Gavin Hewitt, Europe editor

Gavin Hewitt Europe editor

This is where you will find my view of the big arguments over Europe, its politics and its personalities

France and the shadow of the euro

26 August 2014
French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech in the rain on the Ile de Sein, an island located near the Pointe-du-Raz, off the Brittany coast, on 25 August 2014.
Francois Hollande's popularity is the lowest for a French president in more than 50 years

President Francois Hollande has been overseeing the creation of his third cabinet in two years.

The resignation of his government on Monday was partly due to feuding, personal ambition, and the divisions between centre-left politicians and socialists.

All of that was in play but behind this government breakdown was the continuing crisis in the eurozone.

Throughout the summer tension has been rising. The German economy is slowing. Business confidence has fallen for four months in a row. The French economy is stagnating. Housing starts in France have fallen by over 10% in a year. Italy is in recession.

Against this background the easy confidence of the European Central Bank (ECB) has been shaken.

Semblance of unity

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Europe: All change on Iraq

21 August 2014
Yazidi children in Angers in western France hold placards in support of their community in Iraq (20 August 2014)
France, home to Yazidi refugees and a large Kurdish community, is calling for an international conference

In just a few days in August everything changed. Or that is how it seems in Europe. The language of politics is different.

French President Francois Hollande said: "I believe the international situation is the worst we've seen since 2001" and the 9/11 attacks on New York.

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EU tackles crises in Iraq and Ukraine

15 August 2014
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, 14 Aug 14
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have prevented IS militants from reaching Irbil

EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels have broadly welcomed moves by some European countries to provide military material to the Kurds.

The agreement only recognised reality. The French are already supplying weapons.

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Eurozone crisis: The grim economic reality

14 August 2014
Barbed wire hung over the ECB logo in Frankfurt as part of an installation (7 August 2014)
The European Central Bank can expect more pressure as clouds continue to gather over the EU economy

Over recent weeks, the French government has been saying it would "tell the French the truth" about the economy. A new reality is dawning.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin has spoken of Europe's "economic malaise". After another quarter of zero growth in France, he has admitted that the government's previous forecast of 1% growth this year is impossible to reach.

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Ukraine conflict: EU squeezes Russia

Russian oil tanker - file pic
Russia's vast oil industry is likely to be affected by the new sanctions

EU ambassadors are likely today to adopt economic sanctions against Russia.

Up until now they have targeted individuals and companies for travel bans and a freeze of assets. The list has grown to 87 people and 18 entities. New names from President Vladimir Putin's inner circle are being added.

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Anti-Semitism comes back to haunt Europe

Pro-Israel activists in Berlin hold banner saying "Against anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel"
Pro-Israel activists in Berlin hold a banner saying "Against anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel"

It has been in the background at some of the demonstrations against Israeli actions in Gaza.

Recently, during a protest in Paris, a synagogue was attacked and there were chants of "Jews to the gas chambers". In Sarcelles they used the slogan "death to the Jews" and a kosher market was looted.

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Europe's troubles exposed by MH17 crash

Wreckage from Flight MH17 in a field in east Ukraine, 23 July
Wreckage from Flight MH17 in a field in east Ukraine

Ukraine exposes Europe. Its agony and tragedy casts an unrelenting gaze on Europe's leaders. When it comes to sending a convincing message to Russia there have been months of indecision, weakness and self-interest.

Even after the reported shooting down of the Malaysian airliner, Europe's foreign ministers struggled to convince. They described their decisions as "forceful" but it remains unclear how many names will be added to the list of those facing travel bans and a freeze of their assets. It is said they will include some of Russian President Vladimir Putin's cronies. We shall see.

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About Gavin

Gavin was special correspondent for BBC News before becoming Europe editor in 2009.

He covered the Obama campaign in 2008 and was embedded with US forces for the invasion of Iraq.

He has written two books including A Soul On Ice.

He has won an RTS, a BAFTA and a Broadcast award.

He has covered conflicts in Georgia, Lebanon and Zimbabwe and reported from New York after 9/11. He was in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and was in Berlin the night the wall fell.

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