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EU pesticides regulation: How public support can be rebuilt

2 days ago

The regulation of pesticides in the EU has become increasingly controversial. But what are the views of EU citizens and how would proposed reforms affect public support for EU pesticides regulation? Jonathan Zeitlin, Maria Weimer, David van der Duin, Theresa Kuhn and Martin Dybdahl Jensen outline findings from a survey experiment conducted in six EU member states.
The authorisation and use of pesticides in the European Union have become increasingly controversial and politically salient issues over the past decade. Glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide and the active ingredient in the brand ‘Roundup’, was classified in 2015 as a ‘probable human carcinogen’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), leading to large numbers of lawsuits and high damage

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Book Review: The End of Asylum by Andrew I. Schoenholtz, Jaya Ramji-Nogales and Philip G. Schrag

3 days ago

In The End of Asylum, Andrew I. Schoenholtz, Jaya Ramji-Nogales and Philip G. Schrag offer a new study of the laws, policies and regulations adopted by the Donald Trump administration to severely restrict, if not outright remove, access to asylum. While questioning the book’s positioning of Trump’s treatment of asylum as an anomaly in US political history, Rémy-Paulin Twahirwa finds this accessible book a useful guide to the ‘legal wall’ built under Trump and an invaluable resource for all those looking for an overview of the Trump administration’s immigration-related regulations, laws and policies.
The End of Asylum. Andrew I. Schoenholtz, Jaya Ramji-Nogales and Philip G. Schrag. Georgetown University Press. 2021.
If there is one theme that has marked the passage of financial

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Politicisation and international negotiations: Why delivering on Brexit proved impossible for Theresa May

5 days ago

The Brexit negotiations led by Theresa May ultimately ended in failure for both British and European negotiators. Drawing on a new study, Felix Biermann and Stefan Jagdhuber explain why reaching a workable compromise proved impossible.
Theresa May’s unfortunate tenure as British Prime Minister was undone by her inability to secure parliamentary support for her EU withdrawal agreement. Boris Johnson subsequently led the UK out of the EU with a harder form of Brexit than many had hoped for following the 2016 referendum. But why was a soft Brexit so difficult to deliver?
In a new study, we analyse the EU-UK negotiations between 2018 and 2019 that culminated in May’s resignation as Prime Minister. The negotiations were emblematic of the challenges that political actors now experience

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Lessons from Icesave: How international pressure can produce a nationalist backlash

6 days ago

Iceland held two referendums in 2010 and 2011 on whether the country’s government should insure British and Dutch deposits in the Icelandic bank Landsbanki, which went bankrupt during the financial crisis. Oddný Helgadóttir and Jón Gunnar Ólafsson write that the saga demonstrated how external pressure can foster nationalist discourses and reduce the scope for compromise in international disputes.
A few years ago, the Financial Times argued that Europe was in the throes of a ‘referendum fever’ and that it was ‘delirious for direct democracy’. The continent had just witnessed the Greek ‘oxi’ to a third Eurozone bailout, the surprise of ‘Brexit’, Denmark’s refusal to opt-into European policing and judicial policies, a Swiss vote to restrict European immigration and a Hungarian

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Why the EU’s system of flexible integration will likely accommodate Switzerland’s special requests

7 days ago

On 26 May, Switzerland pulled out of negotiations over a new partnership with the European Union. Stefan Gänzle, Tobias Hofelich and Uwe Wunderlich write that while the rhetoric on both sides is likely to become more heated in the coming months, there remains ample scope for a compromise.
When Switzerland walked away from negotiations on a new partnership treaty with the European Union on 26 May, many observers felt a sense of déjà vu. Shortly after the UK became the first country ever to leave the club, another seems to be heading for a looser relationship.
But what exactly happened? Since 2014, the EU has tried to conclude a framework treaty with Switzerland, attempting to streamline the current patchwork of over 120 bilateral agreements that tie the Alpine republic to the single

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Taking stock of the impact of Covid-19 on Polish politics

8 days ago

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected Polish politics? Aleks Szczerbiak writes that although misgivings about the government’s handling of the crisis contributed to a significant fall in support for Law and Justice, voters will want to quickly move on from the issue if the pandemic subsides. But if the crisis drags on beyond the summer, it could undercut the government’s ambitious post-pandemic recovery plans and exacerbate tensions within the ruling camp.
Poland appeared to pass through the first phase of the pandemic in the spring and summer of 2020 relatively mildly, experiencing low rates of virus-related deaths compared to other European countries. The Polish government – led, since 2015, by the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party – introduced some of Europe’s earliest and

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Have we really seen the last of Pablo Iglesias?

