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COMMENTS 

Migration, the lightning rod of the EU referendum

The EU-Turkey deal should have no role in the Brexit debate, yet it brings the crucial question of the European Union and migration into focus at an inopportune time.
14 April 2016
Uta Staiger
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Starts: Apr 14, 2016 12:00:00 AM

Unsettling times for a settled population? Polish perspectives on Brexit

Many Poles have lived, worked, and settled in the UK for up to 12 years now. Anne White, Professor of Polish Studies at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, says it’s no longer so easy for them to pick up and leave.
14 April 2016
Anne White
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Starts: Apr 14, 2016 12:00:00 AM

Some thoughts on the psycho-geography of Europe’s free movement

Eastern European migration takes place in a very different context than it once did. Eva Hoffman, author and essayist, asks what drives people to leave, and what drives them back again? This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership with openDemocracy.
7 April 2016
Eva Hoffman
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Starts: Apr 7, 2016 12:00:00 AM

Bulgarian PM’s resignation & Public Disorder in Europe

Publication date: Feb 20, 2013 05:28 PM

Start: Feb 20, 2013 12:00 AM

Eric Gordy

Dr Eric Gordy
February 2013

The main difference between public disorder in Bulgaria and everywhere else in Europe is that in Bulgaria the government responded. Although the immediate catalyst for protests was the state’s failure to control growth in the price of electricity, the core causes are shared in every European state: dissatisfaction resulting from the forced dismantling of social support services brought on by the European debt crisis, and a sense that policymakers are orienting their activity not to the needs of the public but to the service of large European banks.

These forces are accompanied by the perception that national governments have neither the capacity nor the will to address the consequences of a fiscal and social policy that are widely seen as imbalanced against the public interest. In Greece, Hungary and Italy the contribution of public dissatisfaction to the rise of antidemocratic movements of the extreme right is already apparent.

While conservative political leaders in the EU, particularly from Germany and the UK (and until last year, France) have largely been successful in pushing for a shift of priorities to debt service and “austerity,” the consequences of this should concern everybody in Europe. In the period after the end of the First World War, there was a similar euphoric and triumphalist announcement that liberal democracy could declare its inevitable victory across the continent.

Inattention to the responsibilities of states to their publics on the part of that generation of liberal democratic elites led to a rapid and general decay of constitutional systems and an accelerating tendency of governments to neglect of social responsibilities.

If we take one lesson from the failures of democratic order in the 1920s and 1930s, it should be that governments that fail to address social needs will be challenged by forces, some of them extremist ones, that promise to do so.