The Brief: The chances of anything coming from Mars

The Brief is's evening newsletter.


The chances of any signals coming from Europe’s Mars lander are a million to one, they said.

The plan was to finally discover whether there is Life on Mars. But it appears not everything is Hunky Dory with the Schiaparelli craft.

European Space Agency boffins are getting no Sound and Vision from the lander. No one knows exactly what has gone wrong – it’s a Space Oddity.

The project was a joint European-Russian venture. Perhaps it’s no surprise it came crashing down to Earth.

Eyes are on EU leaders in Brussels tonight to see how tough they can be with Moscow over the bombing of Aleppo.

May used her doorstep at the Council to demand robust action against Russia. European Council President Donald Tusk insisted sanctions were not yet ruled out.

But the bloc is as divided and as fractured as the different parts of the Schiaparelli lander scattered over the surface of the red planet?

Could the EU’s mooted trade deal with Canada share the same fate as the doomed space mission?

The Walloon government has exercised an effective veto over CETA.

This has led to howls of anger from the likes of Manfred Weber – the EPP leader always ready to yell “populism” whenever a democratic decision doesn’t go his way. European Parliament President Martin Schulz has also gone into bat for the CETA trade deal.

Tusk today said, it “could be our last free trade agreement, if we are not able to convince people that we negotiate to protect their interests”.

Think tank CEPS also thinks failure to overrule the Walloons could spell the end of EU trade policy.

Tonight, 28 heads of state and government will do their level best to heap as much pressure on Wallonia as possible. That may be hard because the leader of the resistance, Paul Magnette, isn’t invited to the summit.

Europe’s scientists have salvaged data that could aid the next landing attempt.

But, for the EU, this is a one-shot chance to show it can deliver the free trade agreements it champions so fiercely.

This Brief was powered by BirdLife Europe and Central Asia.


It’s summit day in Brussels. Use our live blog to keep up with summit developments through the night and check EURACTIV in the morning for the post-mortem. Syria, Russia, CETA and migration are on the menu.

Don’t miss this Hungarian Auschwitz survivor’s views on the migration crisis, and her country’s response to it.  And here’s the latest on the Commissioner who voted against the Commission over migration in the Hungarian referendum.

Watch, as before your very eyes, James Kanter transforms into the Joan Rivers of the summit with this pithy analysis of leaders’ fashion choices.

EPP chief Manfred Weber has warned May she faces extremely tough negotiations over Brexit. Meanwhile, Brexit Minister David Davies has told MPs in London it is not in the national interest for the government to reveal its plans.

Tusk said that May would not enter the lion’s den but “a nest of doves” at her first European Council.

François Hollande wants May to bring forward the Brexit talks in case they clash with the French presidential election.

He is also in distinct danger of saying something interesting for once. He calls Sarkozy a “crude mini-De Gaulle Duracell rabbit” and his ex-girlfriend Valerie Trierweiler a “traitor”. Why aren’t his Council press conferences ever this interesting?

EU and Asian diplomats have poured cold water on the idea that developing ASEAN countries are desperate to do trade deals with the UK.

Scotland has published its blueprint for a second independence referendum. Unlike the Brexit poll, it gives non-British EU citizens a vote.

The new boss of the European Fiscal Board wanted investors to impose discipline on national governments during the financial crisis. Jorge Valero has the story.


Theresa May’s big meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker tomorrow. The new PM, fresh-ish from her first European Council, will have a one-on-one with JCJ. But Brexit negotiations can only happen after notification of Article 50, as everyone keeps repeating. But what will Juncker do if May tries a sneaky spot of negotiating during the pow-wow? We asked the European Commission


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