Bill Wirtz
Bill Wirtz
Name
Bill Wirtz
Email
Country
Luxembourg
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Motto
Bill Wirtz comments on European politics and policy in English, French, and German. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The Washington Examiner, CityAM, Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Die Welt.
Overview

A European “no-fly list” violates civil rights

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A European “no-fly list” violates civil rights

Imitating the United States’ surveillance state methods will not make Europeans safer. The European Union is going through the process of creating a counter-terorrism database that will compile information from EU countries regarding ongoing investigations, prosecutions and convictions of militants, including returning foreign fighters who joined terrorist groups abroad. The measure,…

Bashing big bosses: the favourite discipline of the French press

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Bashing big bosses: the favourite discipline of the French press

It is an antiphon, declared over and over again in public opinion. From high-level intellectuals like Noam Chomsky to the average citizen, everyone agrees: control by the big bosses over the media protects the former from being targeted by the latter. Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber was already warning of the danger of journalists losing control of their media to big business almost 60 years ago.…

Political violence is unacceptable

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Political violence is unacceptable

In the wake of the ratification of the CETA agreement, environmentalists and anti-free trade zealots are ganging up on politicians who voted for it. This can't become the new normal.   Incidents in France   The French National Assembly recently approved CETA, a free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada. The left-wing media outlet Mediapart consequently published…

Americans: Your Euro trip will show that big government sucks

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Americans: Your Euro trip will show that big government sucks

Let a Euro trip be your lesson: big government on the old continent is way worse than some politicians would have you believe. During the summer months, many young Americans make a trip across the pond to visit the old continent. They have good reason to do so. Europe is a gorgeous continent of stunning beauty and amazing cultural heritage. Americans are very welcome tourists, notably because…

EU websites are not your platform

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EU websites are not your platform

EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis likened British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin in a blog post published on the website of the Commission. The point of contention is not so much about the comparison itself as it is that Andriukaitis is abusing his bureaucratic office for political purposes.   A political Commission?   The question…

What's the new triumvirate worth?

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What's the new triumvirate worth?

On Tuesday, Ursula von der Leyen was confirmed by the European Parliament as the new President of the European Commission. According to the latest plan, current Dutch Commissioner Frans Timmermans and Danish Commissioner Magrethe Vestager would become Vice-Presidents on equal footing.   The deal   The Renew Europe (RE) group leader Dacian Cioloș made one point and one point only in…

The death of the “Spitzenkandidaten”

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The death of the “Spitzenkandidaten”

The European Council killed the "Spitzenkandidaten" process. It was never great, but a return to the old appointment system will have consequences of its own.   A useless circus   The treaties of the European Union, as they stand at the moment, indicate that the results of the European elections need to be taken into account for the nomination of the president of the…

In its war against disinformation, the European Union goes too far

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In its war against disinformation, the European Union goes too far

The European Union wants to do more to combat the spread of fake news. The tools it uses, however, will hand too much power to the government.   Fighting fake news   When current European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker was asked by German newspaper Bild what advice he would give to his successor (we don't know yet who it is going to be), the Luxembourger said:…

A selfie in Pripyat

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A selfie in Pripyat

I experienced some social media backlash after posting a selfie from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Beyond the usual problem of annoying comments, this experience raises questions about our current social media use.   Ferris wheel selfies   The iconic ferris wheel in Pripyat, abandoned inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone since the accident in 1986, is a good place to take a selfie.…

Remember Macron’s new food bill? It backfired as anticipated

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Remember Macron’s new food bill? It backfired as anticipated

Last year, the French legislature passed the “Loi EGalim”, intended to re-establish fairness between food producers and retailers. But none of the “fairness” measures have made anything fairer. Quite the contrary.   What happened   In a piece for FEE back in February, I went through the different dispositions in the bill. One of the flagship policies included…

Should we sift through old tweets?

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Should we sift through old tweets?