9 days ago

Pablo Iglesias, the leader and founder of Podemos, announced his resignation from politics following the Madrid regional elections on 4 May. Iván Llamazares assesses the impact Iglesias has had on Spanish politics during his short career and asks whether we have really seen the last of him as a political actor.
On 4 May, a few hours after the Madrid polls closed, Pablo Iglesias, leader and founder of Podemos announced that he was leaving all his political responsibilities. His resignation led to a multitude of analyses written by sympathisers, rivals, and open enemies. Beyond these diverging interpretations, there was perhaps a common agreement: the impact of Iglesias on Spanish politics went far beyond the percentage of votes attained by Podemos, the political party that he had

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Book Review: Advanced Introduction to Feminist Economics by Joyce P. Jacobsen

10 days ago

In Advanced Introduction to Feminist Economics, Joyce P. Jacobsen provides an overview of feminist economics, exploring how various areas of economics intersect with feminism. Full of rich references, this book is a treasure trove for those embarking on ‘doing’ feminist economics, showing how it can challenge the prevailing dogmas of mainstream economics with multiple approaches, writes Rajshree Bedamatta.
Advanced Introduction to Feminist Economics. Joyce P. Jacobsen. Edward Elgar Publishing. 2020.
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In Advanced Introduction to Feminist Economics, Joyce P. Jacobsen provides a worldview of feminist economics while negotiating with the question: are feminism and feminist economics fundamentally normative and incompatible with Economics? With a

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Small towns and cities must be given a greater voice in efforts to increase urban inclusion

12 days ago

A number of EU initiatives have been implemented to help make Europe’s urban areas more inclusive spaces for the people who live in them. Yet as Claudio Tocchi, Luciano Scagliotti and Licia Cianetti explain, the bulk of attention has so far focused on large cities. They argue that if the EU is serious about improving inclusion, it must better integrate the voices of small and midsize towns and cities.
The growing political, economic, and social distance between metropolitan areas and ‘the rest’ is now a largely established fact in Europe. This urban-rural divide has been frequently invoked when explaining Brexit, the uneven effects of globalisation, and other recent phenomena.
However, between the global city and the rural village there is a continuum of other urban contexts that do

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When do governments benefit from non-compliance with unpopular EU policies?

13 days ago

When the implementation of EU policies is likely to be unpopular, do governments benefit from non-compliance? Drawing on a new study, Tim Heinkelmann-Wild, Lisa Kriegmair, Berthold Rittberger and Bernhard Zangl write that while non-compliance can be a successful political strategy, it can also backfire and increase the blame attributed to governments.
Governments cannot always control the domestic political agenda. This is particularly true in the multi-level system of the EU, where governments are often unable to block policies that are unpopular among their domestic constituencies.
Forced to implement unpopular policies, governments risk becoming the target of public blame attributions. For instance, when the EU’s fiscal stability rules mandate budget cuts, governments are often

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What France’s civil war warning told us about the French military, Islam, and the far-right

14 days ago

Two open letters warning of a potential civil war have once again put Islam at the centre of the political agenda in France. Joseph Downing argues that instead of viewing French Muslims as a unique threat to the security of the country, politicians and the armed forces would be better served by focusing on France’s secular security problems.
Two open letters discussing the possibility of civil war in France have sent shockwaves through Europe. The letters, written first by retired generals and then by anonymous serving soldiers, have raised questions about whether French President Emmanuel Macron is losing control of the country’s military.
Despite the furore, there are few reasons to worry about the French military. The rank and file remain apolitical and loyal to their jobs.

