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AnalysisWhat does the death of the EU data directive mean?

09.04.14 @ 09:25

The EU's data retention directive was agreed in 2006, in the wake of terrorist attacks in Madrid and London in 2004 and 2005 respectively, as governments attempted to tighten national security rules. Under the regime, ...

AnalysisHungary's political left partly responsible for rise of its far-right

28.03.14 @ 09:26

The significant inroads made by Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front in the recent regional elections in France – especially in traditionally socialist strongholds – came as a surprise to many. But the far-right ...

AnalysisThe fall of Britain's far-right party

13.03.14 @ 09:01

Back in June 2009, the far-right British National Party (BNP) was basking in the dubious glow of what appeared to be a significant electoral achievement. Having amassed 943,598 votes (6.2 percent of votes cast) in the ...

AnalysisA political obsessive's paradise: A 28 nation opinion poll

20.02.14 @ 09:11

There are few things that political obsessives love more than opinion polls. On Wednesday (19 February), Brussels' army of amateur psephologists saw their dreams come true. A poll for all twenty eight EU countries. The ...

AnalysisWould a eurozone committee enrich the EU parliament?

12.02.14 @ 19:16

The European Parliament seems likely to create a new committee specifically for the eurozone when MEPs convene in July for the first meetings of the new legislature. The idea, set out in a letter from Sharon Bowles, the ...

AnalysisBulgaria: One step forward, two steps back

24.01.14 @ 11:37

When Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU on 1 January 2007, they still had serious shortcomings in crucial areas, such as the rule of law, fighting corruption and organised crime, and reforming the judiciary. Regardless, ...

Analysis'I'm in politics to seek solutions, not to block things'

17.01.14 @ 18:36

Debating how to increase the role of national parliaments in EU law making is far from being a new subject, nor is it one to set the pulse racing But that didn't matter to the several hundred political hacks, academics ...

AnalysisA view from London: Desperately seeking EU reform

16.01.14 @ 10:15

Those who say that Britons don't care about Europe would have been in for a shock. On Wednesday (15 January) the Westminster elite flocked to the headquarters of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, just a few hundred ...

AnalysisGreece in search of dignity, as crisis subsides

13.01.14 @ 18:28

After more than four years of international humiliation as the result of an economic crisis that has piled innumerable indignities on its people, Greece is keen to restore some national pride. "Our common quest" is the ...

AnalysisIs the Greek economy ready to come off life support?

09.01.14 @ 09:29

After six consecutive years of recession, the Greek economy might finally be allowed to leave its life support machine this year. The country's debt burden should start to fall in 2014. So should unemployment. It may ...

AnalysisEU bank resolution, Schleswig-Holstein, and how to make sense of it

20.12.13 @ 11:31

“Only three people ... ever really understood the Schleswig-Holstein business - the Prince Consort, who is dead, a German professor, who has gone mad, and I, who have forgotten all about it." At least, that is what the ...

AnalysisWorld trade deal expected to boost EU nations

09.12.13 @ 10:32

Hailed as "historic" by British Prime Minister David Cameron, the surprise world trade deal agreed over the weekend in Bali aims to lower the cost of exports by simplifying customs procedures and reducing import duties. ...

AnalysisDr Who and the EU: Priorities for an independent Scotland

27.11.13 @ 09:26

An independent Scotland would keep the BBC's Dr Who, the pound and the EU, although perhaps not in that order. At least, that was the pitch from the country's first minister, Alec Salmond, as he unveiled his plans for ...

AnalysisEU and Ukraine: What went wrong?

25.11.13 @ 11:59

When Oleh Rybachuk, a senior Ukrainian envoy, came to Brussels in early 2005, he wanted one thing: a public statement that Ukraine can one day join the EU. It was just a few months after the Orange Revolution. Hundreds ...

Analysis'EU voters have not warmed to immigration'

24.10.13 @ 09:24

The European elections are still seven months away, but fears of what they will show about the state of the EU already loom large. French Prime Minister Francois Hollande said they could lead to "regression and ...

AnalysisEU business reform: A threat or a promise from Britain?

17.10.13 @ 09:40

European businesses are hampered by "problematic, poorly-understood and burdensome" rules. At least, that was the verdict of the "Cut EU red tape" report released amid much domestic fanfare this week by UK Prime ...

AnalysisLessons from Ireland's failed bank guarantee

01.10.13 @ 07:53

On 30 September 2008 the Irish government announced it will guarantee all banks, their loans and deposits to the tune of €440 billion - three times the size of the country's economy. It was two weeks into the global ...