Remember the tweet you thought was hilarious, but that would now land you in hot water? Yeah, you know which one. But should it even get you in trouble?   What is Twitter?   Twitter is by far the most spontaneous of all social media sites. Twitter's timeline is great for reactions, quotes, and gives a lot of visibility for a briefly worded thought. Facebook encourages…

Liberalism: What's in a name?

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Liberalism: What's in a name?

The European Parliament political group ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) have announced the intention to drop the word 'liberal' if an alliance with French President Emmanuel Macron's European "Renaissance" movement is made. That's a good thing for the authenticity of liberalism in Europe.   The alliance   The announcement was made…

The case for the sharing economy

The case for the sharing economy

The sharing economy is not only a different way of presenting services such as Uber or Airbnb, but actually a wide range of companies that operate on the basis of shared resources to maximise their utility. Innovations in this area, however, require rethinking  the State's current authorisation system to give more flexibility to companies, employees and consumers. Uber’s example…

ALDE's moral high-ground is slipping away

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ALDE's moral high-ground is slipping away

Prominent ALDE members are continuously criticising the EPP and the ECR for the parties that hold their membership. And indeed, the Hungarian Fidesz is rightfully criticised for still being a part of the European People's Party. Yours truly has been a part of this conversation. ALDE group leader Guy Verhofstadt continuously goes after Manfred Weber for this reason, but truth be told: the…

Who is really dismantling Europe?

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Who is really dismantling Europe?

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for the renegotiation of the Schengen agreement, which guarantees the right to free movement between the signatory countries in Europe. Paired with some of his other statements, this demonstrates  how hypocritical France's head of state can really be.   The context   The European nations participating in the Schengen agreement are…

The Dutch-Albanian feud can be resolved by ending the war on drugs

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The Dutch-Albanian feud can be resolved by ending the war on drugs

The Dutch parliament has asked their government to invoke the visa suspension mechanism for the Republic of Albania. The parliament in the Hague cites a worrying increase in crimes committed by the Albanian mafia as a reason for the move.   The visa suspension mechanism   Regulation (EU) 2018/1806 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 November 2018 allows member states…

Rainer Wieland is right: a seven-year budget is ludicrous

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Rainer Wieland is right: a seven-year budget is ludicrous

One of the European Parliament's senior members, Rainer Wieland (EPP-Germany),stated in an interview that long-term budgeting doesn't make a whole lot of sense. He's right. His conclusion, however, does not pass muster.   The EU budget   Five-year economic plans or seven-year budgets are the hallmarks of collectivist regimes. Stalin's first Five Year Plan came to…

How do you even "march for Europe"?

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How do you even "march for Europe"?

Seriously, what does that mean?   Confident marchers   On March 24, 1,000 people marched in Brussels, urging pro-EU forces to remain united in order to tackle the rising extreme-right and halt the “Orbanisation” of European societies ahead of the May EU elections. Their fear: the right-wing, following the example of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, will turn…

Protecting the environment should be about being pro-human

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Protecting the environment should be about being pro-human

In figures released by Eurostat this month, it was reported that only 6.4% of energy consumed in the Grand Duchy in 2017 came from renewable sources, making Luxembourg stand more than ten percentage points below the EU average of 17.5%as well as the member state producing the least amount from renewable energy. Granted, this number is up from previous years, rising from 5.4% in 2016, 5% in…

What the Dutch air travel tax proposal reveals about our political class

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What the Dutch air travel tax proposal reveals about our political class

The Netherlands is pushing for a new tax on air travel. The story is very under-reported in the media, even though it reveals something quite striking about the current political establishment.   The most important reason   Dutch Secretary of State for Finance Menno Snel presented a report to the Council of Ministers of the EU arguing for a €7 tax (per passenger, per flight…

Is the Romanian PM right about the EU's hypocrisy on corruption and civil liberties?

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Is the Romanian PM right about the EU's hypocrisy on corruption and civil liberties?

