The Brief: A brain-TiSA for Juncker and Timmermans

The Brief is's evening newsletter.


Who really calls the shots when it comes to EU trade policy – the USA or Germany?

The European Commission is caught between a rock and a hard place. Should it cave to US pressure over guaranteeing international data flows in the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)?

Surrender could undermine brand spanking new EU privacy rules and cause an almighty ruckus in countries such as Germany. Berlin is still smarting from being spied on by stateside spooks.

But if the Commission doesn’t throw in the towel, TiSA could end up on the scrapheap or endure the same, purgatorial quasi-existence endured by the CETA and TTIP trade deals.

The Commission, true to form, has dreamt up a fudge to wriggle out of the tight spot it finds itself in. The compromise involves “very strong wording” to guarantee data protection, as EURACTIV exclusively revealed today.

But no one has yet shown the wording to member states, who may well wonder if the US is plotting to undo the Privacy Shield initiative.

It is the executive’s very top brass – Juncker and Timmermans themselves – stopping the deal being shown to member states, sources alleged. That was swiftly denied by officials, who urgently whispered denials behind their beloved cloaks of anonymity.

The paralysis is understandable. The Commission, which is mandated to negotiate EU trade deals, has to get this right.

The EU can’t afford to appear protectionist after it dropped the ball on sealing TTIP before the end of the Obama Administration.

But it also can’t ignore national parliaments, which must ratify any deal. Look at CETA, struck with the famously inoffensive Canadians. It faces at least a bumpy ride and possibly shipwreck on the rocks of the Brussels and Wallonian parliaments.

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The EU has quietly swept the idea of “ever closer union” under the carpet. Don’t miss this surgical analysis of the bloc’s annus horribilis. Interrail tickets anyone? Fortunately, the leader of Luxembourg has an idea

Jean-Claude Juncker was spotted strolling by the Commission yesterday evening. It was raining but JCJ was shielded from the elements by a younger lady gallantly holding an umbrella above the presidential head.

Bild reports on the arrest of the suspected bomber who slipped into Germany posing as a refugee. His flight from the law was brought to a shuddering halt by two genuine Syrian refugees, who tied him up with cables after cutting his hair.

Less heartening news from Hungary, which plans to ban migrant relocation. Merkel has announced an aid package to stem refugee flows from Niger.

Many people accuse the European Parliament of being a circus. Next week, it will host an event about how circuses can help fight youth unemployment.

Killer clowns are menacing England. No wonder the EU thinks the Scottish have a better quality of life.

The European Investment Bank has warned the UK will struggle without cheap EU loans and Denmark’s prime minister says there is still work to be done on Brexit. Spanish wine and meat exports will feel the pinch but these Austrians are selling Brexit whiskey.

The Greek tragedy continues with a partial bailout payout. Putin was in Istanbul to talk pipeline projects, and could be headed to Berlin and Paris to talk Ukraine.

Improving the environmental performance of European coal could slash deaths by toxic fumes by 85%, saving 20,000 lives, according to NGOs.

NGOs and industry have banded together to say that only EU binding targets for advanced biofuels can safeguard the bloc’s competitiveness. Meanwhile, ethanol producers have accused the Commission of having its head stuck in the sand.

This Trump karaoke is pure genius.


Any Commission reaction whatsoever to the 150K-strong petition demanding exemplary punishment for ex-Commission boss Barroso for taking a job with Goldman Sachs. The petition, dreamt up by disgruntled EU officials, is being handed in tomorrow.


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