The Brief: Commission’s anti-leak strategy leaks

The Brief is's evening newsletter.


It’s almost too perfect. The European Commission’s new anti-leak strategy has been leaked.

Please stop laughing. I am not going to carry on until you all settle down.

Brussels is leakier than the incontinent offspring of a sieve and a fishing net, and it always has been.

The Commission is keen to get control of the endless flood of drafts and working documents, according to the strategy that was passed into EURACTIV’s eager hands earlier today.

It is clear that the crackdown comes from the top, with President Juncker furious after leaks to the press during the preparation of the executive’s 2015 Work Programme.

The idea is to prevent “political and reputational damage” to the Commission.

One plan is to hold “ethics days” – where officials will presumably be warned of what will befall them if they dare to blow the whistle.

And every year, officials will have to electronically sign a confidentiality promise or be locked out of their computers.

This, from an administration recently described by its chief spokesman as the most transparent in history.

Of course, the Commission itself, which refuses to comment on leaks, is more than happy to slip stuff to selected journalists when it suits its purposes.

This is very much a case of the executive telling its own officials to do as it says, not as it does.

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Britain’s Defence Minister Michael Fallon has said that the UK will oppose any steps towards the creation of a European Union army.

At this stage, all the EU is talking about is increasing cooperation in defence research and innovation. Basically, talk of an actual army is much ado about nothing, so the Brits aren’t exactly winning friends at the moment.

Which is a shame, because Juncker is meeting his chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, European Parliament President Martin Schulz, and his Brexit point man, Guy Verhofstadt, tonight.

If only Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party could get its thoughts in order on Brexit, mourns former Europe Minister Denis MacShane. The chief executive of publisher Axel Springer has told the FT that Brexit will make Britain more attractive to investors than continental Europe.

One French National Front MEP asked Juncker if he was going to resign after Brexit. No prizes for guessing the response from Juncker.

Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc is “not in love” with the latest draft deal to curb aviation emissions, and neither is Hannah Mowat, a campaigner for FERN.

Germany’s Vice-Chancellor won’t hold Syria peace demonstrations outside the Russian and US embassies in Berlin. Meanwhile, Amnesty International reports that Hungary has been mistreating migrants on its borders.

Confused about all the twists and turns in the uniquely drawn-out process to select the UN Secretary-General? Find out the latest, and where Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva fits in here.

It’s an endless source of wailing and gnashing of teeth in Brussels – why do the Americans get there first on innovation? The latest chapter of this particular psychodrama centres on driverless cars.

The European Commission is expected to propose tougher anti-lobbying laws tomorrow. They will expand the rules restricting meetings between Commission officials and accredited lobbyists to lower-level civil servants.


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