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Energy Union: view from Madrid

Following the announcement of the shared Polish-French idea to develop an EU Energy Union, we’ve asked ECFR  staff from Berlin, Rome, Sofia, Warsaw, and Madrid, to contribute to our “View from the capitals” series. How do the different member states view the proposal? Are the governments going to support it? 

The crisis with Russia over Ukraine has got many in Europe discussing measures to lessen European energy dependence on Russia, including a timely proposal for an energy union. In this context debate in Spain has been discussing the country’s potential as a gas supplier to Europe.

Spain does not rely on Russian gas – it imports gas from Algeria and other countries. This, together with its geographical position as a European port of entry, and the fact that it has a number of under-used re-gasification plants, could make Spain an alternative energy supplier to other European

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Brexit: so what?

United Kingdom: a country once admired in the European Union, but now in the dumps. Brexit: the term used for the UK’s exit from the European Union, a real possibility in view of what the polls are saying about the mood of British public opinion. Referendum: an instrument of direct democracy that may turn against its promoters. Tory: a dangerous creature with well-known propensities for ousting prime ministers at the cost of EU policy. Cameron: British prime minister who thinks he can ride a tiger. Blackmail: the perception now dominant in Europe about what defines David Cameron’s EU policy.

Stir up all these elements and you get an idea of the turn taken by the debate on the UK’s possible exit from the EU. I have recently returned from London surprised at the hostility that pervades relations between the British government and the European Union. London has been stumbling forward

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The past as excuse

Indifferent mercantilism. This, according to the bitterest critics, is the paradigm that has dominated German foreign policy throughout the past legislature. The China of Europe, said the angriest, concerned only with selling weapons, purchasing cheap, plentiful energy, asking few questions about democracy and human rights, and turning its back on any responsibility connected with world peace and security.

We often criticise Angela Merkel’s European policy as short-sighted. Remember when the Spanish foreign minister, José García-Margallo, said that Merkel “always arrived 15 minutes late” at the various euro crises? Well, that was perhaps putting it politely when considering the foreign policy of Merkel and her foreign minister in the previous government, the liberal Guido Westerwelle. It isn’t that the train arrived late, it’s that it never left the station. Why this difference

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Art of the impossible

They say that politics is the art of the possible, but in view of the way that François Hollande is twisting and turning, it seems clear we have to turn that one inside out. On being elected, the French president promised to restore the dignity of a left-wing that had been bruised by the years of Sarkozy. Accordingly, on coming to power he hit out at the super-rich, increased social spending, boosted employment policies, appointed as industry minister a man opposed to globalization, legalized homosexual marriage and stepped up the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. While the French left savored this ideological feast, European social-democracy rubbed its hands at what seemed the beginning of an electoral comeback, after a long crossing of the desert. True, the rich, the corporations, the Catholic right and The Economist held their heads in dismay at such radicalism. As an

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Little England

How Great Britain Turned Into Little England could easily be 2014's bestselling essay. Someone just needs to write it. All the ingredients are there: petty politics clothed in grandiose rhetoric; racial prejudice lurking behind the strident proclamation of principles; facile populism exercised in the name of a supposedly threatened identity; cheap demagogy passing for leadership; and the idealization of the past as a project for the future.

We are now in January 2014, a year in which - according to the agitators of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), and eagerly seconded by several prominent members of David Cameron's Conservative Party - the UK will be stormed and overwhelmed by a horde of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants from the continent, knocking the bottom out of the labor market and overcrowding social services.

What is happening to our English friends, who used

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