Pieter Cleppe

It’s time to reform the Big Four accounting firms

It has been exactly 20 years since the Enron scandal upended the reputation of global accountancy firms, leading to the downfall of both the company – one of the largest in US history up to that point – and Arthur Andersen, one of the ‘Big Eight’ accounting firms. Enron’s collapse provoked an avalanche of regulation,

Boris shouldn’t write off fossil fuels just yet

At last week’s G7 summit, Boris Johnson pushed his fellow leaders to back his climate finance plan to support large-scale renewable energy projects across Africa and parts of Asia. The PM received a decidedly lukewarm response to his new Marshall plan, only netting pledges from Canada and Germany – and for good reason. As Rishi

MEPs have missed their chance to protect human rights

The European Parliament is always eager to lecture the world about human rights. To a degree, this annoys the world’s despots and we should, of course, never underestimate how ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant’. But the Parliament’s overall influence on foreign affairs is still limited. On Tuesday, however, MEPs received an opportunity to actually make

How border closures halted Covid-19 in Finland

Back in April, I listed five measures governments can take to prevent the spread of Covid in order to prevent any need for economically devastating lockdowns, drawing on the experience of some Asian nations. Four of the measures (test and trace, healthcare capacity, facemasks, and good communication about distancing) have all proven their worth, but

Did Brexit lead to the UK’s vaccine success?

Today the United Kingdom became the first country in the West to clinically authorise a vaccine protecting against Covid-19, after the medicines regulator, the MHRA, said the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was safe to use. The announcement puts Britain ahead of Europe when it comes to rolling out the vaccine, as the EU’s own regulator, the European

The EU’s state aid hypocrisy

Another crucial period has begun in the Brexit saga. Boris Johnson has ruled out extending the transition stage beyond 1 January, after which the UK will no longer automatically take over EU regulations or align with EU trade policy. So the key question surrounding Brexit will finally need to be answered: what are the conditions

Lukashenko has learned to ignore the EU’s empty threats

On Belarus, the EU has been eager to talk the talk. But it has been slower to walk the walk. Belarus’s sham election – in which the country’s authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko won 80 per cent of the vote – was condemned by EU leaders as ‘neither free nor fair’. But Brussels stopped short of

Europe is finally coming to terms with Brexit

An article in the Dutch, left-leaning newspaper Het Parool led with the headline ‘Despite Brexit, multinationals prefer London over Amsterdam or Paris’ this week. The piece reports that ‘the feared exit [of companies] from Great Britain is not happening’ as expected, and highlights the fact that Unilever decided to: Become fully British, scrapping its dual

Five measures that could prevent future lockdowns

That the World Health Organisation hasn’t exactly shone in the coronavirus crisis is now well-documented. It should remind us of the dangers of following one centrally-guided approach to tackling the disease. Thankfully, given how even experts have been unsure about how to respond to this enormous challenge, there was no unified EU response to Covid-19.

Britain must fight the EU’s nanny state urges

The UK government has given the EU a Brexit deadline of four months. No. 10 is threatening to walk away from the negotiating table if a broad outline for a Canada-style trade agreement cannot be reached by the summer.  But the UK isn’t really being as radical as it might first appear. For a start, the withdrawal agreement already

Five myths about the European parliament election results

In the analysis of last week’s European Parliament elections, a number of claims which should be categorised as ‘myths’ have emerged. Here, I’ve singled out five of them that should be challenged:   1. The ‘major development’ that the centre-right EPP and centre-left S&D lost their majority isn’t a major development For the first time

The EU27 are far less prepared for no-deal Brexit than you’d think

As 29 March gets nearer and Theresa May tries to get a Brexit deal through parliament, preparations for no deal continue in both London and mainland Europe. It’s been well-documented that the UK government’s preparations haven’t been optimal, and many British companies aren’t really prepared for no deal. However, on the other side of the

Now Theresa May has postponed the vote, how will the EU react?

Even before today’s announcement that the Brexit vote would be pulled, a number of media leaks indicated the EU’s plan in case of a parliamentary defeat. According to Reuters, the EU had been planning to concede a number of cosmetic changes. However, those changes would not be made to the withdrawal agreement, but only to