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02/12/2016

The Brief: Schulz gives up European Parliament to return to politics

The Brief: Schulz gives up European Parliament to return to politics

The Brief is EurActiv.com's evening newsletter.

SCHULZ GIVES UP EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT TO RETURN TO POLITICS

Martin Schulz is giving up the European Parliament to return to politics.

He will not seek a third term at the helm. Instead he will run for the Bundestag. A top job in a future Merkel coalition beckons.

The decision has weakened Jean-Claude Juncker’s grip on the European Commission presidency.

Juncker made no secret of his desire for his old pal to stand again. He even threatened to quit if Schulz skipped town, according to reports later strenuously denied by his officials.

Schulz had backed Juncker for Commission president. Juncker backed Schulz. They both backed Tusk, and Tusk backed both of them.

In many ways it was the classic EU stitch-up. The European People’s Party and Socialists and Democrats working hand in glove and behind closed doors to defang any dissent or debate.

Supporters of such grand coalitions claim they are necessary to stop so-called populists derailing the European project.

Well, the populists are doing pretty well at the moment. Possibly because the two biggest European political parties are in bed with each other.

I don’t want my socialists and my conservatives agreeing on everything. I want them at each other’s throats, fighting for what they are meant to be standing for.

But that didn’t happen under Schulz. Instead you had a gaggle of neutered MEPs swallowing down whatever was precooked by Martin and Jean-Claude.

Today, Juncker said his good relationship with Schulz had led to a harmonious relationship between the Commission and Parliament.

It led to a whipped, tamed parliament that could, at best, make a show of scrutiny before falling into line.

Despite what some in Brussels believe, people aren’t stupid. They know sham democracy when they see it.

THE ROUNDUP

Schulz’s imminent departure has ripped apart one of the EU’s most enduring bromances. But was Juncker reaching for the Céline Dion and the ice cream to get over the break-up? We asked at the midday briefing how he was bearing up.

Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk met with Ukrainian President Poroshenko today to try to smooth tensions over Russia, Trump, energy, visas and trade. When asked if he’ll resign now that Martin Schulz is stepping down, Donald Tusk told reporters he’s still in good shape: he runs a marathon in “significantly below two hours”. Juncker also insisted he’s fit, but didn’t offer as much detail. Go to 13.35 on the video.

Don’t miss Suzanne Lynch’s piece tipping Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness to replace Schulz.

Embattled EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger is being let off the hook: MEPs won’t get to vote in plenary on his promotion to European Commission vice president. Instead, he’ll face unofficial questioning from three Parliament committees next month.

The European Parliament has voted to stop talks over Turkey’s bid to join the EU. An angry President Erdogan said yesterday that the Parliament vote “has no value at all”.

French Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal showed up one hour late for a two-hour-long meeting in the European Parliament’s Dieselgate inquiry committee today after flying into Strasbourg from Paris. She seemed genuinely surprised when MEPs complained. Green MEP Karima Delli suggested Royal could have instead taken the short train ride from Paris. Check EurActiv France later for more.

Kristalina Georgieva and Captain Europe showed up at yesterday’s boozy EU Tweetup to celebrate a last hoorah before they both leave their current jobs.

Two Brussels hacks snuck onto UK Brexit chief David Davis’ train to Strasbourg. His office had ignored journalist requests for details on the trip. Here’s Bruno Waterfield’s story about how he doorstepped Davis and his staff after their secret visit with Michel Barnier.

Donald Trump wants Nigel Farage as the UK’s ambassador to the US and the UKIP leader appears to be jumping the gun: Farage said that he will move to the US. Friends said he and his wife will feel “freer” there.

Farage is already rehearsing for the role. He was photographed at a party last night at the London Ritz holding a plate full of Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico yesterday called journalists “dirty, anti-Slovak prostitutes“.

LOOK OUT FOR…

It’s Thanksgiving today. When Americans celebrate a group of undocumented migrants coming to live on their land. So much for progress.

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