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For someone who saw Perestroika unfold in Eastern Europe, I often experience a sense of déjà-vu following European affairs in Brussels.

Perestroika means constructing something new with old material and this is precisely what the plans for the future EU are all about.

When Gorbachev set the Perestroika in motion he had in mind a result completely different to the one that was achieved. But his big contribution was that he let the genie out of the bottle.

For millions of Europeans the result was actually very good, and it wasn’t bad for the Russians either. Eastern Europeans today live better than in almost any other time in their history, and the same is true for Russians.

Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, aka ‘the Visegrad Four’, are in many cases branded the troublemakers at EU-level. But it was exactly the same under communism.

‘Czechoslovaks’ were the most sceptical, the Poles the most revolutionary and the Hungarians the most unpredictable.  

The Moscow of today is Brussels and Marxism-Leninism is now the often-excessive phenomenon of political correctness, which threatens to alienate almost everyone, except perhaps the contemporary nomenklatura who work with or for the EU institutions.

Today’s EU is often associated with hypocrisy, as was the Soviet Empire. Before, citizens listened to Radio Free Europe, which delivered a very different message. Ironically, today many Europeans read Sputnik or watch RT.

Macron has been called a “godsend” and I think there was a similar feeling about Gorbachev. The status quo is embodied by Merkel, who represents the old Politburo with whom Gorbachev had to co-exist.

Macron wants to reshape the EU completely, via a democratic revival  – conventions for the future of EU. In the case of Poland, he said that if the Polish authorities are not interested, Polish students can take the lead.

He also wants to completely reshape the EU and have a strong eurozone nucleus with its own budget, which would perhaps be bigger than the EU budget, relegating the non-eurozone members to the status of EU neighbourhood.

Merkel is not supportive and, since his State of the Union speech, Juncker is siding with her.

We will see if Macron will succeed. In any case, he really has let the cat out of the bag. His project may not work but last time around, Perestroika ended up being a success precisely because it wasn’t successful.

This Brief is powered by Eni – Europe is reinvigorating its push to support the Paris climate agreement at a time when it has never been more under threat. If it wants to be successful, the EU must be coherent: Ending subsidies to polluting power plants by setting a 550g/kwh CO2 emissions limit in the capacity remuneration mechanisms means leading by example.

The Roundup

Joining the EU is a marathon, not a sprint: read our interview with Serbian PM Ana Brnabic.

Juncker tells May to play by the rules and not seek to negotiate Brexit with EU leaders.

Thou shall not burn coal”: forty Catholic institutions pull out from fossil fuels on St Francis of Assisi’s day. Hallelujah.

The EU offers Poland large coal bonanza under a reformed carbon trading scheme – a move that waters down the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Polish president Duda warns against “breaking up the fragile European Unity” – a warning against EU sanctions on its justice reform?

Eat your five a day – but at your own risk: one out of three pieces of fruit consumed in the EU is contaminated with endocrine disrupting pesticides, new report reveals.

MEPs call for a boycott of the “weak, incomplete and superficial” definition of endocrine disruptors proposed by the Commission, one day ahead of the vote.

The Commission’s hesitance to take a position on new plant breeding techniques (which some say should be regulated as GMOs) leaves the matter in the hands of EU judges, raising concerns among farmers of a “political decision”.

MEPs voted to cap prices for international calls, and turned down the Commission’s co-investment plan for telecom infrastructure.

Look out for…

The European Parliament debates the Catalan independence issue after Carles Puidgemont called for international mediation of the stand-off with Spain.

Views are the author’s

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