EU 'not in hostile mood' as Brexit talks beckon, says Juncker

  • 24 March 2017
  • From the section Europe
Media captionJean-Claude Juncker: EU will negotiate in 'friendly and fair way'

"It's like musicians in their bow-ties playing on board the Titanic," remarked a friend of mine as I was talking to them about the EU's 60th anniversary celebrations in Rome.

A mild exaggeration, shall we say - but the image sticks in my mind.

Because as the leaders of the EU's 27 countries clink champagne glasses in plush, security-tight surroundings on Saturday - all is not well in the Europe outside their gates: youth unemployment persists (especially in the south), terror attacks, illegal migration, inequalities in the Eurozone, Brexit and a tide of anti-establishment populist nationalism across much of the bloc.

To name a few of the challenges. Not to mention "strongmen" Presidents Trump, Putin and Erdogan who all eye the EU with suspicion and some animosity.

"Yes," conceded European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker to me in an exclusive interview. "We are not in the best form and shape we could be in."

Read full article EU 'not in hostile mood' as Brexit talks beckon, says Juncker

Birthday bash and Brexit set Brussels abuzz

  • 20 March 2017
  • From the section Europe
A banner marking the 60 years of the singing of the Treaty of Rome is displayed at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. Photo: 20 March 2017 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The EU celebrates its 60th birthday this Saturday

Brussels was abuzz on Monday.

And I don't get to say that very often.

Read full article Birthday bash and Brexit set Brussels abuzz

An EU dinner with Brexit for each course

  • 15 December 2016
  • From the section Europe
Image copyright AP
Image caption Theresa May is in Brussels for a meeting of the European Council

It's not a snub.

Or a rule-breaker.

Read full article An EU dinner with Brexit for each course

EU leaders sing from same Brexit hymn sheet

  • 13 December 2016
  • From the section Europe
Media captionSweden PM: UK 'can't pick and choose' over Brexit

It's a twitchy, tetchy time this pre-Brexit talks, post-Brexit vote period.

So much said. So little known.

Read full article EU leaders sing from same Brexit hymn sheet

Should European leaders fear Austria-Italy backlash?

  • 2 December 2016
  • From the section Europe
Poster of Austrian far-right leader Norbert Hofer/Pic of Italian PM Matteo Renzi Image copyright AFP/reuters
Image caption Sunday will be decisive for Austrian far-right leader Norbert Hofer (L) and Italy's centre-left PM Matteo Renzi

There are an awful lot of alarmist headlines about this weekend in Europe - screeching headlines about the far right swooping into Austria's presidential palace, and painting Italy as poised to crash into financial, banking and political oblivion if Prime Minister Matteo Renzi loses a referendum on constitutional reform.

And both those hypothetical events would be hugely significant if they came to pass: Europe's first far-right head of state since World War Two in Austria, and uncertainty and instability in the eurozone's third-largest economy - Italy - spoken of in hushed, nervous whispers in EU corridors as "too big to fail".

Read full article Should European leaders fear Austria-Italy backlash?

Trump election: Europe looks to its defences

  • 14 November 2016
  • From the section Europe
Members of Poland's special commando unit Lubliniec during a Nato tactical exercise at the land forces training centre in Oleszno Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Eastern European and Baltic states feel particularly exposed to Russia

Walk the normally staid, greying corridors of EU power in Brussels at the moment and you sense an unaccustomed buzz, a nervousness; there's a whiff of almost frenzied expectation.

Change is in the air: exciting and emboldening for some, frightening for others.

Read full article Trump election: Europe looks to its defences

US election result: Europeans stunned by deafening Trump roar

  • 9 November 2016
  • From the section Europe
Dutch politician Geert Wilders poses for a photograph with an unidentified man on the convention floor before the start of the second day of the Republican National Convention, at which Donald Trump was confirmed as the Republican candidate, on 19 July 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio Image copyright AFP
Image caption Could Trump's victory herald the ascendancy of populist European politicians, such as Geert Wilders of the Netherlands?

The "sincere" (their word) letter of congratulations to Donald Trump penned this morning by the big cheeses from the European Commission and the European Council oozes EU angst from every line.

Messrs Juncker and Tusk rushed to remind the US president-elect of "shared values of freedom, human rights, democracy and a belief in the market economy" in a way that lays bare their very clear fear that Mr Trump doesn't prioritise these values at all.

Read full article US election result: Europeans stunned by deafening Trump roar

Cold and frosty EU morning for Theresa May

  • 20 October 2016
  • From the section Europe
British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: 19 October 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption British Prime Minister Theresa May has been invited to give a "Brexit update" to EU leaders

Proudly straightening her skirt, jauntily knotting his tie - a new premier usually feels some excitement about attending their first summit of European Union leaders.

Not so Theresa May.

Read full article Cold and frosty EU morning for Theresa May

EU lack of faith in UK Brexit plans

  • 3 October 2016
  • From the section Home
British Prime Minister Theresa May sits in the audience before delivering a speech about Brexit on the first day of the Conservative Party Conference, 2 Oct 2016 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption UK PM Theresa May says Britain will strike a deal with the EU as an "independent, sovereign" country

Despite polite or firm comments, a shrug of the shoulders is the most accurate way to describe Europe's reaction to Prime Minister Theresa May's announcement that she will trigger formal Brexit talks "by the end of March".

There's a distinct lack of faith in Britain's Brexit promises. David Cameron pledged he would trigger Article 50 immediately should he lose his referendum.

Read full article EU lack of faith in UK Brexit plans

Italian PM Renzi's Brexit blues and risky referendum

  • 29 September 2016
  • From the section Europe
Katya Adler interviews Italian PM Matteo Renzi, Palazzo Chigi, Rome, 28 September 2016

Switch on an Italian TV chat show at any time of day or night and you'll be treated to a staple of raised voices, righteous indignation and rowing.

Regardless of the topic of discussion.

Read full article Italian PM Renzi's Brexit blues and risky referendum