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Europe Politics

Many saw the last German government as a tanker ship cruising stolidly and unswervingly through the stormy seas of world politics. But in the past few weeks, it has looked like the German ship and Captain Angela Merkel are about to start rolling and listing. | 11/24/17
Ireland's government is at risk of collapse, three weeks before a crucial European Union summit on Brexit. | 11/24/17


The winners of the latest EU Datathon, which looks at web applications or mobile solutions working with at least one (or more) open dataset produced by the EU institutions or agencies, combined or not with others from local, national or supranational government bodies, were announced on 16 November. Three projects were awarded, over the ten shortlisted. I was part of the jury on behalf of VoxEurop and the European Data Journalism Network.

The first prize went to C4P (photo: co-foundersAndreas Thanopoulos and Athanasios Staveris-Polykalas), an app that “generates intelligence about the EU market for the benefit of the public sector, companies and citizens using data science”. By collecting and displaying all the available (and updated) data on EU public procurement expenditure, it provides a helpful transparency tool both for businesses and journalists. The Second prize was awarded to Light on Europe, an app which allows to “explore explore any region within Europe by simply drawing it on the map – regardless of administrative boundaries. The app renders an infographic which conveys relevant and easy to comprehend information on it. The third prize went to Unigraph, a powerful tool for promoting transparency and accountability through “collecting, cleaning and combining open data from dispersed open data sources under a common and user-friendly layout”. | 11/22/17
The chancellor’s inability to form a coalition government could push continental elites to become more accountable to the public. | 11/22/17
The German leader’s failure to form a coalition government is a blow to hopes for a strong Franco-German engine to drive European Union reform. | 11/21/17

The surge of rightwing nationalist parties throughout Europe has led to an increase in sexist, demeaning remarks as well as attempts to repeal crucial legislation affecting women’s rights, warn representatives of the Brussels Binder. | 11/21/17
Negotiations to form the German government broke down, dealing a blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel and throwing the leadership and direction of Europe’s largest economy into doubt. | 11/20/17
Negotiations to form the German government broke down, dealing a blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel and throwing the leadership and direction of Europe’s largest economy into doubt. | 11/20/17

Occasionally, ordinary people succeed in having their voices heard and seeing their interests win out against those of multinationals in their appeals to European institutions. It’s rare enough to be worth exploring, and that’s what director Loïc Jourdain is doing in his documentary, A Turning Tide in The Life of Man, which has won many accolades and is now in cinemas.

Over many months, Jourdain followed the fishermen of the small island, Inishboffin. Competing with the deep-sea trawlers encouraged by the European Common Fisheries Policy which penalises small coastal fishing and favors industrial fishing, the fishermen find themselves deprived of their livelihood, and their traditional way of life seems threatened.

John O’Brien is one of those fishermen. He sees the results of his labour dwindle from day to day due to the industrial exploitation of fish stocks by large fishing companies, and the banning of drift nets by order of the European Union and Irish government policy. Then there is the plethora of regulations imposed by European bureaucracy on large as well as small fishing operations. O’Brien is sure that he and his fellow fishermen in Inishboffin are not the only ones in Europe experiencing this problem. So, low on options, he decides to head to Brussels to assert the interests of small coastal fishermen.

With the aid of the NGO, International Collective in Support of Fisherworkers (ICSF), the consultant Michael Earle and many generous experts, John O’Brien managed to unite fishermen all over Europe as well as other island communities, to encourage a better understanding of the particularity and specificity of their way of life. Forming around the Ocean 2012 coalition, O’Brien and his allies manage, after a self-evidently unequal legal battle against industry lobbies that lasted eight years, to influence the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, such that the conditions and interests of small fishing operations are taken into account and the more absurd measures abolished.

John O’Brien’s story is exemplary for demonstrating the way in which European citizens and local communities can successfully assert their needs and interests — indeed, the public interest — when they can organise themselves, just like the multinationals and industries. In fact, European institutions are not necessarily hostile to this form of citizen lobbying, especially when they can formulate new policies or reforms, and represent the public interest.

