The Brief: EPP should relish revenge on rivals

The Brief is's evening newsletter.


Let us all take a moment, come together, and fervently pray that reports of the death of the Grand Coalition have not been exaggerated.

Antonio Tajani’s election as European Parliament president was preceded by the gaping schism that opened between two incestuous bedfellows – the European People’s Party and the Socialists and Democrats.

The S&D decided their leader, Gianni Pittella, was going to have a crack at succeeding Martin Schulz. The EPP accused their bosom pals of betraying a backroom deal that promised them it was their turn to lead the Parliament.

Incredibly, the EPP saw no contradiction between a democratic election and their shoddy pre-nuptial contract.

Anyway, dust settled, Tajani, in his uniquely boring way, stood victorious. His triumph was partly thanks to ALDE’s chameleonic Guy Verhofstadt, who slipped between the EPP sheets while the S&D was playing the field.

There is speculation about what all this means for the presidents of the other EU institutions, both of whom are EPP.

Under the old gentleman’s agreement, no single European party could head the Commission, Parliament and Council at once.

This would normally spell the end for European Council President Donald Tusk. The new Polish government doesn’t like him and his term is up for renewal.

Under the old rules of the game, a Socialist would have to be found. But the S&D group has played its cards and lost.

If this truly is the death of the Grand Coalition, the EPP should keep a firm grip on its full house of presidents.

They won them fair and square and owe the Socialists nothing. It’s time to plunge the sword in right up to the hilt.

After all, what’s the point in being a right-wing politician if you can’t indulge in naked ambition, realpolitik and revenge?

STOP PRESS: Don’t miss this open letter from Belgian ECR MEP Sander Loones. He rages at the EPP and ALDE in very entertaining fashion, including this on the Grand Coalition, “if it were a recipe, it would be no more than a mixture of schnitzel and ice cream”. Top marks, Mr Loones!


It’s the clash of the titans and the gloves are off. Two European political heavyweights clashed like rutting stags in the Swiss snow of Davos. It was a bit like that scene in Women in Love but with Mark Rutte and Martin Schulz talking about the future of Europe.

Amid the crackling tension between the big beasts, Schulz was heard to insist, “I am not a romantic but a German”.

Theresa May was also in Davos, making her pitch for a global Britain. We heard it went down like a lead balloon. Check out Berco’s Brexit plan cartoon.

Goldman Sachs is plotting to slash its London staff and move them to Frankfurt after Brexit.

Scotland’s Europe minister said her country faced becoming Brexit collateral damage. She added, “Scotland has been collateral damage for 300 years”, which is how long it has been part of the UK.

MEPs want the European Commission to require national minimum wage laws from all member states. Right now, only 22 countries have a minimum wage. The Parliament report also demands “decent working conditions” for all jobs, including precarious gigs in the app economy. For more on this, check EURACTIV soon, this opinion piece and this old Brief.

Germany’s defence minister is boosting its military budget after coming under fire from Donald Trump for not meeting NATO spending goals. But there is a sting in the tail…they’ve asked him for a consistent foreign policy plan.

Meanwhile, Germany’s SPD has claimed that the EU can back Greece without the IMF’s help. What have they been smoking? Perhaps some medicinal marijuana?

The Commission has also insisted that Greece privatises its majority stake in a gas grid operator and Luxembourg is telling the EU to take its obligation to refugees seriously.

Spare a thought for MEP Sajjad Karim, who today endured an extremely awkward ride in a lift.


Donald Trump is going to be inaugurated as the president of the United States tomorrow. Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley will perform. NASA issued a global warming warning before the ceremony but Trump probably isn’t listening. Folks, it is really happening. It is looking more and more like we are not going to wake up.

Views are the author’s. 


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