The Brief: Can Europe afford to continue its ‘politics with a smile’?

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EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini described on Wednesday the European way of doing politics: with a smile.

Referring to the latest EU-US spat over the Iran nuclear deal and US President Donald Trump, she said that sometimes smiling needs more strength than shouting.

Her entire speech at an EU Social Democrats event was devoted to Trump, though she never once mentioned him by name.

She also clearly questioned US dominance in world politics. “There is only one global power today that is credible, reliable and predictable for the rest of the world and not only to its citizens – and this is the EU,” she said.

All of this raises some serious existential questions.

There is an ongoing clash of worldviews between the partners on the two sides of the Atlantic.

The European way, according to Mogherini, is the idealistic approach, compared to the “cynical Realpolitik” employed by others. Even so, both idealists and Realpolitik supporters seek peace in international politics, only by different means.

But there is an old saying that when people forget their past, they tend to come up against surprises in the future.

It is true that Mogherini’s words are a boost for the spirit of EU identity. She brings EU citizens closer to feeling as one nation.

But she also spoke against the militarisation of the EU. It was an obvious wink at Washington, trying to imply that the EU is attempting to keep its distance but not planning to go too far.

Did we forget why the EU was born? Did we forget how peace came to prevail in Europe?

There has been no serious crisis in EU history where the Europeans have not asked the US for assistance.

How can one aspire to be a global power without military capacity?

The American satellites on the periphery of Europe had already been activated well before Trump took power, and continental Europe is already under huge geopolitical pressure. The first calls have been made for Germany to rebuild its military might. We already feel the trend of destabilisation.

If the EU decides to walk alone, is Brussels convinced all member states will follow its lead? Not sure. Is this the fear that is hiding behind the idea of a multi-speed Europe?

The Roundup

One hour before deadline, Spain received Catalunya’s note, arguing that the referendum gave them the mandate to declare independence. And Spain responded.

So, Rajoy will trigger Article 155 on Saturday, stripping Catalunya of its regional autonomy. But what does it mean in practice?

Mogherini calls the EU the “only credible global power“, and EU socialists say the solution to violent extremism is on the left.

Turkey’s first EU visit after failed coup attempt is to Warsaw, where he urges Brussels “not to lead us by the nose

Europeans are lost and without sense of purpose – says Oxford professor. Read our interview on why the “the EU is a wishy-washy organisation.”

Ghostlands in Europe are growing: rural areas need investment to stop the brain drain and make them attractive areas to live and work in.

Digital is one of this Summit’s hot topics – keep informed on the EU’s latest initiatives on cybersecurity with our special report.

Brussels promises police can access private data, but will not weaken encryption- says EU security commissioner Julian King.

Discrimination and violence against women is frustrating efforts to end poverty, the UN’s population fund says. Reproductive health rights are key to ending inequality.

The UN joins forces with the ethanol industry to promote biofuels in the aviation sector, coming in contradiction with the EU’s stance.

Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc gave us an interview on the EU’s transport infrastracture, electric cars and Dieselgate.

Read our rolling coverage of the Council’s summit in Brussels.

Look out for…

Theresa May will dine with EU heads of state tonight – before they discuss Brexit tomorrow, without her.

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