Michael Berendt's blog

I see that the French National Assembly has agreed a compromise proposal on the accession referendum, which will give the President the power to opt for the people or the parliament to approve Turkish membership.
The clause requiring a popular vote for any new accession increasing the EU population by 5 per cent will remain […]

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I may be sceptical about the timetable for EU enlargement of the European Union following Ireland’s referendum, but there has been one welcome development as France takes over the presidency: the French Senate has voted by 297 votes to seven to scrap the obligation to hold a national referendum over Turkish membership.
The issue is […]

Posted by Michael Berendt

August is the traditional month for invasions. Foreign politicians are on holiday, much of the harvest has finished and there’s time to consolidate before winter sets in. So this time it was Georgia.
None of us who were around at the time will forget the August day in 1968 when Soviet bloc troops invaded […]

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The new Russian president Dmitry Medvedev made a big effort at last week’s summit in the Siberian oil town of Khanty-Mansiisk to give new impetus to the EU-Russia dialogue. The president offered each of his EU guests an album of his own photographs and apparently charmed Messrs Solana, Barroso and Jansa in a way […]

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The worst fears of Europe’s leaders have been realised: Ireland’s voters have scuppered the Lisbon Treaty, with 862,415 votes against and 752,451 in favour on a turnout of 53.4 per cent in the Irish referendum. Politicians can complain till the cows come home about small countries and slim majorities. After all, the Irish “no” voters […]

Posted by Michael Berendt

The worst fears of Europe’s leaders have been realised: Ireland’s voters have scuppered the Lisbon Treaty, with 862,415 votes against and 752,451 in favour on a turnout of 53.4 per cent in the Irish referendum. Politicians can complain till the cows come home about small countries and slim majorities. After all, the Irish “no” voters… » read more

Posted by Michael Berendt

“That’s the only cut this year!” quipped a council member when European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet took the knife to the ECB’s birthday cake in Frankfurt on June 2. The occasion was the tenth anniversary of the Bank’s establishment. Apparently the mood in Frankfurt was of genuine celebration tempered by concern at the conflicting […]

Posted by Michael Berendt

Allemagne quartorze points, Royaume-Uni 14 points, la Russie 272 points, Ukraine 230 points, la Grèce 218 points. So it was a runaway victory for the Russian entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, held in Belgrade on May 24, and oblivion for most west European entries. The centre of gravity moves further east. See you in […]

Posted by Michael Berendt

Elation in Brussels at the unexpected success of Boris Tadic’s pro-European Democratic Party in Serbia’s general election has quickly turned to frustration as the Socialist Party, with 20 seats in the new parliament, decides whether to throw in its lot with the nationalist Radicals led by Vojislav Kostunica. Tadic’s party won the most seats, but… » read more

Posted by Michael Berendt

Alarm bells have been ringing in certain European ministries. Proposals now under discussion would bring defence-related trade under the auspices of the single market and diplomats are worried. I gather that France is calling for a legal opinion on whether European single market legislation can apply to defence-related products – just a few weeks before […]

Posted by Michael Berendt