Brussels Playbook: Metsola for president — Russia sanctions latest — Zemmour hate crimes – POLITICO

DRIVING THE DAY: METSOLA POISED FOR VICTORY       

GOOD MORNING. Playbook involves you at this time from Strasbourg, the place MEPs are gathering to elect the following president of the European Parliament. The candidates within the operating are Roberta Metsola (European People’s Party), Alice Kuhnke (Greens/EFA), Kosma Złotowski (European Conservatives and Reformists) and Sira Rego (the Left).

Recap: Before his dying final week, Parliament President David Sassoli was as a result of step down from his publish this month, underneath a 2019 deal between the EPP and Socialists and Democrats teams.

Democracy, EU-style: Though there are technically 4 candidates for the publish, in true EU model, the end result is a foregone conclusion: Maltese MEP Metsola, the selection of the center-right EPP, is nearly sure to be elected at this time.

Last-minute horse-trading: The three largest teams within the Parliament reached a backroom deal on the eve of the vote, however not earlier than the S&D and Renew Europe extracted concessions in return for supporting the EPP’s candidate. The S&D secured 5 of the 14 vice presidential posts (up one from its present haul), plus the chairmanship of the Conference of Committee Chairs (at present held by the EPP’s Antonio Tajani), plus the presidency of a particular COVID committee. Renew may even see its variety of VP posts improve by one to 3. Check out the “mid-term agreement” struck by the Big 3 right here.

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NOT HAPPY: Many members of the smaller teams are livid that the massive beasts aren’t abiding by the D’Hondt technique, which might see posts allotted proportionately. There’s additionally a lot hypothesis about who will get the remaining roles. The EPP particularly is irritated with the Greens for not backing Metsola and placing up its personal candidate, and will vote for an ECR nominee as a substitute of a Green for one of many vice president positions.

SAFE AND WELLE: While the S&D had wished to safe the Parliament’s secretary-general place as a situation for its assist for Metsola, Klaus Welle will keep on within the position — a win for EPP chief Manfred Weber.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ROBERTA: Away from the backroom deal-making, at this time is Metsola’s day — because it occurs, the previous lawyer turns 43 at this time. But whereas the College of Europe graduate has been one of the influential MEPs since her election to the Parliament in 2013, her views on abortion particularly have been controversial, as POLITICO’s Maïa de La Baume writes on this must-read profile of the president-in-waiting.

HOW TODAY WILL PLAY OUT: Nominees will make a brief presentation on the plenary session at 9 a.m. … MEPs will then solid their votes by secret poll from round 9:30 a.m. … If after three rounds of votes, no candidate will get an absolute majority, the 2 with essentially the most votes within the third spherical go to a runoff.

Wacky rule of the day: In the unlikely occasion the candidates do go to a fourth-round runoff vote and there’s a tie, the older one wins. That’s unhealthy information for Metsola, who’s the youngest of the 4 candidates — Złotowski is 58, Kuhnke is 50 and Rego is 48.

RUSSIA LATEST        

BAERBOCK MEETS LAVROV: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is in Moscow at this time to fulfill her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov — a high-stakes assembly that will probably be intently watched. As Baerbock faces off with Lavrov, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will probably be in Berlin for a catch-up with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. It comes forward of an anticipated go to by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the German capital later this week. 

German dilemma: As this piece by our colleagues Hans von der Burchard and David Herszenhorn explains, the Ukraine disaster has uncovered divisions in Berlin and offered an early take a look at for the brand new German authorities, significantly relating to Nord Stream 2, the controversial fuel pipeline between Russia and Germany. But as all the time, Germany will play a vital position in how Europe will finally react to Russia’s aggression.

Sanctions reset: Ahead of at this time’s conferences in Moscow and Berlin, the massive speaking level is a report in Handelsblatt that the West is now not contemplating chopping Russia from the SWIFT worldwide funds system if it assaults Ukraine, because the U.S. continues intense discussions with its European allies about potential sanctions on Russia. 

Washington responds: The U.S. pushed again on the report, with a National Security Council spokeswoman telling Playbook that “no option is off the table” relating to Russia, including that the U.S. is continuous to seek the advice of very intently with its European counterparts.

Banks now in focus: But in accordance with Handelsblatt, Europe and the united statesare transferring away from the thought of chopping off Russia from SWIFT and as a substitute making ready focused financial penalties towards Russia’s largest banks. The pondering is {that a} SWIFT ban is simply too dangerous because it might push Moscow into constructing an alternate funds system.

It’s in regards to the {dollars}: But our POLITICO Pro monetary companies reporter Matei Rosca finds that unconvincing: “There are already several better systems out there than SWIFT — which itself is primitive, rather ‘analog’ and prone to error and money laundering,” Matei explains. The key purpose nations proceed to make use of the system “is access to dollars — which SWIFT enables.” Technically, chopping Russia from SWIFT wouldn’t be tough, Matei says: “Iranian banks were cut off from SWIFT in the past, it’s technically not difficult to do. Just a matter of political will.”

Ukraine assurances: Meanwhile, Baerbock was in Kyiv on Monday forward of her arrival in Moscow at this time. Her go to to the Ukrainian capital coincided with that of a high-level co-delegation from the U.S. Congress. Baerbock reiterated warnings that any renewed aggression by Russia “would have a high price … economically, politically and strategically.”

Managing expectations: But Baerbock additionally sought to minimize expectations of a breakthrough with Russia. “After years of silence, we didn’t count on a breakthrough inside just a few hours,” she mentioned of final week’s negotiations. “But we have a lot of endurance, and we will not lose sight of our principles. No country has the right to dictate to other countries which direction they should take, which relations they should have.”

