This is a blog written by alumni of the EPA MA programme in Maastricht.
Bursting the Bubble

Hungary’s Internet Tax: Continuing to undermine the country’s democratic principles

31 October 2014 | by

In the past week, Hungary’s government led by self-styled Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been faced with one of the biggest challenges since his accession to power in 2010. Hundreds of thousands of Hungarians took to the streets on Tuesday and last weekend to protest against the recently announced tax on Internet use – a measure proposed by the Ministry of Economy, but initiated by Orbán himself. The Internet tax would see an introduction of a levy of some 150 forints (0.49 euros) for each downloaded gigabyte. While this is not the first unorthodox measure to shore up Hungary’s stagnating economy, given the size of the revolt that it has generated among Hungarians, it would appear that the Fidesz government has this time shot itself in the foot. However, there are signs that plans for the tax will be dropped, with Orbán stating on radio that he plans to launch a public debate on Internet regulation in January 2015. Continue reading

15 days after the ebola crisis – manual on how austerity made a country celebrate having malaria

27 October 2014 | by

Drawing upon the recent discovery of the first case of Ebola in Europe via the nurse Teresa Romero – who was in contact with the two Ebola-infected missionaries brought back to Spain to receive healthcare – it is time to review the causes behind one of the biggest public health crises of our times.

Phase 1) Prevention:

Taking for granted that, after the recent withdrawal of the proposed abortion legislation (which would have criminalised the majority of abortions last year in Spain), leaving two Ebola-infected priests in Africa would have constituted an ultimate insult towards the right-wing Catholic People’s Party (PP) electorate, the government of Mariano Rajoy had no choice but to bring the two Spanish priests back to Madrid. However, due to budget shortages driven by austerity measures in the public health sector, this may not have been the best idea ever. There are a few factors that should have been foreseen. Continue reading

A Great Green Wall at the edge of the desert

23 October 2014 | by

Desertification and land degradation affect millions of people in the Sahel and the Sahara, home to the world’s poorest populations. In a place where around two-thirds of the land cover consists of drylands and deserts, desertification makes its way – boosted by human pressure, deforestation and climate change. Food security and the livelihood of local communities are at stake.

The will of facing this challenge lies at the core of the Great Green Wall (GGW). This ambitious initiative, which aims to be a game changer in African drylands, was originally conceived as a band of drought-resistant trees stretching from Senegal to Djibouti, and has turned into a patchwork of actions oriented to increase resilience and fuel rural development.

Eulogio Montijano, from the EU Delegation to the African Union and Project Manager of different projects in support of the GGW explains the origins, timeline and objectives. Continue reading

First the European Union now the European Court of Human Right: A new target of British ‘Sovereignism Creep’

21 October 2014 | by

In a move to reach out to UKIP voters and its own backbenchers, the UK Conservative Party has announced its will to adopt its own British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities and transform the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) into an advisory body, a plan which is likely to lead to the UK’s withdrawal from European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). After having reviewed the main tensions between Strasbourg and London, the article analyses the consequences such bold move could have on both the Council of Europe and the European Union before concluding that this state of play proceeds not from a eurosceptic trend but from a British ‘sovereignism creep’. Continue reading

UKIP Have Won a Battle, Not the War

17 October 2014 | by

On the 10th October 2014, UKIP achieved a seat in the UK House of Commons. This feat has been the dream, indeed craving, of the party since its earliest years – one which had been denied them, until yesterday. UKIP’s victory in the European elections and its success in entering parliament have far reaching consequences for British politics.

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