AnalysisWhen banks need a backstop

24.09.13 @ 19:35

In Brussels this week talks have returned to the familiar theme of banks, bailouts and backstops. On Monday (23 September) European Central Bank boss Mario Draghi told MEPs on the influential Economic affairs committee ...

AnalysisWhy did Germans vote for Merkel, again?

23.09.13 @ 20:55

One of the myths of German politics is that parties and their political platforms matter more than personalities. The electoral system is mixed - a direct vote for a local MP and a vote for the preferred party. But ...

AnalysisGerman elections: Little change for EU

19.09.13 @ 08:53

An Italian cartoon published in Espresso magazine earlier this summer depicts a little girl on a beach telling her father that she needs to pee. The father replies: "Hold it until the German elections." The joke refers ...

AnalysisPublic opinion stands in way of EU shale gas revolution

28.08.13 @ 18:45

If the oil and gas industry thought that a US-style shale gas revolution would seamlessly find its way across the Atlantic, it has had a rude awakening. Getting public support for fracking in Europe risks descending ...

AnalysisWhy did Schaeuble break the Greek bailout taboo?

28.08.13 @ 09:27

The German election campaign had a rather dull start. Mid-August, Chancellor Angela Merkel kicked off her tour through the country - with over 50 rallies to be held in different towns and cities by 22 September when ...

AnalysisBulgarians: Citizens with a cause

26.07.13 @ 20:29

It has been more than 40 days now since protests started in Bulgaria's capital. Thousands hit the streets in Sofia every day to voice their frustration and disgust with the Bulgarian political establishment. It all ...

AnalysisUS enthusiastic about trade deal despite culture opt-out

24.06.13 @ 09:24

After months of enthusiastic talk about the most lucrative trade agreement in history, EU-US trade negotiations got off to an inauspicious start. With their American counterparts waiting in Washington, EU trade ...

AnalysisLiberty and the EU-US trade talks

14.06.13 @ 09:18

The most important issue on the agenda of EU trade ministers meeting on Friday (14 June) is the approval of a mandate that will allow the European Commission to open negotiations with the United States on a ‘ ...

AnalysisDemocracy is the real victim in the Greek tragedy

12.06.13 @ 07:27

The IMF staff report leaked last Wednesday (5 June) evening was a guided missile aimed at the European Commission. Contained in the Fund's 50-page mea culpa were two accusations levelled at the EU's executive arm: that ...

AnalysisListening to Britain on EU reform

03.06.13 @ 18:29

'Listening' was the watchword of William Hague's speech at the Koenigswinter conference last Friday, an understated - and welcome - approach after the fire and brimstone that has dominated recent debate on the UK's ...

AnalysisCold War politics hang over EU shale gas revolution

17.05.13 @ 09:21

The shale gas revolution has taken its time to arrive in Europe. But after years of watching the US plunge head-first into natural gas exploration and of reaping the rewards, Europe's politicians are now deciding ...

AnalysisPoor pay: the flipside of Germany's low unemployment

26.04.13 @ 10:10

With its record-low unemployment (5.4%), Germany stands out among fellow eurozone countries such as France or Spain, suffering from sky-high jobless rates. Part of Germany's success is due to a series of reforms pushed ...

AnalysisIn search of Europe's prophets

19.04.13 @ 08:40

Among other things, recent European politics has suffered from a shortage of prophets. Although it would be a stretch to describe Michael Higgins as a prophet, the Irish president is possibly Europe's only intellectual ...

AnalysisWhy is Austria so keen on bank secrecy?

15.04.13 @ 19:23

Tax evasion has risen to prominence on the EU agenda following the money laundering discussions surrounding Cyprus' bailout and the recent revelations concerning Europeans hiding their wealth in complex offshore schemes ...

AnalysisThatcher's European legacy

09.04.13 @ 09:29

From her days in opposition to her sudden and dramatic demise, Europe was at the heart of Margaret Thatcher's 11 years as British Prime Minister. As with her domestic legacy, Thatcher's attitude towards Europe is more ...

AnalysisThe EU needs to speak the public's language, not austerity-speak

26.03.13 @ 20:26

Together with a long-standing attachment to politics by summit, the EU is fond of acronyms. How else can you describe a world inhabited by QMV, Coreper and co-decision, not to mention trialogues, comitology and the ...

