The Basque militant group officially declared a permanent ceasefire today, perhaps bringing an end to a 50-year campaign that has claimed more than 800 lives. The announcement didn’t get all that much attention in the U.S., where ETA tends to get lumped in with Greek Anarchists as quaint relics of a more violent era of European politics. While they were a force to be reckoned with in the ’70s and ’80s, these days, Europe faces a much more pressing threat from radical Islamist groups, rather than delusional nationalists in balaclavas, right?
In the Social Europe Journal, Gabor Gyori explained that the tribulations of democracy in Hungary could not be framed in the terms of dictatorship or its opposite. There were many other problems besides the new media law. For the sake of Hungary and the whole EU, the union must start taking democracy and the rule of law as seriously as economic issues: For Hungary, the Issue is not Dictatorship but the Quality of Democracy (10 January 2011).
An interesting possibility has arisen from ALDE MEP?s. They want to move a meeting of the EU-African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Joint Parliamentary Assembly to Brussels according to Euractiv (original in French and English) thereby boycotting Hunagary. This is seen as a democratic protest against the recent media law in Hungary. This law has met with opposition from within and without Hungary.
The ‘media act’ was passed on 21 December in Hungary and was implemented on 1 January 2011. It’s not such a derogation in Europe, because the context of this law is nothing more than just another sign of an alarming trend in Europe
Politically, already serious discussion about the commencement of proceedings is an embarrassment for a wayward government, despite the slender risk of condemnation, I said in my comment regarding the founding values of the European Union in Article 2 TEU and the possible sanctions for serious breaches foreseen in Article 7 TEU: Are EU founding values effective? (Hungarian media law)(11 January 2011).
How to be the subject of a formal disavowal from your own ministry: a bad week in French foreign policy
A certain idea of French foreign policy is in crisis. On one hand, a serious (non-dickhead) terrorist threat to French interests ? like Areva?s uranium mines ? in Niger and Mali just isn?t going away, and the French military is semi-permanently involved. Jean-Dominique Merchet has an excellent post on the failed operation to rescue the two hostages and especially on the fact that several of the apparent kidnappers were in Nigerien police uniform?and they fired at the French helicopters. Whether this was a case of insurgents masquerading as police, rogue police cooperating with insurgents, real police acting as fake ones for some twisted reason, or a disastrous friendly-fire incident is far from clear.
After a strange 3 days of deliberations within the ruling Fianna Fail party, political events in Dublin are moving quickly this evening.
First, Prime Minister Brian Cowen decided that the deliberations had told him that in the interest of party and especially country, he should stay on as leader and PM. But he upped the ante by proposing a vote of confidence in himself for Tuesday?s meeting of the parliamentary party. The trouble with a ?put up or shut up? move, as this was, is that someone might put up. And so foreign minister Micheál Martin has offered his resignation, indicated he will vote against the Tuesday motion, and is in effect putting himself forward as an alternative leader.
Since 5 January 2011 I have written a number of blog posts critical of the Hungarian presidency of the (other configurations of the) Council of the European Union. (You find the headlines in the right hand margin of the blog.)
The Belgian presidency of the Council of the European Union showed team spirit by using the hashtag #EuTrioBe on Twitter. Now use #EuTrioHu and you find tweets from private EU citizens, media and even the Belgian presidency, but no communication from the Hungarian government.
from EUobserver.com – Headline News
The holders of the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union (Wikipedia) have not contributed only to the great events and mundane work of European integration, but the main developments are reflected in more intimate details.
by Simon Tilford
The eurozone?s fiscal position is better than the US and UK, and the crisis-hit members of the currency union are doing more to strengthen their public finances than either of these countries. So why are borrowing costs so much higher for countries in the eurozone periphery than for Britain and America? Portugal and Greece have lower public deficits than the US, so why do investors fear for their solvency, but not that of the US?
?Leadership? ? a term often used in describing the actions of major actors in international politics, and I include the EU in this ? and yet a term I would suggest is habitually abused as well. Since the early 1990s the EU has increasingly been described as a global ?leader?, not least in the field of international environmental politics with the most habitually cited example of the EU?s leading role in the climate change regime. Since Kyoto some have argued that the EU?s environmental ?leadership? has enhanced and improved, having ?traded places? with the United States as the leading actor in global environmental governance, with this being seen now with the EU?s proposals for a post-Kyoto agreement. The EU is perceived to be the world?s ?green leader?.
