Europe & EU January 2024-

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EU Elections 2024

European Parliament election 2024
Thu, June 6–Sun, June 9, 2024

21 June
Ukraine and Moldova to start EU membership talks on Tuesday
(Politico Eu) The EU will launch accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova on Tuesday, prompting gratitude in Kyiv and Chișinău.
… The accession talks are set to start in Luxembourg on Tuesday afternoon via two intergovernmental conferences that the EU will hold separately with Ukraine and Moldova.
The opening of negotiations is the next step in what is likely to be a tough, years-long journey toward membership. Ukraine and neighboring Moldova both applied to join the EU in 2022, after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

20 June
The hottest political issue European politicians aren’t talking about
The Continent’s housing crisis has gone from being a slow burn to a four-alarm fire — but some countries are handling it better than others.
(Politico Eu) From Lisbon to Łódź, voters are angry about the lack of affordable housing. Anti-immigrant riots broke out in Dublin last fall, fueled in part by claims that the Irish capital’s limited public housing was being given to foreigners. Meanwhile, in cities like Lisbon, Amsterdam and Milan, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets to denounce the lack of affordable homes.

18 June
The Specter of Neo-Fascism Is Haunting Europe
Slavoj Žižek
(Project Syndicate) With mainstream parties and politicians already preparing to accommodate the far right following this month’s European Parliament election, the axiom of post-World War II European democracy has been quietly abandoned. “No collaboration with fascists” is being replaced by a tacit acceptance of them.

17 June
EU leaders break off talks on top job nominees without result
(AP) — Leaders of European Union countries reached no final agreement on candidates for the bloc’s top jobs Monday, but several praised the record of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and she appeared on track to secure their endorsement later this month for a second term in office.
EU leaders move closer towards giving second term to Ursula von der Leyen
European Commission president appears likely to keep her job as meetings continue to decide who gets top EU roles
(The Guardian) Her European People’s party has the largest number of seats in the European parliament, improving her chances of getting a second term
Meeting for the first time since elections shifted the European parliament to the right, with big gains for nationalist and far-right parties in France and Germany, EU leaders discussed how to fill the bloc’s top jobs on Monday.
The European Council president, Charles Michel, expressed confidence of agreement next week, while declining to answer if there had been a majority for von der Leyen or candidates for the other senior roles. “It is our collective duty to make a decision by the end of June,” he told reporters at about midnight.

10-11 June
Jeremy Kinsman: Have Europeans Fallen for the Anti-Democratic Right?
(Policy) The mood in Europe today, where the economy is tepid, is one of inchoate distaste for politicians, establishments, and “elites.” That mood heralded a surge by the nationalist, rejectionist, right — angry for the same reasons as many Americans: cost of living, immigration, too much woke-ism about gender and inclusion, and, more recently, about the costs of policies addressing climate change.
European Parliament politics are organized through sometimes awkward groupings of like-minded members from left to right. These recent elections are a test of the strength of the far-right in Europe.
I agree with the Globe and Mail’s European sage, Eric Reguly, that in this instance, the “centre held,” but that the far right “broke its fringe status,” and became a mainstream player. Being a protest vote (and turnout was relatively high, more than 50%), some citizens perversely supported rabidly right-wing opponents of immigration or carbon abatement who would struggle to get elected back home.
… Curiously, the leader with enhanced stature is the diminutive but daring Prime Minister of Italy, Georgia Meloni, whose rightist “Brothers of Italy” party (back in the day, pro-Mussolini), made gains, largely at the expense of Greens (again) and the Lega, the formerly dominant right-wing nationalist grouping under the pro-Russian Matteo Salvini, who was trashed. That is good news. PM Meloni has made her government both pro-Brussels (within reason, and a main reason is that EU financing is an Italian necessity), and pro-Ukraine. She remains hostile to EU immigration rules, which keep Italy a catchment for boat migrants, and, as a traditionalist pro-family Catholic, hit an apparent Italian sweet spot, with rejection of woke-ism.
This week, Meloni will host the G-7, whose embattled leaders look at re-election struggles as a potential end of their political rides (don’t even think about poor UK PM Sunak).
They will look at PM Meloni with admiration, and as the proof that Europe will survive all this.
Unlikely allies: Von der Leyen and Meloni’s potential partnership
(GZERO media) As the dust settles from last weekend’s EU Parliament elections, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is holding all the cards, and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is preparing to kiss the ring.
The EU undeniably shifted right in the election, with support for Meloni’s right-wing coalition climbing to more than 47%. Meanwhile, for von der Leyen, the center held — but barely. Her coalition of mainstream parties won a narrow 400-seat majority, but with many threatening to defect, so she will need to pull votes from Meloni’s camp to secure the 361 votes she needs to win a second term as commission president on July 18. For Meloni, supporting von der Leyen could further cement her influence in Brussels.
These women aren’t diametrically opposed. While Meloni’s party traces its roots back to a neo-fascist group, and her 2022 victory set the tone for far-right gains across Europe, she’s moderated her position on the international stage and dropped her previous anti-EU rhetoric. She is also a fervent Ukraine supporter, which could make her a key bridge to the far right for von der Leyen, who announced on Tuesday that the EU will send €1.4 billion to Ukraine and that it will begin accession talks this summer.

Europe is beset by global threats. How will a destabilised EU cope with them?
Nathalie Tocci
Whatever the political machinations in Europe, the external context will shape Europe’s policy priorities; governments and institutions will not be able to shy away from them.
(The Guardian) The far-right surge was felt most acutely in Europe’s two largest countries. …
The far right-on-the-march narrative was not borne out however in most other countries or within the EU itself. In Poland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Czech Republic and even in Hungary, the far right underperformed.
In Italy too, while Giorgia Meloni topped the polls at almost 29%, this is a far cry from Matteo Salvini’s 34% at the 2019 European elections: Italy’s contribution to the rightwing surge is a net negative.
All in all, the far right has made inroads, but this is not a landslide, increasing its overall share in the European parliament from around 20% to 23%.
… This means that the “governing” majority in the European parliament is likely to remain the same, featuring the centre-right European People’s party, the socialists and the liberals.
… The challenges facing Europe are dramatic. War on the continent, the spiralling climate crisis, a brewing trade war between the US and China, the trampling of international law in the Middle East and Europe’s tattered reputation in the global south will all top the European policy agenda in the months ahead. …
The EU’s internal political dynamics make a world of a difference to how it collectively goes about addressing these priorities. There is a huge difference between on the one hand, prioritising spending on national defence policies and on the other, putting real money into retooling the European economy and public spending for collective European defence. A more right-leaning EU, even slightly so, will have a much harder time agreeing on meaningful steps towards defence integration, underpinned by a significant new EU defence fund.
There is also a categorical gap between an EU agenda that doubles down on protectionism against China, and one that invests in green and digital technologies.
China hawk von der Leyen confident of new term as Europe lurches right
(SCMP) European Commission president’s party remains largest parliamentary group while heavyweights Macron and Scholz damaged