Romania's presidency isn't a smooth one for a number of reasons. For one, taking over the rotating Council presidency in a European election year means that the European Parliament will be missing as one of the institutional partners from April on. During this reduced time, the country will then be asked to finish a number of major-league legislative projects, such as the development aid…

The European Parliament is sabotaging its own democratic values

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The European Parliament is sabotaging its own democratic values

There is only one way of looking at the Leinen amendment in the European Parliament: it structurally tries to silence Eurosceptics.   Changing the funding of political groups in the EP   In an amendment submitted by the German Social Democrat Jo Leinen and supported by the EPP (European People's Party, centre-right), the S&D (socialists and social democrats), as well as the…

Stop using children for your big government political goals

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Stop using children for your big government political goals

France and Belgium are seeing thousands in the streets for both the Yellow Vest and environmentalist causes. The reality is that these two groups don't go together, because while the Yellow Vests express the concerns of real-life working people, the climate protesters are fuelled by the questionable orchestration of youth activists.   The generational divide of both protests  …

EU-supporters are showing their true colours

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EU-supporters are showing their true colours

The pro-EU argument on euroscepticism is shifting just as the demand for exiting the EU is decreasing. The case against right-wing politics in Brussels is extremely telling about the motivations of EU-supporters. On Twitter, I stumbled upon a piece written in German for a blog called "Der (europäische) Föderalist" ("The (European) Federalist"), run by Manuel…

Tax competition again under fire by European Commission

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Tax competition again under fire by European Commission

The European Commission is attempting to secretly consult member states on unanimity voting on tax issues through a consultation process launched just before Christmas. In his recent piece titled “Don’t give The EU Commission more power to introduce new taxes“, Values4Europe blogger Anders Ydstedt lays out the pro-liberty case against the European Commission's push against…

France's extremes could capitalise on the yellow vest movement

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France's extremes could capitalise on the yellow vest movement

The yellow vest movement has taken its toll on the presidency of Emmanuel Macron. Given the upcoming European Union elections in May, the French president has everything to lose. All the far-left and the far-right need to do is wait it out. For weeks, the "Gilets jaunes" (French for “yellow vests”) have been both protesting and rioting in the streets of the major cities of…

EU vs Disinfo: let's not build a Ministry of Truth

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EU vs Disinfo: let's not build a Ministry of Truth

In an effort to combat disinformation online, the European Union has created a task force to "debunk" fake news online. The quality of this service is doubtful in itself, but, far worse than that, it is directly political.   Free press and government press   There are a number of reasons to trust or distrust a news source. One is related to the origins of its funding: if…

Macron's yellow vests concessions are bound to make things worse

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Macron's yellow vests concessions are bound to make things worse

In light of the yellow vests protests in France, president Emmanuel Macron has made a number of concessions to the movement. However, the people involved in the Gilets jaunes demonstrations aren't likely to be helped by those measures.   Macron's announcement   On Monday, Emmanuel Macron made a national TV announcement addressing the "Gilets jaunes" protests, and…

Back in the 1970s, British socialists made a free-trade case against the EU

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Back in the 1970s, British socialists made a free-trade case against the EU

As Brexit dominates the news, we can look back and notice that the United Kingdom had a very similar debate on the European Union 40 years ago. The positions of left and right, however, were reversed.   The EEC   In June of 1975, the United Kingdom held a referendum to decide whether or not it wanted to remain in the European Economic Community (EEC), the precursor to the European…

How do you critique interventionism in a country that supports it?

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How do you critique interventionism in a country that supports it?

