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The EU and European Politics

Poland used to be known for its dramatic events, and fury of news. This is no longer the case. While most of Europe is boiling, Poland is now an oasis of stability, almost boredom. Its economy keeps growing, but not spectacularly. Its handling of the EU presidency is smooth, but deals with marginal matters. And in this week’s parliamentary elections, after a very dull electoral campaign, Poles again voted in the same two-party coalition. This is surreal by Polish standards. For in the first 18 years since the end of communism, Poland had 13 different governments, a new one every 17 months on average. But now it looks as though Donald Tusk, the leader of the center-right Civic Platform party, …

The deadlock in conflict resolution in Transnistria – as ‘frozen’ as it was – seems to start ‘melting’. It was about a year ago that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev tabled an exchange proposal to German Chancellor Angela Merkel: Russia would facilitate the resumption of the 5+2 negotiations on Transnistria (Transnistria, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine and OSCE, plus US and EU as observers) in exchange for setting up a joint EU-Russia council where Moscow would have a say in some EU decision-making procedures. Both sides stressed that their conditions should be satisfied first and rejected any speculations about preconditions. It is not surprising that after 20 years of Russian support to Transnistria, there is a lot of scepticism about whether Russia’s willingness …

Though Western media systems are going through a rapid and often painful transformation today with the rise of the internet and mobile platforms, the decline of paid print newspaper circulation, and the erosion of the largest free-to-air broadcast audiences, the ways in which governments provide direct and indirect support for the media have remained largely unchanged for decades. The bulk of the often quite considerable direct and indirect subsidies provided continue to go to industry incumbents coming out of broadcast and print, while innovative efforts and new entrants primarily based on new media receive little or no support. In central ways, public support for the media remains stuck in the twentieth century, and some parts of these support systems are …

When in 1992 the decision to provide Europe with the single currency was adopted, voices were raised claiming that it may be difficult to have a monetary union without a political union. This is considered to be particularly the case on occasion of “asymmetric shocks” which may hit weaker “peripheral economies” in a monetary union, but not stronger “core ones”. The Eurozone, even at its infancy, has never constituted an Optimal Currency Area, but at a time of relative economic growth the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) was by most considered as a sufficient tool to secure the sustainability of the single currency. However, the economic crisis of the early 2000s and the current “Euro crisis” have proved the opposite. …

There is a lot of talk around Russia-Georgia relations these days. One venue is the current “Geneva Process,” established in 2008 to attempt to sort out the mess created by the Georgian-Russian war. After seventeen meetings, there is no evidence of any significant progress. There is also a substantial array of informal processes involving all kinds of well-intentioned people from London, Washington, Georgia and Russia. They haven’t had any discernible impact either. Outsiders have a substantial interest in the normalization of the bilateral relationship. The situation between Georgia and Russia complicates the Western reset of relations with the Russian Federation. The unresolved conflict between the two obstructs Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization. Although the situation on the ground …

Before the varied attire of Arab Spring protesters, in recent times, revolutions tended to come in colours. Ukraine was awash with orange. Kyrgyzstan chose pink and Georgia rose. Thailand could not make its mind up over red and yellow. Choices varied but in each instance pigmentation signified unity behind certain causes and grievances. Yet in some cases the colours imbued more than solidarity – they bred an artistic renaissance. Last Friday, Olga Onuch, a former DPhil student in the DPIR and now a post-doc at the University of Toronto, and her father, Jerzy Onuch, spoke about the intersection between art and protest. Both know a lot about the topic: it is the subject of Ms. Onuch’s recently completed PhD dissertation …

Following the ICJ ruling about the legality of Kosovo independence on July 22nd, Italy, Austria and Slovakia have argued that Serbia’s accession process should be accelerated to support pro European Serbian President Boris Tadic. On July 27th Iceland initiated its official negotiations, despite the erosion in the pro-EU camp in the aftermath of the Icesave case. Among the other candidate countries, Croatia is set to join in 2011, while Macedonia has not yet started the negotiations. Turkey, having several negotiating chapters blocked or vetoed,  has still no accession date, but the UK seems to strongly back its candidature, as PM David Cameron claimed in its visit to Ankara on July 27th.