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Forgotten key workers: Why migrant domestic carers deserve greater support

3 days ago

The Covid-19 pandemic has drawn attention to the role of key workers in providing essential services. Michael Leiblfinger and Veronika Prieler examine the case of migrant domestic carers, who perform a vital service in many European countries. They argue that while there has been a great deal of discussion about the service live-in carers provide, there has been relatively little done to improve their working conditions.
The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted some employees as critical or key workers who are typically not highly regarded. Food and other necessary goods workers, including agricultural labourers and supermarket staff, transportation workers, parcel delivery staff, and health and social care workers, received increased public attention when the pandemic first spread

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Politicisation and rebordering: How the discourse surrounding EU enlargement has changed in European parliaments since 2004

4 days ago

There is little question the EU’s enlargement process has stalled since the ‘big bang’ enlargement of 2004, but how has the discourse surrounding enlargement changed in European parliaments during this period? Drawing on a new study, Marie-Eve Bélanger and Frank Schimmelfennig find that enlargement discourse in European parliaments was significantly more restrictive during the 2010s, with the enlargement process losing salience and becoming increasingly culturally contested.
European Union enlargement has lost momentum. Hailed in the 1990s as the Union’s most effective foreign policy tool and credited with following a largely meritocratic process based on candidates’ liberal-democratic credentials, the successive waves of accession have turned into a trickle since the accession of

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Explaining Matteo Salvini’s support for the new Italian government

4 days ago

At first glance, a pro-EU government led by the former President of the European Central Bank would appear a poor fit for a Eurosceptic party. Yet this has not stopped Matteo Salvini’s League from endorsing Mario Draghi’s new Italian government. Giovanni de Ghantuz Cubbe argues that while the League’s support for Draghi may seem a curious turn of events given Salvini’s long history of Euroscepticism, it is in keeping with the ambiguous relationship the party has had with Europe since the 1990s.
One of the more surprising features of Italy’s new pro-EU government, led by former President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, is that it has the support of Matteo Salvini’s League – a party usually associated with Euroscepticism.
As Piero Ignazi highlights, the League’s lust for

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Why the economy still plays a major role in shaping support for European integration

5 days ago

The success of Eurosceptic parties is often attributed to cultural factors such as the strength of citizens’ national identities. Chase Foster and Jeff Frieden write that while these cultural considerations can help predict support for European integration, the importance of economic factors should not be overlooked. Drawing on a new study, they illustrate that every percentage-point increase in average unemployment in the EU is associated with a two percentage-point decline in favourable views toward EU membership.
What explains popular attitudes toward European integration? In the early days of the European Union, it was largely taken for granted that the European project would be judged on the basis of its economic achievements. Those achievements culminated impressively in the

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What Australia can tell us about the outlook for the new China-EU investment agreement

6 days ago

At the end of 2020, China and the EU reached agreement on a new investment deal, the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). Rémy Davison and Nina Markovic Khaze draw on Australia’s relations with China to identify some key lessons for the EU.
In 2020, as the EU and China finalised their Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), Australia-China cooperation achieved a quiet milestone of its own. The two countries’ 30-year bilateral Science and Technology collaboration has long been viewed with envy in the West as one of the closest partnerships between a democratic country and an authoritarian regime. Notwithstanding their bilateral free trade agreement, the last twelve months have seen this relationship plummet to its lowest diplomatic point in five decades. But what can

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How opposition to gender equality is expressed by radical right MEPs in the European Parliament

7 days ago

Issues affecting gender equality are frequently debated in the European Parliament. Drawing on a recent study, Johanna Kantola and Emanuela Lombardo present new findings on how radical right MEPs express opposition to gender equality during plenary sessions.
The European Parliament is a unique transnational representative and democratic institution. It also has a reputation for being the most pro-gender equality actor among the EU’s decision-making institutions. The proportion of women MEPs in the parliament has steadily increased and is currently at 40 percent. The Parliament hosts parliamentary bodies, such as the Committee for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM), which are tasked with ensuring a gender perspective is included in all policymaking. Despite a downturn in EU

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Book Review: Political Entrepreneurs: The Rise of Challenger Parties in Europe by Catherine E. De Vries and Sara B. Hobolt

