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Three wishes for 2015

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Brussels in December: damp, windy, grey. An hour to kill between the meetings at the Berlaymont and the Thalys at Gare du Midi. Three snapshots taken on the way, each of them with a funny symbolic twist. And each of them accompanied by a good New Year’s wish for the EU. First stop: on the […]

Please remain faceless!

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Now that Donald Tusk has officially taken office as new President of the Council, the Trinity of European leadership as provided by the Lisbon Treaty is complete. In due course there will be plenty of opportunity for Euro-scoffers to ridicule the fact that one never really knows who is in charge of the EU. They […]

How to kill a premium brand

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Remember when they wanted to change the recipe of Coca Cola? Very bad idea. If there’s one golden rule in marketing, it’s not to mess around with well-established household brands. You may surprise the customer with brand extensions – diet coke, cherry coke, coke zero – but you never ever alienate him from the core […]

A growing feeling of hysteria

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The pictures on French and German television showing Vladimir Putin all alone at his lunch table in Brisbane and explicitly meant to illustrate his alleged ‘isolation’ at the G20 summit were obviously fake. Dilma Roussef had already taken place at the other side of the table and both were waiting for other guests to join […]

Half full or half empty? What an APEC summit reveals about the EU

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Food for thought in China-Europe relations is again as abundant as ever. ‘Hang on’, one might be inclined to intervene, ‘it’s been the APEC-summit this week – since when is Europe either Asian or close to the Pacific?’ Moreover, the Asian style dress code (aka “silly shirts”) for the APEC family picture gives room for interpretation of the symbolic […]

Is the peace narrative really obsolete?

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30 years ago, the photo of François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl holding hands in Verdun, the emblematic battlefield of World War One, went around the world. It is true that their gesture – which Kohl always insisted was a very spontaneous one – was quite unusual. Still, it was appropriate. After all, reconciliation between France […]

Scottish referendum – A humble opinion from France

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In February 2005, three months before the French referendum on the constitutional treaty, I went to some of the first public information meetings on the stakes of the vote to come. One was organised by a local pro-European association, one by a local Member of the French parliament. At that time, the polls predicted a boring campaign with a positive vote by […]

A missed opportunity

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20 years ago, on the 1st of September 1994, two German MPs from the CDU led by Helmut Kohl published a position paper, which bore the innocuous title ‘Reflexions on European Politics’ and which became quickly named the ‘Schäuble-Lamers Paper’ after its authors. The propositions and recommendations formulated in this rather dense document of a […]

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