Policy Briefs

The Federal Trust regularly publishes short Briefing Papers, which often focus on current political and constitutional developments in the European Union. In particular, those papers published as part of the European Policy Briefs series assess and analyse major controversies in the British debate about Europe.

You will find our latest commentary on Brexit  on our Blog and on the Views from the Federal Trust page.

The EU referendum, devolution and the Union
by Dr Andrew Blick, December 2016

Taking back control? The EU referendum, Parliament and the ‘May Doctrine’
Dr Andrew Blick, October 2016

European Defence Procurement and the Emerging EU Defence Presence
Dr Andrew Black, May 2016

Is Europe losing the Internet Race? Some implications for the European Union of the 2015 Mary Meeker report on Internet trends
Cameron Thomson, September 2015

What Future Role Should the EU Play in the Israeli Palestinian Conflict?
Dor Wolff, April 2015

How the European Social Fund helps solve local social problems, and more
Dor Wolff, November 2014

The EU in the future of British security: Why a safer UK needs a stronger Europe
Andreas Capstack, November 2013
Paper published by Global Policy Institute

EU Regulation and the European Single Market: Incompatible or inseparable?
Dr Andrew Blick, May 2013

What Would Happen if the European Union Broke Up?
John Bruton, November 2012

Europe and the Unitary Patent – Progress towards reshaping the European Patent landscape
Bertie Radcliffe, September 2012

Recent CJEU Decisions on European Citizenship
Anja Lansbergen, April 2012

Neither in nor out: Coalition policy in the EU Area of Freedom, Security and Justice
Dr Andrew Blick, January 2012

The European Union Bill
Dr Andrew Blick, March 2011

The Controversy over University Student Finance: The EU Perspective
Dr Andrew Blick, December 2010

Testing the Limits of European Citizenship
Anja Lansbergen, May 2009

EU military and civilian crisis management operations: the first six years
Jeannette Ladzik, April 2009

A Stabilisation Fund for the Eurozone
Mark Nevin, European Policy Brief No 31, August 2007
This policy brief sets out to explore in detail the issues related to the establishment of a supranational fiscal stabilisation fund for the Eurozone. 10 August 2007, Policy Brief 31

Scrutiny of the Executive by the Executive?
Jonathan Church, Briefing, October 2007

Parliament, Foreign Policy and Accountability
Briefing, January 2007

Democracy and the European Commission
Joana Cruz, Policy Brief 30, July 2006
This policy brief looks into possible ways for the European Commission to improve democracy, accountability and legitimacy in the European Union. In order to make the exercise of its existing competences more legitimate and democratically accountable, the European Commission will have to rely on more than just policy results. This policy paper suggests bringing to the European surface some elements of member states’ parliamentary structures, which allow for political competition and for the formation of political preferences at the EU level. Giving EU citizens a say on a preferred candidate for the Presidency of the Commission and on a clear European Agenda could genuinely alter the status quo.

National Parliaments and Democratic Control in the EU
Markus Wagner, Policy Brief 29, July 2006
This policy brief considers the role of national parliaments in EU policy-making with some scepticism about its beneficial impact on improving the legitimacy of the EU. It highlights that national parliaments are already given the power of commenting on European Commission’s legislative proposals and that the proposed ‘early warning mechanism’ in the Constitution has already been informally agreed. The policy brief suggests that national parliaments’ central remit is and should remain primarily the control and scrutiny of their own executive directly represented in the Council of Ministers.

Openness and secrecy in the EU institutions: lessons from the EU sugar regime
Richard Laming, Policy Brief 28, June 2006
This Policy Brief examines the transparency of EU decision-making in the Council of Ministers and in the European Parliament. It uses as a case study the recent revision of the EU’s sugar regime, which was debated in both institutions at the same time. While the Parliament conducted its discussion wholly in public, the Council proceeded mostly in secrecy. As last year’s reforms to the transparency of Council meetings will not be as significant as they may appear at first sight, the author argues that the Council should open up its legislative process further and adopt the Parliament’s procedures.

Voting for Europe: Citizens, Elections and Referendums
Brendan Donnelly and Markus Wagner, Policy Brief 27, June 2006
This Policy Brief examines how European elections and referendums could be reformed in order to encourage participation in campaigns and voting. The Brief argues that voters should be presented with clearer choices in elections. This could be achieved by linking EP elections with the nomination of the Commission President and by strengthening EU parties. Referendums should in future be held on the same day and in as many states as possible.

The European Security and Defence Policy
Jeannette Ladzik, Policy Brief 26, April 2006
This Policy Brief examines the development of the European Security and Defence Policy and assesses its successes and shortcomings. It considers in particular the EU’s Rapid Reaction Force, the new battlegroup concept and the development of civilian capabilities. Despite real achievements in achieving a common defence policy, this Policy Brief argues that there are still some important problems that remain.