How the far-right scrambled European politics
(Politico Nightly) THE CENTER HOLDS — Far-right parties in France and Germany made big gains in the European Parliament elections held over the weekend, reflecting rising skepticism of the European Union’s project in collective governance, and the political potency of issues like immigration.
Barbara Moens, POLITICO’s chief EU correspondent:
Actually, there’s definitely a sense of relief in the political center here. The European political center had expected a very large surge to the far-right, and in a way, the center held. If you look at the centrist parties in the European Parliament, they still have a majority. There is a swing to the right, but it’s far less than expected, especially toward the far-right. So, there’s this sigh of relief among EU officials and diplomats.
Where does von der Leyen stand now? Does she have a strong shot at keeping the European Commission presidency for another five years?
Her party not only stayed the largest party in the European Parliament, but they actually gained some seats as well. That’s clearly a victory for them. However, that does not automatically guarantee her a second term. It’s a complicated process. First, she needs to have the support from a majority of the 27 EU heads of state to nominate her, and only then can she go to the European Parliament to secure a second term, where she also needs a majority. That will happen in July.

This time, the far-right threat is real
The next European Parliament looks more pro-Russian and less green than the current one. Could a far-right EU really happen?
(Politico Eu) In 2024, the right-wing surge in the polls seems bigger and bolder, with one predicting the nationalist right and far right could pick up nearly a quarter of seats in the European Parliament in June.
Even if the center right — currently tipped to come first in the election — refuses to form a governing coalition with ever more powerful firebrand fringe parties, there’s still a significant chance the far right will, for the first time, be able to influence Europe’s policy agenda. That will enable it to threaten the EU’s sacred values on rule of law and human rights, and block or even overturn major green and climate laws.
“We’re going to see a really significant shift to the right,” said Simon Hix, a professor of comparative politics at the European University Institute, referring to the June elections when 400 million people across the European Union are eligible to vote to send 720 representatives to Brussels.
Hix forecast the far-right Identity & Democracy (ID) grouping in the European Parliament, the sixth largest of seven, will gain 40 seats in June, meaning the group could have 98 lawmakers, vaulting into the third place currently occupied by the Liberals. It’s already home to the German extreme-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the French far-right National Rally (RN) party.
Europe: elections to watch in 2024
(Economist Intelligence Unit EIU) Europe will see nine parliamentary elections in 2024, of which four are likely to result in a notable change in government and/or policy direction. We expect political fragmentation to remain a key trend in Europe next year. Governments are finding it increasingly difficult to command stable working majorities, and those countries governed by coalitions are likely to have to rely on large multiparty agreements. Policymaking will remain constrained by the challenges of minority government (France), instability and in-fighting (Germany and Austria), a recent coalition collapse (the Netherlands) or a reliance on small hard-line parties (Spain).
Rising disaffection with the political establishment increases the likelihood that mainstream parties will co-opt some of the more radical policies espoused by the far right and far left (particularly on immigration) into their policy platforms. The far right is also likely to make gains, particularly in Austria, where we expect it to enter government after the September 2024 election, potentially as the largest party. Portugal will hold a snap poll in March after the government collapsed this month, and as things stand the right-wing bloc, supported by the far-right Chega (Enough), has the best chance of forming the next government. Polls also indicate that far-right parties will make substantial gains in the European Parliament elections in June 2024. This is likely to influence the EU’s policy stance on issues such as immigration, climate change and EU enlargement.
The most significant election in Europe in 2024 will be in the UK, where anti-incumbency sentiment is strong, and we expect voters to return a Labour Party government. …
Over 50 countries go to the polls in 2024. The year will test even the most robust democracies
HAS POPULISM PEAKED?
Populism gained ground in Europe as the continent experienced economic instability and mass migration from elsewhere. June elections for the parliament of the 27-nation European Union will be a sign of whether traditional parties can see off populist rivals, many of which are skeptical of military support for Ukraine.
Last year’s national elections produced mixed signals: Slovakia elected pro-Russia populist Prime Minister Robert Fico, but voters in Poland replaced a conservative government with a coalition led by centrist Donald Tusk.
Mujtaba Rahman of political consultancy Eurasia Group predicted that the upcoming European Parliament races won’t produce a populist majority but “the center will lose ground compared to the last vote” in 2019. (10 January 2024)

6-9 June
What’s at stake in the European Parliament election this week
(AP) — Nearly 400 million European Union citizens can go to the polls over the coming days to elect members of the European Parliament, or MEPs, in one of the biggest global democratic events.
EU elections are held every five years across the 27-member bloc. This year marks the 10th parliamentary election since the first polls in 1979, and the first after Brexit.
Initial results can only be revealed on the evening of June 9, once polling stations have closed in all member states. … The voting is done by direct universal suffrage in a single ballot.
The number of members elected in each country depends on the size of the population. It ranges from six for Malta, Luxembourg and Cyprus to 96 for Germany. In 2019, Europeans elected 751 lawmakers. Following the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU in 2020, the number of MEPs fell to 705 with some of the 73 seats previously held by British MEPs redistributed to other member states.
After the election, the European Parliament will have 15 additional members, bringing the total to 720. Twelve countries will get extra MEPs.
National political parties contest elections, but once they are elected, most of the lawmakers then join transnational political groups.
9 June
Orbán’s party takes most votes in Hungary’s EU election, but new challenger scores big win
(AP) — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s nationalist party took the most votes in Sunday’s European Parliament elections but sharply underperformed its past dominance in a race that pitted the long-serving leader against a new challenger that has upended Orbán’s grip on Hungarian politics
Europe swings to the right — led by France
Center-right and far-right parties are leading the way in the EU election.
(Poiitico Eu) Even though they are highly unlikely to be able to coordinate as a unified group inside the European Parliament — thanks to divisions on topics such as Russia — they will still be able to influence the overall direction of the EU, on everything from immigration to climate policies.
Collected together, the radical right parties would theoretically represent the second biggest bloc in the Parliament — being on track to come first in France and Italy, and second in Germany, the three biggest and most important countries in the 27-nation bloc.
Far-right gains in European Union deal stunning defeats to France’s Macron and Germany’s Scholz
(AP) — Far-right parties made such big gains at the European Union parliamentary elections that they dealt stunning defeats to two of the bloc’s most important leaders: French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
In France, the National Rally party of Marine Le Pen dominated the polls to such an extent that Macron immediately dissolved the national parliament and called for new elections, a massive political risk since his party could suffer more losses, hobbling the rest of his presidential term that ends in 2027.

