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The European economy now lies under a shadow - the severe situation of unemployment, stagnation and cutbacks in the welfare state, bringing hardship to millions of Europeans. The magnitudes are impressive. If the 26 million unemployed people in the EU declared their independence, they would be the sixth-largest state in terms of population.
To illustrate this, what country would be better than Spain? There are now more unemployed Spaniards than there are people in Denmark (5.5 million), not to mention less populous states such as Slovakia, Finland and several others. If the 6.2 million unemployed Spaniards decided to secede from Spain and set up their own state, there would be no less than 11 states dwarfed by this hypothetical "Republic of the Dole". Of course, while all these jobless Spaniards lack a political voice of their own, those 11 states of the EU each have a commissioner
Bad news for British Europhiles: the UK Independence Party, a group of bullishly Eurosceptic upstarts, did remarkably well in local elections (and one by-election) this week.
Good news for British Europhiles: UKIP did remarkably well in those elections.
On the face of it the former is correct. UKIP won around 25% of the vote in wards where it had candidates: impressive showing worthy of a major political party. Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor, noted:
"This is the day when those dubbed "clowns, loonies, fruitcakes and closet racists" may find it hard to resist the temptation to laugh in the face of their detractors in the established political parties. It is the day UKIP emerged as a real political force in the land."
This will no doubt increase the pressure on David Cameron from his more Eurosceptic MPs for him to take a tougher line on Europe, with many
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In the follow up to ECFR’s recent European Strategic Cacophony Brief co-author Olivier de France was interviewed by Bruxelles 2’s Marine Formentini about the new French strategic defence review and some of the brief’s main conclusions. The interview originally appeared in Le Club de B2.
It was kindly translated by Laure Taillandier and Sandro Luytens.
MF: So what should a national white paper look like?
OdF: A white paper or strategic defence review is only useful if it frames the strategic goals of the country in light of existing risks and threats. This in turn should help to define and adapt the optimal size and configuration of their armed forces, in light of the most recent geostrategic developments, and within the limits of the funds a country wishes to allocate to its defence.
Strangely, most national white papers in Europe do not fulfill such criteria. That is the
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After months of bad news from Italy, at last we have some good news: Emma Bonino, a committed European and a dynamic force in EU politics for many years (as well as an ECFR board member!), has been appointed the country's foreign minister. With progress on a new government at last being made under Enrico Letta, it looks like Italy is reemerging as a key and credible European Union member state.
Italy will benefit from having a stateswoman with experience and energy. As a former European Commissioner, European Parliamentarian and Europe and trade minister her knowledge of the European system will be a great help to her country at a time of crisis. But more important than that, European foreign policy will get a shot in the arm from having someone with vision, principle and determination taking her place at the Foreign Affairs Council.
Emma Bonino has been a long-term champion of
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He is young and experienced, but - most importantly - he is a truly European. Enrico Letta, 46, the new Italian Prime Minister, is probably the last chance Italy has to avoid new elections. In a country paralysed by stagnation and where enterprises shut down every day, his first address was significant: "austerity measures” he said “have reached their limits." He also quoted President Barroso where he pointed out the urgency to place stronger emphasis on growth, including in the short term.
My bet is that European partners, as well as international markets, will like him. Letta has an old connection to the Union: from 2004 to 2006 he was MEP with the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, sitting in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. At the age of 32 he was Minister for European Affairs under the first D'Alema government (becoming the youngest
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