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The Brief: Sometimes, the EU works!

The Brief: Sometimes, the EU works!

The Brief is's evening newsletter.


Sometimes the European Union works. There, after two weeks of The Brief, we finally said it.

Today, EU environment ministers overcame fears over national sovereignty, and resistance from Poland and Italy, to seal a fast-track deal on climate change.

The deal will allow the EU to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change, without each member state first ratifying the agreement in their national parliaments.

This means it will likely be able to bring the landmark global Agreement into force, and save its international reputation as a climate leader.

But it wasn’t easy. Sources whispered that talks were so tense that Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete had a blistering and furious speech ready if negotiations fell apart. Instead, he said this.

Make no mistake, the clock was ticking at this emergency meeting, and tensions were running high. Yet the EU, as it often does, managed to save a deal from the wreckage at the last moment.

Even Britain was willing to overcome its allergy to surrendering sovereignty in the interests of gaining a deal, which now makes bloc-wide ratification almost a formality.

Much was at stake, not least the marriage of Carole Dieschbourg, Luxembourg’s environment minister. She was due to get hitched this evening but faced being stuck in Brussels.

The Brief asked Cañete if that was a factor in the talks’ eventual success. The answer was a definite Yes.

What happens next? One source confided,“Now we are off to get drunk!”

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A stonking exclusive here about the testy relationship between Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac (who is still alive).

Ex-Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard talks about her job at Volkswagen, which she says is unpaid. She does, however, have a separate lobbying job.

MEP Kathleen Van Brempt talks Dieselgate and Brexit in this video interview, and suggests Guy Verhofstadt may want to tone down his federalist ideas.

Austria’s finance minister, though, wants Brexit as soon as possible, and UK Trade Secretary Liam Fox thinks Brexit won’t hurt trade at all. Meanwhile PM Theresa May faces her first party conference this weekend, with Brexit very much on the agenda.

The British government will name and shame restaurants serving too-large puddings, and TV regulator OFCOM has come out with a list of offensive words, including “ginger”.

Things keep getting worse for Deutsche Bank, and German farmers are musing over the EU’s trade deal with Canada.

Alain Juppé is consolidating support ahead of the French presidential elections, and there’s yet another twist in the saga of Kristalina Georgieva’s candidacy for UN Secretary-General.

European car manufacturers are worried that Brussels wants to force them to share data from connected cars, and NGOs are questioning the green credentials of the Juncker Plan.


Hungary’s referendum on EU migration policy, and in particular mandatory refugee quotas, on Sunday.  This, given its track record on referendums, could be a bloody nose for the EU.  But the anti-migrant campaign could have unforeseen consequences for growth in the country.