Posts in "European Council" Category

Going Dutch – looking back at the presidency

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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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Review of the Year: 15 key dates in Europe’s Year of Change

That was the year that was…

Check out our Review of the Year with the fifteen key images and events from Europe’s Year of Change, including the party congresses, the European Parliament elections, the drama of the Commission presidential nomination and election, the selection of a new College of Commissioners, and the election of a new President of the European Council.

Read our review of 2014

Words  David O’Leary
Photos  (c) European Union 2015

Dear @Xavier_Bettel, it’s time to rotate the @EU_Presidency

Bettel

In seven months Luxembourg will take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. Preparations seem to be well underway, but so far your government has not set up a specific Twitter account for the presidency.

As you may know, the current Italian EU Presidency is quite active on Twitter. It has amassed more than 32,000 followers to its account, @IT2014EU. The Latvian government – which holds the presidency in the first half of 2015 – is already tweeting via two accounts – in English (@EU2015LV), and in Latvian (@ES2015LV). They have a combined total of  more than 3,800 followers.

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A trio of troubles in Tusk’s in-tray

??????????????????????????????????The final piece of Europe’s jigsaw is almost in place.

On Monday, Donald Tusk (pictured above) – elected by the national leaders at the end of August, becomes President of the European Council. But what faces the former Polish prime minister when he arrives in his new office on Monday?

Herman Van Rompuy – Tusk’s predecessor in the role – identified three key issues when the new President was unveiled in the summer. None of the these three issues has become simpler in the last three months.

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Scotland votes No: what happens next?

Scotland voteScotland has voted No in yesterday’s landmark independence referendum, by a margin of 55% to 45%.

The turnout was an unusually high 85%. In the final days of the campaign, the pollsters converged on a margin of victory for the No side of 52% to 48%. The result was within the margin of error (three percentage points), but there will be questions asked of the main polling companies and their methodologies.

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has reacted to the result by stating a “balanced settlement” is needed for the whole of the United Kingdom. He has announced that work will start immediately on proposals to answer the ‘West Lothian question’ – that is, the situation whereby Scottish MPs can vote in Westminster on issues that only impact England, while English MPs have no say over matters devolved to the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood.

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Sweden votes: pendulum swings back to left in hung parliament

Stefan LofvenSweden’s Social Democrats have emerged as the largest party following parliamentary elections in Sweden, but are likely to have to form a minority administration.

Although the Social Democrats, led by Stefan Löfven (pictured right) gained only one seat, the governing centre-right Alliance lost more than 30 seats, mainly to the Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigration party, which more than doubled its number of representatives in parliament.

Following his party’s defeat, the Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, announced that he would stand down as PM and, in 2015, as leader of the Moderate Party, the biggest member of the four-party Alliance.

Download our full Insight (PDF)

 

A five-point guide to the EU top jobs puzzle

This weekend, the European Council will meet again to decide on the holders of the EU’s top jobs.

Here’s our five-point guide to Saturday’s meeting and what it means – and have your say on one of the key issues of the summer by voting in our poll.

1. Time for action

hvr squareAfter the failure to agree on the top jobs at the last summit in July, European Union leaders are under pressure to reach an accord. The European Council is increasingly gaining a reputation as an institution that takes too long to decide anything, and whose decisions are often ‘fudges’.

Saturday is the crunch moment: if EU leaders fail to conclude a ‘package’ of appointments, it will put paid to any remote hopes of appointing the Commission on time. More importantly in the long term, it will increase popular and global perceptions of the EU as a sclerotic organisation. Herman Van Rompuy (pictured left), the President of the European Council, was criticised by EU leaders and many analysts for not preparing a watertight deal before July’s summit (although he was not helped by some prime ministers). The President will not want another failure.

The decisions are not easy: there are significant political, institutional and personal headaches for the 28 leaders. But the leaders are there to lead, and to decide. It’s time to act.

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Herman’s checklist: finding a balance for the EU’s top jobs

9157497455_724ede816a_h - UPDATEDA big week, and a careful balancing act

This time next week, Angela Merkel will be celebrating her sixtieth birthday – and short of anything better to cheer, the rest of the European Council will probably be celebrating the end of the gruelling quinquennial EU top jobs race.

Tuesday (15 July) sees the election of the new President of the European Commission. Jean-Claude Juncker does not quite have his feet under the desk yet, but the ‘grand coalition’ that held for Martin Schulz’s election as President of the European Parliament is expected to hold and see Juncker made President-elect.

And then, on Wednesday, the rest of the pieces of the top jobs jigsaw are expected to be put into place.

The European Council, denied a backroom deal over the Commission presidency, can (more or less) get back to old ways with its selection of a new President of the European Council and a new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (although the choice for the latter position is one for leaders to take with the President-elect). A new permanent president for the Eurogroup (finance ministers of eurozone countries) is also expected to be named.

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Building a new Commission – the runners and riders for the next College

[infopane color=”6″ icon=”0049.png”]Post updated later on Wednesday 11 June to account for news that Dacian Cioloș (Agriculture and Rural Development; Romania) may be re-nominated to the Commission.[/infopane]

With the choice of a President of the European Commission still up in the air, we are a long way off knowing the full team that will occupy the upper floors of the Berlaymont for the next five years.

Nevertheless, national governments are already putting forward their proposed nominees to sit in the new College. Here’s our look at the comings and goings in the Commission in 2014, and the potential candidates to take a seat in the new Commission.

If you have comments or suggestions, please include them in the comments box.

See our country-by-country guide to the potential nominees

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Five days on from the election: five reflections on the Commission presidency

[infopane color=”6″ icon=”0049.png”]This blogpost, originally published at 12:55 on Friday 30 May, has been updated following remarks by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, later on Friday afternoon.[/infopane]

That was the week that was: an odd few days where the European People’s Party won the European Parliament elections, but was also the biggest loser; and where Socialists in the Parliament backed the EPP lead candidate for the European Commission presidency, only for some centre-right leaders to apply the brakes in the European Council.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the EPP lead candidate, is still the frontrunner and the only person formally in the running. His chances have been boosted tanks to comments by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Friday, that she is conducting negotiations on the basis that Juncker should be President.

However, it is clear that a number of heads of government would like to dump him in favour of someone else. The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, has been charged with an exploratory mission to find the person – Juncker included – who can command the sufficient majority in the Parliament and European Council.

Meanwhile, five political groups in the European Parliament have backed Juncker to have a first go at building majorities in the same institutions – and if he fails, are likely to call for Martin Schulz, lead candidate of the second-placed Socialists, to have a go.

If those who want to block Juncker in the European Council succeed – and it is not a done deal yet for the former Luxembourg prime minister – an inter-institutional battle between the Parliament and European Council will be on the cards.

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