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Analysis and Comment (113)

The EU 28 are being sent a message from above. EPA

Juncker Commission line up shows he’s a man with a plan

Jean-Claude Juncker, the newly elected president of the European Commission, announced his nominated team of commissioners this week. Each represents one of the 28 members states and will take charge of…
Compensating their exporters. EPA/Wolfgang Kumm

How the EU is handling Russia’s food import ban

The European Commission has announced emergency EU funding of €125m for fruit and vegetable growers hit by the ban imposed by Russia on imported Western food in retaliation for the West’s own sanctions…
Isolated by sanctions - but does Putin care? EPA/Mikhail Klimentyev/Ria Novosti

Explainer: how will sanctions against Russia work?

The sanctions against Russia just announced by the EU and the US are widely reported to be the harshest since the end of the Cold War. The package includes cutting off Russia’s state-owned banks from international…
A tourist train from Sheringham to Holt steams past an offshore wind farm, one of many that have sprung up along the UK coast. Gerry Balding/Flickr

UK shows how Australia can cut emissions without a carbon tax

Australia’s carbon price has gone – but a UK review released this week shows that to lay the foundations for a low-carbon economy, pricing carbon is far from the whole story. Over recent months, as Australia’s…
Reflecting rising resentment of European austerity policies, people from Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece protested in 2011 at the European Central Bank. EPA/Frank Rumpenhorst

End of the dream: how Europe lost its way between Rome and Kiev

European integration has been an enormous success since its inception in the Treaty of Rome in 1957. For the next five decades European Union (EU) member states enjoyed unprecedented peace and prosperity…
Manuel Valls has called on ‘all responsible leaders’ to respond. Parti Socialiste

Europe’s leaders must now strike out at the xenophobes

The message, it seems, is clear. European citizens are at best unimpressed with mainstream politics, at worst outright dismissive of it. The French Front National (FN) and the United Kingdom Independence…
We’re not planning to miss out. ISCTE - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

UK students trailing EU peers on take up of Erasmus exchanges

The Erasmus+ programme, which aims to boost the number of students and staff studying and working abroad across the European Union, started on January 1 2014. It will provide €14bn to 33 countries over…
Eastern Europe relies on the network of gas pipelines that runs from Russia through Ukraine and Belarus. EPA/Eustream/AAP

Will the Ukraine crisis open up a new gas market for Australia?

The ongoing standoff between Russia and Ukraine has exacerbated Europe’s vulnerability caused by its reliance on Russian gas. The situation has locked the two nations into a dispute over paying for gas…
Time to point the finger. Viktor Yanukovych speaking with reporters during a press conference in Kiev. Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA

The seven grave mistakes that prompted the Ukraine crisis

The situation in Ukraine remains tense, yet the odds are that it will now stabilise. It is unlikely Russia will invade eastern Ukraine, both because it is unclear whether this was in the plans (if such…
No brainer. Funding for the Human Brain Project is secure until 2016. Ars Electronica

What Swiss migrant referendum means for future of EU research

In a referendum on 9 February, the Swiss population voted against mass immigration. That outcome will have far-reaching consequences on the position of Switzerland in European research cooperation. As…
Targets for abuse: Roma women outside court in Larisa, central Greece. Nikolas Giakoumidis/AP/Press Association Images

Explainer: who are the Roma?

Once again Roma people are in the news and, as ever, they are the focus of prejudice and vilification. The most recent story surrounds alleged child abduction in Greece, following a raid on a Roma encampment…
To victory: German chancellor Angela Merkel has comfortably won a third term in office. EPA/Michael Kappeler

German elections: the ‘Merkel factor’ leads to her third term

When the term “factor” is used in the description of political power, one is reminded of sunscreen or perfume: an ingredient to ingest. One is certainly not reminded of German chancellor Angela Merkel…
Cameron bonding with Barroso would make scientists happy. Dominic Lipinski/PA

