2012 has been an election year in the European Union’s Eastern neighborhood. The year started with presidential elections in Russia, followed by parliamentary elections in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, and Ukraine. Even though the electoral saga continues in 2013 with presidential elections in the South Caucasus, the most critical elections are now behind us. What are the outcomes? Have elections brought the Eastern neighborhood closer to substantive, if not procedural, democracy?
A lecture given by Charles Grant, Director of the Centre for European Reform, the prominent London-based think tank defining itself as “pro-European but not uncritical”, offers us a great opportunity to reflect on one of today’s most salient issues in the European Union (EU): the future of the UK in, or outside, the EU.
Barack Obama and the European Union have two things in common: a Nobel Peace Prize, and a lot of problems. And the two things could be correlated.
2012, the year of change. The French and Greek elections – both held in May – greatly affected the US economy and its prospects of recovery. The 2012 US presidential elections will most certainly do the same to Europe. Friends and foes, the US and the European Union have gone through all kinds of relationships. After 6 November, what will it become?
As Europe, and especially the Euro area, seems to slowly be sinking into recession, the sun seems to shine brighter on the other side of the Atlantic. Indeed, the data for the third trimester of the American economy were recently published, and reached a nice and round 2%. Apart from being good news for the actual President, it is also a rather intriguing one for Europe. The crisis has lasted for so long on the old continent - five very unhappy years - that it is now known as the euro crisis. But how Euro(pean) is it really?
While Merkel, Cameron and Sarkozy denounce multiculturalism as being a failure, a black president is running the US.
“The European welfare is dead”: This strong criticism reveals and justifies a certain rejection of the welfare state in the United States. Despite some evolution since the Clinton era and a revitalisation during the Obama administration, the forces pushing against its development seem to remain strong, using the media as its main support.
“We know that anywhere in the world, where women prosper, societies prosper. In the interest of everyone is to include women in every part of society,” Catherine Ashton recently said in New York. Her statement shows well that the European Union defines itself as protector of women's rights in its actions at the European as well as the international level.
The economic crisis that continues to affect both the American and European economies has contributed to the re-launch of the debate on the negotiation of a transatlantic free trade agreement (FTA). While the establishment of a working group on EU-US trade relations shows the commitment of both parties’ to a thorough reflection process on the possibility of an FTA, obstacles to its realisation should not be underestimated. Furthermore, the impending US Presidential election raises the question of which candidate will be most willing to address these obstacles and work towards a more integrated transatlantic market.
Is EU enlargement a successful foreign policy instrument? What are the effects of enlargement on specific countries? Where does the EU stand now and what is the future of enlargement? These are just some of the questions asked on 29 April 2011, at the conference “Candidate Countries: With or Without You?”