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07/12/2016

The Brief: Captain Europe hangs up his cape

The Brief: Captain Europe hangs up his cape

The Brief is EurActiv.com's evening newsletter.

The European Union has been hit by another crushing setback. Its only superhero is retiring.

For more than seven years, Captain Europe has squeezed himself into blue Lycra and taken to the streets of Brussels.

His mission was to spread the word of the European project. And to have a few beers on Place Lux.

His retirement marks the end of an era. Never again will he pose for selfies with stagaires, never again will he passionately defend the EU against its many detractors.

While his true identity must remain a secret, the Captain has admitted to being a European public servant.

EU officials get a bad press. They are ridiculed for being elite, out of touch technocrats.

But rather than being holed up in the institutions’ ivory towers, Captain Europe ventured out,faced the public and argued passionately for the EU.

It’s easy to poke fun at the Captain. His cape, his tights and encyclopaedic knowledge of the Lisbon Treaty.

But even though he wears a mask, the Captain most definitely is not a faceless bureaucrat.

Whether or not you agreed with him, he had the guts to put on that outfit and go out and argue for what he believed in. The EU institutions need more like him.

You can read the Captain’s farewell interview here and watch a video of him on Grexit and Brexit.

THE ROUNDUP

Günther Oettinger gave a speech on media freedom today. Yes that Oettinger, the one being barracked by the press for getting on a private jet owned by a Kremlin lobbyist. Yes, the same one who called the Chinese “slitty eyed”.

New questions came up regarding Commissioner Oettinger’s trip to Budapest after the executive today decided to close its investigation into the expansion of the Pask Nuclear power plant in Hungary. The Commission is no longer concerned about the lack of any tender and transparency in the €10 billion deal because Russian firm Rosatom is the only who could provide the technology. What a happy coincidence that Moscow is also financing the project. Check Euractiv.com later for more.

Social media was abuzz with the rumour that Nigel Farage was refused service  at the Karsmakers café near the European Parliament. Farage said he had no comment to make when contacted by The Brief.

Outgoing US President Obama continued his goodbye tour, bidding a fond farewell to long-time ally Angela Merkel; Russia dominated their meeting. The US Constitution may impose a two-term limit, but Germany doesn’t, and Obama made it clear that he hopes Merkel will run again next year.

The chancellor’s financial bulldog, Wolfgang Schäuble, quipped that Pierre Moscovici will need a treaty change if he wants to be the “eurozone’s finance minister”, but he did praise Rajoy, Valls, Tsipras et al for making progress in structural reform.

European Union interior ministers were at odds today over immigration. The Commission is stepping up its fight against antimicrobial resistance.

One worrying report has shown that the gap between laboratory emissions tests and real world performance is growing; VW is set to axe thousands of jobs as the fallout from Dieselgate continues.

NGOs have denounced CETA’s environment chapter for not being legally binding. MEPs will vote next week on whether to refer it to the EU’s top court.

Belgium’s former energy minister said that the nuclear industry can win back public trust by just building reactors cheaply and on time, while Alaska Airlines became the first carrier to operate a flight powered by tree bark. Bulgaria has the EU’s deadliest roads.

Back in US politics, rapper Kanye West’s 2020 presidential hopes took an early blow last night, when he admitted he would’ve voted for Trump. His audience made their feelings clear

LOOK OUT FOR..

The EU-Ukraine summit on Thursday, 24 November. President Petro Poroshenko is in Brussels and will discuss visa liberalisation, implementation of the Minsk agreements and anti-corruption measures with EU leaders.

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