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

What next for the UK: Why the EU referendum concerns us all

13 May 2015 | by

The general election results in the UK took many pundits, politicians as well as the general public, by surprise. The pre-election speculations on potential coalitions and political deals came to no avail, as the Conservatives mastered a tight majority in the House of Commons and will for the next five years govern on their own.

With the promise of the EU referendum by the end of 2017, whilst the Conservatives are pushing to have it in 2016, and with the UK now dangerously balancing on the verge of becoming obsolete in the global context, the issue of Europe will now be even more pertinent than before.
Continue reading

65th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration: Retirement time!

11 May 2015 | by

Five days after Star Wars celebrated their World Day – May the Fourth be with you – the “fandom” of the European Union celebrated the 65th anniversary of one of its greatest symbols: The sexagenarian Schuman declaration. On May 9, 1950, the French foreign minister Robert Schuman (alongside Jean Monnet) proposed a plan to pool the production of steel and coal in France and Germany under the control of a common high authority in order to end the hostilities that had previously ravaged Europe. This was the ancestor of what we know nowadays as the European Commission. Officially, it meant a first step in the path towards peace, unity and prosperity in Europe. Unofficially it was a pretext for a more unified and federal Europe. There was no mention of  democracy. Today, we try to discern if the ECSC was solely for the pooling of these materials, or perhaps via the memory and horrors of World War II, just a trade orientated peace accord following centuries of war. Continue reading

Europe Day – A day for a genuine European vision

8 May 2015 | by

Ladies and Gentlemen, mark your calendar because on 9 May it is Europe Day! You may not have known and wondered why such an event exists? Let me then briefly introduce you to some of the many reasons there are for celebrating Europe Day.

Why not?

First of all, why not? On the 9 May we also celebrate the World Migratory Bird Day and the Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives During the Second World War. Nevertheless, this date has been chosen for marking the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, which was delivered on the 9 May 1950. The speech the basis of what has evolved to become the European Union of today, originally outlined for renewing forms of cooperation and institutions in Europe, which would, in the long-term, make it unthinkable for European nations to launch a war amongst themselves.

Continue reading

Resisting TTIP: Dissecting the popular resentment toward the world’s most ambitious free trade agreement

5 May 2015 | by

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is vastly ambitious in its scope. It seeks to reduce or eliminate the existing trade barriers between the US and the EU common market. In doing so, its supporters argue that it will create over €100 billion (a GDP increase of about 0.5 – 1 percent) worth of new business on both sides of the Atlantic. How? By harmonising things such as product standards, labour conditions, the laws governing the provision of public utilities and the method by which trade disputes are resolved etc. In general, trade between different countries is impeded primarily by tariffs (also referred as customs duties or import taxes). However, the tariffs for most goods traded between the EU common market and the US are already very low. As a result, regulatory convergence is one of the few remaining avenues available to increase trade between the two economies. Continue reading

What is ITS and how it will change the way you move?

30 April 2015 | by

ITS is the acronym for Intelligent Transport Systems, which refers to the application of Information and Communication technologies in different transport modes and transport infrastructures. It is a pretty broad concept that encompasses, for example, real-time traffic information, Advance Driver Assistance systems, automated cars or contactless ticketing.

Currently, transport infrastructures are under strong pressure, particularly in cities. If nothing changes, the situation is expected to worsen as the number of city dwellers is growing, intensifying congestion and pollution problems. Traditionally, the response to this challenge would consist of widening the physical infrastructure, but this option is very costly and clashes with space limitations. In this context, ITS offers an alternative as it allows to optimise the functioning of existing infrastructures to better manage the traffic flows, for instance, by predicting congestion and re-routing cars before bottling occurs.
Continue reading