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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

Lubbers/Jaspers (2011): A longitudinal study of euroscepticism in the Netherlands: 2008... - 1 views

  • With a unique longitudinal data set covering a time-span of 18 years, we test to what extent euroscepticism evolved among the Dutch between 1990 and 2008. We compare Eurosceptic attitudes on the eve of the signing of the Treaty of Maastricht with attitudes after the Dutch ‘no’ in the referendum on the European Constitution. We find a strong increase in euroscepticism among the Dutch. This change did not develop evenly across the educational strata. We propose to explain these differences through the utilitarian, political cueing, political cynicism and identity approaches. Over the years, the less educated have become more cynical about politics and have come to perceive a greater ethnic threat than before, which explains their stronger increase in euroscepticism. In contrast to 1990, perceived ethnic threat was the main predictor of euroscepticism in 2008.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

11.03.11: Eurozone debt crisis intensifies on eve of summit - 2 views

  • Moody's cut Spain's debt rating yesterday (10 March), pushing the euro lower and deepening the sense of crisis in the 17-nation currency bloc on the eve of a crucial EU summit in Brussels.
  • A French presidential source said euro zone leaders would discuss Portugal's measures to cope with its financial problems at Friday's summit but they were not working on a rescue plan.

    EU sources said Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates is under intense pressure from his peers and the European Central Bank to announce additional austerity measures and accelerate economic reforms. The sources said he would make a statement to the leaders at the start of a summit on Friday on his commitment to deeper reforms, including to the labour market

Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

04.03.11: European Socialists propose alternative to Barroso-Van-Rompuy pact - 0 views

  • Europe's Socialist leaders have proposed a ‘growth pact' as an alternative to the ‘competitiveness pact' originally proposed by France and Germany as a solution to the bloc's economic woes.

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann and most of the continent's social democratic leaders, many of whom currently sit on opposition benches in their parliaments, including French Socialist leader Martine Aubry and Germany's head of the SPD, Sigmar Gabriel, met at a summit in Athens to co-ordinate their strategy ahead of an EU summit where a ‘comprehensive response' to the eurozone crisis is to be finalised.

  • The centre-left leaders endorsed a plan that still backs austerity, but alongside it the introduction of a financial transactions tax that they say would deliver €250 billion a year to European coffers that could be invested in green technologies and infrastructure.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

04.03.11: Centre-right leaders prepare economic battle-lines - 0 views

  • Europe's centre-right leaders are gathering in Helsinki to prepare the political family's strategy ahead of two crucial summits on economic issues later this month.

    An overhaul of the bloc's emergency lending fund, fiscal discipline and measures to boost economic competitiveness are all high on the agenda of Friday (4 March) evening's meeting.

    "We are preparing for the eurozone summit on 11 March so we can agree on significant measures there to stabilise the euro and strengthen the competitiveness of the EU," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told journalists prior to the talks.

  • Berlin meanwhile is keen so see any changes to Europe's emergency lending fund accompanied by tough new fiscal laws and measures to boost the economic competitiveness of member states.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

03.03.11: Denmark eyeing referendum on euro - 0 views

  • The EU's economic convergence plans are forcing Denmark to reconsider its euro opt-out, with a referendum on "modernising" Copenhagen's relation with Brussels possibly taking place by June.

    With plans for a "Competitiveness Pact" currently being drafted by EU institutions to replace a Franco-German draft on pensions harmonisation and constitutional "debt brakes", Denmark does not want to be left out of the decision-making process, due to not being in the single currency.

  • Dubbed the "Big Bang model", a referendum on all three opt-outs may be more successful than holding a referendum just on euro adoption, with 45 percent of Danes in favour of this move, according to a Megafon poll carried out in February. But the margin is still narrow, with 43 percent opposing it and 12 percent undecided.

    A strong advocate for Denmark's euro-accession is Belgian Liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt, who points to the fact that the country's economy is already fully integrated into the eurozone and that the Danish krone is pegged to the euro.

    In addition, he believes that there is a need for a small country like Denmark to counter-balance Germany and France who "dictated" the competitiveness pact being currently drafted for the 17 member-strong eurozone.

Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

17.01.11: Poland: Elections will not disrupt EU presidency - 0 views

  • The Polish junior minister for EU affairs, Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, has promised that upcoming elections will not disrupt Poland's EU chairmanship and defended Hungary over its controversial media law.

    Speaking to EUobserver ahead of a visit by EU Council head Herman Van Rompuy to Warsaw on Monday (17 January), Mr Dowgielewicz predicted the election will take place in the second half of October - slap-bang in the middle of Poland's EU presidency - but said the vote will be separated from its EU activities by a "Chinese wall".

  • The latest poll, by GfK Polonia in December, indicated that centre-right Prime Minister Donald Tusk will sail through to a second term on 54 percent, leaving behind the main opposition party, Law and Justice, on 26 percent.

