While the negotiations around issues such as immigration are very important, they are not the whole story. Of perhaps equal significance are the developments within the EU itself. These changes may, in the end, have an even larger bearing on the outcome of any 'in-out' referendum, if and when the time comes.
It was Conor Cruise O'Brien who wrote that: "Irishness is not primarily a question of birth or blood or language ; it is the condition of being involv...
Mario Draghi reminded everyone gathered in Frankfurt and listening in around the world that it is not the ECB's decision as to whether to go ahead with asset purchases. Firstly, Eurogroup leaders would have to vote on it.
The euro zone has emerged from recession, borrowing costs have fallen and the risk of euro area collapse has diminished since mid-2012. However, major causes for concern persist.
The extent to which the UK and most of the rest of the Western world are currently mismanaging our economies clearly has a huge financial cost. In the longer term, however, the political cost will be even greater than the economic price - unless we see radical changes in policy. The failure of the West to deliver a reasonable economic performance - combined with the related problem of widespread inability to get difficult decisions taken - has led an increasingly large number of people across the world to consider whether more authoritarian of running modern diversified economies might work better than those based on liberal democracy.
Who really cares about the European elections? Let's face it, they can be pretty irrelevant. Just by mentioning them, some people may already have lost interest in this article...
Europe will not strongly recover in the course of 2014. It would require many reforms at national and European level, which are not (yet) feasible. For the moment, Europe will have to make do with a patchwork of stopgaps, which is adjusted gradually, in incremental steps.
Much like sporting events can be histrionically promoted as 'crunch matches', 'the day of reckoning' or similar, recent meetings of the world's central banks have often been given a similar billing. However, it's safe to say that the impact of these economic planning meetings lasts longer than any bangs and scrapes picked up in a 90 minute kick about.
Whereas in the last few years the US, UK and Japan central banks have been busy flushing the market with money, things have not developed quite the same way in the Eurozone, as the European Central Bank (ECB) is still struggling to define its own role.
2013 was the year of all-powerful central banks, fragile economic recovery, and financial market euphoria. 2014 will be all about politics: political economics, geopolitical developments, and electoral politics.
The strategic problem that is fundamental to the dilemma of the non-Austrian economic school is that they are saddled with fundamentally flawed dogma. The state's absurd obsession with a 'macro' economic solution. The Austrian school does not accept this, and rightly so. All economics are 'micro'.
Farage himself predicted an "earthquake" while other prominent right wingers envisage "the liberation from the European elite, the monster in Brussels". So are they correct? Their success would certainly send a shockwave across the continent but are we really about to find ourselves at the mercy of the most anti-EU, combatively euro-sceptic European Parliament to date? No.
2014 will be a crucial year for the EU. The European elections are going to take place in May and we certainly hope that they will attract more attention and interest than in the past.
A break-up of the eurozone may be where we are headed if spending cuts take precedence over debt defaults and if the financial crisis continues to be cynically portrayed as a morality play. What the continent needs is a debt jubilee and a halt to austerity. Oh, and some solidarity. Otherwise, a second Great Depression beckons.
A balanced view will allow us to be better at thinking about the crisis. After all if we only see our southern neighbours as burden, we are not only losing half the equation to solving the Eurozone crisis; we are also missing out on most of the intelligence.
Britpop's predictive powers A tumultuous storm followed the 2008 credit crisis. To calm it, the governments administered liquidity injections with th...