Bursting the Bubble

EU Women’s empowerment policy: In money we trust?

8 March 2017 | by

Gender equality intruded EU jargon in the past years.  Inequality between men and women started to be perceived as a form of discrimination touching many aspects of our lives (work, social position, relationships, education, politics, media, etc.), so gender mainstreaming infiltrated in many EU policies. For instance, the “Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-19” was developed to address equal access to employment and payment, participation in decision-making or gender-based violence. Thus, now it is a cross-sectoral policy, but the focus still remains on economic rights: to guarantee equal opportunities to have all of the necessary means for living.

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Can we fight fire with fire when it comes to populism?

6 March 2017 | by

Populism has undoubtedly enjoyed a good year in 2016. Emboldened by the successes of Vote Leave and Donald Trump, the trend could continue in 2017, with elections in the Netherlands and France the most immediate litmus tests.

Lots of ink, analogue and digital, has been spilled over how the opposite camp (call it progressives, liberals, cosmopolitans, rationalists, globalisation winners or any other label) should counter the populist message from a communication point of view. The Remain campaign in the UK, lukewarm at best, and the US election have shown that simply invoking facts, numbers and using rational arguments proved no match for unfounded claims and appeals to emotion. This is of course not to negate the fact that these votes reflected some real grievances.

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Brexit: Should Visegrád countries fight for free movement of workers?

3 March 2017 | by

Central and Eastern European states are faced with a demographic crisis that has a potential to seriously undermine the region’s geopolitical strength and economic prosperity. Aging population, underpinned by the mass emigration and brain drain are a nightmare in waiting and an economic time bomb in disguise. Surprising as it may be, the upcoming Brexit negotiations present themselves as a great opportunity to place the issue on the agenda.

A decline in population numbers in the Visegrád Countries (i.e. Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia) is a real problem. Currently about 63 million people live in these countries but by 2050 the number is forecast to decrease by 12 million down to 51 million, partly due to the ongoing mass emigration notably to other EU countries in the West.

According to the IMF estimates, some 20 million people from Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe (CESEE) have left their home country since the fall of the Iron Curtain – an exodus that has led to lower GDP growth and living standards making the post-communist struggle of societal and economic transition more arduous than it would otherwise have been. Many of the CESEE migrants have since settled in one of the Western EU countries such as the UK which, according to rough estimates, is now home to more than one million Poles, Hungarians, Slovaks and Czechs.

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The Political Economy of the Energy Union

13 February 2017 | by

In 2014 Juncker presented his vision on the European Energy policy, whereas we need to pool our resources, combine our infrastructures and unite our negotiation power with third countries. He established 4 pillars for an Energy Union: creating an Energy Union by pooling resources and connecting networks; diversifying energy sources; helping Member States becoming less dependent on energy imports; and significant enhancement of energy efficiency.

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60 years since the Treaty of Rome: let’s start by changing the captain of the ship

10 February 2017 | by

How should we celebrate 25th March 2017, the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome? Many people are asking themselves this tricky question.

In my own opinion, it would be better not to celebrate anything at all. I have no memory of any celebration in 2007 for the 50th anniversary of the Treaty. But never mind – the date is set and many events are planned around Place du Luxembourg, Rond-Point Schuman or higher up among members of the European Council.

But what is there to celebrate? A celebration would only highlight the dramatic rupture between the previous Europe of action and the current Europe on the road to dismantlement. This same feeling of deterioration is evident in the EU’s leaders. Even before you think of founding fathers such as Monnet, Schuman, Gasperi, Spaak or Hallstein, the likes of Juncker, Tusk, Mogherini and Tajani pale in comparison to Delors, Kinnock, Thorn, Mansholt, Monty and Lamy.

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