Unfortunately, the representatives of civil society have more modest means than industrial operations and multinationals. This obliges them to unite and work together with other interested parties . Thankfully, good-will is often easy to come by. This is an example, therefore, of the “Citizen lobbying” conceptualised by the Italian legal expert, Alberto Alemanno, as a tool for exerting pressure on institutions, and for democratic and participative development. | 11/17/17
HBO Europe’s upcoming original documentary slate spans films on activism, politics, music, and society in Europe, with projects from Mila Turajli? and Tereza Nvotova and four screenings at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, which began Wednesday. The slate is also notable for projects from first- and second-time directors such as Nvotova, Turajlic, Jan Gebert, […] | 11/17/17
Musician Matthew Herbert hopes to tour Europe to heal "huge divisions" caused by Brexit - helped by a UK government grant. | 11/15/17
In many European countries, conservative government has been recently elected ( Germany is an exception) creating a worldwide fear of decline of the welfare state | 11/12/17
Nowhere have European voters tossed out established parties with as much gusto as in the Czech Republic, where elections last month shifted the center-left opposition to a group led by a dreadlocked disc jockey with an aversion to suits. | 11/10/17
The mantra of the green movement used to be ‘think globally, act locally’. As the latest round of the UN climate talks begins in Bonn this week, those leading the European Union’s delegation would do well to remember these words, writes Stefano Bonaccini. | 11/9/17

WARSAW, Poland — The Polish government is encouraging citizens to go forth and multiply like rabbits.

The health ministry of Poland, which has one of the lowest birth rates in Europe, has put out a short video praising rabbits for producing many offspring.

The European Union Wednesday reaffirmed its support for Lebanon's unity and sovereignty, days after Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation from government in a speech from Saudi Arabia.
Belgium's justice minister says his government will have no influence over the future of ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont after Spain issued a European warrant for his arrest. | 11/4/17
The European Union says Turkey must respect the "presumption of innocence" principle in its prosecution of a businessman and activist accused of attempting to overthrow the government. | 11/3/17
With Sebastian Kurz, the EU can count on a pro-European partner in the new Austrian government. And expect a policy that is based on conservative values, but also willing to reform. EURACTIV Germany reports. | 11/2/17
[ICG] Political uncertainty and increasing polarisation between government and opposition, combined with escalating violence in many provinces, have set the DRC on a dangerous trajectory. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 - Third Update early warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to denounce attempts by the DRC government to further delay the polls and offer technical electoral support to the Electoral Commission. | 11/2/17
Brexit, EU enlargement, the Greek debt crisis: during the German election campaign European politics has hardly played a role. | 10/31/17
The Finnish government should actively push the European Union to abolish its directive on daylight saving time, a parliament committee said on Thursday (26 October). | 10/27/17
The new government of the Netherlands, one of Europe’s most progressive countries, is taking conservative stances on immigration and national identity. | 10/26/17
There should be a clear distinction between the right and the left in European politics and the EU socialists should open the door to other anti-austerity progressive forces as well as to those who do not want to follow the “Orbánisation” of the centre-right, S&D leader Gianni Pittella told in an interview. | 10/26/17
[PR Newswire] Brussels -The European network for Central Africa (EurAc) questions the recent decision of Belgium to grant a visa for humanitarian purposes to Lambert Mende, Minister for Communications and Media and government spokesman of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), despite European targeted sanctions, including a ban on entering the European Union (EU), imposed on him in May this year. | 10/24/17

The brutal murder of Maltese reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia in a mafia-style car bomb attack on 16 October is the first of its kind in Malta and for a very long time in Western Europe.

