Duncan Robinson

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A detailed letter was not strictly necessary. One diplomat explained that “We’re triggering Article 50 – suck it” would have sufficed. But the formal notification shed light on Theresa May’s strategy and expectations going into negotiation. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Duncan Robinson

To receive the Brussels Briefing in your inbox every morning, register for a free FT account here and then sign up here.

Some say it is short – little more than three pages – others that it will run longer. Whatever it says, you have to feel sorry for the poor protocol people. Should Britain’s EU envoy walk or drive the 150 yards? Should there be an envelope? A commemorative photo? Some die-hard Remainers will be wishing he just gave it to the Belgian postal system for “safekeeping”. Read more

After a terror attack on London, the mood will be sombre in Rome tomorrow when EU leaders gather for a special summit to mark the 60th anniversary of the bloc’s founding treaty. The event has been billed as a show of unity among 27 countries that will remain in the bloc as Britain becomes the first country to leave. But last-minute wrangling over a political declaration on the EU’s future threatens to mar the ceremony.

Duncan Robinson

A grim day in London. It came on an unhappy anniversary in Belgium, which marked one year since terrorists killed 32 in Brussels. The attack near the Houses of Parliament resembled the one in Berlin on a Christmas market, which in turn was similar to the massacre in Nice. The French have suffered more than many. On Wednesday it was Britain’s turn.

The FT compiled eyewitness reports of the horrific scenes in one of the most heavily guarded parts of the capital. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Britain has a trade deficit with the EU in most sectors, apart from one: asylum seekers. Read more

Well it did not disappoint. There were dull moments and missed opportunities of course, and they could have spared us the policy lists. But when the French Five met they brought some biting put-downs, animated debate and flashes of passion. It was a worthy debate for a remarkable presidential race. The FT’s topline:

Finger pointing, innuendos and sarcastic remarks made for a lively first French presidential debate on Monday as the main candidates for France’s highest office clashed over Islam, the economy and the money scandals that have shaken the contest.

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The Brexit negotiation draws ever closer and, with it, the prospect of a battle royal over money and the new trading relationship between Britain and the EU. But don’t expect particularly sharp divisions over defence.

Stefan Wagstyl reports in the FT today that London and Berlin are planning a new defence cooperation deal soon after Theresa May launches Brexit, in a bid to reinforce the UK prime minister’s claim that she is not turning her back on Europe. Read more

The snow storm that forced Angela Merkel to postpone her visit to see Donald Trump in Washington may prove a blessing for the German chancellor.

Instead of seeing the new US president on Tuesday, when the result of the widely-watched Dutch election was still uncertain, she will meet him today – safe in the knowledge that prime minister Mark Rutte, her conservative ally, has retained power and fought off the populist Geert Wilders. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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The result sent the euro to a five-week high of $1.0746, after surging 1.2 per cent overnight. The Dutch vote on Wednesday was the first in a trio of European elections this year in which populist politicians have emerged as significant contenders. Analysts had predicted that a strong showing for Mr Wilders would bolster Marine Le Pen, leader of the French far-right, and the insurgent Alternative for Germany party. Read more

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Nicola Sturgeon’s bold move on Monday threatens to reopen a diplomatic dilemma that the Spanish government thought was dead and buried. Should a second referendum lead to a break-up of the UK, a new independent Scotland would request to stay inside (or instantly rejoin) the EU. For that, it would need the support of all remaining member states, including Spain. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Dealing with riots in Rotterdam and being compared to the Nazis by the Turkish president was probably not how Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte expected to spend the final weekend before the Netherlands’ general election. But Dutch politics are rarely predictable. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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  Read more

Duncan Robinson

To receive the Brussels Briefing in your inbox every morning, register for a free FT account here and then sign up here.

Populists cause political instability. It is not an original headline as far as Europe goes. But the novelty in Finland is that the populists are causing instability from within the government. Read more

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And yet. A few hours later Fillon was back on television, the most relaxed he has looked since the “fake jobs” scandal emerged. Withdraw? No way. He saw the difficulties, he said, but he was sure of one thing: “there is no alternative”. He would go on and on. The crowds were his validation. He had the primary votes, the legitimacy. His conscience was clear. Only he could decide to step aside; the party traitors could not force him out. Read more

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Jean-Claude Juncker’s white paper on the future of Europe asks what can be done to secure the foundations of a 27-country EU after Britain leaves. In the face of this titanic challenge, the European Commission presents stark political choices to government leaders as they seek a new remedy for the bloc’s many woes. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Whatever happened to Dutch politics? With two weeks until the election, the image of a tolerant, liberal country has been replaced by one of a grinning Geert Wilders. But away from Mr Wilders’ “STOP ISLAM” posters, signs of the old Netherlands remain.Although his Party for Freedom (PVV) still has a lead in most polls, Mr Wilders is losing ground. Meanwhile, the Netherlands’ liberal lump of mainstream parties – who have all refused to work with Mr Wilders – remains steady. Centrist D66 are doing welland on track for their best performance since the early 1990s. Read more

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As you tuck into your pancakes, spare a thought for the competition officials locked in their offices until Easter finishing investigations into three complicated, politically-charged mega-mergers that all need to be settled in weeks. Read more