Polls open in 20 EU countries as voting for the European Parliament enters its final day
(AP) — Polling stations opened across Europe on Sunday as voters from 20 countries cast ballots in elections that are expected to shift the European Union’s parliament to the right and could redirect the future of the world’s biggest trading bloc.
The war in Ukraine, migration, and the impact of climate policy on farmers are some of the issues weighing on voters’ minds as they cast ballots to elect 720 members of the European Parliament.

7 June
Ishaan Tharoor The West’s liberal establishment clings to D-Day’s legacy
(WaPo) …  The European Union parliamentary elections taking place over the next few days seem set to mark significant gains, if not outright victories, for far-right parties, some of whose origins are directly anchored in post-World War II neo-fascist movements. Macron, in particular, looks poised for a humbling, with his centrist faction lagging considerably behind their far-right rivals in the polls.

5 June
Hard right is set to surge in this week’s European Union elections. Center set to tilt to right, too

6-7 June
Europe’s Swing to the Right Threatens Global Climate Policy
Many populist, nationalist and far-right parties have attacked environmental, climate and clean energy policies during the campaigns for this week’s EU parliamentary election.
(Inside Climate News) In 2019, when the 450 million citizens of the European Union’s 27 member states last went to the polls to choose a parliament for the continent, youth-led climate activism was cresting. Hundreds of thousands of people marching in the streets of Berlin, Brussels, London, Paris and Vienna during the campaigning helped turn the EU parliamentary election into a referendum on climate action and preserving nature.
[The] strong grassroots support for pro-environment candidates and parties in 2019 propelled the European Green Deal. … But as Europeans again go to the polls this week, an anti-environment backlash largely orchestrated and financed by fossil fuel companies and related industries is threatening some of those policies.
What’s next for the European Green Deal?
The makeup of the EU’s next parliament could affect the future of the bloc’s climate policies.
(Al Jazeera) European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveiled the bloc’s climate plan in 2019, calling it “Europe’s man on the moon moment”.
That landing of the so-called European Green Deal is now in question.

4 June
Bret Stephens: This D-Day, Europe Needs to Resolve to Get Its Act Together
Europe today faces four great challenges that typically determine the fate of great powers.
Growth and dynamism: In 1960 the E.U. 28 — the 27 countries currently in the European Union, plus Britain — accounted for 36.3 percent of global gross domestic product. By 2020 it had fallen to 22.4 percent. By the end of the century it is projected to fall to just under 10 percent. …
Military power: When the Cold War ended in 1990, the West German military fielded more than 500,000 troops and spent 2.5 percent of its G.D.P. on defense. As of last year, it was down to 181,000 troops and 1.57 percent. Britain’s Royal Navy, the most powerful in the world at the outset of World War II, can now deploy just 10 submarines and fewer than two dozen major surface warships, some of which are inactive.
Demographics: What do Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, his predecessor Angela Merkel, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and the former British prime minister Theresa May have in common? They are childless. That’s their personal business (and far from representative of all E.U. leaders), but it’s symbolic of a continent where just under 3.9 million Europeans were born in 2022 and 5.15 million died. A shrinking and aging population typically correlates with low economic growth, not least because entrepreneurship is usually a young person’s game.
Europe has an additional challenge: a relatively high Muslim birthrate, along with the prospect of long-term Muslim migration.
Purpose and will: Many of Europe’s current failings are explained (often by European leaders themselves) as a problem of political mechanics: insufficient coordination between states; inadequate power in Brussels; failures of transmission between declared goals and real-world results. But the problem isn’t just one of process. It’s also one of spirit.

What the EU Has Done for Us
Nadia Calviño, President of the European Investment Bank
The global order that Europeans helped build – and which has served Europeans well for the past 80 years – is being put to the test. As voters cast their ballots in this week’s European Parliament elections, they must not lose sight of all the ways the European Union has improved their daily lives.
(Project Syndicate) The fact that 27 countries choose to pool their sovereignty and build an economic, social, and political partnership based on the shared values of peace, justice, respect, and solidarity is unique in global history. It is a triumph that we should not take for granted, especially when so many people around the world still yearn for the freedom to choose their government from a diverse array of candidates and parties. At a time when the geopolitical ground is shifting, the global order that we helped build – and which has served us well these past 80 years – is being put to the test. Nonetheless, our greatest challenges – whether they concern security, health, digitalization, or climate change – are still ones we share and that require cooperation to address. Europe’s own experience shows that we are stronger together, and that we can succeed when we act according to three principles: unity, determination, and solidarity.

Viewpoint: Far right poised for gains in EU elections
(GZERO media) Nearly 400 million people across the 27 countries of the EU will be eligible to vote from June 6-9 for members of the European Parliament. These representatives will serve a five-year term and be charged with passing and amending EU legislation. But their first order of business will be to elect the president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive body. They will vote on a candidate proposed by the European Council, which comprises the EU heads of state or government, based on the parliamentary election results.
According to recent Eurobarometer polling, security concerns are greater in eastern European countries that are closer to the war in Ukraine, whereas climate change and the economy top the list of concerns elsewhere. But broadly speaking, the economic situation, public health, the fight against poverty and social exclusion, and defense and security are key issues in most European countries.
Far-right parties appear poised for strong gains – why is that?
Amid sluggish economic growth and high inflation, policies to mitigate climate change and favor agricultural imports from Ukraine have prompted a public backlash to which established conservative and socialist parties have been slow to respond.

30 May
The three women who will shape Europe
At a crucial moment they encapsulate the dilemma of how to handle populism
(The Economist) In a dangerous world, comfortable old Europe finds itself in an alarming position. In Ukraine the continent’s bloodiest war since 1945 rages on, while Russia poses a menace from the Baltics to cyberspace. If Donald Trump returns to the White House, he could undermine nato, the foundation of European security. The continent’s economy is vulnerable to shocks caused by industrial policy and protectionism elsewhere. Eurosceptic populists are riding high in the polls.
To face these perils Europe needs, at a minimum, coherent leadership at the eu level. It also needs to keep extremists out of power. Whether it succeeds rests in part on the choices of three women: Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s prime minister, and Marine Le Pen, the leading French populist.

