POLITICO Brussels Playbook: Merry Brexmas — Ready when EU are — Getting close to the pope – POLITICO

SO CLOSE: The Christmas of a 12 months as onerous as this one may not less than ship a last-minute miracle: An EU-U.Okay. post-Brexit commerce deal. Rumors that an settlement had been struck began to flow into after lunch on Wednesday, earlier than being swiftly denied. Yesterday night, in the phrases of an EU diplomat, the two sides have been nonetheless “so close and yet so far.”

Great expectations: But Eric Mamer, the European Commission’s chief spokesman, tweeted in the small hours of this morning that work would “continue throughout the night.” He had some recommendation for these of us who’ve been following the ins and outs of this saga: “Grabbing some sleep is recommended to all brexit-watchers at this point. It will hopefully be an early start tomorrow morning…”

And so, officers powered by way of, and as we write this, have been virtually there, with just a few small tweaks to the textual content excellent. The U.Okay. aspect indicated there could be a press convention at round 8 a.m. Brussels time. Some EU ambassadors mentioned they’d be cooking or gardening at this time — however could be on standby for a doable Coreper assembly, to be known as by the German presidency of the EU, as quickly as a deal was formally agreed.

GOOD MORNING. This is Jacopo Barigazzi bringing you this morning’s Playbook. I’m POLITICO’s senior EU reporter, masking migration and overseas and protection coverage. I adopted the first a part of Brexit, till the Withdrawal Agreement was signed, very intently — after which handed the story over to my commerce colleagues. But Brexit is like former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi: It all the time appears to bounce again at you.

Reading the cheese: Pizzas have been delivered to the Berlaymont Wednesday night — and have been instantly interpreted as an indication of the lengthy night time of negotiating forward. Mamer was fast to poke enjoyable at these studying the runes: “Pizza has arrived… Is it Frutti di mare ? Or Bismarck ? Or good old 4 stagione ? Suspense…” he tweeted. (Side notice: In Italian, it will be “4 stagioni,” however fairly often odd issues occur to pizzas’ names.)

**A message from Huawei: Merry Christmas to you and your family members. Huawei is proud to be serving to you keep linked throughout this time, and we stay dedicated to Europe, now and in the future.**

WHERE WE’RE AT       

READY WHEN EU ARE: As standard, the EU needed to present it’s prepared for motion: A draft “non paper,” seen by POLITICO, was despatched to EU capitals on Wednesday. It’s a protracted doc, written primarily for attorneys and authorized specialists, which diplomats mentioned could be permitted after the Coreper conferences (there can be not less than two, however most likely extra), at which ambassadors will look at the textual content of the doable deal. However, the draft doc just isn’t the remaining request for approval and neither is it the full textual content of a deal. And it nonetheless included placeholders, for instance stating that “the negotiations have been accomplished on xx December 2020.”

Fishy enterprise: According to a number of diplomats, fishing was the remaining open challenge. Some mentioned France was the holdout, however a French official, talking to Reuters, conceded “the British have made large concessions in the negotiations in the previous 48 hours.” Nonetheless, in accordance to some diplomats, the downside was substantial: It got here down to EU entry to British waters. The Express reported the touchdown zone: The EU fishing quota in British waters can be reduce by 25 % over a five-and-a-half 12 months transition interval, after which fishing quotas could be underneath British management, with annual negotiations going ahead.

The relaxation was a matter of choreography, with some last-minute drama that could be a should in any critical negotiation. Here are the particulars of the place we stood in a single day, by my colleague Hans von der Burchard and me. And be sure you learn this morning’s London Playbook for the full particulars of the place the two sides landed.

SUN KEEPS SHINING: The Sun has had some slightly iconic covers, such the basic: “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights,” revealed on election day in April 1992, when Labour’s Neil Kinnock was assured of a win. (Spoiler alert: He ended up shedding.) On this momentous Christmas Eve, the British tabloid went for “The Night before Brexmas,” that includes a smiling Boris Johnson dressed as Santa.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS       

THE FRUITS OF DIPLOMACY: Some EU officers have been deeply sad when France halted journey from the U.Okay., together with freight transport, on Sunday night over fears Brits may unfold a brand new, extra infectious coronavirus pressure to the Continent. They argued Paris risked reigniting the historic Anglo-French antagonism — thus making Brexit talks extra difficult. (France subsequently backed off, however a lot of the harm was finished.)

