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December 14th, 2012

Brussels blog round-up for 8 – 14 December: French conservatives implode, Wilders resurgent, and should Europe accept higher inflation?


Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Blog Admin

December 14th, 2012

Brussels blog round-up for 8 – 14 December: French conservatives implode, Wilders resurgent, and should Europe accept higher inflation?


Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Chris Gilson and Stuart A Brown take a look at the week in Brussels blogging.

The EU centre

This week saw a European Council summit on banking supervision and further political integration in Europe. Place du Luxembourg has a good overview of negotiations on banking supervision, while the Bottom-up-blog at has a checklist for discussions on political union. More generally, Simon Wren-Lewis at Mainly Macro looks at central bank innovation by comparing recent developments in the ECB, the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England.

The European Parliament also agreed this week to a ‘supplementary budget’, reduced by €8 billion over the next two years, much to the chagrin of Lost in EUrope who calls it a “bad check”. Wyn Grant at the Common Agricultural Policy blog states that a European Commission official has let let slip that the reform of the CAP may now be delayed to 2015, due to delays in negotiations for the EU budget.

Jean-François Copé and François Fillon of the UMP Credit: UMP Photos (Creative Commons BY NC ND)

This week also saw the European Parliament give the green light to a European common patent system, something that Lost in EUrope labels the slowest EU reform of all time. Coulisses de Bruxelles calls it a great invention. Meanwhile Europe & Me looks at Transparency International’s latest report on corruption in Europe, finding that EU membership does not necessarily translate into lower levels of corruption, citing the example of Romania.


EU Foreign policy and the European neighbourhood

Contentious Politics Russia looks at voter turnout and possible election fraud in previous elections to Russia’s state Duma. Meanwhile, the European Student Think Tank says that 2012 has not been the best year for Russia’s state owned energy company Gazprom, with greater competition and an EU antitrust case.

Over at, EU-Ukraine relations says that the Association agreement between the EU and the Ukraine is unlikely to be signed given President Yanukovych’s likely lack of desire to fulfil any of the EU’s conditions.

The GMF blog looks at lessons for the US healthcare system from the Czech Republic.

As the EU received the Nobel Prize for Peace this week, Lost in EUrope says the present set of EU leaders have only made things worse, while Debating Europe asks ‘Does the EU deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?’ (the FRIDE blog thinks it does).

The Euro Crisis

Over the weekend, Lost in EUrope reports that the buyback of Greek debt has been a success, but is unclear about how much the country’s level of sovereign debt has been reduced by. However, as the week progresses Open Europe details some difficulties with the buyback stemming from Greek banks’ reticence to participate.

A Fistful of Euros looks at growing calls for greater fiscal consolidation in France and and the risk of that country falling into Europe’s ‘austerity trap’.

Spotlight on Geopolitics at says that the EU is underperforming compared to the US and Latin America in terms of economic growth, something they put down to the fact that most countries in Europe are not led by left leaning parties. As the week progresses, Nada es Gratis calls for Europe to accept higher levels of inflation (between 3-4 per cent) as a way of helping to bring an end to the eurocrisis.

Jonathan Portes, writing at Not the Treasury View, questions the recent optimism of Olli Rehn, the European Commissioner for economic affairs, on the EU’s economic recovery. He points out that even countries with apparent success stories such as Latvia are still far short of pre-crisis levels of employment. In another Not the Treasury View post, Adam Posen assesses the UK’s struggling economic performance.

Also in the UK, the fallout from the controversy over Starbucks and other large companies avoiding corporation tax continues. Chris Dillow argues that one aspect of the situation which has been overlooked is the effect that tax avoidance has on small businesses. He writes that multinational corporations already have a competitive advantage over independent companies which is exacerbated further by their ability to cut tax costs. Meanwhile Declan Gaffney at l’Art Social argues that there is ‘more to benefits policy than fairness’ and that cuts to benefits should not be understood simply as a way to punish those out of work.

Across Europe

A Fistful of Euros looks at the current factional conflict within France’s conservatives, with a major disagreement between the two candidates for leadership of the UMP, Jean-Francois Cope and Francois Fillon over who won the recent leadership contest.

At the end of last week, Italian prime minister Mario Monti announced that he would soon be resigning. Charlemagne writes that this decision is likely to cause short-damage, as his government may end in a chaotic fashion, and looks ahead to the country’s upcoming elections which may happen as soon as February. Open Europe says that austerity and the eurocrisis will be the core issues of the coming Italian election campaign. With Monti’s resignation imminent, many are worried about a possible resurgence in support for former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Lost in EUrope hopes and believes he will not be able to stage a successful comeback, despite the worries of EU politicians, but the FT’s Brussels blog, using recent polling data, says that hardening attitudes in Italy towards Germany and austerity may help to open the door for Berlusconi.

Nada es Gratis looks at how Spanish firms can innovate innovate in times of economic difficulty, and concludes that targeting foreign markets more would be a good place to begin.

The EU Journalism Fellowship blog looks at recent comments by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso that if Scotland were to leave the UK it would have to reapply for EU membership. The Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon disagrees, saying that there is no provision for removing EU treaties from any part of EU territory. Meanwhile, Europe mon bon souci compares French and British Euroscepticism.

Open Europe brings our attention to the resurgence of far right politician Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, who only three months after defeat in national elections, might now be the leader of the country’s most popular party.

The European Council on Foreign Relations has a good overview of the history of Portugal’s integration into the EU, and what its future in the EU might be, given the severe effects of the eurozone crisis.

And finally…

What has President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy been up to? This week he attended the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo.

Cafe Babel says that it’s time to end rip-off roaming charges in Europe, and Au Cafe de L’Europe looks at 2013’s European Capital of Culture, Marseilles, saying that the city will try and use this opportunity to shed the image that it is dangerous.


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Note:  This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of EUROPP – European Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics.

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