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Brexit? “Not in my name. Never!”

Ideas on Europe Blog - Thu, 01/02/2024 - 13:23

Seven months after the advisory-only EU referendum, 114 brave MPs passionately spoke and voted AGAINST triggering Brexit.

Chris Bryant, Labour MP for the Rhondda, was one of them.

Along with 46 other Labour MPs, he defied the 3-line whip imposed by his then party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and voted AGAINST the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.

From 31 January to 1 February 2017, MPs debated whether to support the Second Reading of the Bill to give the then Prime Minister, Theresa May, the go-ahead to notify the EU of the Article 50 notice-to-leave.

With the support of 182 whipped Labour MPs, the government overwhelmingly won, with a total of 498 MPs voting FOR the Bill, and 114 MPs voting AGAINST.

(The government didn’t need Labour’s support to win the vote, but Labour’s endorsement gave a boost to Theresa May’s Brexit – a Brexit which, at that stage, had no assessments, no details, no plan, and only the endorsement of a mere 37% of the electorate).

Most Parliamentarians before the referendum were against Brexit.

But the referendum result cowed most MPs into supporting Brexit, even though the referendum was supposed to be an advisory poll only.

The referendum itself was a deeply flawed exercise, not only because just 37% of the electorate supported Leave – a percentage which wouldn’t have been sufficient for Brexit to have gone ahead in many other democracies across the world.

But there were also other flaws in the democratic credentials of the referendum result – such as that half the countries of the UK, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, along with Gibraltar, voted strongly to remain in the EU.

In addition, many people directly affected by the outcome of the referendum were refused a vote.

They included around three million citizens from the rest of the EU who had settled in the UK, and over three million Britons living in other parts of the world who were promised a vote, but then the Tory government broke that pledge.

Not to mention that every reason given to leave the EU was based on misleading information, as many more voters now realise and agree.

Today, some seven years later, even some of those 114 MPs who voted against triggering the Article 50 notice-to-quit now accept and support Brexit.

But the public does not.

Polls consistently show that a majority of voters consider Brexit to be a mistake, and they would now vote to rejoin the EU.

Isn’t it time to put this back to the people?


  • Watch 2-minute video of Chris Bryant’s anti-Brexit speech


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Categories: European Union

24/2024 : 1 February 2024 - Judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-251/22 P

European Court of Justice (News) - Thu, 01/02/2024 - 09:37
Scania and Others v Commission
Cartel on the truck market: the Court dismisses Scania’s appeal

Categories: European Union

23/2024 : 31 January 2024 - Judgment of the General Court in case T-745/20

European Court of Justice (News) - Wed, 31/01/2024 - 09:46
Symphony Environmental Technologies and Symphony Environmental v Parliament and Others
Law governing the institutions
Products made from oxo-degradable plastic: the General Court endorses the prohibition on the placing on the market

Categories: European Union

Ken Clarke: The anti-Brexit hero

Ideas on Europe Blog - Tue, 30/01/2024 - 20:53

From 31 January to 1 February 2017, MPs debated the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill on whether to trigger Brexit – the Article 50 notice.

MPs overwhelmingly backed the bill, supported by the Labour leadership under Jeremy Corbyn, by 498 votes FOR, to 114 AGAINST.

Ken Clarke was one of the 114 MPs. He was the ONLY Tory MP to vote against triggering Brexit.

He felt that remaining in the EU was in the country’s best interests, and as an MP, he considered it was his duty to vote accordingly, and to defy his party’s 3-line whip.

He had never felt beholden to the referendum result and in his brilliant speech, delivered with hardly a glance at his notes, he lucidly and persuasively explained why.

Ken Clarke, former Chancellor and leadership contender, is a traditional Tory who – unlike contemporary Conservatives – strongly backed Britain being a member of the European Community.

For over 50 years, he said, his party – the Conservatives – was in favour of the European Union. That suddenly changed, however, on 23 June 2016 with the referendum vote.

But he had not changed in his conviction.

He concluded:

“I personally shall be voting with my conscience content in this vote.

“And when we see what unfolds hereafter as we leave the European Union, I hope the consciences of other Members of Parliament remain equally content.”

How could any MP who voted for Brexit remain content today, witnessing the enormous damage that is now unfolding as a result?

