The Brief – Eurocrat XI

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter [Photo: UEFA]

The European Parliament has teamed up with the world of football in an effort to get us all out to vote in May and it’s not a bad idea. But how would the EU officials we know and love fare on the pitch if asked to pull on a pair of boots?

The alliance between the Parliament and FIFPro Europe is meant to showcase how footballers are role models, as the EU assembly covets the highly-valued and often elusive youth vote.

It makes sense too. If the EU institutions can get superstars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Kylian Mbappé on board, the campaign could actually live up to its ‘this time I’m voting’ tagline. Silvio Berlusconi built an entire political career by using the language of calcio after all.

But what if the roles were reversed and EU officials had to take to the field. Here’s our Eurocrat XI.

GK. Phil Hogan – Every serious team needs a big man between the sticks and none come bigger than the Irish agri-boss. A safe pair of hands.

LB. Claude Turmes – Pulled out of retirement, the Parliament’s ‘Mr Energy’ and climate action warrior is at home on the leftwing. A strict yoga regime has kept him mobile.

CB. Margrethe Vestager – The Dane has shielded Europe from tech giants and even held out world champions France and Germany by refusing to sign off on the Alstom-Siemens merger.

CB. Frans Timmermans – Juncker’s rule of law paladin. Normally on the frontlines of defence, whether it’s sketchy judicial reviews or fighting single-use plastics.

RB. Emily O’Reilly – The EU ombudsman. Nothing escapes her watch, not even controversial appointments at the very top of the Brussels machine (more on that further down…).

LM. Dominique Ristori – Seemingly everywhere in Brussels, the Commission’s top energy official is an experienced ever-present fixture in the midfield.

CM. Martin Schulz – Brings real-world experience of the game to the team but his political kudos has taken a bashing lately. Turfed out of the Parliament presidency as part of the grand bargain with the EPP, he also oversaw the German socialists’ dismal showing in last year’s elections.

CM. Michel Barnier – The playmaker, the false nine when needed. Beckenbauer-esque. Keeps the team together. A nailed-on choice for captain.

RM. Mairead McGuinness – A no-nonsense MEP that will harry the opposition when needed. Just check out what she did away from home on UK television last year. A big-game player.

LF. Federica Mogherini – The stereotypical Italian striker, appears to do very little for most of the game but will pounce when least expected. Particularly deadly when through on an open goal. The Pippo Inzaghi of the team.

RF. Donald Tusk – Vicious on the attack (if you believe the snowflake Brexiteers). Also fit enough to sprint back to help out in defence.

The Bench

RF. Alexander Stubb – Rangy attacker but lacks the staying power to last the entire match. Makes a difference when he comes on though.

CB. Mario Draghi – Does ‘whatever it takes‘ to stop the opposition. A red card risk as a result, so should only be deployed when drastic measures are needed.

CM. Christine Lagarde – The classy marquee signing from last season. Excelled in the Swiss and US leagues but hasn’t seen any game time yet.

Manager. Jean-Claude Juncker – A back injury curtailed his playing career early, but ‘the Gaffer’ doesn’t stand any nonsense. After-match press conference always makes the Match of the Day highlights reel.

Coach. Martin Selmayr – Think Jose Mourinho under Sir Bobby Robson at Barcelona. Ostensibly just the big man’s interpreter; we all know he was so much more. And look at him now, hosting his own show on Russian TV

If you think you can pick a better Eurosquad, let us know on Twitter or in the comments below!

The Roundup

They took their time but they managed it: EU negotiators finally sealed a deal on copyright reform. No-deal Brexit won’t mean special measures for data flows though, according to newly published documents.

NATO is preparing for life after the INF. Trump ditched the Cold War-era nuclear arms treaty after Russia allegedly ignored its provisions.

The European Commission and the EU farmers association (Copa Cogeca) both dismissed a report conducted by Greenpeace as groundless and simplistic. The report argued that animal farming in Europe was using too much agricultural land.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament and member states have reached an agreement to set up a new European Labour Authority (ELA) to protect workers’ rights and launch cross-border investigations in case of potential abuses.

The European Parliament approved on Thursday (14 February) the proposal to screen foreign investment at EU level, clearing the path for closer monitoring of third country companies willing to invest in EU’s critical sectors.

MEPs have signed off on the EU’s fisheries deal with Morocco, marking a win for the north African country’s lobbying efforts. New EU rules mean controversial pulse fishing will be banned from 2021.

Regional funding should not be linked with economic reform obligations, according to EU lawmakers. Emmanuel Macron kicked off a new Franco-German plan to boost the domestic battery industry.

Check  out our latest Over A Coffee interview, this time with Greens Spitzenkandidaten Bas Eickhout and Ska Keller.

Look out for….

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo comes to Brussels.

Views are the author’s

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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