Commentary 2017/3

Dealing with Britain: the European Council of 29 April and its sequel 

Ten days ago, on 29 April, the European Council held a brief, but very important meeting. I do not normally comment in writing so soon after the event and I still intend to assess the April meeting more systematically in a Briefing Note which will cover the first four months of 2017 as a whole. The meeting of 29 April was however so important that it merits a more rapid appraisal than usual.

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Brexit negotiations – the EU27 perspective

Quarterly briefings - July 4, 8.30-13.00

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 October 5   Speakers will include Herman van Rompuy, former President of the European Council, Alexis Lautenberg, former Swiss Ambassador to the UK

Commentary 2017/2

25 March 2017: an anniversary worth celebrating

On 25 March 2017 the leaders of 27 EU member states and of the EU institutions, met in Rome to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome.  The atmosphere was good. There was levity as well as ceremonial. The Declaration too, which the leaders of both the institutions and the 27 member states signed, struck the right note and was significantly better than the Berlin Declaration of 25 March 2007 on which it was to a certain extent modelled. It was high sounding, but not excessively so, positive but not uncritical about the past, and optimistic but not starry eyed about the future.

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European Council Briefing Note 2016/7

December 2016

Migration, Security, Russia, Ukraine, Syria, Cyprus, the economy and Brexit

As the opening sentence of the synopsis acknowledges, this paper is long overdue. For reasons that are explained in both the synopsis and the introduction and confirmed in the main body of the paper, the fact that it is being circulated on 25 March, the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome, is however a fortunate coincidence. The Conclusions of the December European Council were relatively modest. It was nevertheless a fitting conclusion to a year which, despite Brexit, Trump, Wilders, Le Pen and sundry other distractions, was a rather encouraging one, both for the EU in general and for the European Council in particular.

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Commentary 2017/1

Between a rock and a hard place: Mrs May’s dilemma

This is a long essay. The argument is however simple. Following the 23 June vote, the new British government was confronted by a classic dilemma. Whichever option it took, the outcome was bound to be essentially the same, a hard Brexit of the kind which the markets did not like and key members of the May administration wanted to avoid. Unsurprisingly therefore the government- and much of the political class- tossed and turned in an increasingly desperate attempt to find an escape route which was less harsh and dangerous. By the beginning of the year however the game was up, and on 17 January the prime minister delivered a speech which more or less came to terms with reality.


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European Council Briefing Note 2016/6

October 2016 

Migration, Russia, Syria and Trade

The October European Council got a bad press. Undeservedly so. It was not one of the European Council’s most notable meetings, but it addressed some of the most serious questions of the day and it did so in a manner and in a tone which showed the European Council off to advantage.

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European Council Briefing Note 2016/4-5

June and September 2016 

The European Union without Britain

The present paper deals with three meetings rather than one: the meeting of the European Council on 28 June, the first EU27 summit on 29 June and the Bratislava summit of 16 September. Its principal focus is not on the British government’s clumsy, confused and at times comical efforts to extricate itself from the EU, but on EU27’s first and surprisingly firm steps to safeguard and develop a European Union without Britain.

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European Council Briefing Note 2016/1-3

February and March 2016 

Migration Policy, the British Question and Economic Policy

This is a very long paper. There is also a lot of narrative which is better read than summarised. My purpose in this synopsis is therefore to focus on a few key issues:

  1. Why three in one makes sense
  2. The British Question
  3. Migration Policy
  4. Economic Policy
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European Strategy Forum

Since 1 March 2014 the European Strategy Forum, which was founded in Portugal in 2006 has been integrated in and managed by EuroComment in Brussels. The Forum’s character and objectives remain unchanged (see 2015 programme)) and it will continue to meet up to four times a year in Croatia and Portugal, though meetings may also be held in Italy and Spain if the management committee so decides.

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