The Brief: Peace in our time?

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Peace in our time?

An unlikely peace broke out in Brussels today. The scent of cordite and gunsmoke cleared. The snarling dogs of war were slipped back on their leashes.

Has Donald Trump – a vocal and enthusiastic cheerleader of Brexit and the dissolution of the EU – buried the hatchet with the bloc?

Could it be that Jean-Claude Juncker’s threat to back an independent Texas and Ohio has forced the flamboyant, ludicrously coiffured billionaire to crumble?

How long before Juncker is planting a big wet kiss on the forehead of the chastened leader of the free world?

The Financial Times’ interview with possibly the most dangerous man in the planet reveals that German Chancellor Angela Merkel worked her magic on Trump.

“I had a great meeting with Chancellor Merkel,” he said, despite the visit being one of the most visibly awkward between two leaders in recent memory – at least until Trump’s next meeting with a head of state.

“I really think the European Union is getting their act together,” Trump confided, as pigs flew over the White House.

“We have come to the same conclusion, a bit earlier, ourselves,” the Commission grinned at the midday briefing, pleased its genius was finally being recognised.

But this surprising praise must be tempered with a cold dose of reality.

Donald Trump thinks the EU is doing well. Things must be far worse than we thought.

Britain is probably not going to go to war with Spain over Gibraltar though. Even if one former Conservative leader fell into that oh-so British trap of thinking no one in Europe can hear or read what he says.

Asked whether it was backing Spain or the UK in the coming conflagration, the Commission said it preferred dialogue and cooperation to armed conflict.

But it also said it backed the draft Brexit negotiating guidelines, which hand Spain a veto on Gibraltar’s divorce deal, “100%”.

So that’s Spain then.

THE ROUNDUP

About ten people were killed in explosions on the St Petersburg metro. Here is the Moscow Times’ live blog on what could be terrorist attacks.

Portugal’s left-wing government has stunned its critics by increasing wages while recording the lowest budget deficit in the country’s history.

Fake news is increasing Euroscepticism in Romania, where the media landscape is dominated by just five companies.

Thousands took to the streets in Budapest to protest PM Viktor Orbán’s attempts to shut a university founded by billionaire George Soros. The strongman’s critics accuse him of stifling independent education.

Meanwhile, Orbán has called for Brussels to ramp up its accession talks with the Western Balkan candidate countries, to ensure the region does not succumb to Russian and Turkish influence.

Albania’s foreign minister told EURACTIV’s Georgi Gotev that political crises in the Balkans are part and parcel of the modernisation and EU accession process.

108 million people, mainly in South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria, are at risk of famine, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s deputy director-general. This assessment came as Italy finalised a deal with Libyan tribal leaders to curb migration from Africa.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic won his country’s presidential election by a landslide yesterday. His victory is seen as an endorsement of his efforts to steer a tricky path between the EU and Russia.

Poland today pressed charges against Russian air traffic controllers for deliberately bringing down a plane carrying President Lech Kaczynski in 2010. Kaczynski’s twin brother is the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party.

Lithuania has warned that Russia could launch an attack on the Baltic States with just 24 hours’ notice, leaving NATO unable to respond. The Kremlin dismissed the concerns as “Russophobia”.

Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Israel today agreed to build the world’s longest undersea gas pipeline, which they hope will cut the EU’s dependence on Russian gas.

Europe’s churches believe the EU makes a major contribution to world peace and have warned against the disintegration of the bloc.

Scotland must keep its doors open to migrants post-Brexit, or risk losing a vital pillar of its economy, Edinburgh has warned. The SNP has urged the Leave campaign not to break its promise to give Scotland powers over migration.

Samuel White contributed to this Brief. 

LOOK OUT FOR…

The EU’s Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region, co-chaired with the United Nations and with the governments of Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar and the United Kingdom. It begins tomorrow.

Views are the author’s. 

 

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