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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.

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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.

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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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Money Talks

Posted on by Ray Donoghue

By RTÉ Europe Correspondent Paul Cunningham

It’s budget time in Brussels – drafting a trillion euro financial plan for the years 2014 to 2020. EU leaders want agreement by November, and so decision time looms.

The EU budget is of particular importance to Irish ministers this time round.

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Spanish budget may offer bailout clues

Posted on by Ray Donoghue

By Tony Connelly, Europe Editor, in Madrid

Now that the Spanish budget has been presented we should know more about when the government of Mariano Rajoy will move into full bailout mode.

The centre-right prime minister has delayed long and hard before seeking a rescue, but the European Commission has warned that it is a dangerous game which could deepen the country’s economic woes, and stop the fragile sense of eurozone optimism in its tracks.

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If the ECB is eager to do a deal – what happens next?

Posted on by Ray Donoghue

By Paul Cunningham, Europe Correspondent, in Nicosia

It now appears inevitable that the Government will reach a deal with the European Central Bank on lowering the cost to the taxpayer of the highly-expensive Anglo Irish Bank promissory note scheme.

ECB Executive Board member Jorg Asmussen has spoken publicly about how its officials are working under “heavy time pressure” to finalise an agreement.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan told journalists in Nicosia that the ECB was “more eager now to move forward” and reach finality on the matter.

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