Dave Keating Profile picture
American-European journalist and moderator covering EU politics in Brussels
Chris🌟 😷 #FBPPR #RejoinEU #FBPE💙 Profile picture Hugh 3.5% 🕷 #FBPE Profile picture Rosie #FBPE Profile picture Magdi Shalash Profile picture bill williams Profile picture 11 added to My Authors
22 Jul
Ludicrous. Johnson and his government were told how difficult enforcing a customs border within the UK would be, including by people in his own party.

It’s the reason Theresa May said this is something no UK leader could do. But Johnson pushed ahead anyway.
There were only bad solutions to the "Brexit trilemma" - a consequence of the UK government's choice for an extreme form of Brexit in which the country left the customs union in addition to the single market.

A customs border had to go somewhere. Johnson chose option A. Image
May chose option C, which would have eventually kept al UK in customs union with EU if no solution could be found.

Johnson rejected that and chose option A. It's far less disruptive than B, because a few ports and an airport are easier to police than 350 separate land crossings.
Read 4 tweets
18 Jul
The EU starting letting in Americans last month. But the US is still banning Europeans from entering, and providing no scientific justification for the continued restrictions.

The EU is now more vaccinated than the United States. bloomberg.com/news/articles/…
"Diplomats say that the Biden administration has given no indication when it might reverse the [travel ban] on the Schengen zone...even as vaccination rates tick up and scientific evidence suggests little efficacy in the ban."
The culprit is apparently the Biden administration's fear of even introducing the concept of requiring vaccination for anything, including for travel into the US, Politico reports (h/t @CeliaBelin) politico.com/news/2021/07/1…
Read 5 tweets
18 Jul
Dominic Cummings, @BorisJohnson’s chief advisor until November, says the PM told him when it comes to #COVID19 restrictions he “doesn’t believe in any of this”.

“I wish I’d been the mayor in Jaws and kept the beaches open” Cummings claims Johnson said.
The revelation comes as Johnson is refusing to self-isolate after one of his ministers tested positive, as members of the public are required to do.

Tomorrow is “Freedom Day” in the UK, when Johnson has instructed the country to completely reopen.
Well, that was quick.

After massive public backlash about one rule did the British elites and another foe the rest of society, they’ve u-turned and announced Johnson *will* self-isolate.
Read 4 tweets
15 Jul
At the January 2016 meeting with Putin, his spy chiefs and senior ministers “agreed a Trump White House would help secure Moscow’s strategic objectives, among them ‘social turmoil’ in the US and a weakening of the American president’s negotiating position” theguardian.com/world/2021/jul…
“Russia’s 3 spy agencies were ordered to find practical ways to support Trump, in a decree appearing to bear Putin’s signature.”

“A report prepared by Putin’s expert department recommended Moscow use “all possible force” to ensure a Trump victory.”
“There is a brief psychological assessment of #Trump, who is described as an ‘impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex’”

“There is also apparent confirmation that the Kremlin possesses kompromat on the future president”
Read 4 tweets
14 Jul
The EPP, the largest and most powerful political group in the EU, has declared that the Polish government is putting the country on the road to "Polexit" with its dismantling of the rule of law.

Today the country refused to implement rulings of the ECJ.
The ECJ ruled last year that Poland’s Disciplinary Chamber must suspend the politically-motivated cases it is pursuing against judges.

The decision "shows blatant disregard for the EU’s highest court" Amnesty International said today. amnesty.org/en/latest/news…
What happens if a member state refuses to abide by ECJ rulings (relevant now for 🇵🇱&🇭🇺) has never been confronted. It is a treaty violation, but does it result in expulsion?

No, there is still no codified way to expel a member state (just like in 🇺🇸).
Read 4 tweets
14 Jul
President @VonDerLeyen unveiling #FitFor55 climate package now.

It is the largest single batch of legislation to stop climate change proposed by any government anywhere, designed to update EU laws to meet the new 2030 emissions reduction target of 55% (raised from 40%).
That EU 2030 target was raised in December, motivated partly by the #FridaysForFuture climate protests.

But for the past 6 months there have been many questions about how the new target will be met.

Today we're getting answers.
Other major economies are also setting more ambitious 2030 emissions reduction targets.

But today the EU becomes the first to spell out how to reach the goal with detailed policy proposals.
Read 14 tweets
14 Jul
There's been a lot of recent takes that the EU is a failure if it can't enforce a 'union of values' on all its constituent states.

But it's worth pointing out that this is a problem encountered by every federation of states with degrees of sovereignty. apnews.com/article/joe-bi…
Just like President Von der Leyen, President Biden has very limited ability to counter the erosion of democratic rights in US states when it comes to areas that are a state competence.

Like Brussels, Washington has some limited tools. But Texas can mostly do what it wants here.
VDL & Biden can condemn with a moral argument. They can look for ways to deter the member state behaviour through condemnation, or through withholding funding.

But in a federation, ability to directly intervene is limited. EU & US very different, but face similar problems here.
Read 6 tweets
12 Jul
Breaking: EC spokesman signals pushback against #Malta's entry ban on unvaccinated EU citizens.

