Category Archives: European Union

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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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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A future for the UK in Europe

(This is a slightly edited version of my opening statement in oral evidence I gave on 10 July 2012 to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry on the future of the UK government’s EU policy) It is one of the great ironies of European history that the Member State which has been consistently […]
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Gambling in the Hague

(A shortened version of this post appears in this month’s State of the Left Review) Two months ago, the members of the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) overwhelmingly voted for Diederik Samsom to be their new leader. Today he is fighting his first general election campaign. Rarely has an opposition leader’s call for “elections, now!” been […]
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Double Dutch: how the Rutte government nearly lost the europlot

From the start of the current economic crisis the Dutch government has insisted on strict budgetary discipline in troubled eurozone countries – in particular for Greece. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, the Netherlands is one of the biggest net contributors to the various eurozone rescue packages. This week the fiscally responsible Dutch […]
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How Cameron’s kamikaze act could have been prevented

Did David Cameron deliberately manoeuvre the UK into splendid isolation last night, or was it an accident that could have been prevented? The latter, if the following account from someone who followed the proceeding closely is to be believed: “I gather that the UK presented a whole draft protocol to the Council legal service the day before the […]
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