Opinion

Paul Taylor

Analysis: Europe’s separatists gain ground in crisis

Paul Taylor
Oct 15, 2012 16:45 UTC

PARIS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – From the Pyrennean pastures of Catalonia to the heathery highlands of Scotland, separatists are gaining ground as Europe’s economic crisis deepens, but this does not necessarily mean there will be more national flags on the map.

Flemish nationalists scored sweeping gains in Belgian local elections on Sunday, Scotland agreed terms on Monday for a 2014 referendum on independence from Britain, and Catalan separatists expect a regional election next month to advance their cause.

Just as nation states are ceding more power over budgets and economic policy to the European Union, regional grievances and conflicts that have simmered for centuries have taken on new intensity in fights over a shrinking pie of public money.

Richer regions such as Catalan-speaking Catalonia and Dutch-speaking Flanders, which already have wide-ranging autonomy, resent paying for poorer areas such as Spanish-speaking Andalucia and French-speaking Wallonia.

In Germany, there is no separatist movement but prosperous Bavaria is challenging in court a fiscal balancing system that makes it hand over some revenue to poorer federal states.

Europe’s separatists gain ground in crisis

Paul Taylor
Oct 15, 2012 16:41 UTC

PARIS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – From the Pyrennean pastures of Catalonia to the heathery highlands of Scotland, separatists are gaining ground as Europe’s economic crisis deepens, but this does not necessarily mean there will be more national flags on the map.

Flemish nationalists scored sweeping gains in Belgian local elections on Sunday, Scotland agreed terms on Monday for a 2014 referendum on independence from Britain, and Catalan separatists expect a regional election next month to advance their cause.

Just as nation states are ceding more power over budgets and economic policy to the European Union, regional grievances and conflicts that have simmered for centuries have taken on new intensity in fights over a shrinking pie of public money.

Nobel-crowned EU risks future as loveless marriage

Paul Taylor
Oct 15, 2012 06:35 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – The European Union’s Nobel peace prize comes just as a realisation is dawning that Europe’s single currency – the EU’s most ambitious project – has survived three years of incessant financial turmoil and is not going to break up.

But having narrowly avoided an acrimonious divorce and the loss of some of its errant children, the euro zone risks a future as an unequal, loveless marriage with frequent rows and the prospect of separate bedrooms.

Two things have become clearer in the last few weeks that were widely disputed before: contrary to prevailing opinion earlier this year, the euro is here to stay and could very probably keep all 17 members and add more in future.

Analysis: Nobel-crowned EU risks future as loveless marriage

Paul Taylor
Oct 15, 2012 06:32 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – The European Union’s Nobel peace prize comes just as a realization is dawning that Europe’s single currency – the EU’s most ambitious project – has survived three years of incessant financial turmoil and is not going to break up.

But having narrowly avoided an acrimonious divorce and the loss of some of its errant children, the euro zone risks a future as an unequal, loveless marriage with frequent rows and the prospect of separate bedrooms.

Two things have become clearer in the last few weeks that were widely disputed before: contrary to prevailing opinion earlier this year, the euro is here to stay and could very probably keep all 17 members and add more in future.

Nobel prize may restore EU’s lost sense of purpose

Paul Taylor
Oct 12, 2012 16:24 UTC

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Winning the Nobel peace prize is a huge morale boost for an organisation that has only recently had a near-death experience and is still not entirely sure it is out of danger.

By highlighting the European Union’s central achievement of securing peace on a war-scarred continent, the Nobel judges may give the 27-nation bloc back a sense of purpose that its day-to-day practitioners often seem to have lost.

The EU is still a magnet of hope and prosperity for emerging democracies in eastern Europe and the Balkans, but it is unloved by ordinary Europeans, whose sense of belonging remains national or local rather than European.

Analysis: Nobel prize may restore EU’s lost sense of purpose

Paul Taylor
Oct 12, 2012 15:56 UTC

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Winning the Nobel peace prize is a huge morale boost for an organization that has only recently had a near-death experience and is still not entirely sure it is out of danger.

By highlighting the European Union’s central achievement of securing peace on a war-scarred continent, the Nobel judges may give the 27-nation bloc back a sense of purpose that its day-to-day practitioners often seem to have lost.

The EU is still a magnet of hope and prosperity for emerging democracies in eastern Europe and the Balkans, but it is unloved by ordinary Europeans, whose sense of belonging remains national or local rather than European.

Exclusive: Euro zone considering bond insurance for Spain – sources

Paul Taylor
Oct 4, 2012 11:52 UTC

MADRID/PARIS (Reuters) – The euro zone is considering aiding Spain by providing insurance for investors who buy government bonds in a move designed to maintain Spanish access to capital markets and minimize the cost to European taxpayers, European sources said.

One senior European source said the plan could cost about 50 billion euros ($64.5 billion) for a year. It would enable Spain to cover its full funding needs and trigger European Central bank buying of Spanish bonds in the secondary market.

If the gamble succeeds, it would achieve two important aims. Spain would be rescued without draining Europe’s entire bailout fund and there would be no contagion to Italy.

ECB’s “nuclear option” better as deterrent than weapon

Paul Taylor
Oct 1, 2012 09:05 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Buying unlimited quantities of bonds is sometimes described as a central bank’s nuclear option, deploying an overwhelming force that threatens speculators with annihilation.

Like atomic weapons, the bank’s powers to print money and buy securities are best held in reserve as a deterrent, even if their use would not wreak destruction on a comparable scale.

Having to use them to defend a country or a policy objective could cause unintended damage and expose fatal weaknesses in the political will to sustain the action.

Analysis: ECB’s “nuclear option” better as deterrent than weapon

Paul Taylor
Oct 1, 2012 05:54 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Buying unlimited quantities of bonds is sometimes described as a central bank’s nuclear option, deploying an overwhelming force that threatens speculators with annihilation.

Like atomic weapons, the bank’s powers to print money and buy securities are best held in reserve as a deterrent, even if their use would not wreak destruction on a comparable scale.

Having to use them to defend a country or a policy objective could cause unintended damage and expose fatal weaknesses in the political will to sustain the action.

Euro crisis tests limits of “French exception”

Paul Taylor
Sep 17, 2012 07:02 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – The French consider themselves an exceptional lot. With much of the world’s finest food, wine, landscape, architecture, literature and arts, it’s hardly surprising.

But the French economic exception faces a reality check almost three years into the euro zone’s sovereign debt crisis.

France’s enduring ability to defy economic gravity – adding new taxes on top of one of the highest fiscal burdens in Europe, preserving short working hours, job protection, early retirement and generous welfare benefits – is about to be tested.

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