EUROPEAN THINK-TANK REVIEW – VIII. (March 2014)

Written by | Thursday, March 13th, 2014
European Values

Free Movement in the EU: Promoting Mobility Not Migration
Roderick Parkes (The Polish Institute of International Affairs)

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, has alleged that the current regime of free movement encourages benefit tourism. He mentioned the problem of the exploitation of benefits by foreign worker for their families not living in the UK, while referring specifically to Polish migrants. His statement triggered a wave of outrage in Warsaw and some voices in Poland suggested that the problem is definitely not one-sided. The free movement of people within the EU can, for example, lead to the brain-drain and demographic decline in the eastern part of the EU. British pressure on the revision of the treaties with the aim to remove the benefits for non-resident family members will reduce mobility and cause permanent migration. The withdrawal of these benefits will not result in limited labor migration but it will force whole families to move abroad.
Because of the free movement debate, Central Europe came into the center of attention and Poland became the leader of the coalition of new Member States. Although Poland has been the key player for a while, its rise was spurred by some factors (eg. the tension between East and West has been transformed into the North-versus-South division), whereby the hotly contested free movement debate could ultimately turn these factors against Poland. There is a need to bridge the chasm between the West and the East, which is artificially fed by the UK government’s rhetoric, and join forces to create a functional and flexible system of mobility and exchanges. Poland must pass on three clear messages to its western neighbors: first of all, it needs to remind them that all Member States are struggling with this system and it is necessary to overcome the current status quo; secondly, Poland needs to stress that it supports mobility and not migration; the third and final message is that the mobile workforce is poor and powerless but ambitious and productive.
(The study can be uploaded here: http://europesworld.org/think-tanks/free-movement-in-the-eu-promoting-mobility-not-migration/#.UyCgnM4SOvM)

Campaign Spending and Electoral Systems Have a Major Impact on the Outcomes of European Parliament Elections
Laura Sudulich (London School of Economics – European Politics and Policy Blog)

The more money candidates spend on election campaigns, the greater chance they stand to be elected to the European Parliament (EP). While this hardly comes as a surprise, what is however interesting is that the election results are influenced by the type of electoral system from which the candidate comes from.
The author of the study used the data from the EP elections in 2009. She calculated that on average a candidate spent around 18,000 euros on the campaign, but those who really wanted to succeed had to spend much more. The successful candidate spent an average of 60,693 euros compared to 14,337 euros that was on average spent by unsuccessful candidates. Yet, while the role of money is surely important, even more important is the position of the candidate on the party list.
Elections to the EP must be based on proportional representation, but there are different variants of electoral systems that meet this condition. Several of the largest states in the European Union, namely Britain, France, Germany and Spain, use the closed candidate lists. This system does not allow for using a preferential vote for any candidate, whereby the result of each candidate is determined only by the result of the party.
Another method is a system of using preference votes. These can be either very weak, such as in the case of the Netherlands, Slovenia and Austria, or they can be are stronger, such as in Italy, Luxembourg and Finland. A weaker variant has similar consequences as a closed candidate list. Open candidate list has a stronger impact on preferential votes and somewhat encourages candidates to finance their campaigns more.
At the first glance, it might seem that these differences in the setting of electoral systems significantly affect the effort and resources that candidates invest in their campaigns. However, in her research, the author finds a positive correlation between the costs of a campaign and the candidate’s success in a closed candidate list as well as an open list of candidates. The electoral system does not matter after all since the candidates’ campaign moves the whole party into the center of attention and the candidates closer to be elected to the European Parliament.
(The study can be uploaded here: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2014/01/06/campaign-spending-and-electoral-systems-have-a-major-impact-on-the-outcomes-of-european-parliament-elections/)

Egypt’s Unsustainable Crackdown
Anthony Dworkin a Helene Michou (European Council on Foreign Relations)

The Egyptians has recently voted in a referendum for a new constitution. The Egyptian army, which removed the first democratically elected president from his post some six months ago, is trying to create the impression that the country is headed in the right direction toward freedom and democracy. However, it would be wrong to assume that this path will Egypt out of its problems and soothe deeply divided Egyptian society.
Egypt is under the firm control of the army that dethroned and brutally crushed the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters. The Egyptian authorities are apparently trying to remove this  section of society from political life for good. Declaring the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization means that people associated with the Brotherhood will not be allowed to play a role in the public life of Egyptian society.
However, this development can only lead to protracted instability and unrest. Economic and social problems that have convulsed Egypt can only be solved on the basis of a broad social consensus, which would give space to dissidents and critics of the current situation. The European Union should not be deceived by the positive picture that Egyptian leadership is trying to present, while it should also not be discouraged by the impression that it lacks the means to affect political developments in Egypt, which now seems to be at the similar point in history as during the reign of Hosni Mubarak. Instead, the EU should establish a long-term political vision and aim at reconciliation between the two poles of Egyptian society.
The EU should also cooperate with the future Egyptian leadership in matters of common interest, such as security, migration and economic development, but at the same time it must maintain a critical distance. It is necessary to emphasize that stability can not be achieved through repression of political dissent. On the contrary, these practices will only lead to an unending cycle of violence, whereby the country’s political system should guarantee all citizens to be able to express their different political opinions.
(The study can be uploaded here: http://ecfr.eu/publications/summary/egypts_unsustainable_crackdown303)

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