POLITICO Brussels Playbook, presented by Google: Schulz sizes up Germany — Trump implodes — Lithuania in focus
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WHERE TO NEXT FOR MARTIN SCHULZ? HE HAS A SEAT RESERVED ON THE BERLIN EXPRESS: The moment the European People’s Party (EPP) puts forward a candidate for the European Parliament presidency, Martin Schulz’s chances of hanging on to the job will all but disappear. The EPP plans to fix its candidate in early December. That explains why Schulz has been pursuing all possible German options. His alternatives — to stay in Brussels and serve as a committee chair (there might be some British seats coming vacant) or, worse, on the back benches — are unappealing.
What are Schulz’s German options? If he manages to dislodge Sigmar Gabriel as chair of the Social Democrats (SPD), that will make him the center-left candidate to replace Angela Merkel as Germany’s chancellor. While he would still likely fail in his bid for the top job given the current basement-level poll results of the SPD, he could put the SPD close to 30 percent of the vote, as opposed to the 20 percent expected of Gabriel. In such a scenario Schulz could be well-placed to replace Gabriel as Germany’s vice-chancellor. But given the lack of enthusiasm for a new grand coalition government between the CDU and SPD, another possibility is Schulz could become the official opposition leader in the Bundestag.
The Schulz upshot: He’s probably leaving Brussels, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing for him.
Lisa Caspari interviews Schulz in Die Zeit: http://bit.ly/2dGtIaI
What Schulz said: “The successes of the social democracy have always been nationalized. We have a national strike right, national trade unions. But the capital side has long been internationalized.”
What he meant: I wish more people listened to me in Europe. But I see I’ll have better luck at home.
What he said: “For most people €1,000 are really a lot of money. If we do not begin to make people feel that our thinking starts at €1,000, they will not allow us to talk about the billions in the long run.”
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MORE ON DONALD TUSK’S JOB PROSPECTS: Playbook last week concluded Donald Tusk will likely keep his job as European Council president despite pressure from the Polish government. Diplomats from several of the bigger EU governments have told POLITICO more about why that’s so. They want a reasonably weak Council leader who can’t challenge them on policy or politics in their 2017 election campaigns, and they think Tusk performs that role. To make sure, they prefer to stay silent and not offer Tusk any public support at the moment, so that he can’t rock the boat for fear of losing his job. Fundamentally, however, Chancellor Merkel is one leader who needs Tusk as a link to the disruptive Central and Eastern European governments.
EUROGROUP — GREECE GETS LESS BAILOUT MONEY THAN EXPECTED: The Greek government has only managed to secure €1.1 billion from eurozone finance ministers, who want more data before releasing the rest of the €2.8 billion by the end of October. “The finance ministers’ decision nonetheless moves the tortuous Greek bailout process forward, if only an incremental step,” report Bjarke Smith-Meyer and David M. Herszenhorn: http://politi.co/2e0FKza
PARLIAMENT TOP SYRIZA MEP EXPLAINS WHY DEBT IS NOT JUST A GREEK PROBLEM: Dimitris Papadimoulis, vice president of the European Parliament and leader of the Syriza delegation, believes debt is a bigger problem than it appears. “Big European economies — including Italy, France and Spain — face serious burdens in paying their debt. In 2016, the average debt-to-GDP ratio for all three countries reached a barely sustainable 109 percent. Meanwhile, the eurozone’s average growth rate has remained stubbornly below 2 percent — dragged down by the general financial environment.” His full opinion piece here: http://politi.co/2e0v8jx
COUNCIL — EU UNITY ON LIBYA AT RISK: European governments’ push to cooperate more effectively on defense and security is brand new, and it’s already being tested in Libya, where France is accused of playing a double game in an ongoing conflict that has exposed divisions within the bloc, Jacopo Barigazzi reports. http://politi.co/2dXqaj1
COUNCIL DELIVERS SOMETHING FISHY: A Baltic cod fishing deal, to be precise. The eight EU countries in the Baltic Sea Fisheries Forum agreed to reduce next year’s cod fishing quotas by 55 percent. The agreement will now be presented to the European Commission and voted on in the Council. Jakob Hanke for Agriculture and Food Pros: http://politi.co/2elfa2x
COMMISSION — EU PROSECUTOR COULD BE UP AND RUNNING 2018, SAYS JOUROVÁ: The European Commission wants a new legal weapon against cross-border criminal activity. Negotiations have been going on for three years but should be completed in the coming “three decisive months,” said Europe’s Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová. Harry Cooper and Maïa de la Baume: http://politi.co/2dg1fsR
COMMITTEE OF REGIONS PLENARY — TODAY AND TOMORROW: A key debate will be around how to develop the “social pillar” of EU legislation. The plenary session will be live-streamed from 3 p.m. Brussels time: http://bit.ly/2dGQi6D
EUROPEAN WEEK OF REGIONS AND CITIES: 5,000 people have descended on Brussels for several days of workshops on how to make effective use of EU subsidies to develop the Continent’s poorer regions. Follow the debates via the tag #EUWRC. http://bit.ly/2e1injk
ARE YOU A ‘REGIOSTAR?’ — BY THE END OF TODAY FIVE PEOPLE WILL BE: It’s a prize given out to people who make good use of EU subsidies. WATCH: http://bit.ly/2e0u2Es
TODAY IN PARLIAMENT …
Dieselgate: MEPs continue grilling emissions experts from Germany, Luxembourg, France and the Netherlands. Ségolene Royal has now agreed to appear before the committee at a future hearing.
