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Evidence from Austria: Why tackling long-term unemployment should be a key priority during the pandemic

3 days ago

Covid-19 has led to a spike in unemployment across Europe. Dennis Tamesberger and Johann Bacher write that while some job losses may be temporary, policymakers should be concerned about the rise in long-term unemployment during the pandemic. Drawing on the case of Austria, they highlight the lasting impact long periods of unemployment can have on individuals.
It is well known that long-term unemployment increases with some delay after a recession. After the Great Recession, in the EU28, the share of the long-term unemployed in total unemployment shot up from one-third to one-half between 2008 and 2013. Long-term unemployment is mainly a consequence of permanent demand shocks but it can also be partly explained by a ‘hysteresis effect’, where rises in unemployment persist over time.

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The rise of Chega and the end of Portuguese exceptionalism

4 days ago

Portugal will hold a presidential election on Sunday, which is widely expected to be won by incumbent President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. Yet as Mariana S. Mendes writes, the key story of the election may well be the continued rise of André Ventura, leader of the radical right party Chega.
At the same time that Portugal’s daily Covid-19 numbers are hitting record highs, the country will head to the polls this Sunday to elect its future head of state. As there is little doubt that the incumbent President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa will score a landslide victory and secure a second term in office, all eyes are instead set on how well the far right is going to perform.
André Ventura, leader of the radical right party Chega (Enough), is likely to achieve a respectable result, with opinion

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Bridge policies and welfare politics: How the preferences of voters feed into social policymaking

5 days ago

How do parties integrate the views of voters into their policy platforms? Drawing on a new study of social policy in seven European countries, Michael Pinggera explains that parties increasingly focus on ‘bridge policies’ – policies that are popular among both their support base and the general electorate.
The role of parties in a functioning democracy is to represent citizens’ policy preferences. This includes preferences on social policies such as pensions, education, and unemployment benefits, which account for a sizable share of public expenditures. In 2018, European member states on average spent close to 25 per cent of GDP on social protection and education. Evidently, peoples’ preferences should find their way into social policymaking. But do they? Do parties listen to

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The personalisation of politics: Why political leaders now lie at the heart of European democracy

6 days ago

It is often argued that European politics is increasingly ‘personal’, with the popularity of party leaders exerting a growing impact on the outcome of elections. Drawing on a new study, Diego Garzia, Frederico Ferreira da Silva and Andrea De Angelis assess how these dynamics have developed in western Europe since the 1960s. Their findings suggest that the personalisation of politics has taken place hand-in-hand with decreasing importance for partisanship in structuring voter choice.
Political leaders are central actors in contemporary politics. Apart from steering their respective parties, they shape political communication, and strongly influence public opinion. Modern campaigning has increasingly come to resemble a beauty contest among candidates, as the media focus has shifted

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The art of following the science

7 days ago

In recent years, western democracies have experienced a damaging erosion of faith in scientific expertise. While online conspiracy theories and the alternative facts promoted by charismatic demagogues are partly responsible, some blame attaches to the naïve way in which governments apply scientific data to policy questions, writes Richard Bronk. Science can neither substitute for political choices between competing goals nor replace the need for nuanced judgment of the multifaceted nature of specific problems.
The daily press conferences from Downing Street since March 2020 underline the prominence given to epidemiologists, behavioural scientists and the medical profession in driving policy reaction to the Covid-19 crisis. This may be evidence of a welcome return of scientific

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Book Review: Markievicz: Prison Letters and Rebel Writings edited by Lindie Naughton

8 days ago

In Markievicz: Prison Letters and Rebel Writings, Lindie Naughton offers a new edition of the collection of letters written by Constance Markievicz, who was a political activist, an Irish revolutionary and the first woman MP. Originally published in the 1930s as The Prison Letters of Countess Markievicz, this new edition presents the letters as they were as well as previously unpublished letters, mostly written to friends and family, including her sister, Eva Gore-Booth, during and in between periods of imprisonment. Alongside offering Markievicz’s perspective on early-twentieth-century Irish politics, the collection provides sometimes surprising insight into the interior life of a figure often overshadowed by her controversial reputation, writes Sharon Crozier-De Rosa. 

