EU

A landmark decision is expected today on a 26-year old border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia. But few expect it will be bring the saga over the Bay of Piran to an end.

On a map it covers a tiny slither of space, but it has always had outsized political significance, holding up Croatia’s accession prospects for years. Now the tussle is in the EU family, and the union will not want it to mark another turn for the worse in the fragile Balkans. Read more

Cecilia Malmström has fired a loud warning shot in the direction of Washington, saying Brussels will retaliate if Donald Trump slaps tariffs on European steel as part of his threatened crackdown on imports on national security grounds.

These are tense days indeed in transatlantic relations. The trade commissioner’s intervention came on the eve of an EU antitrust ruling that will hit Google today with a fine of more than €1bn (quite possibly significantly more than €1bn). This is small change for Google but it is bound to trigger a sharp response from American business, which still bristles at a ruling last year that handed a €13bn bill for Irish back taxes to Apple. Read more

A generous reprieve for lucky depositors and senior bondholders in Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza, the failing Italian banks at the centre of country’s latest effort to shore up confidence in its battered financial system.

Political expediency 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

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

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

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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

Problems are piling up for president Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who faces a cascade of criticism over the country’s slide into authoritarianism after a narrow referendum win that granted him sweeping new powers.

Europe’s pre-eminent human rights body has put Ankara on watch, saying the referendum was contested on an “uneven playing field” and that measures adopted after a failed military coup last July have “gone far beyond what is necessary and proportionate”. In Strasbourg on Tuesday the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, a body separate to the EU, invoked its “full monitoring procedure” in a fresh bid to persuade Turkey to uphold the highest democratic and human rights standards. Read more

Jim Brunsden

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

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

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

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

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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 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

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It has been an excruciating decision for Mr Bayrou: the mayor of Pau has spent decades cultivating the centreground, coming close to qualifying for the presidential runoff in 2007 (but Segolene Royal made it to the second round against Nicolas Sarkozy). Read more