Unimpressed: “I deplore that France went against our recommendations and brought us back to the situation we were in in March when the supply chains were interrupted,” tweeted the EU’s Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean. “I hope that the Member States respond quickly to our request to relax the driving and rest times rules and, specifically, not to apply holiday driving bans, to allow drivers to get back to their families for Christmas.”

Happier now: The officers have been in a unique temper when German airline Lufthansa on Wednesday despatched a freight aircraft carrying fruit and greens to the U.Okay., amid fears that gridlocked cross-Channel visitors may put Britons’ Christmas provides in danger. The aircraft’s cargo, 80 tons of fruit and greens, was to go straight to supermarkets. Hanne Cokelaere has the story right here.

NON! France gained’t assist the EU-China funding deal, which is presently being negotiated, if the challenge of pressured labor isn’t addressed, Franck Riester, the nation’s junior minister for commerce, instructed Le Monde. “We can’t facilitate investment in China if we don’t work to abolish forced labor,” he mentioned. Backstory right here.

Oui! The European Chamber of Commerce in China, in the meantime, is urging the EU to transfer forward, with its chief Joerg Wuttke telling the FT in an interview that Brussels shouldn’t look ahead to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to take workplace earlier than placing a pact. “It does not make sense to wait for Biden,” Wuttke mentioned. “The U.S. didn’t look ahead to us for his or her Phase 1 commerce deal.”

PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW — THE POPE’S RIGHT HAND       

SITTING DOWN WITH ANTONIO SPADARO: As the EU and China proceed to negotiate, and as we are speaking about doable miracles, it appeared the proper second to communicate with Antonio Spadaro, one among the intellectuals closest to Pope Francis. Spadaro leads La Civiltà Cattolica, the Jesuit periodical, which not too long ago launched a Chinese version.

Dealing with Beijing: The Holy See not too long ago reached its personal take care of China — one to renew a pact on the appointment of Catholic bishops in the nation — in the face of sturdy U.S. opposition, with the Trump administration searching for to pile extra stress on Beijing. But the position of the Catholic Church “is not to overthrow political power,” Spadaro argued. “The agreement the Holy See has established with China is not an agreement of a political nature, but it is a pastoral agreement, which concerns the appointment of bishops.” And regardless, “I am convinced that [a deal with China] is a path to seek. When there is a cultural confrontation, we must consider that there is no colonialism of values, there are cultures that have different visions, mentalities … the effort must be made, it must absolutely be done — then the success is to be seen.”

Yes to European imams: In the aftermath this 12 months’s spate of Islamist terror assaults on the Continent, together with in France and Austria, Spadaro additionally spoke about the push by European Council President Charles Michel to practice imams in the EU, slightly than import them from overseas. Some diplomats had expressed fears the proposal may make the lives of Catholics outdoors the EU harder, however Spadaro doesn’t share that view: “It seems legitimate and interesting to me that since there is an Islamic population rooted in the various European countries, there is a leadership that speaks the local language, that is local, that is completely aware of national dynamics, which therefore feels nationality as an important element,” he mentioned. “The idea is that religion does not cancel citizenship —and this is true for both Muslims and Christians.”

Political faith: Some of the EU’s anti-migration leaders, comparable to Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán, have deployed Christianity as a political instrument to justify their hardline approaches. And close ties between faith and politics have created a maelstrom in Poland. For Spadaro, “the key point is that religion cannot be subjected to an instrument of political power, nor can it become an instrument of exclusion or division … the meaning of [Pope] Francis’ magisterium is that religions are called to make brotherhood and social cohesion grow — this is his thought.”

