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The EU and European Politics

"Scales of Justice Brisbane Supreme Court" by Sheba

This is a brief reply to the review of my monograph, Transnational Networks and Elite Self-Empowerment: The Making of the Judiciary in Contemporary Europe and Beyond (OUP 2019) by LSE Human Rights Prof. Conor Gearty, Vice-President of the British Academy. I am grateful to Prof. Gearty for reviewing my monograph at such length. I am replying here in hopes that the exchange may advance our understanding of outstanding questions about Judiciary institutional design (and designers)—a topic that receives insufficient attention.  This is a summary of my full reply to Gearty, which is accessible here. Gearty and other critics are invited to rebut my challenges to the legitimacy and desirability of the judicialisation of politics. First, I will try to summarise …
A Farm in Switzerland (Artur Staszewski)

The proverbial thunderclouds are finally dispersing over the fields and farms of Europe. The protracted negotiations over the European Union’s next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget, which began in 2018, finally concluded in June with a provisional agreement between the EU’s Commission, Council, and Parliament. While the storm is not officially over – Parliament must ratify the deal in the coming autumn – the warring factions have retreated to lick their wounds for the time being, with both environmentalists and small farmers frustrated that the final proposals either did not address their demands or did so in a watered-down fashion. Of particular concern to small farmers’ groups is the mandatory implementation of policies designed to redistribute CAP funds and level …

After the Cold War and the fall of the First Italian Republic, Italy struggled to formulate a coherent foreign policy strategy. Generally, foreign policies at global level during the Cold War era were dictated by the bipolar relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union. Italian foreign policy, therefore, was a function of the United States’ sphere of influence and interests, and Italy was often a bridge and interlocutor for the Americans to the Middle East or Eastern Europe. With the collapse of the bipolar system and the disintegration of the major Italian political parties that were the core political actors in the aftermath of World War Two, Italian foreign policy was partially dictated by individual figures and was …

Italy was the first Western democracy to impose a country-wide lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite successfully curbing the number of infections in the first half of 2020, Italy saw its cases increase again in October, prompting Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and local governments to announce new restrictions to curb the cresting second wave. Despite the clear memory of the significant death toll and warnings of the dangerous winter to come, however, these announcements have been met with opposition. On the evening of the 23rd October, thousands gathered in the streets of Naples to protest against the forced closure of shops and restaurants and the threat of a local lockdown. A group of about 300 people—including youth, extremist political groups, and football hooligans—escalated into a violent protest, attacking police officers, burning cars, and vandalizing private …

Brexit has weakened populists on the continent? This is wishful thinking. No longer willing to leave the EU, instead populists are determined to take it over. Brexit is a moving target. Each time we think we have a deal, the British House of Commons decides to re-think. It’s like the famous passage from T.S. Eliot: “Time yet for a hundred indecisions/And for a hundred visions and revisions,/ Before taking a toast and tea.” Boris Johnson expected the Parliament to approve the exit deal he reached with the EU. Instead, the Parliament voted for an amendment tabled by a Tory MP, Sir Oliver Letwin. The amendment withholds approval of the deal, until the legislation to enact it is safely passed – …

It is predicted that Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party will achieve a significant victory in the upcoming general election on June 8. If the predictions are correct — though at the time of writing Labour is advancing in the polls — May will find herself in a more comfortable position domestically, governing with a larger majority. On the international stage, however, will this increase in domestic power lead to an advantage for the United Kingdom at the negotiation table in Brussels? The Brussels-based press seems to think so, writing that “victory will allow May to head into EU-UK Brexit negotiations with a strengthened hand at home” and “if the U.K. holds a general election in June, Brussels can only lose.” May …

The pillars of Europe’s security are damaged beyond repair and Europe’s leaders are in denial. Expect very heavy turbulence starting next year. The peaceful post-1989 order on the old continent rested on three key pillars: NATO, the EU, and the ruling mosaic of centre-left-and-right parties. NATO provided the hardware, the EU delivered the soft-ware, and the ruling parties offered legitimacy. All these three pillars are now damaged beyond repair. Donald Trump’s victory has buried NATO. Collective defence and deterrence can only work if they are not subject to speculation. Trump has made it clear that he wants to keep his options open. The everything-goes policy is a recipe for anarchy, not security. I am not even talking about Trump’s links with …

The United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community (as it then was) on 1 January 1973 after negotiations by the Conservative government led by Edward Heath. In the run up to the subsequent 1974 General Election the Labour Party pledged, in its manifesto, the United Kingdom’s first nationwide referendum on whether to stay part of the Economic Community on renegotiated terms or to completely part company. With a Labour victory, the new Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, followed through on his promise and a referendum was held on 5 Jun 1975. The outcome was an overwhelming victory (67%) for the ‘In’ campaign. The 1975 vote in favour of Europe did not, however, end the debate on the United Kingdom’s membership of what …