    Even if the situation changes drastically, Law and Justice' bull-in-a-china-shop boss, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, is unlikely to turn up at any EU summits in 2011.

    "The presidency has been set up in such a way as to allow the old government to continue running things until late December, until the last session of the European Parliament, no matter what happens," Mr Dowgielewicz noted.

Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

12.01.11: Kroes: Commission 'not shy' on Hungarian media law | EurActiv - 0 views

  • Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said yesterday (11 January) that the European Commission would not make any compromise and would make sure EU law is implemented fully in the case of the controversial Hungarian media law.
  • But Kroes made clear that the directive was "an instrument to find the issues to tackle" and that if problems were identified, Reding would be called into play, in respect of Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty.

    Article 7 reads that after a reasoned proposal by one third of EU member states, by the European Parliament or by the European Commission, the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a member state of the EU values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.

Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

12-01-11: EU considers increase of bail-out fund, as debt crisis rumbles on - 0 views

  • Against a background of growing fears that the eurozone's rescue fund would be insufficient should Spain or Belgium knock on its doors, the European Union's economy chief has called for a hike in the effective lending capacity of the EU's bail-out mechanism.

    "We need to review all options for the size and scope of our financial backstops - not only for the current ones but also for the permanent European stability mechanism too," EU economics and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn wrote on Wednesday in an opinion piece in the Financial Times.

  • The commissioner issued the call after member-state representatives met in the European capital to discuss proposals to boost the fund ahead of a meeting of European finance ministers next week.

    Mr Rehn also issued a stark warning that for all the deficit-slashing austerity measures that European states have so far imposed, it is not enough.

    "There is insufficient ambition and a lack of urgency in implementation. That needs to change," he wrote.

Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

10.01.11: Core EU states put squeeze on Portugal to accept bail-out - 0 views

  • Major European powers are putting the squeeze on Portugal to follow Greece and Ireland and knock on the doors of EU and IMF bail-out resources.

    Reports over the weekend quote senior European sources as saying Berlin, Paris and other core eurozone capitals are leaning heavily on Lisbon to apply for a financial rescue, although the Portuguese government continues to deny that any pressure is being mounted.

  • The eurozone core fears that if a firewall is not built around Portugal, investor nervousness could spread to Spain, a much larger economy than those of the two states - Greece and Ireland - that have already been bailed out.

    However, formal negotiations with Lisbon have yet to begin, the source continued, and discussions have yet to match the pace of similar talks ahead of the Greek bail-out last May or that of Ireland last November.

    Should Portugal decide to ask for a rescue, the bill would amount to between €60 and €80 billion, the source said.

Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

05.01.11.: France blasts Hungarian media law - 0 views

  • France said yesterday (4 January) that a new media law passed by Hungary, which took up the EU's rotating presidency on 1 January, violated EU laws on press freedom, and called on other members of the bloc to take action against it.
  • In France, the law has drawn criticism from across the political spectrum, with the main opposition Socialist Party labelling it "a very bad sign for Europe and for the liberty of the press".

    The controversy over the media law has contributed to a growing cloud over Hungary's EU presidency.

    Budapest and Brussels have clashed several times since Prime Minister Viktor Orban rejected austerity measures, cut ties with the International Monetary Fund and opted for unorthodox fiscal steps to cut the budget deficit and boost economic growth.

    The European Commission announced on Monday that it was investigating the legality of crisis taxes imposed by Hungary's centre-right government on the telecoms, retail and energy sectors.

Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

31.12.10. European Parliament urged to pass resolution condemning Hungary's new media law - 0 views

  • Despite unanimous opposition from leading media freedom organizations, the Hungarian parliament has adopted a controversial law overhauling the state-owned media and creating a Media Council with utterly disproportionate powers. The law was passed by an overwhelming majority of votes (256 to 87) on 21 December.

    Appointed directly by the government, the Media Council’s five members will not only have a right of oversight but also the authority to impose heavy fines (of up to 700,000 euros for a TV station and 89,000 euros for an online publication) for content that is “not politically balanced” or “violates human dignity.”

    The council can also punish offences against religion and the nation, while journalists can be forced to reveal their sources when national security is involved. Although the government intends to ensure “fair balance” in the media, it has not respected this principle in its choice of Media Council members, who all belong to the ruling Fidesz party. The council is supposed to enforce “balance” but it will have no opposition representatives.

    “Our organization, a 2005 Sakharov Prize laureate, urges the European Parliament’s president and bureau to make discussion of this law an emergency item on the next plenary session’s agenda,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

31.12.10: Poland's EU presidency: Six months to go | The Economist - 0 views

  • POLAND takes over the presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2011. The government has won some applause in Brussels for its early preparation. One feature of the process has been the government's use of think tanks, both as sounding boards and as advisers. But the following open letter (below the fold), co-authored by the heads of several Polish think tanks and published recently in Gazeta Wyborcza, implies that not everyone is listening. Let's hope that changes.

