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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‘Euro Crisis Law’ before the Court of Justice of the EU

JoergesThe ways in which Europe’s economy and the Eurozone are governed have changed fundamentally over the course of the Eurozone crisis. The resulting constitutional constellation is nothing less than a deep transformation of the European project. Christian Joerges, Professor of Law and Society at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, looks at how the project of a European economic constitution has been abandoned, and instead replaced by entirely new modes of European economic governance.

The transformation of European economic and political governance patterns (the EU’s constitutional constellation) occurred step by step through what the European University Institute in Florence has named the ‘Euro Crisis Law‘. The German court had asked whether the European Central Bank had overstepped its monetary policy competence with the Outright Monetary Transactions programme (OMT), and interfered with the powers of the Member States in the sphere of economic policy. On 16 June 2015, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) found the ECB’s programme to be legal. Continue reading

The Great European Disaster Movie: how a nightmarish vision led to a campaign of European awakening

euro-disaster-moviePaola Buonadonna, Campaigns Director at the Wake Up Foundation, tells the story of The Great European Disaster Movie and what the Wake Up Europe! Campaign which followed is seeking to achieve. UCL is hosting a free screening of this film at the European Institute on 11 November 2015 followed by a critical debate with Annalisa Piras (director, producer and writer of the film) and Bill Emmott (executive producer and former editor of The Economist). They will be joined by Jan Kubik (Director of the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies) and Antonios Tzanakopoulous (Professor of Public International Law at Oxford).

When Italian director Annalisa Piras started shooting The Great European Disaster Movie, the hard-hitting documentary drama exploring the crises besieging Europe, all was not well in Europe.  But she is definitely not surprised by how much the situation has deteriorated since.

“We made the film because we could already see the edge of the cliff that we are now walking on approaching on the horizon,” she said.  “When the film came out some thought it was too dark. We were accused of exaggerating, of scaremongering but our nightmarish vision of a Europe sleepwalking towards disaster now appears rather prescient.” Continue reading

Do Not Fear Austerity: A Public Meeting with Yanis Varoufakis

coinsAlessandro de Arcangelis, UCL PhD student in History, reports on a ‘public meeting’ with Yanis Varoufakis, and his advice to Jeremy Corbyn.

It is shortly after 19.00 when the crowd gathered at the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster bursts into a thunderous applause. Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis walks on stage with unassuming composure. The event, organised on 14 September 2015 by the anti-austerity movement The People’s Assembly, sold out in a matter of hours and dozens of people are standing at the back of the room, patiently waiting to hear the polarizing and often controversial Greek politician’s address.

Hanging above the speakers’ table is a quotation from John 10:10, whose towering presence is made rather apposite by the vibrant left-leaning atmosphere: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. Beneath it, the panel is impressive: Paul Mackney, former trade union leader; Romayne Phoenix, the chair of the People’s Assembly; James Meadway, New Economics Foundation chief economist;  Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of Public Services International; Diane Abbott, Labour MP; and, obviously, Yanis Varoufakis. Rumour has it that the newly elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn may eventually arrive to join the other speakers, but he is at the House of Commons, voting against trade union reforms. Continue reading

Catch-22: Give democracy a chance and keep Greece in the Euro

Ulrike Liebert, Professor in European Studies, looks at the tensions that are arising between the need for effective economic governance in the Eurozone and the need for democratic accountability, both of member states and the EU as a whole, particularly in the context of the outcome of the Greek referendum.

Eurozone leaders sometimes seem to forget that that they are governing an economic and monetary union that is part of the European Union of states and citizens, founded on common values such as ‘respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities’ (Art. 2 TEU).

The Greek population of 11 million represents a minority within the nineteen Eurozone states of some 300 million citizens, a minority which is deeply divided over the burdens which Eurozone rules require them to bear for the sake of the euro’s stability. The referendum of 5 July was an unprecedented instance of a plebiscite on Eurozone bailout conditions, and Eurozone leaders had no choice but to acknowledge it as a legitimate means of democracy. Greek voters turned out in unexpectedly high numbers and forcefully spoke their will.

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