Blogs

Political lessons from Madrid to Berlin

Author: 
24 Nov 2017
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Region: 
EU/Eurozone

After the withdrawal of the liberal FDP from coalition negotiations, German politics is faced with a similar dilemma to Spain in 2015-2016: an inconclusive set of elections, the unwillingness of the centre-left to support the incumbent centre-right Prime Minister, and ultimately the possibility of another set of elections. In both instances, it was up to social democrats to resolve the stalemate; what lessons can the German Social Democrats (SPD) learn from the Spanish experience?

Good work? Will the UK government act on the Taylor Review

10 Nov 2017
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Region: 
UK

The UK government’s official response to the Taylor Review on Modern Working Practices is expected imminently. However, there are major questions over whether ministers will be able to support many, if any, of Matthew Taylor’s wide-ranging recommendations for reforming UK employment law. While a wholesale reform of employment law seemed unlikely when May commissioned the Review with a majority government, the prospect for comprehensive reform seems even less likely now she has lost it.

Sicily and the perils of going it alone

Author: 
7 Nov 2017
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Region: 
EU/Eurozone

Last Sunday’s regional elections in Sicily were the last major electoral test ahead of Italy’s general elections next spring, and they do not bode well for the Five Star Movement. The party had high hopes of winning the contest, in a region that saw the party’s best results in the 2013 general elections. After its victories in Rome and Turin in 2016, winning Sicily’s regional government would have been the party’s highest elected office, demonstrating not only that the party could win a serious contest, but also show “proof of concept” of what it would do once having control of the sort of domestic policy levers available to autonomous regions like Sicily. Instead, the Five Star Movement was defeated by a greater than predicted 5-point margin, a result that will likely demobilise a party’s base that had believed that the party could win and be a serious electoral force.

Will ANO say ‘Yes’ to Euroscepticism and ‘No’ to Brussels?

25 Oct 2017
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Region: 
EU/Eurozone

The parliamentary elections in Czech Republic last weekend produced an unsettling but not unexpected result. The moderate populist ANO party won nearly 30% of the vote, but fell far short of a majority in the parliament. Other anti-establishment parties – the Freedom and Direct Democracy party (SPD) and the Pirates Party – have significantly strengthened their positions. Support for the traditional parties, including Social Democrats who led the previous government for four years, dropped to single digits. Only Eurosceptic Civic Democratic Party (ODS) managed to regain some of its centre-right ground lost in the previous elections.

Anglo-German relations and the EU question

19 Oct 2017
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Region: 
EU/Eurozone

Brexit was conspicuous by its absence in the German election campaign. Migration, Islam and relations with Turkey dominated the only TV debate in early September. Relations with the second largest European economy were not even mentioned once. The EU itself also hardly figured in the campaign, beyond the usual vague commitments to the union, and having more of it. That changed after the election, when German debate about the big ideas being floated by Emmanuel Macron gathered steam. Whether or not Germany should be openly debating its future relationship with the UK, its debate over the future of the EU is likely to have important implications for that relationship.

Ofgem, price caps, and the dangers of Italian design

Author: 
9 Oct 2017
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Region: 
EU/Eurozone

Prime Minister Theresa May restarted the UK energy bills debate last week, announcing a draft Energy Bill which would allow Ofgem – the UK national energy regulator – to cap household energy bills in the form of the time-limited introduction of a ‘safeguard tariff’. While the GC energy practice watched from afar in Rome, some unexpected lessons from the Italian market emerged in discussions we were having with Italian policymakers and market participants.

Dividing EU-UK farm trade quotas: no friends, just interests

Author: 
6 Oct 2017
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Region: 
EU/Eurozone

News this week that the EU and the UK have agreed on a methodology for dividing current farm trade quotas between them was expected at some point. These ‘TRQs’ are in effect a piece of EU property that the two sides needed to agree how to divide. The problem is, of course, that they are used by other WTO members to trade with the EU and the UK, and these members will inevitably have a view on how they should be divided. This week we got the first sight of that view. What did it tell us?

In defence of Catalonia in Brussels

6 Oct 2017
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Region: 
EU/Eurozone

The European Commission has manoeuvred carefully to avoid being drawn into the dramatic events unfolding in Spain over the last few days. A related plenary debate between European Parliament group leaders in Strasbourg this week was a heated one, with the Commission coming under fire for both passivity and preferential treatment for Madrid. While mainstream leaders focused on solidarity and dialogue, Eurosceptic MEPs charged that the Commission’s relatively hands-off approach to Catalonia contrasted with the more aggressive approach in Hungary and Poland. This tone of “we told you so” painted Brussels as a tightknit club, standing by national leaders not only supportive of its pro-EU objectives, but in a position to advance them. How justified is the charge?