Brussels Playbook: Camino Español — Russia sanctions — British stress

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TIME TO REVIVE THE CAMINO ESPAÑOL: Today, we’ll begin with one thing slightly completely different: A historical past lesson. In the sixteenth century, King Philip II of Spain reigned over the world’s first international empire, stretching from Mexico to the Philippines (which to this present day bear his identify). But at house in Europe, his empire was prone to disintegrating.

The drawback: Philip’s fixed problem was to attach his realms in Europe’s south (the Iberian peninsula) with these within the north (the Spanish Netherlands and elements of Germany) — a logistical nightmare, as a result of between them lay rival France.

Philip created a classy route to bypass the French, utilizing a whole lot of galleons to cross the Mediterranean onto Spanish territories in Italy, then crossing the Alps to achieve the lands we now name the Benelux and Germany. The new route got here to be often called the Camino Español. Spain used that important artery for many years to move troops and silver to the warring north, in an effort to maintain the empire united.

The future is historical past: Today, German, Portuguese and Spanish politicians are working to revive that exact same route (compare these maps) to move one thing simply as important — pure fuel, and sooner or later, hydrogen — as a result of France is obstructing the development of a pipeline via its personal territory.

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The pitch for a north-south pipeline is easy: Germany wants new fuel suppliers; Portugal and Spain have them. (On prime of a pipeline to Algeria’s fuel fields, they’ve eight LNG terminals, together with the EU’s largest, in comparison with Germany’s zero.) The pipeline would funnel hydrogen (made out of ample solar energy within the south) to energy-hungry industries that can want inexperienced fuel, equivalent to metal mills and chemical compounds factories.

Are you with us, France? The quickest means to try this is by finishing the €3 billion MidCat pipeline that runs from Spain via France, which is sort of completed apart from a stretch from Barcelona to Carcassonne. But France is obstructing the completion of the pipeline, and German and Spanish leaders are rising more and more annoyed with President Emmanuel Macron.

RAMPING UP PRESSURE: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been pushing laborious for the development of MidCat via France, as are his Spanish and Portuguese colleagues. Politicians and senior officers in Berlin, Lisbon, Madrid and Brussels instructed POLITICO that ending MidCat remains to be their most well-liked choice — however they’re engaged on a Plan B.

Ministers converse: “We see the MidCat pipeline as a solution for the supply both of natural gas, and in the future hydrogen,” Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares instructed Playbook. Similarly, Portugal’s EU Affairs Secretary Tiago Antunes instructed Playbook in an interview that the three nations “hope that we’ll be able to convince France that this makes sense. It really is a no brainer.” But he added that if France doesn’t budge, “there are also other alternatives.”

What’s behind French opposition: Macron has blocked the completion of MidCat, arguing earlier this month that he was towards constructing new fossil gas infrastructure. That’s angering officers in Berlin and Brussels, who say Macron really opposes the pipeline for a lot much less noble causes: He doesn’t need competitors for French power exports. It appears that for all his discuss of being a European statesman, Macron is performing extra like King Henry IV, a monarch notoriously obsessive about re-shoring and mercantilism.

France has its personal plans: In the quick time period, Paris needs to promote fuel from its 4 LNG terminals to Germany, as an alternative of being a transit nation for fuel from the south, officers in Berlin mentioned. In the long term, France hopes to promote huge quantities of hydrogen made with nuclear power, a senior French official instructed Playbook. (That is, in the event that they handle to repair all their broken nuclear reactors). But a north-south pipeline transporting “green hydrogen” would compete with France’s “nuclear hydrogen.”

Planning the Camino Español 2.0: Officials in Berlin, Lisbon and Madrid mentioned they are going to construct a pipeline with or with out French approval. “If France does not evolve in its position … the link to Europe can be done with Italy,” Portugal’s Antunes instructed Playbook. “So linking directly Spain with Italy, leave Barcelona and arrive in Livorno. This is something that is now being considered and studied.”

Spain’s Albares agreed. While he mentioned he had not given up hope on MidCat, “another possibility is a route via Italy.” Albares’ colleagues on the power ministry are already engaged on permits for the choice route.

Black humor: While constructing a pipeline via the Mediterranean will definitely be difficult, an official in Berlin joked that Germany had gained quite a lot of follow constructing pipelines via the ocean with Russia’s Nord Stream.