Britain should stay in the EU … for science

At a time of much business debate around whether the UK should remain in the European Union (EU), there is one critical area being overlooked regarding the relationship – science. With a growing appreciation…
Cheap emissions permits means industry hasn’t traded in its polluting ways. David Davies/PA

Permits to pollute can be bought too cheaply

When the carbon price collapsed to below €3 in April this year, EU policymakers sought to prop up carbon prices by a deal that would delay the release of carbon allowances (known as “backloading”). This…
The chances of EU reform are improving for David Cameron. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Crab-like Cameron’s reform bid finding continental friends

There has been in a shift in the way the Conservative party leadership has talked about the European Union over the past fortnight. No longer is the talk of “giving the people a choice” about membership…
Kevin Rudd could look to the processes in Europe for a properly regional solution to asylum seekers. EPA/Adrian Elang

What would a truly regional asylum arrangement look like?

The recently-signed deal between Australia and Papua New Guinea on refugees is being promoted by the Australian government as a “regional settlement arrangement”. But it is really? And how does it compare…
Shut out: EU states have been banned from any investment in Israeli settlements. Helga Tawil Souri via Creative Commons

EU ban on Israeli settlements could be a game changer

After years of declarations, warnings and internal bickering, the European Union has finally done it. On Friday, Brussels is expected to announce that future agreements between the EU (or any of its member…
Reducing emissions with a trading scheme rather than a tax can be risky business. Brian Yap

Emissions trading schemes are fraught territory: is Rudd ready?

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has told Australia we’re shifting to an emissions trading scheme one year earlier than anticipated, with Treasurer Chris Bowen suggesting it will address “cost of living pressures…
Once feted as ‘conquistadors’, Spain’s banks now have problems closer to home. marciofleury

Spanish banks on the verge of a nervous breakdown

As in the movie that led Pedro Almodóvar to become an internationally famous film director in the late 1980s, Spanish banks have been “on the verge of a nervous breakdown” during the 4 last years, facing…
Should the European Commission’s decision to waive the 3% deficit limit for three of the Euro’s largest economies be extended to fuel growth and jobs? AAP

Is Lord Keynes back in Brussels?

The European Union (or at least its periphery) is a big, sick patient that so far has been treated with robust injections of fiscal austerity. This seemed to be the right course of action to cure the “debt…
Will the decision by the EU to lift its embargo on arming Syrian rebels be a game-changer for the ongoing conflict? EPA/Maysun

EU lifting arms embargo on Syria won’t win the war for the rebels

The bloodbath in Syria continues apace and the decision by the European Union to provide arms to some rebel groups ensures that fighting will grow only more intense. The hotly contested removal of the…
Paul says exit stage left. Yui Mok/PA

(There must be) 50 ways to leave the EU

In the event that an in-out referendum on UK membership of the EU is held in 2017, and a majority of voters opt to leave, what process would need to be followed to secure the UK’s exit? The question is…
Implementation of the Kosovo-Serbia 15-point peace agreement remains a challenge with Serbian protesters demanding a referendum on the issue. EPA/Andrej Cukic

Deal or no deal? Action plan for Serbia and Kosovo with EU mediation

Despite its economic instability, entry to the European Union (EU) still acts as a unifying link to the rest of continent, with non-member states working strategically to meet the EU’s strict criteria…
Under leader Nigel Farage, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) were the success story of the recent UK local council elections: but who exactly are they? EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

Explainer: UK Independence Party

In the recent United Kingdom local council elections, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) won 147 seats, an increase of 139 seats, garnering more than one million votes (around 23%) across 35 local governments…
Honeybees aren’t the only species pollinating plants in Australia; we have little idea how pesticides are affecting native pollinators. Howard Rawson

Neonicotinoid ban eases the stress on bees

News that the European Union (EU) has restricted the use of neonicotinoid insecticides was welcomed by scientists, farmers, beekeepers and politicians around the world. But the limitations of the restriction…
Many Australian crops rely on pollination by bees: we should think about following the EU’s lead on banning pesticides that affect them. djfrantic/Flickr

