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

Ukraine conflict: EU squeezes Russia

29 July 2014
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.

Now Washington and Europe's capitals have agreed that new, tougher economic measures have to be imposed. But the squeeze on Russia is some way off full-blown economic sanctions.

Firstly, although there is expected to be an arms embargo it will only apply to new contracts. It will not affect, for instance, the sale of the French Mistral helicopter carriers.

Secondly, there will be restrictions on high-technology energy exports, but equipment related to the gas sector is excluded. (The Europeans are wary of targeting a sector they are so dependent on.)

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Anti-Semitism comes back to haunt Europe

28 July 2014
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

23 July 2014
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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MH17 plane crash: EU moment of decision

21 July 2014
Debris at crash site, 20 Jul 14
The airliner disaster in Ukraine has fuelled Western fury over Russian support for the rebels

For months the EU has displayed extreme reluctance over tightening sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. It has preferred to take small steps - travel bans and asset freezes against individuals - rather than to go after the "inner circle"' around President Vladimir Putin.

And Europe's leaders have repeatedly shied away from what they call Level Three sanctions - going after sectors in the Russian economy.

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The real Jean-Claude Juncker

15 July 2014
Jean-Claude Juncker at a news conference in the European Parliament, Strasbourg, 15 July

In the end Jean-Claude Juncker's anointment as Europe's most powerful official came with moments of theatre.

When Mr Juncker made an impassioned defence of the euro - "the single currency didn't split Europe... it defends Europe" - there were howls of derision from the UKIP benches. Nigel Farage weighed in saying that "nobody knew him" and that his name had "appeared on no ballot paper".

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Europe's Mr President

15 July 2014

Sometime on Tuesday morning Jean-Claude Juncker will become the most powerful official in Europe.

Almost certainly he will get the backing of more than 376 MEPs and so win approval from the European Parliament. In November he will take over as President of the European Commission.

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Europe: Big jobs and low growth

14 July 2014
Portugal - Banco Espirito Santo cashpoint, file pic
Bad debts at Portugal's biggest bank sparked fresh eurozone jitters last week

This is a week which will decide some of the ins and outs - who will be the stars in the EU firmament.

It is a game played with some intensity. The nation states are all proposing names to be their EU commissioner - who gets what will tell us much about power and influence in Brussels over the next five years. And who becomes the President of the European Council and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs. But more of that tomorrow.

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European Parliament: The power battles begin again

1 July 2014
Soldiers of the Eurocorps hold the European flag during a ceremony in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, 30 June 2014
Despite the rise of the Eurosceptics, the European Parliament remains dominated by pro-EU parties

In Strasbourg on Tuesday the new and increasingly powerful European Parliament is meeting.

It will bristle with energy. There will be a parade of anti-establishment figures, many of whom want to shake the EU temple. Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage, Beppe Grillo and others will stalk the corridors and attract the cameras like moths to a flame.

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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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