The Franco-German axis, which for so long has defined the European Union, has taken some serious hits lately. Following the trauma of the eurozone crisis, the relationship between the two countries is heading towards a historic post-war low – to the point that Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy are no longer on speaking terms according to whispers in Brussels. This wasn’t helped by Sarkozy’s comments the other week that “95 percent” of the bailout package deal agreed corresponded to French demands.
Facing down Iran, French president Nicolas Sarkozy stood shoulder to shoulder with President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Pittsburgh last week. Or so it might be said. The statements of all three were consistent as they denounced the Islamic Republic’s construction of a secret nuclear facility. But in this stage show of solidarity, body language sent a different message. Obama and Brown really did stand side by side. Sarkozy stood apart, looking a little like he’d been asked to stand as best man at a stranger’s wedding.
The parliament in Budapest decided on Wednesday that Hungarians living abroad are eligible for Hungarian passports. Slovakia reacted promptly with a law stripping all those who accept Hungary’s offer of their Slovakian passports. The press calls the dispute an anachronism, and sees Hungary’s move as interference in the Slovakian election campaign.
In the context of the Europe 2020 strategy and the Digital Agenda for Europe, the European Commission has published its annual report (for 2009) on the progress towards a single European electronic communications market:
Yesterday we published a range of different promises and reckless predictions made by politicans regarding the euro over the last 15 years. Its quite clear that politicans, central bankers and others got it spectacularly wrong on the euro – displaying a combination of naïve idealism, incompetence and dishonesty.
The elections to the Czech parliament started today, Friday, on the first of two days of polling. While surveys put ex-prime minister Jiří Paroubek’s Social Democratic Party ahead of the conservative Civic Democratic Party, commentators write that voters have little room for manoeuvre and fear new parties will destabilise the country’s political landscape.
Tough times call for tough sacrifices. Economies everywhere, desperate to continue their uphill climb out of the global recession, have imbibed this sound logic, however grudgingly. The French, however, don’t seem agree with the conventional wisdom: strikes erupted this morning across the country in response to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposal to bump the retirement age from 60 to-gasp!-61 or 62.
Well, here I am spending my last day in Sitges, attending the annual meeting of the Circulo de Economía (which is why I have been so silent of late). This annual meet-up tends to attract many of the leading participants in Spanish economic and political life. To give you some idea, in the session before mine the Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian gave his version of where we are (which was in fact the toughest statement I have heard from any PSOE representative in recent years), while I shared the platform with Cristobal Montoro (who is PP candidate for Economy Minister). I have been here since Thursday, and in my presentation stressed the need for some sort of internal devaluation.
According to a recent study (only partially public) of the European Executive Agency for Small and Medium Size Member States (EEA-SMSMS), tiny states profit most from the accession to the European Union.
Something happened in British politics in the days after the general election of 6 May 2010 that will generate books, theses, conferences and public argument for years to come. By any routine standards of democratic procedure, its narrative heart was as banal as can be: a series of negotiations that led to the formation of a coalition government between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats – respectively the first and third parties in terms of the popular vote and seats won. By the standards of Britain’s brutal majoritarian politics – and indeed in light of the combative month-long election that had just ended – it was a high-level political compromise that felt (and still feels, three weeks later) like a revolution.
According to a Council document forwarded from the Council Secretariat to the Council’s budget committee, there is the need for a draft budget and a staff plan for the European External Action Service (EEAS) for 2010.
With the barbarians at the gate and the sappers in the tunnels, the heads of state or government of the euro area gave the finance ministers orders to mount the defences of the common currency.