Why TTIP agreement?

One of the hottest issues in the intellectual debate last week is that of the TTIP agreement.
The Economist concedes that economic arguments are not persuasive with respect to this matter. On the contrary, strategic and normative considerations point towards the defence of the agreement. Indeed, the reasons for securing TTIP concern, first, the fact that it will strengthen the alliance between the world’s great democratic powers and, second, the fact that such alliance will have a great impact on the rest of the world, leading other countries to embrace the western view not only on markets, but also on labour and human rights. Rodolfo Helg, Lucia Tajoli e Davide Borsani, on the ISPI website, also emphasize the importance of reinforcing the alliance between the US and the EU. Opposite to this view, Slavoj Žižek on the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, and Nick Dearden on The Independent both warn their readers about the dangers surrounding the agreement. According to them, TTIP puts the legitimacy of the European states at a great risk, by letting big companies interfere with their law making processes.

European pacts

An interesting topic in this week’s debate concerns the weakening of the pacts and agreements grounding the European Union. Paul Mason on The Guardian argues that nowadays Europe is becoming a continent where force matters more than law: there is an increasing tendency to solve political issues by unilateral use of power and not shared agreements. More specifically, Philippe Legrain on Social Europe observes the recurring tendency of member states to evade compliance with treaties and agreements (for example, Dublin and Schengen). He concludes that this is a sign of the disintegration of Europe. Discussing the same facts but drawing opposite conclusions, Barry Eichengreen on Social Europe claims that this “treaties crisis” is precisely what Europe needs to re-build itself. Indeed, this can only be done by a concert of Europe. In particular, Gregor Noll on openDemocracy argues that we even need new treaties to deal with the refugee crisis not only here and now, but also in the long run, as a stable feature of European solidarity.

Dealing with the migration crisis

One of the phenomena shaking the state of the Union is without doubts that of migration. This week’s discussion has revolved around, on one hand, the economic impact immigrants may have on the member states and, on the other, the political strategies to deal with them. Ian Preston, on openDemocracy, argues that economic migration and refugee migration should not be contrasted. Instead, migrants should be allowed to choose the country of destination on the basis of their skills and on the labour market for it may have a positive impact on the local economy. This is confirmed by Rosa Crawford’s research presented on Policy network, in which she connects migration to the realization of a “Social Europe”. Pia Huttl and Alvaro Leandro’s post on Bruegel provides a comprehensive overview of the different positions concerning the economic impact of the refugees in Europe. Political problems arising from migration are highlighted by Michael Žantovský on Social Europe, where he draws a parallel between the suspicion towards European economic migrants moving within the boundaries of the Union and the hostility towards non-EU refugees. On a more theoretical note, prompt by the refugee crisis, Samuel Moyn on Eutopia Magazine, reconstructs the idea of human rights throughout the history of Europe. Merkel’s attempt to strike a deal with Erdogan about containing the flux of refugees was a newsworthy event in this crisis. In particular, David Gardner on The Financial TimesTony Patterson on The Independent and The Economist all share the idea that Merkel’s visit to Turkey was unfortunate and raises critical concerns in light of the European values. However, not everybody agrees with this view: Sir Michael Leigh on EurActiv, defends Merkel’s move by arguing that there was no general sacrifice of principle to get Turkey on board with the refugee action plan.

European welfare

Lively as always, it is the debate about the welfare of the European Union. In particular, Alexander Schellinger on Social Europe expresses the worry that the social dimension of the EU is on the verge of becoming insignificant. This problem is even more acute when German leadership is considered. Indeed, as Daniel Gros writes on Social Europe, Europe’s internal balance of power has been shifting away from Germany, which by losing some of its economic power may lose its political influence in turn. This is problematic with respect to the puzzle of European integration.


This Ideas Monitor is by Giulia Bistagnino and Carlo Burelli


Photo Credits CC: European Parliament

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