Coronavirus: Are EU divisions banished after the deal?

  • 10 April 2020
  • From the section Europe
Netherlands' Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra looks on during a video conference with EU finance ministers in The Hague Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption As the deadlock intensified the Netherlands was portrayed as the country holding out against a deal

Crack open the Easter eggs. They've done it!

After two tortuous weeks of wrangling, EU finance ministers have agreed a number of common financial measures to protect the workers, businesses and EU countries most in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

These safety nets, as the EU is calling them, amount to €500bn (£430bn; $540bn). That's separate from the €750bn rescue package already announced by the European Central Bank.

There's talk too amongst EU leaders of an additional Recovery Fund (of up to another €500bn, if the French get their way) which countries could then access once the health crisis is over and attention turns to Europe's Covid-19-battered economies.

"Our faith in Europe has proven correct!" tweeted the Italian president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli triumphantly, as soon as EU finance ministers announced the deal.

Read full article Coronavirus: Are EU divisions banished after the deal?

Coronavirus outbreak eats into EU unity

  • 3 April 2020
  • From the section Europe
Ursula von der Leyen on 2 April Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The head of the European Commission has called for co-operation but the 27 member states take their own decisions

The coronavirus crisis really brings into question what the EU is all about.

Clearly not a United States of Europe, as eurosceptics have often claimed.

Read full article Coronavirus outbreak eats into EU unity

Coronavirus: Can EU get a grip on crisis?

  • 27 March 2020
  • From the section Europe
Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès takes part in the EU leaders' meeting Image copyright Twitter/@Sophie_Wilmes
Image caption Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès was among the European leaders taking part in the EU video call

"The EU is finished," gloat the nay-sayers. "Even faced with the coronavirus, its members can't stick together."

Certainly EU leaders meeting on Thursday - by socially-distant video conference - glaringly failed to agree to share the debt they are all racking up fighting Covid-19.

Read full article Coronavirus: Can EU get a grip on crisis?

Brexit: What to expect from UK-EU trade talks

  • 2 March 2020
  • From the section Europe
Boris Johnson outlines UK negotiating stance in Greenwich, 3 Feb 20 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Boris Johnson set out his position on UK-EU ties on 3 February

So this is it. After three messy years negotiating the UK's exit from the EU, Monday is the day that trade talks finally begin between the two sides.

David Frost, the UK's chief negotiator, arrives in Brussels in the afternoon, armed with 100 advisers and civil servants, preparing to spread themselves across 10 working groups, focusing on everything from fishing to financial services to truck drivers' cross-border access.

Read full article Brexit: What to expect from UK-EU trade talks

Brexit: End of era as EU says goodbye to UK

  • 1 February 2020
  • From the section Europe
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Media captionBrexit: How did we get here?

As Brexit dawned, I found myself reporting for the BBC from outside the glass and concrete behemoth otherwise known as the European Commission building, in Brussels.

It's the same place I've regularly stood over the past three-and-a-half years, attempting to explain the EU perspective on Brexit following our referendum and throughout the divorce negotiations.

Read full article Brexit: End of era as EU says goodbye to UK

Why Brexit Stage Two may turn into a rocky ride

  • 9 January 2020
  • From the section Europe
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen meet at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, 08 January 2020 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mrs von der Leyen said negotiating all aspects of the UK's future relationship with the EU by the end of 2020 would be "basically impossible"

"Only as true friends can, I want to be very honest about what lies ahead of us." The words of the new European Commission president as she headed to Downing Street and her first face-to-face meeting with Boris Johnson on Wednesday.

What lies ahead of the EU and UK might, on the surface, appear relatively straightforward.

Read full article Why Brexit Stage Two may turn into a rocky ride

UK general election 2019: EU prepares for Brexit hardball

  • 13 December 2019
  • From the section Europe
Leaders L-R: Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, Estonia's PM Juri Ratas, Netherlands PM Mark Rutte and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen Image copyright AFP
Image caption EU leaders hope for more UK clarity on Brexit now after Boris Johnson's triumph

"Friday the 13th really has lived up to its hype," an EU diplomat texted me this morning. The same diplomat who mournfully noted as soon as the first exit polls were published: "This means bye-bye to our British friends."

There was a heaviness of heart about Europe's leaders as they gathered in Brussels for the second day of an EU summit. They have never hidden their sadness at the UK vote to leave.

Read full article UK general election 2019: EU prepares for Brexit hardball

Johnson's race for trade deal strengthens EU hand

  • 9 December 2019
  • From the section Europe
UK PM Boris Johnson, 17 Oct 19 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption EU leaders and Boris Johnson agreed on a revised UK Brexit deal in October

Over and over again in this election campaign you hear supporters of Boris Johnson confidently asserting that "he did it with the Brexit deal: he got the EU to renegotiate when most people said it'd be impossible.

"So who cares about those who now openly doubt his ability to get a trade deal done with the EU by December next year? The doubters were wrong before. They'll be proved wrong again."

Read full article Johnson's race for trade deal strengthens EU hand

How fast could UK-EU trade deal be struck?

  • 22 November 2019
  • From the section Europe
Johnson and Corbyn during ITV debate Image copyright AFP
Image caption Brussels fears that whether Corbyn or the Johnson form a government, 2020 could well be another year of uncertainty

"Not in my wildest dreams would I imagine that a possibility!"

This is how an influential European diplomat responded when I put to him Boris Johnson's assertion that a trade deal with the EU could/would/should be completed by December next year.

Read full article How fast could UK-EU trade deal be struck?

Jean-Claude Juncker: 'I've had enough Brexit', outgoing EU chief says

  • 5 November 2019
  • From the section Europe
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Media captionJean-Claude Juncker: "Brexit is a too-long story that has to be brought to an end"

Famous for extravagant pronouncements and gestures like kissing EU leaders on the forehead or playfully slapping their face - Jean Claude Juncker was untypically guarded. He clearly didn't want to be seen to be trying to interfere in the general election.

However, when I put some Brexit promises to him being made by the various political parties, engage he did, crushing a number of key party pledges in the process - from an EU perspective, at least.

Read full article Jean-Claude Juncker: 'I've had enough Brexit', outgoing EU chief says