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Article 16 of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol offers no ‘quick fix’

11 days ago

In this blog, Katy Hayward and David Phinnemore address the latest debate surrounding the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. They suggest that, contrary to some claims being made, unilateral triggering of Article 16 by the UK would not offer an easy route for remedying the new realities in the movement of goods across the Irish Sea.
Transition is over and the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol is now in operation. With Northern Ireland effectively remaining inside the customs territory of the European Union and its internal market for goods and the rest of the UK now outside, there are new and additional formalities, checks and controls for the movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
As many had predicted, the first week or so has not been

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How participatory regulation is changing the nature of policymaking

12 days ago

Regulators are often shielded from political pressures, with decisions made on the basis of technical expertise rather than public opinion. Yet as Hanan Haber and Eva Heims explain, recent years have seen a growing trend for ‘participatory regulation’ across Europe, where citizens actively participate in the decision-making process. Drawing on a new study, they argue we are increasingly seeing a move away from regulation based on expertise to regulatory decisions that try to capture a range of different viewpoints and interests.
Participatory regulation – a practice in which regulatory agencies invite business interests, non-governmental organisations, as well as consumers and citizens, to participate in their decision-making – seems to be becoming increasingly common. Examples such

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The EU’s ‘watchdogs’: Assessing the powers of the European Ombudsman and European Court of Auditors

13 days ago

The European Ombudsman and European Court of Auditors both play an important role in guaranteeing the EU’s transparency, accountability and integrity. Anchrit Wille and Mark Bovens argue that the key to understanding the impact of the two institutions lies in the use of their powers, rather than the formal remits they have been assigned.
In the eyes of many European citizens, the EU has become a symbol of bureaucratic waste. Yet, citizens or organisations that experience problems with the EU’s administration, in terms of misconduct or corrupt behaviour, can contact the European Ombudsman (EO) and lodge a complaint. Meanwhile the European Court of Auditors (ECA) oversees how EU taxpayers’ money is used, and reports this to the EU Parliament and to EU citizens. These two EU watchdogs

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Does ideology influence decision-making by EU judges?

14 days ago

EU courts handle cases of considerable importance for European citizens and policymakers, yet we know little about the ideology of EU judges and how it might influence their decisions. Drawing on a new study, Wessel Wijtvliet and Arthur Dyevre demonstrate that the median ideological position of a judicial panel is a significant predictor of rulings on competition and state aid cases.
The appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court shortly before the US presidential election brought a flurry of comments about her ideological leanings and the impact she might have on the position of the Court during a Biden presidency. Yet neither that, nor the partisan wrangling that accompanies judicial appointments, is particularly unusual in the United States, where US

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Book Review: Mass Appeal: Communicating Policy Ideas in Multiple Media by Justin Gest

15 days ago

In Mass Appeal: Communicating Policy Ideas in Multiple Media, Justin Gest offers a guide for researchers who want to improve their ability to make a policy impact with their research, exploring the strengths and weaknesses of different media for communicating research ideas and their implications. This book is likely to be useful for researchers across the career spectrum, from PhD students to established scholars, writes Steven Hill, providing a tool kit to support researchers in countering increasing challenges to the authority of research knowledge and experts. 
Mass Appeal: Communicating Policy Ideas in Multiple Media. Justin Gest. Oxford University Press. 2020.
Researchers with policy-relevant findings are often frustrated by the lack of uptake of their recommendations by

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How regulatory agencies use stakeholder consultations to craft their reputation

17 days ago

It is common for regulatory agencies to carry out consultations with relevant stakeholders. However, little is known about what agencies actually do with the information they receive during these consultations. Drawing on a new study, Simon Fink and Eva Ruffing shed some light on the process, illustrating how consultations are used by agencies as a tool to manage their reputation with stakeholders and the wider public.
Stakeholder consultations have become a standard procedure in many policy fields. This is particularly true in the field of regulation. Independent regulatory agencies need policy-relevant information, and they need to legitimise their decisions. Conducting consultations with the relevant stakeholders promises to satisfy both needs and is often mandatory for agencies.

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Evidence from the European Commission: Does it matter how policymakers consult external stakeholders?

