POLITICO Brussels Playbook: Satire saga — Mega mergers — Brussels attacks latest
EUROSKEPTIC DAILY MAIL EDITOR HAPPY TO POCKET EU CASH FOR HIMSELF: Paul Dacre has made a great living tearing into hypocrisy, politicians, and the EU on the front page of the Daily Mail he edits. So it’s with great interest that Playbook notes this Jim Waterson article for Buzzfeed: “Paul Dacre, the editor of the virulently Euroskeptic Daily Mail, received £60,000 in 2014 from the European Union in subsidies for his Scottish shooting and hunting estate, according to government records.”
SOFIA NAMED MOST DANGEROUS CITY IN EU: “Sofia is followed by Bucharest, Zagreb, Riga, Tallinn, Athens, Warsaw, and Budapest — all cities located in Central, Eastern or Southeastern Europe … European cities also dominate the top of the personal safety ranking survey by U.S. think tank Mercer with Luxembourg in the lead.” Helsinki, Vienna and Stockholm also place in the top six. Novinite: http://bit.ly/1Tjn9dD
EU-INDIA SUMMIT CONCLUSIONS: Nothing to get excited about. The two parties have branded themselves as the “the world’s two largest democracies.” PDF: http://bit.ly/1WYEAiP
STAY IN THE LOOP — LATEST POLITICO PODCAST: I’m talking terror, Sara Stefanini does Cyprus, Joanna Plucinska tackles consumer rights, and Zoya Sheftalovich cuts through the bluster on the “right to be forgotten.” http://bit.ly/1q3vze2
ECJ — NO NEED FOR TRANSPARENCY IN LUXEMBOURG: Did you know the European Council appointed nine new General Court judges last week but cannot provide copies of their CVs? The court claims it will eventually publish brief bios when the judges are sworn in.
EU LEGAL MILESTONES 2016: Linklaters have produced a handy guide to the legal dates for key EU files. When they’re due to be published, progressed or finalized. Subjects covered include company law and corporate governance, competition, energy, environment, financial services, intellectual property, taxation and telecoms, media and tech. PDF: http://bit.ly/1WYJHzw
ECB CHATTER: As complaints from banks rise that negative ECB interest rates are hurting their profitability, Benoit Coeuré, a member of the European Central Bank’s executive board, put the banks in their place in remarks to POLITICO’s Pierre Briançon: “The interest margin of banks has gone up, not down.” http://politi.co/1MSX3r6
ECB’s GERMAN PROBLEM: German elites and the wider public alike tend to think the ECB is too unconventional and loose in its policies — encouraging dangerous economic choices in all layers of the economy. That’s giving Mario Draghi and his allies more pause for thought these days, concludes Pierre Briançon after two days in Frankfurt.
COMMISSION — MARCH MEGA-MERGER MADNESS! It’s like a morning TV infomercial down at DG Competition this week. Companies are throwing themselves at the EU hoping to sell a series of attractive two-for-the-price-of-one offers. The mega-merger between brewers AB InBev and SAB Miller (think Jupiler, Peroni, Grolsch and more) is going cheap at just €100 billion, and has now been submitted to the Commission for a test run. http://bit.ly/1ZLHQQd
At a juicy €21 billion, the planned Italian mobile operators merger between 3 Italia and WIND, will be sure to spark the Commission’s interest. Last time the telecoms sector tried to sell a merger like this (reducing a country’s number of mobile networks from four to three), the Commission demanded significant modifications. With Telecom Italia announcing Flavio Cattaneo as its new CEO yesterday, you can be sure he will want to throw his weight around on the merger.
WHAT GERMANS ARE TALKING ABOUT — ERDOĞAN’S FEAR OF SATIRE: A German government spokeswoman says freedom of speech and press freedom “are not negotiable.” The Commission is equally dismissive of Turkish complaints about a video on Germany television. It’s a video mocking Erdoğan that probably would have gone unnoticed but for the Putin-esque sensitivities of the Turkish president. I’m calling it the best case of the “Streisand effect” since the American diva’s efforts to suppress photos of her home instead led to millions of people seeing them (thus the Streisand effect). http://politi.co/1Y1hjNp
POLAND — HEY, DUDA! WHERE’S YOUR JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE? U.S. political figures weren’t about to let their own massive politics-driven divisions over the Supreme Court vacancy stop them from lobbing hard questions at Andrzej Duda, at his Washington keynote yesterday. Joe J. Schatz has the juice: http://politi.co/1WYG2Sh
GREECE — GET READY FOR A DEBT DEAL: Greece is under real pressure on a number of fronts, like the EU more generally. With so much to handle, no one needs another massive fight like those we saw nine to 12 months ago. Especially not over what most agree is an unsustainable level of Greek debt. That’s why you should get ready for some kind of new Greek deal in May; one that avoids an outright debt cut but which nevertheless makes it easier for Greeks to repay what they owe.
