While populists are defeated in Swis EU poll, German judges study Lisbon Treaty. And there is more from Europe… A roundup…
With most mainstream political parties and the economic establishment pushing for a ‘yes’ vote, anti-immigration populists suffered a defeat yesterday (8 February) in a referendum to open up the country’s labour market to Bulgarian and Romanian workers.
The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) commissioned OgilvyOne to develop a website campaign to encourage people across the EU to take action to reduce their environmental impact. The site is called the changers.found in The Changers
Brussels was breathing a sigh of relief today as the news of yesterday’s Swiss referendum result reached people’s desks. There had been some apprehension about the vote, which extends free-movement rules to new EU entrants Bulgaria and Romania, as opinion polls taken before the vote seemed to suggest that it would have a razor-thin margin. In the end, a massive 60 percent of voters said ‘JA.’ Only four of Switzerland’s 26 cantons voted no.
German ministers defend the EU’s Lisbon Treaty during a hearing at the country’s constitutional court.
A low-key tug of war is developing between the EU and Russia as both sides battle for the long-term allegiances of Eastern European states, according to the president of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.
The European Commission’s high-level groups are "skewed" in favour of business interests and fail to guarantee equitable consultation of all stakeholders, allege Friends of the Earth in a new report to be published tomorrow (12 February). The NGO is calling for a moratorium on the creation of new such groups until more "transparent mechanisms" have been established.
At the end of 2008, Spanish, Italian and Greek universities showed their discontent. In 2009 it is France’s turn to denounce the consequences of the Bologna Process, which recommended a more hierarchical ‘management’ of universities. A professor explains why
The US and Europe want to cooperate more closely on an international level. US Vice President Joe Biden promised an end to unilateral US policy at the Munich Security Conference on the weekend, saying his country also expects more help from its partners. The European press comments on the fresh start in transatlantic relations.
Well, that could be one way of diffusing the ongoing EU/CIS standoff over EUropean energy supplies that recently saw death and destruction in Georgia and much of southern/eastern Europe lose gas supplies in the middle of winter. EurActiv reports that “Lawmakers in the European Parliament are considering inviting Russia to join the Union’s Nabucco gas pipeline project, to avoid competition with rival projects sponsored by Moscow in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute.”
"Finding the right mixture of European and national decision-making is key to a fair and efficient social policy for the twenty-first century," write Andrej Stuchlík and Christian Kellermann, researchers at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), a German think tank, in a January paper.
US and European leaders are eager to restore strong relations with Russia and build a new security architecture with Moscow. But Washington will also ask for more commitment from its partners on issues such as Guantanamo or Afghanistan, new US Vice President Joe Biden said at a security conference in Munich on the weekend.
The European Parliament approved today a report on the Second Strategic Energy Review drafted by Anne Laperrouze (MoDem, France). This report gives a vision for the future of European energy policy. The report calls for greater cooperation between Member States in the energy field and suggests a rapid revision of the 2004 directive relating to the safety of the natural gas supply. It also calls for investment in order to develop a pan European network and to diversify the supply routes to the EU.
Workers in the energy sector have called strikes across England in protest at the announcement by the French oil company Total that it would be employing exclusively Italian and Portuguese workers at a refinery in Northern England.
At a time when European countries are struggling to cope with the financial and economic crises, European think tanks are ill-fitted to help decision-makers find innovative solutions, authors Stephen Boucher and Martine Royo argue in a book released this month.
"Anti-Commission sentiment seems to have grown in France," writes Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform (CER), in a January paper.
Discussion over Pope Benedict XVI’s rehabilitation of the traditionalist Holocaust denier Richard Williamson is heating up. Now German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also joined in, and called on the Pope to m
ake a statement on the handling of the Holocaust. The European press discusses the loss of face for the Pope and the Catholic Church.
Interesting analysis from European Voice today:
Some members of the European Monetary Union (EMU) – Ireland and Greece obviously, and Italy, too – are discovering that what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) adjudges a global recession is cruelly exposing their failure in the past ten years to adjust to the rigours of membership of a currency union…
But the idea that any country will quit the EMU unilaterally, while it remains a hard-currency club, is mindless.
The European Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
The tables in this publication allow the reader to make a broad comparison between the situation of the European Union and the countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The publication is jointly produced by Eurostat and by the Interstate Statistical Committee of the CIS (CIS-STAT) mainly on the basis of data from the two organisations.
European research funding runs the risk of becoming unattractive to researchers if the grant application process is not radically overhauled, Dr. Inge Grässle (EPP-ED, DE) has warned in an interview with EurActiv.
Sweden has said it intends to construct new nuclear power plants, reversing its 30-year nuclear phaseout policy. The government decision announced on Thursday is aimed at reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels. The UK, France and Finland are also planing to build additional reactors. The European press comments on this turnabout in energy policy.
In the wake of continued protests, the Vatican has called on traditionalist bishop Richard Williamson to revoke his denial of the Holocaust. He should now "clearly and publicly" distance himself from his previous statements. The European press comments on the move by the Catholic Church to cut its losses.
Who Speaks for European Muslims Online? – by Dalia Yusuf
European Muslim websites can be a means that clearly shows the large spectrum of ideologies and attitudes among European Muslims. Consequently, these websites reflect the issue of representing Islam and Muslims in Europe. There is diversity in the categories of these websites, for example, organizations’ websites, personal homepages, academic and research centers and interactive forums.
by Hugo Brady
Britain supports more EU co-operation against terrorism, crime and illegal immigration and has done so for over a decade. This is because effective justice co-operation has clearly been in the national interest (as with the speedy capture and extradition of one of the 2005 London bombers from Italy to Britain). And because it fits in with British notions of preventative or ‘intelligence-led’ policing’. As one senior police officer at the London metropolitan police put it: “Our security starts not just at our own borders, but at the Greek islands or the Finnish frontier.”
There has been some discussion in the interwebs about what to expect of the new party Libertas. But I think this issue has been resolved. Libertas is going to be far right party full of crazy Eurosceptics (see also here and here, including comments). The Irish Times reports: