POLITICO Confidential: Brexit cult blows up Britain — Meloni’s big headache — Gas buyers’ club

POLITICO Confidential: Brexit cult blows up Britain — Meloni’s big headache — Gas buyers’ club

Updated: 1 month, 12 days, 8 hours, 12 minutes, 15 seconds ago

Presented by EPP Group.

EU Confidential

By JAMIL ANDERLINI

PRESENTED BY

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Dear readers,

It has become a tired cliché to say that political satire is dead. In the U.K. it has been resurrected and returned to the grave so many times that the prospect of blonde bombsite Boris Johnson returning to power in No. 10 Downing Street feels to some like it might be the sanest and most stable option right now. The shortest premiership in British history ended with Prime Minister Liz Truss defeated by a lettuce in a wig. What more is there to say? 

On the Continent, we see a return of Franco-German rivalry. As a distinguished EU diplomat told me over dinner this week, the machinery of the European Union cannot function properly when Paris and Berlin are fighting. This person also noted that Germany is a mess and that the “accountant” Olaf Scholz is effectively absent as a leader in Europe — in stark contrast with his increasingly discredited, but at least somewhat competent, predecessor Angela Merkel. 

In our wonderful Brussels Playbook morning newsletter we had a good scoop on Europe’s plans to (eventually) sanction a handful of Iranian individuals and entities in retaliation for Tehran’s supply of weapons to Russia. 

As Iranian-made kamikaze drones rain down on Kyiv, Brussels quibbles over barely symbolic moves that seem designed to not offend Iran too much in case they endanger the moribund JCPOA nuclear agreement. Meanwhile, the brave people of Iran — often led by especially brave schoolgirls — are in open revolt across the country in the biggest outpouring of discontent since the 1979 revolution toppled the shah. If regime change does come, it’s easy to imagine the Iranian government and people turning to America and shunning Europe for its strange obsession with placating the ayatollahs. 

That’s all from me this week. 

Bon weekend and see you next week,

Jamil

**A message from the EPP Group: The EPP Group has adopted a Position Paper calling for concrete measures to address the dramatic rise of prices. Energy and food prices, together with the rise of inflation, squeeze consumer purchasing power and businesses.**

EDITOR’S CHOICE

The Brexit cult that blew up Britain

In a sea of brilliant stories that we published Thursday after the news of Liz Truss’ resignation, this was a standout. Smart, analytical, perfectly pitched to our audience, and unique, at a time when other outlets were writing stale copy. Read the story. 

EU’s Vestager takes second shot at redesigning Amazon’s website

Great scoop revealing that Margrethe Vestager is having another crack at forcing Amazon to redesign its website to make it fairer for small retailers. This is the European Commission’s most closely watched Big Tech case. Read the story. 

Will the real Emmanuel Macron please stand up!?

It feels like Italy, the U.K. and Germany have hogged the national-level spotlight lately, but this portrait of Emmanuel Macron’s shifting protectionist tendencies illustrates that France still has a big role to play in the EU and the ongoing energy and economic crisis. Read the story. 

Giorgia Meloni’s big headache

It’s not just the U.K. that’s having trouble stitching a stable government together. True to form, Italian politics is just as volatile as it always used to be — with the 86-year-old billionaire lothario ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi once again at the center of it all. This week, a secret recording emerged of Berlusconi boasting about swapping birthday bottles of booze with his friend Vladimir Putin. That made his potential coalition boss Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy, look like the moderate one. Read the story.

Franco-German rift threatens to cancel joint Cabinet meeting

A sharp turnaround on this scoop that captured a major theme this week. This piece perfectly set readers up for the EU leaders’ summit, where the Franco-German standoff provided the drama. Read the story.

The gas buyers’ club: EU plots price-cutting cartel

The EU is slowly inching closer to a plan to reduce energy prices, though on its current rate of progress it might be too late for the start of the winter. Among the most radical plans is forming a reverse OPEC-style cartel for gas. We ask whether that could be the start of something bigger. Read the story. 

European Union, Inc. special report

This trio of industrial policy stories looked at different sectors and how the EU is performing in each one, through the prism of security, sustainability and energy needs. It’s a very wonky topic that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, so it was good to see it highlighted this week. Read the package.

YOUR WEEKEND PLAYLIST

EU Confidential: Live from EU leaders meeting on energy, Ukraine and China

This week’s episode comes to you from the heart of the European Quarter in Brussels, where the 27 EU leaders are meeting once again for a European Council. Host Suzanne Lynch and our POLITICO team, Hans von der Burchard and Clea Caulcutt, unpack what’s at stake during these discussions, including the latest efforts to quell rising energy costs and address supply challenges as a result of the war in Ukraine. We’ll also dive into the latest on what Europe is doing to support Ukraine militarily, financially and with Russian sanctions. And finally, the leaders will also hold a strategic discussion on China, and POLITICO’s Stuart Lau explains where relations stand between Brussels and Beijing. Listen to the episode.

Westminster Insider

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

DECLASSIFIED

For both political successes and failures, learning how to apologize without apologizing is a key skill. This week’s Declassified column has more.

Caption competition

“This year’s Glastonbury Festival Saturday night headliner was a controversial choice for many.”

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

Last week we gave you this photo:

 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.

“I was this far from shouting at Putin,” by Mike Oehlers.

**A message from the EPP Group: The EPP Group has put forward concrete proposals to fight inflation and tackle rising energy costs. Among our recommendations, we call on the Commission to allow all Member States to introduce further temporary exemptions or reductions of excise duties and energy taxes to alleviate the burden on households and businesses. Zero VAT should apply to fruit, vegetables, dairy and other basic food products. Also, the EPP Group calls on the European Commission to immediately cease the burden on businesses by invoking a so-called ‘regulatory moratorium’ and delay those acts that would unnecessarily increase costs for businesses already under strain. We also call on the Commission to provide a sector-by-sector analysis of the cumulative effect of higher energy and raw material prices, new legislation, and the impact of the war. The EPP Group wants to see a comprehensive, cross-sectoral impact assessment on revisions of existing legislation and new legislation on energy.**

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