Friday 30th May 2014: As the EU institutions regroup in Brussels in the wake of the European Parliamentary elections, Professor David Abulafia explains that a Common Market is one thing, whereas a United States of Europe is another.
The European elections have called into question the ‘European project’, or rather, they have shown how dangerous it is to speak of a grand project whose real aims are left in obscurity, and re-interpreted from moment to moment. We know there are people who dream of a United States of Europe. Only the other day, I was talking to an old friend, a much-respected historian, who launched into a passionate paean to a united Europe in which we will all see ourselves as the product of a common civilization. And the day before that, a colleague from a Cambridge college whose members are known for their ‘progressive’ views appeared not to understand what critics of the EU mean by ‘the democratic deficit’; in any case, prosperity, he thought, matters more than liberty. Looking far beyond the EU, a new Penguin book expresses the view that the Singaporean or even the Chinese political model may be better placed to provide long-term economic growth than western liberalism ever can be, while Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, despite telling criticisms of the author’s handling of statistics, questions the central assumptions of capitalist society.
Friday 23rd May 2014: The central message of this week’s election is not UKIP’s success at the expense of the older parties. Rather, says Sheila Lawlor, the odds are that the elections will show this country to back the sceptics by a good margin.
British voters have now voted in the 2014 May elections. 4,000 council seats were at stake. So too was ‘Europe’ and the 73 seats allocated to British ‘regions’ for the European Parliament. Even before counting of the council votes had finished or that for the European parliament had begun, the message from voters was clear. People are returning to the politics of left and right, to the socialist or conservative values with which they most readily identify. On the left, Labour and the Lib Dems back the bigger state for which tax payers, wealth creators and debt will pay, where command and control will ‘deliver’ the promised utopia in the economy and provide the social goods of daily life - housing, schooling, healthcare, benefits. By contrast, conservatives backing the Conservative party or the newer, radical contender UKIP, believe that for a free and prosperous society, the size, cost and powers of the state should be cut. People, not the state, should shape and choose what they use, from schools to healthcare.
Friday 16th May 2014: This week's Eurozone growth figures for early 2014 remain stubbornly low at 2 per cent. But, says Dr Gerard Lyons, the global economy is not all gloom and the UK is 'starting to motor'. Germany is growing and the Eurozone can act to stimulate demand.
After the financial crisis the world economy initially moved at two speeds - fast east, slow west. Then, as the IMF put it, came the three speed economy at the start of last year. Many emerging economies were still in the fast lane, the US gathering speed was in the middle and Europe in the slow lane. It's a familiar image to those who drive on a UK motorway.
Friday 9th May 2014: As voters across the European Union prepare to vote for their MEPs on 22nd May, many eyes will focus on Britain. If the Conservatives are returned to power in 2015, the UK will renegotiate the relationship with Europe. What should be Britain's aim and what course should she follow? What framework will best reflect the concerns of people in this country?
Next week the distinguished lawyer, Martin Howe QC, will be at Politeia to consider how the Constitutional Framework for a Future Settlement could be framed. Here he introduces some of the themes he will explore.
The key question we need to ask is whether renegotiating our relationship with Europe is a short term fix to address some immediate problems,or whether we should try to fix our relationship with Europe for the long term. If that is our goal,then we need to look at the mechanisms which act like an upwardly moving escalator carrying us in the direction of European integration,regardless of our wishes. These EU laws and regulations can be imposed on us over a very wide field by majority voting; there exists a ratchet effect which prevents us from reversing out of them once they are in place; and the ECJ in Luxembourg consistently interprets treaties and laws in favour of EU integration.
Friday 2nd May 2014: Governments worldwide are setting their universities free to face globalisation, says Dr Paola Mattei.
This week's news reports, which suggested that some of Britain's new universities are doing well in the world rankings though others have slipped, also indicate that the new foundations in Asia are strongly competitive. While in Europe strains on the public purse have led to lower levels of spending per student between 2008 and 2012, in China and India governments have been investing in an ever-growing share of public expenditures in higher education.