Ken Clarke is a pro-EU hero. He put his country above his party. For hundreds of years into the future, he will be judged as being on the right side of history.
  • Watch 10-minute video, ‘The Anti-Brexit Hero’


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Categories: European Union

UACES Chair’s Message — February 2024

Ideas on Europe Blog - Tue, 30/01/2024 - 16:36

Dear Colleagues,

As you’ll know, the UACES office is going through some changes. I will be writing to you shortly to introduce our new Executive Director, but in the meantime I want to give our collective thanks to Melina Dieckgräber, our Digital Communications Manager.

Melina joined four years ago, when we were about to do some significant work on our online and communication presence. Of course, it  turned out we were also about to be spending a lot of time working from home, thanks to Covid. Melina not only adjusted with aplomb, but helped UACES to navigate the online world in ways that continue to enrich our work and (we hope) your experience. Add to that her excellent work in and around our events and it’s clear we’ve had a colleague who’s been a great part of the office and our community.

Melina will be taking up a new post as Communications Manager at Newcastle University, where we wish her the very best in the next stage of her career. She will be moving to the position in mid-February.

Stepping into a new role as Digital Communications and Marketing Officer, I’m delighted to welcome Katie Kilbourne, who many of you will get to meet at our conference in Trento or at the Graduate Forum Conference in Amsterdam in June. Katie’s got lots of experience from the charity sector, and as a European Studies graduate provides us with a handy example of all those transferable skills we teach our students!

And since we don’t do our office staffing changes by half, I can also welcome Sinclair Scotchmere as our new Finance Officer. Sinclair will be working remotely for the office, handling various financial functions, so you probably won’t get to meet him, but you may well see his name around our financial documents.

Ollie Pilkington isn’t left out in all this change, with a new title of Events & Membership Manager to reflect some growth in his responsibilities.

At which point I run out of people in the office. As always on these occasions I am reminded that UACES is exceptionally fortunate to have uniformly brilliant people working for us: I might get the glamour of writing a Chair’s message, but without the people managing and running all the things that you read about in this newsletter that would be meaningless. My deep thanks to the entire team, whether they are coming, going or staying.

Prof Simon Usherwood, UACES Chair

The post UACES Chair’s Message — February 2024 appeared first on Ideas on Europe.

Categories: European Union

22/2024 : 30 January 2024 - Judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-442/22

European Court of Justice (News) - Tue, 30/01/2024 - 10:06
Dyrektor Izby Administracji Skarbowej w Lublinie
VAT fraud: Employee using her employer’s details to issue fake invoices is liable for the amount of the taxes entered on them

Categories: European Union

21/2024 : 30 January 2024 - Judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-255/21

European Court of Justice (News) - Tue, 30/01/2024 - 10:05
Reti Televisive Italiane
Freedom of establishment
Hourly limit for television publicity spots: promotional announcements for radio programmes broadcast on television channels belonging to the same corporate group are not, in principle, announcements about those television channels’ own programmes

Categories: European Union

20/2024 : 30 January 2024 - Judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-118/22

European Court of Justice (News) - Tue, 30/01/2024 - 10:04
Direktor na Glavna direktsia "Natsionalna politsia" pri MVR - Sofia
Area of Freedom, Security and Justice
Right to erasure: the general and indiscriminate storage of biometric and genetic data of persons convicted of criminal offences, until their death, is contrary to EU law

Categories: European Union

19/2024 : 30 January 2024 - Judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-560/20

European Court of Justice (News) - Tue, 30/01/2024 - 10:01
Landeshauptmann von Wien
Area of Freedom, Security and Justice
A recognised unaccompanied minor refugee has the right to family reunification with his or her parents even if he or she reached the age of majority during the family reunification procedure

Categories: European Union

The EU’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine: Invoking norms and values

Ideas on Europe Blog - Mon, 29/01/2024 - 16:44

by Giselle Bosse (Maastricht University)

The EU’s response to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022 has been unprecedented, displaying rare unity among its member states, especially during the first four months following the invasion. The EU agreed on far-reaching economic and financial sanctions, the most severe sanctions ever imposed by the EU on a third country. The EU also provided military support to Ukraine through the European Peace Facility for the first time in its history. In another unprecedented move, the EU has implemented the Temporary Protection Directive, granting Ukrainian nationals and permanent residents the temporary right to live and work in the EU. Moreover, Ukraine and Moldova have been offered EU candidacy status. The EU’s rapid and determined response was unexpected in many ways, given member states’ previously diverging interests vis-à-vis Russia and on security and defense, significant differences on migration, and their general reluctance to expand the Union, or even grant candidate status to applicant countries. In my recent article in JCMS, I examine how the EU’s forceful response on such high-salience and contentious issues can be explained.