Get prepared for October: All eyes at the moment are on a gathering between Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Germany’s Scholz, together with their ministers, within the Galician harbor metropolis A Coruña on October 5. “We will have Spanish-German government consultations in October where we also want to continue supporting this pipeline and the interconnections,” Albares mentioned.

The huge query: Will Scholz and Sánchez persuade Macron, or will they be pressured to bypass France, as King Philip did earlier than them?

Further studying: Read all in regards to the pipeline plans by yours really and my colleague Hans von der Burchard.

**Discover how European cities deal with the problem of transferring folks and items within the twenty first century. Read our Global Policy Lab collection on Mobile Cities.**


TIME TO TURN THE SCREWS: Europe is making ready recent sanctions towards Russia, after President Vladimir Putin determined to stage referendums to annex Ukrainian territory, mobilized 300,000 reservists and threatened anybody who’d attempt to cease him with nuclear weapons on Wednesday.

New ‘confessionals’: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s workforce will begin consulting representatives of EU nations — identified on the town as “confessionals” — to sound out what capitals are keen to just accept for an upcoming sanctions package deal, 4 EU diplomats instructed POLITICO. Brussels will talk about proposals with EU ambassadors as quickly as Friday, the diplomats mentioned.

What’s on the desk: Diplomats anticipate a dialogue on a plan to cap the worth of Russian oil, which is presently being mentioned within the G7. The U.S. is pressuring the EU to make progress on an oil worth cap earlier than the EU’s ban towards Russian oil imports comes into pressure in December. Other potential measures on the desk could possibly be extra listings of people, a ban on the import on Russian diamonds and different luxurious items.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING — SURPRISE PRISONER EXCHANGE: Overnight, Ukraine announced that 215 Ukrainian and international residents have been launched by Russia in a prisoner alternate for 55 prisoners — amongst them, Putin pal Viktor Medvedchuk.

ZELENSKYY AT UNGA: In a hotly anticipated video address to the U.N. General Assembly hours after Russia introduced its partial mobilization, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy invoked Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” to name for justice for his nation. “A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment,” Zelenskyy mentioned. “Ukraine demands punishment for trying to steal our territory. Punishment for the murders of thousands of people. Punishment for tortures and humiliations of women and men.” More from UNGA in U.N. Playbook.

ICYMI — WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: Playbook’s personal Zoya Sheftalovich has this prime evaluation of what Putin’s so-called partial mobilization means for Ukraine, Russia and the West.


ITALY’S INDUSTRIAL HEARTLAND GIVE MELONI A CHANCE: Forget Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini — right-wing business-owners in northern Italy have a brand new idol: far-right chief Giorgia Meloni, who’s in pole place to win the Italian election on Sunday.

Case research: According to latest polls, Meloni is ready to win within the northern areas of Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont — previously strongholds of Salvini’s League and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. POLITICO’s Giorgio Leali spoke with small entrepreneurs from the Bergamo space (one of many richest areas within the EU) to know the place their new-found love for Meloni comes from. Business house owners are intrigued by Meloni’s guarantees to chop taxes and crimson tape and, since neither Berlusconi nor Salvini delivered on that, they’re keen to offer Brothers of Italy a go.

What Meloni will do to the EU: Meloni is poised to affix like-minded leaders in Poland and Hungary as a spoiler to the EU’s ambitions, write our colleagues Carlo Martuscelli and Jacopo Barigazzi on this huge learn in regards to the far-right firebrand.

MCKINSEY WARNS OF EU TECH GAP: A brand new report out at this time by consulting agency McKinsey warns Europe’s tech lag (when in comparison with the U.S. or Asia) is turning into a much bigger drawback for the bloc’s whole financial system.

Falling behind: Between 2014 and 2019, giant European firms with greater than a billion euros in income (that’s a pattern measurement of 12,000 companies) spent 40 % much less on R&D, grew their revenues at virtually half the tempo and have been 20 % much less worthwhile in contrast with U.S. companies. The report warns that “Europe’s corporate underperformance is largely due to technology-creating industries.”

ELEVEN YEARS AND COUNTING: Today marks 11 years since EU nations vetoed Romania’s and Bulgaria’s software to affix the EU’s free journey space, often called the Schengen zone.