What do you tell people from countries in which American interventionism could be considered a success, or who were personally helped by American military action?   The Kosovo intervention   I recently had the pleasure to visit Kosovo for the first time. The country's natural landscape is phenomenal, but the infrastructure is scarred as a result of years of Yugoslavian…

The European Union should not receive its own direct income

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The European Union should not receive its own direct income

In an effort to make the European Union independent of its funders, the European Parliament is making clear demands in the 2021-2027 budget talks. Their calls for direct income would have significant ramifications.   Not every federal state is the same   When talking about federal states or the creation thereof, one usually thinks of the United States, or maybe even Germany. But…

Kosovans deserve visa-free travel

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Kosovans deserve visa-free travel

A generation of young Kosovans has been taught that freedom of movement is conditional on productivity, and that their productivity is conditional on their freedom of movement. Let’s avoid a generation of “trapped” youth. Last week I had the utmost pleasure to be a speaker at the European Students For Liberty Regional Conference in Prishtina, Kosovo, where I explained the…

Salvini's ethnic shop restrictions are purposefully destructive

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Salvini's ethnic shop restrictions are purposefully destructive

Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, suggested this month that “ethnic shops” should not be allowed to remain open past 9 p.m. The suggestion is not only bigoted, it is also likely to worsen the state of integration in the Southern European country.   Salvini specifically targets migrants   The far-right Lega leader, Salvini, is targeting these night shops,…

Should Russia's chequebook diplomacy be a real concern in Europe?

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Should Russia's chequebook diplomacy be a real concern in Europe?

The European Union is debating whether or not to include more countries from the Balkans in the organisation. The narrative is: integrate them into the West now, before they become puppets of Putin's Russia. But is that really true?   The "How" and "Why" of the EU's enlargement   In 2004, the European Union had its biggest enlargement process yet,…

Questions to ask your MEP candidates

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Questions to ask your MEP candidates

In May of 2019, voters of European Union member states will elect a new European Parliament (EP), which will become the basis for the establishment of a new European Commission. Thousands of hopeful candidates are standing for election in the individual states, and voters  should ask some essential questions before entering the voting booth.   On harmonisation and centralisation…

The Commission front-runner: who is Manfred Weber?

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The Commission front-runner: who is Manfred Weber?

The German politician Manfred Weber is the current front-runner of the European People's Party (EPP), making him the most likely personality to become the next Commission president. So who is Manfred Weber, and what does his candidacy mean for EU politics?   Manfred who?   Whenever there is a presidential election, people are generally aware of the front-runners. You could…

Italy's funding threat will force the next European Commission to make fundamental choices

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Italy's funding threat will force the next European Commission to make fundamental choices

In a recent statement, Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi de Maio said that if the European Union cannot agree on a comprehensive redistribution system of migrants coming from Africa, the government could withhold funds to Brussels. This would be a first in the history of the EU, and presents some key questions about the federalism and the priorities of the next executive.  …

EU institutions are back from their holidays--and so are Macron's demands

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EU institutions are back from their holidays--and so are Macron's demands

Brussels has woken back up; but it's not only the trams and metros that are seeing themselves filled to the last remaining standing spot, the political machinery has also been rebooted. For French president Emmanuel Macron, the pitch is out for his EU reforms; but unlike last time, the EU now has other priorities.   Macron's aspirations   Back in April, Macron laid out his…

No tariffs, no non-tariff barriers, no subsidies. Yes, Trump wants this.

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No tariffs, no non-tariff barriers, no subsidies. Yes, Trump wants this.

U.S president Donald Trump continues to be blamed for initiating a trade war with Europe, when indications for that are not entirely there. During this week's rally in West Virginia, however, Trump reiterated that he'd love to see no tariff-barriers whatsoever. Why is he still not striking a nerve with EU leaders?   "That's what we learned at the Wharton School of…

European defence in the age of Trump means actually taking responsibility

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European defence in the age of Trump means actually taking responsibility

Last month, we've seen U.S president Donald Trump slam European leaders for their lack of commitment to NATO military spending targets. Trump believes that his European partners are spending too little on defence and says that in the future, they shouldn't rely on the States to provide for their security. In light of this policy change from America, European nations need to actually step…

China's trade and investment policy can break up the European Union

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China's trade and investment policy can break up the European Union

