IN what could almost be said to be a Brussels tradition, the beginning of the long summer break at the European Commission - when officials disappear to the south of France to lap up the Mediterranean sun - is usually heralded by the announcement of a series of legal cases against Member States.

Maybe it is to avoid the inevitable rows with their counterparts in national capitals, or maybe plain old procrastination meeting the need to clear desks, but it seems August is the month when the Commission cracks the whip; and it is often water ...

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