D Day and Europe’s Long Peace

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of D Day. I am always humbled to hear the stories of those men who went ashore that day. They speak of the horror, not of any glory of war, but what that generation was forced to achieve and did so was truly heroic. The first big commemoration I remember was the 40th when I remember the BBC announcer being corrected that all were in their 60s now (some were 58 or 59). Now all … Read more

“this month you will see a kind of victory for the Eurosceptics…”

Ahead of the EU-wide parliamentary elections, a much needed overview from BBC Europe editor Gavin Hewitt of the state of the European Project and its extant political trilemma.  From Gavin Hewitt’s article Unless the polls are very wrong, sometime next weekend Europe will learn that at least a quarter of the seats in the next European Parliament will have gone to anti-establishment and Eurosceptic parties. The figure could even be closer to 30%. In many places the election has become … Read more

“The JHA Council’s approach of 7 June represents a slap in the face of parliamentary democracy”

If the euro crisis wasn’t enough of a concern for supporters of the European Project, the attempted reform of Schengen is causing another headache.  The European Parliament has now suspended co-operation with the European Council on five draft bills connected to border security “until a satisfactory outcome is achieved on Schengen governance.” The Conference of Presidents also decided to remove from the July plenary session agenda the Carlos Coelho report on a proposal for a Schengen Evaluation and Monitoring Mechanism and the Renate Weber … Read more

Euro crisis: “Europe’s common currency is its formative element.”

The president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, has a plan.  Or, at least, a timetable. Herman Van Rompuy told a news conference in St Petersburg, Russia that, by the next summit of EU leaders at the end of June, he and three other EU officials would present “the main building blocks for this deepened economic and monetary union” and “a working method to achieve this objective”. “In those building blocks, banking integration is an important chapter… I will deal at … Read more

Bilderberg 2012: “Are you here for the brunch?”

The Guardian’s Charlie Skelton is in Chantilly, Virginia, ahead of the, whisper it, annual Bilderberg conference – “a small, flexible, informal and off-the-record international forum in which different viewpoints can be expressed and mutual understanding enhanced”.  As he says at the Big G’s US News blog Everything’s set. The hotel is being primped and hoovered, the security is arriving, the press is nowhere to be seen, and I just had a really boring crab salad. It’s shaping up to be a vintage Bilderberg. … Read more

Euro crisis: “Slithering to the wrong kind of union”

A number of people point to the warning by Otmar Issing in the Financial Times that the measures eurozone leaders have agreed in response to the continuing euro debt crisis “is not a move in the direction of a true political union. It is a dangerous step, and one which will end up dividing Europe.” From the FT article The idea that a new European process to transfer taxpayers’ money that is neither democratic nor governed by principles that support fiscal solidity would … Read more

Euro crisis: “The euro area crisis has reached end game…”

The Italian finance minister, Giulio Tremonti, has held crisis talks with  Jean-Claude Juncker, chair of the Eurogroup of finance ministers.  The Spanish Prime Minister,  Jose Luis Zapatero, “has postponed the start of his holidays” to keep “an eye on the international economic situation.”  Both countries’ bond yields have reached their highest rates in 14 years, and are considered to be at unsustainable levels.  As the Guardian reports, the stock markets have taken fright “as fears grew over the health of the global … Read more

Van Rompuy: “Europe is still sexy…”

So sayeth the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, as the BBC Europe editor Gavin Hewitt notes Europe’s leaders are unsettled, scratchy. Old certainties have given way to anxiety. The open road to ever closer union is now strewn with boulders. You can gauge the ebbing confidence from remarks that didn’t need to be made. “Europe is still sexy,” declared President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy. “As long as a club attracts new members,” he added, “it is … Read more

Jean-Claude Juncker: “The sovereignty of Greece will be massively limited.”

After the Greek parliament voted to give everyone more time to come up with a  better solution, Eurozone finance ministers agreed to release the promised €12billion to Greece to avoid an immediate default. But those same finance ministers have now delayed discussions on the details of a second bail-out for Greece, thought to be around 120bn euros, needed to pay the bills until the end of 2014.  According to an Irish Times report today, the Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos has stated, “Euro Group decided through a … Read more

Euro crisis: “If fiscal union is not on the cards, the only other option is eurozone breakup”

In the Irish Times, Dan O’Brien provides a bleak assessment of the Greek problem at the heart of the current euro crisis.  From the Irish Times article The chances of things getting worse are high. Societal strains and rampant corruption do not in themselves cause economic weakness – just look at China and India – but they don’t help. Alas for Greece, even if both problems were to disappear tomorrow there is little reason to believe its economic rot would stop. … Read more

Euro crisis: “the right to veto some national economic policy decisions”

Further signs of dissent in Greece at the proposed terms of a new improved bail-out, and the accompanying “humiliating erosion of sovereignty”. And so far, where Greece has been led, others have followed… But, for some, every cloud has a silver lining. “Would it go too far if we envisaged . . . giving euro area authorities a much deeper and authoritative, say in the formation of the country’s economic policies if these go harmfully astray?” asked [European Central Bank president, Jean-Claude … Read more