Tweets of the week: #PESCO, Social summit, and Parliament plenary

Welcome to EU Tweets of the Week. This week PESCO news dominates the bubble, we need a Social Pillar on the double, rule of law in Poland reduced to rubble and refugees in Greece face winter trouble.

#PESCO was THE trending hashtag in EU circles this week as 23 member states signed a joint notification on Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence.

Federica Mogherini said it was a “historic step” for EU defence after 23 Member States notified a joint decision to start Permanent Structured Cooperation.

Martin Selmayr – yes the real one, not the parody account we are so fond of here at Tweets of the Week – said “She is awake! Juncker’s “sleeping beauty” PESCO is the first step towards a European Defence Union within NATO”.

Juncker argued for the defence arrangement during his election campaign. Now, three years later it is becoming a reality, said the Commission.

But not everyone was happy. Legions of pro-Brexit supporters took to Twitter to warn that it was an EU Army in disguise.

However Captain Europe reckons Brexiteers, along with Putin and Trump, are among those to thank for “making the unthinkable a reality” and relaunching the long stalled Europe of Defense.

Next up, the European Social Summit 2017 is taking place today, with the news that the Proclamation of the European Social Pillar will be officially signed.

MEP Maria João Rodrigues, on her way to the summit, was delighted. “After years working on this as parliament rapporteur, I’m really excited to participate in such a historical moment for the EU project! This is just the beginning!” she said.

Journalist Ahinara Bascuñana – who also posted the seemingly obligatory airplane window shot – added that the Proclamation must be followed by concrete actions and cold hard cash.

Social Affairs Commissioner Marianne Thyssen agreed that “words are not enough – they need to be translated into real action at all levels!”

Jeroen Jutte‏ shared some good news figures: in 2016 severe material deprivation went down in 23 out of 28 member states he said.

Finally, Ester Asin from Save the Children said EU leaders must protect children from poverty, and give them the best start in life to ensure they reach their potential – whether they want to grow up to be a footballer or an EU Commissioner…er, not quite the same thing!

Finally it’s a Parliament Plenary week so all the action was in Strasbourg. Topping the agenda was rule of law in Poland. Closely followed by rule of law in Malta!

Sophie in’t Veld called for action to protect democracy and fundamental rights saying a broad independent mechanism is needed that applies to all the Member States.

Guy Verhofstadt said it is not the Polish people that are anti-EU, it’s their government. According to Pew Research, the Poles have the most favourable view of the EU, with 74% support.

MEPs also called for close monitoring of Malta’s rule of law and criticised insufficient action on money laundering. They also want Europol to be involved in the investigation of the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

And speaking of money laundering… Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told the plenary that he wants EU Member States to adopt the EU list of tax havens in December, as well as the the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base asap.

MEPs of all hues and persuasions took to the floor to condemn the scale of tax avoidance revealed by the Paradise Papers scandal.

Finally, Winter is Coming. No, not Game of Thrones, but the far more serious humanitarian crisis that could unfold on Europe’s southern shores.

“Winter is just around the corner and the conditions on the islands in Greece are untenable,” said Tanja Fajon. “Refugees are stranded. The next months can be fatal in particular for the most vulnerable, children and women.”

Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos‏ said the Commission has been proactive in supporting frontline Member States. But “collective preparedness has to be structural, because there is a winter every year.”

But Gabi Zimmer wants to see more action: “We must ensure warm accommodation of  asylum seekers for the winter,” she said, calling on the Commission and the Council to “find a quick solution.”

And last, but not least, some good news, congratulations to Swedish/Danish/Norwegian co-production Sámi Blood by Swedish director Amanda Kernell for winning the European Parliament’s answer to the Oscars – the Lux film Prize.