Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 07:51:29 AM EST
Eurozine: Social Europe, A Long March? (translated from Esprit, January 2009, by Marc Clément)
When you start to list the building blocks that are missing in the construction of Europe, the lack of a common social approach is certainly one that springs most readily to mind - at least, in France. The recent publication by Jean-Claude Barbier of La Longue marche vers l'Europe sociale [The long march towards a social Europe][1] does have the merit of clarifying and amplifying the actual terms that I used in my first sentence. What do we actually mean when we speak of a "social Europe" and why is it that, when we speak of its place in the construction of Europe, we have to use different terminology for each of the EU countries?

It is not my purpose here to provide a complete survey of Barbier's invaluable study; my intention is rather to show how the line of inquiry that he pursues is essential for anyone who not content with mere slogans and who wishes to find ways for the European Union to extend its social dimension. It seems to me that we should make a distinction between two levels within what may be called "social Europe". There is a weak version and a strong version and each depends on the degree of interdependence and social cohesion that one might imagine to exist between European countries.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:08:18 AM EST
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Social Europe: Where Now for European Political Parties? (by Henning Meyer)
Political parties perform important roles in European societies. Parties are institutions in which citizens with similar political views organise, develop political programmes and actively participate in the political process. They are vital for democracy because parties offer the most clear-cut political choices that are put to the electorate. Parties are also recruitment organisations, through which parliamentarians and members of government are sourced. Even though the latter functions are important, the general effectiveness of parties is closely linked to the first characteristic: their societal embeddedness - the main channel between a party and citizens. And in this respect, political parties have been declining dramatically.

The demise of political parties is not a new phenomenon. Since at least the 1980s, parties in all established European democracies have suffered massive membership losses to the point where they only retain a very limited capacity to engage citizens. The societal anchor of political parties is seriously threatened. Vernon Bogdanor wrote in 2006 that `the story of the rise and fall of the mass political party is one of the great unwritten books of our time'. So why do I pick this rather old problem up again in 2009? Not because I want to write the obituary of the mass political party but because we can now see where the development of political parties might lead us. This potential new future became apparent during the US Presidential campaign.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:11:10 AM EST
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Social Europe: European Parliamentary Elections 2009 - Time for a new Direction (by Martin Schulz)
Europe has been a fascinating idea of peace, stability and social justice. After decades of unstable balance of power systems, disastrous conflicts and two World Wars, a new era in Europe's history began when the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was established. The idea `to create peace through integration' became a reality. Following decades of war, battlefields and deep wounds, the peace project `Europe' arose. Overcoming the fear of war and opening borders between Europe's nation states was the dream of millions of people, which came true. Through the voluntary transfer of sovereignty from nation states to a supranational institution, an integration process started which over the years has evolved further and further. From the 1950 Schuman Plan - the beginning of the integration process - to the 1958 Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundation stone of the single market, and eventually to the single currency, the `monetary non-aggression community' reached a degree of integration, which, if one pauses for a moment, is amazing.

The number of member states has expanded from the six founding states - France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands - to currently 27 member states. Core principles like peace, freedom, democracy, prosperity and social development were extended to Spain, Portugal and Greece after the fall of their dictatorships; later, after the end of the Cold War, these principles were also adopted by the former Warsaw Pact states. The eastern enlargement of the EU eventually ended the artificial division of Europe through the `Iron Curtain'. A war between the EU member states is unthinkable today.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:13:29 AM EST
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theParliament: Guarded response to EU parliament election survey
The survey predicts that the EPP will remain the biggest group after the 4-7 June poll and the Socialist group will fall slightly.

It says the Greens/EFA group will fall from 43 members to 35 while the ALDE group will also lose seats.

The UK Independence Party, it forecasts, will perform badly as will Libertas, the anti-Lisbon treaty group.

Reaction to the study was swift, with EPP leader Joseph Daul saying,"You have to be careful with such surveys but we expect and hope that the EPP will remain the biggest and most influential group."

News from last week, but... today is Mr. Daul's birthday. HBTJD.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:44:11 AM EST
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