European Union

Theresa May, the UK prime minister, says that “Brexit means Brexit”. But when will it actually happen?

The whole question of the timing of Britain’s departure from the EU is now open to question. Britain has still not triggered Article 50, which gives formal notification that the UK intends to leave and fires the starting gun for negotiations. The Sunday Times claimed recently that Article 50 may not be triggered until late next year because of a mixture of administrative chaos in the UK and political uncertainty caused by elections in France and Germany in 2017.

Given that it will then probably take a minimum of two years to negotiate the divorce, that would mean that Britain’s exit from the EU would not happen until the end of 2019. Over at the Independent, however, Andrew Grice makes the case that delaying Brexit this long is not politically feasibleRead more

By Gideon Rachman

At the Democratic convention last week, I experienced an uncomfortable feeling of déjà vu. Emblazoned across the arena was the rallying cry of the Hillary Clinton campaign — “Stronger Together”. It was a depressing reminder of “Stronger In,” the slogan of the losing Remain campaign in Britain’s referendum on EU membership.

Italy’s struggling banks pose a test for Renzi and the EU

Italy’s banking system is struggling in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and ahead of stress tests this month. What does this mean for the future of Matteo Renzi, Italy’s prime minister, and for Europe’s wider economic prospects? Daniel Dombey puts the question to the FT’s Alex Barker and James Politi.

European rivals eye London’s banking business
How far will Frankfurt and Paris go to claim the business of the City of London once the UK has left the European Union? Which other cities are in the running and how many jobs does London stand to lose? Gideon Rachman puts these questions to Michael Stothard, the FT’s Paris correspondent and James Shotter, Frankfurt correspondent.Cancel

By Gideon Rachman

All good dramas involve the suspension of disbelief. So it was with Brexit. I went to bed at 4am on Friday depressed that Britain had voted to leave the EU. The following day my gloom only deepened. But then, belatedly, I realised that I have seen this film before. I know how it ends. And it does not end with the UK leaving Europe.

With just a day to go before voting, the result of the British referendum on EU membership is anybody’s guess. The most recent FT poll-of-polls has Leave ahead by 45-44 – and there will be further polls released later today. Those hopeful Remainers who thought they had spotted a potentially decisive surge to their side late last week have been disappointed, as some recent polls have seen a swing back to Leave.

Both sides have an extra factor from which they take comfort. The Remain side point to the fact that the bookmakers still predict that Britain will vote to Remain inside the EU – Ladbrokes, my local turf accountants, are offering odds of 3-1 against Brexit. But the pro-Leave camp have a different source of encouragement. They are boosted by the extremely strong pro-Leave sentiment that many MPs are encountering on the doorsteps, as they campaign. One pro-Leave campaigner says that if that sentiment is genuinely reflected at the ballot box, he would not be surprised if his side wins by as much as 57-43. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

I just want the EU referendum to be over now. The horrific killing of Jo Cox, only a week before the vote, will overshadow the result, whatever it is.

Germany and France: Different world outlook

In an indication of the obstacles that may face a renewed push for closer European integration, a poll released on Tuesday pointed to significant differences in world outlook between the peoples of Germany and France, the nations that were once the motor of EU unity.

According to the Pew Research Center’s survey, entitled “Europeans Face the World Divided”, Germans are considerably more confident than the French about their place in the world and the desirability of international co-operation.

Some 62 per cent of Germans think their country plays a more important global role than it did 10 years ago, compared with only 23 per cent of French people. By contrast, 46 per cent of the French think their country plays a lesser role, compared with only 11 per cent of Germans. Read more

Ukraine in turmoil
How bleak is the outlook for Ukraine? The Prime Minister has resigned, the President is implicated in the Panama papers and the Dutch have rejected an EU-Ukraine trade deal. Gideon Rachman puts the question to the FT Ukraine correspondent Roman Olearchyk and the FT’s Eastern Europe Editor, Neil Buckley.

Can the EU-Turkey deal resolve Europe’s migration crisis?
European leaders have negotiated a deal with Turkey aimed at stemming the flow of refugees into the European Union. But can it work? Gideon Rachman puts the question to Alex Barker, the FT’s European diplomatic editor, and Tony Barber, the FT’s Europe editor.

Cameron’s message to the European Union
David Cameron has set out his demands for a new relationship with the European Union ahead of a referendum on Britain’s membership. Gideon Rachman discusses how the UK prime minister’s message is being received at home and in the rest of Europe with George Parker and Alex Barker

Europe’s fraying union
Mark Vandevelde, executive comment editor, joins Gideon Rachman, Tony Barber and Peter Spiegel to discuss how the dual euro and refugee crises are putting strain on the EU, what role the Schengen agreement may or not have played in the latter, and whether or not the union can weather the storm.

By Gideon Rachman
There is a comforting cliché in Brussels that the EU needs crises in order to progress. But the current cocktail of problems facing Europe — refugees, the euro and the danger that Britain might leave the union — look far more likely to overwhelm the EU than to strengthen it.

Who loses most from the Greek rescue deal?
On Monday Athens was given a long list of economic reforms it needed to implement in return for another EU bailout. Was it a humiliation for the Greeks or a capitulation by the Germans? Gideon Rachman and Wolfgang Munchau discuss who was the biggest loser.

It is not just the Greeks who are lamenting a humiliating defeat in Brussels.

The Spanish government, too, has suffered a stinging setback. The headlines on Tuesday morning told the story: “Spain left without influence in the EU,” declared El Mundo. The El País daily, meanwhile, bemoaned the “diplomatic incompetence” that produced this latest Spanish “failure”.

Despite furious lobbying from Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, and despite the support of Germany, Madrid failed to get what it so badly wanted: the appointment of Luis de Guindos as the next president of the eurogroup. “De Guindos loses and plunges Spain into political irrelevance,” remarked el diario, the Spanish news website. Read more

By Gideon Rachman
Europe woke up on Monday to a lot of headlines about the humiliation of Greece, the triumph of an all-powerful Germany and the subversion of democracy in Europe.

Europe’s moment of decision on Greece
Is this week finally the one when Greece defaults on its debts and crashes out of the euro? Gideon Rachman is joined by Henry Foy and Ferdinando Giugliano to discuss an apparent hardening of opinion among Europe’s politicians towards Greek appeals for debt relief.

By Gideon Rachman
Greece’s No vote was greeted with euphoria in Athens’s Syntagma Square: the fountains were bathed in red light, the flags waved, the crowds sang patriotic songs. Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister, had said the vote was about national pride and his message had struck home. One young woman, a freelance journalist, confided: “I actually voted Yes. But part of me is glad Greece said No. We are a small country, but we have a big history. This is about our dignity.”

By Gideon Rachman
The shuttered banks of Greece represent a profound failure for the EU. The current crisis is not just a reflection of the failings of the modern Greek state, it is also about the failure of a European dream of unity, peace and prosperity.

By Gideon Rachman
As EU leaders head into this week’s emergency talks , they face a choice of three hazardous routes out of the Greek crisis. Route one involves making concessions to Greece. Route two involves standing firm and allowing Greece to leave the euro. Route three involves Athens largely accepting the demands of its creditors.