At 53, this mother of three was among the most exposed journalists on the island, notably because of her fight for transparency and against the corruption that is corroding Maltese politics and society. She made a lot of enemies through her investigations and revelations, both in the newspapers where she was working and on her blog, one of the most popular in the country, especially within the island’s political and business elite. She received many threats and recently filed a police report about it.

Her assassination reminds us that although in the EU journalists generally work in good conditions, freedom of the press and journalists’ safety are not to be taken for granted.

Maltese newspapers displaying the same slogan in protest after Daphne Caruana Galizia's assassination

To make things worse, crimes against journalists often go unpunished. According to CPJ, out of the total 805 murdered (specifically targeted in direct relation to their work) journalists cases since 1992 across the world, 695 are still unsolved. Impunity represents a worrying trend also at the European level, where many cases of murdered journalists – from Spain to Croatia, to Poland, remain unpunished.

The map below shows journalists killed while on duty in Europe since 1992 for each country. The data come from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) database, as well as from the International Federation of Journalists and from the International Press Institute, and are updated on 23 October 2017. The figures don’t take into account reporters who were European nationals and were killed outside Europe, particularly in war zones. | 10/24/17
Czech citizens are voting for a second day in a parliamentary election that could install another euroskeptic government in Central Europe. | 10/21/17
The escalating tension between Spain’s central government and its counterpart (Govern) in Catalonia has followed the expected script. | 10/20/17
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini described yesterday the European way of doing politics: with a smile. | 10/19/17
For three weeks, Germany’s politics have been frozen while we awaited the result of regional elections in the northwestern Bundesland Lower-Saxony over the weekend. Angela Merkel may now be wishing politics would remain frozen, writes Olaf Boehnke. | 10/18/17
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani says the UK government is 'not realistic' about the amount of money the UK will have to pay to the EU. | 10/18/17
The leader of Austria's right-leaning People's Party has declared victory in a national election that puts him on track to become Europe's youngest head of government. | 10/15/17
The Milan derby was once a meeting of two of Europe's superpowers but, when Inter play AC on Sunday, it will be a game between two fading forces. | 10/13/17
Ahead of the 2019 EU elections, Macron’s Republique en Marche (REM) party is torn between creating a new political group or sitting with the centre. EURACTIV France reports. | 10/13/17
As long as the political will exists, a coalition of EU member states can speed up the healthcare data mobility in Europe and start showing results in a cross-border manner in order for others to join, an Estonian government official told EURACTIV. | 10/11/17
The changes at one of the country’s largest employers come at a fraught time as the government negotiates to leave the European Union. | 10/10/17
As has been pointed out many times by European observers of the American political scene - maybe since Dwight Eisenhower's presidency, and certainly since Richard Nixon's resignation, no one can even think about one-man management of American politics
On Monday, local government officials from across the European Union will converge in Brussels for the ‘European Week of Regions and Cities’. As they meet, they will be well aware of the turmoil taking place in one region in particular - Catalonia. | 10/9/17


The suicidal drift of the Catalan independence movement has its roots in an intense process of appropriating Catalonia’s social and political space – to the point of stifling any option contrary to its plans. A story of how we have ended up in this situation.

What has happened in Catalonia over the last few years can be described as a ‘great fraud’. It is a fraud that finds its roots an intense process of appropriation of Catalonia’s social and political arena until the point where anyone else’s opinion is stifled. Because it is a fraud to say, as Catalan nationalists claim, that the rights of Catalans have been crushed, that they have not been allowed to vote freely, that they have “been robbed”, or that their language or culture have been “suppressed” by Spain. What has happened in Catalonia is that the traditional “catalanismo” protected by the generosity of the Spanish constitution of 1978, which gave very ample autonomy to Catalonia, has turned into nationalism and, from this, into calls for independence, for reasons of greed, opportunism and internal politics. And nationalism is unstoppable, because it seeks a dichotomous relationship, of good versus evil, of exclusivity, of the obligation to take sides.

