Britain, Euroscepticism, Uncategorized

Friday links on Europe

A speech by Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski in Blenheim:

See here, with a link to the speech in pdf and here for the very insightful commentary and analysis in Economist’s Eastern Approaches. As usual, I am impressed. With the fact that despite being a diplomat he is actually saying something, that he is saying it at a time and place where his message may not have been that welcome and, last but not least, with the delightful irony of a  Polish politician with ‘a background of hawkish British Atlanticism’ quoting what he has learned from Marx in Oxford about false consciousness…

Also, reflections on Mario Monti’s talk in Florence, at the European University Institute: a nuanced report in Aidan Regan’s blog.

And finally, Neelie Kroes’ visit to Sofia and discussions on media freedom. Something of an anti-climax.


national parliaments and the EU: key panel themes

Our opening conference ‘Reinventing global order’ took place yesterday. The variety of interesting panels and talks was such that it would be impossible to report on all. I will offer a few words about the panel on national parliaments (co- sponsored by the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence) with the caveat that there were many, many other interesting things going on. I could just not listen to them, as we were engaged in a short, but productive panel discussion about the role national parliaments play in scrutinizing government policy after the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty.  We presented ongoing research, on references to directives in Dutch and UK parliaments by Rik de Ruiter, on why parliaments have not managed to use the yellow card more than once by Wouter Metzlar and Antoaneta Dimitrova and on the parliamentary scrutiny reserve procedures so far in the Dutch parliament by Bernard Steunenberg and Atie de Ruiter. Then our guest speakers presented different perspectives on why parliaments do not make more of their scrutiny of national executives when they negotiate in the EU. John O’ Brennan, Director of the Centre for the Study of Wider Europe at  the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, highlighted the role of political system factors that contribute to the weakness of the Irish parliament  in controlling the executive in the EU arena. Tineke Strik, Chair of the European Affairs Committee of the Dutch Senate, talked about the importance of providing timely information to the Senate on positions taken in the Council. Mendeltje van Keulen, advisor and expert at the Second Chamber and coordinator of the EU support staff,  reminded us of the success of the new scrutiny system (which she has been instrumental in setting up), but also stressed the need for timely information for the second chamber if the scrutiny system is to be effective. All panelists referred with admiration to the timely and appropriate information provided to the Danish parliament, which remains an example to be emulated and also sometimes a source of information for other parliaments…So many interesting things emerged from the discussion that we could have easily held a full day’s conference on this topic. To be continued…

Future of the EU, the Netherlands, Uncategorized

We are back, with a new campus and ‘old’ themes as relevant as ever

We are back and apologize to our readers for the long break. We have a whole set of really good reasons why posting was interrupted for so long: the main ‘institutional’ one being that we, as part of the Institute of Public Administration, have moved during the summer to the Hague Campus of Leiden University. Our brand new building will be opened with a conference, which will take place on 20 September and is entitled Reinventing Global Order (to see the programme and links, here). We hope that a broad audience of our friends and students will attend.

In other exciting work-related news, we are working on finalizing an FP7 project assessing the last and future enlargements of the European Union. More about this will be posted soon.

Last but not least, despite our lapse in posting, I notice that our key themes are as relevant as ever. The European Union, or ‘Europe’ has emerged a key theme in the Dutch elections campaign which is now in its last week. Just yesterday, the grand Carre debate, there was some discussion among Dutch politicians whether they should do anything they could to save the eurozone. I did not watch the whole debate so cannot take a position on what was said, but this reminds me of a very interesting blog post by Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis about a mental experiment on saving the eurozone. I do not necessarily agree with many of the arguments he puts forward on his blog, but he always provides thought-provoking and different perspectives. Well worth a read.

and in other news: As we wrote in hope some months ago, Commissioner Neelie Kroes has taken up the issue of the disastrous state of Bulgarian media. She is visiting Bulgaria to investigate the problem and a group of distinguished journalists, nowadays many of them working in internet only, have written her an open letter on this occasion (in Bulgarian), requesting to meet her in addition to her officially  scheduled meetings. Among the distinguished journalists who have signed the letter there are well- known journalists, in the past working in main channels of radio and TV, as well as internet journalists and bloggers. The situation has become so bad that in recent years one can get informed about key developments in Bulgaria, such as, for example, the struggle of citizens to save the unique park along Varna’s beach (so called Sea garden) only via internet sources. No doubt Commissioner Kroes will recognize the importance of these journalists’ plea.