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

Can SYRIZA save the EU?

23 January 2015 | by

The result of the coming elections constitutes a milestone for Greek politics, since it will be the first time since the end of the Second World War that the radical left in the country ever had such a popular appeal. Secondly, these elections officially entombed a forty-year period in Greek politics, since the end of the military junta, of the integration of the country into the European Communities and its re-integration in the NATO alliance, the so-called “Metapolitevsi”, the post-junta governance.

Though Greece integrated European institutions in the past differed and currently differs importantly from its European neighbors, due to its deeply rooted scars caused by the civil war that erupted after the liberation during WWII. By this, I mean the institutional and party dynamics that shaped its political landscape under the pressing shadow of the Cold War.

Greece’s role as an advanced bulwark of the west in the Balkan peninsula against the “communist danger” also crippled its society, which was already deeply divided by the bloodiest civil war the country has seen. And indeed it has seen many; the creation of the modern Greek state in 1828 was even inaugurated by one.

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Is democracy a trade barrier?

8 January 2015 | by

In a democracy, elected representatives make laws. But with new trade agreements, businesses  could co-write legislation.

The United States and the European Union (EU) are negotiating a trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The aim is to lower trade barriers. Unfortunately those ‘barriers’ include not just traditional trade tariffs and quotas, but also the laws your elected representatives make. For example, Pierre Defraigne, former Deputy Director-General in the EU Commission Department responsible for Trade, sees the core battle of TTIP is over “the norms and standards in terms of environmental, health and consumer protection”.

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2015 – your last chance for a “free ride” on the German autobahn? – Weighing the German initiative for a toll on ‘foreign’ motor vehicles

5 January 2015 | by

Background

On 17 December 2014, despite protest from the European Commission and much scepticism from all political levels in Germany, the German cabinet passed transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt’s (CSU) draft bill on the PKW-Maut – a motorway toll that would de facto apply to foreign passenger cars only.

This idea made its way to the coalition treaty between Germany’s two largest parties – Angela Merkel’s conservative “Union” and the SPD – in December 2013 as a key concession to the CSU, the conservative union’s smaller, Bavaria-based sister party.

At the outset, the task looked daunting for the CSU.

When the proposal was first launched, not many people in Berlin or Brussels took it for more than campaign noise. The majority of the German political establishment rejected its populist undertone, and accused the CSU of scapegoating foreigners for Germany’s own infrastructural woes. Although the SPD had opposed the idea and Ms Merkel publicly rejected it during the campaign. There were also concerns regarding the feasibility of reconciling the toll with the EU’s anti-discriminatory rules.

While the legislative fate of this proposal on a national and EU level is still uncertain, the idea has proven rather resilient.

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New EU Guidelines on the Right to be Forgotten

11 December 2014 | by

The Article 29 Working Party published new Guidelines on the Right to be Forgotten on 26 November 2014.  Earlier this year the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) ruled in the ‘Google case’. In this instance, the CJEU decided that EU data protection law already gives individuals the right to have relevant or outdated information about them de-listed from search results. Continue reading

Once a burden, always a burden: how women cope with always entering the race with “race card two”?

21 November 2014 | by

At the Journalist Thematic Network Meeting in Rome, experts of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) proved with data that discrimination accompanies the lives of women from early childhood through to their senior years.

This year it is 20 years ago since the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) was adopted at the 4th UN World Conference on Women. The BPfA set out the first international agenda for women’s empowerment and affirmed that women’s and female children’s human rights are inalienable, integral and indivisible. The same year, the European Council acknowledged the European Union’s commitment to the BPfA and expressed its intent to review their implementation across the Member States on a yearly basis. Italy, which holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union until the end of this year, decided to carry out an extensive review on all Beijing Areas for this 20th anniversary. Continue reading