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?
Environment has become a big topic in the public sphere. From agriculture to energy production, we care about how what we use is being produced. We know public awareness efforts are paying off as well; all industries have notably reduced their impact on the planet, even if not at the pace we would want them to. However there is one exception to the rule – the transport sector. This is why we witnessed the release of the Transport Decarbonisation Communication that aims to change the situation.
It is worth noting that Communications are not legally binding. They don’t have the power to compel EU Member States to act in a particular way. However, they are used to indicate Commission’s position on an issue and its future plans.
The recent Bratislava summit was supposed to be the beginning of a long and arduous process of the EU’s own reinvention in its post-Brexit reality. The process was to be kick-started in Bratislava and it was to demonstrate the unity of EU Member States. Instead, the meeting in Slovakia was broken off in a spirit that resembled everything but unity.
The Bratislava summit had a symbolic role to play in that its main purpose was to communicate the determination of the leaders to work together on ushering in a new vision of Europe. One that would bridge the widening gap between the citizens and their trust in the EU, one that would regain control over the migration crisis, one that would offer a sense of security.
In other words, and despite the so-called Bratislava declaration signed by all 27 EU leaders (the UK was not invited), the summit was never going to produce any meaningful and concrete outcomes. But if symbolism and unity are the two benchmarks by which we are to assess the meeting, then one has to admit that Bratislava was a failure. The European Union, visibly struggling to overcome the catalogue of internal and external crises, is abandoning the symbols of unity and replacing them with the new game in town: disintegration.
Anti-dumping legislation is based on the rhetoric of fairness. The underlying concern is that a foreign company with considerable market power in its home country could sell its products at a loss in Europe to drive out competitors and increase its prices afterwards. The goal of anti-dumping measures, therefore, is to increase import prices when these are considered unjustly low, in order to provide for a level-playing field in global trade.
This all sound very straightforward and appealing. But some aspects of EU anti-dumping policy can raise eyebrows. The use of the analogue country method, for instance, which underlies the calculation of the dumping margins of products coming from non-market economies, makes a justification in terms of fairness questionable.
The year 2016 will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the most challenging for the European Union. The unexpected number of migrants arriving in Europe and the clumsy decisions adopted in response to the refugee crisis are spreading dissent over the entire European project, increasing the threat for the EU’s fragmentation. Hungary and Italy represent the most relevant examples of this trend, as they are currently amending their legislation to remarkably restrict asylum seekers’ rights within their territories.
The European Council President Donald Tusk has recently stressed the inability of the EU to host new waves of refugees, pleading with world leaders to increase their efforts to ensure refugees’ global burden sharing. These issues have led to rethink the existing reception policy, as the European Commission has recently enacted some measures to tackle the crisis and dispel the doubts over Europe’s future leadership.