Add to that a de facto control of the language, education, culture and media outlets, and we have dismantled the elements of a ‘raw’ nationalism, totalitarianism – that which has historically destroyed Europe – and reconstructed them as a post-modern style of nationalism, social-media friendly, a nationalism of selfies with flags, of the audiovisual imagination, with an impeccable marketing strategy. It has been largely developed since the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the Statute of Catalan Autonomy in 2010 – that cut part of the Statute – after a disastrous negotiation process and, more concretely, with the massive staging of the Diadas (Catalonia’s national festival).

An absurd ethnic chimera in a democratic and open Spain. And this is what has manipulated and convinced many Catalans – though not 50 percent of the population, according to the results of the last regional elections. It is a process that has come to a head before the backdrop of the economic crisis, which welcomed people into the ranks of the independence movement who had been hardest hit, but who until that point had had no nationalist leanings. It is a phenomenon that can be explained by the global uprising against the inequalities ushered in by neoliberalism, which is now strangely allied with the most nationalist of Catalonia’s nationalists, on a clear basis of supremacy over ‘poor’ Spaniards. The story is completed with the search for a scapegoat: “Spain”, or the slogan “Spain is robbing us”, in the role of the villain.

The latest chapter in this ruse concluded on 1st October, with the suicidal call for a referendum on self-determination made by a politician who has already admitted to being predisposed towards suicide, Carles Puigdemont, the President of the Generalitat, despite it being declared illegal by the Constitutional Court. To examine on whom the burden of proof falls, it is enough to say that on 6-7 September there was a coup d’état in Catalonia, against the State’s institutions from within, and ignoring the non-nationalist half of its parliamentary representation.

The government, formed by a coalition of right-wing independence supporters and the left-wing radicals of the Popular Unity Candidacy – which now leads the insurrection in the streets and is relentlessly hounding any opposition in a purely revolutionary strategy – ignored the Statute of Catalonia, with all its legal provisions, and the Spanish constitution to approve two laws: one aiming to hold a referendum on self-determination and the other to declare independence unilaterally. Despite repeated judicial orders, the Catalan government decided to continue along its suicidal path, searching until it had found a fitting image – that of victimisation, of “police officers from the repressive State against defenceless democratic civilians”, in the absence of the regional police, converted into a political police – to find an iron-cast excuse to declare Catalonia’s independence, which is the choice that had already been made ahead of time. The cynicism and irresponsibility are immense.

In Europe we already know about the manipulation of primal feelings and the half truths or complete falsehoods that are stirred up in referendums, as we saw perfectly with Brexit. Mariano Rajoy’s government must take the blame for its lack of initiative and its abdication of responsibility, trapped between the institutional compromise of carrying out the law and of avoiding the photo finish – in the form of violence – that nationalist victimisation was seeking in its quest for front page coverage in the international press, and that it finally obtained. Rajoy’s style of governing has not exactly been characterised as reactive and here was a case in which it had to be, accelerating the course of events.

The events are unprecedented in modern European history and have stunned all Europe’s governments and the EU – for whom it is an unwelcome question, since it adds one more problem to the identity crisis in which Europe has been submerged for many years. Not to mention the fact the problem could ricochet back home, via member states’ own nationalist movements. What we are seeing now is a key moment, but with misguided interlocutors who are not suited to restoring order and dialogue, a word on everyone’s lips these days but which seems impossible at this point. We need a different starting point if we are to reach a valid agreement (through an official referendum, hardly a likely option for Rajoy since it lies outside the constitutional framework, or a new statute with or without constitutional reform, an option that supporters of independence would not accept given their hyperbolic politics).

If Puigdemont declares independence in the coming days, as he has already indicated, Rajoy will activate article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, thus taking away Catalonia’s autonomy. Doing so will introduce new conflicts that no one would have thought possible. But, faced with the suicide that Puigdemont is pulling Catalonia towards, what is the correct way to defend the rule of law and democracy – the true kind, the one that represents all citizens – that are Europe’s fundamental values?

