Guest blog by Jaap Hoeksma.
On the face of it, it appears to be a mere coincidence that the Conference about the Future of Europe is to start shortly after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU. The decision to convene a conference was taken in reaction to the nomination by the European Council of a candidate for the post of President of the European Commission, who had not participated in the May 2019 elections for the European Parliament. This intergovernmental disregard for the democratic procedures practised by the EP caused such an outcry with the citizens of the Union that the Conference will be tasked to ‘give a new impetus to European democracy’.Read more
The March of the Magistrates, which took place in Warsaw on January 11 2020, heralded a new stage in the process of European integration. Judges from various EU member-states gathered in the Polish capital in order to lend support to their colleagues, demonstrating against the erosion of the rule of law in Poland. In doing so, the judges highlighted that respect for the rule of law is no longer an internal matter for EU member-states. Instead, the March of the Magistrates confirms that the EU has become the guardian of the rule of law.Read more
At the start of the new millennium the federalist philosopher Michael Burgess launched the aphorism that the EU cannot function in theory and yet works in practice. This ambiguity was recently underlined by the President-designate of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen, who stated in her political guidelines: ‘’Our Union’s democratic system is unique, bringing together directly elected parliamentarians at local, regional, national and European level with elected Heads of State or Government.”Read more
The Spitzenkandidaten-contest is a game, which both the European Parliament and the European Council still have to learn. The difficulty both players are facing is that the rules of the game are unclear, if not contradictory. As each player of board games knows, disputable rules are a recipe for controversy and disappointment. No wonder, then, that the political emotions about the decision of the European Council to propose a non-playing candidate for the presidency of the European Commission are running high.Read more
The evolution of the European Union offers a fine example of the law of the handicap of the head start. The example in point has been accentuated by the jump forward in the evolution of European democracy, which the 2019 elections for the European Parliament brought about. In my previous blog I argued that, thanks to the 2019 EP-elections, European democracy has come of age. Many observers believe that the so-called Spitzenkandidaten practice has played a major role in the outcome. The lead candidate procedure was introduced at the 2014 EP-elections and implies that each party will be represented at Union level by one candidate.Read more
The process of cooperation in Europe, which started in the aftermath of World War II, has resulted in the emergence of an unprecedented political construction on the old continent. Initially, the debate about the nature of the European Communities and their successor the European Union, was dominated by the dilemma as to whether the integration should lead to the creation of a federal state, to be described as the United States of Europe, or to the establishment of a Europe of Nation-States, proudly portrayed by President de Gaulle as ‘l’Europe des Patries. After decades of deadlock, the 2007 Lisbon Treaty overcame the conceptual stalemate by constructing the EU as a democracy without turning the Union into a state.Read more
Major events in history tend to bring about or further major innovations in technology. The announcement of the then Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, in January 2013 that he wanted to organise an in- or out-referendum about British membership of the EU triggered the present author to start a series of blogs about Brexit on the website of this library. Blogs form a challenge for traditional academics inasmuch as they have to be short and sharp. The effect of the blog will be highlighted by the punch line in which it culminates. A blog, which solves an age-old conundrum, may turn out to be a greater leap forward in academic advancement than many contemplative books have been.Read more
Today is the set date in the Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union, the United Kingdom is allowed formally to leave the European Union (Brexit).
However, the British Parliament (House of Commons) has to give her approval to Theresa May’s deal. The British Prime minister has even offered to resign, if the House of Commons would vote for her deal. Nevertheless, the House of Commons has shown many ‘NO’ ‘s even to options discussed and proposed within the Parliament.Read more
A spectre of discontent is haunting Europe. Brexit and the yellow vests are symbolising the anger of citizens at the EU. The feelings of dissatisfaction are fuelled by the paradox that global companies are hardly paying any taxes within the EU, whereas the citizens are increasingly confronted with higher burdens, notably with more VAT, longer working years and rises in indirect taxes. At the same time, the EU has achieved unprecedented results. It has created an area of freedom, security and justice for its citizens, which is unique in the world.Read more
If anything good comes from Brexit, it may well be that the bold Brexiteers have contributed inadvertently to the solution of one of the longest-standing conceptual problems of the EU, namely the conundrum concerning the nature and the purpose of the European Union. The riddle has been paralysing political thought about the EU and its predecessors for decades. Generations of theorists have argued that the EU should either become a federal state or take the shape of a confederal organisation of states. As it is obvious that today’s Union has neither assumed the form of a state nor that of an organisation of states, the conundrum appears to be perfectly insolvable.Read more