• Nov. 15, 2006

    De-constructing the European Union's 'absorptive capacity'

    The tendency in some political discourse now is to say that, because the Constitution that was meant to prepare for enlargement failed to be ratified, this shows that the enlargement process has now hit a roadblock called 'absorptive capacity', with the European polity suffering from a malady called 'enlargement fatigue', and therefore it would be best to call a stop and define the EU's 'final frontiers'.

  • Nov. 3, 2006

    Why Eastern Europe is turning anti-liberal?

    Right wing populists in Poland and left wing populists in Slovakia now run the government in alliance with extremist nationalist parties. In Budapest the main opposition party Fidesz calls its supporters to demonstrate in front of Parliament for the resignation of a government on the very day the Parliament had confirmed in a confidence vote the political outcome of the elections of last May. In contrast, in Prague, a minority right wing government that has not gained a confidence vote in Parliament after five months of bickering and mobilizing against the «communist threat» is carrying out a widespread purge of the upper echelons of public administration. Last but not least, the Bulgarian entry into the European Union has been heralded by turning the presidential race into a confrontation between an ex-communist (who claims to like the EU) and a proto-fascist (who says he hates Turks, Gypsies and Jews).Why is it so ?

  • Sept. 11, 2006

    Why multiculturalism should not be abandonned

    In an article published in the Observer newspaper recently, a reporter writes of his visit to a local mosque. It was not just any mosque, but one frequented by some of the British Muslims held by the police in the plot to bring down several transatlantic planes. The reporter talks of meeting two TV teams at the mosque. One, from the US, came to try to find out why the UK is a hotbed of Muslim violence; the other team, which was French, was there to report upon the collapse of the British model of integration.

  • May 16, 2006

    The end of a European integration process

    From the 1992 inception of the Single Market Program, to the introduction of the euro, to the enlargement to 25 member countries in May 2004, the process of European integration appeared to defy gravity. Bumps like the early 1990s currency crises did not halt it, but spurred it to leap onwards to the next step. Up to late May 2005, all this bolstered the confidence of those who, when designing the Single Market in the 1980s, could not imagine that the Iron Curtain would soon collapse and viewed a single European currency as a distant theoretically unavoidable but practically difficult endeavor. Many dreams had come true, and there was no Plan B, when the French and Dutch electorate rejected the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe.

  • March 4, 2006

    Germany is on the right track

    By voting for a new federal government led by the Christian Democratic Party (CDU), German voters underlined their readiness for economic and social reforms. The election results allow for the interpretation that a vast majority of voters support the continuation of reform policies with higher speed and broader scope. Hence, the new “Grand Coalition” of Christian and Social Democrats can be seen as a “companionship of destiny” condemned to success and confronted with high expectations by the German people.

  • March 2, 2006

    Angie in Germany: 100 days later

    Around the world, a glass is always either half-empty or half-full, depending on how you look at it - and how thirsty you are. In depressed Germany, people have a habit of seeing things more empty than they are, and the economic outlook is no exception. Yet things have begun to look better in the last few months: stock market, a tried-and-true predictor of a recovery, is booming; the DAX index is up by about 30% relative to a year ago. Investment is picking up, and foreign hedge funds have become increasingly sanguine about Germany. According to the Ifo Institute survey, managers are more optimistic now than any time since reunification fifteen years ago. Industrial production in the former East is up by 30% since 2000 (compared with only 4% in the West!) Even German analysts are even talking about a «Merkel-Boom.» Are good times right around the corner?

  • Dec. 24, 2005

    British Presidency: the sad final act

    The long battle over the EU budget ended last week with an agreement that leaves everything unchanged. It was a rare display of hypocrisy. The horsetrading involved just peanuts for some of the major actors involved in the deal. Governments running yearly budgets of the order of 700 billion euros or more were fighting over a few million Euros. The final result is a six-year, 2007-13, financial package largely concentrated on transfers to agriculture (42 per cent of the budget) benefiting roughly 3 per cent of the EU population. Another 35 per cent of EU spending is allotted to structural funds whose effectiveness is highly controversial.

  • Dec. 12, 2005

    Security and Defence: the mediocre balance sheet of British presidency

    With the EU in a deep malaise as a consequence of the French and Dutch rejection of the constitutional treaty, much is being made of the new role of European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), suddenly recast as the one moving part of an otherwise paralysed European integration process. The establishment of the EU’s “battle groups” as Europe’s rapid action force, the vital role of the EU in keeping the peace first in Bosnia and now in Atjeh, the ramping-up of the European Defence Agency: these and others can be cited.