8 days ago

In Political Entrepreneurs: The Rise of Challenger Parties in Europe, Catherine E. De Vries and Sara B. Hobolt examine the rise of challenger parties in European politics, positioning them as political entrepreneurs that use innovative strategies to undermine the dominance of established political parties, leading to the fragmentation of the existing political system. Redirecting attention to the challenge that new party formations pose to the political spectrum, this book successfully refreshes the literature on political parties through its timely new approach, writes George Kordas. 
Political Entrepreneurs: The Rise of Challenger Parties in Europe. Catherine E. De Vries and Sara B. Hobolt. Princeton University Press. 2020.
Find this book (affiliate link): 
After more than a

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Stealth populism: Explaining the rise of the Alliance for the Unity of Romanians

10 days ago

One of the major stories from the 2020 Romanian election was the success of a new nationalist party, the Alliance for the Unity of Romanians, which surprised observers by winning over 9 per cent of the vote. Drawing on new data, Mihnea Stoica, Vladimir Cristea and André Krouwel explain how the party managed to build support so rapidly.
The most recent legislative elections held in Romania in December 2020 produced what was regarded by most political observers as a major surprise: a brand new, almost obscure, populist party, the Alliance for the Unity of Romanians – with an acronym that means ‘gold’ (AUR) – managed to gain over 9 per cent of the vote. The success of this ‘stealth party’ was missed by most pollsters and analysts. In the local elections that were held only two months

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How the 2015 migration crisis shaped the bordering preferences of EU citizens

11 days ago

In 2015, EU countries struggled to cope with a sharp increase in the number of migrants and refugees entering Europe. But how did the crisis affect public opinion toward free movement within the EU? Drawing on a new study, Philipp Lutz finds that contrary to expectations, the crisis did not result in citizens turning away from free movement. Rather, there has been an increase in support for stronger external controls on immigration from outside the EU.
Surging refugee arrivals in 2015 shook the European Union and highlighted its dysfunctionalities in responding to large migration movements. The crisis catapulted the immigration issue to the top of the political agenda and helped facilitate the electoral success of radical-right parties. It also tapped into the fears and hopes of

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Divided by a common purpose: Why do activists in Central and Eastern Europe rarely collaborate with those in the West?

12 days ago

Major protests have occurred in several countries in Central and Eastern Europe in the last few years. Yet as Julia Rone explains, there has been a remarkable lack of coordination between activists in the region and their counterparts in Western Europe.
In 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, hundreds of thousands of Bulgarian and Polish citizens took to the streets to protest. In Bulgaria, demonstrations began in early July against state capture and the role of oligarchs in Bulgarian politics. The protests lasted almost four months and revealed a vibrant civil society is firmly established within the country.
Meanwhile, in mid-October, thousands of Polish citizens took part in demonstrations against the incumbent Law and Justice government over a court ruling that would have

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The new Draghi government and the fate of populism in Italy

12 days ago

In 2018, Italy appeared set to embark on a new era of populist government led by the Five Star Movement and the League. Yet less than three years since the 2018 election, the country now finds itself with a technocratic Prime Minister in the shape of Mario Draghi. Marino De Luca writes on what this turn of events tells us about the fate of populism in Italian politics.
In the past week, Italy has seen the establishment of a new technocrat-led government. This follows on the heels of a relatively popular government that included the populist Five Star Movement in coalition with the centre-left. The fall of this government was engineered by Matteo Renzi, whose actions have brought Mario Draghi into the centre of Italian politics and produced a new and wide-ranging government

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Moral panics about free speech: How should European universities respond?

13 days ago

If there are any institutions that should be above culture wars, they are universities, writes Anne Corbett. They live or die by their commitment to ethical standards in research, and their mission to ensure that students in the course of their studies learn to think critically about challenging ideas. Yet despite their achievements during the pandemic, universities are currently under attack by governments in many parts of Europe for allegedly embracing ideologies and restricting free speech. How might European higher education platforms help take the heat out of these polarising issues?
Academic freedom is in the news and not just in Britain. At least four governments across Europe have claimed they need to protect those academics who assert they are a persecuted minority within

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The UK could be in line for years of Swiss-style negotiations with the EU

