The Brief: The curious question of the Commission’s missing 0.1%


Jean-Claude Juncker and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi have fallen out over EU fiscal rules, and the European Commission’s communications department has got egg on its face.

Renzi has blasted the Commission for applying budget rules too strictly, pointing to the migration crisis and recent earthquakes as reasons to let Rome loosen the purse strings.

Juncker had had enough last night. “It should no longer be said that this Commission continues the austerity measures applied in the past,” he said, “If one wants to say it, one can … but, in fact, I don’t care.”

The outburst was food and drink for journalists of course. But things were about to get even more uncomfortable for the executive.

Renzi had submitted a budget that earmarked 0.5% of Italy’s GDP for migration and reconstruction.

Juncker hit back that the additional costs should only come to 0.1% of GDP.

That was a problem. The Commission is only meant to give its opinion on national budgets on 16 November.

So the Commission communications team simply removed the reference to the 0.1% figure from its published transcript of Juncker’s speech.

Unfortunately for the executive, the Brussels press pack noticed the censorship. That led to a very awkward midday press briefing.

“We are there to make sure that your reports are as accurate as possible,” a spokeswoman told sceptical reporters.

It is fair to say the journalists were not appreciative of this attempt to “improve” their work, as you can see from this video and from this one.


Spain, in contrast to Italy, is ready to pass €5 billion in budget adjustments. But in private, the message is very different. Check EURACTIV for more soon.

Brexiles and Brefugees in Brussels have been plunged into deep depression by the news that Marks & Spencer will be closing. No proper British bacon or cheddar anymore. How could 2016 get any worse?

Well that all depends on the result of the US elections. President Trump will be very bad news for EU climate and energy policy, experts told EURACTIV.

In a bid to fight off the growing feeling of doom, here is Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans doing a fantastic impression of The Donald himself!

Timmermans broke out his top class mimicry after revealing that toasters will escape regulation by meddling Brussels bureaucrats.

But The Brief wants toasters regulated to support an ambitious circular economy, which could offer a ray of hope to the weakening scrap metal market.

Ex-Commission President José Manuel Barroso, a former Maoist, has blamed European anti-US feeling for the controversy over his new job at Goldman Sachs. If he thinks there is anti-US feeling now, wait and see if Trump wins…

Yannick Jadot, by the way, is the Green Party candidate for the French presidential election. Germany’s defence minister wants the EU military to match NATO.

Better news from Hungary as the parliament defies Viktor Orbán over his plan to ban the resettlement of refugees.

London and Copenhagen are the most expensive cities in Europe. The eurozone has ruled out debt relief for Greece.

European journalists have branded Turkey the world’s biggest prison and the EU is urging Ankara to safeguard democracy.


A Hillary Clinton victory or, you know, the other thing.


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