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articles in English

Chasing Brussels podcast

Together with fellow EU bloggers Julien Frisch, Joe Litobarski and Conor Slowey, we have started the EU politics podcast “Chasing Brussels”. We aim to release a podcast every (other) week. The format is that 2-4 of us are debating a current EU topic of our interest for 15-30 minutes.

Please find our first two recordings on Joe’s website. Our first debate was on the outcome of the German election and its implications for the EU. The second debate was recorded on monday night (me moderating) and focuses on the Irish referendum. – Many thanks to Joe for editing the recordings and putting them online!

In the future you can find all the podcasts on our Chasing Brussels website and you can follow us on Twitter. In the coming weeks we shall also try to register through iTunes.

Any feedback is very much appreciated!

Green Economics from a Youth Perspective

A group of young European Greens has just published an excellent reader about Green Economics. The paper covers many economic approaches from a young, practical perspective and also proposes ideas and solutions for a more sustainable future.

Check out the reader or the nice 13-minute video! More information on their blog.

Overview of new EU Commission 2009-2014

Former CommissionsBack to business and to good old (coz it doesnt look like very innovative) EU politics. People keep on asking me who the new Commissioners will be and I should share my (non existing) insight here.

Besides the ongoing struggles of Barroso to get himself appointed, I assume Socialists and Liberals will eventually bow in and re-elect him as President already in September to send a signal to Ireland. This means that the Portugese portfolio is sorted. How does it look for other countries? I would divide up the table in three different groups: quasi-safe nominations, likely nominations and unpredictable races.

The already appointed

Belgium: Karel de Gucht, Flemish Liberal (ELDR), the Louis Michel replacement was nominated to stay, has 5-year experience as Belgian foreign minister
Portugal: Barroso (even though the government is leftist… but they remain happy to keep him away from Portugal so that the division in the conservative party continues), EPP

Likely nominiations

Estonia: Siim Kallas, Reform Party (ELDR), did a good, likes to continue and is apparently likely to be re-nominated
Finland: Olli Rehn, Center Party (ELDR) will continue; after doing a great job in the enlargement portfolio he hopes to become EU foreign minister and he might have chances, his re-appointment was part of the coalition agreement
France: Michel Barner, UMP (EPP) Continue reading

What a night! At least 46 Green MEPs

This was a night! At least for the Greens. My guesstimate from last night was seriously topped by the great showing of many Green Parties across Europe. In particular the French Europe Ecologie went beyond anyone’s wildest imaginations and gained 14 seats. Together with the German Greens (also 14 seats) they alone secured a serious increase of Green MEPs. As of now it looks like the Greens have at least the following MEPs secured:

Austria: 1 (+ 1 after postal voting is counted in around Tuesday)
Belgium: 3 (2 for Ecolo, 1 for Groen)
Denmark 2 (+1 to gain from the Social Democrats, depending on personal votes/preferences that can probably only be declared late on Monday)
Finland 2 (great showing, one more than I thought!)
France: 14
Germany: 14
Greece: 1 (first Greek Green in the EP Continue reading

40 Greens in the 2009-2014 European Parliament (my guess)

Think Big, Vote GreenTomorrow night Europe will have voted and the configuration of the new European Parliament will be known (sorry guys, Eurovision was a few weeks ago). Before that crucial vote I shall guesstimate the composition of the future Green Group in the European Parliament here!

My guess is that there will be 40 original Green members of the Group. This would mean MEPs from member parties of the European Green Party (EGP). However, I expect the group to renew its alliance with EFA (European Free Alliance), the European party of the regionalists parties which I expect to maintain their 6 seats. Moreover, I assume that this common group will also include the 1 MEP of the Swedish Pirate Party. In total the Greens-EFA will then have 47 members out of the new total of 732. This would see a total increase of 4 MEPs and an even higher percentage increase from currently 5,5% to 6,4% in the new chamber due to the changing composition (Nice Treaty).

The following gives an overview of all countries where I expect the Greens to win seats:

Austria: 1
Belgium (Ecolo): 2
Belgium (Groen): 1
Denmark: 2 Continue reading

European election party in London

logoelections2009_enOn Thursday people will (not) vote for the European Parliament in the United Kingdom. Interested people like me might wonder if there is any “election party” organised (as I know it from elsewhere). So I enquired at the EP’s London office. The answer is that there is no party organised. But:

The European Parliament has information for media about their own coverage via webTV from Brussels.

Moreover for those interested, BBC2 is showing two programmes on Sunday, one at 19.30h and then a longer one from 22h.