29 May
Advance voting starts in European elections
Europe elects a new parliament on 9 June, and in Finland people are already making their choices at the ballot box.
Advance voting in the European elections starts on Wednesday and ends next Tuesday, 4 June. In Finland, the whole country is a single electoral district, allowing voters to select any candidate running for election regardless of their location.

Polls for the EU elections indicate a hard right turn is coming. And these aren’t your parents’ conservatives
There’s a new kid on the bloc block and it’s quite hideous, writes Rosie DiManno.
(Toronto Star) By all polling indications, Europe is about to be turned inside-out. The radically regressive are charging in from deep right field.
It’s been dubbed the Great Leap Forward — for racist and reactionary forces. Not to be confused with the Great Replacement Theory, a racist fiction promulgated on this side of the Atlantic by conspiracists who claim that non-whites are being brought into the United States to replace white voters. But the narratives share a vehement anti-immigrant ideology.
Transmogrification of the continent is building steam leading up to next week’s European Parliament elections, 720 seats decided from an electorate of some 400 million stretching across the EU’s 27 member states. Those countries are allied in half-a-dozen competing blocs that have traditionally been dominated by the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D).

28 May
Former intel agency chief set to become the Netherlands’ next prime minister in hard right coalition
A former head of the Dutch spy agency and counterterrorism office was tipped Tuesday to become the Netherlands’ next prime minister, leading a four-party coalition headed by Geert Wilders’ hard right Party for Freedom. Dick Schoof, the 67-year-old former head of the General Intelligence and Security Service and currently the top civil servant at the Ministry of Security and Justice, was meeting with the leaders of the four parties and was expected to be announced as their choice to become prime minister at a late afternoon press conference.

22 May
Spain, Norway and Ireland Recognize a Palestinian State, a Blow to Israel
Norway’s recognition carries significance because of its role in 1993 talks.
(NYT) Scores of countries have recognized a Palestinian state, but Norway’s announcement on Wednesday that it would do so carried added significance because it hosted the clandestine meetings in 1993 that led to the Oslo Accords, the framework for peace that came close to resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It ultimately failed.
20 November 2023
Thirty years ago, a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seemed achievable. The story of how it fell apart reveals why the fight remains so intractable today.

17 May
Protests Are Planned in Serbia Against a Real Estate Project Financed by Trump’s Son-In-Law Kushner
(US News) Opposition groups in Serbia are planning protests against a real estate development project that will be financed by the firm of Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, at the site of the former Serbian army headquarters destroyed in a U.S.-led NATO bombing campaign in 1999

15-16 May
Slovakia tries to rebottle genie of hate after Fico shooting
Ruling coalition politicians pour out anger on social media despite calls for calm and reconciliation.
Shooting of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico sends shockwaves across Europe
(AP) The shooting Wednesday of Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico in the town of Handlova following a political event sent shockwaves across Europe three weeks before EU parliament elections are scheduled to be held.
Leaders from across the political divide denounced the apparent assassination attempt against the populist, pro-Russian leader, calling it an attack on democracy.
Slovak prime minister Robert Fico in life-threatening condition after being shot in a “politically motivated” assassination attempt when leaving a government meeting on Wednesday, the interior minister said.
Who is Robert Fico, the populist Slovak prime minister wounded in a shooting?
(AP) Fico returned to power in Slovakia last year, having previously served twice as prime minister, from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2012 to 2018. His third term made him the longest-serving head of government in the history of Slovakia, a European Union and NATO member.
After five years in opposition, Fico’s party won parliamentary elections last year on a pro-Russian and anti-American platform. He vowed to bring an end to Slovakia providing Ukraine with military support as it battled Russia’s full-scale invasion, and has argued that NATO and the United States provoked Moscow into war.
After his election victory, the new government immediately halted arms deliveries to Ukraine. Thousands repeatedly took to the streets across Slovakia to rally against Fico’s pro-Russian and other policies, including plans to amend the penal code to eliminate a special anti-graft prosecutor and to take control of public media.

14-15 May
Watch out Brussels, Geert Wilders’ new Dutch government is coming
Far-right leader’s priorities include ripping up EU migration policy and diluting green commitments.
(Politico) After six months of wrangling and painful negotiations, the Netherlands finally has a governing agreement for a new right-wing ruling coalition. Since Wilders startled Europe with his election victory last year, the chances of the veteran firebrand becoming prime minister and joining the EU summit table have faded.
A Dutch anti-Islam party is on the verge of forming the EU’s latest hard-right government
(AP) — Anti-Islam firebrand Geert Wilders is on the verge of brokering a four-party coalition in the Netherlands six months after coming in first in national elections, opening the prospect that yet another European Union nation will veer toward the hard right weeks ahead of EU-wide elections.
Wilders has said he does not expect to become prime minister himself, because he remains too extreme for his coalition partners, but his Party for Freedom would be the driving force in a four-party coalition.
With hard right and populist parties now part of or leading a half dozen governments in the 27-nation bloc, they appear positioned to make gains in the June 6-9 EU polls.
Europe lurches to the right
When voters across Europe head to the polls early next month for European Parliament elections, they’ll also be deciding on the future of the governing body.
Interview with Barbara Moens, the chief EU correspondent for Politico EU
(Politico) Across the continent, far-right political parties look ascendant. And if these parties claim as many seats as expected, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen of the center-right European People’s Party might be forced into making an alliance with more conservative, eurosceptic parties — a development that could upend the European Union’s climate policies and position on the Ukraine war.
The European Parliament is a legislative body that forms policy for the entire European Union, such as regulations for artificial intelligence, platform giants like Google and Facebook and foreign policy on the war in Ukraine. And ironically, many of the far-right parties in Europe are against the semi-unified system of policymaking that the European Parliament represents. If they manage to grab real power in the European Union, it will change Europe.
13 May
North Macedonia’s EU membership bid complicated by new nationalist government
Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on European politics
(GZERO media) What’s the outcome and the likely result of the North Macedonia parliamentary election?
A new government, more nationalist, more rightists coming in. And the problem with that is that North Macedonia has made a number of concessions in order to make its EU path possible. First concessions through Greece in terms of the names and the number of concessions through France and a number of concessions through Bulgaria on minority and related issues. And the new government has got to say no to a lot of these things. And that further complicates the EU process, which is highly regrettable because the country in substance really deserves to move forward on that process.

