Duncan Robinson

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Donald Tusk has not given up hope that Britain might stay in the EU. Speaking at the start of a two-day summit of the bloc’s leaders in Brussels, the European Council president channelled John Lennon: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I am not the only one.” Read more

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Duncan Robinson

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Zero. This is how many they have actually taken. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Elsewhere, True Finns were effectively kicked out of the Finnish government after their coalition partners refused to deal with their new leader, who has compared Islam to paedophilia and wants to leave the EU. In France, Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche trounced Marine Le Pen’s Front National in the legislative election. In Britain, UKIP’s share of the vote fell to 2 per cent from 12.6 per cent in 2015. Read more

Jim Brunsden

Theresa May triggered Article 50 in March. One month later, she called a general election. Last night, it all went wrong.

A shock result upturned British politics and turned the prime minister’s embryonic plans for Brexit into disarray. Having asked the electorate for a strong mandate to negotiate Britain’s departure from the EU, Ms May got a chastening answer: her Conservative party has lost its majority in parliament. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Donald Trump may feel like the biggest problem for Nato — but he is not the only one. Read more

James Politi

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Jim Brunsden

If EU policy papers on the single currency had much bearing on reality, all of the governance arrangements for the euro would have been transformed long ago. Not so. Many of the euro zone’s institutions are widely seen as half built — and coordination of economic policies remains very much a work in progress.

Yet one area in which Brussels has been hyperactive is in publishing detailed ideas on what exactly should be done to shore up the currency. The latest in this long line of creative efforts came on Wednesday in the form of a European Commission’s “reflection paper on the deepening of the economic and monetary union.” Read more

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