Insights

General Politics

Values and transparency

General Politics

The new Commission faces a complex European political landscape. Eurosceptic parties from many member states will put pressure on their governments after performing strongly in May’s European Parliament election, even if they are struggling to translate this into power in the parliament itself. Tensions have increased between eastern and western member states on migration…

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General Politics

Croatia and EU enlargement: open bridge or closing door?

General Politics

On January 1st, Zagreb assumes the rotating presidency of the European Council. Its time at the helm will involve a number of firsts. It will be Croatia’s first presidency since becoming the newest member state in 2013. It will be the first presidency responding to Ursula von der Leyen’s new commission, itself entering office after a rocky start. It could be the first…

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A stronger Europe in the world

Trade & Manufacturing

EU trade policy over the next five years will in many respects be defined by an evolution of outgoing Trade Commissioner Malmström’s ‘Trade for All’ strategy. At the level of content, this will be reflected on a high level of continuity on long-standing EU trade policy tenets: the defence of the multilateral trading order, the new EU FTAs trade negotiation (eg with…

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An economy that works for people

Financial Services

Three major trends will influence EU economic policy over the next mandate: the threat of climate change, the rapid pace of technological progress and the increased sophistication of economic crime. Success will depend on how well the European Commission is able to be the master of its own destiny in relation to these challenges, rather than being buffeted by events. It…

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General Politics

Is Macron's leadership in Europe working?

General Politics

President Macron’s decision not to block a three-month extension to Brexit was a relief to those in the UK who feared no deal or who still hope for no Brexit. It was also a relief to his EU partners and the institutions that there would not be yet another argument with President Macron as the protagonist.

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Europe fit for the Digital Age

TMT

The geopolitical Commission will give practical expression to calls from Paris and Berlin for ‘strategic autonomy’ for technology. This means addressing longstanding anxiety in Paris and Berlin about falling behind the US and China in key technologies such as cloud computing and AI. This has even greater salience as evidence grows of European firms being locked in to…

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General Politics

Will von der Leyen succeed in maintaining the balance of power in the institutions?

General Politics

Ursula von der Leyen is a President already in some ways defined by compromise and balance. When member states were unable to agree on the principle of nominating one of the European Parliament’s Spitzenkandidaten, she was chosen to fill the role. Margrethe Vestager and Frans Timmermans hold the highest positions in her team in order to broadly balance the interests of…

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From followers to disruptors? The role of small states in EU digital policy

TMT

In the past decade, small members states have increasingly been at the vanguard of digital policy debates in the European Union. Most notably, Estonia’s digital initiatives have allowed a country of just 1.3m people to reinvent itself as the leading e-government innovator in Europe, perhaps globally. Estonia is not alone. Ireland plays host to most of Silicon Valley’s…

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General Politics

Weber’s revenge deals a blow to Macron’s European momentum

General Politics

The European Parliament’s rejection of Sylvie Goulard today is the most significant consequence yet of the fragmented European election result in May. It is a reminder of the weak position of President-elect Ursula von der Leyen and a significant blow to French President Macron. He appeared to have built on his success in securing Christine Lagarde’s presidency of the…

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ASEAN and the rise of China’s southwest

Trade & Manufacturing

Beijing announced this summer it would establish new free-trade zones in the country’s southwest. This represents a significant development in China’s strategy to boost growth and expand its influence in Southeast Asia through its Belt and Road Initiative. China’s eastern provinces have until now been at the core of Beijing’s “opening up” strategy. But now, amid the…

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General Politics

The inescapable neighbour. Will Saudi Arabia rethink its Iran approach?

General Politics

Neighbours rarely make good friends. Certainly, this is true of Saudi Arabia and Iran. Riyadh has long sought to isolate its large northern neighbour to avoid a shift in the regional power balance. It has been a strong critic of the Iran nuclear deal and lobbied the US president, Donald Trump, to pull out. But as neighbours, neither country can escape the presence of the…

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General Politics

The new speaker of the British House of Commons could influence the Brexit outcome

General Politics

In modern times, the speaker of the House of Commons has not been a significant determinant of political outcomes in the UK. This makes the current speaker, John Bercow, an unusual figure. Whilst navigating the fraught Brexit process, he has authorised several procedural innovations that have enabled backbench MPs to commandeer control of the chamber from the government…

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What does it mean for finance to be "open"?

Financial Services

We are now 18 months on from the launch of the UK’s Open Banking initiative, which empowers consumers to demand that their bank share their financial data with third parties who can provide account aggregation or payment initiation services. The jury’s still out on whether this market intervention will provide the intended boost to innovation and competition, but already…

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Push and pull economics of climate investor activism

Energy & Commodities

Bill Gates says climate activists are wasting their time trying to encourage divestment from companies involved with fossil fuels. The impact on emissions to date, according to Gates, is probably zero. Instead, activists should focus their efforts on backing new technologies that will either slow carbon emissions or reduce their impact on the climate. In short, more…

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General Politics

Respite not resolution: Italian Euroscepticism in the new policy cycle

General Politics

September 10th provided a rare boost for pro-Europeans in the euro zone’s third largest economy. Movimento 5 Stelle’s Giuseppe Conte won approval in parliament for his new government, replacing the nationalist Lega with the centre-left Partito Democratico. Former PD prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, also secured the important economic affairs portfolio in the European…

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The EU's €2 trillion message

Trade & Manufacturing

The European Commission’s new legal guidance on the participation of third country bidders in the EU procurement market sends an important signal. It signals that greater reciprocity in public procurement will be an important element of Brussels’ industrial policy agenda. As I set out in a recent GC paper, the commission is demonstrating that it is unafraid to put words…

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General Politics

The British parliament can stop prime minister Boris Johnson achieving a no-deal Brexit

General Politics

The attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, has reportedly advised prime minister Boris Johnson’s new government that a no-deal Brexit cannot be prevented from occurring on October 31st by the British parliament, even if it loses a vote of no confidence. He has advised that parliament’s passing of the Article 50 act – which authorised the triggering of Article 50 - and the…

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General Politics

Will Ursula von der Leyen’s weak start matter?

General Politics

Ursula von der Leyen’s narrow win on Tuesday - just nine seats above the required majority – has widely been interpreted as a sign of trouble ahead for her commission and its ability to push through legislation. But is this right? There are some reasons to think it might not be.

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