EU

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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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

Duncan Robinson

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“The customs union means free movement of our goods. It doesn’t mean free movement of our trucks.” The FT visited the Turkish border with Bulgaria to find out what Britain’s lorry drivers can expect after Brexit. In short? Queues. Read more

By Richard Milne

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Duncan Robinson

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Britain’s Article 50 notification could be less than a month away. Theresa May has outfoxed her opponents in the first parliamentary skirmishes. Unexpected delays are always possible in the Lords. But it looks like Downing Street may meet its March 9 target for notifying Brexit, just in time for the European Council summit that day.

Britain’s prime minister will have the chance to explain herself in person (rather than just break up by fax/letter/email or text message). And the EU-27 will take their cue. Diplomats are already preparing a special EU-27 summit in early April to set “guidelines” for Brexit talks. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Something is stirring in Luxembourg. In the space of a few months, the European Court of Justice could turn the EU’s refugee policy on its head, fundamentally reshape the way Muslims are treated in Europe and set the parameters for any post-Brexit trade deal. Through this handful of cases, the court will demonstrate its extraordinary and growing influence. 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

Duncan Robinson

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Offering the Brits (and the Brits alone) a loophole made things worse. While Mr Trump may be a novelty, it is easy to forget that testy relations between Washington and Brussels pre-Trump are nothing new. Read more

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Now for the main event. Donald Trump finally takes office today after a noisy transition that served only to amplify many of the most unsettling questions that surround his incoming administration. Read more