Recent Publications

June 2011
working paper
Marie Lamensch

Abstract

Switzerland has for a long time been an important centre of banking services in Europe and beyond. Consequently, the banking sector has become important to Switzerland’s prosperity. This paper focuses on a central reason behind the success of the Swiss banking sector: the institution of banking secrecy, deeply enshrined in the Swiss history and tradition. The rapid development of international markets that eventually gave rise to a “group structuration process” has, however, progressively eroded Swiss banking secrecy. It has had to bend before the duty of transparency within the groups in order not to promote financial criminality through accelerated asset inflows. Switzerland has also had to develop a comprehensive legislative frame to tackle financial criminality, and to enter into international agreements providing for mutual assistance. This process has undoubtedly and irremediably weakened the Swiss banking secrecy. Most importantly, nevertheless, the questionable ethical and socio-economic grounds of this controversial institution could and should also start to erode it from within.

About the Author

Marie Lamensch is member of the Brussel's bar and currently works as a lawyer for Kremer Associés and Clifford Chance (Luxembourg). She previously worked for Simont Braun (Brussels) and as a teaching assistant at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). She holds a law degree from the ULB and an LL.M degree (Master in International and Comparative Law) from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel’s (VUB) PILC Program, organized under the auspieces of the Institute for European Studies (IES). The views expressed in this paper are purely personal and do not reflect the position of any of the institutions mentioned above.

June 2011
working paper
Richard Lewis

Abstract

This paper examines issues relating to the integration of immigrants, particularly Muslim immigrants, into European societies. It first contemplates whether a true European identity really exists. Building on the different conceptions of (European) identity, the paper claims that a sense of belonging is crucial in helping immigrants integrate into Europe. The paper also argues that identity is, actually, most relevant when it is under threat. The paper therefore looks at the nature of Muslim society in Europe and some of the reasons for disaffection in that population. While doing this, the paper compares the various models of integration in, for example, the United States, Canada and Israel with the attempt by a number of EU Member States to find satisfactory integration strategies. Also, the efforts of the European Commission to forge an acceptable integration framework through the principles elaborated following the Hague declaration in November 2004 are discussed. The paper concludes that integration is best approached by creating cohesive communities and loyalties at the local level.

About the author

Richard Lewis is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel specialising in migration issues. He was formerly an official at the European Commission from 1974 to 2003 latterly dealing with immigration and asylum. He was European Union Fellow at Duke University for the academic year 1996-7. He is married to an American citizen with two sons and two grandsons.

May 2011
working paper
Gerben Kristian Wedekind

Abstract

This research forecasts the implications of Turkish membership for decision-making effectiveness and dynamics within the Council of Ministers of the European Union (EU). Effectiveness is determined in this research by 'passage probability': the chance that a random proposal as put forth by the European Commission (EC) is accepted by the Council of Ministers. Dynamics are determined by means of the Shapley-Shubik Index (SSI), which plots power values of individual member states by forecasting a number of possible EU enlargement scenarios. This study falsifies earlier research by Baldwin and Widgrén.1 It finds that the implications of Turkish EU-membership for EU decision-making efficiency are ambiguous and depend on the number of other candidate states entering the EU alongside Turkey, as well as the timeslot - 2014 or 2020 - at which the accession would take place. Moreover, this study asserts that Turkish EU-accession would result in unequal- but generally negative - power changes among other EU member states, although member states with similar demographic weight will experience comparable changes. Finally, it appears that the larger a EU member state is, the more power it loses if Turkey would join the EU.

Herman Matthijs

Abstract

This paper first provides a short history of the European budget, focusing on the development of the EU's “own resources”. It then elaborates on the fundamental changes to the financial system and the budgetary procedure that the Treaty of Lisbon introduced. It is posited that with the amendments the budgetary process has lost clarity. Whilst the multiannual framework may provide for long-term stability, it stands in contradiction to a central principle of parliamentary democracy: annual budgets. The EU's search for a fair and transparent budgetary system has not yet come to full fruition. Europe needs a fairer and more transparent system. Since the Luxembourg agreement of 1970, the Union has not done anything with the VAT as own resources. The VAT is related to the welfare standards and developments in the Member States. A fixed share of this indirect tax could form the base of a long term financing plan for the general EU budget.

