EU Leaders' Agenda: Who’s Afraid of Reforms?

Last Friday’s ‘informal’ meeting of the European Council was a key moment in what its President, Donald Tusk, proudly calls his Leaders’ Agenda. Tusk wanted the event to prove that the heads of government are in charge of the EU constitutive process, and to prevent either the European Parliament or the Commission from seizing the initiative. As such it misfired.

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After the Italian Referendum

So much was at stake for Italy, its political class and its economy, and for the European Union (EU) and its member states in the country’s failed referendum on constitutional reform. In the EU, Germany is a particularly sensitive case. The relations between Germany and Italy are a focal point in Europe. They used to be in an asymmetric, albeit comforting, equilibrium.

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10 (pro-EU) reasons to be cheerful after Brexit

As the dust continues to swirl around the momentous Brexit referendum result a month ago (and doesn’t show any signs of settling anytime soon) I suspect many EU sympathisers will be somewhere in the middle of the various stages of the Kübler-Ross Grief cycle: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. So, somewhat incongruosly, are the ‘leavers’. Whereas there are almost as many emotions being experienced on all sides as there are potential options on what will happen next both in terms of the UK’s future relationship with the EU as well as the future of the EU itself, in this post I want to set out a number of (pro-EU) reasons – some obvious, some optimistic, others wildly speculative – to be cheerful amidst the uncertainty created by the Brexit vote.

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Why Tusk’s Proposal is not so Bad

Should the other EU member states rebuff the UK’s reform demands and seize the opportunity to amend the Constitutional treaties instead? Unlike Federico Fabbrini, who in his post of the 3rd of February proposed they should, I will argue that European integration doesn’t follow a linear path, and it may therefore be necessary to give in to some requests. This would not lead to EU disintegration.

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David Cameron’s EU reform claims: If not ‘ever closer union’, what?

UK Prime Minister David Cameron claims that the reforms he seeks for Britain will be good for the European Union as a whole. That proposition deserves examination. Here we focus on only one, but the most totemic of his demands – namely that the UK wins a ‘formal, legally-binding and irreversible’ exemption from the EU’s historic mission of ‘ever closer union of the peoples of Europe’. Jobs and immigration might stir the masses in the referendum campaign, but it is the issue of ‘ever closer union’ that divides most sharply the sovereignists from the federalists and could, if mishandled, do severe collateral damage to the rest of the EU.

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David Cameron is not a visionary, he is an illusionist

The UK Prime Minister proclaims EU reforms. But the reform steps he demands address none of the actual problems of the EU. Neither on the sovereign debt crisis nor on the refugee and migration crisis any proposals or solutions from Cameron are forthcoming. Instead, he focuses on comparatively insignificant issues that affect the UK. This explains the largely ‘open-minded’ response by most European leaders after the speech.

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