Bursting the Bubble

Frontex’s new mandate, a controversial EU approach to the refugee crisis

26 October 2016 | by

Only five years ago, barely anyone in Europe (outside the EU bubble) had ever heard of Frontex. Today, this young agency has captured media and civil society attention as it has become a relevant actor in the worst migration crisis the continent faces since World War II. With a recently approved new mandate and additional resources, the EU expects that this agency, currently in the spotlight, will rise to the occasion. Yet this response to the refugee crisis has both critics that deem it insufficient to strengthen external borders control and detractors who believe the EU is just blocking the route to refugees that seek shelter. Continue reading

Brexit: a WTO issue first and foremost

24 October 2016 | by

100 days on from the fateful UK referendum, the only thing agreed on is the huge complexity of Brexit. This justifies the wait-and-see approach of the UK government which, by cataloguing the many problems that need to be resolved, is carrying out a kind of giant impact assessment. But one aspect of negotiations seems to have been overlooked or at least under-estimated: the relationship with the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

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The Great Unravelling: How Digitalisation will change Society

13 October 2016 | by

The digitalisation of industry is a revolution. It will accelerate innovation and drive productivity. It heralds a new era and promises a future of smart manufacturing, customised products and increased coordination between supply and demand.

Some, however, are more cautious about the whole thing. While the Commission presented its strategy to digitise industry and, in essence, support the automation of production, Commissioner for Employment Marianne Thyssen stated that the industrial transition towards a digital revolution entails a “fundamental transformation of the world of work.” How she sees this transformation exactly is not clear. But her statement seems to indicate an awareness of a deep conflict in European policy making, as the eagerness of the Commission to leap forward technologically may be odds with another important driving force of the economy, namely, employment.

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Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), and the World

11 October 2016 | by

Since the advent of the Bretton Woods System when the dollar was issued as an international reserve currency, Europeans especially the French, decried ‘le privilege exorbitant’ of the US. Indeed, the exorbitant privilege was used and misused throughout the 1960s, to pay for Johnson’s New Society and for the Vietnam war. This currency power has many benefits, so with the start of the monetary cooperation in Europe, the EU wanted something for itself like the dollar, so it created the euro. Hence, the euro is used widely as a reserve currency entailing special benefits for the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

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Hungary’s lose-lose referendum

30 September 2016 | by

Hungarians will be casting ballots in a controversial referendum on EU migrant quotas this Sunday. Or so the government of the country’s outspoken conservative prime minister, Viktor Orbán hopes. In an attempt to gain further political momentum, the ruling Fidesz party has put enormous efforts into mobilising voters in order to reach the 50% turnout threshold for validity. At a time when the idea of mandatory refugee resettlement quotas seems to be politically dead, the question itself makes little sense legally or substantively speaking. Nevertheless, Fidesz has been running an overwhelming scaremongering campaign for months, depicting the referendum as a matter of life or death. What is Sunday’s ballot all about, and what does it mean for Europe?

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