13 days ago

Prior to the Brexit referendum, it was common to cite Switzerland as a model for the UK to follow after leaving the European Union. Clive H. Church writes that while Brexiteers’ enthusiasm for this approach largely evaporated following the referendum, the UK has ultimately ended up on a path that has many potential similarities with the Swiss-EU relationship.
At the time of the Brexit referendum in 2016, there was much talk of the UK following the Swiss model. This was suggested as one way in which the country could best organise its relations with the EU after Brexit. Such ideas fell away with Theresa May’s dismissal of off the peg solutions and the emergence of doubts from Brexiteers about the Swiss approach. This was itself a reflection of the gradual hardening of Brexitism

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Draghi may be a banker, but there is a significant political realignment taking place behind his government’s technocratic façade

14 days ago

Much of the response to Mario Draghi’s appointment as Prime Minister of Italy has focused on the technocratic nature of his government. Martin J. Bull argues that while Draghi may be a technocrat, his programme is already generating a significant realignment within Italian politics.
The new Italian government, led by Mario Draghi, former President of the European Central Bank and Governor of the Bank of Italy, received resounding votes of confidence in both the Chamber of Deputies and Senate on 17-18 February. This technocrat with no parliamentary experience, has put together a government that includes eight technical ministers and has the support of all the political parties except one, the far right ‘Brothers of Italy’, which has opted to stay in opposition.
Draghi the technocrat

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Incorporating complexity into policy learning: The case of Covid-19 in Europe

14 days ago

Across the three waves of the Covid-19 pandemic that hit European countries in the space of twelve months, outcome indicators for Covid-19 cases and deaths diverged, as did policy responses. Linda Hantrais and Susanne MacGregor examine evidence about what societies and their institutions could have learnt from each other and from their own experiences during successive waves of the pandemic. They ask whether policy learning seemed to be more effective in some societies than in others, and if so why.
Between March 2020 and February 2021, the numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths in EU member states peaked three times. The World Health Organisation identified Europe as the epicentre of the first wave in March 2020, based on the extremely high numbers of deaths recorded in several of

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Book Review: The Coloniality of Asylum: Mobility, Autonomy and Solidarity in the Wake of Europe’s Refugee Crisis by Fiorenza Picozza

15 days ago

In The Coloniality of Asylum: Mobility, Autonomy and Solidarity in the Wake of Europe’s Refugee Crisis, Fiorenza Picozza offers a new ethnographic study of autonomous border struggles in Hamburg, Germany, looking at how ‘the coloniality of asylum’ not only permeates the European border regime, but can also shape the various solidarity initiatives that seek to contest and trangress it. With the aim of contributing to ‘an anticolonial political imagination that can sustain daily struggles against the asylum regime’, this book is a politically committed, empirically and theoretically rich account that raises the question of who exactly is the subject of refugee solidarity in Europe, finds Helen Mackreath. 
The Coloniality of Asylum: Mobility, Autonomy and Solidarity in the Wake of

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A European Super League would violate EU competition law – as would UEFA’s proposed reforms of the Champions League

16 days ago

The last year has seen mounting speculation that some of Europe’s top football clubs are preparing to establish their own European Super League. Tsjalle van der Burg argues that given a European Super League would violate European competition law, the European Commission should step in and forbid it. This would empower European football’s governing body, UEFA, to reform football for the benefit of supporters.
Since 1998, major European football clubs have threatened several times to leave UEFA competitions and start a European Super League. Until now, the threats have always ended with UEFA reforming its competitions to the advantage of the big clubs. As a result, many big clubs can qualify for the Champions League more easily now, and they get a larger share of the revenues from

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‘They don’t know what it’s like for us’: Why citizens with lower levels of education feel political discontent

17 days ago

Previous research suggests that citizens with lower levels of education are more likely to express dissatisfaction with politics. Drawing on new research in the Netherlands, Kjell Noordzij, Willem de Koster and Jeroen van der Waal explain why the distance these citizens feel from politicians fosters their discontent.
Citizens with lower and higher levels of education essentially exist within different “life-worlds”. They hold different political stances and preferences, for instance on law and order or cultural diversity, but they also engage in different leisure activities, exhibit distinct consumption practices, and have differing levels of familiarity with institutional conventions.
Recent research has highlighted how this cleavage gives rise to recognition gaps, defined by

