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Germany votes: what does Poland think?

This is the first of a series of blog posts looking at how the German elections are being viewed by some of its EU partners. 

The Polish-German relationship has proved to be counter-cyclical during the euro crisis. While most countries, most notably those in the South, looked at the German hegemon in an increasingly critical way, there has been a remarkable rapprochement between Warsaw and Berlin. The new community of interests between Warsaw and Berlin has rested on two major components. First, Poland supported the German narrative of the crisis as a debt crisis (as opposed to the Anglo Saxon reading, focusing on macroeconomic imbalances and the institutional deficits of the eurozone). Poland’s new found economic stability was seen as further supporting evidence for Berlin’s insistence that structural reforms and austerity are the key to economic success: Poland took similar

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A less German Europe?

The recent announcement by Wolfgang Schäuble that " there will have to be another programme in Greece" blew some fresh air into the lazy electoral campaign in Germany in which Europe has not yet played any significant role. Although no major controversy over Europe is to be expected in the last five weeks before the vote on 22 September, Schäuble’s declaration fuels the debate about the next government’s European policy. After the tacit concession that the austerity policy has not proved to be a success, another German dogma – no more bail-outs! - seems to be falling apart. Are we observing the decline of the “German Europe”, built so painstakingly by Berlin during the years of crisis?

In fact, the concept of a German Europe is not so much a description of a new EU reality as it is an expression of concern about the state of the debate and the European spirit in Germany. True, in

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The eurozone has emerged from recession, no thanks to austerity

Finally, the recession in the eurozone is over: for the first time for almost two years, the region's GDP has grown again in the second quarter of this year. What is more, leading indicators point to a continuing recovery through the summer and autumn, albeit at a rather muted speed.

While German politicians in particular are now claiming that the recovery is a result of "consistent stability-oriented policy", closer scrutiny shows that this claim is not very plausible. Instead, the turnaround can be directly traced back to a reversal in two important areas of macroeconomic policymaking. First, Mario Draghi's decision from the summer of 2012 to make the European Central Bank to a de facto lender-of-last resort for embattled government. Second, the gradual relaxation of austerity policies in the euro area.

Since the onset of the euro crisis in 2010, policymakers have tried in vain

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The local politics of #letbritaindecide

If there was one clear message from the “New political geography of Europe” collection of essays that I edited last year with Jan Zielonka, it’s that all EU politics is local (or at least national). That, of course, is exactly how British attitudes to Europe have appeared to those on the other side of the English Channel for many years. Today there is another example of just that: the second reading of a “Private Member’s Bill” in parliament, proposing an “In/Out” referendum on Britain’s EU membership by 2017.

First, a very short explainer of what this means. The bill was put forward by Conservative MP James Wharton, who says it would give the British people “a real choice” within a “sensible timeframe”, following a hoped-for renegotiation of the UK’s EU membership. The bill echoes a promise by Prime Minister David Cameron for such a referendum should the Conservative Party win an

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Berlin notebook: a placebo for Europe’s youth

Angela Merkel has invited European labour ministers to come to Berlin and discuss youth unemployment. This is despite last week’s European summit having youth unemployment as a central issue - but Berlin, of course, is the new Brussels. (And what about Vilnius? After all, Lithuania has just taken over the EU presidency.) What better evidence could there be that the EU Summit was clearly a low profile gathering, showing a lack of both ambition and answers.

Factually, the EU’s Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), which aims to support young people in regions with a youth unemployment rate above 25 percent, will become fully operational by January 2014, and the €8 billion allocated to this in the multi-annual budget will be frontloaded in 2014-2015).

The EU will promote mobility among young job-seekers through the “Your First EURES Job” programme, which aims to help some 5,000 people

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