Saturday 28 February, 12 noon
Please note time and venue.
We shall meet at 12.00 – opening time. There is a room reserved upstairs.
The Victory Inn
6 Duke St, Brighton BN1 1AH
Informal discussion meetings are held in the centre of Brighton.
Do come and talk European issues and politics with us.
In February the starting point for discussion was the crisis in the €urozone forcing the newly elected government in Greece to adjust to new economic conditions. How far did the process imply new developments for EU structures? Discussion spilled over into concern about EU involvement in the Ukrainian crisis and the risk of provoking rather than avoiding Russian intervention in other areas. At previous recent meetings we inevitably revisited the question of the dramatic deterioration in relations between Britain and the EU, reflecting the comment made by George Osborne on BBC Radio 4 on 3 November: “The EU does not work for Britain!” The previous month we had discussed examples of how the European Parliament has been influencing the new European Commission. It followed from an earlier hard look at President Juncker’s new European Commission, testing how federalist, streamlined, collaborative and gender balanced it was expected to be. This was a logical follow-on to the topic at our meetings in May and June following up some implications of the recent European Parliament elections, and discussing the “Spitzenkandidat” exercise – the process by which individual party groups in the EP had put forward candidates for Commission President, an exercise which seemed to have raised more problems than democratic solutions. Back in March we started with trying to assess the implications of the recent visit to the next president of the European Council alongside the elections in May for the European Parliament. It was hard to avoid talking about the crisis in Ukraine where the tensions in a fast-moving situation needed to be seen against a complex historical background.
At the first meeting of 2014 the topic was “How federal is the EU“. The major institutions were initially in focus, considering to what extent they were ‘federal’ or alternatively ‘inter-governmental’. The Single Market had already established a measure of federalism, while it was thought that the €urozone needed clearer federal direction. Discussion soon diverted into supposing that current UK government electoral rhetoric was negative while much British influence in Europe had been co-operative. There was speculation that one motive for Scottish (and possibly Welsh) demands for independence was to sustain the obvious benefits of their EU membership.
During the previous year’s sessions we discussed EU-US relations and earlier the EU’s “common” foreign policy (CFP) and whether it had recently failed in the case of Syria. The discussion had soon spilled over into the need to understand the irrevocably divided nature of the Moslem world, apparently divided between religious factions and between traditional values and the contemporary world. Further back a discussion topic had been More power to the European Parliament ? The EP had set out a 274 page “wishlist” of areas where it would like more influence. One of the clear implications was whether this would mean more or less democratic involvement.
Do suggest future topics for discussion.
If you would like to come and take part please let us know by e-mail. This will get you on to the regular e-mailing list with topic information nearer each meeting. Alternatively, just come along!
Do suggest topics for discussion during the current season.