At the current moment, the European Union is as divided as ever: Central and Eastern European nations are fundamentally at odds with the vision of EU leaders in Brussels. The one thing that has been holding the group together is a common investment and trade policy. The People's Republic of China however, has the potential of turning it all upside down.   Strategic investments  …

National voter disenfranchisement can't be solved with transnational democracy

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National voter disenfranchisement can't be solved with transnational democracy

In recent piece for Politico Europe, Italian Jean Monnet professor Alberto Alemanno backs down on the (already dead) idea of transnational lists for European elections. According to him, current problems of European democracy can be solved through more internationalised elections. He's very wrong.   What people want   In Pew polling from last year, favorability ratings of the EU…

About those childish semi-final reactions

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About those childish semi-final reactions

On Wednesday, England lost its semi-final World Cup game against Croatia. Reason enough for those obsessed by Brexit, and having lost the argument in 2016, to get out and moralise based on a sport. It doesn't take much reading to understand how the question of  "why do they hate us" answers itself. After the chances of the Croatian football team looked promising for a…

The EU's enlargement process needs to stop

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The EU's enlargement process needs to stop

As the European Union's integration policies come increasingly under fire, and the union does not agree between itself where it wants to head, it is unwise for Brussels to flirt with the accession of countries such as Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia or Albania. In fact, the EU needs a halt to all accessions for a longer period of time. Current EU summits, which are so largely dominated by the…

EU cohesion spending is non-cohesive and out of control

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EU cohesion spending is non-cohesive and out of control

In a crushing report, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) went after EU spending on plans for a European high-speed rail network. The institution calls current plans "very unlikely", and describes them as having "low added" value. And yet, the Juncker Commission does little to nothing to reduce cohesion spending, which, according to its own auditors, is a waste of money. The…

The European Union now goes after beer

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The European Union now goes after beer

The European Union is cracking down on alcohol consumption. The newest idea: changing tax policy to incentivize the brewing of beers that are lower in alcohol percentage. This change will hurt craft breweries.   The proposal   The European Commission has proposed making  a change on beer excise duties in the EU. As of now, lower-strength beer benefits from a reduced tax rate,…

Every purchase is a vote: the daily democracy of the free market

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Every purchase is a vote: the daily democracy of the free market

Advocates of government interventionism continuously try to make consumers appear as the victims of large corporations, who are being enslaved by consumerism and predatory advertisement. However, it's actually consumers who together make the decisions of what is being sold in the first place.   There are elections on every day!   Whenever you go grocery shopping, you engage in…

I searched Twitter for "European values". Now I'm more confused than before.

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I searched Twitter for "European values". Now I'm more confused than before.

In my first article for this blog, which happened to be republished from a column of mine for the Foundation for Economic Education, I asked what "European values" are supposed to be, and who gets to determine them. In the year leading up to the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union, this question is set to be posed repeatedly. So I took it to the centre of all intellectual…

Zuckerberg will testify in the European Parliament. The script writes itself.

Zuckerberg will testify in the European Parliament. The script writes itself.

After his testimony in front of Congress, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been summoned by the European Parliament. Weeks after the invitation, Zuckerberg has now agreed to meet parliamentarians in a private session.   EU Legislation is already set   Initially, Italian European Parliament chairman Antonio Tajani reacted in a very polite, yet firm manner to Zuckerberg's…

The EU Commission's survey on the future of Europe is big-government confirmation bias

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The EU Commission's survey on the future of Europe is big-government confirmation bias

When EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted out a survey on the future of Europe on May 9 (Europe Day), my expectation was that I would be able express my opinion. Where else would I let representatives know my feelings about free markets, decentralisation and limited government? I soon discovered that my views weren't really an option.   A closer look at the questions…

The entitlement epidemic

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The entitlement epidemic

In France, radicalised students are blocking the entrance of multiple universities. Estimates count more than one million euros in damages, with higher education establishments being affected with damages of about €300,000. What exactly do these students want, and what needs to be done about their feeling of entitlement?   A student’s fight against meritocracy   French…

Macron in Strasbourg: more excitement, and yet more of the same

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Macron in Strasbourg: more excitement, and yet more of the same

Emmanuel Macron's much anticipated speech in the European Parliament marked an important moment for EU leaders in Strasbourg. Finally, the king spoke to his servants, so to speak. And indeed, much has been said in recent weeks and months about Macron's undeniable leadership in the European Union. However, has been discussed about how different the ideas of the "En Marche" leader…

Whom do unions really protect?