CYPRUS — THE BEST CHANCE FOR PEACE: Reunification via a 2016 referendum is closer than ever. Sara Stefanini from Nicosia: http://politi.co/1q4adx4
IRELAND — KENNY WARNS OF NEW ELECTION IF INDEPENDENTS DON’T BACK HIM: http://bit.ly/1UDvXN3
BULGARIA — UN SEC GEN CANDIDATE’S HUSBAND NAMED AS EU BANK BOARD: Kalin Mitrev is Bulgaria’s new board representative at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and will lead the bank’s office for Poland, Bulgaria and Albania. Mitrev is a previous holder of the position and husband of Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, who is Bulgaria’s candidate to be United Nations Secretary-General.
MIGRATION — UN PUSHES NON-NEIGHBOR COUNTRIES TO TAKE 480,000 SYRIAN REFUGEES: Those closest to Syria are being forced to do too much says Ban Ki-Moon. http://nyti.ms/1RKhfQt
MIGRATION — SYRIA’S GOT TALENT: That’s the name of a local Brussels initiative to showcase what refugees can offer their host societies. The talent show tonight will bring to life the hopes, talents and stories of five Syrians, from 14 year-old Shaza to 54 year-old Basel. From Flamenco guitar to violin. Sign-up here: http://bit.ly/1Y1dt6W. Event starts 7pm at Atelier Marcel Hastir, 51 Rue du Commerce, just off Rue Belliard near the small ring road.
CLIMATE — PAPUA NEW GUINEA BEATS EU NATIONS IN RACE TO ISSUE FINAL CLIMATE PLAN: The small Pacific nation is the first country to formally submit the final version of its national climate action plan (called a “Nationally Determined Contribution,” or NDC) under the Paris Agreement. The small Pacific nation’s plan to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 is no longer just an “intended” nationally determined contribution (INDC) – it is now the country’s official climate plan.
STAT DU JOUR: 51.5 road fatalities per year per one million inhabitants in Europe. That makes European roads the safest in the world (compared with 106 in the United States and 174 globally). Still, 26 000 people lost their lives on EU roads last year. EU Transport Commissioner Bulc will release these statistics and more later today.
MEDIA — NEW RESEARCH SHOWS ASSOCIATED PRESS DEAL WITH NAZIS: “The Associated Press news agency entered a formal cooperation with the Hitler regime in the 1930s, supplying American newspapers with material directly produced and selected by the Nazi propaganda ministry, archive material unearthed by a German historian has revealed.” Unlike the Guardian and other outlets thrown out of German for employing Jewish journalists, AP “ceded control of its output by signing up to the so-called Schriftleitergesetz (editor’s law), promising not to publish any material “calculated to weaken the strength of the Reich abroad or at home”. http://bit.ly/1PGe9bH h/t Daniel Lippman.
MEDIA — TIMES OF LONDON TO STOP ROLLING DIGITAL NEWS COVERAGE: The FT reports its venerable competitor the Times and Sunday Times will update their websites and apps only three times a day — at 9 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. This is not an April Fool’s joke — that’s tomorrow — Alan Hunter, the head of digital at the News UK-owned Times Newspapers Limited, said readers flock to the Times for analysis and accuracy, not speed. http://on.ft.com/1q2gpWv
CHINA – YOU’RE INVITED TO EXPLORE SCOPE OF A FREE TRADE AGREEMENT: The Foreign Trade Association is hosting a seminar in April to examine the what and how and when of an EU-China deal. You’re invited: http://bit.ly/1RK21L8
US 2016 — TRUMP’S 24 HOURS OF MAYHEM: Donald Trump yanked the Republican Party toward a contested convention over the last 24 hours as he let rip an extraordinary series of statements on abortion, the Geneva Conventions, violence against women and his own commitment to supporting the GOP presidential nominee. http://politico.pro/1V73nSC
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BRUSSELS ATTACKS BRIEFING …
HOUSE SEARCHES LAW REFORM TO BE VOTED TODAY: After being mocked the world over for a law preventing house searches after 9 p.m., the federal Belgian parliament is set to vote today to overturn the law. That’s four months after justice minister Koen Geens admitted the law prevented the capture of Salah Abdeslam in the days after the Paris attacks.
