Europe

Global Counsel Europe provides advice and strategic support to businesses navigating political, policy and regulatory developments in Brussels and other EU capitals. Our advisers can interpret and anticipate the impacts of policy initiatives for businesses and other stakeholders, and help clients develop plans for shaping and adapting to them. We have also advised on quasi-judicial procedures such as competition and trade defence cases, as well as decisions on spending, taxation and trade negotiations with non-EU countries.

Global Counsel advisers in Brussels and London, and our wider network of former policymakers in EU capitals, represent experience in every area of public policy and political communications. With sector specialisms including manufacturing, energy, financial services, technology, media and telecommunications, our Practice Leads combine decades of experience working with the European Commission, European Parliament and member states in the EU Council.
 

Analysis & Blogs

The limits of international cooperation on tax

18 Dec 2017

One of the clichés in international cooperation is that national governments’ enthusiasm for sharing cost centres evaporates when talk turns to sharing profit centres. This explains the imbalance between joint investment in basic research and national commercial application of R&D, or the discrepancy between joint telecoms standards and ruthless national auctions for mobile phone spectrum.

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Competing visions for the future of the eurozone

14 Dec 2017

Over the summer, it looked as if there might be a breakthrough in the long-stalled discussions over eurozone reform. Emmanuel Macron had been elected president of France, promising to overhaul the domestic labour market and make the country more economically competitive. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was quick to spot the signal and the opportunity.

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Vladimir the fourth goes forth

8 Dec 2017

The biggest remaining unknown of Putin’s next six-year term in office is whether he is going to use it as a ‘window of opportunity’ for structural political and economic reforms.

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The £60 billion economic impact of Brexit (and counting)

29 Nov 2017

One of the most contested issues, before and since the referendum on UK membership of the EU, has been the potential impact of Brexit on the UK economy. The exercise is almost as difficult now as it was before the referendum, because we still don’t know what Brexit will mean for the UK’s trading relationships, or the regulatory environment in Britain, two issues that will have a significant bearing on the long-term economic consequences.

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Political lessons from Madrid to Berlin

24 Nov 2017

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.

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Sicily and the perils of going it alone

7 Nov 2017

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.

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What does no deal mean?

30 Oct 2017

The baseline for the trade relationship after a no-deal Brexit would be WTO rules. In practice – and depending on the political atmosphere – there would at least be some enhancements to this baseline in the form of bilateral agreements between the EU and the UK on specific issues that are...

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

25 Oct 2017

The parliamentary elections in Czech Republic last weekend produced an unsettling but not unexpected result. The question now is how this result could affect the relations between Prague and Brussels, and whether Czechia is set to move even closer to its Visegrád Group neighbours, such as Poland and Hungary, in its animosity towards migrants, adoption of the euro and deeper European integration in general?

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Anglo-German relations and the EU question

19 Oct 2017

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.

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Ofgem, price caps, and the dangers of Italian design

9 Oct 2017

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’.

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In defence of Catalonia in Brussels

6 Oct 2017

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.

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Taking back control of EU trade policy

22 Sep 2017

Yesterday, the European Council’s Trade Policy Committee gathered for an informal meeting in Tallinn to discuss how to approach the European Commission’s new trade package. The package essentially fleshed out some of the policy details of Commission President Jean Claude Junker’s vision for a more balanced and progressive EU trade policy, set out in his ‘state of the union’ address.

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The Irish border trilemma

13 Sep 2017

The Irish border is one of the few Brexit issues for which the positions of the parties to the negotiation are precise and clear. They are also irreconcilable, as things stand. For the Irish government, it is politically indispensable that there is no return to a hard border. This is not just a question of customs controls and the economic costs created by processing delays and charges; it is also about the social impact on communities that straddle border and political symbolism in a country where this is especially important.

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Banco Popular: too much transparency or too little?

21 Aug 2017

The European Commission-approved resolution of Spanish Banco Popular, initially considered a demonstrable success of the EU’s Single Resolution Mechanism, has come to a predictable head with its investors. A group of bondholders filed suit with the ECJ last week to overturn the ECB’s June decision to resolve the bank due to its “likely to fail” status.

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Brexit customs questions

16 Aug 2017

Yesterday, the UK floated a set of ideas for managing the future of the customs frontier between the EU and the UK. They were broadly divided between two proposals: a first, based around some very practical ideas for using technology to streamline the movement of goods across a future EU-UK customs border. The second was a much more radical idea that the UK would offer to implement the EU’s own external border protocols on its behalf as part of a wider approach that would remove any need to process goods moving between the two markets.

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Is Brussels starting to see the UK as a strategic competitor?

