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It is Angela Merkel’s home state. There aren’t even many refugees there (23,000 in 2015 to be precise). But on Sunday rural Mecklenburg-Vorpommern earned a small footnote in post-war history, becoming the first state where the CDU has ever been outflanked by a party of the right. Just three years old, the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany upstart is steadily gaining electoral ground. It may be far from seizing power, even at local level. But the warning to Ms Merkel is clear. The AfD vote patterns in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern reflect a classic protest vote. It secured 20.8 per cent and drew support from all parties – from far left, to centre to far right. Most importantly, it mobilised abstainers and helped boost turnout. There was only one subject to rally around: disenchantment with Germany’s refugee policy. That seems unlikely to diminish as we head towards federal elections in 2017. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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TTIP is in a sorry state. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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It is the least welcome fiscal boost in history. By demanding that Apple hands over €13bn to Ireland, Brussels has metaphorically bundled the Irish government into an alley, while forcibly shoving €50 notes into its pocket. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Apple faces paying back billions in back-taxes when Brussels rules that a sweetheart tax deal with Ireland amounted to illegal state aid later today.

Everything about this decision is big. Apple is the world’s largest company. The back-taxes due will run into ten figures. The legal methods are relatively untested. And the political stakes are huge.

The Apple case cuts to the heart of the power struggle between Brussels and Washington over who sets the standards – whether on tax, privacy, or finance – for global business. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Welcome back! For a few happy weeks, officials were able to put Europe’s multiple crises to the back of their minds. No longer.

Those returning to their desks in Brussels, Berlin, Paris and beyond are confronted with a Hydra of misery: the refugee crisis rolls on, growth is still stagnant, and security concerns are mounting following a string of terror attacks.

A potentially huge referendum in Italy awaits as does another chance for Austria to vote in a far-right president. The fallout from Turkey’s failed coup creates instability at the EU’s border and – if the EU-Turkey refugee deal falls apart – further trouble in its core.

On top of all this, Britain has to decide how to extricate itself from the EU. Welcome back, indeed. Read more

Jim Brunsden

By Arthur Beesley in London

Europe is transfixed these days by Brexit, terrorism, migrants and the populist advance. But the riddle of Greece remains.

A damning new report by the IMF’s in-house inspectorate finds fault on several grounds with the fund’s approach to the country. This is backwards-looking exercise, which takes stock of bailouts for Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Yet there are clear implications for the next phase of the long battle to restore fiscal stability in Athens.

 Read more

Jim Brunsden

The scourge of the City of London, the Frenchman who sought to regulate the British financial services industry piece by piece, the Brussels commissioner who had the former Bank of England governor banging on his desk has returned.

The European Commission’s announcement yesterday that Michel Barnier is to lead its Brexit negotiation team was, in a town notorious for leaks, a genuine surprise. In Britain, his return has been received coolly by the government, and has widely been seen as a provocation. Remember also that Barnier has form with David Davis, Britain’s Brexit minister; the FT here looks at their first run-in as Europe ministers in the mid-1990s.

But who really is Michael Barnier? And what clues can be drawn from his past in Brussels to guide us about how he will approach this job?

 Read more

Jim Brunsden

After the horror comes the soul searching. And, with unseemly speed, so too comes the politics.

The revelations that the Syria refugee who blew himself up on Sunday night at a Bavarian music festival had pledged his allegiance to Isis has brutally revived nagging doubts in Germany about Angela Merkel’s refugee policy – specifically her decision in 2015 to welcome more than a million asylum seekers.

 

Germany is reeling. The suicide bombing was one of four attacks in the last eight days, three of which involved Afghan and Syria refugees as perpetrators. FAZ, in an editorial, asks simply how the country can“prevent the madness.” Read more

The offices have cleared, the traffic is calm, the sun is (supposed) to be out. Brussels is tranquil. But it belies a precarious week for the poor souls still left in town. There are still some delicate issues to deal with.

Italian banks are top of the list. Stress tests results will be released on Friday and a fix for the troubled Monte dei Paschi di Siena is still to be found. Matteo Renzi will be more fidgety than ever.

