As Brussels starts to wind down for the summer break, Europe's citizens could be forgiven for heading off on holiday with the feeling of escaping a doom-ridden European Union. Dismay at serial failure or delay on key EU projects has been compounded by alarm at Europe's vulnerability to ever-faster globalisation, and by violent reminders over the last two weeks of just how fragile is the stability and security that the EU has fostered. So it is timely to point to a small success that has emerged as bags are being packed.

It may not seem that much, at first sight. The European Commission has reported satisfactory progress in getting rid of unjustified special rights in EU privatised companies - in other words, member states have been gradually abandoning their practice of retaining "golden shares" that allow them to control what they regard as key national firms.

Governments can - and still sometimes do - block takeovers, limit voting rights, and veto management decisions. But a new regulatory framework now provides member states with more transparent ways of protecting public interest obligations without impeding the emergence of a single market.

It is only a small corner of the EU's wide range of activities. But it relates to one of the fundamental aspects of making a Union function: accepting a degree of...

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