Only phrases: Despite reassuring phrases to Ukraine, Baerbock refused Kyiv’s request for Germany to ship weapons, pointing to Berlin’s long-held place of not sending arms to battle zones for “historical reasons.” Meanwhile, NATO signed off on a deal to bolster its cyber assist for Ukraine on Monday, within the wake of final week’s cyberattack on authorities web sites.

Some motion: The U.Okay. protection secretary on Monday mentioned his nation would provide Ukraine with anti-tank weapons … Canada has deployed a small contingent of particular forces operators to Ukraine.

BACK TO NATO: As an growing variety of Finnish and Swedish politicians make the case for becoming a member of the navy alliance, a brand new ballot suggests additionally it is changing into a extra engaging chance for most people. Opposition to NATO membership has dropped to 42 %, in accordance with a ballot by Gallup for Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat newspaper — the primary time since 2002 the quantity has been underneath 50 %. However, solely 28 % say they’re actively in favor of becoming a member of the navy alliance.

IN OTHER NEWS       

ZEMMOUR CONVICTED (AGAIN) FOR HATE SPEECH: A French courtroom on Monday discovered far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour responsible of inciting racial hatred, hitting him with a €10,000 fantastic over feedback he made about youngster migrants — his third conviction for hate speech. The ultra-right polemicist has emerged as a challenger to the nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen, campaigning on guarantees of a no-holds-barred angle to immigration and safety forward of the presidential election in April. POLITICO’s Clea Caulcutt has the latest.

SCHOLZ TALKS TO CHINA’S LI: Olaf Scholz held his first working cellphone name with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday, our colleague Stuart Lau writes in to report. Beijing’s message for the brand new helmsman of the most important EU financial system was easy: Keep the Merkel-era pragmatism and non-confrontational method alive. That received’t be tough underneath the brand new chancellor, who is understood for prioritizing enterprise ties over long-term strategic issues with China. 

The German readout of the decision equally burdened pragmatism. Both leaders “exchanged views on deepening the bilateral partnership and economic relations,” a spokesman for Scholz mentioned. “Other topics included the COVID-19 pandemic, cooperation on environmental and climate protection, EU-China relations and international issues.”

Be variety to Chinese companies: Li urged Berlin to create a “fair and non-discriminatory” surroundings for Chinese corporations, amid fears of additional hurdles to China’s investments, particularly within the tech sector, corresponding to 5G. According to Li, China and Germany ought to concentrate on superior manufacturing, service commerce, digital financial system and local weather change.

MEPs BACK LITHUANIA: In a reminder of the tense political context through which Scholz’s cellphone name occurred, a gaggle of MEPs wrote to the heads of the European Council and Commission calling on the EU to render “all necessary support” for Lithuania in its more and more acrimonious commerce battle with Beijing. The letter, signed by greater than 40 MEPs, calls on the EU establishments to take “bold leadership in defending basic principles of the Single Market against the PRC intimidation.” Read it in full right here.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN BOSNIA? Bosnian Serb chief Milorad Dodik is spewing secessionist rhetoric, nationalist riots have swept throughout the nation — and the EU has expressed outrage however held off on a concrete response. Una Hajdari has this report from Sarajevo for POLITICO.

EASTERN EUROPE GOES BACK TO THE FUTURE OVER RISING FOOD PRICES: Central and Eastern European governments are scrambling to stave off anger from voters over skyrocketing meals costs, with some politicians advocating measures that critics liken to communist-era insurance policies, report POLITICO’s Zosia Wanat and Ana Fota.

GERMANY TO LIFT BAN ON ABORTION INFORMATION: German Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann introduced Monday the coalition authorities is ready to elevate the nation’s ban on abortion promoting — which bars docs from publishing factual details about the procedures. The justice ministry submitted a draft legislation Monday, because it bids to finish what Buschmann referred to as an “untenable” scenario on ladies’s reproductive rights. POLITICO’s Louis Westendarp has the information.

AGENDA       

European Parliament elects new president and vice presidents in Strasbourg. Begins 9 a.m. Watch. Agenda.

— Economic and monetary affairs ministers meet for the ECOFIN Council in Brussels at 10 a.m., arrivals from 8:30 a.m., press convention anticipated round 1:30 p.m. Watch.

College of Commissioners assembly, Strasbourg 3 p.m., adopted by readout by Vice President Margaritis Schinas and Commissioner Mariya Gabriel. Watch.

European Medicines Agency briefing on COVID-19 at 4 p.m. 

— European Council President Charles Michel meets the President of Benin Patrice Talon in Brussels, 8:30 p.m.

— NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg visits Berlin for conferences with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Minister of Defense Christine Lambrecht

BRUSSELS CORNER        

BELGIUM TOUGHENS QUARANTINE FOR KIDS: For the third time in two weeks, Belgium on Monday modified its quarantine guidelines for kids underneath 12. Children should now quarantine if there’s a optimistic case of their family, until they  have lately had the virus themselves.

WELCOME: Juliette Droz is becoming a member of the Paris Playbook staff. Juliette comes from RMC radio station, the place she has lined far-left chief Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the far proper.

BIRTHDAYS: Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen; Roberta Metsola MEP; Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar; Princess Claire of Belgium; POLITICO’s Constance Dijkstra; Former FT Editor Lionel Barber.

MANY THANKS: Stuart Lau, Maïa de La Baume, Melissa Heikkilä, Jacopo Barigazzi, Daniel Lippman and our producer Grace Stranger.

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primarily based on website supplies www.politico.eu

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