David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister, has set out his objectives for EU reforms in a speech at Chatham House on 10 November 2015 – objectives which he later clarified in a letter to the President of the European Council Donald Tusk. Cameron’s demands fall in four categories – i) safeguarding Britain’s position in the Union’s ‘variable geometry’; ii) strengthening the competitiveness of the Union’s internal market; iii) bolstering the democratic authority of the EU by strengthening the role of national parliaments in the EU’s decision-making process; and iv) ensure changes to the principles of free movement and equal treatment of Union citizens in access to welfare systems in the host state. The political feasibility and legal implications of these objectives differ quite significantly. More crucially, each of the stated objectives can be interpreted and implemented in different ways. Generally, it seems, Cameron’s success seems to depend on presenting reforms that at the same time address British domestic issues as well as strengthen the EU’s functioning. Continue reading >>
Greece is obviously at the forefront of many EU scholars’ minds over the past number of weeks. There has been an avalanche of commentary and analysis on the Greek bailout negotiations both from those with intimate knowledge of the situation and familiarity with Greek politics, the EMU and sovereign debt crises as well speculation from the sidelines from those of us more ignorant of these matters. Therefore as someone whose credibility in the debate (such as it is) is limited to the expertise of the constitutional lawyer with a good familiarity of EU law generally, I have limited my two (euro)cents on the topic to a number of (mostly factual) propositions related to the crisis for what they are worth. Most I think are obvious and (hopefully) few are contentious but I think that they are worth (re)stating in the context of the war of words and recrimination from all sides present in the debate in recent days.
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Avoiding Grexit is, of course, the important achievement of the Agreement. But this counts as a success no more than surviving self-inflicted wounds: Concrete discussions on Grexit revived only in the last months and especially after the recent referendum. They are actually the product of the negotiation strategy itself. If we are looking for success then, we are left with debt relief and the new conditionality. Continue reading >>
The conventional wisdom, delivered before anyone could really ponder the fine print of the Greek debt deal, is that Tsipras surrendered to the creditors in a humiliating defeat. His referendum and prior tenacity in negotiations proved futile,according to the predominant account that has emerged in the media and the twitter and blog worlds. Wrong on all counts. And here's why. Continue reading >>