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Madrid view: is the worst over for Spain in 2013?


How does 2013 look for Spain? Is the worst over? The answer to that question depends largely on how “worst” is defined.

The absolute worst scenario, the collapse of the euro, can now be set aside thanks to the decisive action of European Central Bank president Mario Draghi. The wording he chose in a statement on the issue – “I will do whatever it takes to save the euro and, believe me, it will be sufficient” – was exactly what the markets had been waiting for since 2010. Markets now know that betting against the euro could be dangerous.

But this does not mean that the crisis is fully over.

For domestic political reasons, EU leaders are still reluctant to follow Draghi’s lead and do whatever it takes to consolidate the euro. A banking union has been born, but it is still half-baked, while the more ambitious proposals aimed at a fiscal union are still in their infancy. EU

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Madrid View: I want my money


How can it be that amid the crisis, with cutbacks and austerity in every state, the European Commission has proposed a budget for 2014-2020, which increases EU spending by no less than five percent? In this context, shouldn't the EU also tighten its belt, especially given that its resources come from the budgets of the member states, by direct contributions, and from the citizens, by way of VAT. Would it not make more sense to freeze or even reduce the EU budget, now amounting to 942 billion euros, instead of raising it to 1.09 trillion, as the Commission is proposing?
One would be tempted to agree with this, were it not exactly the line taken by the government of David Cameron, who has demanded a freeze on the budget in real terms. According to the British Treasury, this means lowering the spending ceiling to 886 billion euros. Once again, London’s diplomatic spirit shines

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The real value of the EU for Britain is geopolitical


Britain is reconsidering its relationship with the continent. The country has never felt fully comfortable with its membership in an EU that has been conceived, after World War II, as a marriage between Germany and France. With the euro crisis taking centre stage since 2008, this unease has turned into open hostility. And each time German chancellor Angela Merkel talks of “political union”, British nightmares of becoming an entity in a “superstate”, run by an unelected bureaucracy in Brussels, seem to become a realistic prospect. Recent polls suggest that about half of Brits would like to leave the EU. But before waving goodbye, the UK should make a honest assessment of what’s at stake. The current British debate over EU membership is mostly about the economics. But the EU’s main value is geopolitical.

In the first half of the 20th century, Europe experienced two devastating

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The European Council: defining EMU


This week's European Council will have another go at trying to agree on a definition of a 'genuine' Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). In June the leaders refused to accept the first paper from their President Herman Van Rompuy on the matter, and asked for more work to be done. Now they have in front of them an interim report (12 October) from Van Rompuy which indeed advances the argument for more European integration but which still ducks the vital question of how this more united Europe might best be governed.

The European Council is committed to taking some firm decisions on Van Rompuy's final report in December. Whatever happens this week, there's a long way still to go, especially on the fourth of the building blocks which is euphemistically entitled 'democratic legitimacy and accountability'. While the role of the European and national parliaments at their respective

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The Dutch elections and the EU

Following their contribution to ECFR's National Papers series, Jan Marinus Wiersma and Adriaan Schout examine the implications of the recent Dutch election for the European Union. 

Click here to read Jan and Adriaan's National Paper - 'Reinventing Europe: the Dutch paradox'

Elections and instability

Business and governments from all over the world need stability in the eurozone. Elections in EU member states are a major – but of course unavoidable - source of instability. Elections in Greece threatened the euro with discussions about a euro-referendum and prospects of wanting to rewrite the austerity agreements; the change from Sarkozy to Hollande in France worried many and Hollande threatened to renegotiate the fiscal compact, etc. Yet, despite the many elections that took place over the past 3 years, the euro still exists.

Although all countries have very specific problems

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