18 days ago

Policymakers often consult a range of stakeholders, such as interest groups representing businesses or citizens, before they make decisions. But do the particular consultation tools used matter for the outcomes of this process? Drawing on a new study of the consultation tools used by the European Commission, Bert Fraussen, Adrià Albareda and Caelesta Braun suggests that despite the recent trend of using ‘open’ approaches such as online consultations, ‘closed’ consultation approaches in which policymakers play a more active role often offer a more promising approach for engaging a diverse set of actors.
The consultation of different types of stakeholders, such as industry federations, NGOs, professional associations, firms and public institutions, is a central characteristic of

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The EU’s Pact on Migration and Asylum will do little to ease the pressure on southern member states

19 days ago

In September, the European Commission published a new ‘Pact on Migration and Asylum’ aimed at addressing the issue of irregular migration in the EU. Nadia Petroni argues the proposed measures will not help alleviate migration pressure on the EU’s southern member states.
On 23 September, the European Commission presented its much-awaited ‘New Pact on Migration and Asylum’ which outlines the objectives for EU policies in the area of asylum and migration over the next five years. The Pact was primarily an attempt to break the deadlock in inter-institutional negotiations in this policy domain that has existed since 2016.
An assessment of the new document reveals that all in all, it consolidates the EU strategy of preventing irregular migration, rather than ensuring that asylum and

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Measuring the impact of EU funding and uncertainty on investments in Lithuania

20 days ago

What drives investments in EU states? Drawing on a new paper, Mariarosaria Comunale presents an analysis of investments in Lithuania, using a broad set of possible drivers, including EU funds and uncertainty.
Before the Covid-19 outbreak, business investments had almost returned to pre-crisis levels in the euro area, with some differences across countries. In Lithuania, investments were also expected to be buoyant, given the need for modernisation and automation, as well as improvements in the use of EU funds. Investment growth accelerated to an average of 7.7% in 2017-2019 (see Figure 1). The most important contribution to this came from business investment, while public investment had slightly more volatile growth rates and generally relied more on EU funds. Last year, more

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The EU and the myth of migrant smuggling

21 days ago

Much of the EU’s approach to undocumented migration has focused on the role of smugglers. Federico Alagna argues that the narrative around migrant smuggling often obscures the real purpose of existing policies, as well as the reality of how undocumented migration actually functions. 
Over the last few years, numerous EU migration policies, operations and programmes have been proposed as a response to ‘migrant smuggling’. This trend can be detected in the political discourse associated with some of the most important EU acts, including the recent New Pact on Migration and Asylum.
It is also apparent in those member states who have significant exposure to the phenomenon, such as Italy. Concerns over migrant smuggling are visible in the debates surrounding search and rescue operations

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Book Review: This Is Not Normal: The Collapse of Liberal Britain by William Davies

22 days ago

In This Is Not Normal: The Collapse of Liberal Britain, William Davies pores over the deeper roots, expressions and manifestations of four interlocking recent crises in British politics, addressing some of the most pressing and perplexing questions facing the UK. The book is exceptionally successful in offering a sustained exploration of the deeper roots of these disjunctures, writes Sean Kippin, and ends with a surprisingly optimistic and uplifting message, given the scale of the challenges. 
This Is Not Normal: The Collapse of Liberal Britain. William Davies. Verso. 2020.
There is a particular brand of UK media figure. Usually male, they revel in the gossip, intrigue and parlour games of British politics. Policy seems to bore them. Economic policy is interesting only insofar as it

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Book Review: Good Economics for Hard Times: Better Answers to Our Biggest Problems by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo

29 days ago

In Good Economics for Hard Times: Better Answers to Our Biggest Problems, Nobel-Prize winning economists Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo carefully lay out evidence to provide a grounded approach to tackling today’s most pressing global problems. With a focus on alleviating inequality and poverty, Banerjee and Duflo’s book clears a path for more interdisciplinary work centred on improving citizens’ wellbeing and protecting human dignity, writes Shruti Patel. 
If you are interested in this book, you may like to watch a video of the authors speaking at an LSE event recorded on 17 June 2020. 
Good Economics for Hard Times: Better Answers to Our Biggest Problems. Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo. Penguin Random House. 2019.
It’s rare for economists to highlight how little is

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Our top five articles from 2020