"It's true member states can put in place restrictions to protect public health. However any such measure that restricts free movement needs to be proportionate & non-discriminatory" Image
"A vaccine certificate cannot be a precondition for the exercise of free movement. This is 1 of the main principles of the EU digital Covid certificate regulation"

"We have concerns that these measures could discriminate against those persons who are not fully vaccinated" #Malta
A reminder: Just like in US, EU member states cannot close their borders with one another.

Unlike in US, there's exceptions for emergencies but they must be justifiable. Idea of certificate (vax, PCR test & antibodies) was once available these closures are no longer acceptable.
Read 4 tweets
12 Jul
#Malta's decision to start banning all unvaccinated travellers (even EU citizens) violates the spirit, if not the letter, of EU travel pass legislation.

Will the EC say such suspensions of Schengen free movement are no longer justifiable because the certificate is now available?
#DeltaVariant cases in key 🇪🇺 countries - 🇵🇹🇪🇸🇨🇾🇲🇹 among them - are rising rapidly following 🇬🇧 rise.

But tourism industry is warning governments not to overreact. Hospitalisations and deaths are not rising at anywhere near the same pace, because most Europeans are vaccinated. ImageImageImage
The charts showing the rapid rise in Covid cases in Europe as the #DeltaVariant spreads are legitimately alarming.

The big question is whether Europe's high rate of vaccination (the highest of any continent) will protect against hospitalisations and deaths even as cases rise.
Read 5 tweets
8 Jul
Hi @TVietor08, loved the @PodSaveAmerica 4th July podcast on debunking narratives.

But I disagree that the US is exceptional because "Our constitution, our system of government, is unique in that we have this capacity to amend it and fix it over time."
The idea that the US is a young, agile democracy and the nation states of Europe are old and inflexible is itself an American narrative that needs debunking.

Because the precise opposite is true.
The nation states of Europe are almost all younger than the US. Their constitutions are more recent. And they are constantly amending and reinventing things to adjust to modern realities - something the US is now incapable of doing.
Read 8 tweets
2 Jul
As predicted, #Slovenia's Orban ally PM Janez Janša used his 1st meeting with commissioners to expound on his world view rather than outlining EU presidency plans.

Because of what he said in that meeting, VP Timmermans refused to join him in presser after
“I simply could not be on the same podium with PM Janša after his unacceptable attack on and defamation of two judges and two S&D MEPs" Timmermans said.

By contrast, Von der Leyen was reportedly muted in her pushback against Janša. She is in his same EPP political group.
But in presser VDL reminded Janša that 🇸🇮 “has an important role to play on current rule of law files" because at this crucial moment of recovery financing "trust is our most valuable asset"

In other words don't try to delay these files until French presidency starts in 6 months
Read 4 tweets
25 Jun
Angela #Merkel confirms at her closing #EUCO press conference that part of her reason for wanting an EU summit with Putin was for EU sovereignty, to show #Biden’s summit wasn’t speaking for the EU.
Merkel asked other leaders thinking inviting Putin for a summit would be an undeserved reward.

Merkel notes that #Biden had a summit and “I did not have the impression it was a reward”

“It isn’t enough from European perspective to be debriefed about such talks by US President”
Merkel raises a good point.

It was expected these Eastern European leaders would loudly complain about #Biden’s summit at this month’s #NATO gathering. They didn’t, though they privately grumbled.

But when it comes to an EU-Putin summit, they were very vocally opposed. Why?
Read 5 tweets
25 Jun
"Everybody had tears in their eyes"

Dutch PM Mark Rutte told reporters about the emotional moment last night when Luxembourg's openly gay PM Xavier Bettel implored Viktor #Orban to think about the people he's hurting with his anti-LGBT law.
Rutte confirmed that he invited #Orbán to take #Hungary out of the EU if the country doesn't want to conform to EU values.

He said there was "broad" and "fierce" criticism of Orban by other PMs, the most "forceful" internal condemnation he'd ever seen at an #EUCO summit.
Strikingly, #Orbán does not appear to have received support during the discussion from the Eastern European countries who declined to sign Tuesday's letter condemning the law.

They were quiet, with only #Poland and #Slovenia expressing support.
Read 4 tweets
24 Jun
Entering #EUCO summit, #Orban is asked by reporters about #Hungary's law forbidding mentioning homosexuality to people under 18.

"We don't have that kind of law, we have the law on defending the rights of the kids and the parents."

"It's not about homosexuality".
"I am a fighter for [#LGBT] rights," #Orban insists. "I was a freedom fighter in the Communist regime."

"Homosexuality was punished, and I fought for their freedom and their rights. So I am defending the rights of the homosexual guys. But this law is not about that."
Asked if he would withdraw the law, #Orban says, "the law is published, it's done".

Asked whether he will defend the law at this summit he says, "it's not on the agenda". Reminded that it will be brought up, he says he's ready to defend it to the other EU leaders.
Read 4 tweets
24 Jun
Following yesterday's letter signed by Europe ministers asking the Commission to take legal action against #Hungary's anti-LGBT law, 16 prime ministers and presidents will sign a similar letter this morning ahead of today's #EUCO discussion on the matter. politico.eu/newsletter/bru…
“We have to be intolerant to intolerance," Luxembourg's openly gay prime minister Xavier Bettel told Politico.

