Brussels Playbook: SOTEU fallout — Protecting reporters — Lobby transparency – POLITICO


STATE OF THE UNION DAY 2: Ursula von der Leyen set out her imaginative and prescient for the 12 months forward to MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday. Though not everybody made it, the chamber was fuller than at any time for the reason that begin of the pandemic as MEPs descended en masse to Strasbourg for the plenary. Von der Leyen caught to the anticipated 60 minutes, spoke in three languages, and hit on the large themes going through the Union. Read our colleague David Herszenhorn’s evaluation right here. But there was additionally some fascinating element, which Playbook will break down for you right here …

HEALTH: As anticipated, von der Leyen touted the success of the EU’s vaccination program and pointed to the bloc’s achievements in exporting 700 million vaccine doses to 130 international locations around the globe. She additionally promised to ship 200 million extra doses to low-income international locations by the center of subsequent 12 months.

European well being union: The EU’s ambition to strengthen Brussels’ well being powers reveals no signal of abating. A brand new EU-wide well being preparedness and resilience mission envisages an funding of €50 billion by 2027 — a colossal determine, although little element was given about funding plans. Commissioners Margaritis Schinas, Stella Kyriakides and Thierry Breton will seemingly be pressed for extra element at a press convention in Brussels right this moment.

EUROPEAN CHIPS ACT: While von der Leyen’s announcement of a brand new chips act prompted an array of frites-themed jokes in a nod to Belgium’s most well-known dish, the announcement was one of many meatiest within the SOTEU. “The aim is to jointly create a state-of-the-art European chip ecosystem, including production,” von der Leyen declared. “That ensures our security of supply and will develop new markets for ground-breaking European tech.” Our colleague Laurens Cerulus has the main points.

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CHINA — GLOBAL GATEWAY: The EU will launch a “Global Gateway” scheme to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In truth, competitors with Beijing was a theme of the handle, as Stuart Lau and Hanne Cokelaere clarify. “We want to create links and not dependencies,” von der Leyen mentioned.

Forced labor product ban: The Commission can be proposing a ban on merchandise which have been made with compelled labor, von der Leyen advised Parliament. Brussels was beneath stress to behave after the U.S., Canada and the U.Okay. took steps to ban items from China’s Xinjiang internment camps.

EU-AFRICA SUMMIT: While the Commission has been highlighting the position EU protection missions play in northern Africa, von der Leyen additionally burdened an emphasis on funding, pledging to create a marketplace for inexperienced hydrogen that hyperlinks the African continent with Europe. An EU-Africa summit will happen in February, von der Leyen mentioned.

EUROPEAN DEFENSE SUMMIT: The Commission president will convene a summit on European protection with French President Emanuel Macron throughout France’s presidency of the Council early subsequent 12 months. An EU-NATO declaration will even be forthcoming by the tip of this 12 months.

Time for a protection union? “It is time for Europe to step up to the next level,” von der Leyen mentioned, stating that Europe “can — and clearly should — be able and willing to do more on its own” on protection. The lack of progress on better protection cooperation has been a couple of lack of “political will,” she mentioned. Referring to latest requires EU battlegroups or entry forces following the Afghan withdrawal, she mentioned she expects these to be “part of the solution.”

SOCIAL EUROPE — ERASMUS 2.0? Dubbing 2022 because the “Year of European Youth,” von der Leyen unveiled ALMA, a brand new work expertise program. Based on the extremely fashionable Erasmus examine overseas program, it can assist younger Europeans discover momentary work in one other European nation.

Women’s rights: VDL pledged to suggest a brand new EU regulation to fight violence towards girls by the tip of the 12 months. The proposal will cowl on-line in addition to offline abuse, and was extensively welcomed by girls’s rights teams.

AND WHAT WAS MISSING: The speech was additionally notable for its omissions …

Economy on the again burner: The brewing debate about fiscal guidelines barely acquired a point out, although the Commission president pledged to do “everything in our power” to seal a deal on minimal company taxation subsequent month in Rome.