December 22, 2020

To mark the end of 2020, we’ve compiled a list of the five EUROPP articles with the highest readership over the last year. We look forward to publishing more content in 2021 and wish all our readers a Happy New Year.
1. The implications of Brexit for the UK economy
Back in January, when public events were still possible, the LSE hosted a discussion between Gerard Lyons, Vicky Pryce and John Van Reenen on the likely economic impact of Brexit on the UK’s economy. There was little agreement between the panellists on how the UK would fare post-Brexit – and as we head into 2021, many of these issues still remain up in the air.
“Of course, you continue to trade, but the question is on what terms – and those we don’t know.” – Vicky Pryce
2. The economic

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Why EU member states should take heed of the sovereignty concerns of their citizens

December 21, 2020

The 2016 referendum that led to the UK’s exit from the European Union raised concerns that other countries may follow suit. In a recent two-wave survey experiment, Nikoleta Yordanova, Mariyana Angelova, Roni Lehrer, Moritz Osnabrügge and Sander Renes investigated what arguments could sway citizens’ support for EU membership in a hypothetical EU-exit referendum in Germany. Reminding respondents that their country may be outvoted in EU decision-making significantly increased support for leaving the EU, while other arguments had little impact. These sovereignty concerns were particularly prominent among disengaged voters, as well as those who knew little about the EU or were already predisposed against it.
The days when member state governments had their citizens’ implicit consent to

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Book Review: African Europeans: An Untold History by Olivette Otele

December 20, 2020

In African Europeans: An Untold History, Olivette Otele offers a new history that celebrates the lives of African Europeans through tracing a long African European heritage, drawing connections across time and space and debunking persistent myths. This is a thrilling and informative read, writes Michelle M. Wright, and will prove an excellent introduction for both scholars and lay readers who are relatively new to exploring the histories of this ancient, diverse and growing presence.
African Europeans: An Untold History. Olivette Otele. Hurst Publishers. 2020.
Professor Olivette Otele’s African Europeans: An Untold History joins a rather rarified collection of books on Blackness in Europe. One of the earliest I know of, Guyanese-born Professor Ivan Van Sertima’s 1985 African

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Boris Johnson’s no deal Brexit ‘zugzwang’

December 18, 2020

There are now only two weeks remaining for the UK and the EU to secure a post-Brexit trade agreement before the current transition arrangements expire. John Ryan writes that whichever way Boris Johnson and his government decide to move next, it seems inevitable the process will do irreparable harm to the UK’s interests.
Zugzwang is a situation in chess in which a player is under the obligation to make a move and in which any move available makes their position worse. Because chess players are forced to move alternately, a player in zugzwang has no option but to cause their own position harm. Guided by its red lines and hard Brexit stance, Boris Johnson’s government has manoeuvred itself into a zugzwang situation.
The main expected economic consequences of a looming no deal Brexit

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Covid-19: Is there a trade-off between economic damage and loss of life?

December 18, 2020

One of the key political issues during the Covid-19 pandemic has been the extent to which health outcomes should be balanced against the economic costs associated with lockdowns and other virus suppression measures. Reviewing some of the recent evidence, Bernard H Casey writes that it is by no means clear the trade-off between sacrificing lives and sacrificing the economy is as real as has been suggested.
In mid-November, the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) published a paper entitled To save the economy, save people first. It sought to demonstrate both that lockdowns work and to indicate what other measures could slow and even suppress Covid-19, and why. The paper contained the chart reproduced below, which is described “as effectively a rough representation of how well

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How the Romanian diaspora helped put a new far-right party on the political map

December 17, 2020

At Romania’s parliamentary elections on 6 December, a new far-right party, the Alliance for the Unity of Romanians (AUR), secured a major surprise by winning around 9% of the vote. Magdalena Ulceluse explains why diaspora voters were key to the party’s success.
On 6 December, the Romanian people were asked to elect a new parliament. The polling projected only a slight change to the balance of power. As always, it was expected that the country’s mainstream parties would account for most of the vote, with each serving their usual voter bases and clientele.
But this parliamentary election was to prove to be different in one crucial respect. A new far-right player – the Alliance for the Unity of Romanians (AUR) – emerged from nowhere, receiving 9% of the vote. This in itself may not be

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The political economy of electric cars

