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COMMENTS 

Defining a new political contract for the EU

The EU is faced with the challenges of fashioning practices and institutions that reconcile the conflicting demands on political representatives from their international partners and their domestic constituents. This has been particularly manifest in the eurozone recently, but it reflects a deeper challenge which also concerns non euro-area members such as the UK.
Prof Albert Weale (UCL SPP)
19 March 2015 More...

Starts: Mar 19, 2015 12:00:00 AM

Don’t let the Paris murderers win

Professor Laborde warns against the reactivist response to the Paris murders: they misunderstand the role played by free speech and by laïcité. Further, they allow criminals to set the term of the debate on how to better facilitate Muslim integration if France.
Professor Cécile Laborde
26 February 2015 More...

Starts: Feb 26, 2015 12:00:00 AM

Britain and EU reform

Piet Eeckhout revisits the question of EU reform, including different options for and legal as well as political constraints of such reform.
Professor Piet Eeckhout
20 January 2015 More...

Starts: Jan 20, 2015 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.