Jim Brunsden

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Talks between Athens’ euro area creditors and the International Monetary Fund have seen officials grapple with economic forecasts stretching decades into the future. Read more

Duncan Robinson

Sometimes Luxembourg provides something for all. The European Court of Justice’s ruling on the parameters of free trade agreements – which determined that only parts of FTAs required ratification at a national level – made nearly everyone happy.

The European Commission was delighted by its confirmed ability to agree trade deals on an EU level. But rebellious Walloons – who held a free trade deal with Canada hostage – welcomed the news that they could still make mischief over some issues such as investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms. Read more

Duncan Robinson

Perhaps the only phrase more stultifying than “any other business” is “General Affairs Council”. But that could change later today. Frans Timmermans will park the European Commission’s long-running fight with Poland over the rule of law in front of ministers during an “AOB” at the unfortunately named “GAC”. For the first time, member states will have a chance to officially respond – or not – to the growing problems surrounding Poland’s Law and Justice government. It is a small, but significant step from the commissioner responsible for fundamental rights. The long-term concerns about rule of law in the country – and the wider worries about democracy in countries such as Hungary – are arguably an even larger problem for the bloc than Brexit. It is hard to have a single market if there are fundamental worries about, say, the justice systems in some member states. For the past 18 months, it has been the commission leading the charge on the Polish issue. Exchanging letters, arguments and occasionally insults with peers in Warsaw. Now ministers will have their chance, too. 1648 and all that Historically, ministers have been reluctant to interfere in the affairs of other member states, especially when sat around a table in Brussels. Whether those who have been privately or informally critical of Poland will pipe up will be clear only later today, although the latest indications are that many will. (One thing is certain: Poland’s minister will offer a comprehensive retort to Mr Timmermans’ points.) There is some unease at the topic being raised with ministers at all. After all, if the commission thinks Poland has a problem, it has a power to act by itself. The commission can trigger Article 7 – the so-called “nuclear” (by bureaucrat standards) option – which could eventually result in Poland losing its right to vote as a member state. But this drastic move would still have to be approved by national capitals. To be blunt: involving ministers now keeps open the option of further action later. Email duncan.robinson@ft.com Twitter @duncanrobinson

Change on treaty change Emmanuel Macron met Angela Merkel met in Berlin. After cries of “Macron, Macron”, the two leaders opened the door to treaty change. Read more

Jim Brunsden

“France has doubted itself for decades. It feels that its culture, social model and deepest beliefs are under threat.”

As Emmanuel Macron took on the mantle of France’s head of state on Sunday, he was at pains to stress the the scale of the task ahead. His speech to France’s political elite, assembled at the Elysée Palace, namechecked every former holder of the office going back to the founding of the 5th Republic by Charles de Gaulle, in each case pointing out the historic challenges each of his predecessors had faced. For his own mandate, he set himself the goal of restoring France’s “confidence in itself” and, in doing so, reinforcing his country’s voice in Europe and in the world. As in the election campaign, he set out a vision of a France that “is not in decline”, but that needs to throw off the shackles of political inertia and anachronistic regulations. His first full day in office will see him confront two of the biggest questions hanging over the start of his five-year term: Firstly, how to form a government that can succeed where so many others have stumbled by driving through economic reform; secondly, how to strike up a partnership with Germany that will bring new energy to the EU. On the first point, Mr Macron is set today to announce his prime minister. Choosing a head of government is always a loaded decision for a French president, but particularly so in Mr Macron’s case, given his independence from France’s established centre-right and centre-left parties. With his decision, he has a chance to extend a large olive branch (should he want to) to potential defectors. Le Journal du Dimanche has a profile of the person who is widely tipped to get the job: Édouard Philippe, an MP and mayor of Le Havre who is also a close ally of Alain Juppé, the former centre-right prime minister. Other names very much in the frame include Nathalie Kosciuscko-Morizet, a former centre-right ecology minister, and Sylvie Goulard, a high profile liberal MEP. Mr Macron’s first full day in office then continues with his first official trip as president – to see Angela Merkel in Berlin. Mr Macron is seeking support from Germany for his plans for institutional reform of the euro area. The early signs have not been good, with senior figures in Berlin vehemently opposed to Macron’s idea of a joint eurozone budget, and at odds with his vision of closer economic policy coordination in the currency bloc. Simon Nixon smartly reflects on the dilemmas in today’s Wall Street Journal. In his speech on Sunday, Mr Macron said France’s willingness to politically pull itself together and reform would bolster its weight on the world stage. But even before achieving results at home, one of his first tasks will be to develop a sense of joint Franco-German endeavour that was so often lacking under his predecessor François Hollande. Read more

Duncan Robinson

What is Uber? The EU’s top court tried to answer this question and decided Uber should be treated as a transport company (which leaves it beholden to local taxi regulations) rather than as an information society service (which would help it escape such rules).