To leave or not to leave? The Conservatives and the European People’s Party in the European Parliament
Markus Wagner, Policy Brief 25, March 2006
This Policy Brief assesses the choices available to the Conservative Party if it decides to end its association with the European People’s Party in the European Parliament. It considers in particular the effects of such a move on the legislative influence and the organisational power of the Conservatives in the EP. The Brief also examines the availability of attractive alternative arrangements. The Policy Brief concludes that it will be difficult for the Conservatives to establish a new EP Party Group that it can present as modern and forward-looking.

The US Deficit, the EU Surplus and the World Economy
George Irvin and Alex Izurieta, Policy Brief 24, March 2006
This Policy Brief argues that the long US consumer boom is unsustainable, but that its cure cannot be left to the market. Instead, a package of co-ordinated policy measures is needed. The main elements of such a package are managed revaluation of the major non-dollar currencies and, crucially, the reflation of the EU economy.

A Foreign Minister for Europe
Jeannette Ladzik, Policy Brief 23, February 2006
This Policy Brief discusses the features, and the possible future, of the European Foreign Minister envisaged by the Constitutional Treaty. It argues that despite the current impasse caused by the rejection of the Constitutional Treaty the question of a European Foreign Minister will in the future be revisited by member states as part of their efforts to increase the effectiveness and coherence of the Union’s foreign policy.

Guy Verhofstadt and the ‘United States of Europe’: The Eurozone as a new core Europe?
Katharina Gnath, Policy Brief 22, January 2006
This Policy Brief discusses the ideas on European integration by the Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, set out in his recent pamphlet ‘The United States of Europe. Manifesto for a new Europe’. It concludes that his vision of a new core Europe based on the Eurozone is at the same time more compelling and more controversial than the comprises of the rejected Constitutional Treaty.

Civil Liberties and Democracy in the EU: Assessing the Data Retention Directive
Markus Wagner, Policy Brief 21, January 2006
This Policy Brief reviews the EU Directive on mandatory data retention, recently adopted by the European Parliament. It argues that this directive demonstrates that the policy-making process at EU level in the policy area of justice and home affairs is technically and democratically unsatisfactory.

A European Diplomatic Service
Jeannette Ladzik, Policy Brief 20, January 2006
This Policy Brief discusses the proposals for a European diplomatic service contained in the now deadlocked Constitutional Treaty. It concludes that there are no substanial legal or administrative obstacles in the way of setting up this European External Service early, but argues that the current impasse over the ratification of the Constitutional Treaty acts as a barrier to mobilising the necessary political will.

How to lose friends and influence: the UK and the new member states
Dr Julie Smith, Senior Research Fellow, Policy Brief 19, January 2006
This Policy Brief considers the difficulties facing the UK in brokering a deal on the budget in December 2005 and assesses the impact Blair’s actions have had on relations with the new member states.

Fresh Faces, Tired Policies? The German ‘Grand Coalition’ and the EU
Markus Wagner, Policy Brief 18, December 2005.
This Policy Brief argues that despite the change in government, Germany’s position in the EU will not change much. While plans for domestic economic reform are limited rather than radical the new government’s approach to the Lisbon Agenda and the EU budget will remain largely unchanged. Broad continuity will also characterise the new government’s stance on foreign policy and EU enlargement. The coalition’s strong committment to the EU Constitution may however come as a surprise.

Unemployment and Fiscal Policy in the European Union
John Grieve Smith, Robinson College, Cambridge University, Policy Brief 17, November 2005
This Policy Brief discusses the need for a more expansionary approach to fiscal policy to combat the persistently high levels of unemployment in many parts of the EU. This will require amendment to the Stability and Growth Pact. Harmonisation of taxes will limit individual countries’ room to manoeuvre, but provide opportunities to make tax changes on a European scale. Any attempt to conduct fiscal policy on such a scale raises the question of a European Budget and the issues considered in the 1977 MacDougall Report.This in turn raises constitutional issues about the most effective way of taking budgetary and fiscal policy decisions at a European level.

Democracy and Legitimacy in the European Union
Dr Julie Smith, Senior Research Fellow, The Federal Trust, Policy Brief 16, October 2005
This Policy Brief assesses the problem of the ‘democratic deficit’ in the EU. It argues that the emergence of a directly elected European Parliament has not led to resolve this problem and discusses how to improve the Unions’ legitimacy.

The Euro and British Politics
Brendan Donnelly, Director of the Federal Trust, Policy Brief 15, September 2005
In this Policy Brief, Brendan Donnelly discusses the role the single currency has played in British politics over the last decade, in particular the approach New Labour has taken to the subject.