December 16, 2020

The question of how consumers can be encouraged to switch to electric cars has received substantial attention from European policymakers. Yet as Bob Hancké and Laurenz Mathei write, the shift to electric vehicles risks being derailed if the interests of existing car manufacturers and workers are ignored.
If we are serious about the green transition, it will involve a significant shift in the relationship that humans have with transport: not only less travel and fewer miles, but also different sources of energy and power. Increased public transport, a reduction in air miles and more telework will have to be accompanied by greener modes of individual transport, from bicycles to electric cars.
From marketing to making electric cars
Much of the thinking and action in this area has gone

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Seeing the unseen: Uncovering networks of informal coordination among interest groups

December 15, 2020

Interest groups interact with one another and frequently coordinate their activities, but much of this communication takes place behind closed doors. Drawing on a new study, Stefano Pagliari and Kevin L Young present a novel approach for uncovering networks of interest groups by using ‘text reuse’ analysis.
Everybody knows that interest groups talk to one another and that they sometimes coordinate their actions in ways seeking to maximise their ultimate goals of shaping policy. For social scientists, assessing such patterns has always been challenging.
In-depth qualitative research, for example involving process tracing analysis or the use of data collection such as interviews, has enabled researchers to uncover such forms of coordination. As useful as such approaches are, they are

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Relaunch or disintegration? What Covid-19 means for the future of Europe

December 14, 2020

How might the crisis brought on by Covid-19 affect the future of European integration? Sir Michael Leigh identifies two distinct interpretations of the pandemic so far: a scenario in which Covid-19 becomes the starting point for a relaunch of the EU, and an alternative path in which the crisis precipitates the EU’s disintegration.
The Covid-19 epidemic has been a testing time for the European Union, and for much of the world. Some see it as a pivotal experience for the EU, accelerating European integration in unexpected ways. Others see the epidemic as draining power from Brussels to national capitals, as states, and even regions and cities are the prime actors in efforts to bolster public health.
Two broad scenarios for the EU’s future encapsulate these different interpretations.

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Book Review: Karl Marx’s Life, Ideas, and Influences: A Critical Examination on the Bicentenary edited by Shaibal Gupta, Marcello Musto and Babak Amini

December 14, 2020

In Karl Marx’s Life, Ideas, and Influences, editors Shaibal Gupta, Marcello Musto and Babak Amini bring together contributors to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth and to discuss the relevance of his theoretical and political legacy today. The book offers an open-minded, informative and thought-provoking collection of contributions that inspires in-depth discussions not only of past Marxian and Marxist legacies, but also of how we learn from them to act upon our present and future world, writes Janaína de Faria.
Karl Marx’s Life, Ideas, and Influences: A Critical Examination on the Bicentenary. Shaibal Gupta, Marcello Musto and Babak Amini (eds). Palgrave Macmillan. 2019.
Karl Marx’s Life, Ideas, and Influences, edited by Shaibal Gupta, Marcello Musto and Babak Amini,

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Assessing a year of turbulence in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood

December 11, 2020

The six states that sit within the EU’s ‘Eastern Partnership’ have experienced a turbulent year, from the mass protests that have taken place in Belarus, to war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Katsiaryna Lozka argues these developments should prompt a reassessment of how the EU seeks to engage with the countries in its eastern neighbourhood.
The EU’s Eastern Partnership states are more unstable than ever. Anti-government protests in Belarus, fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan, democratic backsliding in Georgia, increasing polarisation in Moldova, and Ukraine’s constitutional crisis have ensured that all six states are now in various levels of turmoil. These events, woven together, suggest profound changes are occurring in Europe that require revisiting the EU’s approach toward

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The Covid horror picture show: Why we have little to fear from ‘zombie firms’

December 10, 2020

Recently, economists have voiced fears that the costly Covid-19 business support programmes rolled out by European governments could create ‘zombie firms’ – failing companies kept artificially alive by the continued extension of credit. Examining emergency credit provision in Germany, Dustin Voss, Toon Van Overbeke and Bob Hancké argue that such concerns are largely unwarranted. Financial scrutiny is provided through deeply institutionalised relationships between banks and firms in the Mittelstand that help overcome information asymmetries regarding solvency. To protect political and social peace in the midst of a pandemic, the zombification of some firms is thus a risk well worth taking.
A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of zombie firms. What sounds like a weird scene from

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