos really want?
Challenging the red lines of Greece

Yanis Varoufakis has said that he does not intend to back down from his rather high “red lines”. European leaders, and especially German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, are currently exploring just how true that is.

Yanis Varoufakis with his Dutch counterpart Jeroen Dijsselbloem. Demotix/Angeliki Panagiotou. All rights reserved.

Could Labour be more like Syriza?

The big question is whether Labour can rise to the challenge, accept the enormity of the changes needed and put forward a compelling vision for the future. The alternative may well be “Pasokification”.

Flickr/UweHiksch. Some rights reserved.

A Social Media Timeline of the Copenhagen Killings

 

An estimated 30,000 people participated in the memorial for the victims of a recent shooting in Copenhagen, Denmark on February 16, 2015. Photo by Jacob Crawfurd. Copyright DemotixAn estimated 30,000 people participated in the memorial for the victims of a recent shooting in Copenhagen, Denmark on February 16, 2015. Photo by Jacob Crawfurd. Copyright Demotix

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