About: The Brief

Coronavirus 26-10-2020

The Brief, powered by ENTSO-E – There is a deeper wave than this

By Thursday, when EU leaders will hold their online summit to discuss the coronavirus situation, we could take a guess at how many of them will already be COVID-positive. The second wave, which was predicted but not averted, is sweeping through European societies and taking its toll.

The Brief, powered by ECPC – Disruptor in chief

In the past year, NATO member has been spending more money on defence again, after several rebukes from Washington. But not enough to please the current occupant of the White House. Just ahead of the autumn NATO defence ministers meeting,...
Politics 22-10-2020

The Brief, powered by ECPC – A huge waste of time

Daylight savings time finishes on Sunday, reminding us that not so long ago the EU planned to do away with the biannual clock change. But if the management of the pandemic is anything to go by, you can forget about that happening anytime soon.
Digital 21-10-2020

The Brief, powered by ECPC – When words become deeds

Europe has to break the social networks' hatred-based economic model, it has to implement efficient regulations that can dry up the revenue flows generated by the dissemination of hatred on the Internet. The savage assassination of Samuel Paty, who died for exercising his profession as a teacher, shows the extreme urgency of taking effective action. It shows words can become deeds.
Global Europe 20-10-2020

The Brief, powered by ECPC – Is Biden or Trump better for the EU?

The answer seems obvious. The election of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the US would be great news for the European Union, as it would hopefully herald a return to the “normal” in transatlantic relations, after a terrible...
Climate change 19-10-2020

The Brief, powered by ECPC – And the band played on

If you still haven’t seen ‘A life on our planet’, Sir David Attenborough’s latest (and quite possibly last, given his advanced age) documentary, please find the time to do so. It will give you pause, regardless of whether you are...
Climate change 15-10-2020

The Brief, powered by logos – Faltered carbon

EU leaders will talk climate policy at today’s Council summit, but the big moment will come at December’s meeting when they will likely agree on new emissions-busting measures. It is worth asking: is the EU fundamentally equipped to tackle climate breakdown?
Coronavirus 14-10-2020

The Brief, powered by logos – Back to square one?

The COVID-19 crisis is back at full speed, with a steady stream of incoming news about new risk areas and regions, new quarantine measures and curfews. We’ve been there, done that, but is there anything new in all of this?...
Politics 13-10-2020

The Brief, powered by logos – The watchdogs of democracy

European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová has called journalists “the watchdogs of democracy”. She was speaking at a conference dedicated to the media situation in Bulgariathe most problematic country in terms of media freedom in the EU.

The Brief, powered by logos – Have ID, can’t travel

“My policy is to be able to take a ticket at Victoria station and go anywhere I damn well please!” So said Britain’s post-war Foreign Secretary Ernie Bevin in 1951. Bevin, though not a Europhile, might well have been talking about freedom of movement across Europe, a cherished freedom currently on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Future EU 09-10-2020

The Brief, powered by CEN-CENELEC – The triumph of the jargon

Last night the European Parliament delegation walked out of talks on the EU budget. Although the main dispute is over MEPs’ demands for extra cash for some projects, lawmakers and some EU governments also insist that there must be a strong link between the rule of law and the disbursement of EU funds.
Climate change 08-10-2020

The Brief, powered by CEN-CENELEC – Clear and infectious danger

Europeans tend to devote too much headspace to following US politics and not enough bandwidth to what is going on over on this side of the Atlantic. But this time around, it pays to keep an eye out, as this White House race has an existential element to it.
Future EU 07-10-2020

The Brief, powered by CEN-CENELEC – We’re struggling too

Like so many institutions these days, the European Commission has taken its press conferences entirely online. While understanding the challenges this creates, we cannot help feeling that press relations seem to have generally started going downhill.
Future EU 06-10-2020

The Brief, powered by CEN-CENELEC – Against a Christian Europe

Tomorrow, the European Parliament is set to back Mairead McGuinness as Ireland’s new Commissioner responsible for financial services. However, during her hearing in the Economy Committee last week, MEPs failed to press the Parliament’s vice-president on perhaps the one thing...
Azerbaijan 05-10-2020

The Brief, powered by CEN-CENELEC – Sleepwalking into a Caucasus war?

War is disastrous. Even for the big nations. The US feels nothing but terrible regret for having embarked onto the Vietnam War, the former Soviet Union for its Afghanistan disaster. On European territory, we suffered the Yugoslav wars in the...
Agrifood 02-10-2020

The Brief – Clutching at straws: the low hanging fruit of pointless plastic

A ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds was welcomed in the UK yesterday, prompting praise as a win for the environment and a signal that the government means business when it comes to plastic. 

The Brief – Rule of law proxy war

The European Commission's rule of law assessment could increase the drive to tie the distribution of EU funds with adherence to rule of law. Yet under the surface of that discussion, a sinister storm is brewing that could threaten the EU's coronavirus recovery hopes.
Brexit 30-09-2020

The Brief – Don’t forget about the fish

A golden rule in politics is that the most belligerent rhetoric presages a climbdown. As lawmakers in Westminster passed a bill that would break the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, accompanied with the usual bellicose statements about ‘taking back control’,...
Economy & Jobs 28-09-2020

The Brief – Penny pinchers

Plans to ditch one- and two-cent euro coins have moved forward, as the Commission starts to crunch the numbers on new minting and pricing rules. Should the eurozone banish its two smallest denominations of currency?
Climate change 25-09-2020

The Brief, powered by ESA – China’s climate gift

EU climate diplomacy is mostly geared towards convincing big polluting countries to go green. This week, that partly paid off when China pledged to go carbon-neutral by 2060, which may even help Europe be more environmentally ambitious.

The Brief, powered by ESA – A dose of reality on migration, or kicking the can

The EU migration pact announced on Wednesday (24 September) may not be remotely close to the “entirely new architecture” promised by the von der Leyen Commission but at least it offered a dose of reality. Altruism, or that much abused...
Politics 23-09-2020

The Brief, powered by ESA – The undemocratic habit of the democratic game

The unwritten rule of 'cordon sanitaire' has struck again. One more time, the far-right was prevented from taking a key post in the European Parliament.
Global Europe 22-09-2020

The Brief, powered by ESA – Europe’s next Pandora’s Box

Deep divisions have long been threatening to turn the EU’s foreign policy into a toothless tiger. Nevertheless, abolishing the principle of unanimity is not necessarily the solution. With 27 players in one room, of course there are divisions, stemming from...
Politics 21-09-2020

The Brief, powered by ESA – Always look on the bright side of EUCO

The EU needs to be more courageous in its diplomacy, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in her first State of the Union speech a couple of days ago. Some said her lengthy speech was bold. Others complained that there was too much wishful thinking. Others remarked that foreign affairs are not exactly her remit.