The Brief: Is CETA a dead parrot or a zombie?

The Brief is's evening newsletter.


European Council President Donald Tusk this morning told MEPs that the EU could still sign the CETA trade deal with Canada tomorrow, despite the veto by a number of Belgian regional assemblies.

Sounding more and more like Monty Python’s parrot sketch, this morning, EU political chiefs, including Manfred Weber and Guy Verhofstadt, insisted CETA was not dead. Greens MEP Reinhard Bütikofer said it was “three-quarters dead”.

Of course, it has nothing to do with them really. They aren’t even in the right parliament.

“Only the Belgians can decide on Belgium’s position,” Tusk said. He added that Canada was the “most European country outside Europe”.

Canada isn’t European at all – it’s creating jobs and people want to sleep with its leader.

But this is not the time for recrimination. That’s tomorrow, probably.

So, no mention here of how the European Commission brought this on itself by giving into pressure from member states and making CETA a mixed agreement, handing Wallonia an effective veto.

Forget that the future of all EU trade policy, including the US-EU deal TTIP, is up in the air (#prayforDGTrade).

I certainly won’t say people should just accept this democratic result, even if they don’t like it, and move on. You know, like I have with Brexit.

Both Belgium and Canada have undeserved reputations for being boring.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel’s dad Louis was deputy prime minister. Justin Trudeau’s dad Pierre was prime minister of Canada. Both constitutional monarchies love their royal families.

Canada is good at ice hockey, Belgium is good at proper hockey. Both have separatist movements.

Belgium has Jean-Claude Van Damme, a movie star who can’t act, and Canada has William Shatner.

Both have francophone regions that love pop icon Claude François.

The French look down their noses at Belgians. Americans do the same to Canadians.

Far more unites the two nations than divides them. CETA could yet rise from the mortuary slab and stagger, zombie-like, over the finishing line.


Michel Barnier, the Commission’s Brexit negotiator, continues his first-class trolling of Britain with this amazing tweet from the Museum of Broken Relationships.

Martin Schulz has referred the UKIP Parliament punch-up to the French authorities. One of the accused  MEPs invited Schulz and Weber to step outside the Parliament yesterday. Schulz told MEP Mike Hookem he’d be very happy to see him in court. Meanwhile,Nigel Farage: The Sitcom is happening…

The Commission is championing its new space policy and its benefits.

Commissioner Bienkowska said, “We are in space for the long haul.” Well, space is pretty big and quite far away…

Moscovici’s press conference on the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base proposal is here. Juncker speaks at the Parliamentplenary session here and here is why he is wrong on Ecodesign.

Matteo Renzi is getting tough with the EU on refugee policy, threatening a veto on the bloc’s budget.

The European People’s Party stated its view on the mid-term review of the EU Budget, but the Council won’t accept all the Parliament’s amendments.

MEP Sven Giegold said Commissioners should not get a Christmas bonus.

The Commission has questions about the budgets of seven eurozone countries, and has also recommended extending Schengen border controls.

Don’t miss this video interview with MEP Ian Duncan. The Scottish Tory talks Brexit, climate change and EU reform. He also asks Manfred Weber how exactly he is going to pay for all those free Interrail holidays…

NATO is planning the biggest military build-up on Russia’s borders since the Cold War. Someone probably should let Spain know.

The Commission will rule on whether to ease Russian access on a Gazprom pipeline link to Germany, which could have repercussions for Ukraine.

Before the UK referendum, Prime Minister Theresa May warned Goldman Sachs that businesses would quit Brexit Britain. Ireland is wooing the London-based European Banking Authority and investors reckon that, in the end, the US will strike a Swiss-style deal with the EU.

Ex-Senior Advisor to the Commission Robert Madelin says we must expect the hardest possible Brexit, and MEP Éric Andrieu takes aim at the ‘job-destroying’ Common Agricultural Policy.


Trudeau, the Justin Bieber of world politics, could be coming to Brussels to sign CETA! He has discreet tattoos and a winning smile! Here is a video of the studly beefcake performing striptease. Federica Mogherini will be at the NATO meeting of defence ministers in Brussels.


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