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Rich against poor: Uncovering the economic dimension of conflict in the EU

18 days ago

The EU’s Early Warning System allows national parliaments to object to proposed legislation. Formally, the objections should be about breaches of subsidiarity – the EU overreaching beyond its competencies. Yet in a new study, Martijn Huysmans and Philippe van Gruisen provide evidence of a substantive, economic dimension of conflict in the system.
A well-known case regarding the EU’s Early Warning System is the yellow card that was issued against the posted workers directive. Such a yellow card is triggered if at least one third of national parliaments object. In the case of posted workers, some of the objections had explicit economic motivations. In their Reasoned Opinions – the formal name of an objection under the Early Warning System – Central and Eastern European countries like

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The EU’s vaccine debacle has revealed its limitations as a strategic actor

18 days ago

The European Commission has faced intense criticism over the slow rollout of Covid-19 vaccination programmes in EU states. Angelos Chryssogelos assesses what the affair tells us about the EU’s aspirations to become an effective strategic actor.
The vaccine crisis, where the EU found itself in a public feud with a pharmaceutical company and facing a diplomatic emergency with the UK over vaccine export controls to Northern Ireland, has raised obvious questions about the EU’s internal governance and vaccination programme. Less obvious, but perhaps more important, however, is what the crisis says about the EU as a strategic actor.
The analogy between health and foreign policy is less far-fetched than it appears at first. Like foreign policy, health is an area of national competence with

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Stability and change: What we learned from the 2021 Catalan elections

19 days ago

On 14 February, Catalonia held regional elections, with pro-independence parties maintaining their majority in the Catalan parliament. Jonathan Parker assesses what the results mean for politics in Catalonia.
The 2021 regional elections in Catalonia saw dramatic shifts between some parties, but confirmed the basic division of Catalan politics into two polarised blocs based on the independence question. While the election offers no clear route out of the region’s impasse, the success of moderates in both camps means that the stalled dialogue process between the Spanish and Catalan governments can continue.
Since the failure of Catalonia’s bid for independence in 2017, there has been increasing divergence between the two largest pro-independence parties. The left leaning Republican

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Contentious politics and policy congruence: How French society responds to Muslims

20 days ago

Issues surrounding Muslims have become a prominent feature of French politics. Drawing on a new study, Steven M. Van Hauwaert and Manlio Cinalli present a novel measure of how views toward Muslims have changed within France, and how government policies have responded to these shifts in public opinion.
Issues related to Muslims play an important role in today’s politics, especially in France, where Republican values and secularism are foundational principles. Much of the scholarly discussion of the topic relates to Muslim migration and integration in its narrowest sense. While such studies undoubtedly have value, other aspects of the study of Muslims remain underexplored. In a recent study, we take a more overarching approach and relate contentious politics surrounding Muslims in

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Debt cancellation by the ECB: Does it make a difference?

21 days ago

Earlier this month, several major newspapers published a letter from more than a hundred economists calling for the ECB to cancel the government debt it holds. Paul De Grauwe argues that even if the ECB did cancel this debt, nothing of substance would change economically for national governments.
The recent publication of a proposal made by more than a hundred economists to cancel the government debt held by the European Central Bank has reignited the discussion about the role of the central bank in supporting the government. The question that many ask themselves is whether this proposal is to be taken seriously. In order to answer this question, it is good to go back to the basics of fiat money creation.
When the central bank buys government bonds, say in the context of

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Next Generation EU: How the EU’s Covid-19 Recovery Fund should be implemented

21 days ago

How can the resources made available through the EU’s Covid-19 Recovery Fund be used most effectively? Drawing on a new study, Riccardo Crescenzi, Mara Giua and Giulia Sonzogno write that it will be necessary for national governments to mobilise resources through the involvement of relevant stakeholders. To reduce the probability of implementation delays, projects should bypass regional governments in those states where delays are more likely, with citizens given direct involvement in the process through participatory procedures led by central governments.
The stability and prosperity of the European Union hinges on its ability to provide timely and effective measures to repair the damage caused by Covid-19 and prepare a better future for coming generations. Member states are now

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Book Review: The Death of Asylum: Hidden Geographies of the Enforcement Archipelago by Alison Mountz

