When one reads any of the myriad of articles following the European Debt Crisis, one can hardly fail to notice the key role Germany plays without some manner of epithet such as “…said Germany…Europe’s largest economy”, or “according to Chancellor Merkel, leader of the eurozone’s most powerful member”. To anyone who has followed the historical evolution of German influence within Europe since the Second World War, such statements mark a fundamental shift in how the media, politicians and public view Germany. This article will be the first of several in exploring the evolution of Germany within Europe. Continue reading
Given my experience with Danish politics, I always find it interesting to hear different perspectives on Denmark’s involvement in the European Union. I have spoken to many current and former national parliamentarians on the issue (I will address these views in an article shortly), but never a member of the European Parliament who is from Denmark. From the 2009 elections, there were 13 members of the European Parliament from Denmark. Looking at the list of names and political affiliations, I quickly found an intriguing individual. Morten Messerschmidt.
While one of the European Parliamentarians won her seat by achieving 3,592 votes from Danes, Morten won by a landside, achieving the largest amount of votes with 284,500 votes. Yet what intrigued me was not solely this, Morten is part of the Dansk Folkeparti or the Danish People’s Party. For those of you unacquainted with Danish politics, the Danish People’s Party is portrayed as the populist/nationalistic party. That they have two people representing Denmark at the EU is interesting since in their party program from 2002 it states that the, “Danish People’s Party opposes the European Union”*. That the person in European Parliament receiving the largest number of votes from Danes is from this party is, for one enthralled by Danish politics, immediately fascinating.
We are now entering the final stage of the MFF 2014-2020 negotiations. The long-term budget, which determines EU expenditure for the next seven years, broken down by policy area, may be adopted by the end of this year if the European Parliament gives its consent to the Council’s position. The process started in 2011 and has already gone through a long preparatory phase as well as tough negotiations between Member States.[caption id="attachment_401" align="alignleft" width="300"] European Parliament Flickr Stream – Creative Commons[/caption]
After the European Council of the 7th and 8th February, the Member States have finally struck a deal for €960 billion long-term budget (€908 billion for payment appropriation), that is to say 1.00% of EU’s gross national income. This represents an important decrease compared to the Commission’s proposal and even Herman van Rompuy’s proposal of last November. Institutional “battles” usually take place in budgetary negotiations. The Council tries to lower down the figures while the Commission and EP stand for higher ones (e.g. the in extremis 2013 budget deal). It is no wonder that the struggle is even tougher in time of crisis, when austerity is the catchphrase. Member States try to push for cuts in the EU budget to reflect the national situation and to look good in the eyes of their electorate.
The news which hit the Brussels based Associated Press on Monday evening (11th March 2013) may not sound like a big deal to many Europeans. The announcement that over 350 proposed amendments to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will go before the full European Parliament (EP) plenary session on Wednesday (13th March) will probably just elicit groans of “Agriculture? Farming? Pfft, boring” (to which I would probably nod my head in agreement) from many of you; whilst a few others might shrug and mumble “Parliaments going to vote on amendments? Isn’t that what they do for a job…?” (once again, hard to disagree with you.)