Why National Parliaments in the EU Should Be Empowered

big-benOn Monday 12 October 2015, a panel of experts will to discuss the role of national parliaments in the debate on the EU at an event at the UCL European Institute. Here, Sandra Kröger, lecturer in politics of the University of Exeter, talks about the ‘democratic disconnect’ in the European Union between domestic and EU-level political institutions. She proposes that national parliaments can, and should, be empowered, but also that national parliamentarians need to make better use of the powers already available to them by engaging more closely with EU affairs.

In early 2013, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has publicly announced a referendum on European Union (EU) membership by the end of 2017 should he be re-elected in 2015. He has since linked the now certain referendum to the re-negotiation and eventual re-location of certain competences to the UK as well as the possibility, for the UK, to opt out of specific policies. Just how convincing such demands are in the light of the recent British government’s own balance of competences review not finding any competences that should be returned to Westminster is open to debate. Be that as it may, one central demand of Cameron is a ‘bigger and more significant role’ for National Parliaments (NPs), reflecting a desire for more national democracy. 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