David Cameron Needs a Vision for the Future of Europe

map-europe-carMatt Wood, Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sheffield, analyses David Cameron’s recent attempts at negotiating reform of the EU. As Cameron concentrates on the UK’s position within the EU, is he missing the opportunity to secure allies by ignoring how EU reform could benefit all member states in the future?

If David Cameron can’t convince the Polish Prime minister of the need for change in the EU, it’s fair to say he’s going to have trouble convincing many leaders at all of his renegotiation ‘package’. Beata Szydlo, Poland’s newly elected, arch-right wing premier, stated that she could not accept Cameron’s proposal to curb access to benefits for migrants within the EU, claiming that she did ‘not see eye to eye’ with the UK Prime Minister. One of the key reasons for the difficulties in renegotiation has been the lack of vision about a broader future for the EU, which has failed to bring on board otherwise agreeable partners. Here I’m going to suggest Britain’s renegotiations need to provoke a rethink of the whole landscape of the EU, beyond the ‘froth and nonsense’ of migrant in-work benefits, as one Tory Minister put it. Doing so may well be necessary for Cameron to secure the support he currently lacks for a renegotiation deal. Continue reading

Not in front of the MPs: Why can’t Parliament have a frank discussion about the EU?

Collier's_1921_Vol_7_Frontispiece_--_Parliament_Buildings,_LondonIn this post, Agata Gostyńska, research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, explains how Britain’s Parliament does a poor job of examining EU business—and proposes some simple reforms that would improve the way that it scrutinises European legislation.

The British prime minister, David Cameron, wants to make the EU more democratic. National parliamentarians, in his view, understand citizens’ concerns better than MEPs who deliberate in far-away Brussels and Strasbourg; national parliaments should therefore play a greater role in EU decision-making. However, Cameron’s argument would carry more weight if UK parliamentary scrutiny were improved. Continue reading

Q&A: Thomas Piketty responds to surprise Greek election result

Thomas_Piketty_2015In the wake of a surprise re-election of Alexis Tsipras and Syriza, Thomas Piketty, Professor at Paris School of Economics and at EHESS, discusses the need for a more active approach from European leaders when it comes to the Greek question – and for a eurozone parliament to be established.
+++Thomas Piketty will speak at the UCL European Institute on 14 December 2015+++

The Tsipras victory has come as a surprise to some. What has changed for Greece?

Normally, we would expect some stability in the coming years. But above all, Greece and Europe need to make up for lost time. Until now, Europe has obstinately refused to talk seriously about restructuring Greece’s debt. That was what caused the downfall of the last government. Continue reading

Greece, the EU, and the Democratic Conundrum

In this post, Nicola Countouris, Reader at the UCL Faculty of Laws, analyses the reasons why the Greeks may have rejected the creditor institutions’ economic and reform proposals. Arguing that frustration is not the only explanation for Tsipras’  win at the ballot box, and recognising the daunting challenge that lie ahead of the 19 Eurozone democracies, he argues that Europe’s constitutional envelope can be spacious enough to accommodate different versions of democratic economic and human aspirations.

For the second time in six months the Greeks have voted for a political project (which many have and will continue to describe as a ‘political adventure’) that runs against the grain of the unanimous expectations and imperatives of the EU institutions, the IMF, and the bulk of both centre-right and centre-left European governments. Against the odds, against the economic and reform instructions imparted by the lending institutions, and – many will say – against their best interest, the Greeks have refused to conform, and have flatly rejected on two occasions now, the politics of austerity.

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In bad faith

Ashoka Mody, Visiting Professor at Princeton University and former Deputy Director in the IMF’s Research and European Departments, critiques the IMF report published on 2 July, on the eve of Greece’s referendum. This report found that Greek debt was not sustainable and deep debt relief along with substantial new financing was needed to stabilize Greece. This report, according to Mody, reveals that the creditors negotiated with Greece in bad faith. He suggests that the Greek debt burden is much greater than portrayed by the report, and that the policy measures proposed to reduce that burden, including more austerity, will make matters worse. This article was first published on bruegel.

On 2 July, the IMF released its analysis of whether Greek debt was sustainable or not.  The report said that Greek debt was not sustainable and deep debt relief along with substantial new financing were needed to stabilize Greece. In reaching this new assessment, the IMF stated it had learned many lessons. Among them: Greeks would not take adequate structural reforms to spur growth, they would not sell enough of their assets to repay their debt, and they were unable to undertake sufficient fiscal austerity. That left no choice but to grant Greece greater debt relief and to provide new financing to tide Greece over till it could stand on its own feet. The relief, the IMF, says must be provided by European creditors while the IMF is repaid in whole.

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