10-11 May
Xi Jinping, his tour over, leaves behind a Europe split by how to deal with China
The Chinese president upgraded relations with Serbia and Hungary, with dozens of deals expanding Beijing’s footprint in Central European critical infrastructure
But in France, despite long-standing ties to President Emmanuel Macron, he made few if any concessions to reduce the flood of Chinese imports into the European Union
(SCMP) Eyebrows were raised in Brussels and beyond when Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban signed a nuclear cooperation pact with China that could see Beijing invited into the EU nuclear power network.
Budapest also deepened ties with Huawei Technologies, a company EU authorities have been accused of trying to regulate out of the single market, and China agreed to build a highway border crossing between Hungary and Serbia, two members of Europe’s Schengen zone for freedom of movement.
Hungary will take on the rotating EU presidency in July – a largely decorative role, but one that its leaders have vowed to use to promote a different approach to China.
“We will be able to share with our European colleagues in a very credible manner how helpful, how useful and how profitable it can be to work together with China,” Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told the Chinese state-owned tabloid Global Times in an interview this week.
Key takeaways from China’s Xi European tour to France, Serbia and Hungary
Chinese president pushes vision for a more multipolar world and talks trade, investments and Russia’s war on Ukraine in first European tour in five years.
(Al Jazeera) … Xi’s main aim with the visit, analysts say, was pushing for a world where the United States is less dominant, and controlling damage to China’s ties with the European Union as trade tensions grow amid a threat of European tariffs and a probe into Chinese subsidies for electric vehicles that officials say are hurting local industries.
No concessions on trade, Russia-Ukraine
… Macron pressed the Chinese leader to address Beijing’s trade imbalances with the EU – with the bloc running a goods trade deficit of 292 billion euros ($314.72bn) last year – and to use his influence on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine.
Macron’s talk of European “strategic autonomy” helps further the Chinese leader’s vision for a multipolar world. And while there was no apparent reconciliation on the economic front, Xi’s visit would … could help prevent ties with Europe from worsening even more, as they have with the US…amid the threat of European tariffs on Chinese goods and a probe into Chinese subsidies for electric vehicles.
Expanded economic footprint in Serbia, Hungary
In contrast to Xi’s stop in France, his visits to EU candidate country Serbia and EU member state Hungary were marked by pledges to deepen political ties and expand investments in eastern and central Europe.
In Budapest, Xi pledged more investments in transport and energy, including the construction of a high-speed railway connecting the capital city centre to its airport and cooperation in the nuclear sector, according to Hungarian officials.
Xi also promised to move forward on a $2.1bn project to connect the Hungarian capital with the Serbian capital. The plan, which is mostly financed by a loan from China, is part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

8 May
Xi Jinping sends love letter to Viktor Orbán
Chinese leader prepares for arrival in Budapest with gushing missive to Hungary.
Following a stop in France, Xi is spending the rest of his five-day tour in Southeastern Europe, a region that Beijing has used as a foothold for its strategic ambitions on the continent.
Tensions have been simmering between the EU and China over Beijing’s tacit support for Russia’s war on Ukraine and a looming trade conflict between Europe and China.
Like its neighbor Serbia — where President Aleksandar Vučić is hosting Xi on Wednesday — Hungary has been open to Chinese investments.
Serbia to Xi Jinping: No one reveres you like we do
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said “the sky is the limit” on future cooperation.
(Politico Eu) Serbia loves Xi Jinping. Like, really loves him.

7 May
Moldova fights to free itself from Russia’s AI-powered disinformation machine
With an EU referendum and a presidential election in October, the Ukraine-bordering Eastern European country fends off a barrage of disinformation, cyberattacks and Kremlin-backed political corruption.
(Politico Eu) While other democracies fear foreign governments’ meddling in their affairs, for Moldova, such interference has become an everyday reality. Some local officials and Western diplomats worry the ongoing interference efforts from Moscow may lay the groundwork among locals for a possible Russian invasion, at some point.
Located on the border of Ukraine, with a sizable Russian-speaking minority and a recent influx of Ukrainian refugees, Moldova holds a critical, double-barrelled vote in October: a presidential election and a referendum on joining the EU. Sandu, who’s seeking another four-year term, has urged voters to support the referendum. Parliamentary elections will also take place by July 2025, at the latest.
Around 60 percent of Moldovans now support such closer ties with the West. The 27-country EU already represents the country’s largest economic partner, while hundreds of thousands of Moldovans already hold EU citizenship via close family ties to neighboring Romania. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who’s seeking another five-year term in Brussels, has made Moldova — and the Harvard-educated Sandu — the poster children for the bloc’s march East.

6 May
Tbilisi clashes: Georgia government pushes “Russian” bill risking EU candidacy
Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on European politics
(GZERO media) With the huge protests that we see in the streets of Tbilisi, is that a sign of the Georgian government moving closer to Russia?
Well, it is certainly a sign of the Georgian government being more authoritarian and distinctly more anti-Western. And that is, of course, endangering the ambitions of Georgia to move closer to the European Union, eventually membership. We’ll see what happens. But Georgia was given this status of candidate country to the European Union. I think what we see now is going to have the consequences that there’s not going to be any movement forward on that until we see Georgia moving into more Western, Democratic, and liberal direction.

23 April-8 May
With more than half the vote counted, 70-year-old law professor Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova led the presidential run-off with 63.8% of the vote, while incumbent Stevo Pendarovski had just 29.7%. Siljanovska-Davkova was backed by the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, which made gains on popular discontent over the country’s slow path toward European Union membership and its sluggish economy.
North Macedonia to elect president after campaign focused on hot-button issue of EU membership
(AP) — Voters go to the polls in North Macedonia this week for the first round of the presidential election — the seventh such vote since the small landlocked Balkan country gained independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.
… With more than 50% of the country’s 1.8 million registered voters needed for an outright win, the contest is almost certain to head to a second round, which will be held on May 8 along with parliamentary elections. Turnout must be at least 40% in the second round for the result to be valid.
The brief campaigning period has focused on North Macedonia’s progress toward joining the European Union, the rule of law, fighting corruption, combating poverty and tackling the country’s sluggish economy.
Poland’s prime minister celebrates after his party wins a string of cities in mayoral votes

