The Brief: After Trump victory, EU nervously eyes French election

The Brief is's evening newsletter.


The Berlin Wall fell 27 years ago today. Today, the US made a man who promised to build a wall the leader of the free world.

EU leaders put on their best “make do and mend” faces to congratulate President-Elect Donald Trump. No one wanted to talk about populists today, although Merkel stood out by standing up to The Donald.

Trump’s victory sends a clear warning sign to the EU, especially after the UK voted for Brexit. The similarities between the two votes have been overstated. After all, The Simpsons never predicted Brexit.

But both results should cause sleepless nights in the corridors of power in Brussels.

There’s the temptation for chin-stroking talk about disenfranchised, angry voters left behind by globalisation. But look at the facts instead.

In both cases, voters rejected the establishment, despite the repeated warnings of elites and experts and best predictions of the pollsters. The people picked change and destroyed the status quo.

The Dutch and the Germans head to the polls early next year. France elects a new president in April and May.

Many French people accept that Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far right National Front, will win the first round. But they also believe she will lose the second. Voters will band together to outvote the NF, they say, as they did in 2002.

Trump and Brexit show that they should not be so sure. There are two precedents now, a trend.

Is France so special it is immune to what the European Parliament’s S&D group said was a virus sweeping the US and Europe?

Le Pen has already promised a Frexit referendum if elected.

The EU can hobble along without the UK. But it can’t without France and the UK.


The New York Times draws the link between Trump and Brexit. Here’s the Washington Post’s take on the election and here’s the FT’s Gideon Rachman.

One casualty of Trump’s victory is likely to be the Paris Agreement on climate change, the lead MEP on reform of the EU’s carbon market told EURACTIV. TTIP is probably dead as well.

Here’s how flashpoints such as Iran and North Korea reacted. The S&D said Trump was dangerous. Alain Lamassoure said his election meant the time was ripe for an EU army and the US Ambassador to the EU said that politics was broken.

Bad news for central Europeans. They spend 25 years trying to join the West and then it self-destructs.

Believe it or not, the European Commission decided to make two major announcements today. Which is either a massive oversight or an effort to bury bad news.

It proposed a much anticipated change to anti-dumping legislation that will affect how they assess whether China is exporting steel at unfair prices. The proposal, which comes after drawn out, heated debate over whether China will be granted market status economy, will be discussed by EU trade ministers on Friday.

Europe’s economy is set to grow less than expected next year, mainly because of Brexit. The Commission cut its growth forecast by 0.3% for next year for the eurozone and the EU as a whole.

Germany has turned up at COP22 without a climate plan. European companies are helping Morocco tighten its grip on the Western Sahara. This study found that EU Ecodesign standards could stop your smartphone cracking so easily.

Juncker has told Turks to blame Erdogan, and not the EU, if a deal for visa-free travel fails. Commissioner Hahn is also talking Turkey. Italy’s Matteo Renzi has stepped up his slanging match with Brussels.

Member states are playing politics with the EU’s tax haven blacklist and French lawmakers are pushing for EU protection for whistleblowers.

Spain, by the way, is the only EU country with legislation that punishes cyberbullying.


DPA reports that EU foreign affairs ministers are having a meeting in Brussels on Sunday to work out how to handle The Donald. Federica Mogherini is speaking at the European Defence Agency’s annual conference in Brussels tomorrow. An EU Army is looking more attractive now that NATO isn’t looking quite as secure as it once was…


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