A Broader Vision of the Future of Europe

Globe-EuropeThe UK has been affected by events in mainland Europe since history began, as mainland Europe has been affected by events on the British Isles. In response to Matt Wood’s post ‘David Cameron Needs a Vision for the Future of Europe’Konrad Schiemann, former Judge at the European Court of Justice from 2004 to 2012, nominated by the UK, argues that whilst it is understandable that the UK Parliament asks what is best for the UK, it might be more beneficial in the long-term, both for Europe but also for the UK itself, to ask ‘what is best for Europe?’.

Any historical perspective makes plain that the UK, like every other European country, has always been hugely affected by what is happening elsewhere in Europe. Britain was colonised by the Romans; the Spanish Empire sought domination as did the French under Louis XIV and Napoleon, the Germans under the Kaiser and Hitler, and the Soviet Union under Stalin. The beginnings of the creation of a European Common Market in the 1950s all hugely affected this country long before the UK officially joined what became the EU in 1973. Moreover, the adoption of the Euro by many of the other countries of the EU has affected the UK notwithstanding that the UK has not adopted it. 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

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

The case for an EU referendum

Christopher Bickerton, lecturer in Politics at the University of Cambridge, discusses how how the impending EU referendum in the UK necessitates open and unbiased academic debate, and how British discussions of EU reform may reverberate across the European continent.

When the results of the British election were known, those studying the EU may have allowed themselves a quiet and discrete fist pump. David Cameron and the Conservative Party have made such firm assurances about organizing a referendum on EU membership that to renege on this promise is almost unimaginable. A referendum will take place, putting the EU at the heart of British political debate at least for the next couple of years and providing plenty of opportunities for the entrepreneurial EU studies researcher.

More generally though, responses to the forthcoming referendum have revealed some of the biases that exist amongst those studying the EU. Unsurprisingly, as with many other fields of inquiry, those who study the EU tend often to think it is a rather good thing. A referendum on British membership has therefore been perceived as an unwelcome event, more a threat than an opportunity. Attitudes range from the fearful to the reluctant.

Continue reading