Old certainties about the inevitability of democratic progress are as much under threat from illiberal populists in established democracies as from brittle coalition governments that try and hold the centre. While representative democracy remains the best available form of government, and the one preferred by most EU citizens, satisfaction with how it plays out varies greatly across the continent. Among the perceived weaknesses are high levels of political corruption, low resilience to disinformation, and out-of-touch governing elites.
Yet there is some hope that direct channels for citizens to express their concerns and preferences, fact-based deliberation in representative bodies and robust mechanisms to hold governments to account can help save European democracy from the onslaught of populism.
This volume draws together the Towards a Citizens’ Union project proposals into a framework reflecting the four cumulative criteria used by modern political theorists to assess the health of a democracy: inclusion, choice, deliberation and impact. Its expert contributors offer pragmatic ideas to strengthen representative democracy at both the national and EU level.
Deliberative Democracy in the EU: Countering Populism with Participation and Debate is part of the Towards a Citizens’ Union (2CU) project co-funded by the EU’s Erasmus+ Programme. It is the product of collaboration with 20 renowned think tanks from the European Policy Institutes Network (EPIN). This third and final volume follows the first two in the series, Direct Democracy in the EU: The Myth of a Citizens’ Union, and Representative Democracy in the EU: Recovering Legitimacy.
Edited by Steven Blockmans, Director ad interim at CEPS and Professor of EU External Relations Law and Governance at the University of Amsterdam, and Sophia Russack, Researcher at CEPS’ Institutions unit.
Each year the Global Risks Report works with experts and decision-makers across the world to identify and analyze the most pressing risks that we face. As the pace of change accelerates, and as risk interconnections deepen, this year’s report highlights the growing strain we are placing on many of the global systems we rely on.
The Global Risks Report 2018 is published at a time of encouraging headline global growth. Any breathing space this offers to leaders should not be squandered: the urgency of facing up to systemic challenges has intensified over the past year amid proliferating signs of uncertainty, instability and fragility.
This year’s report covers more risks than ever, but focuses in particular on four key areas: environmental degradation, cybersecurity breaches, economic strains and geopolitical tensions. And in a new series called “Future Shocks” the report cautions against complacency and highlights the need to prepare for sudden and dramatic disruptions.
The 2018 report also presents the results of our latest Global Risks Perception Survey, in which nearly 1,000 experts and decision-makers assess the likelihood and impact of 30 global risks over a 10-year horizon. Over this medium-term period, environmental and cyber risks predominate. However, the survey also highlights elevated levels of concern about risk trajectories in 2018, particularly in relation to geopolitical tensions.
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Europe’s post-crisis recovery has been disappointing in comparison with the USA. But lower rates of inequality are staving off populism and bolstering support for globalisation. With the USA an increasingly unpredictable partner, the EU must address internal imbalances and build alliances to defend the multilateral order. The legacy of the financial crisis has left a different trail in the EU economy by comparison to that of the US. Almost a decade after the start of what was undoubtedly the worst financial crisis in the last 50 years, the US has managed to restore financial stability and deliver a convincing path back to growth. The EU, by contrast, has not achieved a credible return to economic vigour. It is true that Europe has seen some renewed growth recently, but it remains weak and precarious. This is in part due to the EU’s weaker institutional resilience. High unemployment, particularly for the young, an excess of non-performing loans on banks’ balance sheets, and an incomplete banking union, all help explain the precarious nature of the stability and growth that we observe.
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The run-up to the Brexit negotiations has been disastrous for the UK, writes former negotiator Steve Bullock. It has hectored and insulted the EU27’s intelligence and undermined its own credibility. The chances of securing a good deal in the time left are minimal: approaching extremely complex negotiations, Britain chose to be ‘bloody difficult’. Being “tough” and being “difficult” are not the same thing. Being tough can work, but only if deployed sparingly at strategic points in negotiations. Being difficult for difficult’s sake never works. It simply breaks trust and creates resentment leading to a justifiable unwillingness in partners to compromise. Successful negotiation in the EU is not, contrary to popular belief, about thumping the table and demanding you get everything you want for nothing in return. It’s also not about undermining your opposite numbers (oppos in Brussels-speak), or insulting their intelligence by making outlandish claims. Yet, in preparing for Brexit negotiations, the UK government has done all of these things with, it seems, gusto and pride. Trust is key to a successful negotiation. Both sides must know that the other is negotiating in good faith. Both may know that walking away is an option in extremis, but openly threatening this undermines trust that a solution is being sought. Any compromises or concessions require trust and good faith.
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Since the Group of Twenty (G20) was founded in 1999, the United States and China have generally managed to restore or instill confidence in the international order, even when other members were mired in crisis. And in the ensuing years, both countries have maintained stable growth and weathered economic storms better than most. G20 summits thus became occasions for the US and China to flex their muscles as they helped others, not least the members of the eurozone. But, at this year’s G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, the tables seem to have turned. The US under President Donald Trump has no appetite – or, it appears, the ability – for global leadership, and China is confronting mounting threats to growth and stability, whereas the European Union is now growing faster than at any time since 2008. And recent elections in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and France seem to have closed the door on the threat of populism in Europe, at least for now.
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