Sakharov Prize: MEPs will vote for the winner of the prize that celebrates freedom of thought. Nominees here: http://bit.ly/2dg0KPz
Saudi Arabia: MEPs will meet with Mohammed al-Jefri, deputy speaker of the Shura Council of Saudi Arabia.
COMMISSIONER ON TOUR: Commissioner Julian King will visit Eurojust in the Hague to learn about its fight against terrorism, illegal immigrants, smuggling, and cybercrime.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE — HOLLANDE TOPS VIP KEYNOTE LIST: French President François Hollande, German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu are due to address the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Murad won the fourth Václav Havel Human Rights Prize on Monday. http://bit.ly/2e0sUkn
SAVE THE DATES — EUROPEAN PARTY CONGRESSES …
— Socialists’ ‘Together’ conference is October 19, in Brussels, register here.
— ALDE (Liberal) conference is December 1-3, in Warsaw, register here.
— EPP congress will take place in March 2017 in Malta.
ECONOMICS NOBEL PRIZE AWARDED: British-born Oliver Hart and Finland’s Bengt Holmström won on Monday for work that addresses a host of questions from how best to reward executives to whether schools and prisons should be privately owned. http://reut.rs/2dPGlQ9
BREXIT CORNER …
Britain’s Brexit delusions: Paul Taylor makes his debut as a regular POLITICO columnist, arguing: “Unable to resolve the contradiction between single market access and controlling immigration, [Theresa] May and her ministers are denying that they face any such choice … Last week’s strong statements by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande showed just how deluded that idea is.” http://politi.co/2dEYDFy
‘Hard Brexit’ could cost £66 billion a year: May and some of her ministers might not want to come to terms with reality, but reality is coming at them like a freight train, according to a cabinet committee paper seen by the Times. The paper indicates the U.K. Treasury could lose up to £66 billion a year in tax revenues if Britain makes a so-called “hard Brexit” from the EU, meaning it leaves the single market and must rely on World Trade Organization rules for trading with the bloc. And Britain’s GDP could fall by 9.5 percent. http://bit.ly/2ellWoL
David Davis tells House of Commons: No vote for you on Brexit. The U.K.’s minister for Brexit said government would engage with parliament, but won’t put negotiation to the ballot. Charlie Cooper: http://politi.co/2dGIPRx
The Tory sovereignty dilemma in a nutshell: The point of Brexit was to make the British people and their parliament sovereign again. But giving the British parliament a say on the terms of Brexit could be the one thing that stops Brexit from actually happening. The government’s solution: say that the referendum overrides anything parliament may have to say on the negotiations because giving it a voice would “second-guess the will of the British people,” according to Theresa May’s spokesman.
Luxembourg PM floats 24-hour border closure to teach voters a Brexit lesson: Xavier Bettel said EU governments should consider closing borders for a day to shock voters into appreciating the value of visa-free travel. http://bloom.bg/2dFUPCQ
THE BRIT WHO SAVED THE EURO: Bruxelles2 profiles Ken Clarke, the British ministerial heavyweight who convinced the Germans and the Dutch to stay in the European monetary system. You know, the thing before the euro. http://bit.ly/2dqfXLm
TRADE — AGREEMENT WITH SOUTHERN AFRICAN COUNTRIES TAKES EFFECT: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland will now be able to export their goods into the EU without paying tariffs or having to comply with quotas. http://bit.ly/2dqy0RR
HUNGARY — BBC WORLD QUESTIONS LIVE FROM BUDAPEST: Featuring MEP Zsuzsanna Szelényi, looking at migration, refugees, media pluralism and more. http://bbc.in/2e0vcQA
ICYMI — SLOVAK SOLIDARITY WITH CLOSED HUNGARIAN NEWSPAPER: Slovakian daily Dennik N ran a blank front page Monday in protest at what it considers to be the Hungarian government meddling in private media. http://bit.ly/2dGLFpj
WHAT BERLINERS ARE TALKING ABOUT: GENTRIFICATION. The FT dives into a 15-year-old debate about the increasingly rich arrivistes in Berlin. http://on.ft.com/2dSrWFa
WHAT CENTRAL EUROPE IS NOT TALKING ABOUT: THEIR PROSPERITY. Incomes are up massively, but few are noticing. http://bit.ly/2e9bBwZ h/t Daniel Kral
NETHERLANDS — THE BRAIN BEHIND GEERT WILDERS: “Look at photographs of Geert Wilders in the Dutch parliament, and the camera often shows a figure seated behind him: Martin Bosma, the polemicist of the Freedom Party (PVV),” writes Naomi O’Leary. “Bosma became Wilders’ chief speechwriter, senior strategist, internet chief and in charge of tea and coffee, he recalls in his autobiography. His pay was €500 a month. The party he was building would top Dutch opinion polls within a decade.” http://politi.co/2dgjluR
FOCUS ON LITHUANIA …
Election round-up: Lithuania voted for change, President Dalia Grybauskaitė said. Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius’ Social Democrats were pushed into third place in parliamentary elections, after frustrations with formerly trailblazing austerity policies. Sunday’s national vote left the Peasants & Green Union and the Homeland Union-Christian Democrats neck-and-neck on 21.7 percent and 21.6 percent, with almost all ballots counted. The Social Democrats had 14.4 percent. Voter turnout was 50 percent. Dalius Simenas: http://bloom.bg/2dVTG8U
“The current ruling coalition was too slow, clumsy, indecisive and gave very confusing political signals to society,” Liberal MEP Petras Auštrevičius told Playbook (his party received 9 percent of the vote and could be the third member of the new government.) Barely half the seats have been decided: a second round of voting for the 66 single-member constituencies where a candidate didn’t win a majority on Sunday will take place October 23.
