This week, in Parliament Selmayr’s appointment provokes more squawking, reacting to Russian poisoning, Theresa May is not baulking, and the world says goodbye to the amazing Stephen Hawking.
The European Parliament was in Strasbourg this week, and the hottest topic of debate was Martin Selmayr’s unorthodox promotion last month – it’s the EU scandal that just keeps giving.
The European Parliament will debate #Selmayr ’s appointment as SG at the #EU Commission at a plenary next Monday – Selmayr’s surprise appointment 2 weeks ago caused a backlash in #Brussels @Europarl_EN @EU_Commission https://t.co/R0pLb2fjR3
— Stavros Papagianneas (@StPapagianneas) March 7, 2018
As spoof account Martini Seltzermayr put it, one does not simply walk into the post of secretary general.
Human Resources Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said all procedures for Selmayr’s promotion were followed. But several MEPs weren’t buying it.
Bart Staes said the appointment “smells from a mile away.”
Everyone knows the appointment of #Selmayr smells from a mile away. It was handled in a time-frame worthy of a world record and the procedure was anything but transparent. Furthermore, the appointment to Secretary-General wasn’t announced or put on the agenda. pic.twitter.com/xbmHZJ1gPL
— Bart Staes (@BartStaes) March 12, 2018
Jan Zahradhil said it must have been a personal favour to Jean-Claude Juncker so his political legacy can outlive his time in the Commission.
'It's clear that #Selmayr's appointment was done as a personal favour to @JunckerEU who wants his political legacy to survive his departure from @EU_Commission.' @ZahradilJan #SelmayrGate #EPlenary pic.twitter.com/bYv4zeOLYt
— ECR Group (@ecrgroup) March 13, 2018
Dutch MEP Sophie in‘t Veld eviscerated Oettinger, saying #SelmayrGate destroys the EU’s credibility as a champion of integrity and transparency.
WATCH THIS: Dutch Liberal MEP @SophieintVeld severely reprimands @JunckerEU Commission "#SelmayrGate destroys all the credibility of the EU as a champion of integrity and transparency in public administration, at times when public trust in the EU is low, this is devastating" pic.twitter.com/aGhLjIZrQl
— James Holland (@James7Holland) March 13, 2018
Guy Verhofstadt said if the Juncker Commission isn’t careful, it could end up like the Santer Commission, which was forced to resign en masse in 1999.
If the Juncker Commission is not careful, it will have the same fate as the Santer Commission. #Selmayrgate
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) March 12, 2018
But he also pointed out that Selmayr has done something no one has managed before: united the entire Parliament, left and right.
"Your former head of cabinet yesterday has done something no one has done before in this parliament – to unite this whole parliament, the left and the right," @guyverhofstadt tells @JunckerEU on #Selmayrgate furore.
— Jim Brunsden (@jimbrunsden) March 13, 2018
Other items on the Plenary agenda included breaches of human rights, corporate tax, EU budget 2019, the situation in Syria, and OF COURSE! Brexit. The Parliament approved a resolution for future EU-UK relations post-Brexit saying any such framework must respect the integrity of the EU single market and the four freedoms.
Today we have sent a clear message on the future EU-UK relations – any agreement must seek to secure equal and fair treatment for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU #EPlenary #Brexit pic.twitter.com/aXRHGyd0FJ
— Eva Maydell(Paunova) (@EvaMaydell) March 14, 2018
Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans was also in Strasbourg. Where he took a strong stand against those responsible for the poisoning in Salisbury in England of a former Russian spy and his daughter.
“The UK must see very clearly that there is unequivocal, unwavering and very strong European solidarity with the British people and the British Government,” said Timmermans.”
Those who are responsible for the #nervegas attack in #Salisbury in the #UK must see very clearly that there is unequivocal, unwavering and very strong European solidarity with the British people and the British Government.@theresa_may @EU_Commission @EUCouncil @Europarl_EN pic.twitter.com/lCqQmgjt7y
— Frans Timmermans (@TimmermansEU) March 13, 2018
Theresa May’s response was to kick 23 Russian diplomats out of the UK on Wednesday.
