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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

Jim Brunsden

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Duncan Robinson

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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

Duncan Robinson

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Theresa May, the woman overseeing the biggest shift in British foreign policy in half a century, was overshadowed by a small region of Belgium at the European Council on Thursday. Read more

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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

Duncan Robinson

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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

Jim Brunsden

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Matteo Renzi sent the European Commission some less-than-welcome news in the form of Italy’s 2017 budget plansRead more

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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

There was a touch of nervous twitching (Nicolas Sarkozy), a few polite sideswipes at the frontrunner (Alain Juppé), some jibes over integrity (deflected by Sarkozy and Juppé), a fair amount of policy consensus (almost unanimity on ditching the wealth tax and flouting EU deficit limits), and certainly a surplus dry preparation (technical talk came easy to most). But there was probably no breakthrough winner.

The seven hopefuls vying for France’s centre-right presidential nomination met for their first TV debate on Thursday night. Perhaps because nobody can doubt the importance of the contest – from it is likely to emerge France’s next president – the discipline held, as did probably the political order of things. Former prime minister Mr Juppé remains the man to beat and Mr Sarkozy can barely contain his irritation. There were mini-flashes of passion and raw politics. But the two-hour showdown became at times an arid, earnest affair. Probably a small mercy given what we endure in the White House race. Read more

Duncan Robinson

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Britain faces having to pay €20bn to leave the EURead more

Duncan Robinson

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Warsaw tore up a mooted $3.5bn deal with Airbus, starting a diplomatic war with Paris and worsening an already strained relationship with Berlin in the process. Read more

Jim Brunsden

“We’ve had this discussion…before where a number of ministers say, look whatever happens in Basel it cannot lead to higher capital requirements, and I said then and now that I don’t think that is the right starting point,” Mr Dijsselbloem told reporters. “I think the approach should be different.”

Jim Brunsden

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Euro area finance ministers’ discussions about Greece have been known to be many things: long, tortuous, bitter and occasionally career-endingRead more

Duncan Robinson

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By Arthur Beesley Read more

Duncan Robinson

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A small region of Belgium may determine the fate of an EU free trade deal with Canada – and potentially the terms of any post-Brexit deal with the UK. Read more

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There was a meeting last week that should make Brexiters sit up and take note. Captains of European business – the “European Roundtable of Industrialists” – held their annual evening pow-wow with Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande and Jean-Claude Juncker. This year the venue was the chancellery in Berlin. After enjoying white wine on the balcony and a Berlin sunset, the assorted executives (all male) moved to the dining room and a discussion of Europe’s economic future. Read more

Duncan Robinson

 

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

*Apologies to those who usually receive this Brussels Briefing by email. We’ve had some technical problems this morning

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