Yesterday the Ukrainian and European parliaments simultaneously ratified the landmark Association Agreement: 355 and 535 votes respectively. A synchronous signing session followed thereafter. As European Parliament rapporteur Jacek Saryusz-Wolski from the EPP said yesterday: “Through this ratification, Ukraine’s European choice will be institutionalised and will bind the futures of the EU and Ukraine together. Ukrainian society has paid the highest price for its European aspirations, grieving the deaths of numerous people, suffering territorial occupation by Russia and experiencing deteriorating economic conditions.” Continue reading
Being a born and bred UK citizen, I naturally look at the debate and looming vote on Scottish independence with keen interest and, concerning the closer polls, a racing heart. Growing up in the North West of England did much to engage me in debates around the English North-South [internal] border, but little to foster a real kinship with people in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. Indeed, as an Englishman (née Northerner), I have always seen the debate as a Scottish matter. However, my own experiences living in the UK, yet outside of England (in the heart of Welsh-speaking Wales), did much to strengthen my support for the Union. Continue reading
The current conflict over Ukraine has quickly escalated into a matter of geopolitical importance. Cornered by the events and pushed into assuming a position, the EU has officially responded to the situation by imposing sanctions against Russia in three waves. While the EU has so far largely managed to speak with one voice, this does not mean that member states must by definition agree with one another – publicly or privately. The region of Central Europe, and particularly the Visegrad Four (V4) countries, is – along with the Baltic States – most exposed to the negative effects of the EU’s sanctions taken against Russia and those of Russia against the EU. Alluded to over the weekend during the Summit of European leaders in Brussels, the EU is eyeing another round of sanctions, whilst countries such as Hungary, Slovakia and, increasingly, the Czech Republic are now opposed to any further sanctions against Moscow. And while the issue over Ukraine is not the first one that the states disagree over, does it have a potential to undermine the good relations among V4 states? And what is it that is behind their different positions?
Donald Tusk, the newly elected President of the European Council, is hardly a surprising nomination. His candidacy had been considered in the bidding process for several months, although he kept distancing himself from the recurring rumours about his plan to move to a new job in Brussels. But who is he? A moderate, compromise-seeking leader with strong political talents, or a waving flag, conforming to where the wind blows from?
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