Call for plenary dialogue: “Keeping Romania and Bulgaria waiting at the door for 11 years without any objective reason is a blemish on the image of the EU,” Socialists and Democrats group chief within the European Parliament Iratxe García instructed Playbook, including that each nations objectively “meet all the requirements” to affix Schengen. García mentioned she is going to name for a dialogue in October’s plenary.

EU INCHING CLOSER TO A BAN ON FACIAL RECOGNITION: Efforts to outlaw using AI cameras to scan and establish folks’s faces in public areas are gaining traction, writes POLITICO’s Clothilde Goujard.

UK RAMPS UP PRESSURE ON EU OVER SCIENCE PROGRAMS: British and EU officers meet at this time, as London seeks entry to European scientific analysis packages equivalent to Horizon Europe.

Committee for cherry-picking: The assembly of a particular committee was referred to as by Britain and is step one to arbitration. U.Ok. officers say they’re dropping endurance with the EU for not honoring the letter and spirit of the Brexit settlement, underneath which Britain would get entry to such packages. “We’ve made every effort over the last 18 months to get the EU to finalize U.K. access to EU research programs, as was agreed under the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement,” a U.Ok. authorities official mentioned.

With or with out you: “Time is running out to give clarity to the U.K.’s R&D sector. If progress cannot be made shortly the U.K. will set out ambitious alternative domestic arrangements,” the official added.

Now learn this: POLITICO’s Esther Webber has written about new British Prime Minister Liz Truss’ first worldwide journey and her “hyperactive” engagement with international coverage after tailing the PM in New York.

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— U.N. General Assembly continues in New York. EEAS chief Josep Borrell speaks at 5:15 p.m. … Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at 6 p.m. WatchProgram. Subscribe to POLITICO’s U.N. Playbook.

— Extraordinary casual assembly of international affairs ministers in New York, adopted by press convention by Josep Borrell.

— Bilateral assembly between von der Leyen and Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif in New York … von der Leyen additionally delivers a keynote handle at Princeton University.

— Informal assembly of shopper safety ministers in Prague.

European Economic and Social Committee 572th plenary session, with enter from EESC boss Christa Schweng and Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas. AgendaWatch.


THE SINGULAR CAREER OF MAURO PETRICCIONE: He was barely identified exterior Brussels, however on the town, he was often called a person who might make issues occur. The director normal of the EU’s local weather change division, identified to most as Mauro, died all of the sudden final month from a coronary heart assault, aged 65.

True European: “He had one of the superlative EU careers, marked in its final decade by a rapid-fire set of historic achievements: cinching three vital EU free-trade agreements, designing its Climate Law and crafting the European Green Deal,” Karl Mathiesen and Paola Tamma write. He was additionally, by each account, a real “European,” from the custom of Altiero Spinelli, an EU founding father, who noticed unification as a bulwark for peace and prosperity on a Continent traditionally torn by wars. Read the obituary right here.

SOUNDTRACK TO THE PRESIDENCY: The Czech EU presidency laid on a splendid night of classical music on the opulent BOZAR live performance corridor on Wednesday night time, Eddy Wax writes in to report.

Musical motto: The Prague Philharmonia orchestra, performed by Jan Kučera, performed a stirring new piece referred to as “Stronger Than Yesterday,” composed by Czech pianist Tomáš Kačo, in addition to music by the nice nationwide composer Antonín Dvořák.

Moravian rhapsody: The undisputed star of the night was pianist Lukáš Vondráček, who gave an enigmatic efficiency of a Beethoven piano concerto. The presidency is now virtually midway via however its calendar of cultural events in Brussels is price at look.

BIRTHDAYS: MEP Estrella Durá Ferrandis; Former MEPs Michael Heaver and Csanád Szegedi; French politician Ségolène Royal; Intel’s Sophie Jacobs; International Committee of the Red Cross’ Chadi Sidhom; Boeing’s Agnès Leroux; HM Revenue & Customs’s Matthew Sabourin; M&G Investments’ Alexandra Ranson; Minister Counsellor on the Permanent Representation of Finland to the European Union Anton Nilsson.

THANKS to Giorgio Leali, Barbara Moens, Jacopo Barigazzi, Eddy Wax and producer Grace Stranger.

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Jakob Hanke Vela

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