For much of the recent past, Spain’s Congreso de los Diputados offered little in the way of political entertainment. Read more
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“Process is power.” This mantra for EU diplomats will come to the fore during the two years of negotiations that will determine the terms of Britain’s break with Europe. Read more
Much horror and perturbation among the Asia-Pacific countries meeting earlier this month in Lima at Donald Trump’s threat to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the proposed regional trade agreement of twelve countries.
The buzz was all about China taking over the lead in designing the world’s trade architecture. But the EU, recently an international laughing stock when the plucky region of Wallonia single-handedly (though temporarily) blocked a trade deal with Canada, has quietly been getting on with one or two projects of its own. 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
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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”.
Not even the clocks in Turkey can ignore the whims of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This weekend Turkey’s imperious president decided to make it summertime all year. The decision to abandon daylight saving time moves Ankara an hour further from Europe, and into a timezone with Khartoum, Moscow and Riyadh. If only that were the end of it.
Mr Erdogan issued decrees to oust 10,158 public officials; expelled 1,267 academics from their posts; took charge of appointing university rectors; permitted prosecutors to record client-lawyer conversations; allowed judges to deny access to lawyers for up to three months; and shut down 15 (mainly Kurdish) media outlets. And that was just this weekend.
Don’t forget the more than 100,000 accused, sacked or detained in relation to the botched coup in July, or the internet blackout across swathes of majority Kurdish areas in the southeast, or the detention and arrest of the elected mayors of Diyarbakir.
Then there is matter of the death penalty. Since the attempted coup – a watershed moment for modern Turkey that FAZ calls the beginning of its second republic – Mr Erdogan’s rhetoric has swung from hot to lukewarm on whether to reinstate capital punishment, which was dropped in 2004 as part of Turkey’s EU membership bid. This weekend it turned red hot. Sporting a pair of black aviator sunglasses, Mr Erdogan bellowed these words on Saturday to a crowd chanting: “Execution! Execution!”
“Our government will take this proposal [on capital punishment] to parliament. I am sure parliament will approve it, and when it comes back to me, I will ratify it…Soon, soon, don’t worry. It’s happening soon, God willing. The West says this, the West says that. Excuse me, but what counts is not what the West says. What counts is what my people say.”
What should Europe do? Read more
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
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