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Martens Centre

Rebalancing the Euro Area: A proposal for Future Reform

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Abstract in English: 
Under a monetary union, fiscal and monetary discipline have to go hand in hand if macroeconomic stability is to be maintained. The question is how to set up the right institutions to achieve this stability in a credible manner. This policy brief proposes a new institutional arrangement for the euro area to restore fiscal discipline. It places the responsibility for compliance entirely on the shoulders of the member states. It also provides for the mutualisation of 30% of the member states’ debt-to-GDP ratio.
This would help to maintain a stable currency and to limit the risk of contagion should another crisis occur in the future. However, this comes at a cost. Under the fiscal scheme proposed, member states, which would be fully fiscally sovereign, would need to run long-term sound fiscal policies to benefit from euro membership.
In addition, this brief proposes a reform of Target2 under which overspending economies would have to pay the financial cost of accessing extra euros, which would deter the accumulation of internal imbalances within the euro area. All this is expected to change the current fragility of the architecture of the euro, provide member states with the right incentives to abide by sounder economic principles and make them fully responsible for the policies they adopt.
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20
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25 Years of Spitzenkandidaten: What Does the Future Hold?

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, November 15, 2018
Abstract in English: 
This paper critically reflects on the development and implications of the Spitzenkandidaten system. It makes three claims. First, it argues that, despite the assertions of many commentators, this system did not appear out of the blue in 2014 but has a much longer history. Since the Maastricht Treaty, a series of steps have been taken that have clearly led the way to this outcome and, in fact, may even lead beyond it. These steps, including the role of the European People’s Party, are explained here as they cast a different light on the whole process, without which the success of the Spitzenkandidaten system cannot be properly understood.
Second, the paper claims that, from a political–institutional point of view, the system implicitly promotes the parliamentarisation of the EU architecture and might eventually lead to a stronger EU executive and a weaker European Parliament, as is the case in most national parliamentary systems. This would be the opposite of what many of its supporters would like to see. Third, the paper concludes that, in order to avoid this unintended consequence and fulfil the democratic potential of the Spitzenkandidaten system, the current procedure must be understood as an intermediate step on the road to the direct election of the president of the EU. This, however, requires its success and consolidation in 2019. The paper thus ends with some recommendations that will help to make this happen.
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16
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North Korea IN FOCUS: Towards a More Effective EU Policy

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, September 7, 2018
Abstract in English: 
The EU has an important role to play in the management of the threat posed by North Korea. Indeed, Brussels already has a policy of ‘critical engagement’ towards Pyongyang which combines diplomatic and economic carrots with a number of sticks. This policy, however, is in need of an update to attend to two recent developments on the Korean Peninsula: North Korea’s status as a de facto nuclear power and the flurry of engagement and diplomacy involving North Korea—including top-level meetings with the US, South Korea and China.
In this context, the EU should support its partners, South Korea and the US, as they launch a process that could lead to sustainable engagement with North Korea, denuclearisation, and, as a result, a more stable Korean Peninsula. Working with its partners, Europe should creatively use its power of engagement and cooperation to change behaviour. This will enhance the position of the EU as a constructive actor in Asian affairs, support efforts by the US and South Korea to engage North Korea and, ultimately, offer a better opportunity for the EU to achieve its goals.
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20
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The Long March Towards the EU: Candidates, Neighbours and the Prospects for Enlargement

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Abstract in English: 
Seven consecutive enlargements, spanning over half a century, have provided geopolitical stability in Europe and facilitated trade and economic growth. Currently, the EU is considering further expansion towards the Western Balkans and Turkey. In this process, the EU is weighing fundamental values against security concerns, public scepticism in some member states and past experience of letting in countries that were not prepared.In addition the economic, security and refugee crises are making the EU more cautious about enlarging further. The present paper considers options for further EU enlargement, including ending enlargement altogether, offering a reduced membership status (‘membership minus’) and keeping enlargement alive under strict conditions.It argues for the third option, under which the EU institutions must make sure that candidate countries not only align their legislation with that of the community but also respect fundamental EU values in the economic, political and legal spheres. Giving a viable prospect for membership is vital to enabling the candidates to maintain reform momentum and their attachment to the West. It is also in the interests of the EU and its member states.
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78
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The Future of Global Trade IN FOCUS: Between Multilateralism and Regionalism

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, October 27, 2017
Abstract in English: 


This paper briefly describes how international trade has been transformed in recent years and what has determined its increasing politicisation. It argues that the two main pillars of the global trading system—international trade regulation and the dispute settlement mechanism—are being put under strain due to various developments.

The whole system is being challenged by opposing tendencies: on the one hand, the multiplication of global risks and opportunities demands common action and multilateral rule-making; on the other, we are witnessing increasing fragmentation and regionalisation. The realistic objective that can now be set for the future development of world trade is the preservation of as much as possible of the present system and its improvement in specific areas.
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12
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Education in Europe IN FOCUS: Towards a True Education Area by 2025

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Abstract in English: 
This paper sets out ways to reform European education systems to ensure that they equip Europeans with a forward-looking set of key competences that prepares them for the workplace, but also helps to create a European identity. It argues that education and training—enhanced through mobility, transnational cooperation and structural reforms—are critical to boosting individual, economic and societal resilience; providing both basic and high-level skills and competences; reducing inequalities; promoting entrepreneurial mindsets; fostering inclusive, stable and democratic societies; and making a success of migration and globalisation. Furthermore, education should help to empower young people to engage with and shape the future of a Europe of democracy, solidarity and inclusion. The ultimate goal is to build a true European Education Area by 2025, which would, inter alia, improve students’ mobility, prepare the ground for the mutual recognition of diplomas and boost language learning.
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The Future of Work: Robots Cooking Free Lunches?

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Abstract in English: 
The rapid technological progress in automation, robotisation and artificial intelligence is raising fears, but also hopes, that in the future the nature of work will change significantly. There will be changes in what we do, how we form workplace relations, how we find work and the role of work in a society. Some believe that these changes will be for the better: we will need to work less and thus will have more free time. Others think that the changes will be for the worse: there will be fewer ways to earn a living. The central question of this paper is this: will adages such as ‘By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food’ and ‘No bees, no honey, no work, no money’ become obsolete? Will work disappear and with it the societal relations and inequalities that result from differing success in work? If this is going to happen, what policy options do we have to address the issue?
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68
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Weeding Out Fake News

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Abstract in English: 
Social media are becoming the dominant source of information for significant parts of our societies. There are numerous positive aspects of these media, such as their ability to mobilise for a political cause. Yet at the same time, social media may sometimes negatively impact the public debate. This paper analyses how social media platforms influence democracy in Western countries and makes recommendations on how to address the risks that arise effectively.
Short-term solutions to eradicate fake news include considering social media platforms as full-fledged media companies-thus regulating them through a revised version of press laws which suits new technologies.
The key long-term solution is developing e-literacy among the general public.
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67
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