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Labour hoarding during the pandemic: Assessing the impact of job retention schemes in Europe

15 days ago

Job retention schemes have helped Europe to avoid mass unemployment during the Covid-19 pandemic. Bernhard Ebbinghaus and Lukas Lehner write that while these schemes had an immediate impact during lockdown, the future development and long-term consequences of job retention policies remain uncertain.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, Europe not only faced an unprecedented public health crisis, but also a major threat to employment and earnings. During the first wave in 2020, the employment shock induced by lockdowns was ten times larger than during the Great Recession a decade earlier. Yet in contrast to the United States, Europe experienced only a moderate increase in unemployment since many European welfare states used short-time work schemes to retain workers in formal employment and

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Book Review: Hate in the Homeland: The New Global Far Right by Cynthia Miller-Idriss

17 days ago

In Hate in the Homeland: The New Global Far Right, Cynthia Miller-Idriss explores the places where the far right recruit young people in communities across the US and around the world. From university campuses and Mixed Martial Arts gyms to clothing stores, online forums and YouTube lifestyle channels, the book examines the physical and virtual spaces in which hate is cultivated and young people are mobilised to join violent hate groups. Katherine Williams recommends this accessible and important work to readers who want to broaden their understandings of the intersections between place, space and far-right mobilisation.
Hate in the Homeland: The New Global Far Right. Cynthia Miller-Idriss. Princeton University Press. 2020.
Find this book (affiliate link): 
Hate in the Homeland: The

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The state of Denmark: What voters can tell us about the future of the Danish ideal

19 days ago

Denmark is often held up as an ideal society with a well-functioning welfare state, low levels of corruption, and high levels of social and political stability. But behind this perception, the country is facing up to a number of important challenges. Drawing on a new book, Rune Stubager, Kasper M. Hansen, Michael S. Lewis-Beck and Richard Nadeau explain how voters have responded to key macrosocial challenges since the 1970s and assess where this leaves the future of the Danish ideal.
Of late, Denmark has been much in the political news. During the 2016 American presidential campaign, it became an ideological lightning rod among Democratic candidates, with Bernie Sanders praising Denmark as a role model for American society, a goal Hillary Clinton claimed was impossible. In her

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How the Commission uses the Council Presidency to maintain its influence over EU policymaking

20 days ago

EU policies are set jointly by the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council. But which of these institutions has more power to determine final policy outcomes? Drawing on a new study, Philippe van Gruisen and Christophe Crombez show that even though the Commission has lost powers with subsequent Treaty changes, it remains a powerful player in EU policymaking.
The distribution of legislative power in the EU is a well-researched topic among economists and political scientists. Legislative power is usually referred to as the ability of an actor to determine policy outcomes. In the EU, policies are collectively decided by three institutions: the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council. But what are their relative powers to shape EU policies,

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Who wants to buy a visa? Comparing the uptake of residence by investment programmes in the European Union

21 days ago

Residence by investment programmes are available in several EU countries. These programmes grant visas in return for investments in specified areas. Drawing on a new study, Kristin Surak examines the uptake of these programmes across the EU, the characteristics of applicants, and the nature of their investments.
Who wants to buy a visa? The spread of so-called golden visa programmes over the past decade has raised many questions about these opportunities to gain a residence permit – for those who can afford it. All one needs to do is park around €250,000 or so in a specified investment area – usually real estate, bank deposits, or government bonds – and go through a standard application process, which can take just a few weeks. Spouses, children, and sometimes even parents can be

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Lessons from Junqueras: How ECJ decisions can increase opposition to the EU

22 days ago

Decisions taken by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) can generate substantial political debate, but do they help foster Euroscepticism? Stuart J. Turnbull-Dugarte and Dan Devine present evidence from a study of attitudes in Spain following an ECJ ruling on the case of the Catalan politician Oriol Junqueras in 2019. They find that those exposed to the ruling were 6% more likely to be Eurosceptic and 13% more likely to be dissatisfied with the way democracy works.
Eurosceptic parties, regardless of their ideological colours, are largely united in signalling the EU as a threat to national sovereignty. Concerns over ‘meddling’ Europe have long been a staple in the rhetoric of Eurosceptics in the UK and the promise to ‘take back control’ has undoubtedly become the campaign slogan most

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Testing Ronald Inglehart’s ‘value change’ theory with the manifestos of western European parties

23 days ago

Ronald Inglehart’s ‘value change’ theory states that as countries develop and meet the material needs of their citizens, the views of their voters should increasingly come to be shaped by ‘postmaterial’ concerns. Using manifesto data from 1990 to 2019, Federico Trastulli tests whether this principle also holds for the platforms of political parties. He finds that with the exception of green parties, western European parties still place substantially more emphasis on material issues in their manifestos.
One of the many contributions of Ronald Inglehart, who passed away on 8 May, was the theory of ‘value change’. This posits that as advanced industrial societies increasingly meet the material needs of their citizens, the values, attitudes, and political opinions of these citizens will

