CEPS Commentaries


1 - 30 of 433
19 December 2014

While acknowledging that the new voting system in the Council promises to do away with the difficult negotiations of the past among member states to reallocate voting weights, Sonia Piedrafita finds in this new Commentary that it is questionable whether it will achieve its ultimate aim to substantially improve democratic legitimacy and efficiency.

Sonia Piedrafita is Research Fellow in the Politics and Institutions unit at CEPS.

16 December 2014

By elevating “Energy Union” to the status of a Commission mission statement, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker succeeded in forging a new EU consensus on energy and climate change at the October European Council meeting. In a move that was made possible by linking the internal energy market and climate change agendas to security of supply, solidarity and infrastructure, the initiative notably meets the interests of Central and Eastern Europe as well as the peripheral member states. 

11 December 2014

Japan’s two major electricity producing companies reached a preliminary agreement recently to establish a joint venture for the procurement of fossil fuel resources, primarily liquefied natural gas (LNG).

10 December 2014

With the aim of averting the total collapse of the Ukrainian economy, Daniel Gros and Steven Blockmans urge the EU to ​offer a minimum of macro-financial assistance to improve governance, fight corruption and harmonise laws with the EU acquis, while beefing up financing channelled directly to the grass roots.
Daniel Gros is Director of CEPS. Steven Blockmans is Senior Research Fellow at CEPS and Head of the EU Foreign Policy research programme.

05 December 2014

More than seven years after the South Stream pipeline project was first announced in June 2007, it finally seems to have been dropped by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on his visit to Turkey this week. This CEPS Commentary looks at the ostensible reasons for President Putin’s decision as well as on what’s potentially behind them. It concludes that the EU may actually benefit from this decision in being able to secure more gas with less political interference from Russia.

Arno Behrens is Research Fellow and Head of the Energy research unit at CEPS.

02 December 2014

Over the last few months, Russia has employed a number of economic and security measures to derail the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) between the EU and Ukraine. Russia’s opposition to the Agreement was based on the argument that it would damage its economy and weaken its trade ties with Ukraine. Russia’s actions ultimately led to war in Ukraine, but did not succeed in reversing Ukraine’s EU integration policies; instead there are now trilateral negotiations between the EU, Ukraine and Russia on mere technical trade aspects of the DCFTA.

01 December 2014

Libya is experiencing its worst security crisis since the 2011 revolution, the intervention by NATO and the overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. While the parliamentary elections of July 2012 provided “an opportunity to put the transition process back on track and overcome the recent political polarisation”, the country has instead descended into a deadly vortex of conflicting political groups, militias and tribes. Without the international political attention that is needed to save it from itself, Libya is now breaking up in at least two parts.

27 November 2014

On the face of it, the €315 billion euro in additional investment announced by Juncker to kickstart Europe’s economy should make a material difference. But, explains Daniel Gros, without actually having any margin of manoeuvre in the EU budget there cannot be any financing for new investment and there cannot be any real growth impulse. The European Commission should have made the completion of the internal market, in particular the integration of Europe’s energy markets, a precondition for any new investment plan.

Daniel Gros is Director of CEPS.

26 November 2014

This Commentary finds that the US-China joint declaration on climate change, issued following the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Beijing on November 12th, is undoubtedly an important announcement by the two global economic giants responsible for emitting over 30% of the world’s GHG emissions. As such, it needs to be seen as important and relevant – a very positive development towards a new global climate change agreement in Paris.

21 November 2014

The Joint Plan of Action agreed upon with Iran on 24 November 2013 gave negotiators one year to forge a comprehensive agreement that restricts the country’s ability to militarise its nuclear programme. That deadline will lapse in the next few days and diplomats involved in the talks have been trying to rein in expectations that a deal will be struck on time.

14 November 2014

This Commentary aims to contribute to the current analysis of sovereign QE (quantitative easing) that the ECB has already initiated through its internal working groups. The authors see a specific opportunity in sovereign QE that could provide for a game-changer in the course of the European crisis. They argue that the ECB intervention would be less distortive and more effective if it could leverage on the existence of a liquid market for a public security representing the eurozone as a whole, based on the securitisation of the different underlying national public securities.

14 November 2014

The European Court of Justice's new judgment on the Dano case should be reverberating around the UK. In Michael Emerson's view, it shows how national competences can be deftly used to control for 'benefit tourism' without challenging EU law, and that the Court is not acting as the agent of 'EU competence creep', as alleged in the Eurosceptic's stereotype.  

12 November 2014

Two recent instances of flagrant infringement of agreed EU rules – the submission by Italy and France of budget plans for 2015 that clearly violated their governments’ vows of continued austerity under the Stability and Growth Pact and David Cameron’s petulant refusal to pay a back payment of billions of euros to the EU budget – threaten the EU’s fundamental workings, which are based on a clear rulebook enforced vigorously by a strong Commission.

05 November 2014

Following the Commission’s autumn forecast showing that only five euro-area countries exhibit a fiscal balance better than the 0.5% of GDP deficit allowed by the Fiscal Compact, Daniel Gros and Cinzia Alcidi attempt to explain in this new Commentary why there is precious little policy debate over these flagrant treaty violations. They find that it is not possible to put fiscal policy in a legal straightjacket and that the tight rules enshrined in the new Treaty and in national constitutions are discarded as soon as they become politically inconvenient.

04 November 2014

The surprise revelation that the UK would be paying a surcharge to the EU budget of €2.1 billion sent Prime Minister Cameron into a rampage. How could this misunderstanding have arisen, as the resources mechanism of the EU budget uses a rather rigid method of calculation agreed by all member states?