What we do(n’t) know so far about the EU’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine

The emerging scholarly debate recognises the unexpected and unprecedented rapid and determined response by the EU to the invasion, but few works examine the factors that facilitated agreement among member states. The main driver of the EU’s response is seen to be the sheer fact of a full-scale military invasion launched on the European continent, and the resulting threat to the fundamentals of European security. Yet, security considerations did not drive the EU’s responses during the first four months following the invasion. The EU’s most powerful member states Germany and France, whose role is considered essential to EU joint action by realist scholars, did not initially perceive the invasion as a direct threat to their national security and were later absorbed in domestic discussions on redefining their national foreign policy, which curtailed their ability to drive the EU’s response.

Approached from a different angle, the EU’s forceful response was possible because of a collective commitment to norms linked to international law and the principles of sovereignty and self-determination. Scholarship on the EU’s response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea demonstrated that, back then, member states accepted the political and economic costs of sanctions against Russia due to such a collective commitment. These norms were clearly visible again in 2022, as the EU has emphasised Ukraine’s ‘territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence’. However, in contrast to the EU’s ‘soft’ response to Russia’s war against Ukraine in 2014, which did not include broad economic sanctions against Russia, the EU’s response in 2022 was tougher and cost member states substantially more.

Which additional factors may have led the EU to a more rapid and determined response in the first four months following the invasion?

How the EU’s response to the war in 2014 influenced the EU’s response in 2022

Against this background, my article asks in what kind of changed context the EU’s 2022 decisions became meaningful and rational, allowing for agreement to emerge among the member states on a set of unprecedented measures. The article contends that, given the dramatic change in context following the 2022 Russian invasion, key understandings, rationalities and norms invoked by the EU in response to the 2014 war took on new or fundamentally different meanings in 2022, inter alia propelling key actors in the EU to admit to previous misjudgement with regards to justifying policy choices in 2014. In short, I argue that in order to fully understand the EU’s response in 2022, it is essential to look back at how the EU reacted to the Russian war against Ukraine which started back in 2014.

How the ‘rupture’ of the Russian invasion led to changed understandings, rationalities and norms forging consensus among EU member states

The article examines the main lines of argumentation used by key EU actors involved in decision-making on the EU’s responses to Russia’s war against Ukraine in 2014 and 2022 respectively, drawing on 18 semi-structured interviews with high level diplomats from EU member states, the European Commission and the European External Action Service between January and September 2015, and between June and November 2022.

The empirical analysis shows how key understandings, rationalities and norms invoked by the EU in response to the 2014 war took on new or fundamentally different meanings in 2022. For example, in 2022, there was a recognition that 2014 marked the begin of a continuous Russian war against Ukraine, in contrast to the understanding in 2014 that the events presented ‘not a war as such’. The argumentation in 2014 included that any solution to the ‘conflict’ must avoid the risk of escalation by Putin while peace being ‘worth a try’. This argumentation also embedded a number of speech acts vis-à-vis Russia, such as threatening tougher sanctions or isolation in case of further escalation, committing the EU to some further course of action in the event that Putin would choose to further escalate the ‘conflict’ to a war or full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

On this basis, and recalling the need to stay credible in light of the EU’s previous warnings against further escalation by Russia, the European Commission in 2022 successfully generated agreement among member states in favour of tough sanctions. That agreement was inter alia facilitated because the a priori rationality underlying the dominant approach used in 2014, centred on ‘not provoking Putin’ and ‘giving diplomacy a try’, was invalidated by the 2022 invasion. In addition, an invocation of duties towards suffering fellow-Europeans in Ukraine, and the re-conceptualisation of the EU’s spatial identity to include Ukraine as ‘one of us’ (as opposed to the framing as ‘European neighbour’ used in 2014) enabled those actors arguing in favour of unprecedented measures to gain the ‘higher moral ground’ in discussions among the member states.

