© The Financial Times Ltd 2016 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
By Arthur Beesley
It’s not a precedent any president would want to set. François Hollande is the first French head of state since the second world war not to stand for re-election. Laid low by dreadful popularity ratings, the socialist Hollande had little chance of prevailing next year against centre-right candidate François Fillon or Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front. Read more
A visibly upset Martin Schulz called time on his career in the European Parliament, triggering a scramble to replace him in Brussels and political ructions in Berlin. Here are some of the questions his departure raise.
The European Parliament was stale during Martin Schulz’s tenure at the assembly’s president, which began in 2012. While fringe parties created a fuss at the edge, at the core was an alliance between his centre-left S&D and the centre right EPP, in which they broadly agreed to chomp through whatever legislation they were served. Having being kept on a leash for years, some MEPs may want to run free. But they need to be careful. After elections in 2014, eurosceptic parties make up about a third of the chamber. If the EU is to function, then some form of deal needs to be cut between the more moderate groups. Horse trading over who takes the presidency will play a big role. Read more
To receive the Brussels Briefing in your inbox every morning, sign up here.
The gold gilded door, the grins, the open neck shirt. This was a chilling sight for the EU establishment. Donald Trump, the US president-elect, had made his first big overture to a politician on the continent. . . and his name was Nigel Farage. Read more
“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.
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
The rhetoric could hardly be nastier. With an update on Turkey’s bid to join the EU due later this week, politicians from Turkey and Europe took the opportunity to rip into each other. Read more
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
“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”.
Without much fanfare – without even a press conference – Margrethe Vestager on Wednesday slipped out one of the most important decisions of her time as competition commissioner. Known for her flinty approach to the likes of Apple and Google, Ms Vestager showed a different side: restraint. And this was no ordinary antitrust case. It was Gazprom. Read more
On Monday, they came to pass: objections from Wallonia seemed to scupper CETA, the proposed EU-Canada trade deal, in an embarrassing setback both for Belgium’s federal government and the European Commission. Read more
As Europe’s 28 heads of state or government gather again in Brussels this afternoon, it is worth recalling that special energy that European summits bring. This format is virtually unique in international affairs – even at G20 meetings “minders” are allowed in the room. It can make them wonderfully unpredictable and very human, especially (like today) when no big concrete decision needs to be taken. Here are three political live-rails to watch: Read more
Dutch voters opposed the deal with Ukraine by a margin of nearly two-to-one in a referendum in April, leaving diplomats in both Brussels and the Hague despairing over fate of the agreement. Things have not improved since. Read more
It’s summit week. The full roster of 28 EU leaders will gather in Brussels on Thursday for a two-day meeting. Compared to what we have grown accustomed to in recent years, it lacks the urgency of a hot-crisis. Migration numbers are a fraction of this time last year, and the crunch of Brexit and Greek debt are for another day. What we do have though is a big introduction (this is Theresa May’s debut summit) and some potentially significant debates: Read more
|About this blog||Feedback||Commenting|