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Shifting allegiances

High-level meetings last month between EU leaders and national ministers indicate the landscape of European politics is shifting, as old friendships are adjusted to reflect changing priorities. Laura Greenhalgh reports.

It may not have come as a surprise to European leaders that no agreement was reached when they met in Brussels this month to discuss the next seven-year EU budget. In the run-up to the European Council’s special summit on 22 and 23 November, a total of 11 member states explicitly threatened to veto a compromise if the deal on the table did not meet their requirements. But what was more unexpected was the manner in which alliances played out during the negotiations.

Of particular note was the absence of a Franco-German bond. Last time the long-term budget negotiations were held, in 2005, these two joined forces to ensure their respective interests were protected. In 2002, together they engineered an agreement that limited future farm subsidies, demanded by the biggest contributor Germany, while staving off radical reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy, France’s golden egg.

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