7 Jul 2017

Speaking before the European Economic and Social Committee this week, European Commission Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier painted a black picture of a post-Brexit world in which the UK failed to come to terms with the EU. A return to WTO rules for trade between the two markets; high customs duties, burdensome controls and higher transport costs.

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EU-Japan FTA: a very political agreement?

6 Jul 2017

It is now expected that the EU and Japan will use this week’s G20 summit to announce a political agreement on an FTA between the two sides after four years of negotiating. This is certainly big news in the generally calm waters of global trade negotiations.

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Single market vs single tariff?

3 Jul 2017

The setting before Parliament of the UK government’s legislative agenda for the two years leading up to the expected exit from the EU, has provided a further opportunity for ‘soft’ Brexiters in the UK to rekindle a debate about how detached from the EU the UK should aim to be. After the UK election, my colleague Jade Rickman and I examined the renewed debate over the possibility of customs union between the UK and the EU.

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Could Italy see the return of Berlusconi?

27 Jun 2017

Sunday’s Italian municipal election results demonstrated one of the golden rules of Italian politics – never underestimate Il Cavaliere. Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s party Forza Italia and its ally, Lega Nord, had a string of very good results in some of Italy’s largest cities, with victory in the erstwhile left-wing stronghold of Genoa being the most symbolic.

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The Digital Single Market has a new commissioner – will Mariya Gabriel censor social media?

22 Jun 2017

After an eight-month hiatus, the EU looks finally set to have a new Commissioner in charge of its flagship, the Digital Single Market (DSM) agenda. Mariya Gabriel is a former MEP, and it showed, in an effective hearing before the European Parliament, which is now certain to rubber stamp her appointment. This support matters for Gabriel as she will need to mobilise MEPs to publicly back her agenda, particularly on issues where member states in the Council are proving intractable. 

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How Banco Popular put a spotlight on the EU’s Single Supervisory Mechanism

21 Jun 2017

I listened this week to SSM head Danièle Nouy defending the sale of Spain’s Banco Popular to Banco Santander in front of the ECON committee of the European Parliament. It was notable how hard Spanish and Italian MEPS in particular pushed her on the ECB’s declaration that the transfer of ownership had been a success for the SSM and the EU’s new approach to resolution and recovery.

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Deepening the Digital Single Market: not much to tweet about

16 Jun 2017

Yesterday marked the entry into force of the EU’s ban on data roaming charges. But it’s worth remembering that when the DSM was created in 2015, the strategy was built around three broad objectives: deepening of the single market, cross-border liberalisation and consumer protection.

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Customs union: soft Brexit or hard sell?

16 Jun 2017

When Theresa May’s UK’s government was stripped of its majority in last week’s general election, the result was widely interpreted as a demand that the UK government focus on minimising the impact of its exit from the EU. One concrete consequence has been to put the question of customs union...

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Does the migration stick for Visegrad countries require a carrot as well?

15 Jun 2017

Migration has drawn the most serious division line between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ EU member states in a decade. This week’s European Commission infringement decision against Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic for their refusal to pledge to accept refugees is just another strong indication of that. But why has Brussels struggled so far to get the key new member states onboard while others – like Romania or the Baltics – seem to be more accommodating?

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The EU banking union 5 years on

14 Jun 2017

5 years have passed since the establishment of the banking union concept as the EU’s three-pillar response to breaking the sovereign-bank “doom loop” behind the EU sovereign debt crisis. Those five years have seen some advances, especially in the creation of a new single supervisor for the EU’s...

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European policy and the future of the EU

31 May 2017

Ten years of serial crises and rising voter scepticism about mainstream political parties have definitively buried the managerialist consensus that dominated EU policymaking in the early 2000s. The financial crisis, strained public finances and large-scale immigration flows have exposed the...

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Is the ECJ judgement a big deal for a big EU-UK deal?

22 May 2017

Last week’s ECJ judgement on the ‘mixity’ question in EU trade agreements was a big one for EU trade policy. The ECJ overturned the Advocate General and years of practice by declaring that almost all of the things the European Commission negotiates on in FTAs should be treated in this respect as the exclusive competence of the EU.

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Draghi’s monetary policy predicament

18 May 2017

If you want to understand the predicament facing ECB Governor Mario Draghi you need look no further than estimates of long-run real interest rates for the major eurozone economies.

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Thinking out loud on globalisation

11 May 2017

The European Commission published this week its assessment of how the benefits of globalisation can be harnessed, while addressing the anxieties that are also created and which are impacting on political debates across Europe.