Climate change bypass: Many MEPs wished to listen to extra element on local weather change. The Commission has argued it already introduced detailed plans in its Fit for 55 bundle unveiled in July, which is able to now be taken up by the Parliament and the Council. Nonetheless, NGOs like Friends of the Earth criticized the Commission chief for providing no new commitments to part out fossil fuels.

RESOURCES: Here’s the textual content of von der Leyen’s speech … The full record of initiatives … Catch up with the highlights through our reside weblog, the place you may also watch the video … And POLITICO’s number-crunchers analyzed the script and have this visible evaluation of what von der Leyen’s phrases inform us about her altering priorities.


COMMISSION CALLS FOR ACTION: Commission Vice President Věra Jourová and Commissioner Thierry Breton will right this moment current an initiative to guard journalists across the bloc, in keeping with a draft textual content seen by Playbook.

Terrible toll: “The terrorist attack against weekly Charlie Hebdo killing 12 people in 2015 in France, the assassinations of investigative journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017 in Malta, Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová in 2018 in Slovakia, have been a stark call to improve the protection of journalists,” the Commission will say.

Recent murders: The Commission additionally factors to the murders of Greek journalist Giorgos Karaivaz and Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries this 12 months, that are nonetheless beneath investigation.

The plan: Brussels will name on member international locations to undertake concrete measures to extend entry to data for journalists and defend them, together with by way of unbiased assist schemes, authorized recommendation and shelters.

WHAT’S AT STAKE: The EU’s popularity is on the road on the subject of its efforts to halt rising media violence, writes our colleague Lili Bayer on this highly effective evaluation. “There’s a lot that needs to be done at the EU level that will never fit into a single directive or recommendation on the safety of journalists,” Matthew Caruana Galizia, the son of Daphne Caruana Galizia, tells Lili.


AUKUS: The U.S., U.Okay. and Australia in a single day launched AUKUS, a brand new alliance to share superior applied sciences in what’s being extensively learn as an effort to counter Chinese affect. As a part of the brand new pact, Canberra will abandon a submarine take care of France price greater than €50 billion and as a substitute purchase U.S.-made nuclear-powered submarines. POLITICO’s Alexander Ward and Paul McLeary have the main points.

Not glad: Paris is livid on the transfer, with French Defense Minister Florence Parly and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian saying in a press release that the choice was “contrary to the spirit and letter of the cooperation between France and Australia” and noting an “absence of coherence” from the U.S.

The EU is prone to be none too happy too. Our China-watcher Stuart Lau explains why, writing: “Australia’s move to ditch France and team up with the US and UK for nuclear-powered submarines cannot come at a more embarrassing timing for the EU, which will [on Thursday] formally announce its Indo-Pacific strategy in which it vows to play a role in security and defence.”

But right here’s what Aussies are speaking about: Joe Biden appeared to neglect their prime minister’s identify, Playbook’s personal Zoya Sheftalovich reviews.

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ECJ TO RULE ON BELGIAN SWEETHEART TAX DEALS: The EU’s highest courtroom will right this moment problem its first closing judgment in a sequence of circumstances on competitors chief Margrethe Vestager’s novel method of going after sweetheart tax offers with state help powers. The Court of Justice of the EU will rule on the specifics of the so-called extra income case, and is anticipated to restrict its ruling to the slim query of whether or not Brussels was proper to deal with the tax rulings for 39 multinationals primarily based in Belgium as one overarching “state help scheme,” or if it ought to have handled every tax ruling individually. Simon Van Dorpe has extra on this morning’s POLITICO Fair Play e-newsletter.

BLINKEN BACKS LITHUANIA ON CHINA: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis for talks in Washington on Wednesday. Speaking forward of their bilateral assembly, Blinken made a direct reference to the Baltic nation’s latest spat with Beijing. “We stand against economic coercion, including that being exerted by China,” he mentioned.

China recalled its ambassador to China final month over Lithuania’s determination to determine a diplomatic workplace in Taiwan. Blinken additionally spoke with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg. They mentioned NATO’s strategic idea and the state of affairs in Afghanistan, in keeping with a readout.

