POLITICO Confidential: Trump freaks Europe out


The best of POLITICO’s coverage selected by Editor-in-Chief Jamil Anderlini.

EU Confidential

By JAMIL ANDERLINI

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Dear readers,

If you are a subscriber to our Global Playbook (and if you’re not you should be!) then you will know about my rather ridiculous, decidedly retro experience at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week. On my arrival atop the Magic Mountain, I tested positive for Covid-19 and spent the entire week at the world’s most hyperactive networking event isolating in an exorbitantly expensive but not very nice room on the Davos Promenade. Luckily, my excellent colleagues, including founding global editor-in-chief of POLITICO John Harris, were in town and did a fantastic job reporting on the event. This piece captures the essence perfectly.

Having mostly recovered, I spent the early part of this week in Berlin strategizing on the imminent launch of POLITICO’s Berlin Playbook, the daily must-read German-language email newsletter for anyone who works in or around German politics. Sign up here to get on the list for the inaugural edition next month.

I also attended the hugely impressive WELT-Wirtschaftsgipfel conference hosted by the German daily publication WELT — POLITICO’s sister publication inside the Axel Springer group. What other organization can attract all three leaders of the current German governing coalition — Finance Minister Christian Lindner, Economic and Climate Minister Robert Habeck and federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz — as well as Friedrich Merz, boss of the opposition CDU, assorted other ministers, the leaders of Mercedes-Benz, Santander, Siemens, Palantir, the Confederation of German Trade Unions and Barry Diller!

The event was held under Chatham House rules so I’m not able to give you all the scoops this time but it was a lively and fascinating discussion. One of the central themes revolved around the growing realization that Donald Trump may well return as U.S. president and that Europe could then be left to defend itself against the Donald’s best pal Putin, without the American security guarantees that have comforted the continent for so many decades.

This is a topic POLITICO has led on and we had some more great pieces just in the last week.

Another topic of discussion was the anger and increasingly violent resentment coming from the farming and rural sectors, and egged on by right-wing populists across Europe. We at POLITICO are all over this so keep an eye out for more of our excellent reporting and analysis in the coming weeks and months.

And I couldn’t end this week’s note without mentioning our gorgeous piece from our brave reporter in Kyiv, Veronika Melkozerova, and our forcibly exiled former Moscow correspondent, Eva Hartog: “Cry ‘Havoc!’ And let slip the cats of war!” It’s a must read.

Bon weekend,

Jamil

EDITOR’S CHOICE

Europe’s Trump challenge: Is it ready to fight Vladimir Putin alone?

With reporting from a defense minister to a Ukrainian soldier, this piece captures the conversation in Brussels and other European capitals as Donald Trump seems set to cruise comfortably to the Republican nomination for U.S. president. If Washington withdraws, is Europe prepared to fend off a Russian attack on its own? Read the story.


Greece rejected EU prosecutor’s call for action against 2 ex-ministers after rail crash 

We delivered the scoop of the week on a blatant attempt by the Greek government to hush up top-level corruption and misadministration that contributed to the country’s worst railway disaster last year. With exclusive documents, we charted how Athens dismissed a call from the European prosecutor to take action against two ex-ministers suspected of criminal activity around mismanaging the railways. Read the story.

War cats: Ukraine enlists feline friends in fight against Russia

So it’s happened: We’re officially a cat video site. I loved this; it shows we can approach a serious topic from a quirky, untapped angle. The reporting is excellent and so is the presentation, with great video and photos. It’s a beautiful story. Read the story.

Geert Wilders has a serious problem

Wait, Geert Wilders won the Dutch election, didn’t he? Then what happened? In this piece, we offered a masterclass in how to write a political explainer with true panache, charting why the blond firebrand is having so much difficulty forming a government. Read the story.

EU threatens to silence Hungary if it blocks Ukrainian funds

It’s the question on everyone’s lips in Brussels … what will happen to Hungary if it doesn’t stop being a thorn in the EU’s side. We found out in this exclusive story thanks to our deep network of sources in the bubble. Read the story.

media

The UK’s great disappearing energy summit

A searing look at changes at the top of the U.K. government, the shifting political priorities and Britain’s struggle to work out its role post-Brexit. Written in the best POLITICO style, too. Read the story.

Christine Lagarde makes a poor central banker, ECB staff say 

The story held one of Europe’s most powerful bureaucrats to account, giving a voice to widespread and suppressed unhappiness within her organization. It was picked up by all of our competitors. Read the story

YOUR WEEKEND PLAYLIST

‘Rent is too damn high!’ Europe’s growing housing crisis

In this episode we look at a crisis that is affecting many Europeans in most EU countries: skyrocketing rents and house prices, a shortage of flats, long waiting lists for social or affordable housing — commonplace problems from Greece to Luxembourg to Portugal.  Host Sarah Wheaton talks to POLITICO’s Aitor Hernández-Morales and Sorcha Edwards, secretary-general of Housing Europe, about the causes of the crisis, its impact across the bloc (including far-right parties using it as an election platform) and solutions at the EU level. Are there any, given that housing is not an EU competence? Then we hear from Dutch Green MEP Kim Van Sparrentak about housing challenges in her native Netherlands and her efforts to get the European Parliament and the Commission to get more involved in tackling the crisis. And Sarah speaks to Ans Persoons, secretary of state for the Brussels-Capital Region, who explains how the EU’s de facto capital is struggling to keep up with affordable housing demands. Listen to the episode.

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Westminster Insider

Westminster Insider is on a break, but our episodes are not time-sensitive: Have a listen to our catalog here or via the links below.

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Power Play: ‘Another way of slavery’: Singer, activist Angélique Kidjo on UK’s Rwanda policy, politics and music

How much attention is Africa receiving as the world remains transfixed by wars in Europe, the Middle East, and as elections in the West loom? This week, host Anne McElvoy talks to the award-winning musician and activist Angélique Kidjo about her campaign to improve education for girls in Africa and address the humanitarian needs of her native continent. They also discuss the U.K.’s attempts to send illegal asylum seekers to Rwanda. (Spoiler alert: The five-time Grammy winner calls on U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to abandon the policy, which she reviles as “another way of slavery.”) Listen to the episode.

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DECLASSIFIED

Should we expect something approaching decent timekeeping from the great and good? Read this week’s Declassified column.

Caption competition

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The final of Russia’s Got Talent was a real nail-biter.

 Can you do better? Email [email protected] or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

Last week we gave you this photo:

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 Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag — there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze.

“Like my good buddy Boris Johnson, I am targeting red wall voters,” by Tom Morgan.

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