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Brexit was a warning sign for the integration process – the EU must reshape itself as a project for the ‘left behind’

26 days ago

The agreement reached between the UK and the EU in December last year was billed as the final act in the Brexit saga. Yet as Uğur Tekiner writes, there is still much that remains uncertain about the future UK-EU relationship and the impact of Brexit on the EU.
The world may be plagued by the Covid-19 pandemic, but it was not long ago that a different issue dominated the headlines across Europe: Brexit. Following the end of trade talks between the United Kingdom and the European Union at the end of last year, the dust appears to have finally settled, with both sides in the process of adjusting to the post-Brexit era. But have we really reached the end point in the UK and the EU’s relationship?
Despite being portrayed as a largely internal matter for the UK, Brexit stands as a

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Could the South Tyrol model bring peace to Nagorno-Karabakh?

27 days ago

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan spans several decades and led to a war between the two nations at the end of 2020. Roland Benedikter examines whether South Tyrol in northern Italy might offer a viable model for establishing lasting peace in the region.
The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh appears intractable to many observers. Nevertheless, in the aftermath of the latest war in 2020, there are now some (limited) prospects for peace, building on diplomatic initiatives from the OSCE as well as individual states such as Russia.
One approach to conflict resolution that has frequently been cited in relation to Nagorno-Karabakh is the so called ‘South Tyrol model’, inspired by the predominantly German-speaking autonomous province

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How radical right success changes the political discourse within a country

28 days ago

How does the success of a radical right party affect the rhetoric of other political parties? Drawing on a new study, Vicente Valentim and Tobias Widmann assess how the rise of the AfD in Germany influenced the speeches made by other German politicians. They find that far from adopting the rhetoric of the radical right, politicians from other parties were more likely to express positive emotions to distance themselves from the AfD.
Radical right politicians have experienced increasing success in recent years in various countries around the world. One characteristic of these parties is their distinct way of communicating. They are known for their negative – and at times even offensive – rhetoric which draws on emotions such as anger, fear, or disgust. But what are the implications

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Why is Poland’s economy emerging so strongly from the pandemic? A comparison with the UK

28 days ago

Poland has managed to avoid the same level of economic damage experienced in other European countries during the pandemic. However, as Paweł Bukowski and Wojtek Paczos write, contrary to government claims of able stewardship, it is good fortune, prioritising GDP over health, and restrictions centred more on personal than on economic freedoms that explain why Poland has so far remained relatively unscathed.
In 2020, Poland’s GDP contracted by “only” 3.5%, significantly less than the OECD average of 5.5%. In the UK, this figure stood at a staggering 9.9%. While unemployment rates have soared across Europe, the official Polish figures have hardly budged, and are the lowest in the EU according to the latest Eurostat figures.
We should keep in mind that the Polish economy was also

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The EU’s recovery funds should be released when Europe’s economies can reopen

29 days ago

The Covid-19 vaccine rollout in some EU member states may interact with the effective use of grants and soft loans from the EU’s 672.5 billion euro pandemic recovery fund. Renato Giacon and Corrado Macchiarelli write that with national spending plans for the recovery fund still awaiting approval, the next challenge for policy-makers will be to ensure that funds are released as economies reopen. Special attention will need to be paid to Central and Eastern Europe, where some countries are lagging behind in their vaccine rollout and preparation for their use of the recovery funds. This is likely to be an important test for the EU’s institutions and will help determine the stability of the European project.
Almost a year since the French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor

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Are experts back in fashion? Four scenarios concerning the contestation of expertise in the European Union

May 17, 2021

There has been substantial political debate over the last decade about the role of experts in policymaking. But how are these trends likely to develop in future? Drawing on a new edited volume, Vigjilenca Abazi, Johan Adriaensen and Thomas Christiansen set out four distinct scenarios concerning the future role of expertise in policymaking within the EU.
The Covid-19 pandemic has once more brought the role of experts in policymaking to the centre of attention. Instead of a general consensus on the importance of science-based decisions during a pandemic, we have witnessed persistent challenges to scientific knowledge, including by top elected officials. In this era of disruptive politics and global transformation, understanding the role of expertise and its future constitutes a key