This is not to deny the clear limitations of the EU’s response in terms of military support or guaranteeing Ukraine’s eventual EU membership. However, considering the EU’s previous enlargement fatigue and that Ukraine is neither (yet) a member of the EU or NATO, the EU’s invocation of moral duties towards Ukraine does constitute a significant change compared to the EU’s previous approach.

Outlook: The gradual withering away of ‘lessons learnt’ and EU moral duties towards Ukraine?

Since June 2022, EU member states have shown increasing signs of disagreement and subsequent sanctions packages have been ‘softened’ by numerous derogations. The decision to open accession negotiations with Ukraine (and Moldova) in December 2023 demonstrated the EU’s continued commitment, but also exposed divisions between the member states, which have also delayed the promised €50 billion funding programme for Ukraine. It remains to be seen in how far the ‘lessons learnt’ in 2014 and the EU’s moral duties towards Ukraine as ‘one of us’ will still play a role in EU foreign policy-making as the ‘rupture effect’ of the Russian invasion gives way to ‘Ukraine fatigue’, amid declining support for Ukraine by European publics, and with the EU’s attention shifting to the Israel-Gaza war.

Giselle Bosse is Associate Professor and Jean Monnet Chair in EU External Relations at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Maastricht University. Her research focuses on the EU’s Eastern Partnership, EU relations with Ukraine and Belarus, EU democracy promotion and the role of norms and values in EU international relations.

The post The EU’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine: Invoking norms and values appeared first on Ideas on Europe.

Categories: European Union

The 8 Steps to Genocide

Ideas on Europe Blog - Mon, 29/01/2024 - 14:39

Many think it couldn’t happen here, but please watch my video and then, think again.

A year before the EU referendum, I gave a speech at a media conference in Germany. The topic was how some newspapers and politicians in Britain are spreading hatred and lies about migrants and refugees.

I cited the ‘8 Steps to Genocide’ compiled by Genocide Watch and asked if Britain was on Step Three, defined as:

‘One group denies the humanity of the other group.’

I hoped to be wrong.

But today, Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, calls refugees “illegal”. As did all the previous Conservatives Prime Ministers of this millennium.

Conservative Home Secretaries refer to them as an invasion. Katie Hopkins referred to them as cockroaches.

British newspapers – not all, but many – have spent years demonising migrants, whether they’re so-called ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’, embedding a nasty culture of xenophobia into the DNA of the nation (which for sure led to Brexit).

The Daily Mail published a despicable MAC cartoon with an angel apologising to the recently deceased TV star, Cilla Black, for the long queue into heaven caused by ‘illegals.’

They are not ‘illegals’. No human is illegal. They are mostly desperate refugees fleeing from war, torture, and subjugation.

Of the estimated 117 million displaced people in the world today, only a relatively tiny number risk their lives, at huge cost, to get here in makeshift boats. Most often they have compelling and heartbreaking reasons, such as that they already have family here.

Instead of addressing a world-wide refugee crisis, our political leaders prefer to turn the other way and send those refugees away, to yet another unsafe country. But that solves nothing.

If the European Court of Human Rights once again rules against deporting refugees to Rwanda, the government has threatened to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, putting all our human rights at risk.

Claims that ‘legal’ migrants are taking British jobs and reducing wages are entirely unfounded. The truth is that Britain needs millions of migrants because we have millions more jobs than Britons to do them.

Today, I feel Britain is heading in the wrong direction. If we might have been on Step 3 in 2015, on what step is Britain now?

My post here does not in any way suggest that genocide is or will happen in the UK, only that the steps to genocide can be insidious and that, as stated in my video of 2015, the UK might already be on Step 3 of ‘The 8 Steps to Genocide’.  

This is primarily because of the way migrants and refugees are so degraded by the Press and the UK government. Of course, as I stated in my speech, I hoped to be wrong.

Step 3 of the 8 steps does not refer to genocide happening, only how the demeaning of one set of people could lead us in the wrong way. This is a warning from history that we must be careful.

Let’s remember that we may think genocide can only happen somewhere else. But if we not are diligent, it can happen here too.
  • ‘The 8 Steps to Genocide’ – 13 minute video. 

After the Second World War, during which many millions were systematically, industrially, gruesomely murdered in the worst genocidal crime against humanity, the earnest, global, unison cry was, ‘Never again’.

