Duncan Robinson

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While l’imbroglio Franco-Belge makes for fun headlines, the image of two normally friendly neighbours scrapping highlights the dysfunction of the EU’s collective migration policy. The Dublin system, which is supposed to dictate responsibility for refugees, is broken. Schengen has a surprising number of border checks for a passport-free travel zone. The flagship relocation scheme – designed to share out refugees more equally – has flopped. Read more

Jim Brunsden

It is one of the bleakest assessments yet of the euro’s survival prospects, and it comes from some of its most committed supporters. An international group or senior policymakers including former WTO chief Pascal Lamy and former ECB board member Jörg Asmussen yesterday published a plan to “repair and prepare” the single currency. Their message? Change, or die:

“Europe will again be hit by a new economic crisis. We do not know whether this will be in six weeks, six months or six years. But in its current set-up, the euro is unlikely to survive.”

Their plan, which can be read here, includes a “first aid kit” of short-term measures to deal with urgent issues such as the lack of pooled firepower to deal with a banking crisis, as well as more long term projects, including the creation of a European Monetary Fund.

In short, exactly the kind of forward thinking agenda that the EU’s leaders have been at pains to avoid talking about in recent months.

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Duncan Robinson

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It is the last thing the European Commission needs. Just as the furore over Jose Manuel Barroso’s new job at Goldman Sachs starts to subside, another scandal emerges involving the business practices of a former commissioner. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Brussels is making a last gasp push to save CETA, the EU’s controversial free trade deal with Canada, as officials admit that a similar deal with the US is – for now – dead. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Angela Merkel said that she would “rewind time”, if she could, and deal with Germany’s influx of refugees differently, marking the first time that the German chancellor had confessed to mishandling the crisis. Read more

Jim Brunsden

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After a gentle ride down the Danube, the choppier political waters of home.

Having pondered the future of Europe with fellow leaders at Friday’s summit in Bratislava, Angela Merkel is this morning digesting the latest warning given to her by the German electorate, after Berlin went to the polls.

The election marks another breakthrough for the anti-immigrant and eurosceptic Alternative für Deutschland party, which will enter the capital’s state parliament for the first time, having finished in fifth place with 14.2 per cent of the vote. As for Merkel’s CDU, it held on to second place but saw its vote share fall to 17.6 per cent - its poorest result ever in Berlin.

The outcome should not be overstated; the AfD stands no chance of actually enjoying power in a coalition. It is, though, the latest in a pattern of striking AfD successes – just two weeks ago the party spectacularly leapfrogged Ms Merkel’s CDU to claim second place in her home region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Markus Söder, a senior member of the CSU, the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s christian democrats, described the vote as “the second massive wake-up call in a fortnight.” Read more

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Chaos. That’s the word to watch at today’s summit of European leaders in Bratislava. It is just one rhetorical flourish in the draft post-summit media statement, a promise that Europe will avoid the migration “chaos” of last year. But the dispute over it offers a glimpse into the dynamics of that summit room, and Angela Merkel’s considerable but waning clout in this EU club. Read more

Jim Brunsden

What links the US, China, Canada and Japan? No, it isn’t their membership of the G20, it’s their inclusion in an EU document that is in no way, shape, or form a draft of the EU’s new tax havens blacklist.

On Wednesday, the Commission published a “scoreboard” looking at aspects of non-EU countries’ tax systems. It makes for interesting reading:

The idea is that the information can help governments whittle down which countries might be included in a blacklist of “non-cooperative jurisdictions” that the EU is planning to draw up next year. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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If Brexit is viewed as a divorce, then Britain has only just moved into the spare bedroom. But the other 27 members of the EU have to start moving on now. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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When Jean-Claude Juncker gave his state of the union speech this time last year, he confessed: “Our European Union is not in a good state.” Read more

Jim Brunsden

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For candidate European commissioners, a few guiding principles can help them survive confirmation hearings at the European Parliament: know something about your policy area, don’t have a dodgy past, and say lots of nice things about MEPs. Read more

Duncan Robinson

Those squealing tyres you can hear are coming from the Berlaymont. Days after launching their proposed “fair use” policy on roaming, the European Commission has pulled the guidelines.

An initial draft was published on 5.9.2016. The Commission services have, on the instruction of President Juncker, withdrawn the draft and are working on a new version.

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Francois Hollande’s rentrée speech yesterday was first and foremost a feel-good exercise. For an hour, the French socialist president, whom nearly 90 per cent of the French do not want to see running for a second term next year, was surrounded by true friends – zero risk of betrayal à la Emmanuel Macron. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Brussels is pressing on with a plan to bulk up the EU’s military capability. The FT’s European diplomatic correspondent Arthur Beesley broke the story. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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The “cultural counter-revolution” has started, at least according to Hungary’s Viktor Orban and Poland’s Jaroslaw Kaczynski. The two conservative ideologues from Europe’s east made a long-anticipated joint appearance on Tuesday night and showed political love can still blossom on this crisis-ridden continent. Our correspondents on the scene in Krynica-Zdroj in southern Poland saw the duo “exchange gushing compliments”, before denouncing the workings of Brussels, uncontrolled migration and the “smell” of “international capital”. Here are some extracts from Henry Foy and Neil Buckley’s report. Read more

Jim Brunsden

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In one part of Brussels, Vera Jourova, the European commissioner for justice, was launching a campaign to make sure that national regulators pursued Volkswagen over the “dieselgate” scandal. Read more

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It is Angela Merkel’s home state. There aren’t even many refugees there (23,000 in 2015 to be precise). But on Sunday rural Mecklenburg-Vorpommern earned a small footnote in post-war history, becoming the first state where the CDU has ever been outflanked by a party of the right. Just three years old, the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany upstart is steadily gaining electoral ground. It may be far from seizing power, even at local level. But the warning to Ms Merkel is clear. The AfD vote patterns in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern reflect a classic protest vote. It secured 20.8 per cent and drew support from all parties – from far left, to centre to far right. Most importantly, it mobilised abstainers and helped boost turnout. There was only one subject to rally around: disenchantment with Germany’s refugee policy. That seems unlikely to diminish as we head towards federal elections in 2017. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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TTIP is in a sorry state. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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It is the least welcome fiscal boost in history. By demanding that Apple hands over €13bn to Ireland, Brussels has metaphorically bundled the Irish government into an alley, while forcibly shoving €50 notes into its pocket. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Apple faces paying back billions in back-taxes when Brussels rules that a sweetheart tax deal with Ireland amounted to illegal state aid later today.

Everything about this decision is big. Apple is the world’s largest company. The back-taxes due will run into ten figures. The legal methods are relatively untested. And the political stakes are huge.

The Apple case cuts to the heart of the power struggle between Brussels and Washington over who sets the standards – whether on tax, privacy, or finance – for global business. Read more