Alexander Stubb on an elective European Presidency

A longer post on the democratic implications of what we've seen in Europe in the past few weeks is in the works. In the meantime, here's an extract from a speech given by Alexander Stubb, Finland's Europe Minister, which touches on the big issue - how do we, can we, give a stronger Europe a stronger democratic legitimacy? We need to make a different choice – fewer [EU-level] presidents, not more. I think we should streamline decision-making in the euro area and at the same time ensure that the institutional set up leads to more…Read more

Immigration – the flashpoint between member states and the EU

In a blog post, Hugo Brady of the Centre for European Reform describes the current tensions between member state politicians and the EU institutions on immigration. National politicians need to be seen to be tough on it, EU politicians need to protect it (in the guise of freedom of movement, one of the main purposes of the EU).

Europe’s economic and foreign policy government

Herman van Rompuy is not known as a charismatic politician but, if you have time to read it, he gave a very thoughtful speech yesterday at the College of Europe in Bruges. In it, he talks about the role of the European Council (rather than the Eurozone ministers or the Parliament) as Europe's nascent "economic government", and the difficulty of creating co-ordinated foreign policy among 27 state actors with different histories and outlooks. On economics and the eurozone, van Rompuy said:

Tea for one. White, please.

The libertarian Freedom Association is holding a Tea Party at the Conservative Spring Conference in Brighton this weekend, modelled on the American anti-tax grassroots movement. If you are interested in going along, the event is open to the public.

Not backwards to the Greeks, forward with the Greeks

Tomorrow, I'll have time - I hope - to write something longer about the democratic implications of the Greek bailout, and any conditions that are imposed on Greece in consequence of its financial position and Euro membership.

Nelson Mandela’s release: 20 years on

As the anniversaries roll around, we're constantly reminded how world-changing the years 1989-91 were, comparable with 1848 or 1789. Today's anniversary is of the release of Nelson Mandela. Some links for those who want to explore more, or bring back the memories:

Pretending to control interest rates

Conservative Home has the highlights of David Cameron's interview with the Express this morning. One of the points Mr Cameron makes is that he will never allow the UK to join the Euro. He says:
"I was in the Treasury when we were in the Exchange Rate mechanism, and I said to myself: “Never again should we give up control of our domestic interest rates.” If I am Prime Minister and for as long as I would be Prime Minister, I would never take Britain into the euro, full stop, end of story."
This is an odd statement, not because of its dogmatic certainty (he is talking to the Daily Express, after all) but because when Mr Cameron worked for Norman Lamont, the Chancellor did control domestic interest rates. Since interest-rate powers are now with the Bank of England, Prime Minister Cameron will not be able to control them.

Eurabia: No such thing

The Brookings' Institution's Justin Vaïsse takes apart the Eurabia myth in this excellent short piece inForeign Policy. He points out the concept's stylistic links to fear of "Eurocommunism" in the 50s and general anti-European and anti-internationalist sentiments on the American right, and correctly positions Melanie Phillips as "on the fringe far right" in European debate. Here's some of the good stuff: If these books insist so much on the future, it is because current [evidence for Muslim take over is] unimpressive. According to the higher range of estimates by the U.S. National Intelligence…Read more

Those evil foreigns again

I have been a bit surprised by the number of comments coming in on an old post of mine on the Kercher trial, which has just concluded in Perugia. I commented on British coverage of the trial when it kicked off in February, noting the tendency of the British press to assume that trials in other countries (even their beloved USA) are inherently unfair, and doomed to condemn an innocent Brit to a rat-infested prison, perhaps with an unshaven man in a sombrero drinking tequila in an outer office. The foreigns, you see,…Read more

A day to remember

Today is a day to remember - I'm serious. Here's Dan Hannan, MEP, on his blog this morning: Britain is no longer a sovereign nation. At midnight last night, we ceased to be an independent state, bound by international treaties to other independent states, and became instead a subordinate unit within a European state. Hannan's article is a classic of the genre, combining apocalyptic melodrama with a pedantic legalism that bears no resemblance to the reality of the world as it is lived. For instance, the reason we are apparently no longer a…Read more