The Brief: More coin-tossing, please

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

Yesterday the Council agreed to send the EU’s Medicines Agency to Amsterdam and its Banking Authority to Paris. The results were hardly a shock but the process was an eye-opener.

Both decisions went to a nail-biting lucky dip finish, with the winning names drawn out of a hat after three inconclusive rounds of voting. Amsterdam pipped Milan for the EMA and Dublin was out of luck as Paris took the EBA.

To see so much hard work whisked away by the hands of fate was more than some could stomach. Italy’s EU Affairs Minister Sandro Gozi likened it to “losing a final on penalties”. A feeling Italian football fans will be only too familiar with.

The three-round vote and tie-break procedure was agreed long before yesterday’s fateful General Affairs Council. When asked by journalists a week ago whether EU countries would accept the result of a coin-toss, Estonian Presidency sources just shrugged and said they’d had no complaints so far.

But a week ago it wasn’t an issue: nobody expected a tie-break at all, let alone for both agencies. So is tossing a coin really an appropriate way to make decisions with potentially massive ramifications?

At first glance, the answer is clearly no. Imagine if complex and controversial issues like the renewal of the glyphosate licence, the rule of law procedure against Poland or corporate tax rates hinged on the fall of a euro coin. It would be ridiculous.

Or would it? After all, the Council made two major decisions in one afternoon, despite a lack of consensus.

Maybe the threat of the coin-toss is what is needed to make all EU law-making a bit snappier.

For binary decisions like the EMA and EBA relocation it is a brutal but effective method.

And when member states are next battling over whether to ban glyphosate outright, renew it for a limited period or give it the full green light, the sight of Commissioner Andriukaitis reaching for the nearest euro coin should be enough to get them out of their trenches to work on an acceptable compromise.

It may be an unrefined last resort, but the merest possibility of a decision by coin-toss should mean it is never needed: the fear of a chance outcome is the surest way to discover common ground.

EURACTIV and Ogilvy&Social.Lab look forward to welcoming you to their event on social media “Social is the new black. But do you know how to wear it in Brussels?” on November 29 at EURACTIV. More information and registration.

The Roundup

Paris celebrates its victory, which brings it one step closer to becoming Europe’s financial centre. But Lille, which lost out the EMA to Amsterdam, has its gripes.

Germany may go to the polls again, Merkel says, as coalition talks collapse and the EU scratches its head. #JamaicaAbbruch, everyone.

The EU’s renewable targets post 2020 are not only unambitious: they could actually cost us more than going wholesale, new report finds.

Africa climbed high up on the EU agenda and MEPs proposed a wholesale review of the relations between the two continents after a “cash flow” approach failed. EURACTIV Germany has this story.

As Zimbabwean MPs begin impeachment proceedings against long-standing leader Mugabe, Shada Islam thinks Africa needs inspirational leaders, not old autocrats.

The EU Commission launches an action plan to close the gender gap – but Brussels Binder warns that the rise of the far-right is rolling back gender equality.

How is the EU doing on its sustainable development agenda? EUROSTAT has the figures, and they show a mixed picture.

After CETA entered into force, and MERCOSUR talks are pushing for a deal despite a beef-related spat, the EU’s trade-chief Cecilia Malmström plans to pencil off a trade agreement with Japan by end 2017.

The Commission doesn’t think smoking is sexy and it praises France’s initiative to deglamourise smoking by banning it from movies. Goodbye Jean Paul Belmondo, Alain Delon and Catherine Deneuve – those days are gone.

Brussels expats will be happy to know that MEPs mandated that broadcasters must share news content online across the bloc. But no movies or TV series yet.

And if you live in Belgium, you probably get your Amazon parcels from France, or the UK, at additional costs. Well, no more- as MEPs rule that e-commerce businesses sell accross the bloc.

WhileTrump calls the media “the enemy of the people”, the EU seeks to tackle ‘real’ fake news. Read our interview with Michał Boni, former Polish digital minister.

A fridge that shows you when milk expires, a self-driving car and a door lock that recognises you- smart homes are the hottest trend in tech, but they are still a mirage- writes Paige Leuschner.

Micro plastics, macro problem: soda bottles and cans stranded in beaches, and pictures of seagulls chocked on plastic caps are the visible part of the problem. But plastic pollution is an invisible enemy that needs tackling now,writes Jocelyn Blériot.

Europe is losing a generation to unemployment, for its inability to tackle job growth. The solution? More vocational training, partnering schools with businesses, and mainstream entrepreneurial skills- according to Stefan Crets.

Tax are not a fun topic. The EU launched Taxlandia, an online game where you’re supposed to sedate a “tax rebellion” -nice try, very informative – still not fun though.

Look out for:

Tomorrow is the ‘autumn package’: Commission Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen will announce their assessment of every member state’s national budget. Austria, Germany and Spain have still not submitted draft budgets to the Commission.

Views are the author’s

Subscribe to the Brief