The Brief: Fifty shades of Justin Trudeau

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.


Did you smell that sickly sweet aroma in the air in Brussels today? It was the waves of smug rolling in all the way from the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

MEPs were getting their reward for the nodding through of the EU-Canada trade CETA – five minutes of one on 751 face time with Justin Trudeau.

What a gushing lovefest it was. So cloying and sweet I got diabetes watching it. Five minutes of saccharine wooing from the floppy-haired studmuffin, standing there like a Canadian Christian Grey.

He whispered sweet nothings through a musky fog of delirious self-congratulation. Honeyed, maple syrupy words like the “whole world benefits from a strong EU”.

In any other parliament in the world a visit from a national leader is an occasion for formal sobriety.

Today, the European Parliament showed its age. MEPs were clambering out of their seats to snap Justin on their smart phones and tablets like teenage girls at a boyband concert.

Have some self-respect. You’re meant to be representatives of the people not panting groupies. Trudeau is a prime minister, not a Kardashian. He’s not even an Obama.

Special mention goes to Ska Keller. The German Green has campaigned hard against CETA but one glimpse of Trudeau’s smile had her grabbing her iPhone.

A moment please, while I lose my lunch all over my trousers, which are much less snug and stylish than those clinching Justin’s iron calves.

OMG! He spoke French too. A swoon fell over the chamber as Justin told the MEPs again and again how great they were.

There was no debate, no dissent, just pure, unadulterated Justin telling the European Parliament exactly what it wanted to hear.

The MEPs fell back in their seats, sated. The plenary bedchamber was suffused with a peculiar afterglow.

The reality of all the problems the EU faces was suspended for a moment and the MEPs could give themselves a big, fat, pat on the back.

If the European Parliament ever wants to be taken seriously, it needs to grow out of the compulsive need to thank itself for existing.

And its starstruck deputies need to knock off the kiddie stuff and put their cameras away.


CETA may have passed through the European Parliament yesterday, but Belgium’s feisty Walloons may yet derail the deal’s final ratification. We ran a snap poll to see who was hotter, Justin Trudeau or leader of the Walloon resistance Paul Magnette.

Commission Chief Spokesman Margaritis Schinas remarked mournfully that he didn’t enjoy the same “dreamy looks” that Trudeau is treated to. To cheer him up, we’re running another poll pitting him against Magnette and Trudeau. We trust his legions of fans in the Commission will ensure he is victorious.

With TTIP “frozen”, the Commission is eying up Mexico and Mercosur for the block’s next free trade deals.

France’s most influential business lobby has sent a 170-page wish list to all the presidential candidates, pushing deep labour market reform and cuts to employer social security contributions. The group finds François Fillon the “most pragmatic” candidate. That is one way of putting it. Here is another.

Jean-Marie Le Pen and two other National Front MEPs were ordered to pay back more than €600,000 to the European Parliament after being found guilty of misusing EU funds.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis yesterday told NATO members they can no longer rely on US protection unless they up their defence spending. German Socialist MEPs are demanding more clarity about US foreign policy.

Jean-Claude Juncker told Time’s Charlotte McDonald-Gibson that Donald Trump’s decision to congratulate the UK on voting to leave the EU was “highly unfriendly and not helpful at all”.

Scotland’s Shetland Islands are considering an independence vote of their own in a bid to gain control over their fishing waters and oil reserves.

The Commission is under fire for waving through German road toll plans for foreign vehicles. Bill Gates was in Brussels today to urge leaders not to cut foreign aid.

The EU’s new criteria on endocrine disruptors should be expanded beyond pesticides and biocides, according to a new report.

Professor Thomas Burri told EURACTIV’s Frédéric Simon it is too early for legislation on artificial intelligence. MEPs today voted down a proposal for a universal basic income to compensate for jobs taken by robots. Here’s some Kraftwerk.

S&D group Vice-President Udo Bullman spoke to EURACTIV over a beer about Trump, re-engaging the electorate, social justice and football.


The Commission’s Mogherini, Ansip, Bienkowska and King are in Germany for the Munich Security Conference tomorrow. The agenda focuses on NATO, Trump, Ukraine and Russia.

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