"A member state makes laws that stigmatize a sexual minority and that mix up pedophilia and homosexuality — you can’t let that pass."
Politico reports the letter has been signed by:

Merkel 🇩🇪, Macron 🇫🇷, Draghi 🇮🇹, Sánchez 🇪🇸, Bettel 🇱🇺, De Croo 🇧🇪, Rutte 🇳🇱, Marin 🇫🇮, Löfven 🇸🇪, Frederiksen 🇩🇰, Kallas 🇪🇪, Kariņš 🇱🇻, Martin 🇮🇪, Mitsotakis 🇬🇷, Anastasiades 🇨🇾, and Abela 🇲🇹.

Missing: Kurz 🇦🇹, Nausėda 🇱🇹.
Read 7 tweets
23 Jun
Here it is - EU Commission unveils legal strategy to try to stop #Hungary's new anti-LGBT laws.

They cite violations of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, but not only that. Also the Audio-Visual Media Services Directive, E-Commerce Directive and Articles 35 & 56 of TFEU.
This was a remarkably fast turnaround for this 1st step of taking Hungary to the Court of Justice and reflects the urgency President @VonDerLeyen spoke of this morning, wanting to stop the laws before they enter force in Hungary.
I have no doubt that this legal action would not be happening today were it not for the statement coordinated by the BENELUX yesterday, and #Italy's signature last night was crucial (plus EP's legal threat against EC).

17 of 27 EU countries now demanding Commission stop Hungary.
Read 6 tweets
23 Jun
After ferocious blowback in Austria, the government has this morning backtracked on its refusal to sign yesterday's statement condemning Hungary's anti-LGBT law.

(In fact that brings total signatories to 15, Italian government also changed its mind last night)
And now Greece as well.

All eyes on Cyprus and Malta.
Here is the updated map of which EU countries have signed the statement condemning #Hungary's anti-LGBT law and asking the Commission to take legal action against Budapest to stop it.
Read 4 tweets
23 Jun
Commission President @VonDerLeyen has responded to the 14 (rumoured to soon be 15) EU countries asking for legal action against #Hungary for its anti-LGBT law.

But she doesn't say whether Charter of Fundamental Rights could be the basis.
What made the difference to push the Commission toward legal action? Two things, I think:

🇮🇹 Italy changing its mind and signing the statement
😲 Shock at some of the things said by the Hungarian justice minister yesterday
Not to be outdone, President Michel will put the issue of Hungary's anti-LGBT law on the agenda of tomorrow's #EUCO summit of prime ministers and presidents in Brussels, according to an EU official.
Read 4 tweets
23 Jun
Breaking: EU VP @MargSchinas says the Commission got tough with the United States in talks yesterday, demanding reciprocity on ending #TravelBans.

"They were receptive...so we’re hopeful we will have good news on that soon," he says. "It's now up to them"
"We very much insisted that the ‘America is back’ narrative and the revival of the transatlantic partnership should not be reserved to politicians, officials, diplomats and generals," Schinas says.

#Biden must also restart people-to-people contacts.
"We told them Europe is the most vaccinated continent in the world today," says Schinas. "We have in record time produced an EU #Covid19 certificate that testifies in a very accurate way that a traveller is not a risk to others."

(US doesn't have a national vaccine certificate)
Read 7 tweets
22 Jun
These are the EU countries that have not joined the condemnation of #Hungary’s law banning the mentioning of homosexuality: 🇵🇱 🇬🇷 🇨🇾 🇮🇹 🇭🇷 🇸🇮 🇸🇰 🇨🇿 🇷🇴 🇧🇬 🇲🇹 🇦🇹 🇭🇺 🇵🇹 .

All countries that don’t have same sex marriage (except 🇵🇹 which maybe wants to be neutral during presidency).
To people who have been following these issues for a long time, there is little surprising in this split.

🇮🇹🇦🇹🇬🇷🇨🇾 remain the countries most hostile to LGBT rights in ‘western’ Europe, the Baltics have emerged as the countries least hostile to gay rights in ‘eastern’ Europe.
List of signatories now finalised (Latvia did sign on).

The letter, initiated by #Belgium, says Hungary's new laws represent "a flagrant form of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and hence deserves to be condemned"
Read 8 tweets
21 Jun
I'm old enough to remember when people laughed at the launch of Fox News in the US.

In two decades it transformed the American political and media landscape and laid the ground for Trump. And we're not laughing now.
Even by 2001, five years after its launch, the relentlessly building influence of Fox News could be felt.

It was already driving the news agenda, whipping people into into a nationalist fervour. Everyone else had to compete. It pulled the entire media spectrum to the right.
True for both Fox & GB News: "It is the natural extension of the increasing popularity of a sort of conservative grievance politics, more concerned about what pictures students have on their walls than how the economy works or the outcomes of public policy..."
Read 5 tweets