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The perspectives look positive, but the price is high, very high. Comparing the Greece of today with the country of eight years ago is shocking. For instance, the unacceptable high unemployment rates especially among young people; many pensions are nowadays on an inhumanly low level; the quality of health care for all is not consistently optimal; many teacher jobs have been cut. It is all the result of the austerity programmes the EU has forced down the throat of Greece.  The German Finance Minister Schäuble and his Dutch colleague Dijsselbloem, President of the so called Eurogroup, were particular culprits.

Greece is recovering, ’slowly but steadily’

Greece is recovering 'slowly but steadily' after eight years of crisis and recession. That was the message Prime Minister Tsipras brought to the members of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce in Athens on December 5

For Martin Schulz, the SPD leader, it has been disastrous. In the beginning of the week the small-town librarian turned European Parliament President came out firmly against such a grand coalition. But he was forced by his party into a humiliating U-turn, saying the SPD would after all help form a new government. Rumours are going around that he might be forced to resign, also in view of his complete lack of experience with negotiating on federal political level.

A week without winners in Berlin…

‘Everybody lost’ was the verdict in Berlin after a tumultuous week in German politics. When coalition talks between CDU/CSU, FDP and Greens broke down, Germany and the EU faced the prospect of a prolongation of the uncertainty that paralysis Berlin already for months

 In my opinion Merkel is being written off too quickly by these journalists. The negotiations simply didn’t last long enough to kickstart new elections. It is very un-German and un-Merkel to return so quickly to the voters.

Is the end of the Merkel era within sight?

Now that the liberal FDP has pulled the plug from the German government negotiations, there is plenty of speculation about the future of Angela Merkel

It means that one of the most progressive countries in Europe now embraces more right-wing policies on immigration and nationalism. It is true that the new coalition describes The Netherlands as ’inseparable’ from the EU. But at the same time Wilders’ influence is marked: a strong focus on inculcating the Dutch identity gets more attention and elaboration than do European goals.

To hold off Wilders, the new Dutch government embraces some of his rightist ideas

In March, Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) became the second biggest political group in the Dutch parliamentarian elections. Only Prime Minister Mark Rutte's conservative People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) won more seats

However, after Prime Minister May’s broad offer in Florence that no EU member state should pay more or receive less from the current EU budget, and her commitment to honour obligations taken during the UK’s membership, it is difficult to see how much more the UK government can put on the table during this first stage.

Brexit negotiations: the EU stays persistent

Last week's meeting of the European Council had not looked likely to unlock Brexit negotiations

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