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Jerzy Buzek: Flying the EU flag from London to Moscow

Last night, Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, opened the EU’s new British headquarters in central London. The cost of buying and renovating 32 Smith Square, as Britain’s press have been keen to point out, is estimated to be in the region of £30 million. Perhaps even more galling to those of a Thatcherite eurosceptic mindset is the fact that 32 Smith Square was once Conservative Central Office. The Iron Lady, who herself leaned out of its windows to wave at supporters having won the 1987 general election, is surely displeased by the building’s reincarnation as Europe House. Her mood would not have been improved had she been at LSE yesterday to hear Mr Buzek speak before the official opening, where he promised to wave out of the very same window because “I believe in Europe.”

The former prime minister of Poland’s enthusiasm for the EU is no secret – he is more ‘Yes, yes,

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Sofia view: The draw of the Euro

These days Bulgaria is trying to stay afloat amidst the deluge sweeping across the Balkans. It is desperately scrambling to stay dry and reach the safe grounds of the EU’s inner sanctum. Several days before the National Assembly passed next year’s budget, Simeon Djankov, the finance minister, toured Western media to showcase the country’s adherence to fiscal prudence (BBCWall Street Journal). Indeed, with a projected deficit at 2.75% of GDP and with a public debt to GDP ratio of 17%, the World Bank’s ex-employee felt confident enough to criticise the EU’s big boys over not letting Bulgaria into ERM2, the euro’s coveted antechamber. Gone were the days of summer 2009 when Eurostat found Bulgaria’s deficit figures to be twice of what had been reported. The Greek scenario is not in sight, Graeca sunt non leguntur, government says. Fair enough, but one should not overlook the fact that

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Japan, Carthage and managing decline

On my daily walk along the foggy river Thames this morning I listened to the latest Economist podcast from one of their special surveys - this one was all about Japan. It started with this little teaser from Henry Tricks:

"People seem to be increasingly comfortable with the idea that Japan can go into a sort of genteel decline, which will keep up a reasonably comfortable way of life and will not involve Japan having to engage too much with the outside world."

At our recent ECFR Council Meeting in Brussels I was aware of a greater degree of debate than at the previous Meeting last year. One obvious reason is that there are now so many more vital issues to debate in Europe: the € crisis; Germany; rising powers elsewhere; a loss of global competitiveness; a looming pension crisis; a breakdown of the accepted processes of eastwards expansion; a massive readjustment of budgets across

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