PARLIAMENT VOTES ON NEW LOBBYING RULES: “I hope the EU Parliament will send a strong message today and vote in favor of the independent Ethics Body with a wide majority, so rules on lobbying and conflicts of interest can be properly controlled,” MEP Daniel Freund from the Greens, who initiated the vote, advised Playbook.

Exhibit A: To show the purpose that extra checks are wanted, Freund’s interns scanned the present EU foyer register for suspicious entries. “Organizations like Google or Fraport disclosed high lobby expenses but comparatively few lobbyists working for them,” a staffer tells us. After months of correspondence with the foyer organizations, they unmasked 123 extra lobbyists who had not been listed. Fraport jumped from one to 9 lobbyists, Google from 14 to 21. “It is yet another example of good lobbying rules in Brussels not being enforced properly. We have to take this issue seriously if we want to maintain citizens’ trust in European democracy,” Freund mentioned.

NOW READ THIS: At first look, EU Reporter appears like simply one other media outlet reporting from Brussels, publishing articles in regards to the Commission’s newest proposals, analyzing world occasions and offering pandemic updates. But as our colleague Mark Scott reveals, the corporate is publishing lobbying dressed up as journalism.

AFGHAN ASYLUM APPLICATIONS APPROACH THOSE BY SYRIANS: Some 7,300 Afghans utilized for asylum in July throughout the EU — simply weeks earlier than the autumn of Kabul. That quantity is up 21 p.c from June, making Afghans the second-largest group after Syrians (8,500), in keeping with information that will likely be revealed right this moment by the EU’s asylum company EASO and previewed by Playbook.

Almost again to pre-pandemic ranges: The hole between Afghans and Syrians has been shrinking since December 2020, EASO mentioned. It is sort of sure to have jumped in August and September after the chaotic evacuation from Kabul. Applications in July had been the best for the reason that outbreak of COVID-19, exceeding 80 p.c of pre-pandemic ranges.

NGOs name on EU to do extra: Two dozen NGOs are demanding EU governments make bold commitments to resettle Afghan refugees, together with from neighboring international locations resembling Iran and Pakistan.

EP PRESIDENCY LATEST: David Sassoli, the present European Parliament president, had dinner on Tuesday night in Strasbourg with Renew chief Dacian Cioloș to debate the mid-terms, a number of parliament officers advised our colleague Maïa de La Baume. Did Sassoli ask for Cioloș’ assist to run for a second mandate? Officials didn’t deny it …

Sassoli will not be formally working for a second time period, however officers hinted he’s testing the waters on a possible candidacy.

Lunch with Macron off for now: The mid-term elections had been additionally a part of a dialog Sassoli was planning to have with Emmanuel Macron throughout a lunch right this moment in France with “members of the Parliament’s bureau,” which incorporates the Parliament’s Secretary-General Klaus Welle and the establishment’s vice presidents. But Parliament officers advised Maïa that the lunch was canceled after Sassoli fell sick on Wednesday.

WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN POLAND: The Council of Europe will publish a brand new report right this moment on Poland’s implementation of the Istanbul Convention, which seeks to finish violence towards girls and home violence. Though the report, which Playbook has previewed, notes a lot of promising measures to sort out home violence, it says extra have to be finished to cease sexual violence, rape and sexual harassment — beginning with altering the definition of rape itself consistent with the conference. You can learn the report in full later this morning right here.

MACRON MEETS MERKEL: Emmanuel Macron will host Angela Merkel for a working dinner tonight. But this isn’t a farewell go to by the departing German chancellor, an adviser to the Elysée mentioned.

That’ll occur within the coming weeks … in all probability in October, our colleague Rym Momtaz writes in to report. “The intention of the President and Madame Macron is to pay tribute to the Chancellor, to her actions at the European level and to the quality of the relationship that the President has with her,” the identical adviser advised Rym.

What’s for dinner? Past working dinners between the 2 (there have been 20 to 25 of them to date, in keeping with the Elysée), have lasted for hours, usually ending after midnight. On the menu right this moment: Delicious meals ready by the Elysée’s cooks, but additionally an extended record of dense subjects: Afghanistan, navy operations within the Sahel, in addition to Belarus, Libya, China and the EU-Balkans summit on October 6 in Slovenia, plus the upcoming French Council presidency.