No European Constitution, No European Flexiblity?
Brendan Donnelly, Director of the Federal Trust, Policy Brief 14, July 2005
This Policy Brief considers three possible avenues the member states may explore now in the short term for a more flexible European Union: the setting up of a European ‘hard core’ among a limited number of member states, greater use of ‘enhanced co-operation’ along the lines already permitted by the Nice Treaty and the development of a more integrative system of political and economic governance for the Eurozone.

The UK Presidency of the European Union 2005
Brendan Donnelly and Ulrike Rüb, Policy Brief 13, June 2005
On 1 July 2005 the UK will take over the EU Presidency. This Policy Brief considers the questions likely to dominate the work of the British Presidency, and the progress the British government may hope to make on them.

Flexibility and the European Constitution
Brendan Donnelly and Ulrike Rüb, Policy Brief 12, May 2005
This Policy Brief considers whether a ratified Constitution would make the emergence of a flexibly integrated Europe more likely and what shape this might take. It particularly looks at the possible implications of this for the European institutions.

What do French Voters want from the European Constitution
Brendan Donnelly and Markus Wagner, Policy Brief 11, April 2005
This Policy Brief contrasts the differing public discussion of the European Constitution in France and the United Kingdom. It argues that any interpretation of the Constitution which might make it more acceptable to French opinion would risk making it less acceptable in the United Kingdom.

The Constitutional Treaty and the Question of Ratification: Unscrambling the consequences and identifying the paradoxes
Professor Jo Shaw, Policy Brief 10, April 2005
This updated Brief assesses what might happen if the EU Constitution is not ratified. It considers some historical examples of attempts to ratify previous European treaties. The article concludes by examining some of the options which might be taken by one or more of the Member States in the event of non-ratification.

A flexible Union?
Brendan Donnelly and Ulrike Rüb, Policy Brief 9, April 2005
This Policy Brief describes and reviews different models for flexibility in European integration and seeks to identify the degree of effective support they might enjoy in the EU’s member states.

France and the Referendum on the EU Constitution
Markus Wagner, Policy Brief 8,March 2005
This Policy Brief considers some of the complex arguments and issues surrounding the French debate on the ratification of the EU Constitution. It has been suggested by many commentators and observers that the referendum in France will be the key factor on whether the EU Constitution is ultimately ratified by the EU’s 25 Member States. With this in mind this Brief considers in detail the positions of the main actors in the French campaign and examines how the political debate there contrasts with the discussion surrounding the Constitution in the UK.

The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning? Enhanced co-operation in the Constitutional Treaty
Anthony Dawes and Brendan Donnelly, Policy Brief 7, October 2004
This Policy Brief analyses the development and present status of ‘enhanced co-operation’. It further considers the impact of this new procedure on the future coherence of the European Union. It concludes by asking what real political will exists among member states to make use of ‘enhanced co-operation’.

What Happens if the Constitutional Treaty is not Ratified?
Professor Jo Shaw, Senior Research Fellow, Policy Brief 6, September 2004
This Brief assesses what might happen if the EU Constitution is not ratified. It considers some historical examples of attempts to ratify previous European treaties. The article concludes by examining some of the options which might be taken by one or more of the Member States in the event of non-ratification.

The EU Constitution and asylum – beyond the myths
Séverine Picard and Brendan Donnelly, Policy Brief 5, September 2004
This commentary sets out to explore the myths about this complex subject and highlights how the draft European Constitution allows for the future elaboration of a common European asylum policy.

Legitimacy and the European Union
Brendan Donnelly and Ulrike Rüb, Policy Brief 4, March 2004
This paper assesses whether institutional reform alone can suffice to underpin the political legitimacy of the European Union.

The Role of National Parliaments in the European Union
Brendan Donnelly and Lars Hoffmann, Policy Brief 3, February 2004
This paper analyses the new ‘early warning system’ proposed by the Convention to involve national parliaments in the European decision-making process. It argues that this is unsatisfactory and that national parliaments should be given the right to bring cases before the European Court of Justice when they believe that a piece of proposed European legislation infringes the principle of subsidiarity. In addition, national parliaments should be encouraged to make more use of their powers to scrutinise their national governments in the contributions they make to legislative procedure.

In Europe’s defence
by Brendan Donnelly and Ulrike Rüb, Policy Brief 2, December 2003
This paper analyses the current debate which has arisen out of the recommendations of the Convention on European defence policy. Since the Convention made its original suggestions in June of this year, the debate on European defence matters has moved on considerably. The attached brief concludes that developments in this area of policy will have a particular significance, even beyond the defence field, for the future political development of the European Union and for Britain’s position within it.

All change or no change? Convention, constitution and national sovereignty
Brendan Donnelly and Lars Hoffmann, Policy Brief 1, November 2003
This paper examines in detail the question of the potential impact on the British constitution of the recommendations of the European Convention on the Future of Europe, if implemented. It concludes that the impact of the Convention’s recommendations on the British constitution would be limited, and less than the constitutional impact of previous European treaties.