The buzz on bee pesticides: Australia should consider a ban

The European Union has just banned three pesticides thought to affect the learning behaviour of bees. The two-year ban, which takes effect in December, is in response to a dramatic drop in bee numbers…
Every Parent’s Nightmare tells the true story of Australian Jock Palfreeman, caught in Bulgaria’s corrupt legal system. ABC TV/AAP

The case of Jock Palfreeman and the human rights of Australians overseas

Australians running into trouble with the law overseas is a common topic in the news. The coverage is usually fleeting, ending with the announcement of a conviction or, less often, an acquittal. Belinda…
A deal to help Cyprus raise €7 billion to qualify for another €10 billion bailout from the EU and IMF has been agreed to, but investors will feel the pain. EPA/Olivier Hoslet

Cyprus bank bailout plan: the experts respond

Uninsured savings over €100,000 deposited in a troubled Cypriot bank may be subject to a new levy, under a deal reached to save the Cyprus banking system. The European Union (EU) finance ministers, the…
The Australian Government and European Union have laid out the first links between our emissions trading schemes. Phillipe Put/Flickr

Linking to Europe’s ETS: how to make it work

Yesterday the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency released its draft regulations and a consultation paper, setting out the details on linking the EU Emissions Trading System (“EU ETS”) and…
Former Italian Prime Minister and leader of the People of Freedom party Silvio Berlusconi’s comeback has left Italy with a hung parliament. Mike Palazzotto/EPA

Berlusconi’s rise and the search for stable government in Italy

A Berlusconi led right-wing coalition has delivered a shock in the Italian elections, taking 30% of the vote and winning the senate in the key regions of Lombardy, Sicily and Veneto. Berlusconi was trailing…
The European question: British PM David Cameron has put it to the public to decide whether Britain should stay in the EU. AAP

UK business leaders divided by Cameron’s EU referendum

The threatened renegotiation of Britain’s place in the European Union is considered by many to be a gamble for the UK. Forty years after the UK’s entry into the European Economic Community, this declaration…
Trade in emissions entitlements has struck some large practical problems. EPA/MARK

Falling EU carbon price should inspire greater mitigation efforts

Emissions growth in the 21st century was overwhelmingly concentrated in developing countries. My own calculations on “business as usual” emissions for the Climate Change Review Update suggested that in…
British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised the electorate an “in or out” referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU by 2017. EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

Will David Cameron’s planned referendum on Britain and the EU succeed or fail?

British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced an “in/out” referendum for UK voters on European Union (EU) membership, scheduled for 2017. There were few surprises in this, as the full text of his…
More and more people are flying. International emissions regulation isn’t keeping up. Dave Sag

The not so friendly skies: the EU, aviation and climate change

Aviation has – and has had for some time – an emissions problem. That problem was illustrated in dramatic fashion last week when it was announced that the European Union (EU) would freeze until late next…
French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici (left) and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble can agree on one thing: a financial transaction tax. AAP

Europe has more to lose than to gain from a financial transaction tax

At a meeting in Luxembourg last week, the finance ministers of 11 members of the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain) agreed…
Mitt Romney outside 10 Downing Street during his gaffe-plagued trip to Europe earlier this year. EPA/Neil Munns

A Romney presidency: the implications for Europe

There is less than a week to go in the US presidential race, and the candidates are coming agonisingly close in various battleground states. Imagining Mitt Romney in the White House might turn a few Democrat…
Catalans march though the streets of Barcelona demanding independence. Maria Poblet

Catalonia: independent but united with Europe?

In the biggest rally for Catalan independence ever, an estimated crowd of 1.5 million people flooded the city of Barcelona with red-and-yellow striped flags on Catalonia’s national day, the Diada. Tax…
The legal implications of changes to the carbon price mechanism are subtle, but important. Pawel Loj

The legal implications of changing the carbon pricing mechanism

Earlier this week the federal Government announced important changes to the carbon pricing mechanism (CPM). The political and economic consequences have been much discussed, but the less-talked-of legal…
Other countries - either in the European Union or elsewhere - could be the main beneficiaries of the Australian Government’s move to link carbon pricing with Europe. AAP

Do we really want to hand control of our carbon price to Europe?

