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Category Archives: Current Affairs

Does the European Parliament “make a difference”?

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Yesterday morning on BBC radio 4 Prof Michael Sandel animated an episode of the Public Philosopher on the thorny issue of “Why vote?” in the context of Thursday’s local and European elections.  The episode opened with Sandel asking members of the public why they would not vote in the forthcoming election. Expecting answers based on […]

UKIP and Britain’s influence in the EU: a vicious circle

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In a debate organised last Thursday by the University of East Anglia’s Student Union, Geoffrey van Orden (Conservative Member of the European Parliament [MEP]) asked “If Nigel Farage thinks all laws are being made in Brussels why is he so desperate to get into Westminster?”. This can be understood as a comment on the UK Independence […]

Why the UK needs the EU (and vice versa)

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Making the case that the United Kingdom (UK) needs the European Union (EU) and vice versa is at the forefront of current electoral debates in the UK. During a passionate electoral hustings event at the University of East Anglia last night, candidates clashed over visions for a federal European Union (Andrew Duff, MEP, Lib Dem), […]

Can Canada Save Europe from Energy Dependency on Russia?

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A press conference between Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on March 27th 2014 provoked the latest round of commentary on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports ‘rescuing’ the EU and Ukraine from Russian energy dominance. Russia supplies 30% of the EU’s gas imports and 35% of its oil and in Germany […]

The European Parliament: An Environmental Champion Now and in the Future?

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If you care about climate change and the environment, you may find yourself wondering who will champion environmental issues in the EU after the upcoming elections in May. So far, the European Parliament (EP) has often been perceived as the EU’s ‘Green Champion’, i.e. its greenest institution. In this blog post, we shed some light […]

Rethinking British attacks on EU red tape

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In the last 15 months since David Cameron’s speech on Europe, the issue of EU red tape (i.e. EU rules imposing unnecessary costs on businesses) has featured prominently on political and media agendas. Initiatives such as the “Cut EU red tape” report by the Business Taskforce in October 2013,[1] and the ongoing balance of competence […]

The Politics of the Rise of DG Climate Action

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In 2009, Commission President Barroso created a new Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG Clima) in the European Commission (EC). This decision was a deliberate political choice following considerable controversy at the time. With European Elections around the corner, and now 28 Commissioners, we may yet again see a re-shuffle of Commission departments. When debating the […]

Evader’s choice: Why tighter environmental implementation rules drive legislative fatigue and policy dismantling

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EU environmental action programmes set the priorities for EU environmental policy. After the 5th programme (1992-2000), which focused on sustainability,[1] the 6th programme (2002-2012) stressed the need for better implementation and the better environmental policy integration in other policy areas.[2] Adopted in November 2013, the new 7th action programme (2013-2020) focuses once again on implementation.[3] […]

Election time: How to improve debates on Europe

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It’s just five months until the next European Parliament elections. As with every European Election, both eurosceptics and europhiles face a key difficulty: getting people to vote. Both sides will stress how much, for better or for worse, Brussels matters in the life of European citizens. Over the coming months, we’re likely to hear politicians […]

Without complete overhaul of the tax system, French environmental taxation is destined to fail

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This post follows two previous posts on the Bonnets Rouges movement in France, a first post retraced the history of environmental/farming tensions in Brittany, a second post highlighted the links between the CAP reform and the movement. This third post reflects on the failure of the ecotax in the greater context of environmental taxation in […]

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