Bursting the Bubble

The Great Unravelling: How Digitalisation will change Society

13 October 2016 | by

The digitalisation of industry is a revolution. It will accelerate innovation and drive productivity. It heralds a new era and promises a future of smart manufacturing, customised products and increased coordination between supply and demand.

Some, however, are more cautious about the whole thing. While the Commission presented its strategy to digitise industry and, in essence, support the automation of production, Commissioner for Employment Marianne Thyssen stated that the industrial transition towards a digital revolution entails a “fundamental transformation of the world of work.” How she sees this transformation exactly is not clear. But her statement seems to indicate an awareness of a deep conflict in European policy making, as the eagerness of the Commission to leap forward technologically may be odds with another important driving force of the economy, namely, employment.

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Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), and the World

11 October 2016 | by

Since the advent of the Bretton Woods System when the dollar was issued as an international reserve currency, Europeans especially the French, decried ‘le privilege exorbitant’ of the US. Indeed, the exorbitant privilege was used and misused throughout the 1960s, to pay for Johnson’s New Society and for the Vietnam war. This currency power has many benefits, so with the start of the monetary cooperation in Europe, the EU wanted something for itself like the dollar, so it created the euro. Hence, the euro is used widely as a reserve currency entailing special benefits for the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

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Hungary’s lose-lose referendum

30 September 2016 | by

Hungarians will be casting ballots in a controversial referendum on EU migrant quotas this Sunday. Or so the government of the country’s outspoken conservative prime minister, Viktor Orbán hopes. In an attempt to gain further political momentum, the ruling Fidesz party has put enormous efforts into mobilising voters in order to reach the 50% turnout threshold for validity. At a time when the idea of mandatory refugee resettlement quotas seems to be politically dead, the question itself makes little sense legally or substantively speaking. Nevertheless, Fidesz has been running an overwhelming scaremongering campaign for months, depicting the referendum as a matter of life or death. What is Sunday’s ballot all about, and what does it mean for Europe?

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The Commission’s Transport Decarbonisation Communication

29 September 2016 | by

Environment has become a big topic in the public sphere. From agriculture to energy production, we care about how what we use is being produced. We know public awareness efforts are paying off as well; all industries have notably reduced their impact on the planet, even if not at the pace we would want them to. However there is one exception to the rule – the transport sector. This is why we witnessed the release of the Transport Decarbonisation Communication that aims to change the situation.

It is worth noting that Communications are not legally binding. They don’t have the power to compel EU Member States to act in a particular way. However, they are used to indicate Commission’s position on an issue and its future plans.

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Bratislava Summit: beginning of the end for the EU?

26 September 2016 | by

The recent Bratislava summit was supposed to be the beginning of a long and arduous process of the EU’s own reinvention in its post-Brexit reality. The process was to be kick-started in Bratislava and it was to demonstrate the unity of EU Member States. Instead, the meeting in Slovakia was broken off in a spirit that resembled everything but unity.

The Bratislava summit had a symbolic role to play in that its main purpose was to communicate the determination of the leaders to work together on ushering in a new vision of Europe. One that would bridge the widening gap between the citizens and their trust in the EU, one that would regain control over the migration crisis, one that would offer a sense of security.

In other words, and despite the so-called Bratislava declaration signed by all 27 EU leaders (the UK was not invited), the summit was never going to produce any meaningful and concrete outcomes. But if symbolism and unity are the two benchmarks by which we are to assess the meeting, then one has to admit that Bratislava was a failure. The European Union, visibly struggling to overcome the catalogue of internal and external crises, is abandoning the symbols of unity and replacing them with the new game in town: disintegration.

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