Those two words summed up the sincere, solemn feeling and resolve of a world shocked, numbed and reeling from the discovery that so many had been so callously rounded up and brutally murdered in what we now call the Holocaust.

Not for anything they had done. But simply for who they were.

Mostly Jews, but also gypsies, homosexuals, the disabled…and others, many others.

Millions. Murdered. With the goal to wipe them out. Men, women, children, babies. Mass murdered. Destroyed. Deleted.

Never again. That was the response. Never again. Never again.

In acknowledgement of the most horrific war and genocide the planet had ever known, the world rallied to find a way forward so that such wicked crimes against humanity could never happen again.

The United Nations. The International Court of Justice. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The European Convention on Human Rights. The European Union.

All established in direct reply to the war, and all to achieve the same aim: peace.

This was the resolve of those who endured and survived the terrible atrocities of the fascist regimes that blighted the planet during the long years of war and madness.

Never again. Those were the words of our parents, our grandparents, our great grandparents.
That was the intent of the planet’s leaders following the eventual crushing of the world’s barbarous enemies. Never again.

Fine words. But utterly meaningless unless enforced.


Since the end of the Second World War, the words ‘never again’ have been cast in stone and stamped on our memories. But the atrocities that the post-war generation so sincerely wanted to prevent happening again, have happened again. And again.

Churchill described the mass murders of the Nazi death camps as, ‘A crime without a name’. But it now has a name. It’s genocide.

And it’s a name that’s in frequent use because it’s a crime that’s too frequently committed.

  • 8-minute video: ‘Why Britain joined the EU’


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The post The 8 Steps to Genocide appeared first on Ideas on Europe.

Categories: European Union

The AI Act in perspective - Fri, 26/01/2024 - 08:48
As the AI Act’s text is finally consolidate, we tried to put the landmark law in a broader perspective with Luciano Floridi, leading expert in AI ethics and Founding Director of Yale’s Digital Ethics Center.
Categories: European Union

German support for EU corporate due diligence law in doubt - Fri, 26/01/2024 - 08:46
Germany's support for a law requiring firms in the European Union to take action if they find their supply chains in violation of human rights was thrown into doubt after one of its ruling parties sided with business groups opposing the proposal.
Categories: European Union

Industrial pollution costs 2% of Europe’s GDP: EEA - Fri, 26/01/2024 - 08:29
Industrial pollution costs the equivalent of  2% of the European Union's economic output each year, though the impact has declined over the past decade, the bloc's environmental agency said Thursday (25 January).
Categories: European Union

US Senate struggles to clinch border deal, Ukraine aid at stake - Fri, 26/01/2024 - 08:24
Bipartisan US Senate talks on a border security deal that some have set as a condition for further Ukraine aid have hit a critical point, lawmakers said on Thursday (25 January), though the chamber's top Democrat said the negotiators would continue to push forward.
Categories: European Union

Trump opens up lead over Biden in rematch many Americans don’t want - Fri, 26/01/2024 - 08:08
Donald Trump leads Democratic President Joe Biden by six percentage points in a Reuters/Ipsos poll that showed Americans are unhappy about an election rematch that came into sharper focus this week.
Categories: European Union

EU slams Belarus after fresh mass arrests - Fri, 26/01/2024 - 07:45
The EU and US slammed Belarus Thursday (25 January) for a series of political raids this week, as rights groups said more than 150 people were detained or interrogated by the KGB security service in a single day.
Categories: European Union

EU centre-right clashes over qualified majority voting - Fri, 26/01/2024 - 07:35
In today’s edition of the Capitals, find out more about French far-right leader Marine Le Pen questioning her alliance with German far-right party AfD, Poland's ruling parties divided on abortion law, and so much more.
Categories: European Union

Croatian MP calls to reinstate quotas for third-country workers - Fri, 26/01/2024 - 07:22
Far-left Croatian MP Katarina Peović called for the reintroduction of quotas for third-country workers on Thursday as the number of immigrants working in low-paid jobs has risen sharply in recent years.
Categories: European Union

EU centre-right clashes over qualified majority voting - Fri, 26/01/2024 - 07:22
Internal discussions in the EU’s centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) – the largest political family in Europe – saw an “unsettling” exchange about the drafting process of its EU election manifesto, Euractiv has learnt.
Categories: European Union