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Underfunding is linked to high COVID-19 mortality in Spanish nursing homes

May 17, 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on those living in nursing homes. Joan Costa-Font, Sergi Jimenez-Martin and Analia Viola find evidence that regional variation in nursing home fatalities during the first wave of the outbreak in Spain was associated with proxies of underfunding. Other explanations include coordination failures between health and long-term care, and between central and regional governments.
In Spain, 87% of Covid-19 deaths have been among individuals aged 70 years and above. A large number of fatalities have occurred in nursing homes. Around 13% of all nursing home residents in Spain died from the virus in the first wave of the pandemic. This figure rises to 22% of nursing home residents over the age of 80.
Certainly, not all countries were

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Book Review: The Filing Cabinet: A Vertical History of Information by Craig Robertson

May 16, 2021

In The Filing Cabinet: A Vertical History of Information, Craig Robertson presents a history of the storage and circulation of documents in early-twentieth-century US offices, showing how the filing cabinet reconfigured office architecture, working conditions and the very definition of information. Revealing the unspooling consequences of the adoption of the filing cabinet by US business, this enjoyable and well-presented book will particularly appeal to researchers exploring media materialism, writes Sam di Bella. 
The Filing Cabinet: A Vertical History of Information. Craig Robertson. University of Minnesota Press. 2021.
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Where things go affects what they are. With its enamelled sides and partitions, the filing cabinet reconfigured office

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Assessing the potential of the European Universities Initiative

May 14, 2021

The European Universities Initiative is a new framework for collaboration between universities in the European Union. Andrew Gunn reflects on the first few years of the initiative and assesses how it might help shape the future of European higher education.
The idea of a European University is as old as Europe’s political union itself. A supranational university was first mooted in 1948, and various proposals were discussed amongst the founding members in the early years of the European Community. However, none of these proposals came to fruition, owing to a lack of consensus amongst member states over what form it should take.
These discussions identify what would be an enduring fault line running through the European political project: is it about economics and trade or culture

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Nationalist citizens are more likely to be Eurosceptic – but patriotism appears to increase support for the EU

May 13, 2021

Citizens with a strong attachment to their country are often assumed to be more likely to express opposition to the European Union. But is this always the case? Drawing on a new study, Leonie Huddy and Alessandro Del Ponte identify a clear difference between citizens with ‘nationalist’ attitudes and those who are ‘patriotic’. While nationalism is associated with an increase in Euroscepticism, patriotism appears to increase support for the EU.
Is nationalism on a collision course with the European Union? The emergence of successful right-wing neo-nationalist parties hints at this possibility. The German AfD, the French National Rally, the Danish People’s Party, the True Finns, the Italian Lega Nord, and others variously oppose free movement within the Schengen zone, a single

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Big dreams and small steps: Understanding regional policy networks and what they achieve

May 12, 2021

Regional networks have been established across Europe to help improve the delivery of public services. But how effective are these networks at fostering innovation? Nicolette van Gestel and Sanne Grotenbreg present findings from a study of regional networks involved in labour market policy in the Netherlands. They show that despite a variety of partnerships being established, new and bold solutions to complex problems remain scarce.
In many western countries there are high expectations of regional networks in policy areas as diverse as healthcare, energy supply or security. In such regional networks, government is supposed to develop partnerships with private and non-profit parties, to develop solutions to societal problems that have broad support and commitment. Generally speaking,

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How Jean-Claude Juncker and Pierre Moscovici laid the groundwork for the EU’s post-Covid fiscal policy

May 12, 2021

The EU’s fiscal rules, which state that governments should run budget deficits no higher than 3% of GDP and maintain a public debt no higher than 60% of GDP, have been suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic and there are now growing calls for them to be reformed or abandoned altogether. Drawing on a new study, Frédéric Mérand documents how Jean-Claude Juncker, Pierre Moscovici and other figures within the European Commission laid the groundwork for this paradigm shift in EU fiscal governance.
On 23 March last year, European Union finance ministers used an escape clause to suspend the fiscal rules of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), which limit public deficits to 3% and public debt to 60% of GDP. Since then, a €750-billion recovery plan has been agreed, the chorus of voices

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