16-18 April
Croatia: Ruling conservatives win elections without majority
(Deutsche Welle (DW)) As expected, Croatia’s governing center-right HDZ party won the most votes in the election, securing 60 seats out of 151, but it will not be able to govern alone, heralding difficult coalition talks ahead. …
A center-left coalition led by the Social Democrats (SDP) came in second with 42 seats, a result which SDP leader Pedja Grbin admitted wasn’t what the party had been hoping for but which “showed that … people want a change.”
He insisted that “it’s not over” and that “days, weeks and perhaps months of talks are ahead of us and they will result in the change that will make Croatia a better place.”
Croatia heads to the polls in contentious election
(GZERO media) The governing center-right Croatian Democratic Union party, or HDZ, which has held power almost continuously since Croatia’s independence in 1991, is facing a stiff challenge from a center-left coalition led by the Social Democrat Party.
The SDP is helmed by Croatian President Zoran Milanovic, an outspoken populist who has ignored court orders to step down during the campaign and has accused the HDZ of corruption. HDZ leader and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, a bitter rival, has warned that Milanovic wants to drag Croatia into “the Russian world.”
The HDZ’s platform is largely pro-EU and pro-NATO, and it supports backing Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
Milanovic, on the other hand, has opposed providing training and weapons to Ukraine as a “deeply immoral” path to prolonging the conflict.

8 April
An espionage scandal rocks Austria, laying bare alleged Russian spying operations across Europe
(AP) — Austria faces its biggest espionage scandal in decades as the arrest of a former intelligence officer brings to light evidence of extensive Russian infiltration, lax official oversight and behavior worthy of a spy novel.

7 April
Conservative opposition leads Prime Minister Tusk’s party in Poland’s local races, exit poll says
(AP) — An exit poll released after Poland’s local and regional elections Sunday showed Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s pro-EU party trailing the conservative opposition party that governed Poland for eight years until December. But the socially liberal mayor of Warsaw, a Tusk ally, easily won another term in the capital.
Sunday’s elections were the first electoral test for Tusk’s coalition government nearly four months since it took power. Poles voted for mayors, local councilors and representatives to the nation’s 16 regional assemblies.
The exit polls have a small margin of error and final results are not expected until Monday. But they indicated that Law and Justice, the conservative party that governed Poland from 2015-2023, remains a political force to be reckoned with in the nation of 38 million people.

Heather Cox Richardson April 4, 2024
Seventy-five years ago today, on April 4, 1949, representatives from twelve countries in Europe and North America—Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States—signed the North Atlantic Treaty, creating the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. This defensive security alliance has been a key institution for world stability since World War II.
… For many decades, the stability of NATO made it seem secure. When he was in office, though, former president Trump told aides he didn’t care about NATO, and he has vowed to take the U.S. out of the organization in a second term.
Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is also pressuring NATO. According to the Institute for the Study of War, on March 31, Russian prosecutor general Igor Krasnov said that Russia would continue to assert what it says is its right to enforce Russian laws “on officials of NATO and post-Soviet states for their actions taken within the territory of their own countries where Russian courts have no jurisdiction.” This effort contradicts international law, but the ISW assesses that the Kremlin is trying to deny the sovereignty of those states and that its attempts to enforce Russian laws on their territory “are part of Russian efforts to set informational conditions justifying possible Russian escalations against NATO states in the future.”
Today, President Joe Biden celebrated the success of NATO’s seventy-five years of history and noted that it is up to the current generation of Americans to protect the pact and to build on it. “We must remember that the sacred commitment we make to our Allies—to defend every inch of NATO territory—makes us safer too, and gives the United States a bulwark of security unrivaled by any other nation in the world. And like our predecessors, we must ask ourselves what can we do—what must we do—to create a more peaceful future.”
A year of living less dangerously? Finland’s first 12 months in NATO
Finland’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been to move away from policy of self-reliance and embrace the alliance.
Russia’s neighbours urge Nato allies to bring back military service
(BBC) …following President Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, conscription is being rebooted and expanded across Europe, with those living on Russia’s doorstep urging their Nato allies further afield, including the UK, to follow suit.
This week Norway announced it was increasing the number of conscripted soldiers after Denmark said last month it intends to extend conscription to women and increase the duration of service.
Latvia and Sweden recently restarted military service and Lithuania brought it back after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

European Council, 21-22 March 2024
Over the course of a two-day summit, EU leaders will discuss continued support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s war of aggression, security and defence, the unfolding situation in the Middle East, enlargement, external relations, migration, agriculture and the European Semester.
Euro Summit, 22 March 2024

12 March
EU clears path for 5 bln euro Ukraine military aid boost
(Reuters) – European Union countries are close to a deal on a military aid fund for Ukraine that would pave the way for an injection of 5 billion euros ($5.46 billion), diplomats said on Tuesday.
The EU’s member countries have been engaged in months of wrangling over a fund called the European Peace Facility, with France and Germany at the centre of much of the debate.
The fund operates as a giant cashback scheme, giving EU members refunds for sending munitions to other countries.
EU leaders plan to demand ‘sustainable cease-fire’ in Gaza
EU diplomats expect difficult discussion next week on Middle East.
The current text of the conclusions, dated March 11, reiterates the European Council’s condemnation of Hamas “for its brutal and indiscriminate terrorist attacks,” recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself “in line with international law and international humanitarian law” and calls for the “immediate release of all hostages without any precondition.”
But leaders are also set to express their concern over “the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza” and “the imminent risk of famine,” adding that “full, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access” into the coastal enclave is “essential.”

10 March
Portugal votes in a general election where mainstream moderates are trying to keep populists at bay</strong>
(AP) — Portugal is holding a general election Sunday against a backdrop of corruption scandals and economic hardship that have eroded faith in moderate mainstream parties and could push a significant number of the country’s 10.8 million voters into the arms of a radical right populist party.
A slew of recent corruption scandals has tarnished the two parties that have alternated in power for decades — the center-left Socialist Party and the center-right Social Democratic Party, which is running with two small allies in a coalition it calls Democratic Alliance. Those traditional parties are still expected to collect most of the votes.
Public frustration with politics-as-usual had already been percolating before the outcries over graft. Low wages and a high cost of living — worsened last year by surges in inflation and interest rates — coupled with a housing crisis and failings in public health care contributed to the disgruntlement.

