The Brief: What a wonderful world this would be…

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

Juncker said that even President Le Pen cannot destroy the EU. We don’t buy that, because she can.

But let’s be serious. Marine Le Pen is not going to be president of France. Even if she wins the first round, the stars have already aligned for Emmanuel Macron, the most pro-European among all the candidates.

And in Germany, no matter who wins, on 24 September there will be a pro-European chancellor. Maybe for the first time the French and German leaders will be able to converse in the same language.

Martin Schulz is fluent in French. The German chancellor and the French president have never been able to speak without an interpreter. You can trust Juncker for that.

A strong Berlin-Paris relationship between two pro-European leaders bodes well for EU reform, and for deciding on the shape of things to come.

By December there could be enough consensus to start rebuilding the post-Brexit Union in a manner agreeable to all. And focus on the economy. Improving the lives of EU citizens will chase the bad spirits away.

No major waves are expected by then. No important elections are on the horizon and if the EU manages to secure its external borders, just by following up on decisions already taken, the refugee crisis would no longer be as threatening as it once was.

The Trump effect could be very positive for the EU. For too long the Union has depended too heavily on the US on issues such as security and conflict management.

If the risk of fresh conflict in the Balkans reared its head again, this time the Union would be able to deal with the issue itself. And the result would be more successful.

In the meantime the EU will possibly find a better way of dealing with its authoritarian, but unavoidable, big neighbours, Russia and Turkey.

EU-Turkey ties should be built on different foundations, maybe with the post-Brexit UK relationship as a model.

With Russia, an agreement is needed for the future modus vivendi, which should not be at the expense of Ukraine. No more exports of democracy and no more zero-sum games in the neighbourhood.

Who says the EU is collapsing? Take a spoonful of Euro-optimism. What a wonderful world this would be!

The Roundup

President Juncker may believe the EU would survive ‘President Le Pen’ but young voters are still seduced by the election’s extreme candidates.

Yesterday’s shooting in Paris cast a dark cloud over the final days of campaigning ahead of Sunday’s first round of voting. One policeman died and two others were wounded in an attack claimed by Islamic State.

A bomb attack on a German football team bus earlier this month was motivated by greed. The suspect, arrested today, bought a large number Borussia Dortmund’s shares, hoping to short the value. It actually went up after the attack.

The Netherlands wants the UK-based European Medicines Agency after Brexit. PM Mark Rutte wrote to the Council and Commission to say that Amsterdam is the best candidate. The EU executive clarified earlier in the week that the UK will have no say over where the EMA is relocated.

Italy’s wealthy northern regions of Lombardy and the Veneto will hold referendums on wresting greater autonomy away from Rome.

Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has been named in Time’s 100 Most Influential People. She was nominated by former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who said “Europe needs more women like Margrethe”.

The Sun newspaper’s website has been banned from some libraries in Wales for providing content of “an aggressive, offensive, violent or sexual nature”.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to keep a 0.7% development target on her election manifesto. Tory MPs are starting to call Mrs May “mummy” on the phone. Angela Merkel got there first though…

An EU-funded project has tested the feasibility of building circular runways to improve airport capacity. The mastermind behind the idea has been fielding queries from fascinated social media users.

Kazakhstan is abandoning Cyrillic script in favour of Latin. An Italian court has been “the first in the world” to recognise a causal link between mobile phone use and cancer. At least cycling to work reduces the risk of it.

Argentina thinks Brexit could be an opportunity for the EU to re-evaluate its position on the Falkland Islands. The UK is dealing with a new migration crisis. This time it is ‘super-slugs’.

Sam Morgan contributed to this Brief.

Look out for…

The first round of France’s presidential election is finally upon us. Polls close at 8PM Sunday with results due around 9PM. Tomorrow is Earth Day.

Views are the author’s.

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