• Inching towards Jersey

      Inching towards Jersey

      Last week at Chequers, the British prime minister's country house, the UK cabinet signed off a statement outlining its aspiration for the post-Brexit trading relationship with the EU. The UK and EU are still no closer to reaching agreement on the outstanding withdrawal issues, including the Irish backstop. But the Chequers statement gives useful insight into the PM's preferred final landing point. Indeed, continued close alignment with the EU on goods has been signalled as the preferred direction of travel since Theresa May's Mansion House speech in March.

    • The story of two summits: Can NATO navigate the dangers

      The story of two summits: Can NATO navigate the dangers

      Leaders are worried about what US President Donald Trump may say at the NATO summit in Brussels this month, and what he might agree to in his first proper summit meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin a few days later. A bad tempered NATO summit followed by an ill-considered rapprochement with Russia would further divide the West.

    • Law and order

      Law and order

      Law and Order is a top-charter US TV series. At first sight it may seem paradoxical but it is exactly the issue of law and order, i.e. security, that could have nearly toppled German Chancellor Angela Merkel and along with that destroyed the European Union altogether.

    • The UK leaves the EU but not Europe

      The UK leaves the EU but not Europe

      It has been 10 years on [since Bulgaria’s accession to the EU] and Bulgaria has had the Presidency of the Council of the EU to recognise that. That is a great achievement and congratulations to the government and the people of Bulgaria. When we look back 10 years ago, some people had doubts about the accession of Bulgaria and I had my doubts, too. But some of the problems then still exist.

    • EU to Balkans: Playing hardball or playing with fire?

      EU to Balkans: Playing hardball or playing with fire?

      Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had their work cut out by the General Affairs Council (CAG) to be able to formally open accession negotiations with the EU at the earliest in June, next year. This conditional offer reflects the rigour that presently defines the enlargement process, which seeks to prevent the Balkan countries from prematurely entering the EU.

    • At 6 months, Austria's coalition support remains stable

      At 6 months, Austria's coalition support remains stable

      Six months ago, on 18 December, the new Austrian government was sworn in. Its composition guaranteed international media attention: First, the 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz, leader of the conservative People’s Party (OVP), became chancellor. Second, the radical right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) returned to power. Its long-term leader Heinz-Christian Strache became Austria’s vice-chancellor. Last year, not only the FPO, but also the OVP put restrictive positions on immigration and integration at the centre of its electoral campaign. The parties of the left proved unable to respond effectively – the Social Democrats (SPO) lost the chancellorship, while the Greens were voted out of parliament completely. The OVP and FPO agreed on a coalition agreement that focuses on liberal economic policies and measures to reduce immigration.

    • Stop the whining and start rethinking global rulebook

      Stop the whining and start rethinking global rulebook

      Enough tears have been shed, egos and emotions shaken and obituaries written about the transatlantic relationship. It’s time to move on. So wipe the tears, stop the whining and turn over a new page. The US has embarked on a new journey. The EU should do the same. Europe has already started to woo new partners, tackle fresh challenges and explore roads less-travelled. But more can be done.

    • Italy's migration approach risks messy repercussions

      Italy's migration approach risks messy repercussions

      Just days after its formation, the Italian government has become the protagonist of yet another heated debate on migration. Having caused a diplomatic crisis with Tunisia by claiming that “Tunisia exports convicts”, newly appointed Interior Minister Matteo Salvini declared on 9 June that he would prevent the Aquarius – a ship carrying 629 sub-Saharan African migrants rescued off the Libyan coast – from accessing Italian ports. Italy argued that responsibility for hosting the migrants fell on Malta, which rejected the claim on the grounds that the rescue took place in Libyan territorial waters under Italian oversight. In the day or so it took to resolve – with the Spanish government's decision to allow the Aquarius to dock in Valencia – the dispute produced a series of reactions and controversies.

    • Rules-based trade made world rich

      Rules-based trade made world rich

      Nations sell goods and services to each other because this exchange is generally mutually beneficial. It’s easy to understand that Iceland should not be growing its own oranges, given its climate. Instead, Iceland should buy oranges from Spain, which can grow them more cheaply, and sell Spaniards fish, which are abundant in its waters.

    • Italy will confront EU, but will stay in currency union

      Italy will confront EU, but will stay in currency union

      Almost three months after elections, Italy has a government. The coalition between the populist Five Star Movement and the nationalist League will lead to friction between Italy and Brussels. But the EU should avoid head-on confrontation and wait to see what the new government does. The government is not as radical as it could be: League leader Matteo Salvini and Five Star Leader Di Maio are deputy prime ministers, and the eurosceptic Paolo Savona, initially vetoed by Italy's President as finance minister, is minister for Europe – allowing Salvini to claim victory despite his swift climb down. But the government includes moderate figures, with economics professor Giovanni Tria in the finance ministry, and Enzo Moavero Milanesi, Europe minister in Mario Monti's government, as foreign minister.