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

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

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

Jim Brunsden

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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

Jim Brunsden

Jim Brunsden

We cannot know for certain what Alfonso Dastis, Spain’s foreign minister, thought to himself on Sunday when he switched on the television and saw that Michael Howard, a former British minister, was talking about war to protect Gibraltar, but he might well have permitted himself a smile.

The past few days have been a diplomatic masterclass from Madrid. Read more

Jim Brunsden

There are not many places where Beethoven’s Ode to Joy is followed by Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family”. But the European People’s Party congress is not a normal event.

The majority of Europeans have probably not heard of the EPP. Those that have may associate it with the large centre-right grouping in the EU parliament, not the broader “family” of political parties that held its congress this week in Malta. The EPP’s president, Joseph Daul, is little known even in his native France. Read more

Jim Brunsden

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Ministers took a step towards resolving the splits with the IMF on the next stages of Greece’s bailout programme during a eurogroup meeting on Monday. Read more

Jim Brunsden

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After months out of the limelight, Greece has crept back up financial traders’ worry list. Read more

Jim Brunsden

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This morning, for the second week running, satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné is hitting breakfast tables around France with revelations regarding Mr Fillon’s family finances. Read more

Jim Brunsden

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The parliament of French-speaking Wallonia, a region of Belgium, last year came perilously close to derailing years of work on an EU-Canada trade deal that may turn out to be the main achievement of Ms Malmström’s time in office. Read more

Jim Brunsden

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Now he is the runner up in the first round of the Socialist Party’s primary contest, behind a man who once resigned in protest at his polices, and who has promised to repeal his government’s signature labour law. Read more

Jim Brunsden

 

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Jim Brunsden

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Such were the first comments of Paolo Gentiloni, after being asked on Sunday by Italy’s president to become the country’s new prime minister. Read more

Jim Brunsden

“Their world collapses. Ours is built.” So said Florian Philippot, the main adviser to Marine Le Pen, hailing Donald Trump’s victory as the start of a new order in world politics. Elections in France, the Netherlands and Germany will give this theory a thorough real-world test in 2017.

 

France

In France, Ms Le Pen of the National Front leads the way in first-round voting, but lags comfortably behind potential rivals in polls on a presidential run-off. Now, after duff calls in both Britain and the US pollsters are viewed with scepticism.

“Before the American result, the question seemed absurd,” says the Economist. “Now, the unthinkable has become conceivable.” The FT’s Anne-Sylvaine Chassany quotes Dominique de Villepin, a former French prime minister: “France and the US are like twins. What is possible in the US is possible in France, even if the system is refusing to see it.” Read more

Jim Brunsden

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The North Africa to Italy migration route remains highly dangerous to those who attempt it, even busier than last year and seemingly impervious to EU action. Read more

Jim Brunsden

“We are sorry – due to technical complications, your journey towards Brexit has been temporarily interrupted. Theresa May will get back to you as soon as possible.”

Normally, court judgements are meant to settle difficult questions, but yesterday’s decision by the UK High Court that Britain’s parliament must vote on Brexit has instead thrown up a lot of tricky new ones.

The shock ruling gave fresh hope to Remainers, annoyed leading government ministers, challenged a key plank of Ms May’s Brexit strategy, and left leaders across the continent wondering what happens next.

It was not only the ruling itself that had people scratching their heads. Britain is now apparently a country where, when the government is defeated, the pound gets stronger;when parliamentary sovereignty is upheld, some parliamentarians are unhappy, and when judges listen to legal arguments in a courtroom, they are “Enemies of the people”.

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Jim Brunsden

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  Read more

Jim Brunsden

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Matteo Renzi sent the European Commission some less-than-welcome news in the form of Italy’s 2017 budget plansRead more