IS ERIC ZEMMOUR A FRENCH TRUMP OR FARAGE? John Lichfield has this important profile of Eric Zemmour, the far-right pundit who’s eyeing a 2022 presidential bid that would form France’s far proper.

ICYMI — UK CABINET RESHUFFLE: Boris Johnson reshuffled his Cabinet on Wednesday, demoting Dominic Raab from overseas secretary, to get replaced by Liz Truss. Full particulars of the reshuffle right here, and right here’s a profile of Truss by our U.Okay. group.


— Final day of the European Parliament plenary. Agenda. Highlights: MEPs will vote on the humanitarian state of affairs in Afghanistan and a movement on media freedom in Poland (each after 9:30 a.m.). New European Bahaus Prizes ceremony from 5 p.m. Watch.

— European Court of Justice points ruling within the case C-337/19 P Commission v Belgium and Magnetrol International (tax/state help) at 10:30 a.m.

— European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen travels to Malta as a part of her ongoing visits to international locations in relation to the Recovery and Resilience Plan. She’ll maintain a press convention with Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela at 3:20 p.m. Watch. The two will maintain a gathering from 6 p.m.

— Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans will take part in a high-level dialogue with Turkey. Presser from 5:30 p.m. Watch.

— European Council President Charles Michel will meet with Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel at 10:15 a.m. Press convention at midday. Watch.

— Press convention by Vice President Věra Jourová on enhancing security of journalists within the EU at 11 a.m. Watch.

— Vice President Margaritis Schinas and Commissioners Stella Kyriakides and Thierry Breton press convention on the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) at 1 p.m. Watch.

— High Representative Josep Borrell will current the EU’s technique on the Indo-Pacific at 2 p.m. Stuart Lau has a primer.  Watch.

Borrell additionally meets with the Belgian king right this moment.

— Economy and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis is in Geneva. He’ll converse on the Graduate Institute Geneva in regards to the EU’s priorities for the way forward for the World Trade Organization forward of its twelfth Ministerial Conference. 3 p.m. Register right here.

— French President Emmanuel Macron meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the Elysée for a working dinner on EU and overseas coverage and customary protection. 7 p.m.


TIMMERMANS’ TIME IS NOW: Time Magazine has named Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans one of many 100 most influential individuals for understanding the hazard of local weather change — and appearing on it. Others on the record are Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny, WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala … and Prince Harry and Meghan.

PLAYBOOK PLAYBOOK: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s has gotten into the political e-newsletter recreation, releasing the primary version of his “The Viktor Brief” on Monday and becoming a member of the ranks of Council chief Charles Michel, former Italian PM Matteo Renzi and Boris Johnson’s former chief aide Dominic Cummings. Who higher than Playbook’s editor Zoya Sheftalovich to charge their efforts?

EPO’S AWARD FOR YOUNG INVENTORS: Only 15 days left for inventors aged 30 and youthful to submit their invention to win the European Patent Office’s younger inventor’s award, endowed with €20,000. The workplace says it’s searching for innovations that “tackle sustainability challenges with technology.”

YOU’RE INVITED TO A NEW EXHIBITION … by former NYT correspondent — and ace guitarist — Paul Meller. It’s an expo of Forêt de Soignes photographs, plastered on a housing challenge in Woluwe.

NEW JOB: Anna Bakola, beforehand with Syngenta, has a brand new job as director of thought management and public affairs for Kyndryl in Brussels.

BIRTHDAYS: Former European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici; MEPs Jytte Guteland and Ilhan Kyuchyuk; European Commission’s Diego Torres and Benjamin Van Zeveren; NBC’s Richard Engel; Sciences Po.’s Johannes Boehm; Taneti Maamau, president of Kiribati.

MANY THANKS: Simon Van Dorpe, Florian Eder, Stuart Lau, Jillian Deutsch and our producer Grace Stranger.

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