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Category Archives: Current Affairs

The Austerity Zombie rises from the dead

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It was naïve to believe, mid-pandemic, that austerity had been “buried” in Europe. Like a zombie, the idea has risen from the dead and still retains powerful advocates. In early June, President of the Bundestag and former German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble published an opinion piece in the Financial Times that has attracted much mockery […]

Why the Nordic states maintain differentiated foreign policies

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Nordic governments frequently broadcast their ambition to do more together on the international stage. Kristin Haugevik and Ole Jacob Sending explain why we still shouldn’t expect to see any profound increase in joint Nordic foreign policy positions and actions – and especially not when it comes to relations with greater powers. In their Vision 2030, […]

The Conference on the Future of Europe: vehicle for reform versus forum for reflection?

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The approach of the European Union’s institutions to the Conference on the Future of Europe is muddled, with risks for the outcome. The European Union after several delays opened the Conference on the Future of Europe on 9 May 2021. Its purpose, according to a March 2021 Joint Declaration from the presidents of the EU institutions, is […]

Is the grass greener on the other side? Norway’s assessment of Brexit

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Brexit may expose the special arrangements that EFTA states have to the EU. The European Union has over time developed quite a comprehensive system of affiliations with neighbouring states. Both actors in the UK and in the EU have discussed these affiliations as possible templates for how the UK and the EU could organize their […]

Why the EU is a polycentric system of governance

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Elinor Ostrom provides the ideal framework to understand the European Union. Jan P. Vogler explains why. The EU is often subject to biting criticism by its opponents: political speechwriter Aram Bakshian contends that the EU has “a single giant bureaucracy and an imposed-from-above social model” and journalist Leo McKinstry suggests that it is “a federalist […]

Brexit: The cold waters between Canada and Norway

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The UK’s push for the frictionless market of the Norway option, while accepting only the obligations of the Canada option, was not viable. It was a delusion, either due to ignorance or self-deception. The UK never had the same vision of the EU as the other Member States. A main reason for the UK’s accession […]

Differentiated integration meets a divided public

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Differentiated integration is a political reality in the European Union. However, public opinion remains divided, both across countries and among individual citizens. This fact highlights important challenges for the workings of the Conference on the Future of Europe. During the recent tense and aggressive debate on the EU budget and the COVID-19 relief fund, Prime […]

The cases of Kosovo and Ukraine suggest a fragmented EU foreign policy

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In the last decade, the EU’s foreign policy practices have grown increasingly complex. For instance, despite the centralisation envisaged by the Lisbon Treaty, informal groups of member states shaped the Union’s policy on Kosovo and Ukraine. Ten years after its ratification, some believe that the Lisbon Treaty failed to strengthen the EU activities in international […]

Without good governance, the EU borrowing mechanism to boost the recovery could fail

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The European Union recovery fund could greatly increase the stability of the bloc and its monetary union. But the fund needs clearer objectives, sustainable growth criteria and close monitoring so that spending achieves its goals and is free of corruption. In finalising the fund, the EU should take the time to design a strong governance […]

Bringing Rhetorical Action Back In. Brexit and the Corona crisis show the strength of norm-based arguments

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EU researchers have been rather silent about rhetorical action in recent years. The current Brexit and Corona reconstruction negotiations show why they shouldn’t be, Dirk Leuffen and Pascal Mounchid argue. In the early 2000s, rhetorical action – the “strategic use of norm-based arguments” – was a powerfully used concept in academic debates on European integration. […]

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