The Brief, powered by Eurogas – Christmas dinner politics

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter. [Shutterstock]

We’ve all been there, looking forward to the ‘perfect’ Christmas with faultless food (and too much of it), flowing conversation, and gifts that are going to be spot on.

Just imagine: the fire crackles in the fireplace and you peacefully rest, recover and relax, pontificating that, in fact, the year was better than expected.

But beware the harmony.

While our American friends have to balance an already thin line between Democrats and Republicans, we, Europeans, face a more complicated situation as the ups and downs of Europe’s institutional mess, combined with national politics, create a potential minefield around the dinner table.

Needless to say, plentiful alcohol and overindulgence combined with end of year fatigue is a potentially dangerous mix – we are just one glass of mulled wine away from disaster.

Here’s a guide for how to survive the political hell more commonly known as Christmas dinner.

Because between European party squabbles, climate, populism and Brexit – it has been quite a year for European politics, so expect that to be on the Christmas menu as well, beside bites of Turkey and Macedonia.

And don’t let dreams of a “White Christmas” provoke a bitter row over climate change.

If your relatives decide to badger you with questions about whether global warming is really caused by humans or they bring up the subject of Brexit or BoJo – just keep calm and have another slice of mince pie, fill your glass with something restorative, and change the subject.

There are several approaches to yuletide political talk: you can fight fire with fire and engage in passionate verbal duels (a tactic that never ends well), opt for passivity, or go for evasion.

And let’s be frank, evasion is the best for mental well-being and family harmony.

A stock generic reply that will satisfy honour while moving the conversation on to happier subjects, like Euro 2020, the delicacy that is a roasted parsnip or how socks get lost in the washing machine.

Politics is for life, not for Christmas.

And whether your beloved party won, lost or didn’t compete, don’t be a Scrooge – there’s too much to be grateful for.

Happy holidays. EURACTIV over and out.


A message from Eurogas: Decarbonising Europe’s home heating. #EurogasPoll: 60% of Europeans accept personal responsibility for climate change. They are willing to take a broad range of actions to tackle it. Two-thirds would recycle more (59%), while one in five would change a heating system (21%). More options here.


The Roundup

It’s official: “Freedom gas” is the Worst Phrase of the Year, according to the Plain English Foundation. But where does the expression come from? EURACTIV did not have to look far to get the answer…

Russia, Ukraine and the European Commission, after hours-long talks, agreed in principle on a new gas deal starting after 1 January 2020, European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič told a briefing.

France’s current discrepancy with Germany does not call into question their relationship, said France’s European affairs minister Amélie de Montchalin, who also stressed that own resources are key for the European budget, while the member states are reluctant to increase their contributions and will have to compromise.

The Greek government plans to take advantage of Poland staying away from the new Green Deal to push forward its own priorities since the very start of the talks about the Just Transition Fund, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said.

The European Commission is considering reviewing its state aid rules to support cutting-edge projects financed by several member states, as requested by national capitals in order to strengthen Europe’s industrial might

For those that have not have enough of Brexit yet: Here are the main points from Queen Elizabeth II’s speech in parliament setting out the British government’s legislative programme.

But politics and policy aside. Have a peak at EURACTIV’s Tweets of the Year, where we look back at what was happening throughout 2019.

Look out for…

It’s been a very busy European election year and most of us are heading for a well-deserved Christmas break. But if you do fire up your browser over the holidays, here are our 30 most-read stories that made a splash in 2019.

The Brief and our Capitals newsletter are back on 6 January 2020 with fresh news and views from around Europe and the Brussels bubble.

Views are the author’s

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

Christmas wishes

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