Posts in "Country-by-country" Category

Europe at centre of unpredictable Italian elections

“We have to brace ourselves for the worst scenario and the worst scenario could be no operational government.” This was European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s warning ahead of the Italian elections, taking place this Sunday (4 March) – even if he was later forced to retract his comment, tweeting: “Italy remains a central player in Europe and in defining its future”.

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(No) New Government in Italy

A week after Matteo Renzi resigned as Prime Minister following his defeat over the constitutional referendum, the former Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni was asked by the President of the Republic to form a new government that will guide Italy into the next elections in February 2018.

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An uncertain government, but a government at last

This week marked the one-year anniversary of the provisional Spanish Government. On the 27th of October 2015, the Official Journal announced the dissolution of parliament and called for elections to be held on the 20th December. After two elections, it seems that by the end of the week, Spain will have at least a new Prime Minister, thanks to the abstention by the Socialist Party (PSOE).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Brussels Brexit Briefing – 2nd August

As we enter the summer break in the UK and across Europe, Brexit fervour at last seems to be dying down.

The big news in the last week has been the appointment, by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, of former French Foreign Minister and EU Commissioner, Michel Barnier, to lead the EU’s Brexit negotiations. Mr Barnier, who led the Commission’s overhaul of EU banking laws in the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown, is already being seen as a provocative appointment by many in the UK media, given France’s firm stance on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

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Brussels Brexit Briefing – 19th July

Key EU figures have put pressure on Theresa May to move fast to quit the EU. European Parliament President Martin Schulz called on her to invoke Article 50 after the summer, saying her government must give “the utmost consideration” to the European Parliament, which has the power to veto the UK’s EU divorce and any future trade deal. In an article for the Guardian, Mr Schulz called for talks to begin “without rancour” and for Britain to be thought of as a beloved relative leaving home rather than a treacherous renegade.

However, EU officials have acknowledged they have no powers to force the UK to trigger Article 50. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, at a summit in China, offered conciliatory words for Mrs May, saying that the UK will face no “hate” or “revenge” during the Brexit talks. “I will not negotiate with Britain in a hostile mood. We have been partners in the EU for 40 years. We are allied countries, most of us in the North Atlantic Alliance,” he said.

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