Sustainability: the invisible common ground between the Italian problem and reforms in Europe

italy hot spotAccording to Marc Brightman, the problems of migration and economic stagnation, often referenced as the causes of the votes for Brexit or populist parties in Italy, should be treated together as part of a single problem of sustainability. An opportunity exists to exploit the rather consensual ground of environmental economics and ecological economics in European negotiations to agree on reforms for Italy and the other member states.

The formation of a populist government in Italy is causing disarray among policymakers and policy advisors working in a framework that has not assimilated advances in interdisciplinary sustainability science.

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Lords Brexit defeats are forcing MPs to face crucial choices

house of lordsOne part of the government’s flagship Brexit legislation is now nearing its parliamentary endpoint after the EU (Withdrawal) Bill completed its report stage in the House of Lords in early May. The UK parliament’s second chamber inflicted 15 government defeats on the bill, which sets out arrangements to facilitate Brexit. It will soon return to the House of Commons for these various issues to be considered. Meg Russell examines some of the issues this may cause for the House of Commons and parliament as a whole.

The Lords’ interventions have led some to claim that this is a “peers versus the people power grab”, or even that the chamber is behaving in an “unconstitutional” manner. But while the current situation may be unusual, it’s not for the reasons many commentators claim.

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Brexit Endgame: Uncertainty Mounts in Face of Deep Tory Divides


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What, if anything, could still derail the Brexit process in the coming months? Kirsty Hughes thinks the biggest political crisis might be yet to come as the negotiations unfold. Particular stumbling blocks include Northern Ireland and the future customs arrangements.

With just six months to go to finalise the Brexit withdrawal agreement, the watchword most frequently heard around Whitehall and Westminster is ‘uncertainty’. The cabinet are at daggers drawn over the future customs relationship with the EU – a row that pays little attention to what the EU might agree to. And there is no visible progress on the backstop that would allow Northern Ireland to keep the border open whatever the future relationship. Continue reading

Post-Brexit Trade Relations: No Middle Way Between Free Trade Agreement and Internal Market

Screenshot 2018-05-16 10.22.43Piet Eeckhout and Clément Leroy examine various models for the UK-EU trade relationship after Brexit, and argue that a so-called bespoke agreement beyond existing frameworks is not available. This blog draws on Piet Eeckhout’s report Future trade relations between the EU and the UK: options after Brexit, which he is presenting to the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee on Thursday 17 May (watch here). 

The future trade relationship between the UK and the EU will affect a wide range of economic and social policies. Looking beyond what would be desirable from an economic viewpoint, one can examine the different models for this relationship that are under consideration in the context of the Brexit negotiations against the canvas of two distinct paradigms: market integration and trade liberalisation.  Continue reading

A storm in a tea cup? Why all the fuss around the EU budget

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Filipa Figueira, Teaching Fellow at UCL’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies, unpacks the politics and the emotional potential of the EU budget, and why Brexit might be good news in this regard. 

Every seven years, the EU braces itself for a strange recurring phenomenon: Its comparatively small budget (only 1% of GNI; insignificant when compared to national governments’ budgets) becomes the focus of rapt attention from the media, politicians and unnerved citizens across the Union. Somehow the fact that this is not in fact a large amount of money in view of the size of the institutions it represents becomes lost in the picture, as politicians from different countries fight to get as much out of the limited pot as possible.

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