Shane Fitzgerald

A portfolio of writing on politics and policy in Europe and Asia


Taxing Times for the EU Budget Commissioner

The EU Budget Commissioner, Janusz Lewandowski, yesterday disturbed a placid political August by outlining proposals he will bring forward at the end of September to revamp the way the EU funds itself. Controversy was already anticipated over planned attempts to reform the Common Agricultural Policy and to tinker with the delicate system of national quotas and rebates which determines each country’s share of EU costs. But Lewandowski seems determined to plough ahead with an even more flammable idea, namely that the EU should be permitted to raise its own resources through direct taxation.
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The Choice for Europe – Reform or Decline

The sense of urgency and crisis in Europe over the last few weeks has been palpable. Fears of a sovereign default by an EU member state have been quickly superceded by fears over the integrity of the Eurozone itself. As worrying as these developments have been, it is clear that to blame the current situation on proximate causes such as financial speculation or political prevarication is to ignore a much bigger and scarier picture. Read the rest of this entry »

UK Election Time – The Conservatives and Europe

Despite being a key area of difference between the three main parties, Europe has not become a central issue in the current British election campaign. Yet, for foreign observers at least, this election is fascinating in large part because it could mark a major shift in Britain’s attitude towards the EU. The most radical policies in this area are the proposals of the Conservatives who, despite a dramatic surge in support for the Liberal Democrats, continue to lead in the polls.

The European policies of the Conservatives under David Cameron were announced in November 2009 and have been summarised in a previous IIEA publication. However, as election date approaches it is perhaps worth revisiting those plans and examining in more detail their prospects for implementation.

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A Crisis That Could Go All The Way

In the wake of yet another cautious statement from Angela Merkel on the proposed Greek rescue package, the authors of the Eurointelligence daily news bulletin worry that “this crisis could go all the way.”

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MGQ and Innovation Ireland

How can the EU help build a Smart Economy?

Members of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on European Affairs recently congratulated Maire Geoghegan Quinn (known to a generation of Irish journalists as MGQ) on her appointment as Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science. The appointment has met with a positive response from Irish commentators both because of MGQ’s perceived competence and because of the relative importance of the portfolio, not to mention its “appropriateness” to Ireland’s stated policies and priorities.

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EU Shuns Funds?

Europe is divided over proposals to regulate alternative investment funds.

One of the most controversial elements of the European Commission’s response to the financial crisis has just arrived in the European Parliament, ripe for criticism, debate and amendment. Upcoming sessions of the Parliament and the European Council will grapple with a draft directive, put forward by EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy in April 2009, aimed at regulating the activities of Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM). The AIF Management sector in the EU is substantial, diverse and disproportionately based in a small number of member states (preeminently the UK but also Ireland), so proposals to regulate it were always bound to be politically contested. Indeed, in what looks set to be the latest installment in a long-running feud between the City of London and continental capitals over financial supervision and regulation, protests against the directive have so far been numerous, vocal and sustained. Read the rest of this entry »

David Cameron’s Open Europe Question

The Conservatives face tough choices as they try to settle their European policy ahead of a crucial party conference.

Thirty years after Margaret Thatcher arrived in Downing Street, a newly confident Conservative Party is poised to take over again from a battered and unpopular Labour government. Opposition leader David Cameron’s revival of the Conservatives has been remarkable – turning a party that had been rendered unelectable into what looks like an unstoppable force – but doubts remain both as to what his young team really wants to do and what they can possibly achieve.

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