Duncan Robinson

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Away from the spotlight, the EU this weekend reached an altogether different deal with Afghanistan, aimed at increasing the number of deportations from Europe to the war-torn country. Read more

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Sunday was probably a defining moment for Brexit. Far from procrastinating or playing for time, Theresa May appeared to make a big strategy call. From the hubbub of the Conservative party conference has emerged clarity on when she will start Article 50 exit talks (by March 2017) and what her goals will be. Read more

Jim Brunsden

The increasing woes of Deutsche Bank demonstrate that Europe’s banking crisis is still not settled. But the troubles at Germany’s biggest lender have not deterred Brussels from pushing back forcefully against stringent new banking rules.

How things change. Back in October 2010 Michel Barnier, the then EU financial services commissioner pledged to be “vigilant” in making sure that nations around the world – especially the US – implemented international bank rules. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Article 50 has sent the lawyers into a frenzy. The British government has been forced to publish its argument on why triggering the formal EU divorce clause does not require an act of parliament (and a potentially troublesome vote among MPs*) in an impending court case. Read more

James Politi

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It may have already been abundantly clear that Matteo Renzi is in full campaign mode ahead of his do-or-die December 4 referendum, after his attacks on the EU at the end of this month’s Bratislava summit. Read more

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Normally, only 20 sign up for presidential visits.For the embattled socialist leader, who is seeking to restore his shattered popularity before (probably) seeking reelection next year, the northern French port was a photo opportunity he had managed to avoid – choosing to expose his interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve instead. The “Jungle” – a shantytown in the fringe of Calais where 9,000 migrants from Africa and the Middle East live in squalor in the daytime and risk their lives to reach the UK at night – has become the symbol of the failure of France and the EU to deal with the largest migration to affect the continent since the second world war. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Back in February, Jeremy Corbyn regaled the House of Commons with a tale from his first trip to Brussels, in the wake of David Cameron’s ill-fated renegotiation with the EU. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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While l’imbroglio Franco-Belge makes for fun headlines, the image of two normally friendly neighbours scrapping highlights the dysfunction of the EU’s collective migration policy. The Dublin system, which is supposed to dictate responsibility for refugees, is broken. Schengen has a surprising number of border checks for a passport-free travel zone. The flagship relocation scheme – designed to share out refugees more equally – has flopped. Read more

Jim Brunsden

It is one of the bleakest assessments yet of the euro’s survival prospects, and it comes from some of its most committed supporters. An international group or senior policymakers including former WTO chief Pascal Lamy and former ECB board member Jörg Asmussen yesterday published a plan to “repair and prepare” the single currency. Their message? Change, or die:

“Europe will again be hit by a new economic crisis. We do not know whether this will be in six weeks, six months or six years. But in its current set-up, the euro is unlikely to survive.”

Their plan, which can be read here, includes a “first aid kit” of short-term measures to deal with urgent issues such as the lack of pooled firepower to deal with a banking crisis, as well as more long term projects, including the creation of a European Monetary Fund.

In short, exactly the kind of forward thinking agenda that the EU’s leaders have been at pains to avoid talking about in recent months.

 Read more

Duncan Robinson

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It is the last thing the European Commission needs. Just as the furore over Jose Manuel Barroso’s new job at Goldman Sachs starts to subside, another scandal emerges involving the business practices of a former commissioner. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Brussels is making a last gasp push to save CETA, the EU’s controversial free trade deal with Canada, as officials admit that a similar deal with the US is – for now – dead. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Angela Merkel said that she would “rewind time”, if she could, and deal with Germany’s influx of refugees differently, marking the first time that the German chancellor had confessed to mishandling the crisis. Read more

Jim Brunsden

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After a gentle ride down the Danube, the choppier political waters of home.

Having pondered the future of Europe with fellow leaders at Friday’s summit in Bratislava, Angela Merkel is this morning digesting the latest warning given to her by the German electorate, after Berlin went to the polls.

The election marks another breakthrough for the anti-immigrant and eurosceptic Alternative für Deutschland party, which will enter the capital’s state parliament for the first time, having finished in fifth place with 14.2 per cent of the vote. As for Merkel’s CDU, it held on to second place but saw its vote share fall to 17.6 per cent - its poorest result ever in Berlin.

The outcome should not be overstated; the AfD stands no chance of actually enjoying power in a coalition. It is, though, the latest in a pattern of striking AfD successes – just two weeks ago the party spectacularly leapfrogged Ms Merkel’s CDU to claim second place in her home region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Markus Söder, a senior member of the CSU, the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s christian democrats, described the vote as “the second massive wake-up call in a fortnight.” Read more

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Chaos. That’s the word to watch at today’s summit of European leaders in Bratislava. It is just one rhetorical flourish in the draft post-summit media statement, a promise that Europe will avoid the migration “chaos” of last year. But the dispute over it offers a glimpse into the dynamics of that summit room, and Angela Merkel’s considerable but waning clout in this EU club. Read more

Jim Brunsden

What links the US, China, Canada and Japan? No, it isn’t their membership of the G20, it’s their inclusion in an EU document that is in no way, shape, or form a draft of the EU’s new tax havens blacklist.

On Wednesday, the Commission published a “scoreboard” looking at aspects of non-EU countries’ tax systems. It makes for interesting reading:

The idea is that the information can help governments whittle down which countries might be included in a blacklist of “non-cooperative jurisdictions” that the EU is planning to draw up next year. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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If Brexit is viewed as a divorce, then Britain has only just moved into the spare bedroom. But the other 27 members of the EU have to start moving on now. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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When Jean-Claude Juncker gave his state of the union speech this time last year, he confessed: “Our European Union is not in a good state.” Read more

Jim Brunsden

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For candidate European commissioners, a few guiding principles can help them survive confirmation hearings at the European Parliament: know something about your policy area, don’t have a dodgy past, and say lots of nice things about MEPs. Read more

Duncan Robinson

Those squealing tyres you can hear are coming from the Berlaymont. Days after launching their proposed “fair use” policy on roaming, the European Commission has pulled the guidelines.

An initial draft was published on 5.9.2016. The Commission services have, on the instruction of President Juncker, withdrawn the draft and are working on a new version.

 Read more

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Francois Hollande’s rentrée speech yesterday was first and foremost a feel-good exercise. For an hour, the French socialist president, whom nearly 90 per cent of the French do not want to see running for a second term next year, was surrounded by true friends – zero risk of betrayal à la Emmanuel Macron. Read more