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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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

Jim Brunsden

“We’ve had this discussion…before where a number of ministers say, look whatever happens in Basel it cannot lead to higher capital requirements, and I said then and now that I don’t think that is the right starting point,” Mr Dijsselbloem told reporters. “I think the approach should be different.”

Jim Brunsden

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Euro area finance ministers’ discussions about Greece have been known to be many things: long, tortuous, bitter and occasionally career-endingRead more

Jim Brunsden

The increasing woes of Deutsche Bank demonstrate that Europe’s banking crisis is still not settled. But the troubles at Germany’s biggest lender have not deterred Brussels from pushing back forcefully against stringent new banking rules.

How things change. Back in October 2010 Michel Barnier, the then EU financial services commissioner pledged to be “vigilant” in making sure that nations around the world – especially the US – implemented international bank rules. 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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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

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

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

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