I am still talking to friends to set up a small “party” somewhere, so if you are interested to join, let me know.

If you wonder why UK results are only going public on Sunday, keep in mind that no country is allowed to issue any results until Sunday evening when the last (and majority of) countries have closed the ballot boxes.

New anti-Barroso campaign – for new Commission President

Apparently a few PES activists have launched a good new Website ““. It has a similar message to the initiative Jon and me started about two years ago.

Its main element is the petition (I have also signed):

The European Parliament will elect the next European Commission. We, the voters on June 7 do not only decide the composition of the European Parliament, we also decide upon the driving seat of the EU: The European Commission. The composition of the executive EU body – the European Commission – has to reflect the vote of us EU citizens on June 7.

We call for the PES to build a new progressive majority with a strong Commission President.

We demand respect for our democratic rights! We demand that the Presidency of the European Council makes sure that the European Governments nominate a Commission President that reflects the majority in the European Parliament.

Besides the petition the activists put up relevant information on the building up of the Commission and speculations about Barroso’s replacement. Continue reading

Zumutung Barroso

Commission President Barroso

Die FAZ schreibt heute über ein Interview, das Kommissionspräsident Barroso mehreren europäischen Zeitungen gegeben hat. Darin erklärt Barroso zu seinen Ambitionen auf ein erneutes Mandat als Kommissionspräsident:

Der Respekt vor dem Parlament, das vom 4. bis 7. Juni neu gewählt wird, gebiete es jedoch sich nicht schon jetzt zu einer Kandidatur zu äußern.

Wie bitte?! – Man stelle sich einmal vor, Angela Merkel würde erklären, dass sie ja noch nicht sagen kann, ob sie wieder Kanzlerin werden will, weil sie erst die Bundestagswahl abwarten möchte. Ja, was soll ich denn dann als Wähler machen? Erst die Wahl abwarten und dann wählen?! Es geht doch auch bei dieser Wahl natürlich nicht nur um die Wahlprogramme der Parteien sondern auch darum wer sie umsetzt. Aber wer denkt, dass er die zukünftigen Verantwortlichen für eben diese Umsetzung vor den Wählern verstecken muss, der darf sich auch nicht wundern, warum so wenige zur Wahl gehen.

Stefan Kornelius greift in seinem heutigen Kommentar in der Süddeutschen Zeitung noch einen anderen wichtigen Punkt auf: Nach 30 Jahren direkt gewähltest Parlament sollten die Parteien und “Eliten” endlich aufhören, Europa zu rechtfertigen. Sie sollen endlich mit dem Wahlkampf anfangen und ihre Inhalte in den Vordergrund stellen.

Übrigens: Es ärgert mich, Continue reading

The PES can’t hide their lack of leadership anymore

Poul Nyrup RasmussenAdmittedly, the PES is running a fairly good internet campaign. They have relaunched their web presence way ahead of the European elections and maybe even more importantly they have made a good effort to reach out to (EU) bloggers. They have even included me in their blogger email target list – so that I get updates whenever key blog posts from the party leader Nyrup Rasmussen come out or they hold key events.

I wish the European Greens (EGP) would have been able to run an equally good campaign.

There are two reasons why I am writing this blog entry – and why I am writing it on my blog.

The other day I have received an email from Jeremy Cliffe, the PES’s focal point for bloggers. He was linking up to a recent blog entry by Nyrup Rasmussen in which he declares that the PES is working towards a new majority to stop Barroso. – What a surprise I thought… as if this is not the logic of pluralist political party systems in which parties actually compete for leadership. However, this logic has not really got through to the PES leaders who have been incapable of agreeing on a candidate for the job of Commission President. Given that the PES is (still?) by far the second biggest grouping in EU politics, such a lack of responsibility is the biggest farce in democratic politics Continue reading

Moravcsik on the European Constitutional Settlement

Andrea MoravcsikOne of the greatest benefits of studying at LSE has been to attend public lectures by world leaders and academics. So far my highlight had been the 3-day “tour de growth” with Philippe Aghion. After last night I feel that the most (academically) stimulating experience has been Andrew Moravcsik’s lecture on the “European Constitutional Settlement”.
As a committed federalist I have often found it difficult to agree with Moravcsik’s analysis of the process of European integration. Since his landmark studies in the early 1990s he has long been the defender of the intergovernmental method – acknowledging continuing control in the hand of EU member states. My experience working in and around EU politics over the last 9 years has been different but I have always valued Moravcsik’s contribution as a valid intellectual and academic challenge to any federalist.

With this blog entry I will try to sum up Andrew’s speech Continue reading