About the author

Herman Matthijs is associated with the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). He holds a PhD in political sciences, and has published several articles and books concerning the budget of the European Union. At the political sciences department, he is responsible for courses on public administration, political structures of the USA and public budgets. He is also a member of the inter-federal Belgian institution High Council of Finances, which advices the Belgian governments on the public finances.

Matthaios Charalampous

Abstract

The Lisbon Treaty has introduced significant changes in the field of EU security and defence. On the one hand, important institutional reforms, such as the creation of a renewed High Representative, have of course a great impact on this policy field. On the other hand, the Lisbon Treaty has also introduced specific innovations in the security and defence of the European Union. The mutual defence clause and the new mechanisms for flexible cooperation such as the permanent structured cooperation, are only some of the key innovations. Generally, the European Security and Defence Policy receives its own section in the Treaty on European Union and is rebranded as Common Security and Defence Policy. Thus, the Lisbon Treaty sets the objective for a common policy in this field. However, does this reform really provide for the means for the realization of such a common policy? Furthermore, does the Lisbon Treaty increase the importance of CSDP or is the increasing importance of this policy field just reflected in the Treaty text? These are the main questions that the present paper attempts to address through the analysis of the new institutional setting of the post-Lisbon security and defence policy, as well as through the examination of the specific innovations in this area.

About the author

Matthaios Charalampous has graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Brussels (VUB) with a Master of Laws Degree (LL.M.) in international and European law (PILC program, IES). He holds a university degree in law and in linguistics, both from the University of Athens. Matthaios Charalampous is a qualified Greek lawyer, has work experience as a lawyer, and has held a traineeship at the European Parliament. He takes a particular interest in security and defence issues, some of which are dealt with in the present paper.

Viktorija Balciunaite

Abstract:

The impacts of WTO on women’s labour rights in the developing countries have been raised to the international agenda by various nongovernmental organizations. On the one hand it is assumed that international trade policies are gender neutral. On the other hand a number of authors hold the view that the negative impacts of WTO policies are more pronounced on female than male workers. This paper takes a critical look at these claims. It argues that the impact of the WTO system, the driving force of trade liberalization, on women’s labour rights in the developing countries is a complicated issue, because the effects have been both negative and positive. In support of this claim, this paper first briefly reviews the international framework for the protection of women’s labour rights. Next, the WTO agreements and policies are analysed insofar as they are relevant for the protection of women’s labour rights. The analysis covers, for example, the use of the trade policy review mechanism and restrictions of trade on grounds of violation of public morals.. Finally, a case study is conducted on the situation of female workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan, countries that have recently undergone a liberalization of trade in the textiles and clothing sectors. It is concluded that the increase of international trade in the developing countries has created many work opportunities for women, helped them to become more independent and allowed them to participate in the society more actively. However, it is at the same time posited that in order to comply with its own objectives of raising standards of living and full employment, the WTO should engage itself in active policies to overcome the negative aspects of trade on female workers in the developing countries.

About the author

Viktorija Balciunaite has graduated from Mykolas Romeris University in Vilnius, Lithuania in 2006 and obtained Master’s degree in International and Comparative Law of the IES Program on International Legal Cooperation (PILC) in 2007. At the moment she is working in the European Law Department of the Ministry of Justice in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Ben Van Rompuy

Abstract

One of the most important developments in EC competition policy during 2006 was the Court of First Instance’s (CFI) Impala v. Commission judgment annulling the European Commission’s approval of the merger between the music units of Sony and Bertelsmann. It harshly criticized the Commission’s Decision because it found that the evidence relied on was not capable of substantiating the conclusion. This was the first time that a merger decision was annulled for not meeting the requisite legal standard for authorizing the merger. Consequently, the CFI raised fundamental questions about the standard of proof incumbent on the Commission in its merger review procedures. On July 10, 2008, the European Court of Justice overturned Impala, yet it did not resolve the fundamental question underlying the judicial review of the Sony BMG Decision; does the Commission have the necessary resources and expertise to meet the Community Court’s standard of proof? This paper addresses the wider implications of the Sony BMG saga for the Commission’s future handling of complex merger investigations. It argues that the Commission may have set itself an impossible precedent in the second approval of the merger. While the Commission has made a substantial attempt to meet the high standard of proof imposed by the Community Courts, it is doubtful that it will be able to jump the fence again in a similar fashion under normal procedural circumstances.

