European Council on Foreign Relations

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Europe needs a new grand bargain

The crisis has fundamentally transformed the economic and political landscape. Europe has been divided between creditors and debtors, also between euro countries and the rest. Divisions run deep within countries as well, as inequalities rise further and there is a growing disconnect between politics and society. The austerity forced upon debtor countries has had devastating effects: they have lost sizeable chunks of their income and unemployment has skyrocketed, especially among the young, offering the chilling prospect of a lost generation. Admittedly, those countries had lived on borrowed time and money for too long.

Some people believe or hope that the worst is now over. Markets are getting euphoric once again, countries are beginning to emerge out of painful adjustment programmes and economic recovery is getting stronger. Others, however, are less optimistic. They remind us

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In Europe we mistrust

chart data trust in the EU - data in the text belowSource: author's elaboration based on Eurobarometer data


This month’s European elections are different, but not in the way that the EU’s official campaign would have us believe. From 22 to 25 May approximately 390 million citizens will vote in the midst of the worst crisis in EU’s history with trust in the EU at an all-time low (as the graph above illustrates).

Since the onset of the crisis, mistrust in European institutions has spread like a virus, explained over a year ago in ECFR’s policy memo “The continent-wide rise of Euroscepticism”. A common explanation for this trend lies in claims that declining trust in the EU merely reflects lower levels of trust in member state governments. This claim however, is not entirely coherent. Whilst trust in national institutions amongst key member states in the South is indeed low, this is not true of all states. Mistrust in the EU,

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Fixing Europe

The word on the streets (or at least in the offices) in Brussels seems to be that the euro crisis is over, and that now all that is needed is a patching up job to make sure things do not happen the same way again. But are those who say it's over really just being complacent, and does that mean that something more fundamental than a patching up job is needed?

John Peet, the Europe editor at The Economist, and a great friend of ECFR, has co-authored a book that examines exactly these questions (with Anton La Guardia, The Economist's Charlemagne columnist). The book is called "Unhappy Union: How the euro crisis – and Europe – can be fixed", and it carries some blunt words for those that the authors believe are being rather too complacent about Europe and the euro crisis.

We've put together a couple of podcasts exploring the ideas in the book, following a Black Coffee Morning in

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Security shapes European Parliament elections in Poland

'The Eurosceptic Surge and how to respond to it', a new policy brief by Mark Leonard and José Ignacio Torreblanca, is available to read online or in e-book format.

Click here for more 'Views from the capitals' blogposts

A few months ago, a defeat of the ruling Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) seemed to be the most likely outcome of the European elections. After seven years in power Tusk’s government and party has lost much of its appeal through its inability to convince people about their sense of direction and propose new ideas for the country’s modernization.A Civic Platform defeat in the European elections would boost the chances of the national-conservative Law and Justice party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) in the parliamentary elections to be held in 2015.While a victory in 2015 for Law and Justice would be limited by their struggle to form a coalition, it would

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European elections: the view from Berlin

'The Eurosceptic Surge and how to respond to it', a new policy brief by Mark Leonard and José Ignacio Torreblanca, is available to read online or in e-book format.

Click here for more 'Views from the capitals' blogposts

"The political debate in the AfD never ran between liberals and conservatives […] The dividing line runs between the middle classes, liberals and conservatives, and the German national reactionaries. It runs between modernity and anti-modernity, both in the imagination of society as well as of the role of nation-states.” This characterisation of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), Germany’s most popular Eurosceptic party, comes neither from a critical commentator nor from a political rival. The quote is taken from an open letter written by Thomas Rang, a founding member of the AfD in North Rhine-Westphalia and the longstanding chairman of the party’s

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