This week has been all about President Trump’s visit to the Brussels bubble. But as I write this, I know that the President would beat any verbose, post-visit analysis with just 140 characters on his Twitter feed during his flight on to Italy.
The trip has not alleviated fears in the EU’s upper echelons about the President’s plans. There was no meeting of minds on macro policies during Trump’s private meetings with Presidents Juncker and Tusk. While the Pope’s gift of essays on climate change have so far failed to nudge the US President onto the same page as the European leaders on what climate action is needed.
The only hint of success for the EU was that Macron, the darling of Brussels, came out on top in the battle of the handshakes, though Trump did try to make up for this later during the photo opportunity.
With US advisory firm Teneo acquiring Brussels firm cabinetDN and every US law firm on Capitol Hill expanding their Rue de la Loi operations, the Americans are clearly in Brussels to stay.
It has been an interesting week elsewhere in Brussels. With MEPs arriving mere moments ahead of Monday amendment deadlines, the Mickey Mouse coffee bar was as tense as Commissioner Mogherini’s dinner with western Balkan leaders this week.
There were two stories which the anoraks reading will find particularly interesting. Firstly, the Eurogroup met to discuss the Greek situation. Whilst the ultimate outcome was not surprising, the appearance of apparent minutes from the meeting certainly was, providing a fascinating read and demonstrating the task ahead for Mr Dijsselbloem’s successor. The growing divisions between finance ministers and the IMF look set for a heated showdown in June. Meanwhile Spain seems to be now actively pushing for Eurozone reform.
Ironically, the clarity of clearing rules remains as opaque as ever. Germany, Italy and France could potentially derail the European Commission’s June announcement, due to their ongoing dispute with the ECB over ultimate oversight.
Finally, the process for the inevitable relocation of the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority began this week. Given President Juncker’s desire for geographical dispersion, the most likely destination, for at least one, seems to be one of the five EU member states which currently cannot boast an EU agency. With Dublin still pushing hard for the EBA, it looks like an eastern European battle for the EMA prize.
With leaders now heading to Sicily for the G7 summit, it will be intriguing to see if the events of this week in Brussels will resurface and whether the Trump/Macron handshake battles will escalate.