29 February
Algeria is in the spotlight as leaders of gas producing countries convene for summit
Algeria will flex its muscle as a critical supplier for European countries seeking to lessen dependence on Russian gas as it welcomes leaders from other energy rich nations to a summit in Algiers this week
(AP) For three days, Algeria will host leaders from 13 other nations in its capital of Algiers, including Russia, Iran, Qatar and Venezuela as the natural gas industry confronts waning demand for oil and gas and new competition from renewable energy sources. Officials have indicated the summit will provide a venue to showcase Algeria’s growing role as a secure and reliable energy supplier.
As European countries have tried to wean themselves off Russian energy, Algeria has emerged as the continent’s second largest pipeline supplier of gas, after Norway. It is the top supplier of gas to Spain and also Italy, whose Premier Giorgia Meloni visited last year. Algeria’s state-owned energy company Sonatrach recently signed a deal to sell natural gas to Germany’s VNG.

26 February
It’s official: Sweden to join NATO
Hungary finally lets Sweden into the military alliance, dealing a blow to Russia.
(Politico Eu) Sweden cleared the final hurdle to become the military alliance’s 32nd member after Hungary — the last holdout among the countries — held a parliamentary vote to approve the move
In recent years, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed Sweden away from its decades of military non-alignment and towards the world’s biggest military alliance. Sweden’s accession comes amid increasing uncertainty over NATO’s future, as the Republican frontrunner in the U.S. presidential race, Donald Trump, threatens to abandon security guarantees for at least part of Europe.
Does Sweden joining make the Baltic Sea a ‘NATO lake’?
(AFP) – Sweden’s accession to NATO adds a final puzzle piece to the alliance around the shores of the strategically important Baltic Sea — but Russia still poses a threat above and below water.
After Finland joined last year, Sweden’s membership — which cleared the final hurdle Monday with Hungary’s vote on ratification — means all the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea, except Russia, will be part of the US-led military alliance.
That has led some to label the sea a “NATO lake”, with the Western allies now appearing well-placed to strangle Russia’s room for manoeuvre in the crucial shipping route if a war with Moscow ever breaks out.
13 July 2023
Sorry Russia, the Baltic Sea is NATO’s lake now
Expanding the Western military alliance creates big problems for Moscow.

Macron doesn’t rule out sending Western troops to Ukraine
European leaders agreed to boost ammunition purchases from third-country suppliers.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that sending Western troops to Ukraine should not be ruled out, as European leaders concluded a summit on supporting Kyiv.
“There is no consensus today to send ground troops officially but … nothing is ruled out,” Macron said at a press conference in Paris, where the meeting had just wrapped up. “We will do whatever it takes to ensure that Russia cannot win this war.”
“The defeat of Russia is indispensable to the security and stability of Europe,” the French president added.>

25 February
Lukashenko to run for president in 2025, Belarus blasts US over poll criticism
(Reuters) – Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko said he would run for president again in 2025, Belarusian state news agency BelTA reported on Sunday.
Lukashenko made his comments after voting in parliamentary and local council elections, denounced by the United States as a sham. The ex-Soviet state’s top election official dismissed the criticism and told Washington to look after its own affairs.

24 February
With U.S. aid in doubt, Europe struggles to rearm Ukraine
European defense manufacturers are racing to produce artillery and other weapons Kyiv needs. But they may come too late.
(WaPo) The race to stave off disaster in Ukraine’s war against Russia is unfolding in the battle-scarred fields and forests of Eastern Europe and, in a small way, a quiet wooded area of southwest Finland.
There, on the floor of an artillery factory, a mechanical arm lifts a mass of molten metal from the flames of a forging press. The red-hot steel cylinder will be cooled and packed with explosives before reaching its destination: bolstering NATO stockpiles or, perhaps, being fired down the barrel of a Ukrainian howitzer.
The scramble here reflects an effort intensifying across the continent, as European nations seek to accelerate the production of weapons needed to sustain Ukraine’s battle against Kremlin forces and to harden their own defenses against what the continent’s leaders now see as a heightened Russian threat.
In Washington, the outlook for President Biden’s $61 billion aid package looks bleak, as Republicans continue to stall aid from the United States, Ukraine’s largest single military backer to date. Meanwhile, Kyiv is running short on key items, like artillery shells and air defense missiles, that it needs to hold Russian forces at bay.
President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking to Western leaders in Germany last week, made an urgent appeal for fresh weapons and ammunition, a growing scarcity of which U.S. and Ukrainian officials cited as the chief factor in Kyiv’s decision to cede the city of Avdiivka to Russian forces, a major battlefield setback.

20 February
The Trump Effect Takes Europe
Mark Leonard, Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations
(Project Syndicate) If disaster can be averted in this year’s US presidential election, a second-term Biden administration will be able to count on a much better partner in Europe, owing to the mobilizing effect of Donald Trump’s candidacy. European leaders are finally realizing that they urgently need to get their act together.
As the war in Ukraine nears the end of its second year with no end in sight, Trump’s candidacy is focusing European minds about what victory and defeat might entail. Everyone’s ideal outcome is for Ukraine to recover all its territory. Watching the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, take the stage in Munich hours after learning of her husband’s death, it was impossible not to recoil at the thought of giving Vladimir Putin even one square inch of Ukraine. But as the war of attrition grinds on, it makes less and less sense to consider the matter only in territorial terms. After all, an even bigger threat to Ukraine than territorial losses would be a Trump peace plan that both cedes territory and demilitarizes the country, thus leaving it condemned to a perilous state of neutrality.

14 February
Guiding the EU’s quest for economic competitiveness
Europe must seize the single market’s potential, champion competition, fuel collaboration with robust funding, ignite innovation and fortify its governance.
(Politico Eu) As the European Union heads toward its June election and the subsequent start of a new political cycle, the debate surrounding Continental economic policy will increasingly focus on one theme: competitiveness.
And two important milestones will shape the evolution of this debate: Former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s report on the future of the single market and former European Central Bank President and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s report on the future of European competitiveness. With their complementary approaches, these two reports will be a blueprint for the EU’s future economic policy-making, potentially even forming the next European Commission’s economic policy agenda.

8-11 February
Finland’s new president sees no limit to NATO ties, Ukraine support
(Reuters) – Alexander Stubb declared himself winner of Finland’s presidential election on Sunday after a campaign built on promises to make the most of his country’s new membership of NATO and back Ukraine in its war with shared neighbour Russia.
Stubb takes Finnish presidency in close race
In his new job, the centre-right former prime minister and investment banker will head up foreign and security policy, represent Finland in NATO meetings and act as Commander-in-Chief of the military.
Moscow’s belligerent behavior prompted Finland to join NATO in April 2023. Helsinki also signed a defense cooperation agreement with the US in December. That treaty gives the US access to Finnish military bases, an airfield, and locations to store equipment, including ammunition.
In response, Russia has threatened Finland with retaliation and is beefing up its military presence along the countries’ shared 830-mile border. Stubb therefore promises to be a key player not just for Finland’s security, but for that of NATO as a whole.

