Is the EU finally ready to pool its defences?


A country’s ability to defend itself with its own armies is one of the hallmarks of sovereignty, so it is understandable that European Union governments are sensitive to the idea that their militaries might one day fall under the command of someone else. In the almost six decades since the Treaty of Rome set up what is now the EU, talk of pooling armed resources has been so toxic that it barely crept on the agenda. Until now.

Read More0

Why is the EU so cool on the global aviation emissions deal?


It might have been the perfect moment for the European Union to celebrate: a global aviation emissions deal was last week clinched after long, intricate, complex negotiations of the sort that EU officials tend to excel. It means carbon emissions from air travel will be capped for the first time.

Read More0

Will Brexit affect European patient advocacy groups?


It has been four months since Britain’s referendum vote to leave the European Union, and we are still not much closer to knowing the EU’s future relationship with the UK. Article 50 negotiations are due to start in early 2017, and there is still time for a lot to happen before their expected completion in 2019. One of the many sectors that may be affected is patient advocacy, and the key role of British groups in this area means the next two years will be a time of great uncertainty.

Read More0

Switzerland’s tax shake-up


The third series of corporate tax reforms (CTR III) have lately become one of the biggest political and economic issues on the national agenda.

The Swiss tax system offers tax privileges on the foreign revenue of holding, domiciliary and mixed companies, and has been facing increasing international pressure since 2007. The OECD, with support from the G20 and the EU, have worked towards the standardisation of global tax practices. Since 2010, the CTR III were designed to bring in new tax measures consistent with international standards.

Read More0

Paris climate deal marks rare EU victory


The European Union is getting so used to feeling under siege, it is easy to forget it can eke out a victory every now and then, and last week’s move to ratify the Paris climate change agreement is definitely a win.

After a series of recent setbacks, from Brexit to the persistent refugee crisis and the ongoing economic slump, the Paris deal is proof that EU officials still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

There were doubts about whether the ministers could pull off what is effectively a fast track approval of the sweeping agreement from last December’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21, in the French capital. Legal experts pondered the legitimacy of a decision by the EU to deposit its ratification of the accord to cut greenhouse gas emissions before it was ratified by all 28 member states.

Read More0

Going Dutch – looking back at the presidency


In the first half of 2016, The Netherlands held the presidency of the European Council for the fourth time since 1986, a record in the Union. Many think the country’s stance towards the EU has been changing for the worse, in fact, the Financial Times even named The Netherlands ‘the most obstructive’ EU-member state. 

In line with their reputation, the Dutch went cheap on their presidency. All meetings were held in the same location, hardly any trips were organised outside of Amsterdam, and there was no grand opening or closing. This was to accommodate the increasing anti-EU sentiment in the country. At the start of the Dutch term, Rutte had already been Prime Minister for six years, and was fairly familiar with the EU routines and key players.

Read More0

What’s next for Spain?


The major Spanish parties can no longer use the regional elections in Galicia and the Basque country as an excuse for not forming a national government. The spotlight has been put on the weakened socialist party, as the citizens in both ‘communities’ have grown tired of seeing the parties failing to come to an agreement throughout the country.

On Sunday, 25 regional elections took place in two ‘communities’ characterised by very different political situations.

Read More0

Saving EU trade policy


These are tough times for the European Union’s trade policy. Public sentiment has never been more hostile to the idea of free trade than it is now. An area previously of interest only to specialists of technical issues like tariff schedules, quotas, customs rates and trade balances is now the subject of impassioned street protest and furious rhetoric over the perceived risks of such deals for consumer rights and more. Free trade is now so contentious that nervous ministers are ready to block even the most modest of EU agreements.

This past year has already seen many setbacks for trade.

Read More0

Berlin 2016 – A state election with national impact


Latest update from the German state election includes: SPD Mayor remains in office, Grand coalition lost voters’ trust, AfD attracted non voters, FDP back in Parliament, pirates out.

Government parties suffer
The incumbent mayor Michael Müller and his SPD won the state elections with 21.6% of the votes. Müller succeeded the popular Klaus Wowereit in office in 2014 and governed in a grand coalition since. Both parties, the social democratic SPD and the conservative CDU, achieved their worst result in history in a Berlin state election. The Left Party and the Greens gained almost equal number of votes (15.6% and 15.2%), the liberal FDP re-enters the Parliament.

Read More0

EU leaders in Bratislava look beyond Brexit


After a summer spent processing the pain of Britain’s June referendum vote to leave their club, European Union leaders resolved at their summit last Friday in Bratislava to move beyond Brexit and chart a path towards a more citizen-friendly union.

The 27 leaders – meeting without Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, who was not invited – insisted they remained united at their summit, called to brainstorm ways to connect with ordinary people.

It was, they recognised, a daunting challenge. Brexit is just the latest of a series of crises to hit the EU in recent years, following the ongoing refugee influx, a sluggish European economy, and a collapse in voter trust for the EU establishment.

Read More0