Germany and France are grappling with the aftermath of attacks – Germany faced an apparent suicide bombing last night, its fourth violent incident in a week – which are as unnerving as they are different. Read more

Matteo Renzi is politically cornered. Troubled banks – or more precisely Monte dei Paschi di Siena - have left the Italian premier facing a problem with no good answers.

 Read more

No relent in European news overnight. One state of emergency was declared in Turkey – suspending rights and giving president Recep Tayyip Erdogan near unlimited power – while another was prolonged in France, where the government is facing a harder time asserting its authority. Britain’s Theresa May met Angela Merkel for the first time, easing Brexit pressure on the UK a touch and prompting a journalistic scramble to find more similarities between the two leaders (a love of hill walking has been uncovered). Italy is racing to find creative answers to its banking woes and Matteo Renzi’s political quandary – while Italy’s populists call for taxpayer bailouts. And another Italian, Mario Draghi, will be forced to wrestle with his policy demons in public as the European Central Bank holds its monthly meeting. Oh, and happy Belgian national day.

Erdogan’s rule

 

Three months of emergency powers The move was announced following back to back national security council and cabinet meetings. Erdogan said: “As the president and commander in chief elected by the people of this country, I will take forward the struggle to cleanse our armed forces of this virus…The aim of this action is to quickly and effectively eliminate the threat to democracy in our country, the rule of law, and the rights and freedom of our citizens.”

What does it enable? Not since the martial law of the early 1980s has Turkey been subject to such unchecked central power. The FT’s Mehul Srivastava explains that it allows Mr Erdogan’s cabinet to issue decrees that take immediate effect and are not subject to review by the constitutional court (two judges on that court are among the 2,750 removed in the purge against suspected supporters of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric who Mr Erdogan blames for instigating the coup). Read more

Duncan Robinson

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The flow of people into Greece may have stopped, but elsewhere Europe’s migrant crisis continues unabated.

Tens of thousands of people are still making the dangerous crossing from north Africa to Italy every month – and more are dying than ever before.

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Manuel Valls’ dark prediction after attacks in Paris in November, that more lives would be lost as France grapples to contain the most severe terror threat since the Algerian independence war, materialised in Nice on Bastille Day.

But being right about innocent people dying is not a winning political strategy for any government.

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There is something numbing about watching the events buffeting Europe this month. A bloody botched coup in Turkey, shocking barbarism in Nice and of course the small matter of Brexit. These are times of extraordinary upheaval, and we are still only beginning to grasp the long term implications. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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“The horror, the horror has, once again, hit France,” said French president Francois Hollande after another tragic and heartbreaking day for France and Europe. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Theresa May has picked the team to take Britain out of the EU.

Staunch Brexiter David Davis will oversee negotiations as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, which provides the apt acronym “SSEE U!”

Mr Davis is an optimist, to put it lightly. The former Europe minister (two decades ago) revealed a rather punchy Brexit plan in the aftermath of the vote: first, sign trade deals with anyone and everyone outside the EU, including the US and China, creating the world’s largest trade bloc. The bulk of this can be done in two years, he says. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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By Arthur Beesley

US treasury secretary Jack Lew visits Brussels today for talks withMargrethe Vestager, competition commissioner.

The meeting comes amid transatlantic tension over the European Commission’s long state-aid inquiry into Apple’s tax arrangements in Ireland.

Ms Vestager’s investigations continue. She had informal discussions on Tuesday with Irish finance minister Michael Noonan on the margins of a regular EU meeting in Brussels. Read more

Duncan Robinson

Theresa May will be the next prime minister of Britain – and become the chief architect of its departure from the EU.

The soon-to-be former home secretary will be a familiar face to many of those sitting across the negotiating table in Brussels. Read more

Jim Brunsden

As Brexit Britain weighs the option of a free-trade agreement to access to the EU single market, it would do well to consider the sobering example of a similar deal betweenEurope and Canada. It is relatively uncontentious, yet floundering in choppy political waters.

Known as CETA, talks on a deal concluded almost two years ago, and opposition to it has been growing ever since. Intertwined in the public consciousness with a much bigger trade pact that’s in the works with the US, the deal has become a prime target for green groups, trade unions and left wing parties, which see it as a free-market attack on regulation. Read more

Jim Brunsden

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One of the major legacies of the euro area debt crisis has been tougher oversight of how well, or badly, countries respect EU fiscal rulesRead more