Common good to come? Authors comparable to Thomas Hobbes have argued that animals have a stronger sense of the frequent good than people. But it appears there are indicators one thing is altering — take, as a sign, the current deal struck by EU leaders to increase the bloc’s emissions discount purpose for 2030 (the pope has taken a powerful line on local weather). And whereas the 2020 pandemic has introduced ache and struggling to many, it could even have performed a optimistic position in altering individuals’s views, Spadaro reckons. “There is a different understanding … of humanity as truly united, that divisions, borders, barriers cannot constitute an element that differentiates environmental policies — we have seen that the virus does not consider barriers and borders,” he mentioned. “Nationalist solutions or bilateral agreements cannot resolve anything.”

IN OTHER NEWS       

MALTA REFORMING: We’re doing our rule of legislation homework — that’s the message of a letter, seen by Playbook, despatched by Maltese Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis and his house affairs colleague Byron Camilleri to European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová and Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders. The two ministers hooked up a protracted and detailed report on their authorities’s implementation of the suggestions of the Group of States in opposition to Corruption, (GRECO), the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption monitoring physique.

Working on it: “We wish to reiterate the Government’s commitment to uphold the rule of law through our continued efforts in making significant reforms and strengthening good governance,” the ministers wrote. “Prime Minister Robert Abela has speeded up the rule of law and constitutional reform processes in a bid to strengthen its institutional and legal frameworks,” mentioned a Maltese authorities official.

LE PERSONNEL       

GENDER AND DIVERSITY: The EU External Action Service (EEAS), the bloc’s diplomatic physique, is about to appoint a “principal adviser on gender and diversity,” its spokesperson Nabila Massrali instructed Playbook. (The job title was beforehand “EU/EEAS principal adviser on gender,” — with no point out of variety.) The new position can be totally different from the duties of Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli, as “this will not be an EU but an EEAS adviser.” The individual “will advise the secretary-general of the EEAS on how to ensure that the EU priorities on gender and diversity are implemented across the EU’s External Action. Hence, this job at the level of the EEAS is different from the political level of the commissioner.”

Concerned MEPs: The announcement of the new position got here after Playbook requested the EEAS about the publish, which was to be left vacant at the finish of this 12 months. Last week, a bunch of MEPs, led by Hannah Neumann and Ernest Urtasun, had raised considerations in a letter despatched to Josep Borrell, the EU’s prime diplomat. “The mandate of Ambassador Mara Marinaki, the first-ever EU/EEAS Principal Advisor on Gender, draws to its end on 31.12.2020,” they wrote. They famous Marinaki’s achievements in her publish, “such as, among other things, the creation of a robust EU policy framework” in the area of ladies, peace and safety. And they lamented that “to our great concern, no official procedure to fill the vacating post has been launched, leaving open whether the indispensable work will continue next year.” Now the job has been revealed, the EEAS instructed Playbook.

NOW READ THIS: Esther King spoke with 4 feminine activists who performed a central position in organizing demonstrations this 12 months and requested them to replicate on the expertise. A must-read.

FIGHTING EXTREMISM: Stefano Manservisi, well-known in Brussels after serving, amongst many different roles, as head of the personal workplace of then-Commission President Romano Prodi and as the Commission’s director-general for migration and residential affairs, has been appointed the new chair of the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), which works to forestall violent extremism.

OVER AND OUT       

THE BAD, THE MAD AND THE DJOKOVIC: And you thought politics was wild in 2020? Here’s our assortment of the greatest images which inform the story of a loopy 12 months in sports activities.

A TALE OF TWO BELGIAN CITIES GOING GREEN.

BIRTHDAYS: MEPs Matteo Adinolfi, Othmar Karas and Ryszard Legutko; Former MEPs Neena Gill and Marlene Mizzi; French Ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne; Romanian politician Mircea Diaconu, a former MEP; Ilham Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan.

MANY THANKS TO: Hans von der Burchard and our producer Ali Walker.

**A message from Huawei: Merry Christmas to you and your family members, wherever chances are you’ll be. Huawei is proud to be serving to you keep linked throughout this era. We stay dedicated to Europe, now and in the future.**

based mostly on website supplies www.politico.eu

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