About the author

Ben Van Rompuy joined the IES team as a doctoral researcher in August 2006. Together with Karen Donders, he is working on the project “Towards i2010: Bargaining for an equitable information society”.His research is concerned with EC antitrust control in the audiovisual and telecommunications sectors.

Alexander Mattelaer

Abstract

On 28 January 2008 the European Union launched the military operation EUFOR in Chad and the Central African Republic. Its mandate was to contribute to the security of the civilian population, the numerous refugees from neighbouring Darfur and the local presence of the United Nations. This paper describes and analyses the planning process of this operation at the political-strategic and military-strategic levels with the aim of understanding how the military instrument was intended to generate the desired political effects. The paper argues that, from a military perspective, the EUFOR operation is based on the concept of humanitarian deterrence: the threat of military force is used to discourage potential spoilers from targeting the civilian population. As with any military operation, the planning of EUFOR was plagued by various elements of friction. At least some of this friction seems to flow from the mismatch in expectations between the political-strategic and military-strategic levels. The various political and military-technical constraints within which the operation was planned resulted in an operational posture that is less decisive than what the political ambitions would have suggested.

About the author

From October 2006 onwards, Alexander has been working at the IES as a doctoral researcher in the domain of European security and defence. His research focuses on the planning of military strategy in crisis response operations. Having studied in detail the issue of military intervention in Sub-Saharan Africa, special attention goes to analysing the usefulness of the military tool for stabilisation purposes.

Karen Donders

Abstract

The European Commission’s interference through state aid rules with the Member States’ support for public service broadcasting is not undisputed. Member States, public broadcasters and numerous academics fear that State aid control might limit the public service remit and, hence, the multi-platform and holistic role of public broadcasters in the converging media industries. This paper assesses to what extent the fear for Commission intervention is, indeed, justified. It starts with the assumption that the transformation from public service broadcasting to public service media is vital for the European democratic society. The paper leads to the observation that, in fact, European State aid policy might contribute to such a necessary and urgent transformation, instead of threatening it. The paper consists of three main parts. Firstly, the legal constraints and margins of the Community’s State aid framework are discussed. Secondly, the application of the rules to a selection of public broadcasting cases is analyzed. Finally, some conclusions are drawn from the analysis.

About the author

Karen Donders holds a Master’s degree in Communication Sciences. In 2006 she became a PhD researcher at the Institute for European Studies. Karen is also affiliated with the Center for Studies on Media Information and Telecommunications (SMIT), which is a partner in the IBBT research consortium. Karen’s research concerns the impacts of European State aid policy on the remit, control and financial support of public broadcasting organizations in the EU, in particular whether or not European State aid control can assist the transformation from public service broadcasting to public service media.

Agata Brzezińska

Abstract

The principle of gender equality forms a part of the EU’s social policy and serves equally men and women. So far, fourteen directives concerning gender equality have been adopted in the EU, with the New Equal Treatment Directive as the latest one. The EU has developed different models to promote gender equality: equal treatment, positive action and most recently gender mainstreaming. The equal treatment model is primarily concerned with formal equality and it unfortunately prevails in the ECJ’s rulings. Indeed, this paper argues that so far, the ECJ has not managed to develop a firm and consistent case law on gender equality, nor to stretch it coherently to positive action and gender mainstreaming. It seems that in spite of some progress in promoting the position of women, the ECJ’s case law has recently taken a step backwards with its conservative judgments in e.g. the Cadman case.

Overall, this paper aims at summing up and evaluating the most important cases of the ECJ on gender equality.

About the author

Agata Brzezińska has graduated from the Law and Administration Faculty of Warsaw University and holds an LL.M degree in International and European Law from the Institute for European Studies (IES) at Vrije Unversiteit Brussel. Brzezińska has worked on EU legal matters in the European Parliament and in an international law firm in Warsaw. As of September 2009, she has been working in the European Commission. The viewpoints presented here are her personal opinions, and do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions she is or has been working for.