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11/12/2016

The Brief: It isn’t paranoia, if they really are out to get EU

The Brief: It isn’t paranoia, if they really are out to get EU

The Brief is EurActiv.com's evening newsletter.

IT ISN’T PARANOIA, IF THEY REALLY ARE OUT TO GET EU

Is there an international conspiracy to destroy the European Union? Guy Verhofstadt thinks so.

“What I see today is now Russians and Americans and Turks… working together more and less on European soil to destroy the European model,” Verhofstadt said in the European Parliament today.

The ALDE leader and chief Brexit negotiator said there was a “ring of autocrats” – Putin, Trump and Erdogan – plotting the EU’s downfall.

This is a jaw-dropper of an accusation.

Forget for a moment, the unlikely scenario that Vladimir has forgiven our Turkish friends for shooting down that jet. Or that The Donald was so convinced he would triumph in the US election that he has already cooked up a master plan with The Vladimir.

Imagine if the Americans, the Russians and the Turks had formed an unholy alliance bent on the destruction of the European project.

Is the answer to build an EU Defence Union and ultimately an EU Army, as some European People’s Party members have argued?

Or would it first make a lot more sense to reaffirm and cement NATO and EU-US relations?

A good start might be by encouraging EU member states to meet their NATO spending commitments.

Only Greece, Poland, Estonia and the UK meet the 2% of GDP defence target set by NATO guidelines.

EU politicians should be embarrassed by that failure, not indulging in tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories.

Instead, they are pointing fingers at the US, which not only helped liberate Europe, but also protected its Western countries from the Soviet Union for nearly five decades.

THE ROUNDUP

No less a personage than the president of Estonia is a keen reader of The Brief.  She was moved by yesterday’s offering to pen this letter, which insists Estonia is not afraid of migrants or Russians.

As EurActiv revealed last Friday, European Parliament Budget Committee coordinators have decided against a hearing for Günther Oettinger. The underfire Commissioner is set to take over the budget portfolio.

The European Commission has set out its strategy for sustainable development. Matthew Tempest’s lowdown on the once-in-a-decade policy rethink is due on EurActiv.com very soon.

The EU is racked with infighting over subsidies for renewables, Frédéric Simon can exclusively reveal. Meanwhile, the bloc is set to miss its climate spending targets.

Here’s EurActiv France’s Aline Robert on what François Fillon’s frontrunning candidacy could mean for Paris’ relations with the EU. Put it this way, europhiles are worried.

Donald Trump, who is looming over the EU-Ukraine summit, has said he will pull the US out of the TPP trade deal, which doesn’t bode well for the now almost certainly dead TTIP pact with the EU.

On the plus side, EU Trade’s Twitter account has a sense of humour, as we discovered in this chat about imports to North Korea.

Trump also has a sense of humour, which is presumably why he has suggested Nigel Farage could be the UK’s ambassador to the US. UKIP, by the way, are facing a British investigation for mishandling EU funds.

Then again, Boris Johnson is Britain’s foreign secretary. It looks like Commission Brexit boss Michel Barnier hasn’t forgotten Boris’ recent prosecco gaffe. Here is his latest bout of online Brit-baiting.

Barnier met the UK’s Brexit chief for a cloak and dagger chinwag yesterday. David Davis was in Strasbourg today. He met Verhofstadt and EPP chief Manfred Weber for what was most definitely NOT a Brexit negotiation.

The chats didn’t go that well. Davis is meant to have told Weber the UK wants access to the single market. Weber and The Hof told him that meant respecting freedom of movement. Weber doesn’t look too thrilled in this pic either.

But if you fancy having a bet on the upcoming UK Supreme Court hearing on Article 50, this is the place. And what exactly can the European Parliament do with its 73 British MEPs?

MEPs are debating whether to freeze EU membership talks with Turkey. A vote is expected on Thursday. The College of Commissioners met today, but didn’t come up with a proposal to revise its code of conduct.

Five member states want Commission legislation put forward to make it easier to crack encryption technology.

LOOK OUT FOR…

Tomorrow, the European Parliament will vote on whether to refer the CETA EU-Canada trade deal to the European Court of Justice. 89 MEPs are pushing for the court to give a legal opinion on the pact, which was very nearly derailed by Wallonia. The vote will happen between 12 and 2PM tomorrow. The controversy centres on whether the creation of new international courts is compatible with EU law.

All views expressed are the author’s, and not our sponsor’s.

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