What was Barnier thinking?
Yes, that was the reaction in Brussels when the news of what Barnier said spread like wildfire. Michel Barnier, who until last year was responsible for the EU negotiations with the UK over Brexit, a supposedly committed European declared that if he is elected as French President next year, he would call a referendum on sovereignty. What does that mean? The referendum would create a constitutional shield by disregarding EU law and judgements, thereby making it possible for France to regain “freedom of manoeuvre and interpretation”. That would simply mean the implosion of the EU! The former Brexit EU Chief Negotiator was heavily criticised on Twitter, with people recalling his strong stance against what he termed as UK “cherry-picking” of EU law.
Who will be replacing David Sassoli?
The replacement of the European Parliament President David Sassoli is the million-dollar question at the moment in Brussel. His term as President of the EP is expiring next year, and according to what has been customary, the next President will be from the EPP party. Manfred Weber the head of the EPP in the European Parliament is vying for this position and is also jockeying to replace Donald Tusk as President of the EPP. The likelihood is that he will get the EPP President post, however, rumours are making the rounds that the incumbent would like another term. Will he manage? Technically he shouldn’t, as that would affect the political balance achieved to reflect the results of the last EP elections.
Josep Borrell busy
The EU VP and High Representative Josep Borell was busy last week on visits to Baghdad, Tunis and Tripoli. Iraq and Libya are expected to hold elections soon, while Tunisia has just suspended the constitution and its Parliament. During these visits he conveyed the EU’s message on the importance of these elections, particularly the Libyan one as the country is still fragile and reeling from its civil war. Tunisia’s story is completely different and Josep Borrell was quite clear in his message that Tunisia must return to its democratic principles and should not lose what it achieved during the Arab Spring.
Flights to Belarus were also on the agenda, as Belarus is using Iraqis as migrants to put pressure on its EU neighbours. Borrell asked the Iraqis to suspend these flights permanently.
EU vs Poland
The EU has asked the European Court of Justice to impose fines on Poland over its failure to comply with EU Court ruling. The case pertains to the ‘reform’ of the judiciary, widely interpreted as a move to side-line magistrates who are not toeing the government’s line and replacing them by friendlier faces. How did Poland react? Simple, by reminding the EU on the reasons why the Brits left the EU. In other words, Polexit! The head of the ruling Law and Justice Party said that “the dictatorship of the Brussels bureaucracy did not suit them and so they turned around and left.” However, a Polexit was not on the cards according to the official government spokesperson.