22 days ago

In The Death of Asylum: Hidden Geographies of the Enforcement Archipelago, Alison Mountz explores how the proliferation and normalisation of the island as a site of enforcement and detention is threatening the right to asylum. Drawing on field trips to Italy’s Lampedusa Island, Australia’s Christmas Island and the US territories of Guam and Saipan to show how the enforcement archipelago is resulting in ‘the slow death of asylum’, this book is a critical contribution to current debates on how geography is used by state actors to protect their interests, writes Rémy-Paulin Twahirwa.
The Death of Asylum: Hidden Geographies of the Enforcement Archipelago. Alison Mountz. University of Minnesota Press. 2020.
Find this book (affiliate link): 
Last October, the Guardian revealed that the UK

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Still different? Reassessing Portuguese exceptionalism within southern Europe

24 days ago

Portugal is often cited as an exception to the trend of political upheaval and electoral instability that occurred across southern Europe following the financial crisis. Drawing on a new study, Elisabetta De Giorgi and José Santana-Pereira assess whether this perception holds across three key areas: government composition and stability, the country’s party system, and the political attitudes of citizens.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, southern European countries have gone through a phase of electoral turmoil. This period has been characterised by new (challenger) parties entering parliament and even joining government coalitions, as well as long processes of government formation and, in some cases, the need to repeat elections.
In this context, Portugal has often been

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Why ‘citizen populism’ is unlikely to provide an answer to Europe’s democratic challenges

25 days ago

The rise of online communication has led to a fundamental shift in the way democracy functions. Rudi Laermans and Anton Jäger argue that a central component of modern European democracy is the split between ‘people’s populism’ and ‘citizen populism’. Both variants of populism, though built on radically different philosophies, share a goal of fostering direct links between citizens and policymakers. Yet without effective intermediaries to help facilitate interest formation processes, it is questionable whether these approaches can meet the challenges of the contemporary world.
Are Europeans currently witnessing the death struggle of their party democracy? Judging from recent developments in Belgium, the struggle certainly feels real. Conner Rousseau, leader of the Flemish Socialist

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Paying the price: Why parties that turn their back on civil society face electoral upheaval

26 days ago

Political parties are increasingly confronted with high levels of electoral volatility. Nick Martin, Sarah de Lange and Wouter van der Brug write, however, that even in times of increased volatility, connections between party elites and organised civil society matter electorally. Drawing on a new study, they illustrate how these ties can help to stabilise the electorates of parties on both the left and right.
Political parties are increasingly confronted with high levels of electoral volatility (see Figure 1). Since the 1970s volatility has been rising, leading Vincenzo Emanuele to characterise the 2010s as the most electorally volatile on record. However, some parties have a more volatile support base than others. The Dutch social democratic PvdA, for example, gained 12 percentage

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What the manifestos tell us about the 2021 Dutch general election

27 days ago

The Netherlands will hold a general election on 17 March. Matthew E Bergman presents a comprehensive analysis of what the main parties’ manifestos indicate about the country’s current electoral dynamics.
Voters in the Netherlands head to the polls in just over a month. A childcare allowance scandal brought down the previous government and in recent weeks there have been protests over the imposition of a curfew as a Covid-19 mitigation measure. Despite this, the polls have stabilised. The People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), led by current Prime Minister Mark Rutte, is set to gain seats when compared to the last election in 2017. The opposition nationalist Party for Freedom (PVV), led by Geert Wilders, is also set to gain seats.
Issue diversity in the Dutch party system

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EU member states are mired in internal squabbling over the Covid-19 recovery fund – and more difficulties lie ahead

28 days ago

In December, EU leaders reached agreement on a €750 billion pandemic recovery fund, financed by joint borrowing. However, as Valentin Kreilinger writes, the implementation of the fund has already encountered difficulties in the EU’s three largest states, with more trouble potentially on the horizon.
The EU finally agreed on its next multi-annual budget and a €750 billion recovery fund just before Christmas. In order to receive money, all EU member states must now draft national recovery programmes and submit them to the European Commission by 30 April 2021.
Yet the three biggest member states, Italy, Germany and France, are all facing difficulties as their governments attempt to draft these plans. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was left without a majority when his junior

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