Region Archives: EU

Bloc Rockin’ Beats – how Scandinavia became the dominant force at the Eurovision Song Contest

UK Votes Since 2009

With parties bitterly divided over Europe, a voting system widely considered unfair, and tactical voting skewing the outcome, it’s clearly that time of year again. The 60th annual Eurovision Song Contest is being held in Vienna following Conchita Wurst’s victory last year in Copenhagen with Rise Like A Phoenix. This year Sweden is the favourite more…

Look over there…a view of the UK election from Ireland

I have never made a secret of the fact that I am no expert on politics outside of Ireland.  I watch elections in other countries in a disinterested fashion.  The systems are strange and I find it gives you an insight into just how bizarre politics can look when you are not involved.  The UK more…

Sinn Fein discombobulated over the European Union

Sinn Fein continues their schizophrenic approach to the EU: Michelle O`Neill has stated that The European Fisheries Fund has made a significant contribution to our commercial fishing and coastal communities… She failed to mention that the UK  has almost 70 per cent of Europe’s fishing grounds but only 13 per cent percent of its fishing quota. more…

Brexit – What will be the cost if the UK exits the EU?

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The German Bertelsmann Foundation with the assistance of the IFO Institute have produced a report attempting to analyse the effects of a UK exit from the European Union.  The report makes sobering reading for all, but particularly people in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The report makes a serious effort to put figures on what has more…

Finland and the Dying Left of Europe

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The Finnish election results available here are the final nail in the Greek coffin and are a lesson for the so-called anti-austerity parties throughout Europe. The core of the next Government will likely come from the rural and small town Centre Party and the less pleasant Finns’ Party, formerly True Finns. The Prime Minister elect more…

“…there is no debate because there can be no debate”

Charlie Hebdo

This from Belfast emigre Robert McLiam Wilson, via Henry McDonald: “I am feeling a touch of shame today. Cancelling such an event in the face of putative menace in a city that endured a 30-year torture of self-immolation seems worse than pusillanimous. Belfast? Seriously? This is not the city I remember. This cancellation says, with more…

Eat Your Children: chasing the lost unicorn of Irish citizen protest #bff15

Eat Your Children

“We’re not Ireland, we will resist” (Greek austerity protest chant) Has Ireland lost its protest mojo? Flatmates Treasa O’Brien and Mary Jane O’Leary bailed out of Ireland to study in London and Barcelona. Partly motivated by the Greek chant and surprised by the contrast behind high profile citizen action in countries like Spain and the more…

Iceland: “but people ask why can’t I pay my mortgage? Why is my salary not going up?”

Whilst everyone else is focused on the tribulations of Greece, I would heartily recommend that if you don’t read anything else today, read this Reykjavik Letter (€) from Peter Geoghegan in today’s Irish Times: visions of Iceland as a Nordic Nirvana – burnt bondholders, jailed bankers, a crowd-sourced constitution – often clash with reality here. The Icelandic more…

So, what place a possible Brexit in Northern Ireland’s elections?

UK Book Launch

There was a time when Europe had a popular political champion in Northern Ireland. John Hume made a successful pitch for one of Northern Ireland’s three European seats in the first directly elected European Parliament, based as much on his personal commitment to developing NI PLC as to any sectarian pitch to nationalist voters. Since then more…

Sinn Fein pull another ‘reverse ferret’ on welfare reform (oh yeah, and Syriza)…

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So what have Gerry Adams and the megalomaniacal (and, let it be said, commercially successful) demagogically simplifying former editor of The Sun Kelvin McKenzie got in common? They are/were both aficionados of the Reverse Ferret. Wikipedia describes it thusly: …used predominantly within the British media to describe a sudden reversal in an organisation’s editorial line more…

Ukraine Crisis: the folly of false historical analogies

The ceasefire in Ukraine seems to be sort of holding. No one, however, seems terribly optimistic that peace is going to come. Certainly there is no sign of the displaced refugees returning home. The conflict has repeatedly been portrayed as a binary good vs. bad situation analogous to the most simplistic of cowboy films by more…

“it looks like they were repeatedly blocked from accessing vital pieces of evidence or pursuing certain suspects…”

The Guardian and Observer’s Berlin correspondent, Kate Connolly, reports on the campaign for justice by the family of Heidi Hazell, the 26-year-old German wife of a British army sergeant, murdered by the Provisional IRA outside her married quarters in Unna-Massen, a Dortmund suburb, on 7 September 1989.  From the Guardian report The following day the IRA claimed more…

In the teeth of an election is Germany finally relenting on domestic austerity?

So, having finally balanced its own budget in 2014, Schaeuble finally seems ready to start re-investing in Germany’s ‘crumbling’ infrastructure: German federal government said on Tuesday that it would spend an additional 5 billion euros (about 5.59 billion U.S. dollars) in the next three years to help local communities improve infrastructure and boost investment. The more…

Jean-Claude Juncker: “[Tsipras] must explain that some of the promises upon which he was elected will not be honoured…”

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As Mick has noted, at the weekend the under-pressure new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras took undiplomatic aim at the governments of Spain and Portugal [But not Ireland! – Ed] in an attempt to explain the outcome of European negotiations to his Syriza party coalition. The European Commission has been quick to step in to act as a “mediator” more…

“…the platform on which Syriza won the recent general election has been significantly reconstructed.”

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What now for “the Syriza experiment“?  The Irish Times reports that the Eurogroup of finance ministers have deemed the Greek government’s list of proposed reforms to be “sufficiently comprehensive” for a four-month extension of the Greek bailout programme which was due to expire on Saturday. In an official statement released after today’s conference call between more…