BELGIUM IS NOT THE ONLY COUNTRY WITH PROBLEMS …
FRANCE — THE STRUGGLE WITH HOMEGROWN TERROR: A week after a French minister accused Belgium of being “naïve” about jihadism in the wake of the Brussels terrorist attacks, France entered its own anguished debate about the prevalence of violent ideology in tough immigrant neighborhoods and the best ways to address it. The trigger was a remark by Youth and Sports Minister Patrick Kanner, who said that some “100 neighborhoods” in France shared Molenbeek’s noxious traits. From Nicholas Vinocur: http://politi.co/233xUDu
BELGIUM IS NOT EUROPE’S JIHADI BASE: International experts and journalists (including Playbook) have resorted to finger-pointing in the wake of the Brussels terror attacks, with criticism of police and intelligence services. But such accusations are overly simplistic, and essentially misplaced, writes Thomas Renard. http://politi.co/1onsELv
EUROPE’S WEB OF TERROR: Interactive graphics on the main suspects, locations and the key moments since November’s Paris attacks. http://politi.co/232ICKo
FRANCE — EMPLOYING ‘IF ONLY’ SYNDROME TO PUSH AWAY HARD QUESTIONS: “If only Europe had listened to France. If only the European Commission and the European Parliament had acted fast enough to implement the measures Paris advocated. If only other European intelligence services had shared information with their French colleagues …
The frustrations of the French government and police services are real. But they tend to paper over the fact that much remains to be done in France itself to avoid a repeat of recent terror attacks. Some of the reforms Paris is calling for are opposed in the European Parliament by the French socialists. And some of the measures France is pushing for would not have been of much use to thwart the Brussels attacks.” Pierre Briançon: http://politi.co/1Y1eQ5y
FINANCIAL AID FOR VICTIMS AND FAMILIES: Insurance ought to be one’s first port of call, but Belgium also provides assistance in certain cases via a “Commission for financial aid to victims of deliberate acts of violence,” the Federal justice department confirmed Wednesday. There is no nationality requirement. Victims who have questions about aid possibilities should contact the justice section of their local commune. http://bit.ly/1Y1fKyO
PM CHARLES MICHEL A POSSIBLE TARGET: Plans and photos of Charles Michel’s home and office found by police. By Giulia Paravicini: http://politi.co/1MCprDc
POLICE CHIEF CAUGHT DRUNK AT CRISIS MEETING ON DAY OF BOMBINGS: In today’s jaw-dropper, an Ixelles police commissioner turned up drunk at a crisis response meeting last Tuesday, was breathalyzed and sent home for being above the legal limit. http://politi.co/1Y1fVu9
MOLENBEEK YOUTH WORKERS — SHOW US THE DATA AND MONEY: Jorge Valero examines why politicians beyond the local level could be hurting Belgium by skipping the basics in countering radicalization. http://bit.ly/1Y1gkwD
AIRPORT SECURITY STAFF WARN ABOUT LOW STANDARDS: Airport police and related services have published an open letter detailing dozens of examples of what they call “fundamental insecurity at Zaventem airport.” http://bit.ly/1UtG7zy
AIRPORT TO BE UNDER RENOVATION FOR MONTHS: That’s the news from the airport CEO., as management also admitted there would be no flights until at least Friday. Many flights are diverted to Liege, Amsterdam and Paris. New images have been released illustrating the extent of the damage. While management does acknowledge there will be no flights until at least Friday, national media in countries such as Bulgaria report flights cancelled until 4 April for their national airlines. And, as Playbook first reported a week ago, it looks like not much will be happening at the airport until mid-April, based on instructions given to major suppliers of the airport. http://huff.to/1omIYMx
AIRPORT HOTELS SUFFER CRUNCH: One source reported to Playbook that bookings were down to just 6 percent of capacity in coming days. See these discounts of 50-56 percent on offer over the last 24 hours. PICS: http://politi.co/1MS8Upo
BIRTHDAYS: Olli Rehn, Finnish minister and former European Commissioner and MEP; POLITICO’s Quentin Ariès; Damian Draghici MEP; Tomasz Poreba MEP; liberal activist Andrea Zanaglio.
THANKS to Kate Day, Zoya Sheftalovich, Nicholas Hirst, Carmen Paun, Jacopo Barigazzi, Teresa Stiens.