EU Policy Recommendations for Biggest Member States

European flags outside the Berlaymont building in Brussels, July 22, 2016
European flags outside the Berlaymont building in Brussels, July 22, 2016 (European Commission)

The European Commission has released its annual policy recommendations for the 28 member states.

Here are the highlights for the biggest economies on the continent. Read more

Italy Government Deal: What’s In It and What’s Next

The facade of the Palazzo Montecitorio, the seat of the Italian parliament in Rome, October 23, 2010
The facade of the Palazzo Montecitorio, the seat of the Italian parliament in Rome, October 23, 2010 (Stefano Maffei)

Italy’s populist Five Star Movement and (formerly Northern) League have finalized a coalition agreement.

Among their policies are:

  • Reducing personal and business taxes to two rates: 15 and 20 percent.
  • A €780 monthly basic income for poor families.
  • Repealing 2011 pension reforms that raised the retirement age and made the system financially sustainable.
  • Withdrawal of EU sanctions on Moscow.
  • Speeding up the deportation of around 500,000 immigrants.

The final version of the text does not call for a pathway for countries to leave the euro, nor does it call on the European Central Bank to cancel €250 billion in Italian debt. These proposals had been in leaked drafts.

However, the planned fiscal measures will almost certainly cause Italy to break the EU’s 3-percent deficit ceiling. Read more

Italian Pact Would Deprive Macron of Ally for EU Reform

Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni is received by French president Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée Palace in Paris, September 27, 2017
Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni is received by French president Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée Palace in Paris, September 27, 2017 (Elysée)

For the first time in its postwar history, Italy could soon be ruled by anti-EU parties. The populist Five Star Movement and (formerly Northern) League are on the verge of forming a coalition government.

Such a pact would deprive French president Emmanuel Macron of a key ally for EU reform. Read more

Time to Start Worrying: Populists May Form Government in Italy

Luigi Di Maio, the leader of Italy's Five Star Movement, answers questions from reporters in Rome, April 12
Luigi Di Maio, the leader of Italy’s Five Star Movement, answers questions from reporters in Rome, April 12 (Presidenza della Repubblica)

Italy’s Five Star Movement and (formerly Northern) League may form a government after all.

President Sergio Mattarella has given the two parties until Sunday to hash out a deal.

Time to start worrying. Read more

Divided America, Deadlock in Italy and Catalan Separatists Try Again

An opponent and two proponents of marriage equality demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington DC, June 25, 2015
An opponent and two proponents of marriage equality demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington DC, June 25, 2015 (Elvert Barnes)

Anand Giridharadas writes in The Huffington Post that “Woke America” and “Great America” are so offended by each other that they can barely listen to each other anymore.

You are what offends you. Are you more offended by racism, sexism and other -isms or by people offended by those things? By the persistence of white privilege or by the term “white privilege”? By all the men who degraded women or by the implication in the air that it was “all” the men? By the original sin of American slavery or by the idea that your country has an original sin — one for which you are somehow responsible?

Giridharadas argues that beneath the anger of both sides lies pain. The only way to bring people together is to take that pain seriously.

I argued something similar in Quillette a few months ago: the only way to change minds is to empathize and explain. The meaning of democracy is not winning 50 percent plus one vote and then vanquishing your rivals. It’s a process. If we want to avoid splitting into parallel societies that don’t understand, much less care about, each other, then we all need to make the effort. Read more

Macron Defends Rules-Based Pacific Order, Five Stars Call for New Elections

French president Emmanuel Macron and Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull shake hands in Sydney, May 2
French president Emmanuel Macron and Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull shake hands in Sydney, May 2 (Elysée)

During a visit to Sydney, French president Emmanuel Macron said he wanted to work with the largest democracies in the region — Australia, India, Japan and the United States — to “balance” Chinese power and protect “rule-based development” in Asia.

“It’s important… not to have any hegemony in the region,” he said.

Australia has eyed accommodation with China since Donald Trump withdrew from the Trans Pacific Partnership in 2017. But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, speaking alongside Macron, insisted his country is still committed to preserving a rules-based order.

France is a Pacific power. It has around one million citizens in the region. Read more

British Home Secretary Resigns, Italy’s Five Stars Make Overture

British home secretary Amber Rudd attends a conference at the Vatican, October 27, 2016
British home secretary Amber Rudd attends a conference at the Vatican, October 27, 2016 (UK in Holy See)

British home secretary Amber Rudd has resigned for misleading lawmakers about her migration policy.

She told Parliament there was no Home Office target for deportations, but then The Guardian revealed she had written to Prime Minister Theresa May about her aim to increase “enforced removals” by 10 percent.

Politico reports that Rudd’s departure — the fourth by a cabinet minister in six months — risks destabilizing May’s government at a time when it is negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union. Rudd was one of the leading pro-EU Conservatives and seen as a potential future party leader.

The scandal also shines a spotlight on May’s failure to develop a new immigration policy almost two years after the Brexit referendum in which it played such a major role. Read more