Europe Decides

Analysis of Europe’s politics, policies and personalities from Burson-Marsteller

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How much tax is ‘fair’?

Press conference by Pierre Moscovici on the Tax Avoidance Package

Google’s agreement with Britain’s tax collectors and the European Commission’s proposals on tax avoidance have put corporate tax firmly back on the front pages – although it never really went away.

The issue will no doubt remain near the top of political and business agendas for the foreseeable future.

So here’s four takes on what’s happened and what it means.

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Crunch time in Spain

Spain flag

Never in Spain’s political history has the formation of government been followed with such interest and anxiety.

Spaniards continue to monitor statements from political leaders for signs of a decisive moment. None has arrived.

But the results of the election on 20 December are already transforming Spain’s politics and institutions.

When the new parliament meets next week, the old certainties of left- and right-wing ideology will be gone. Four parties will each have 40 or more MPs, a situation that has created a wide range of possibilities – none of which are easy to achieve – when it comes to forming a government.

So who will govern Spain?

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The cost of medicines: time for a new strategy?

Pharma square

Is pricing and reimbursement of medicines in urgent need of EU-level coordination?

The new trio of EU Council presidencies began this month, with the Dutch government overseeing the first six months of 2016. Slovakia and Malta follow.

All three are working together on shared priorities, but the Dutch are the first to take responsibility for the Council’s agenda. They are expected to seek Council Conclusions on a new approach to pharmaceuticals, focusing on access and costs.

What is the state of access to medicines in the EU?

Burson-Marsteller Brussels’ Healthcare and Food Practice has put together its view, assessing the value and feasibility of a new approach to medicines pricing, and the obstacles that stand in the way.

Download our briefing (PDF)

Words  Claudia Louati and Sam Kynman
Photo  (c) European Union 2016

Spain braces itself for unpredictable four-way electoral battle


Spain’s rollercoaster parliament is coming to an end.

It began with increased taxes and cuts to public service budgets. Popular protests and the formation of new political groups shook the landscape.

And yet the centre-right People’s Party (PP), led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (pictured), has delivered signs of economic improvement. The markets are calm; the streets peaceful. Spain continues its long struggle towards recovery.

And now the rollercoaster is set to begin again.

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France’s regional polls launch race for the presidency


First came the shock, then the relief for France’s political establishment.

The country’s regional elections – usually a mid-term test of opinion, electing bodies with no legislative power – became the latest manifestation of the growth of the authoritarian and populist National Front (FN).

Despite stunning results in the first round, support for the party was not sufficient to allow it to win control of any of France’s regions.

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To be or not to be European?


Ever since Denmark joined what is now the European Union, Danes have asked themselves a version of Hamlet’s eternal question: to be, or not to be European?

Danish ambivalence towards Europe has been represented in the attitudes of many governments. No administration has dared to ratify an EU treaty without a public referendum.

So today (3 December), Danes participate in the seventh EU referendum since they joined in 1973.

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Who’s who in the new Polish government?

Beata_Szydło_Sejm_2015 - square.JPG

Following the decisive victory of Law and Justice (PiS) in parliamentary elections last month, Poland’s new Prime Minister, Beata Szydło, has today (Friday 13 November 2015) been sworn in.

But who are the men and women who will form part of Szydło’s team?

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Croatia’s main parties court reformist newcomers after inconclusive vote

Croatia flag

Post updated on 13 November 2015 with new section ‘A Bridge too far?’

What’s happened?

Parliamentary elections held on 8 November saw the closest outcome in Croatia’s democratic history.

The centre-right Patriotic Coalition won 59 seats while the outgoing centre-left pact, Croatia is Growing, won 56 seats. With the three seats won by regionalist party IDS, which backed the last government, the result is a dead-heat between the two major coalitions.

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Law and Justice wins stunning victory in Polish elections

Poland flag

Exit polls from Poland’s parliamentary election show the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) winning a landslide victory with 38 per cent of the vote and obtaining an absolute majority in Parliament.

The ruling Civic Platform (PO) party came second, with 24 per cent, while the Kukiz movement won nine per cent of the vote.

The United Left alliance and Modern Poland both won 7.5 per cent of the vote, but the United Left’s score would mean they fall below the eight per cent threshold for an electoral alliance to win seats in parliament.

The results leave PiS potentially achieving the impossible in Poland: being able to govern without a coalition partner.

Download our briefing (PDF)

Words  CEC Government Relations, Warsaw
Image  CC/Flickr Nicolas Raymond – free image available at

Poland decides: five pointers to Sunday’s election

Extraordinary European Council on migratory pressures in the Mediterranean

With a new Prime Minister last September and a new President elected in May, Poland is going through a period of political turbulence.

But Sunday’s parliamentary election could see the most significant change, with the opposition Law and Justice party leading in the opinion polls.

Here is our guide to what might happen in this crucial vote.

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