    The success of the Polish presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2011 requires that strategic decisions be taken and a great deal of attention be paid to detail. Much as we appreciate the effort the Polish government is putting into preparing the presidency, we would also like to note some problems which threaten the success of the project.

Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

01.01.11: Hungary's Democratic Credentials In Doubt As It Assumes EU Presidency - 0 views

  • Just over 50 years ago, Hungary fought back against a bloody invasion by the Soviet Army. Just over 20 years ago, it hastened the fall of the Berlin Wall, granting East German refugees free passage to West Germany.

    Now, Hungary marks another achievement in its transformation from a communist satellite to democratic republic as it assumes the presidency of the European Union on January 1, for the first time since joining the bloc in 2004.

    Speaking recently in Budapest following a meeting with EU officials, Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orban, said a key priority for his country's presidency would be enlargement, which he said had given countries like his own the motivation to get their domestic affairs in order.

    "We would like to return the impetus for EU enlargement," Orban said. "Enlargement will help solve the internal affairs [of new members], because those who enlarge, grow, and extend themselves believe in their future prospects. And what the European Union really needs today is to believe strongly in its own prospects."
  • But many in the EU are worried the "special flavor" that Hungary brings to the EU Presidency will come with a bitter aftertaste. Van Rompuy's words of support came as the Hungarian parliament was passing new media legislation that critics say will return the country to communist-era levels of state control.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

31.12.10: Hungary Risks Image at EU Helm as Orban Increases Power Over Courts, Media - ... - 0 views

  • The European Union’s charter calls for respect for the rule of law, human rights, economic progress and media freedom. Some in Brussels are wondering whether Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose country takes over the rotating EU presidency on Jan. 1, has read it.

    In the seven months since Orban came to power with a two- thirds parliamentary majority, he has implemented retroactive taxes in violation of the constitution, curbed the Constitutional Court’s power, effectively nationalized private pension funds and put ruling-party allies in charge of at least four independent institutions, including the audit office.

Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

Lacroix et al. (2011): European Stories: Intellectual Debates on Europe in National Con... - 0 views

  • European Stories takes a new look at debates about European Integration by examining the role of "public intellectuals"-- i.e. political philosophers, scholars, editorialists or writers -- who contribute to framing the attitude of European publics to Europe and the EU. While there is an enormous literature on the role of intellectuals considered generally or in their distinct national contexts, there is precious little on their take on European integration in the post-war period. This book is ambitious: it aims to provide an overview of how thinking about Europe is expressed within distinct epistemological contexts and how different ideological configurations are shaped across time and space. Twelve national cases have been selected -- including founding and newer member EU members as well as non-member states -- in order to offer a wide range of contrasting intellectual contexts. Contributors are all themselves fully immersed in the respective national public spheres although the editors have been careful to choose colleagues who are not strongly identified with a very specific and contested position on the national spectrum. The expected readership is broad and interdisciplinary, ranging from political philosophy, to political science, history, sociology, and international relations. Hence, the volume should become a reference book for courses on European integration and European identity considered generally, as well as European history, history of ideas, and contemporary political theory. Beyond academia, it should be of interest to journalists as well as a more general readership interested either in European issues or the intellectual debates of our time. This is the first book published in English on this topic and will hopefully encourage the development of further research.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

17.12.10: EU's big three call for long-term budgetary restraint - 0 views

  • The EU's three largest member states - Germany, France and the UK - are set to publish a text on Saturday (18 December), calling for spending restraint in the bloc's long-term financial framework (post 2013).

    Initiated by British Prime Minister David Cameron, the letter will call for a freeze in the long-term spending plan, excluding inflation, and also seek to rein in the bloc's 2012 and 2013 annual budgets.

  • The move puts the group of large member states on a direct collision course with the Brussels-based EU institutions, already battered after their call for a six percent rise in next year's EU budget was cut in half by national capitals.

    With the commission not set to publish formal proposals on the multi-annual financial framework until June 2011, the EU institution may also perceive London's latest initiative as a move to undermine its right of initiative. Still undecided, the framework's period is likely to cover 2014-2020. It is then broken down into annual budgets.

    Poland and other eastern countries may also be horrified by the attempt to curb future EU payments of which newer member states are large recipients. But other EU members are also set to sign the austerity-letter, with Austria, Italy and Finland among the names suggested by diplomats.

  • European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso sought to downplay the letter's significance.

    "We know different groups of member states sometimes try to position themselves," he said. "What is important in the end is the commission's proposal that is being put forward [next June], and then the discussions on the basis of that proposal."