Playbook interview with Lithuania’s Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis …
What media do you enjoy or recommend? “As citizens we should all be concerned that our press is free and independent. During the election period the press coverage has been rather varied. Internet media is increasingly present in my life. Papers are struggling with the flow of events but I am still a bit [old-fashioned] and like to sit with my coffee and paper in the morning. When I am home, I like to listen to Ziniu Radijas — the News Radio.”
How many journalists from Lithuania work in Brussels permanently? “Zero, according to my knowledge. What does this say about Lithuanian press interest for Brussels? I think it is self-explanatory … Brussels has been seen as something far away, something external. It is a shame that so many decisions that affect people’s lives go unnoticed … It remains largely ignored because there is so little coverage in the regional and local press who represent a crucial link to citizens. Media owners, including state media, should think beyond immediate gains … I have seen the consequences of Brussels shaming and blaming.”
Best piece of media advice: “All in all, the best is to read various outlets to get the overall picture. I have one rule for myself — I avoid the comment section. Unfortunately, what could be a platform for open, respectful discussion is often a hive for hatred, racism, and all manner of nastiness. However, this is not the case only for Lithuania but for many other countries as well.”
MALTA — NEW INQUIRY SET UP AS MP REJECTS MONEY LAUNDERING ALLEGATIONS: Former judges will investigate allegations that Maltese police failed to pursue an investigation into money laundering after the name of Beppe Fenech Adami, an MP, cropped up. Fenech Adami denies any wrongdoing. “Dr Fenech Adami has never been informed, questioned or made aware of such investigations taking place,” spokesperson David Stellini told Playbook. Nationalist party leader, Simon Busuttil, accused Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of spinning the investigation for political gain. http://bit.ly/2e1btL9
US 2016 DEBATE AND CAMPAIGN DEVELOPMENTS …
Ryan to House lawmakers: I won’t defend Trump. Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan broke the story. Trump replied in a tweet: “Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee.” http://politi.co/2e0AVpl
Trump implodes in new polls: Kyle Cheney http://politi.co/2e15RjW
It’s likely going to be 29 more days in the mud. Edward-Isaac Dovere http://politi.co/2d6d8OM
By the numbers: 13 times Trump was dead wrong at the debate, and two times Clinton was: http://politi.co/2dJcKsr
Gideon Rachman on Trump and the declining prestige of democracy: “Political rivals to the president get imprisoned in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. America is meant to live by different standards … the outcome threatens the prestige of democracy worldwide … it will be very hard to erase the memory of this campaign. It has presented an image of a troubled, divided and deluded U.S. to the rest of the world. As a result, it has already dealt a serious blow to the prestige and power of the West. ” http://on.ft.com/2dL1ZpD
Why Mike Pence is no savior: If he did replace Trump as the nominee, many vulnerabilities would be suddenly exposed. Adam Wren http://politi.co/2e0w2wA
The 18 foreign policy questions Trump and Clinton should answer: http://atfp.co/2dOtfTt
BRUSSELS CORNER …
EVENT: The Idealist Quarterly has its first gathering for “progressives and optimists” today from 6 p.m. at Le Chemin des Vignes. Yara Al-Adib, a designer and social entrepreneur, will speak. http://bit.ly/2dFnKIb
IN TOWN: The winners of the European Charlemagne youth prize, who are visiting Brussels this week. http://bit.ly/2e0A1JC
LEAVING TOWN: Sweden’s permanent representative to the EU, Anders Ahnlid, will become Sweden’s ambassador to Finland.
APPOINTED: Raoul Ruparel, director of Open Europe, joins U.K. Brexit minister, David Davis, as special advisor.
BIRTHDAYS: Mady Delvaux MEP; Prince Constantijn van Oranje; European Commission’s Anca Paduraru; Google’s Nicklas Lundblad.
PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT Harry Cooper and Zoya Sheftalovich.
THANKS to Florian Eder.
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