EPIN Commentaries

1 - 22 of 22
21 January 2015

In the run-up to elections in Greece on January 25th, this EPIN commentary explores the likelihood and consequences of four potential post-election scenarios:

10 September 2014

The political landscape in Greece is confused and volatile at the moment; the right and extreme- right-wing parties are accorded a disproportionately large place in political debate, while the radical left-wing SYRIZA party is attempting to maintain a ‘leftist’ profile and demonstrate its capacity to govern through a strategy of image normalisation.

31 July 2014

The political balance in Sweden was upset in this year’s elections to the European Parliament (EP). The far-right ‘Sweden Democrats’ almost tripled their vote-share and the Greens gained enough votes to become the second-largest Swedish party in the EP after the Social Democrats. Support for the current government incumbents, the Moderates, fell beyond expectation. The party will not recover in time for the national elections in September, whereas both the Greens and the Sweden Democrats are likely to repeat their EP election success.

26 June 2014

While many Eurosceptic parties in Europe achieved historical successes in this year’s EP elections, Finland’s populist Finns Party was unable to fulfil its own high expectations. With the eurozone crisis at least temporarily subsiding and Finland’s own economy struggling, the party has been unable to find a new electoral trump card. Facing a changed political climate and stiffer competition, the party is currently toning down its criticism of the EU, as indicated by its recent decision to join the British Tories in the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group.

29 April 2014

With less than a month to go to the European Parliament (EP) elections, campaigning has barely begun in the Netherlands. Whether the campaign will address concrete EU policies or the future of the European Union remains to be seen, but this author argues that the outcomes will probably have less to with the parties’ stance on Europe than with the unpopularity of the incumbent parties and the ‘second order’ character of EP elections.

02 April 2014

Despite the emergence of a critical debate against the EU-imposed austerity measures both at the level of the political elites and on the street, this EPIN Commentary by two Spanish political scientists based in Barcelona finds no sign that the upcoming European elections will have a more European focus than any of the previous ones. While there is no anti-European discourse among the Spanish mainstream political parties, they report that public trust in the European institutions is plummeting and Spanish turnout in European elections has been dropping in the last few years.

06 February 2014

Despite the probable shift towards European rather than national issues in the European election campaign in France, the combined effects of the economic crisis and the unpopularity of political leaders could crystallise a ‘protest’ vote for both national and European leaders, and for the EU as a whole, explain the authors in this EPIN Commentary.

20 December 2013

In previous European elections, Polish political parties were not able to draw a large number of voters to the polling stations. Poland stood out in the European Union mainly by its extremely low turnout. In light of the current situation in the Polish political scene, this EPIN Commentary predicts that the chances are that the 2014 electoral campaign will also be lacklustre, focused on domestic issues, resulting yet again in a disappointing turnout.

17 December 2013

The EU has recently been pushing for legislation to strengthen the gender balance on company boards in its member states and indeed, the principle of gender equality is enshrined in the European treaties. Yet, as Vilde Renman points out, women are clearly underrepresented in top positions within EU institutions themselves. The upcoming European Parliament elections are an opportunity for the EU to appoint more women at the highest levels of administration and legislature, thereby setting an example for companies, member states and citizens alike.

03 December 2013

A new Commentary published by the European Policy Institutes Network (EPIN) offers an interesting piece of advice to the UK if it is to succeed in winning over Germany on EU reform, The author, Almut Möller, asserts that the UK needs to understand how Germany’s federal system, with its intricate balance of competences between the various levels, is an integral part of modern Germany and key to the country’s thinking on Europe.

22 August 2013

Declining support for the European Union in many member states is causing some disquiet about the possibility of an even lower voter turnout in the upcoming European Parliament (EP) elections to be held next May. This discontent might well be exploited by populist anti-European parties and boost protest-vote participation, cautions Sonia Piedrafita in this EPIN Commentary, and this would pose a serious risk for EU decision-making and undermine the sense of common identity and any plans for further integration.

29 August 2012

Romania was on a good trajectory to meet the European standards in democracy. This process began before the country’s accession to the EU in 2007 and has continued since thanks to the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). The recent political turmoil has put in danger this trajectory. 2012 will continue to remain a very difficult year for Romania, economically and politically, especially in light of the referendum’s result invalidating the suspension of the President and the upcoming parliamentary elections due to take place at the end of this year.

30 April 2012

Sociological research on group dynamics highlights how easily the EU, originally set up to pursue closer integration, might become an arena for competition for ‘dominance’ between its members. This EPIN Commentary looks at the clash between the German and UK governments in December 2011 and again in March 2012, as a case study of this emerging political dynamic between the EU’s core members and the outliers.

Roderick Parkes is Head of the Brussels Office, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

07 February 2012

The recent EU summit, which endorsed the treaty on stability, co-ordination and governance in the economic and monetary union, also produced one rather unexpected twist: the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Petr Nečas, refused to sign up to the treaty.

28 November 2011

The nationals of some member states are overrepresented among the heads of EU delegations, while those from other member states are not represented at all, or are underrepresented. At the same time women still account for less than 20% of all heads of EU delegations. This paper offers a snapshot of the geographical and gender distribution of staff at the level of heads of EU delegations (HoDs).

The author Paul Ivan is a Research Assistant at the Centre for European Policy Studies.

26 July 2011

Once regarded as a cornerstone of the European project, the Netherlands now figures as one of its severest critics. This commentary by Adriaan Schout argues that one reason for this reversal in position is that the Dutch Parliament has been skirting European problems. He laments that debates about the EU have come too late and been conducted with insufficient depth, leaving the public with feelings of uncertainty, for example about whether their taxes are being wasted on Greece and on an ineffective EU budget. Such uncertainties create a fertile breeding ground for discontent.

29 April 2011

Finland’s political landscape changed significantly following its parliamentary elections on April 17th. The landslide victory of the EU- and euro-sceptic True Finns Party brought to an end the hegemony long enjoyed by the three main parties with distinctively pro-European sympathies. This EPIN commentary offers insights into the implications of the Finnish elections for both key domestic policies as well as the country’s European policy.

29 April 2010

The Treaty of Lisbon entered into force five months ago, introducing six major institutional innovations that were supposed to make the Union more efficient, more transparent and increase its legitimacy. Twelve authors from the European Policy Institutes Network consider how the ‘new’ Europe is shaping up and whether it is likely to have any more appeal for European citizens.

11 April 2009

Ever since the end of the Cold War, and particularly since the demise of the Soviet Union, the question of whether Finland could or should join NATO has always been in the background of the country’s public discourse. Drawing on history, and particularly the history of neutrality, Toby Archer, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, explains how Finland can be positive about the idea of NATO and actively take part in the alliance's missions, and yet still not want to become a member.

09 February 2009

This EPIN Commentary by two researchers at the Centre for Public Policy PROVIDUS based in Riga, Latvia, looks for possible explanations and the consequences of the extreme political turbulence that has rocked Latvia in recent months.

12 January 2009

The Czech Republic assumed the rotating Presidency of the European Union on 1 January 2009, following France and as only the second new EU member state after Slovenia to hold the position. This EPIN Commentary finds that the plans of the Czech Presidency do not lack ambition, for a mid-sized EU member state taking its turn at a rather complicated time for the EU. The Czech government has already re-evaluated its priorities and it now seems ready to focus even more on confronting the major challenges such as the global economic crisis or the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

12 May 2008

In a curious twist of historical, constitutional and legislative provisions, the future of the Åland Islands, the Finnish archipelago located between Finland and Sweden in the Baltic Sea, may be strongly implicated in the future of the Lisbon Treaty and vice versa.