In the Summer issue of the Romanian Journal of European Affairs, the contributors bring forward topics concerning: the European citizens’ initiatives, the democratization process in the Western Balkans, the Czech debate on the euro (the position of Václav Klaus in 1999–2002 period), the concept of corporate social responsibility, as well as a book review on EU External Relations Law.
Strengthening the Idea of “By Citizens, for Citizens” in the Context of the European Citizens’ Initiative – Brief Analysis of Initiatives
Oana – Măriuca Petrescu
Regulation (EU) No. 211 of 16 February 2011 on the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), as one of the major innovations of the Treaty of Lisbon, represents the first supranational instrument of direct democracy that took effect on April 1, 2012, creating the direct legal link between the European Union citizens and the European institutions.
Within the present paper we will give a general overview of the European Citizens’ Initiative instrument, trying also to analyse briefly certain citizens’ initiatives that have been already registered on the European Commission’s website where the online collection of a million signatures is still running, bearing in mind the important role of the citizens as “co-authors” of the law within the European decision-making process.
From our point of view this participation will increase the responsibility of the citizens to be more active and to use their new right in the best conditions and without any obstacles.
Keywords: citizenship, Treaty of Lisbon, Regulation, political rights, right to initiative
The Democratization Process in the Western Balkans in the Last 20 Years: Interethnic Relations and Security Implications
Katerina Veljanoska, Oliver Andonov, Goran Shibakovski
The process of democratization in Western Balkans is connected with the process of state-building before and after the reconstruction. After the break-up of Yugoslavia, the region became a brutal battleground as different nation-based groups fought to define the boundaries of a set of new states in the Balkans. One of the key challenges related to the democratization of the Western Balkan countries is resolving the issues with their neighbours. However, political pragmatism and bilateral relations between the countries of the Balkans, including their internal conflicts do not exclude informal alliances, but as a temporary form of exploitation of the current political and security situation or in order to achieve their own national interests. One of the key tools in the achievement of national interests, especially expressed in the Balkan countries is represented by the ethnic minorities. Ethnic minorities in the Balkans cannot be overlooked and most of them are seen as a destabilizing factor in the countries in which minorities live. Without overcoming prejudices and differences of the past, the Western Balkans could not continue their independent development. Democratization of the Western Balkans means that improving the peace and coexistence should not be viewed in the past, but in the current process of cooperation. The EU integration process of Western Balkan countries and the democratization process of the region will have to be implemented in the future if the political elites in Western Balkan countries wish to achieve security, stability and prosperity of their societies.
Keywords: democratization, Western Balkans, European integration, security
Shaping of Czech Debate on the Euro: Position of Václav Klaus in 1999–2002 Period
Petr Kaniok, Vít Hloušek
The European Union (EU) has been changing since the start of the economic crisis in 2008. Many previously uncontested issues – among them the euro – have been challenged. As a result of these developments, attitudes usually labelled as Euroscepticism have become more accepted as a part of the political mainstream. This article tries to identify – on the basis of the analysis of the euro discourse of Václav Klaus, former Czech president and prominent Eurosceptic – whether the current critical atmosphere in the EU can be explained through assumptions of theoretically defined soft and hard Euroscepticism and can be thus seen as a manifestation of Euroscepticism. The article concludes that even if the euro discourse of Václav Klaus contains both elements of soft and hard Euroscepticism, an important level of expertise critique towards the euro that can be found in Klaus’ discourse can not be explained by Euroscepticism.
Keywords: Václav Klaus, the euro, Euroscepticism, discursive analysis, Czech Republic
Corporate Social Responsibility: A Promising Social Innovation or a Neoliberal Strategy in Disguise?
Since the Lisbon summit the European Union has become resolute in its intention to promote the uptake of corporate social responsibility among European companies. The recent financial crisis has provided further impetus for evangelising CSR, which is identified by the EU public authorities as one exit strategy from the crisis and a promising means of fulfilling the Treaty objectives of inclusive and sustainable social market economy. This paper finds the above assertion problematic and uses a Polanyian framework to evaluate its validity. The paper represents a conceptual intervention in the policy justification provided by the European Commission. Contrary to the overly optimistic voices that see decommodifying tendencies within CSR, this paper claims that CSR does not have a potential to re-embed the economy as argued by the Commission. Despite its protective invocation, CSR is predicated on deepened commodification. It depends on the staging of a special type of exchange relation, whereby reputation is quantified and sold as a commodity by being denominated in a common unit. As such the CSR form promoted by the Commission is a microeconomic counterpart to the regime of rule-based macroeconomic depoliticisation.
Keywords: Corporate social responsibility, European Union, Polanyi, disembedded, commodification, neoliberal
Book Review: EU External Relations Law: Text, Cases and Materials
This latest textbook contributing to the field of EU external relations law is unique in that it is the first such book in the post-Treaty of Lisbon environment to take a wide-angled look on as many aspects of the growing area as it continues to develop within the legal parameters as set by the Treaties, and it is suitably placed to become the core text for teaching this expanding EU policy field. In their book, EU External Relations Law: Text, Cases and Materials, Van Vooren and Wessel seek to fill the gap in up-to-date literature from a legal standpoint in the field of external relations of the EU, with a book that is suitable for delivery as a core textbook for students of all levels. Their analysis covering fifteen long chapters offers the reader a comprehensive insight into the world of EU external relations law, and allows for a thoroughly better understanding of all the encapsulated issues that are at play.
Keywords: European Union, International Relations, Foreign Policy, Law, External Relations