The next phase of Brexit is out of Britain’s hands

(First published by the Parliament Magazine on 24 june 2016) In retrospect it is remarkable that the rest of the EU put up with British exceptionalism for so long. Ever since Margaret Thatcher demanded “her money back” in 1980 the EU has gone to extraordinary lengths to accommodate the UK’s repeated demands to be treated […]
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Behind the disenchantment with Europe’s centre-left

(Letter published in the Financial Times on 22 September 2015) Sir, Wolfgang Münchau suggests that the failure of European centre-left parties to win and retain power is caused by their espousal of orthodox macroeconomic policies also embraced by the centre-right (“Perplexing failure of Europe’s centre-left”, September 21). This view is not supported by the evidence. […]
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Why debt relief could save Greece but would destroy the Eurozone

So the Greeks have said no. The way the referendum was called and organised fell well short of international standards, but given the margin of victory for the ‘no’ camp there can be little doubt that a majority of Greeks supported the hardline position taken by its leftwing government in recent weeks. The Greek government […]
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The Greek crisis shows that what we need is more Europe, not less

This blog post is a translated and edited version of an article I wrote in Dutch for Het Parool. This English version was first published on the LSE EUROPP blog. “What is needed is a substantive economic programme to enable Greece to carry out the necessary structural reforms.” So wrote the European Commission on 29 […]
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Abolish the Chatham House Rule

Today I attended an event at the Brussels office of Carnegie Europe, “the global think tank”, as the banner behind the stage proudly – and in my view justifiably – proclaimed. Carnegie Europe is without doubt one of the most engaging and thought-provoking platforms for debate on EU and world affairs in the European capital. […]
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Britain and the Netherlands have many shared interests. The EU must be one of them

Twelve years ago, when I was still a young member of the European parliament, and an enthusiastic supporter of New Labour and the third way, I was invited by Roger Liddle to speak at a dinner debate in London chaired by the then British prime minister, Tony Blair. Two hundred centre-left politicians and advisers from […]
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Netherlands: How rainbow-coloured became the new black

A heated debate around a centuries-old children’s festival throws a light on the complexities of integration and how the left should respond Immigration has been high on the agenda of many European governments for some time with debate usually focused on the number of people entering the country and society’s ability to cope. However, in […]
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Big banks are signing up to EU transparency. Now it’s the law firms’ turn.

European Voice reports today that a number of important financial institutions (including Banco Popular Español, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, the London Stock Exchange and Royal Bank of Scotland) signed up to the EU’s lobbying transparency register in the last week. A check of the (voluntary) register reveals that Banco Santander did so one week earlier. Doubtless […]
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For Google, political backing is only a campaign cheque away

The tech giant made political donations to three out of four Members of the US Congress who wrote to the European Parliament to warn against search engine “unbundling”. It is rare for members of the US Congress to agree on anything these days. So when two senior Congressmen and two senior US Senators, two Democrats […]
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Mandela Day

This morning, in response to the death of Nelson Mandela, I posted the following tweet: There already is a ‘Mandela Day’, and it’s officially recognised by the UN: 18 July, Mandela’s birthday. But it’s not  a public holiday, and it’s not exactly universally acknowledged. My idea is simple: let’s make 18 July the first truly […]
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