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The bailout may be over, but don’t expect anything to change

Posted on by David Murphy

euroBy David Murphy, Business Editor

Ordinary Irish people won’t notice the slightest difference between life before and after the bailout.

Banking problems persist, unemployment is still high and the economy is sluggish.

Conditions are improving. But it is far too early to say that Ireland is out of trouble.  Continue reading

Conscientious objection a controversial issue in Italy’s abortion regime

Posted on by Ray Donoghue

By Tony Connelly, Europe Editor, Brussels

It may come as a surprise, but a relatively liberal abortion regime has existed in Italy since 1978.

Law 194 was introduced following a determined campaign by women’s groups, but also due to the rise in illegal abortions.

In 1981 there was a move by Catholic groups, supported by the church, to overturn the law, but it was defeated by nearly 68% in a referendum.

A second referendum saw support for legal abortion rise to 88.4%. Continue reading

Bailing in or bailing out: Depositors and the painful road to a banking union

Posted on by Ray Donoghue

By Tony Connelly, Europe Editor, Brussels

In Ireland we know only too well the cost of burdening the taxpayer with the fallout from a collapsing bank.

The sins of the financial sector placed a €64 billion weight on the shoulders of current and future generations. Continue reading

EU Budget 2.0: Crunch Time for Ireland’s Presidency

Posted on by Ray Donoghue

By Tony Connelly, Europe Editor, Brussels

In November EU leaders failed to agree a new seven-year budget to run from 2014 to 2020. At the time Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Ireland would not have much authority going into our presidency if a deal wasn’t struck.

The presidency is now under way, with little indication that November’s failure has had any discernible effect. However, failure to strike a deal this week would not do Ireland’s presidency any favours.

“The consequences of no deal are serious and far reaching,” says one senior EU source.

Continue reading

Rough Justice?

Posted on by Ray Donoghue

By Paul Cunningham, Europe Correspondent

The UN court based in The Netherlands, which was established by the Security Council to consider war crimes perpetrated during the collapse of the former Yugoslavia, is facing into its most difficult year since its establishment back in 1993.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has successfully arraigned all 161 people it was charged with judging.

Yet its independence is being called into question by three separate rulings it has delivered at the end of 2012.

Continue reading

The Irish Presidency: Priorities and Pitfalls

Posted on by Ray Donoghue

By Tony Connelly, Europe Editor, Brussels

Back in June 2004 Bertie Ahern was showered in adulation by his European counterparts.

Ireland had just successfully negotiated the mammoth EU Constitution using its storied negotiating skills to reconcile vastly conflicting agendas – big countries versus small ones, voting rights at the Council of Ministers, the size of the European Commission, how to bridge an alarming democratic deficit.

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Eurozone: the Great Leap Forward?

Posted on by Ray Donoghue

By Tony Connelly, Europe Editor, Brussels

For three years eurozone governments lurched from one crisis to the next, improvising with one ad-hoc solution after another, amid a rising tide of austerity-driven recession.

However, having for so long taken the road ill-travelled, it may just be that the eurozone is finally confronting the hard choices needed first to save – then to rebuild – the single currency.

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Fears for an EU seven-year glitch

Posted on by Ray Donoghue

By Tony Connelly, Europe Editor, Brussels

This week 27 EU leaders will gather in Brussels to thrash out the next seven-year budget round.

While Europe needs to demonstrate to the world it can function in the face of a crisis, a number of pretty unpleasant things may well collide: a possible UK veto, hours of acrimony over money, rich countries pitted against poor ones, reputational damage to the EU on top of the Greek crisis, and the undermining of Ireland’s presidency.

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A Bank Debt Deal: The Morning After Optimism

Posted on by Ray Donoghue

By Tony Connelly, Europe Editor, Brussels

When back in June eurozone leaders hatched a deal on bank debt in the early hours of the morning during a summit in Brussels, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny described it as a “seismic shift”.

The breakthrough that would lift the burden of Ireland’s appalling bank debt would off the taxpayers’ shoulders had finally arrived. Continue reading

Nudging Britain towards the exit: The Rise of Tory Euroscepticism

Posted on by Tony Connelly

By Tony Connelly, Europe Editor, Brussels

By any measure the current brand of Tory euroscepticism is more visceral, and poses more of a systemic threat to Britain’s EU membership than at any other time in the past 50 years.

Antagonism towards Europe has been building and now it’s coming to a head.

By pulling the Tories out of the centre-right European political group, the European People’s Party (EPP), David Cameron signalled he was prepared to submit to that force before he came to office.

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