AnalysisCyprus 'business model' was no mystery to EU

22.03.13 @ 09:30

Be it the German finance minister, European Central Bank (ECB) officials or the head of the Eurogroup - they all agree on one thing: Cyprus must scrap its "unsustainable business model" based on low taxes and attracting ...

AnalysisCyprus showcases Germany's clumsy leadership in Europe

19.03.13 @ 17:37

The Cyprus bailout fiasco is yet another example of Germany's clumsy leadership and image problem in Europe. It was only last month that the German President, Joachim Gauck, made an attempt to reassure people in ...

AnalysisBeppe Grillo - an Italian or European phenomenon?

08.03.13 @ 17:16

Beppe Grillo's extraordinary success in the recent Italian elections tapped into anti-establishment feeling that is ripe for the plucking in other member states too, say analysts. Grillo's 5-Star Movement, established ...

AnalysisComplex EU law-making dubbed 'infernal, undemocratic'

04.03.13 @ 09:24

Brussels is awash with stories about the unhealthy influence of lobbyists on law-makers but as big a scandal, say some experts, is the increasing amount of legislation made with little scrutiny at all. The lack of ...

AnalysisUnemployment now the main problem in eurozone

25.02.13 @ 18:18

February 22 was a black Friday wherever you were in Europe. The morning brought the publication of dismal economic data to the effect that the eurozone will remain in recession in 2013. Then, at 10pm Brussels time as ...

AnalysisGerman musings: Is Cyprus too small for a bailout?

30.01.13 @ 17:40

German politicians have a jaundiced view of Cyprus. Apart from associating it with money laundering and tax dumping, they are now wondering whether it is big enough to be worth bailing out. The new catchphase is " ...

AnalysisFifty-year treaty party comes at low point in Franco-German relations

21.01.13 @ 09:20

Franco-German relations are about to be celebrated in style. The entire French government, most of the Assemblee nationale, plus a handful of senators – about 600 people all told - will decamp to Berlin on Monday (21 ...

AnalysisAngela Merkel, too powerful to fail?

07.01.13 @ 09:17

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's New Year speech had a rather unusual opening: "2013 will be a year of many 50 year-celebrations. Fifty years ago, the New Year's classic [sketch] 'Dinner for one' was recorded in ...

AnalysisShepherding Italian democracy

03.01.13 @ 09:35

There has been a great deal of flurry in recent days over the resignation of Italy's unelected technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti, the consequent snap elections scheduled for February that have spooked markets, and ...

AnalysisEU summitry - a useful evil

18.12.12 @ 09:29

It's easy to be exasperated by the EU's seemingly endless capacity to have summits - a capacity that has stretched still further with the eurozone crisis. EU leaders travel to Brussels for one of two types of meetings. ...

AnalysisWhat chance an EU-US trade deal?

10.12.12 @ 09:52

The relationship between the US and Europe has historically been about diplomacy. But in these economically-straitened times, the focus on foreign policy has shifted. Indeed, negotiations on a bilateral trade accord are ...

AnalysisEU budget summit exposes weak Franco-German relations

26.11.12 @ 09:25

It was funny old summit last week. It broke off without agreement on the EU's 2014-2020 budget. But the failure was neither a big surprise nor particularly acrimonious. Already before the meeting, German Chancellor ...

AnalysisAntiquated but decisive - how America votes

06.11.12 @ 08:47

There is something satisfying about an election process that sees people vote and find out who their new leaders are on the same day. Most European elections are not so clear cut - the proportional or preferential ...

AnalysisWhat's at stake for Europe as America votes?

05.11.12 @ 09:16

On Tuesday (6 November) America goes to the polls, with President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney still in a statistical dead-heat. Millions of Europeans will stay up until the early hours of ...

AnalysisWhen two become one - the Strasbourg super-session

24.10.12 @ 21:19

Thousands of EU officials will return to Brussels wearier than usual on Friday (26 October) but, on balance, will probably be grateful for a Parliament decision that saved them from another round-trip. The latest act in ...

AnalysisParliament bares teeth on ECB

22.10.12 @ 10:34

Prior to the 2009 elections the European Central Bank (ECB) did not take the European Parliament very seriously. In its defence, it did not need to. The bank's function was just to control price stability through ...

AnalysisGermany out on top after late-night summit

19.10.12 @ 16:27

EU leaders left Brussels Friday (19 October) after having spent the best part of the meeting tweaking wording on a banking union that was supposed to have been clear in June. They went back to their hotels at a bleary- ...