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A Brexit pill for Romania

13 Apr 2017

When you mention EU states competing to win a prestigious and powerful European regulatory agency from Britain after Brexit, most people would probably think of the European Banking Authority. But the European Medicines Agency is also up for grabs, and the most intriguing bidder is Bucharest.

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Early positioning and leverage in the Brexit negotiation

10 Apr 2017

The early stages of any negotiation are all about positioning. The Brexit negotiation is no different. British Prime Minister Theresa May’s letter invoking Article 50 - and the draft negotiating guidelines issued by European Council President Donald Tusk - are both exercises in positioning. Each sets out objectives and constraints, as the two sides compete to shape the negotiations in their favour.

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How multi-speed can Europe be?

24 Mar 2017

As European leaders head to Rome this weekend to contemplate the EU’s future, there is an elephant in the room, and it is not actually Brexit. It is the question of whether the EU is ultimately reaching the zenith of the harmonising push begun with the creation of the single market thirty years ago. The logic of Brussels has always been that unity follows uniformity. One of the more interesting subtexts in Rome will be the idea that one path to unity may be to accept – even encourage – differences.

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Right and wrong kinds of populism?

23 Mar 2017

We were lucky to have former MEP and Dutch Labour Party President Michiel van Hulten in to GC this week for a briefing on the Dutch election. Michiel provided plenty of food for thought, especially on the coalition-building dynamic over the weeks (months?) ahead. A couple of things stood out from the group’s discussion.

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Erdogan and Europe: the long disengagement?

21 Mar 2017

The Dutch election has set a precedent: It pays for ‘mainstream’ European politicians to take a tough line on Turkey, which has become the symbol for the challenges of immigration in many EU member states. Mark Rutte’s stand-off with Ankara was certainly a vote winner.

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Could Macron’s ‘Marche’ get stuck despite winning?

3 Feb 2017

A poll this week shows French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron for the first time making it to the second round of the elections. It also suggested he would easily defeat Front National leader Marine Le Pen. Previously dismissed, the former investment banker and minister under François Hollande has now become the unexpected frontrunner in France’s most open election in decades.

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A Franco-German motor for EU defence policy

3 Feb 2017

Manuel Valls’ elimination from France’s Presidential race meant one certainty in an unpredictable election: on 7th May voters will choose a ‘change’ candidate. It may mean the ‘new politics’ promised by Emmanuel Macron, eschewing left/right party structures. It may be the ‘new economy’ promised by François Fillon, with radical structural reforms.

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Is the EU a pragmatist or a purist on insurance equivalence?

23 Jan 2017

There has been quite a lot of media coverage of the recently finalised negotiations between the EU and the US Department of Treasury and Federal Insurance Office on a “covered agreement” for (re)insurance services. Notable features of the deal include the national, uniform treatment of collateral requirements, exchange of regulatory information between leading supervisors and mutual recognition of financial oversight regimes. This last point in particular couldn’t be more topical.

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Do populists need to win to matter?

18 Jan 2017

The upcoming Dutch parliamentary elections on 15 March are the first test in a year that will see populist parties perform strongly in elections in France, Germany, and probably Italy as well. Earlier this week, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s ruled out any coalition with Geert Wilders, leader of the populist right Party of Freedom (PVV).

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EU FTAs: mixed fortunes

22 Dec 2016

The EU Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston has delivered an important preliminary conclusion in the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) review of the ratification requirements of the EU-Singapore FTA. This sounds like an arcane question but is actually a big political issue. 

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Europe Team

Tom
White

Head of Europe

Tom runs Global Counsel’s Europe team from its office in Brussels. Tom has overall responsibility for Global Counsel’s work with the EU institutions and governments in the EU27.

Daniel
Capparelli

Practice Lead

Daniel is Global Counsel’s trade policy Practice Lead. Daniel has worked on cross-border policy issues for over a decade in a wide range of sectors, including financial services, manufacturing and agriculture.

Matthew
Duhan

Practice Lead

Matthew is Global Counsel’s Practice Lead for energy. At Global Counsel, Matthew leads teams advising clients on understanding the impact of changing EU and UK energy and climate change policy and regulation on their businesses.

Thomas
Gratowski

Senior Associate

Thomas is a Senior Associate in Global Counsel’s macro team. He joined Global Counsel from the World Bank, where he was a consultant, focusing on country strategy in the Middle East and North Africa.

Roberto
Robles

Senior Associate

Roberto is a Senior Associate in Global Counsel’s Europe team. He has worked in the European Parliament in Brussels, as a researcher on climate and security policy for a European foreign policy think tank in Madrid, and in the EU delegation in Bangkok.

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