The UK will expel 23 Russian diplomats from the country after concluding that the Russian state is responsible for the attempted murder of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on March 4th.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 14, 2018
And you’ll never guess what happened next… Russia decided to kick out UK diplomats.
Russia to expel UK diplomats as feud over spy attack escalates https://t.co/9VWZBWTda9
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) March 15, 2018
Is this another Cold War? Many people on Twitter certainly think so.
White House backs UK in Russia crisis as Cold War Two looms over Salisbury poisoning https://t.co/IJsUQONmwh
— Metro (@MetroUK) March 15, 2018
With everything going on between the UK and Russia right now, it looks like we're about to start Cold War 2: The Coldening
— Kenny Judge (@KennyJudge12) March 14, 2018
However, Russia sympathisers were quick to blame anyone but Russia for the attack, including MI6, the CIA, and even the EU.
The British authorities
Rogue agents (or "rouge", per Sputnik)
The EU (per UKIP High Wycombe)
— Ben Nimmo (@benimmo) March 14, 2018
Although news that British ministers and the Royal family will not attend World Cup in Russia this summer probably didn’t bother Putin.
— Ali (@Ali_Givenchy) March 14, 2018
Rory Byrne suggested that sending all the boozed-up England football fans there might be an appropriate retaliation.
— Rory Byrne (@roryireland) March 14, 2018
Klaas Meijer thought maybe the Dutch football team could boycott the… Oh wait…
— Klaas Meijer (@klaasm67) March 15, 2018
England reveal new kit for Russian World Cup: pic.twitter.com/2FFP9Q6Y96
— Have I Got News For You (@haveigotnews) March 9, 2018
Remember, this is the correct response if Putin offers you tea.
As if anyone still needs reminding, this is the correct response when I offer you tea. pic.twitter.com/eb5gZD9da5
— Darth Putin (@DarthPutinKGB) March 7, 2018
Finally, legendary physicist Stephen Hawking died on Wednesday.
Stephen Hawking, best-known theoretical physicist of his time, has died at 76. https://t.co/Aqkz63tIPQ
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 14, 2018
Warren Leight pointed out that Hawking was born on the anniversary of Galileo’s death and died on Einstein’s birthday. Time is circular, he said.
Stephen Hawking was born January 8, 1942, on the 300th anniversary of Galileo's death. He died today, March 14th, on the anniversary of Einstein's birth. Time is circular – no beginning, no end.
— Warren Leight (@warrenleightTV) March 14, 2018
Hawking also died on Pi Day, so he is now infinite, according to Shower Thoughts.
Stephen Hawking passed away on March 14th. 3.14. He is now infinite.
— Shower Thoughts (@TheWeirdWorld) March 14, 2018
In addition to his genius, he also had “a sense of humor as vast as the universe.”
— Al Jean (@AlJean) March 14, 2018
Here he is larking about with actor Jim Carey.
Share this lovely picture of Stephen Hawking meeting American comic Jim Carey ??? so much coming out today pic.twitter.com/XnEQqvAIVr
— JG ? (@FABSITEUK) March 14, 2018
David Plotz remembered that in 2009 Hawking threw a party for time travelers and no one showed up.
— David Plotz (@davidplotz) March 14, 2018
This week we are supported by ACCA. Join them on 27 March to talk about fintech, blockchain and ICOs.
Join us on 27 March at event on #Fintech, #Blockchain & Initial Coin offering (ICO): adapting to the changing landscape. If you’re interested – hurry up, there are not many seats left! https://t.co/YLwtjZwdEZ
— ACCA Views (@ACCAViews) March 15, 2018
That’s it for this week, join me again next week for more wittiness and one-liners in the Brussels Bubble Twittersphere, or join me in real life at Apero for Repeal #Repeal8Bxl next Tuesday in Grand Central. Keep following using the hashtag #EUTweets.