    European Council President Herman Van Rompuy was also phlegmatic. "If there are letters, we are very polite people, we read our letters we receive," he said.

Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

16.12.10: UK seeking concessions on long-term EU budget - 0 views

  • British Prime Minister David Cameron is pressing EU leaders in the margins of a European Summit in Brussels on Thursday (16 December) to support a declaration on limiting the size of the EU's future multi-annual budget (post 2013), diplomats have indicated.

    Although the budgetary issue is not formally on the summit's agenda, the UK leader is hoping to garner the support of enough member states in order to publish a letter later today or on Friday.

  • Mr Cameron is under pressure from elements of his own Conservative Party to limit future EU spending, especially as national governments implement thumping austerity packages back home.

    London recently lost its battle to freeze spending in next year's annual EU budget which is decided by majority voting among member states, unlike the long-term framework which needs unanimity.

  • A tie-up between the size of the future EU budget, Britain's EU budgetary rebate and funding for the common agricultural policy (CAP) is one deal rumoured to be under discussion between France and the UK. France is adamant that CAP funding should not be cut.

    Poland has been the leading opponent of attempts to limit the size of the multi-annual framework which is then subsequently broken down into annual spending plans.

    "What is the most important from our point of view is for the budget not to be reduced significantly, because we believe the funds flowing to Poland and other countries help us fight the crisis," Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told reporters hours before the summit.

Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

14.12.10: Should Slovakia prepare the re-introduction of its national currency? - 0 views

  • Slovakia, which joined the eurozone last year, should have a 'plan B' to return to its national currency, the country's parliamentary speaker, Richard Sulik, has said, amid frustration over the way the eurozone is handling the debt crisis.

    "The time is ripe for Slovakia to stop blindly trust in what eurozone leaders say and prepare a plan B. This is the re-introduction of the Slovak koruna," Mr Sulik said in an opinion piece published in the bussiness daily Hospodarske noviny on Sunday (12 December).

  • The Slovak centre-right government has repeatedly called for private investors to feel the pain of any rescue operation under the eurozone umbrella. It considers the Greek bail-out a mistake that made European governments a hostage to financial markets.

    The parliamentary speaker said it is "irresponsible" for states to risk financial problems at home by taking on the liabilities of their debt-ridden colleagues under the European Financial Stability Facility, a temporary bail-out tool agreed in May and currently providing aid to Ireland.

Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

13.12.10: Treaty change to provide for a permanent European Stability Mechanism from mi... - 0 views

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pressed EU leaders to accept the treaty change as she fears Germany's powerful constitutional court may raise objections to the €440 billion temporary European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), agreed in May and set to provide aid to Ireland.

    While EU policymakers insist the temporary facility and earlier aid to Greece do not contravene the EU treaty's 'no bail-out clause', Berlin is keen to remove any legal uncertainty, with a number of legal challenges currently under examination by the German court.

  • The treaty change is to take place under a new procedure introduced under the Lisbon Treaty - the simplified revision procedure - allowing for limited treaty changes without the setting up of a convention, on condition that new powers are not transferred from the national to EU level.

    In the draft conclusions, EU leaders also call on euro area finance ministers and the commission to finalise work on setting up the permanent aid mechanism, including features that could force sovereign bond holders to accept diminished returns on their investments, should a eurozone government be forced to call for aid under the ESM from 2013 onwards.

    The move stands in marked contrast to aid terms recently agreed for Ireland, under which holders of Irish sovereign debt and senior debt in Irish banks were not forced to accept a 'haircut.' Instead, Irish taxpayers will indirectly pay back the €85 billion borrowed from the EU-IMF for many years to come.

    Analysts say this move was partially designed to prevent further instability in the European banking sector, with many firms considerably exposed to the Irish market.

Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

13.12.10 Germany wants political co-operation to be deepened - 0 views

  • German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said his country is willing to discuss greater harmonisation of eurozone tax policy, adding that the next decade is likely to see Europe take significant steps towards closer political union.

    The remarks, made in Germany's mass-selling Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday (12 December), come as EU leaders look set to agree a limited EU treaty change this week in order to set up a permanent crisis mechanism to provide financial support to struggling eurozone states.

  • Meeting in the German town of Freiburg on Friday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also said eurozone leaders must draw a fundamental lesson from the ongoing debt crisis and take steps towards political integration, including the harmonisation of tax policies or labour law.

    These initiatives would foster greater convergence of eurozone economies and "show this is not just about currency issues but also about political co-operation, which has to be deepened," said Ms Merkel.

  • Germany has successfully won its demand for the permanent mechanism to include the private sector sharing in future bail-out costs, reports the BBC. Such a decision could significant raise the borrowing costs of 'peripheral' eurozone states, as investors demand extra yields to cover the costs of a potential debt restructuring under the new mechanism.
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