Category Archives: Blog

What do the European Election results really mean?

by Brendan Donnelly
First published on the European Movement Blog
Predictably, many commentaries in the British mass media have gloatingly presented the European Elections as a continent-wide reject ion of the process of European integration, as the long-ignored peoples of Europe rising up in democratic wrath against their oppressors in Brussels. The results of the European Elections are however much more ambiguous and mixed than that. It is true that just over a quarter of the French and British electorates voted respectively for the Front National and UKIP and extremist parties of right and left did well in Greece, while Denmark saw success  for the anti-immigrant party of Mr. Messerschmidt. But against this must be set the 93% of the German electorate who voted for pro-EU parties, the victories for pro-EU governing parties in Italy, Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic and the poor result of the Eurosceptic Mr. Wilders in the Netherlands. The European Elections certainly demonstrate that there are deep-rooted economic problems within a number of European countries.  But these problems are essentially national rather than European problems. France and the United Kingdom well illustrate this point.

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There may be trouble ahead

by Brendan Donnelly

First published on the European Movement Blog

The European Elections are sometimes described by academics and other observers as “secondary” elections, in which the electorate take little notice of the European policies or claimed achievements of those standing for election, but simply express their (often unfavourable) judgements on the domestic policies of the parties contesting the European Elections. That may well be an accurate description of the frame of mind in which many British electors approach the Elections. But this year’s European Elections will nevertheless have considerable implications for the way in which the European Union will be governed over the next five years; and similarly important implications for British domestic politics.

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The Wheels Fall Off

by Brendan Donnelly

Until shortly before Christmas, the Prime Minister would have been entitled to congratulate himself on the success of his important speech about Europe on 23rd January 2013 in quieting Conservative controversy and divisions on this subject. The compromise he proposed in it, of a radical renegotiation in the next Parliament of the terms of British membership of the European Union, followed by a referendum, was one which seemed to have satisfied all wings of his fractious party. It was not unreasonable to believe that this truce would last at least until the European Elections of May 2014 and possibly beyond.

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Britain’s EU Referendum

by Brendan Donnelly

First published on the European Movement Blog

In public commentaries on Britain’s position in the European Union, reference is often made to the possibility of a European referendum for the UK in 2017. But it is worth stressing that a European referendum for this country in 2017 is only one of a range of possibilities, including earlier or later dates for this referendum, or even its not being held at all.

When the date of 2017 is mentioned for a possible European referendum in the United Kingdom, it is usually based upon Mr. Cameron’s proposal that a Conservative government elected in 2015 would as one of its first tasks restructure or “renegotiate” the terms of British membership of the European Union.  These new terms of membership of the European Union would then be put to a referendum in or before 2017, a referendum in which presumably Mr. Cameron would urge a “yes” vote. This proposal has attracted a wide but not universal measure of support within the Conservative Party. A number of question marks nevertheless hang over its implementation.

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