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How would a ‘clustered’ European Commission impact EU environmental policy?

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Every five years the European Union changes the composition of its Commission. While this year’s discussions have mostly focused on who will be appointed to the Commission, two other issues, repeatedly pushed for by the Netherlands and France, loom large on the political agenda: the Commission’s political programme, and the need to  restructure the Commission [1]. […]

EU Stakeholders Divided over Reforming the EU Emissions Trading System

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The European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) is currently the world’s largest market-based policy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Operating since 2005, the EU ETS sets a steadily-decreasing cap on the greenhouse gases that installations can emit in 31 countries.[1] “Emission allowances”, tradable permits to emit one ton of greenhouse gases[2], are allocated for […]

What has the EU ever done for the UK environment?

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In Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Reg, a character played by John Cleese, famously asks what the Romans have ever done for the people of Judaea. That no one had asked this question before may have been because Roman rule had become taken for granted. But after a moment’s reflection, his fellow freedom fighters quickly […]

Dependence on Russian Energy and Eurosceptic MEPs: A Wicked Problem or a Joint Solution?

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 Events in the first half of 2014 are likely to present somewhat of a headache to those working in Europe’s climate and energy sector, but they could also provide a solution. Much of Europe is addicted to Russian energy imports, impinging the continent’s ability to isolate Russia as a result of its recent engagement with […]

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 […]

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 […]

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