Cartoon: Carles Puigdemont, president of the Catalonian government | 10/9/17

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Russian Cypriots who inspired the creation of a new political party on the east Mediterranean island want to mold the country into a progressive European nation that roots out widespread corruption bred by an antiquated political system, the movement's vice president said.

Ivan Mikhnevich, a Belarusian who holds Cypriot citizenship, said the "I the Citizen" party seeks to keep the island's politics on a centrist trajectory after its founders saw political discourse drifting toward the "ultra-right and left."

The vice president of a new political party in Cyprus says Russian Cypriots who inspired the creation of the movement want to mold the country into a progressive European nation. | 10/7/17
Elections across Europe show Europe's political parties to be increasingly defined by how nationalistic they are. Confronting this and reinstating progressive politics is essential, and can best be done by giving more power to Europe's regions, urges Giles Merritt. | 10/6/17
Reauthorization by the European Union is uncertain in what has been an unusually challenging year for the world’s most ubiquitous weed killer. | 10/4/17
French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent speech on securing borders and an anti-immigration party’s success in last week’s German elections show the 2015 crisis continues to cast a shadow over European politics, writes Simon Nixon. | 10/2/17
French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent speech on securing borders and an anti-immigration party’s success in last week’s German elections show the 2015 crisis continues to cast a shadow over European politics, writes Simon Nixon. | 10/1/17

As European Union leaders gather in Tallinn for the Digital Summit, paving the way for setting the plans for the digital innovation that will enable Europe “to stay ahead of the technological curve and be a digital lead in the global world to come”, we had a look at figures on how digital European citizens are.

The maps below, based on Eurostat findings, show the Europeans’ digital activity in three main fields: overall internet use; connexions to some government-run website and use of social networks.

Regarding internet use, as Eurostat points out, “the proportion of the population regularly using the internet increased in 2016 by 3 percentage points compared with 2015. Nearly four in five (79 %) people aged 16 to 74 used the internet at least once a week. British, Dutch and Danish regions, as well as Luxembourg had the highest shares of regular internet use in 2016.”

When it comes to European relationship with e-government, “just under half (48 %) of individuals aged 16 to 74 in the EU-28 used the internet for e-government purposes in the 12 months prior to the 2016 survey. Such activities were particularly common for people living across the regions of the Netherlands and the Nordic Member States, while interaction with e-government services was least common across the regions of Bulgaria, Italy and Romania."

As for social networking online, “just over half (52 %) of individuals aged 16 to 74 in the EU-28 used the internet for social networking in 2016, with particularly high shares in capital city regions and more generally in regions across Nordic and western EU Member States; France was an exception with many regions reporting relatively low shares participating in social networking." | 9/29/17
[Premium Times] The House of Representatives has urged relevant government agencies to ensure that chemicals banned in America and Europe were not imported into the country. | 9/29/17
Germany’s Siemens will combine its train unit with Alstom of France, showing how the threat from China is pushing the Continent together even as populist politics try to pull it apart. | 9/27/17
"We've become a government in waiting," he said, adding that Labour were "ready to build a new and progressive relationship with Europe".
Estonia is hosting a summit focused on technology issues this Friday (29 September) but will have to battle for EU leaders’ attention less than one week after the German election, a fresh round of Brexit talks and French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposals on the future of Europe. | 9/27/17

The politics of Europe deals with the continually evolving politics within the continent. It is a topic far more detailed than other continents due to a number of factors including the long history of nation states in the region as well as the modern day trend towards increased political unity amongst the European states. The current politics of Europe can be traced back to historical events within the continent. Likewise geography, economy and culture have contributed to the current political make-up of Europe. Modern European politics is dominated by the European Union, since the fall of the Iron Curtain and the collapse of the Eastern Bloc of Communist states. After the end of the Cold War, the EU expanded eastward to include the former Communist countries. By 2007, it had 27 member states.

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