Exclusive interview: Albanian progress on its path towards EU membership

 By Xhoana Shehu

The recent acceleration in the Western Balkans’ path towards EU membership results from the window of opportunity opened by the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council, as the South Eastern country is highly supportive of the EU perspective of the region, due to the regional linkage they have. Indeed, after the 6-months Bulgarian Presidency, the Western Balkan region is back in the spotlight and is most likely going to stay in the center stage during the Austrian Council Presidency, starting at the end of June, since the country is also friendly to the region.

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Scenario: who could take over EU’s top posts in 2019?

2019 is surely going to bring a large shake-up to the EU system. Next year we will see the first EU elections without the British and an increasingly fragmented European Parliament, as new political movements like Macron’s En Marche and the Italian 5 Star Movement are set to pose a serious challenge to the traditional parties. As a result, the allocation of top EU posts will be a more complex operation than ever before. Continue Reading

Survey results: What will happen in 2019 – pivotal year for the EU?

The findings of our latest survey among EU professionals reveal interesting expectations regarding the changes to take place in 2019. The EU affairs community largely expects the EPP to win the elections next year, but also to be the first political family to propose a leading candidate for the elections (spitzenkandidat). Eurosceptic forces are expected to stand strong, despite the departure of the British UKIP. Continue Reading

Winners and losers of the EP Plenary January 2018

The Politics behind EU Policy Making

Energy, environment and fisheries are three of the areas where the EU Parliamentarians have made key decisions during the first EP plenary of 2018. As always, we kept track of who voted for what, who won and who lost. This report highlights the most controversial issues, the oddest voting behaviors of MEPs and the strangest bedfellows occurred during the January part-session. Continue Reading

Could Macron join ALDE?

‘‘European Liberals seek champion for upcoming elections’’ would not be out of place among the latest job openings on the website of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). For the European centrist family, it is indeed crucial to lead a decisive campaign in 2019 to gain weight on the European stage and to finally emerge as a leading force rather than remaining stuck between the right-leaning EPP and the left leaning S&D. Continue Reading

German political crisis: what next?

The recent breakdown of the negotiations for a new coalition in Germany took many stakeholders by surprise. As our pre-elections report published in June had already predicted, putting together a coalition between the Christian Democrats, the Liberals and the Greens is a painstaking operation. The abrupt end of the preliminary talks showed that there are still limitations to political engineering, as the positions of the Greens on most issues are still too far from the ones of their potential coalition partners. Continue Reading

What future for the ALDE group: the internal divisions and the potential transformations of the kingmaker of the EP

Because of its central position within the political spectrum, ALDE/ADLE is currently the main kingmaker in the EP. The positions adopted by this political group are often decisive in swinging the outcome of votes, when the two largest groups (EPP and S&D) are in disagreement. For example, this is often the case with regards to environmental policy, where the two largest EU political families are backing different regulatory approaches. Continue Reading

Vote on labour policy highlights political and national differences

Brexit will lead to a decrease in the support for a more flexible labour market across the European Union. In fact, over the decades, the British government opposed several EU initiatives aiming at stepping up worker protection, as they implied higher costs for businesses as a whole. The debates regarding the flexibility of the labour market have long haunted the different European institutions, which constantly hesitated about the positions they should adopt while trying to satisfy countries with heterogeneous views on the question. Continue Reading

France: the decline of traditional parties and the rise of internet-based movements

The results of the French elections are yet another historical event in a very short time interval: for the first time since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958, the two major political parties have been voted out of the race in the first round, something inconceivable until recently in a “politically conservative” country like France.

More broadly, the  French elections seem to be confirming a trend that we’re seeing elsewhere, ie. Continue Reading

How will the new French President impact on EU’s future? (Report)

The two major traditional political families that have structured French politics in the past few decades are in their death throes. Neither the Socialist Party (social-democratic) nor the Republicans party (centre-right) are assured of being in the run-off. This development generates high unpredictability with regard to the policies of the next French government, at a time of deep distress for the EU. Continue Reading