• 23 novembre 2011

    Can Technocratic Government be Democratic?

    The resignations of Papandreou in Greece and Berlusconi in Italy, replaced by technocratic governments, have raised questions about the democracy of technocracy. These questions only gain in intensity when we add the EU Commission’s increasing powers of surveillance of member states’ national budgets, let alone those of the Troika (IMF, European Central Bank, and EU Commission) when it comes to eurozone member states that have had recourse to loan bailouts (Greece) or to the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). The answers to such questions are mixed. Berlusconi's replacement with a technocratic government—precipitated primarily by global market pressures—may actually be a sign of democracy at work. Papandreou's replacement—precipitated by the pressures of the eurozone powers and Papandreou’s own ill-advised gamble on ‘direct democracy’—depends upon how things play themselves out. As for the technocratic governance of the EU, this is where the democracy deficit may be greatest.

  • 4 février 2011

    Energy: Nabucco’s comeback

    Since its launching in 2002, the Nabucco pipeline project has had several lives. Many times it was given as death, but it finally managed to rise from its own ashes. Even though the Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis in 2006 transformed Nabucco into a top priority European project, in the last few years it advanced a little but backed up a lot, resulting in barely concealed mockery. This pattern is true and depicts Nabucco’s situation before the economic crisis. The latter, with its negative effects, brought a breath of fresh air for the European project and its proponents have used it rather wisely. The latest developments in Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are encouraging with regard to the equation of supply sources. It seems that Nabucco is back.

  • 4 novembre 2010

    The 2010 French pension reform

    The 2010 French pension reform has now been passed by the French Parliament, after weeks of protests, strikes and even riots, all of which have aroused incomprehension in foreign media. The headline increase of the “legal retirement age” from 60 to 62 sounded to most pundits a very small step towards the sustainability of public finances when many European countries have already increased normal retirement age to age 67 or even 68. This short piece is not about the reasons behind the acute reaction of the French street – which would encompass much more than pensions. It aims simply at presenting the reform, its likely distributional impact and its effect in terms of financial sustainability. (in French; Italian version on LaVoce, English version to be published on VoxEU).

  • 1 octobre 2010

    Beyond New Labour?

    This week, the Labour Party’s annual conference was marked by the inaugural speech of its new leader, Ed Miliband. The campaign for the leadership of the Labour Party had been perilously close: Ed Miliband only emerged as leader after four rounds of voting. His brother, David Miliband, former Foreign Minister in the government of Gordon Brown, had been the favourite to win the election. Keen to appease the tensions that the campaign had unleashed within the Party, Ed Miliband’s first speech as leader was a reconciliatory affair: the Guardian newspaper warmly described him as staking out the reformist centre-ground, much like Tony Blair had done in the mid 1990s. But what of New Labour? And what future for the British left?