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Centre for European Reform
The Centre for European Reform is a think-tank devoted to making the European Union work better and strengthening its role in the world. The CER is pro-European but not uncritical. We regard European integration as largely beneficial but recognise that in many respects the Union does not work well. We also think that the EU should take on more responsibilities globally, on issues ranging from climate change to security. The CER aims to promote an open, outward-looking and effective European Union.

Centre for European Reforms

Time for a regime change in Frankfurt

In recent years, the European Central Bank’s (ECB) monetary policy has been half of what is necessary, two years late. To get eurozone inflation back to its ‘close to 2 per cent’ target, the ECB needs to be much bolder. The ECB’s meeting on March 10th is shaping up to be one of its most anticipated. Inflation remains far below target and market expectations of future inflation have hardened at very low levels, indicating that investors have lost confidence in the ECB’s ability to fulfil its...

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The refugee crisis: Fixing Schengen is not enough

Solving the problems of the Schengen area will not stop Europe’s refugee crisis. This is a foreign policy crisis with domestic spill-over; it has to be solved abroad as well as at home. In January, the European Commission gave Greece three months to improve its border controls, and process refugees and migrants more effectively, or face suspension from the borderless Schengen area. Border controls have been reinstated by six of the 26 Schengen states (Austria, France, Denmark, Germany, Norway...

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Deal done: Now for the hard work

David Cameron did better than expected at the marathon Brussels summit. But his package of reforms will sway few voters, so he must now make the case for the EU itself.Once David Cameron had won the May 2015 general election, and announced an EU referendum before the end of 2017, he was always going to find it hard to fulfil his pledge to achieve significant reforms to the Union. The final phase of the British renegotiation proved particularly tortuous. But on the night of February 19th a...

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Would an ‘independent’ Britain want to join the single market?

Three economic rules mean that Britain would seek to join the EU’s single market if it were not already a member. Both sides of Britain’s EU debate claim the mantle of free-traders. Pro-Europeans emphasise the potential loss of access to the single market if Britain quits the EU. Outers point to the EU’s declining share of world trade, and the opportunities that might arise from signing free trade agreements with countries outside Europe, without having to find consensus with 27 other states....

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China’s European charm offensive: Silk Road or Silk Rope?

The UK should not imagine that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s October visit means it now has a 'special relationship' with China. The visit was just part of a Chinese charm offensive aimed at the EU. Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UK from October 20th-23rd had every possible element of flattery and friendship. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said before the visit that the UK was China’s “best partner in the West”. Xi told a joint session of Parliament that China and the UK...

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Merkel after Paris

In spite of speculation that the German chancellor’s refugee policies may be her downfall, Merkel’s relatively open and liberal stance on refugees makes it easier for her to respond robustly to the attacks in France through security and foreign policy.  For years, Angela Merkel’s personal popularity ratings have been stratospheric and her Christian Democratic bloc (CDU/CSU) has had a robust lead in opinion polls. But during the refugee crisis, Merkel’s relatively open stance has led to her...

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Terrorism in Paris: Aux armes, citoyens?

Western indecision in Syria has allowed Daesh to grow strong, and enabled it to attack Europe. The Western response must be resolute abroad, and subtle at home, if it is to defeat Islamist extremism.Sometimes an event occurs that should create clarity of purpose and lucidity of priorities. The Paris attacks are such an event. The tragedy must galvanise European and international support for a co-ordinated offensive against Daesh. Yet questions remain about how best to deal with terrorism at...

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In-work benefits for EU migrants: How the British government dug itself into a hole

The UK could make both Britons and EU migrants wait four years before having access to in-work benefits, but the ECJ might still rule it illegal.Today, David Cameron gave a speech and sent a letter to Donald Tusk, the European Council president, setting out his EU reform demands. Most of the reforms are not surprising, and compromise is achievable. But Cameron appears to be upping the ante on his key demand that is most difficult to achieve: that immigrants from the EU should be denied...

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25 years on: How the euro’s architects erred

A quarter of a century after the euro’s conception, the flaws in its design have become apparent. EU leaders have fixed some of them but the euro needs better policies in order to be a successful currency.It is almost 25 years since European finance ministers, meeting in Rome in December 1990, launched an ‘inter-governmental conference’ on Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Their work emerged a year later as the Treaty of Maastricht, which set out a roadmap for creating what became the euro....

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Changing the guard in Poland but not much change for Cameron?

In Sunday’s general election in Poland, voters decisively rejected the previous centre-right coalition government in favour of Law and Justice (PiS) – a party which is socially conservative but economically left-leaning. Its electoral victory is likely to lead to a departure from the country’s consensual style in the EU. Among other things, this could complicate the prospects for agreement on how to deal with the refugee crisis in Europe. It could also threaten the hopes of the British...

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