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Whom do unions really protect?

This week has seen massive strikes in the French public railway services. While the unions are holding the French transport system hostage, only a fraction of both regional and high-speed intercity trains are operational. France is a notable example of what happens when unions gain the upper hand. But whom do they really protect?   The illusion of support   During a recent carpool…

On AI, Europe prefers to "think" than to innovate

On AI, Europe prefers to "think" than to innovate

Despite the enormous opportunities provided by the technology surrounding artificial intelligence, the European Union is more preoccupied with coming up with creative ways of taxing automation and regulating AI. This will eventually show to be a massive error of judgement.   The Commission's AI "strategy"   During the Digital Summit in Tallinn in October, the…

European political parties need to draw red lines. Viktor Orbán is showing why.

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European political parties need to draw red lines. Viktor Orbán is showing why.

For years, a political class offended by everything and begging for apologies on minor scandals has seemingly been fine with benefiting from the membership of parties with very questionable views. A recent speech by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán makes it clear that European political parties need to screen their memberships and stop the opportunism.   Orbán's…

The European Union needs tax competition

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The European Union needs tax competition

Back in December, the finance ministers of the European Union agreed on a new common list of so-called “tax havens”, which compete with particularly lower corporate income tax rates. On this “black list”, a total of 17 states around the globe appeared  amongst them were Mongolia, South Korea, Bahrain, Barbados and the United Arab Emirates. The consensus then was that…

Where did the European moral high ground on trade go?

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Where did the European moral high ground on trade go?

With the announcement of new tariffs on steel and aluminum, U.S president Donald Trump is setting  the international community up for a trade war. At least that seems to be the conclusion that EU leaders are drawing from the announcement. Instead of trying to find a diplomatic solution, the Juncker Commission is taking a confrontational stance.   Tariffs as political powerplay…

Germany's new Facebook-law is downright dystopian

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Germany's new Facebook-law is downright dystopian

Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz. No, I didn't just fall asleep on my keyboard. This is the actual name of Germany's Facebook law which came into effect in autumn of 2017. This new legislation, officially known as "law for the improvement of law enforcement on social media", is cracking down on "fake news" and abuse on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The unique and…

Post-Brexit budget talks: have we learned nothing?

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Post-Brexit budget talks: have we learned nothing?

Brexit will tear a hole in the European Union's budget, but Brussels seems determined to go ahead as if nothing happened. If the European Union wants to actually improve the life of its citizens, it's not by increasing spending that it will do so. A closer look at the EU budget’s aims EU Budget Commission, the German Günther Oettinger has already set an agenda for reaching…

Macron's "fake news" legislation raises serious concerns about press freedom

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Macron's "fake news" legislation raises serious concerns about press freedom

Bill Wirtz is a Young Voices Advocate. His work has been featured in several outlets, including Newsweek, Rare, RealClear, CityAM, Le Monde and Le Figaro. He also works as a Policy Analyst for the Consumer Choice Center. ______ Macron's "fake news" legislation raises serious concerns about press freedom   After president Macron had made it one of the priorities earlier this…

What Are "European Values" Anyway?

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What Are "European Values" Anyway?

Bill Wirtz is a Young Voices Advocate. His work has been featured in several outlets, including Newsweek, Rare, RealClear, CityAM, Le Monde and Le Figaro. He also works as a Policy Analyst for the Consumer Choice Center. ______ "European values" are the poor excuse for a political project that doesn't have a monopoly on them anyway.   As the Brexit negotiations progress and…

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