Duncan Robinson

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It takes a lot to shock people who work with migrants in north Africa, but revelations of active slave markets in Libya managed it. Read more

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Host Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, proudly tweeted the menu shortly after lunchtime, describing it as an “homage to Spanish cuisine”: artichokes with Spanish ham, sea bass cooked in Galician wine with leeks, followed by caramelised torrijas (a version of French toast) with ice cream. The white wine was a bone-dry Albariño, the red came from Rioja. Read more

Jim Brunsden

Duncan Robinson

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Stockholm joined a miserable list on Friday. The Swedish capital became the latest European city – after London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin and Nice – to be hit by a recent terror attack. Read more

James Politi

Anyone getting too comfortable with the idea that Paolo Gentiloni and his competently low-key Italian government can make it until 2018 was given quite a jolt this week. Mr Gentiloni, who took over as prime minister last December from Matteo Renzi, is in fact skating on pretty thin ice.

This week brought a vivid reminder of that reality. In Italian politics, there is an ever-present danger that even the smallest accidents can spiral out of control. Read more

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Few expected the professors of Budapest’s Central European University to push back so strongly when their turn came in the form of a bill rushed through parliament on Tuesday, which may force its closureRead more

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Duncan Robinson

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The Italian government has taken the lead in dealing with the Libyans (whose fractured state makes the plural appropriate). It is part of the wider EU strategy aimed at stopping people coming to Europe while simultaneously reducing the number of deaths at sea. Read more

Jim Brunsden

We cannot know for certain what Alfonso Dastis, Spain’s foreign minister, thought to himself on Sunday when he switched on the television and saw that Michael Howard, a former British minister, was talking about war to protect Gibraltar, but he might well have permitted himself a smile.

The past few days have been a diplomatic masterclass from Madrid. Read more

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

Duncan Robinson

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Duncan Robinson

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Some say it is short – little more than three pages – others that it will run longer. Whatever it says, you have to feel sorry for the poor protocol people. Should Britain’s EU envoy walk or drive the 150 yards? Should there be an envelope? A commemorative photo? Some die-hard Remainers will be wishing he just gave it to the Belgian postal system for “safekeeping”. 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

Duncan Robinson

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Britain has a trade deficit with the EU in most sectors, apart from one: asylum seekers. Read more

Well it did not disappoint. There were dull moments and missed opportunities of course, and they could have spared us the policy lists. But when the French Five met they brought some biting put-downs, animated debate and flashes of passion. It was a worthy debate for a remarkable presidential race. The FT’s topline:

Finger pointing, innuendos and sarcastic remarks made for a lively first French presidential debate on Monday as the main candidates for France’s highest office clashed over Islam, the economy and the money scandals that have shaken the contest.

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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

The snow storm that forced Angela Merkel to postpone her visit to see Donald Trump in Washington may prove a blessing for the German chancellor.

Instead of seeing the new US president on Tuesday, when the result of the widely-watched Dutch election was still uncertain, she will meet him today – safe in the knowledge that prime minister Mark Rutte, her conservative ally, has retained power and fought off the populist Geert Wilders. 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