Finland extends Russia border closure until April 14 saying Moscow hasn’t stopped sending migrants
(AP) — Finland’s government said Thursday that it would extend the closure of its long border with Russia for another two months until April 14, because it sees no signs that Moscow was stopping its “hybrid operation” of funneling migrants toward the frontier with the Nordic nation.

7 February
‘Now we are not safe’: Sweden’s Kurds fear Nato deal has sold them out
Sweden’s sizeable Kurdish population sees signs of rising repression after Turkey demanded action as price of Nato admission
(The Guardian) When Recep Tayyip Erdoğan finally signed off on Sweden’s accession to Nato late last month, there were sighs of relief from Stockholm to Washington DC. The Turkish president’s decision to approve the military alliance’s latest member – 20 months after it had asked to join – marked the closure of a fraught diplomatic chapter and now leaves Hungary’s Viktor Orbán the only figure standing between Sweden and Nato.

6 February
Geert Wilders left stranded as Dutch coalition talks collapse
Shock exit by kingmaker Pieter Omtzigt torpedoes the negotiations, leaving far-right leader in a stew.
Negotiations to form the next Dutch government collapsed Tuesday night after Pieter Omtzigt, who leads the New Social Contract (NSC) party, quit the talks.

1 February
EU to expend $54 billion aid package to Ukraine, overcoming veto threat
(CNN) The leaders of the 27 European Union countries sealed a deal on Thursday to provide Ukraine with a new $54 billion support package for its war-ravaged economy after Hungary backed down from its threats to veto the move. European Council President Charles Michel announced the agreement that was reached in the first hour of a summit in Brussels. So, what was the hold up? Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán raised staunch objections to the financial aid package in December and blocked its adoption, and he had threatened to do the same in recent days. The populist leader’s government has been in a dispute with the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, over Hungary’s alleged democratic backsliding and had some of its own funding withheld as a result.

23-27 January
Stubb and Haavisto continue to second round in Finland’s presidential race
(Reuters) – Centre-right candidate Alexander Stubb of Finland’s National Coalition Party narrowly won the first round of the country’s presidential election on Sunday and will face liberal Green Party member Pekka Haavisto in a run-off, official data showed.
With all votes counted, Stubb came first with 27.2% support, followed by Haavisto on 25.8%, and nationalist Jussi Halla-aho third with 19.0% support. A run-off between the top two will be held on Feb. 11.
What you need to know about the 2024 Finnish presidential election
(Reuters) – Finland holds a presidential election on Jan. 28 in a new era marked by the country joining the Western military alliance NATO last April in response to neighbouring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Support for front-runners Alexander Stubb of the centre-right National Coalition Party and liberal Green Party member Pekka Haavisto has eased ahead of Sunday’s poll, while their nationalist Finns Party rival Jussi Halla-aho has gained, a Verian survey showed on Monday.
Alexander Stubb quit politics. Now he’s favorite for Finnish president

24 January
Why is Orbán blocking Sweden’s entry to Nato – and what happens next?
After Turkey’s parliament ratified Sweden’s membership of the military alliance, attention turns to Hungary, the final hurdle
Orbán reaffirms backing for Swedish Nato bid as allies’ patience runs low
(The Guardian) Sweden is closer than ever to becoming a Nato member – but its accession to the western military alliance, which has faced delays for more than a year, is still not a done deal.
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine two years ago prompted Sweden and Finland to shift long-held security policies, and the two countries applied to join Nato in May 2022.
At the time, Nato accession for both was expected to be a quick process, given their advanced militaries, high level of interoperability with alliance forces and status as EU members.
Nevertheless, they faced obstacles to accession. Finland joined the alliance in April 2023, but Sweden’s accession has yet to be completed.

19 January
The Two Faces of the Euro
Yanis Varoufakis
(Project Syndicate) Of all European politicians who never led their countries, Jacques Delors and Wolfgang Schäuble had the greatest impact on Europe. Between them, the two men, who passed away within a day of each other in December, shaped today’s European Union, warts and all.
Back when the euro was still on the drawing board, neither Delors nor Schäuble could have imagined, or would condone, Europe’s inane response to the euro’s inevitable crisis. The combination of massive austerity and monetary largesse that preserved the eurozone in its original format, which both Delors and Schäuble correctly deemed unviable, is the reason why Europe is now politically fragmented and in secular decline. History, once more, proved a cruel master of noteworthy Europeans who refused to see that Europe’s interests are in direct opposition to the interests of its ruling classes.
27 December-2 January
The visionary legacy of Jacques Delors
Anyone who wants to be the former leader’s heir must strive to not just complete his unfinished project but relaunch it with the same personal commitment, rigor and creativity.
Jacques Delors, Passionate Architect of European Unity, Dies at 98
As the executive of the European Union for a decade, he oversaw its increasing economic integration and led the drive for a single currency, the euro.
27 December 2023
Ex-Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble dies at 81
German CDU mainstay Wolfgang Schäuble has died aged 81 surrounded by his family. Schäuble was Angela Merkel’s finance minister during the eurozone debt crisis and once looked like a future chancellor.

14 January
Denmark’s King Frederik X takes throne after Margrethe abdicates
Tens of thousands on streets of Danish capital to see monarch hand over to eldest son
(The Guardian) … He was joined by the prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, who thanked the outgoing queen and praised the new king before leading a chorus of cheers.
Then it was the turn of the new king, who paid tribute to his mother, his wife and his family before being joined by the new Queen Mary, dressed in white, followed by their four children: Christian, 18, who is heir to the throne, Princess Isabelle, 16, and twins Princess Josephine and Prince Vincent, 13. Australian-born Mary is the first commoner to become queen in Denmark.
The Royal Wedding of Prince Frederik and Mary Donaldson 2004
King Frederik X Crowned King of Denmark: Ceremony Highlights

9 January
What Charles Michel’s decision to run for EU election means for him and Europe
European Council chief says he will contest June’s vote, which could pave the way for Viktor Orbán to host leaders’ meetings.
(Politico Eu) The president of the European Council — which brings together the leaders of EU member countries — announced he will run as a candidate in the European parliamentary election in June. If he’s elected, he would take up his seat in July, well before his term is scheduled to end in November.
Why is that a problem? Because without a permanent Council chief, Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán, whose country takes over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU in July, would lead the meetings instead.

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