It’s now eight months since Russia took Crimea in response to the Maidan revolution in Kiev. Few at the start of the year forecast how badly East-West relations would have deteriorated in such a small time, and how many innocent lives would be lost.

This situation is going to be seen as a defining moment for the next twenty years. While most European leaders will be gone in the next five years, Putin will remain. And his memory, which is long and holds grudges, will remind him of how, in his narrative, the West betrayed Russia. ...continue reading

Surprisingly Jean-Claude Juncker nominated Lord Hill as European Commissioner for financial stability, financial services and capital markets union, and, obviously we should welcome this. According to David Cameron this “shows that when we campaign and fight we can get our way in the EU”. However, this is not such an important victory to the UK as it has been claimed. ...continue reading

Date: Sunday 28th September 2014
Time: 06.30pm start
Speakers: David Campbell Bannerman MEP (Conservative, Eastern Counties) Sir Bill Cash MP (Chairman, European Scrutiny Committee), Bernard Jenkin MP (Chairman, Public Administration Committee), Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP (Former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Rt Hon John Redwood MP (Chairman, Conservative Economic Affairs Committee).
Location: THE FREEDOM ZONE, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2EP

The recent NATO summit in Wales has variously been described as a meaningful statement of intent or as a lot of hot air. Regardless, the Wales Summit Declaration of 5 September 2014 clearly shows that NATO and the EU are closer than ever, and suggests that the US is now pushing for more EU integration. In combination with Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, it is a gift to the European Commission. ...continue reading

The European Scrutiny Committee has raised concerns over the utility of theDraft Regulation about a framework on market access to port services and financial transparency of ports. The aim of the proposal is to “improve the efficiency and competitiveness of all EU ports” as well as “to contribute towards their ability to cope with increased demand in the transport and logistics sector.” The Chairman of the UK Major Ports Group has also raise concerns over the proposal. Around 47 UK ports are likely to fall within the scope of the draft regulation. ...continue reading

The United Kingdom and Germany plans to limit access for European Union citizens to social benefits

Article 45 TFEU establishes the free movement of workers as one of the fundamental freedoms of the single market. Likewise, Article 34(2) of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights provides that "everyone residing and moving legally within the European Union is entitled to social security benefits and social advantages in accordance with Union law and national laws and practices".

The Treaties confer on EU citizens directly effective rights which are enforceable in national courts and may only be restricted subject to the proportionality principle. Although EU migrants are not automatically entitled to claim benefits in the UK, they can have access to Income Support or Housing Benefits, or to social security benefits, including child benefit, invalidity benefit or contribution-based Jobseekers’ Allowance as UK's nationals. The UK has been working with other EU member states to tighter the rules on access to benefits. However, the Commission is not willing to amend free movement rules for tighter restrictions on access to welfare benefits and other state-funded services for EU migrants and has made clear the EU-treaty-based right to free movement is not up for negotiation. According to the European Commission “the cases of abuse should be addressed on a case-by-case basis and within the existing legal framework.” But the existing EU legal framework does not provide for adequate safeguards to ensure free movement without overburdening member states’s public finances. In fact, despite what the Commission has been saying, the existing system is not working and needs to be reformed. ...continue reading

Euractiv reports: "Interim EU commissioners, elected in July, will receive roughly half a million euros for just four months of work, along with a bonus and pension plan comparable to fully-fledged commissioners. This system needs reform, critics contend." This is absolutely ludicrous particularly when several member states have been applying pay freezes, and cutting pensions, to their civil servants.

Sometimes in history ideologies arise that transcend national borders, such as the anti-Catholicism of the 1600s, or the revolutionary fever of the early 1800s. In recent periods, we have seen the fight against communism and the related battle between Keynesian economics and monetarism.
Yet when the ideological fervour has calmed, it is the nation-state that resurges and fills the vacuum that the ‘idea’ has vacated. The rise of nationalism across Europe is testament to this: as the vacuous European Union struggles from crisis to crisis, so have far-right parties and nationalism across Europe emerged. ...continue reading

Like it or not - and the Kremlin most certainly does not like it - the downing of flight MH17 almost certainly involved Russian equipment, supplied by Moscow, to the rebels in Eastern Ukraine. To a greater or lesser extent, the President of Russia has blood on his hands.
Questions over how much actual control the Kremlin exerts on the ground are valid and remain open, but this tragic event reflects Putin’s breakdown in strategic thinking and lack of direction in what he wants. ...continue reading