Linking Australia to the European Union carbon emissions trading scheme by 2015 will undoubtedly affect the revenue gained from carbon trading. The question is, how much? One should expect up to 50% less…
What will removing the price floor and linking to the EU carbon market mean for Australia’s carbon price? AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Carbon price floor axed, but EU market links a good substitute

You might have thought Australia’s carbon pricing scheme was done and dusted – at least until the next government comes in. Today’s announcement about the price floor and international permit trading proves…
Will super Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, come to the Eurozone’s rescue? AAP

It will take courage to end the Eurozone crisis

Today Eurozone leaders will meet in Brussels. On the agenda is nothing less than the survival of the euro. Officially, it is about Spain: Spain’s economic and financial woes show the urgency. Moody’s drastically…
Ireland is still reliant on European funding as it repairs its economy. What will happen if voters reject this treaty? EPA/Andy Rain

Fiscal stability referendum: what it means for Ireland

Later today (European time), Irish voters will be asked to vote Yes or No on the Treaty for Stability, Co-ordination and Governance. The Yes campaign, lead by Ireland’s establishment parties, claim a No…
Following the EU summit in Brussels this week, it seems eurobonds are back on the agenda. But will it be what it needed to save the Eurozone? AAP

Will (Euro)bonding help solve the euro crisis?

The special EU summit held in Brussels on Wednesday revamped the discussion on Eurobonds (i.e. the issuance of common government bonds to pool the Eurozone debt liability) as a possible option to address…
German chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s new President Francois Hollande meet to discuss Europe’s economic woes. EPA/Rainer Jensen

Hollande and Merkel: breaking up is hard to do

Europe is in economic dire straits and the two most powerful economies on the continent are, at least on paper, led by individuals with considerable differences. The previous French President Nicolas Sarkozy…
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras would like to seek Greece withdraw from the Eurozone. EPA/Simela Pantzartzi

Is the end of austerity the end for Europe?

Ten days ago, the political landscape in Europe changed profoundly. Greece voted in the main to elect parties from the far right and far left who are opposed to austerity, and France elected a socialist…
This presidency has not even an hour for a honeymoon period. EPA Guillaume Horcajuelo

No more Mr Normal: Francois Hollande must change his style

So what of the winner of the recent presidential elections on 6 May in France? Francois Hollande celebrated his victory in his adopted local region, Tulle, not in flashy Paris. Hollande claims to want…
Socialist candidate Francois Hollande’s win in the first round of the French election signals more than “crazy” ideas; but a refashioning of political purpose that extends beyond French borders. AAP

Rather than politics of conceit, French elections signal waning faith in market forces

The seismic forces propelling the socialist contender to the Elysee Palace have been caustically dismissed by Bret Stephens, a prominent columnist for the Wall Street Journal, as the result of the conceited…
Protests rocked Athens as Greek legislators voted to accept a tough austerity package. So what now for the Greek people? AAP

Austerity in, Euro out – is this Greece’s future?

As Greek politicians approved a tough austerity package amid fierce protests, one question dominates: is an orderly exit from the Eurozone available for Greece? And just what might be the consequences…
Partial boycotts don’t work; it’s too easy to secure new buyers and sellers. AAP

Half-hearted Iran embargo won’t push up oil prices

The European Union (EU) voted last week to ban oil imports from Iran. The EU will immediately ban the signing of any new oil contracts with Iran, while the existing ones will be fulfilled up to 1 July…
A proposed EU oil embargo may push Iranian President Mahmoud Amadinejad closer to China and Venezuela. AAP

An EU oil embargo is unlikely to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions

Last week the European Union indicated that it is likely to enact an oil embargo on Iran. The move is aimed at damaging Iran’s crucial oil export business enough so the country’s regime curtails its nuclear…
British Prime Minister David Cameron can’t escape domestic politics when it comes to Europe. EPA/Olivier Hoslet

Euroscepticism at home ties Cameron’s hands in Europe

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to veto the new European Union agreement for greater financial stability in the Eurozone reminds us that despite the talk of greater European integration…
Despite happy appearances, the two leaders disagree the way out of the Eurozone crisis. AAP

A make-or-break week: Can Sarkozy and Merkel save the euro?

