The Brief: Mogherini on the defence after half-baked crisis dinner

The Brief is's evening newsletter.


The 28 EU foreign ministers met in Brussels to talk security today. Their discussion was “not about an EU army”, as Federica Mogherini was quick to point out before the meeting got underway.

Instead, the ministers convened to talk about “European Union security and defence that becomes more credible than it is today, more effective than it is today,” Mogherini said.

Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, has faced heat for calling ministers together for a dinner yesterday to discuss how President Trump could change Europe’s relationship with the United States.

The crisis dinner was itself briefly doused in crisis, as Britain, France and Hungary’s ministers skipped the talks. Boris Johnson and Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó criticised the meeting being held so soon after the election. Trump doesn’t take office until 20 January.

Mogherini said after yesterday’s dinner that the ministers decided “to engage with the incoming administration even from this very first week of transition”—meaning right away.

So did Mogherini panic too soon?

Today, much of the hype over her crisis dinner has petered out. Now she is busy trying to dispel fears that Brussels is overreaching on security issues.

Trump has promised to shake up the United States’ involvement in NATO. His presidency could have a real effect on how the EU thinks about security.

At the same time, appetite for an EU army has faded. Anti-EU populist parties have gained traction around Europe and after Trump’s win last week, President Marine Le Pen is on everyone’s lips ahead of next year’s election in France.

Boris Johnson’s criticism of Mogherini added fuel to the fire. That, coming from one of the most outspoken Brexit campaigners, doesn’t help her call for unity.

Even the UK’s new European Commissioner Julian King was reluctant to call President Trump a threat to security. King, who is responsible for the EU security union, said today that it’s still way too early to say what effect Trump could have.


Seems like it’s voting season at the moment. Fresh off the back of Trump’s victory across the Atlantic, Bulgaria has been thrown into its own political turmoil and the Italian PM might quit if the upcoming referendum on constitutional reform doesn’t go his way. 

On top of that, Moldova has ushered in a new, pro-Russia president, Turks will decide whether to grant President Erdoğan even more power and Germany might have itself a new president. Which is more than can be said for Austria, which still hasn’t found itself a new one.

Trump is obviously staying in the news: the UK’s equally strange-haired foreign minister, Boris Johnson, said the EU can “do business” with the president-elect. 

Europe knows how to turn euros into knowledge, but “it has not been so successful at turning knowledge into euros”, EU Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas told EURACTIV in an interview.

COP22 continues in Morocco and a new study revealed that Africa is most at risk from extreme weather, while a World Bank economist told EURACTIV France that billions could be saved if climate risk management was done more efficiently.

It’s Movember, remember, so we want to see Schuman and Plux filled with outlandish facial hair. Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis kicked things off by trying to convince us that he grew this brilliant bearded effort


Barack Obama arrives in Greece tomorrow for the start of his last trip to Europe as president.


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