The Great Debate UK

from Anatole Kaletsky:

How EU politics pushed Merkel to lift Germany’s austerity policies

German Chancellor Merkel and Luxembourg's Prime Minister Juncker hold a joint news conference after a meeting in Luxembourg

Matteo Renzi, the prime minister of Italy who took the revolving presidency of the European Union this week, seems to be the sort of man that Napoleon was referring to when he reputedly said that the key qualification he sought in recruiting a general was good luck.

Renzi become prime minister without even needing to win an election because Silvio Berlusconi and all other rivals self-destructed. He took power just after Italy passed the lowest ebb of its economic fortunes. In May, he was rewarded for his good fortune by Italy’s voters, who anointed him with a strong democratic mandate in the same European elections that discredited almost all Europe’s other national leaders. Now he is taking the helm in Europe, as an economic recovery is starting and the European Central Bank is swinging decisively in support of growth.

But even a politician as lucky as Renzi could not have counted on his latest and most unexpected windfall: the unintended consequence of last week’s failed campaign by British Prime Minister David Cameron to stop the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the European Commission.

Italian PM Renzi talks during a joint news conference with European Commission President Barroso at the end of a meeting at Villa Madama in RomeAnalysis of Cameron’s crushing defeat in the 26-to-2 vote by Europe’s national leaders to appoint Juncker has focused on its implications for British politics and for Britain’s future in the EU. But this event was actually less significant for Britain than for Europe as a whole, specifically for the Italian EU presidency that started on July 1.

Cohesive Europe

-

By Konrad Niklewicz, Spokesman for the Polish Presidency of the EU. The opinions expressed are on behalf of the organisation he represents.

How should the EU distribute €370 billion? The new cohesion policy rules proposed by the European Commission provide a good basis for further debate, but some of their components are clearly questionable.

from Global News Journal:

Can a European diplomatic service really work?

As experiments in political unity go, Europe's External Action Service takes some beating.

The budding diplomatic corps of the European Union, with a name that sounds like an off-shoot of Britain's SAS, is supposed to represent the unified interests of the EU's 27 member states to the rest of the world.

from Global News Journal:

EU to tackle gender pay inequality

By Sangeeta Shastry

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding

Men are still paid more than women in Europe but the European Union is promising to narrow the gap.

The executive European Commission set out its plans to address the pay gap between men and women at a news conference to coincide with International Women's Day, saying women were on average earning only 82 percent of male rates in the EU.

Too soon to predict that EMU will wobble

Photo
-

foley-Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-

The budget crisis facing the Greek government has drawn an array of comments and responses from various parts of the European Central Bank, the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the financial markets.

from Commentaries:

A camel for EU president?

camelsA camel, says an old Middle East joke, is a horse designed by a committee.

The European Union is in danger of getting camels for its two new leadership positions -- president of the European Council and foreign policy High Representative -- because of the dysfunctional appointment process created by the Lisbon Treaty.

The secretive horse (or camel)-trading by which EU governments choose the 27-nation bloc's top office-holders seems designed to deter strong candidates and produce lowest-common-denominator outcomes. Some of the most able potential contenders would rather stay at home than take the key jobs to Brussels.

from Breakingviews:

EU looks lonely on climate high ground

icebergNegotiations to save the planet from catastrophic climate change are heading for trouble, five weeks before a crucial U.N. conference in Copenhagen.

The European Union has been at the forefront in pressing for binding, internationally monitored reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and funding from industrialised countries to help developing nations switch to clean energy.

from Commentaries:

Germans vote for change; will they get it?

angieGermans have voted for change. A centre-right government with a clear parliamentary majority will replace the ungainly grand coalition of conservatives and Social Democrats that ran Europe's biggest economy for the last four years.

This should mean an end to "steady as she goes" lowest common denominator policies, and at least some reform of the country's tax and welfare system. The liberal Free Democrats, who recorded their best ever result with around 14.7 percent, will try to pull the new government towards tax cuts, health care reform, a reduction in welfare spending and a loosening of job protection in small business.

from Commentaries:

Re-elected Barroso faces market challenge

bozoJose Manuel Barroso promised the European Parliament that as re-elected president of the European Commission he will have more authority to fight for Europe and defend its single market against economic nationalism.

But after five years of toadying to the big member states, he will need to show more spine to enforce state aid and competition rules on Germany, Britain and France in the teeth of strong national financial or commercial interests.

from Commentaries:

French PM eyes Barroso’s job?

fillonIs France trying to stymie Jose Manuel Barroso's re-election for a second term as European Commission president?

An intriguing story in Le Monde reports that French Prime Minister Francois Fillon (pictured left with Barroso and President Nicolas Sarkozy) is considering offering his services as head of the European Union executive if Barroso fails to win majority support from the European Parliament this month. Le Monde quotes an unidentified French minister and an anonymous senior diplomat, with a comment from Fillon's office declining to speculate on a Barroso failure and saying that of course, the prime minister is interested in Europe but he hasn't put himself forward as a candidate.

  •