What could be a decisive week for Europe and its common currency has begun, with the announcement of a package of fiscal austerity measures in Italy. Markets, European partners, and – perhaps above all…
Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy must take drastic steps to maintain the legitimacy of EU institutions. AAP

It’s time for Europe to show some courage

The European Union is in crisis – yet again. If you enter “Europe in crisis” into Google, more than 655 million entries pop up. Europe’s current problems are being described as a Euro crisis – it is a…
Berlusconi’s resignation is one step towards solving Italy’s debt crisis – but many more are needed. AAP

Berlusconi’s going, but there’s no Silvio bullet for Italy’s debt

Italy’s sovereign debt crisis has been overshadowed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s reluctant promise to resign after the country’s parliament made clear he no longer commanded a majority. Italy…
The first free elections borne from the Arab Spring were held in Tunisia. Over 90% of registered adults voted. EPA/Zacarias Garcia

Tunisian hope and Greek despair: A week in the life of democracy

It has been a tumultuous week in the life and times of democracy in the Mediterranean. Seven days punctuated by joyous hope and its ugly opposite, sullen despair. The promising news came from Tunisia…
15-M started in Spain, but it has sparked protests around the globe. EPA/Jesus Diges

15-M back on Spain’s streets as protest goes global

This weekend Spain will see the return of its “revolution”. Those involved in the 15-M movement will once again take to the streets en masse to demand urgent reforms. Under the motto “united for a global…
The only way out of this crisis is to dishonour some of the debt that is weighing down the global economy. AAP

Ireland, Greece … France? Accepting default is Europe’s only option

The dramatic falls in share prices of Greek debt-laden French banks overnight highlights just how closely tied the current market chaos is to the world’s worsening debt woes. Market crashes like that of…
Silvio Berlusconi has blamed international economic conditions for Italy’s worsening crisis. AAP

As Italy’s debt crisis deepens, is Berlusconi turning a blind eye?

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s reassurance to his parliamentary colleagues during a speech on Wednesday did little allay about fears of a crisis in Eurozone’s third-biggest economy. The Italian…
The lawyer for the self-confessed Norway killer, Anders Breivik will enter a plea of insanity AFP photo/Facebook - Youtube.

The lone mad man? Breivik’s lunacy label stops vital questions

Societies, if we are to take the Freudian line, prefer to subordinate chaotic urges in favour of dull order. Civilization implies stability. By the nineteenth century, human society was digesting a range…
Nicolas Sarkozy, Christine Lagarde and Angela Merkel share a joke at Thursday’s Greece bailout talks. AAP

Greece is safe for now; but could Italy push Europe over the edge?

European leaders signed off on a second, 109 billion euro bailout for Greece overnight, while also establishing what has been described as an “infant monetary fund” to intervene if the bloc’s sovereign…
Can the IMF’s new head, Christine Lagarde restore much-needed confidence in the euro? AAP

Will Christine Lagarde break the mould at the IMF?

Quelle surprise. French finance minister Christine Lagarde has been announced as the new managing director of the IMF, succeeding the beleaguered Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Like Strauss-Khan (known as ‘DSK…
Greece would be better off defaulting on its debt than languishing under tough austerity measures. AAP

A Greek debt default wouldn’t be a tragedy

A poll of international investors last month found that 85% expect Greece to default on its debt this year. As market expectations go, that is very high. Moody’s has since downgraded Greece’s already abysmal…

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