Sixty years ago, Soviet tanks crushed an anti-communist uprising in Budapest, sending 200,000 Hungarians – men women and children – fleeing across the border into Austrian refugee camps, then onwards into a welcoming Western world.
A Progressive Political Alliance for Europe

If moderate forces in France and Germany fail to join together to create what the US historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., called the “vital center,” the assault on economic openness and liberal democracy will gain traction. In this sense, the French and German elections will turn 2017 into be a make-or-break year for the EU.

EurActiv.com by Georgi Gotev
Russia’s strategy is to weaken the EU, Council President Donald Tusk said following a five-hour summit discussion on the Union’s relations with Moscow, described as “tough” by diplomats.
Catalan bullfights: Spanish top court overturns ban

Spain’s constitutional court overturns a ban on bullfighting in Catalonia, declaring it unconstitutional.
A dispute is brewing between the EU and Switzerland over the immigration controls the Swiss voted for in a referendum in February 2014. At stake is whether limits on immigration are compatible with the EU freedom of movement agreement. With Brexit negotiations looming the EU won’t be willing to make any concessions, some commentators say. Others warn against making an example of Switzerland.
Brussels Briefing: Summit surprises

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As Europe’s 28 heads of state or government gather again in Brussels this afternoon, it is worth recalling that special energy that European summits bring. This format is virtually unique in international affairs – even at G20 meetings “minders” are allowed in the room. It can make them wonderfully unpredictable and very human, especially (like today) when no big concrete decision needs to be taken. Here are three political live-rails to watch

The Austrian government wants to end years of wrangling over the future of Adolf Hitler’s birth house in Braunau by demolishing or at least repurposing the building. With these plans the minister of the interior, Wolfgang Sobotka, is following the recommendation of a commission of experts. The wrecking ball is hardly the best way to confront the past, Europe’s press warns.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is visiting German Chancellor Angel Merkel in Berlin today for the first time since 2012. Together with the French and Ukrainian presidents they want to discuss the situation in Ukraine. Merkel also plans to address the war in Syria. While some journalists are relieved to see these leaders in dialogue, for others the approach towards the Russian president is far too soft.

One of the Richest Political Parties in Europe Rules One of the Poorest European Countries

Back part of the seat of political party VMRO-DPMNE in Skopje, Macedonia. Photo: GV, CC BY.

Macedonia is one of the poorest countries in Europe. However, a recent documentary reveals that its ruling party VMRO-DPMNE amassed more wealth than its counterparts in the richest countries on the continent.

 

Debate: Are Syriza’s days counted?

Alexis Tsipras was re-elected by a large majority as the president of Syriza at the party’s conference in Athens. He adopted an aggressive tone in his speech and criticised the austerity policy the country’s creditors are imposing on Greece. This show of unity can’t conceal the fact that the party’s approval ratings are plunging and the Greeks’ dissatisfaction is growing, journalists observe.
Security Commissioner Julian King told Die Welt (18 October) that the anti-ISIS offensive created an increased risk of attacks in Europe. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière quickly refuted King’s claim, saying the threat was already high
Austria’s interior minister rows back on a pledge to demolish the house in which Adolf Hitler was born, after experts say they did not recommend this.
The Syria talks in Lausanne came to an end without any concrete results on Saturday. Nonetheless, the foreign ministers who were present – including those of the US, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – plan to stay in contact with each other. For commentators this is not enough. They call for concrete political initiatives.

Spain’s current political impasse

Yesterday, 12 October 2016, I took part in a seminar titled “Resolving Spain’s political deadlock” held at my home institution, RMIT University, in Melbourne. I presented alongside Marta Poblet and Antonio Castillo, both from RMIT. We each spoke for about 15 minutes and there was a lively discussion with the attendees. Here’s a blurb announcing the event:

Spain’s political deadlock continues… In this seminar, Spanish and Australian experts from the Centre for Communication, Politics and Culture (CPC), the Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC) and the European Union (EU) Centre at RMIT University, will make an attempt at unlocking some of the issues behind the political crisis in Spain and its impact.

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