04 November 2014

Aside from David Cameron’s ill-tempered protest at the news that the UK owed an additional €2 billion to the EU budget by December 1st, there is not much further to be said on the matter. As underlined in this Commentary, the basic point is simple: clear rules on the contributions of member states were agreed, by common consent, whose implementation essentially involved putting numbers into a spreadsheet. This was done expressly in order to remove the political element out of a potentially contentious process.

23 October 2014

With the results of its asset quality review (AQR), to be published on Sunday, October 26th, the European Central Bank intends to provide clarity on the soundness of the banks it will supervise in the eurozone. In addition, it may request a series of follow-up actions before assuming its new set of tasks under the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) Regulation in November. On the same day, the European Banking Authority (EBA) will also be publishing the results of its stress test, covering 123 banks across 22 European Economic Area (EEA) countries.

17 October 2014

The European Union, together with other countries, is making a second effort to reach a comprehensive global climate change agreement in Paris in 2015, after the unsuccessful attempt to do so in Copenhagen in 2009. In a Europe still preoccupied with recovery from the economic crisis, why should the EU be tempted to offer leadership in the field of climate change and what would such an agreement bring – in short, what’s in it for the EU?

13 October 2014

The EU and the US have been stepping up sanctions against Russia because the Kremlin has broken every basic rule of the pan-European security order enshrined in the Helsinki Treaty of 1975. The effective closure of financial markets for Russia’s big businesses now has serious bite. The Kremlin’s counter-sanctions are marginal. Russia’s actual and threatened trade sanctions against Ukraine, alongside its aggression over Crimea and east Ukraine, mean that it has cast itself in the image of an enemy for most Ukrainians.

09 October 2014

With inflation in the eurozone stubbornly remaining on a downward trajectory, pressure is growing on the ECB to do “something” to prevent outright deflation. But, given the financial structure of eurozone countries, would the preferred "something" – quantitative easing – actually do the trick?

03 October 2014

In surveying the portfolio for climate change assigned to Commissioner-designate Arias Cañete, Andrei Marcu finds in this CEPS Commentary that the approach proposed in the European Commission’s January 2014 package offers a sound basis on which to proceed overall, but he specifies that it needs to be put in a context where the causes and symptoms are correctly identified. He singles out timing and governance as other important elements and discusses their practical implications.

03 October 2014

Cities, more particularly ‘smart’ cities, could become a catalyst for economic and social development. For this to happen, Europe will need a new type of integrated infrastructure, a new urban governance and policy structure, as well as new finance and business models. Successful smart projects will eventually develop into new business models and companies.

01 October 2014

Philippe de Schoutheete takes as his point of departure in this Commentary the assumption that institutional treaty change cannot be a priority, although he does not exclude that it may become possible and desirable at a later period of economic growth and greater self-confidence in public opinion. In a best-case scenario, he foresees that such a window of opportunity might open towards the end of the present legislature. But in the meantime, he advises concentrating attention on adapting the institutions to make them work better and work more effectively together.

01 October 2014

Karel Lannoo prefaces his survey of the priorities for the new European Commission in the area of financial markets with a warning that the hangover from the past five years is huge and that public opinion on the role of the financial sector will continue to be critical for some time to come. Implementation and enforcement will need to be followed-up carefully, as any flaws could rapidly attract negative headlines. In this commentary, he finds that three themes stand out: moving back to normal in financial markets regulation, adequate implementation and enforcement, and access to finance.

01 October 2014

In presenting their priorities for the new European Commission, Miroslav Beblavý and Ilaria Maselli assert in this CEPS Commentary that the time has come to devise an EU-level shock absorption mechanism. In their view, the instrument that best aligns varying political and economic objectives is a form of reinsurance of national systems of unemployment insurance.

29 September 2014

This commentary welcomes the creation and prominence given by President Juncker to the new post of First Vice-President in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights as among the most interesting of several novelties contained in the proposed Commission and overdue. After all, as the authors point out, better regulation has been underpinning the Commission’s core business, namely, EU regulation, for over a decade.

29 September 2014

At a time when the European Union’s strategic and geopolitical environment is more troubled and unpredictable than it has been for decades, the European Council is calling for stronger EU engagement in international affairs. The rest of the rapidly changing world is not going to wait for the EU to get its act together to defend its own values and interests.

26 September 2014

In assessing the challenges facing Andrus Ansip, as Vice-President-designate for the Digital Single Market, and Günther Oettinger, as Commissioner-designate for Digital Economy and Society, Colin Blackman and Andrea Renda find that leadership and building real consensus among the member states will be the main keys to achieving what is, in their view, the most ambitious and important of the new Commission’s objectives. And, as they note further, their challenge is even greater, if one considers that, if successful, the Digital Agenda will have to be the last one.

24 September 2014

In his mission letter to Arias Cañete, Jean-Claude Juncker asked the designated Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy to focus on further developing EU policy for renewables in order to “be a world leader in this sector” and on promoting the EU Emissions Trading System “to ensure that we reach our climate goals in a cost-effective way”. Furthermore, he would like Alenka Bratušek, the designated Vice-President for Energy Union, to focus on “completing the internal energy market” and on “increasing competition”.

23 September 2014

The nomination of a First Vice-President (Frans Timmermans) in charge of rule of law and the EU Charter of Fundamental is one of the more far-reaching innovations contained in the new institutional shape of the Juncker Commission.