The Brief: Tusk gores Brexiteers

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Tusk gores Brexiteers

Donald Tusk has been on good form since he overcame opposition from his own government to be reappointed as president of the European Council.

The former prime minister of Poland’s pithy press conference yesterday, held 20 minutes after being handed the UK’s Article 50 letter, was well-judged.

“We already miss you,” he told Britain. It could have come across as sentimental and schmaltzy but Donald managed to pull it off.

Today, Tusk gave a belter of a speech at the European People’s Party summit in Malta, which may sadly be overshadowed by Juncker squaring up to Donald Trump.

Juncker told Trump that he will call for ‘Texit’ – Texan independence – if the flamboyant billionaire keeps backing Brexit. It’s time for Jean-Claude to take this war to Twitter and give the spotlight back to Tusk.

Rather than wheel out the platitudes and clichés, Tusk grabbed the eurosceptic bull by the horns.

During the Brexit referendum, EU chiefs refused to fight and argue for the European Union.

They may well have been asked to keep their noses out by the British. But you either believe in something enough to defend it or you don’t.

Tusk blasted the Brexit campaign. The idea that supporting Brussels made you less of a patriot was hogwash, he said.

“This was in fact the main theme of anti-EU campaigns in the UK and many other places, virtually in the whole of Europe. This is a view that is both foolish and dangerous,” he said.

Tusk said it was time to reclaim the terms of sovereignty, independence and patriotism from “extremists and populists”.

“For rational and responsible patriots who want to maintain sovereignty and independence of their nations and states,” he said, “there is no alternative to a united and sovereign Europe.”

Whether or not you agree, you have to admire his chutzpah in taking their fight to the Eurosceptics on their own turf.

Not bad for a guy who had to “polish” his English after getting his job and is accused of murdering a former prime minister by Poland’s governing party.

It is just that Tusk only mentioned the elephant in the room after the process leading to Brexit was triggered.

THE ROUNDUP

It’s time to hear the untold story of Brexit and give a voice to its unheard victims. We are, of course, talking of Britain’s cats and dogs. Don’t miss the video of the European Commission defending freedom of movement for pets.

A Polish MP has written to Jean-Claude Juncker and accused him of “alcohol dependency”.

The UK has made its first post-Article 50 threat. Interior Minister Amber Rudd said Britain is likely to leave Europol and take its data with it if no Brexit deal is agreed. Revoking Article 50 might also be illegal, EU diplomats have claimed.

Talk of a transitional Brexit deal is already gaining traction in the EU institution and capitals.

EU law will be copy-pasted into domestic legislation under British government plans and the UK ambassador to Spain insisted the issue of Gibraltar will be given priority in the talks.

Sarantis Michalopoulos reported from Malta that the EPP has warned the UK against using citizenship as a bargaining chip in the Brexit negotiations. The group also insisted it won’t tolerate corruption in its ranks.

Viktor Orbán has launched a blistering broadside against the European Court of Justice.

London’s GDP dwarves the national average and Berlin is the only EU capital city that is poorer than its country. Greece has been found guilty by the European Court of Human Rights of failing to prevent forced labour conditions.

Martin Schulz is trying to stay out of the day-to-day running of the German government so that he can offer a fresh start to voters. Emmanuel Macron is Brussels’ pick for France’s presidential election.

US Senate intelligence leaders claim Russia may interfere in the end-of-April vote. They are also launching an inquiry into potential links between Donald Trump and Moscow.

The EU will seek member state approval to negotiate controversial pipeline project Nord Steam 2 on their behalf. Industry leaders agreed at an energy forum that digitalisation is crucial to energy efficiency targets.

Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn squared up to former boxer and current mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko. Check out this great map that shows which country has planted the most trees since 1990. The top nation may surprise you.

If you spotted a zombie getting married outside the Berlaymont earlier today, it was a Friends of the Earth protest against the mega-merger of Bayer and Monsanto. Not an actual zombie wedding.

Sam Morgan contributed to this Brief.

LOOK OUT FOR…

It’s another big Brexit day, we’re afraid. Donald Tusk will issue his draft negotiating guidelines for the Brexit talks at 9.45AM. The press conference can be seen here.

Views are the author’s and not our sponsor’s. 


This Brief is sponsored by Statoil. Renewables will be an integrated part of Statoil’s business, with new energy solutions accounting for 15-20% of investments by 2030. Is that enough? Bjørn Otto Sverdrup, Statoil senior vice president for sustainability answers this and more here.


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