Sunday 8 January 2012

"The European Citizen" - Three Today!

The European Citizen has now been going for three years! This year has been the quietest so far on the blog, even if it's been packed full of crises in the real world. Still, some of 2011 in the EU has been reflected here.

First, there was the long-awaited Irish election as the government collapsed over the need to go to the EU and IMF for loans to keep the country running. Along with Stephen Spillane, I helped follow it here and on with a blogging round-up series. The new governing parties have come up with a lot of constitutional reform ideas, and with the new constitutional convention coming up this year, delivery will be a key issue. Internationally, the EU was taken by surprise (like everyone else) by the Arab spring.

In the UK one of the most memorable debates was over prisoners' voting rights and (suggested from some quarters) withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights. I backed the loosing side in the AV referendum in April: British ethusiasm for First Past the Post is still confusing for me, though perhaps I just grew up in a different political atmosphere (Northern Ireland/Ireland), where the (proportional) Single Transferable Vote would have to be pried from voters' cold, dead hands (what voter would want to give up the power proportional representation gave them?). I also blogged about the debate on parliamentary sovereignty in the UK Parliament and what the difference is between a free trade area and the common market. But then it's sometimes hard to understand what kind of Free Trade the Tories believe in...

Citizenship was a big issue legally in the Court of Justice in Luxembourg - with the Zambrano case promising a new approach, before the law was cruelly reversed (if it ever had been changed) in McCarthy. This was probably the most legal I got all year! Old, more political chestnuts returned, like debates on European democracy and the values of referendums on the EU.

Barroso delivered his Commissarial Speech in September, showing just how much the EPP have shifted leftwards (or at least, how far their leaders have) - this was perhaps symbolised by the revival of debate around a Financial Transaction Tax. I also followed the PES and attended their Re:New conference (You can read my posts here, here, and here).

The year's end highlighted the two central questions we'll face this year: how many member states will join together and integrate further (sparked by the UK's veto and it's effects), and what kind of Eurozone do we want - and how will the left respond to the New Fiscal Compact?

This year I hope to be a bit more active - it looks like there'll be plenty to cover.

Hope you've a good 2012!