The opinion is just that: an opinion. Whether Uber is in fact a $60bn minicab company will be decided by the court in a final judgment later this year. But the topic goes beyond Uber. Read more

An adviser at the EU’s top court had the first go at trying to define Uber and came up with a simple answer to what is a complex question: in short, Uber should be treated as a transport company.

The reasoning is clear and thoughtful. The full opinion can be read here in French. The edited highlights, in English, are below. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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And breathe. The relief in Brussels after Emmanuel Macron romped to victory in the French election was palpable. Read more

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With the French election on Sunday, the big names came out to urge voters to back their horse. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Standing in front of 10 Downing Street, the prime minister thundered that Britain had been “misrepresented” by a perfidious foreign press and that “threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials”. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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The opening gap is considerable The EU and UK are a distance apart on core divorce questions. For all the goodwill, there is a clear clash on what citizen rights to guarantee (continued EU rights versus UK rights for non-EU migrants). The UK side disagree with the premise of an exit bill. There is a big gap on what a “phased approach” means. And there are more hidden, but perhaps more fundamental, differences over the ambition of a trade deal, and when it will come. Read more

James Politi

If the lesson from Emmanuel Macron’s first-round win in the French elections was that an ardently pro-European campaign can be waged successfully in a large member state, it does not seem to have been absorbed by Matteo Renzi.

The energetic former Italian prime minister is bidding for a comeback as leader of the centre-left Democratic party in the wake of the December referendum defeat, which he hopes to use as a springboard for success in the national elections in 2018. Read more

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Viktor Orban has declared 2017 to be “the year of revolution”, predicting the “defining dynamic” will be his confrontation with Brussels. The firebrand Hungarian premier, described by one former US ambassador as a “bare-knuckled street brawler,” came to the European Parliament on Wednesday to do battle with his many detractors. Read more

Problems are piling up for president Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who faces a cascade of criticism over the country’s slide into authoritarianism after a narrow referendum win that granted him sweeping new powers.

Europe’s pre-eminent human rights body has put Ankara on watch, saying the referendum was contested on an “uneven playing field” and that measures adopted after a failed military coup last July have “gone far beyond what is necessary and proportionate”. In Strasbourg on Tuesday the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, a body separate to the EU, invoked its “full monitoring procedure” in a fresh bid to persuade Turkey to uphold the highest democratic and human rights standards. Read more

Jim Brunsden

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Manuel Valls, France’s former prime minister, did not mince words about the paltry 6.36 per cent score achieved by his party’s candidate Benoît Hamon. The outcome was “bruising,” he told France Inter radio. “It is the end of a cycle, the end of a story.” Read more

Jim Brunsden

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Berlin and Brussels are breathing a hefty sigh of relief this morning on the news that Emmanuel Macron will face off against far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the second round of the French presidential election, with the centrist former economy minister firmly installed as the frontrunner. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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The machine gun attack on the capital’s famous Champs-Elysées boulevard has left one policeman dead, two others seriously wounded and another person injured. The attacker was also killed, and ISIS has claimed responsibility. Read more

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There could be up to 5m fewer votes this year compared to 2012. History shows that a low turnout increases uncertainty about who will make the final run-off. It lowers the threshold required to qualify, which makes a François Fillon or Jean-Luc Mélenchon-shaped upset more likely. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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For the upcoming negotiations, the size of Mrs May’s majority in the House of Commons is of little concern when it comes to the EU27. Britain’s prospects during the Article 50 talks remain the same. Read more

Duncan Robinson

It was a tricky result. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan scraped a narrow victory – 51.4 per cent – in a referendum to hand himself more powers, amid concerns over the veracity of the vote.

European leaders faced walking a diplomatic tightrope in their responses over the Easter break. After all, Mr Erdogan is still a crucial Nato ally and a keystone in the bloc’s response to the migration crisis. Turkey is, ostensibly, still a candidate to join the EU (but for how long, we do not know). Read more