Courting Erdogan

October 15, 2015

Only a few weeks ago he was the butt of much EU criticism over his authoritarian behaviour. Now Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan is being courted assiduously by the bloc’s leaders as an essential part of the solution to the migrant crisis. Tonight’s EU summit will review plans under which it is hoped Turkey will cooperate to stem the flow of refugees west from its territory; in return Ankara will want easier visa access to the EU, more aid and a new push on its EU membership bid. Significantly, Germany’s Angela Merkel will be heading to Turkey for talks this weekend.

Don’t expect much progress on talks over Britain’s in-out EU membership question today. Even Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker acknowledged on the eve of the summit that technical talks on the sort of reforms Britain wants have moved little. The real debate is expected to start after Poland’s Oct 25 election, in which the eurosceptic Law and Justice party is heading polls.

From Stockholm to Lisbon, governments are seeing their parliamentary majority whittled away or outright destroyed by the rise of small, often extreme parties. Luckily for them, the warm embrace of mass ECB bond-buying means the ensuing political uncertainty is not being punished by markets — witness the well-bought Portuguese debt auction yesterday. But the policy implications are no less tangible, with key legislation being postponed or put on the backburner — not great at a time when the region needs to convince investors to help recovery.

Today is the deadline for Iran to answer questions and hand over materials necessary for IAEA investigation of past nuclear activities. The expectation — being watched closely in the oil markets — is that the IAEA will say Tehran has provided it with what it needs to complete its assessment of whether those activities were related to a nuclear weapons programme.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will present a tax-cutting 2016 budget which pushes EU fiscal rules to the limit. It is likely to be more popular with voters than with the European Commission.

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