EU Shields Companies from Trump’s New Sanctions on Iran

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and American president Donald Trump answer questions from reporters outside the White House in Washington DC, July 25
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and American president Donald Trump answer questions from reporters outside the White House in Washington DC, July 25 (European Commission/Etienne Ansotte)

The European Union has announced measures to protect companies that do business with Iran from American sanctions.

The BBC reports that an EU “blocking statute” bans European firms from complying with the sanctions, unless they get approval from the European Commission.

It also enables businesses to recover damages resulting from American sanctions on Iranian cars, gold and other metals. Read more

Abandoned by Allies, Spain’s Sánchez Loses Spending Vote

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez addresses Congress in Madrid, July 17
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez addresses Congress in Madrid, July 17 (La Moncloa)

Spain’s Pedro Sánchez has lost his first big parliamentary vote, exposing the weakness of his minority government and blocking one of his priorities: to raise public spending. Read more

Catalan and Spanish Leaders Take Steps to Normalize Relations

Catalan president Quim Torra is welcomed by Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez in Madrid, July 9
Catalan president Quim Torra is welcomed by Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez in Madrid, July 9 (La Moncloa)

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez and Catalan president Quim Torra have met for the first time.

The fact that a simple meeting is considered a step forward says something about how poorly Sánchez’ conservative predecessor, Mariano Rajoy, managed relations between the Spanish state and its richest — and rebellious — region.

Beyond the symbolism of the meeting, the two leaders made substantive progress. Read more

Macron, Merkel Agree on Eurozone Reforms

French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel meet in Meseberg, June 19
French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel meet in Meseberg, June 19 (Bundesregierung)

German chancellor Angela Merkel has met many of French president Emmanuel Macron’s demands for eurozone reform during a meeting in Meseberg outside Berlin. Read more

Macron Unveils Small-Business Reforms and Privatizations

Austrian chancellor Christian Kern and French president Emmanuel Macron visit Salzburg, August 23, 2017
Austrian chancellor Christian Kern and French president Emmanuel Macron visit Salzburg, August 23, 2017 (BKA/Andy Wenzel)

French president Emmanuel Macron has unveiled new economic reforms benefiting small- and medium-sized businesses:

  • Streamlining bankruptcy procedures.
  • Easing auditing requirements.
  • Advising companies on digitalization and exports.
  • Lifting the thresholds at which higher tax and social charges as well as employment rules kick in. Read more

Spain Lifts Catalan Spending Controls, Hints at Constitutional Reform

Pedro Sánchez addresses a conference of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party January 30, 2016
Pedro Sánchez addresses a conference of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party January 30, 2016 (PSOE)

Spain has lifted controls on Catalonia’s public finances and called for constitutional reforms to dissuade the region from breaking away.

The goodwill measures of the new Socialist government are an about-face from the clampdown under conservative prime minister Mariano Rajoy, who was ousted in a confidence vote last week.

Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez, the new prime minister, backed Rajoy when he suspended Catalonia’s autonomy in the wake of the October 1 independence referendum. But he also argued for talks to convince a majority of Catalans to stay in Spain. Rajoy refused to so much as sit down with the region’s separatists. Read more

Ontario State Poll Resembles America’s 2016 Election

Doug Ford, the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, is seen in Toronto, April 18, 2014
Doug Ford, the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, is seen in Toronto, April 18, 2014 (Bruce Reeve)

Every election now gets compared to America’s 2016 presidential contest, but the analogy fits really well in today’s election in Ontario, Canada’s largest province. Read more