Much of the attention around the eurozone crisis has now shifted to Portugal, the latest of the PIGS peripheral eurozone economies to fall under market scrutiny.
Leaders and activists of Roma (Gypsy) minority rights must be both devastated and excited by recent events in Europe. On the one hand horrific discrimination against these minorities has reached sinister proportions. State-sanctioned forced evictions, threats and compulsory finger-printing have been ongoing in France and Italy, specifically, and very publicly targeting Roma communities. In Hungary and the Czech Republic mobs have attacked Roma individuals and families in organised (and unprovoked) incidents. On the other hand, these incidents have renewed public interest in the plight of Roma minorities and more pressure groups have joined in the call for European institutions to create a European strategy that actually works. This has built up a stirring momentum in an otherwise lacklustre European performance towards Roma minorities to date, with the next country in line up for EU presidency, Hungary, publicly pledging to focus on the inclusion of Roma minorities in one of its main aims in office. Hungary will be carefully watched: Amnesty International is the latest non-governmental organisation to get on board, with a publication (pdf) in mid November 2010 investigating the catalogue of failures of police investigations of recent murders of Roma people in Hungary.
By Charles Grant
At the end of last year, Europe lost Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, an eminent central banker and economist, and one of the founding fathers of the euro. As EU leaders struggle to cope with the continuing euro crisis, they would do well do ponder some of Padoa-Schioppa?s insights on the economics of monetary union.
The air traffic authority of the CIS has submitted its report on the plane crash near Smolensk in which the former Polish president Lech Kaczy?ski and 95 other persons lost their lives. According to the report, “psychological and social pressure” exerted on the pilots by “highly placed Polish personalities” led to the crash. Dissatisfied with the report, many Poles are now rebuking Prime Minister Tusk for having allowed the Russians to carry out the investigation single-handedly, commentators note.
Understanding EU-level decision-making is complicated. You have to be quite an expert to search and find relevant EU documents, even when they are public.
The role of the Far East in the Eurozone’s ongoing debt saga is becoming increasingly fascinating.
China has reportedly bought ?1.1 billion of Portuguese debt in a direct sale. And Japan – not wanting to be outdone – has announced that it’ll buy ?900 million worth of bonds to be issued by the EFSF (the Eurozone bailout fund) at the end of this month.
With their typical and incurable penchant for over dramatisation, the Italian media and many political commentators had dubbed December 14, 2010 ?the day of reckoning?. Many firmly believed that, on that fateful day, the Berlusconi Government would lose a vote of confidence and be compelled to resign, thus finally ushering in a new political era.
Much of recent public commentary on the crisis in the eurozone has dealt with Germany and ?the Germans? as a monolithic and internally undifferentiated entity. This is an important matter because part of Angela Merkel?s opposition to alternative ideas has been couched in the notion that they would not be supported by the Bundestag. But treating Germany and the Germans ? especially their political elite ? as a monolithic entity is inaccurate and unhelpful. It is inaccurate because what the German government should do is, in fact, contested within Germany.
With a growth rate of 3.6 percent the German GDP rose twice as fast as that of the Eurozone as a whole last year. The credit goes to Germany’s disciplined budget and financial policy, which are models for other states, commentators write, happy that Germany is once more committed to helping save the euro.
Bologna, 27-28 January 2011Islam is today the second religion in Europe. Despite the complexity implied by this fact, a widespread dichotomy presents a homogeneous Europe versus a likewise consistent Muslim “Other”. This conference aims at deconstructing such a dichotomy and to scrutinize how gender lies at the heart of the frictions occurring as a result of contemporary transnational challenges. It presents frontline research on how European states govern Muslims´ migration movements and everyday life along with research focused on power relations within the Muslim minorities.
It would have been hard to believe only a few weeks ago that the euro zone could be the source of any good news let alone news to help push the market forward. Yet, with last week?s successful bond auctions and the pledge of international superpowers such as Japan and China to buy Euro zone debt and the ECB?s sudden more hawkish tones, the obvious question is; are we out the woods yet?