Europe

Will the integrity and future of the European Union be compromised once Brexit is finalized?

Well first, when Brexit is finalized it's going to take quite some time. Even if they manage to get their act together on the exit of the European Union, it could take them quite some time to actually leave the corporation. That's going to take at least two years and then it's going to take further years in order to sort of sort out their future relationships. I don't think it will impact that much or the integrity of the European Union. And it's going to take a long time to sort out the entire issue.

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Was it surprising that Matteo Salvini's League party won the Umbria region elections in Italy?

Not really. They remain the most popular political body in Italy. Umbria is a small region, but it's been fairly heavily hit by economic problems. Let's wait and see the far more important regional elections coming up in Calabria and in Emilia-Romagna.

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What are the consequences of President Macron's veto against enlargement EU negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania?

I think the consequences got to be profound. Because the very essence of the EU's approach to bringing stability to the Western Balkans has been the gradual integration into European structures. Every other policy towards the Western Balkans will really be an add on to that. And if you take away the foundation, there isn't theoretically very much left except handing out money and hoping for the best. And I don't think that's going to be enough.

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Will the Catalonia question be a big issue in the Spanish election coming up in November?

You bet it will. Passions have been further inflamed now, and the question that has been difficult from the very beginning, by the very heavy prison sentences that was given to those that are accused of sedition, that is organizing the independence referendum. So, passions are heating up. It will be a difficult issue for the entire Spanish political system to handle for years to come.

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What's happening in the German economy?

Well it's clearly slowing down, quite significantly. There are a number of structural and short-term factors for it. There's a Brexit uncertainty. There's a trade uncertainty and Germany is a big exporting nation. And there are question marks about the future of the car industry, which is highly significant. These are temporary but also structural factors. And the Brexit factor will come in, depending on what happens there.

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Does the centre right in Greece appeal to the youth in the country?

Well that remains to be seen. There's an election on Sunday, but if you look at the opinion polls the center right Nea Dimokratia is well in the lead and it looks like a new government. The interesting thing is that all of these sort of extremist and populist parties to the right and the left are doing fairly badly. So this looks like being the first truly post-populist election of Europe.

Why can't the EU agree on a division of the bloc's top jobs?

This is a once in a five year experience. It's all of the leadership positions up until 2024. 28 countries. There are different political parties. There is a gender balance. It's a difficult equation. And that means that it does take some time. I remember times when it took several weeks - they've been at it for a couple of days. And I would expect them to formalize it within the next say 48 hours but it's going to be a difficult compromise. And the nature of the politics of Europe is compromise. East, west, north, south. Centre right. Centre left. Gender balance, youth, whatever. It take some time, but I think we'll have a result within say 48 hours.

Can Europe agree on extending sanctions on Russia?

Yes yes, that was done yesterday. No problem whatsoever. There wasn't even a discussion, it was just done.

Can Europe agree on a climate deal?

Yes, sort of. There has been agreement between the vast majority of member states that we should be emission neutral by 2050 - no contribution to climate change. Negative climate change from Europe by 2050. Three member states: Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary, had some difficulties with the formal decision that has to do with our dependence upon coal among other things. But I would expect them to fall in line within the next few months. So Europe clearly the undisputed leader when it comes to fighting climate change. That's the way it should be.