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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Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit: results and initial reflections

citizens-assembly-on-brexitThe Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit has come to an end. After two weekends of intense deliberation, the members voted on a range of options for the form they want Brexit to take in relation to trade and immigration. Their conclusions will surprise some, and they deserve detailed attention from politicians and commentators. Assembly Director Alan Renwick summarises these conclusions and reflects on the weekend as a whole. He argues that, while the Brexit debate is often presented in stark binary terms, the Citizens’ Assembly suggests that the British public are capable of much subtler thinking – if only they are given the chance.

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Six paradoxes of the Brexit debate

Screenshot 2016-03-04 14.14.02The ‘Brexit’ debate has taken off in the UK in the ten days since David Cameron got his new deal at February’s European Council summit, with daily media coverage and social media from both sides swinging into gear. How the debate, and the polls, will evolve over the coming four months is unclear but, Kirsty Hughes explains, so far various paradoxes are emerging.

1. Mainly an intra-government debate

To all appearances, media coverage to date suggests that the Brexit debate is essentially only a debate between two different camps in the Conservative government: a debate between mild eurosceptics in the British cabinet, including the Prime Minister, against a half dozen strong eurosceptics also in the cabinet. Continue reading

Eurotrashing euroscepticism

person-woman-park-musicThe European Union is a system founded on consensus-building and collaborative problem solving. Dr Simon Usherwood argues that it is for this reason very important for politicians to listen to the voices of Eurosceptics and other critics and to engage them in conversation.

In true Eurotrash style, I’m writing this as I fly to Italy, where I’m attending a workshop on studying the EU. The event, jointly run by the European University Institute and the College of Europe, is looking to consider how the rise of euroscepticism challenges the way we study and teach about the Union. Looking at the names on the list of speakers, there’s lots of potential for a great debate.

But why should you care about my travel plans or my taking part in another talking shop?

Having worked on the study of euroscepticism for longer than I can to remember – let’s just say I knew UKIP before they were big – I have always been struck by the lack of interest in the subject in European circles. Indeed, it was one of the things that got me interested in it in the first place. Continue reading