Politico.EU: 'What’s really on the agenda in Strasbourg?'

Politico.EU: 'What’s really on the agenda in Strasbourg?'

  • Terça-feira, 12 de Setembro de 2023

  •      A+  A-

AROUND PARLIAMENT

MORE NEW MEPs: The European Parliament is adding two new faces, alongside newbies Laura Ballarín for the S&D and Ana Collado for the EPP — both Spaniards — which Playbook reported on last week. France’s Catherine Amalric and the Netherland’s Anja Haga were announced as new MEPs by Parliament chief Roberta Metsola on Monday evening, Eddy Wax writes in to report from Strasbourg. 

New faces: Renew’s Amalric (not Almaric as the Parliament mispelled her name) will replace the late MEP Véronique Trillet-Lenoir, for whom MEPs held a minute’s silence Monday. Fittingly, like her predecessor, Amalric — who is part of the Radical party and not French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance — is also a medical doctor

Haga will replace Peter van Dalen, a 14-year MEP for the European People’s Party (EPP). Van Dalen said he stepped down at the request of his Christian Union party. Haga will sit as a nonattached member until a vote by EPP MEPs on Wednesday to admit her as an EPP member.

It’s getting stuffy in here: If you think that’s a lot of new faces, get ready for 2024. The constitutional affairs committee on Monday night rubber stamped a proposal — already reported by POLITICO — from the Council of the EU to increase the size of the chamber by an extra 15 lawmakers to 720, meaning two more MEPs for France, Spain and the Netherlands and an extra one for nine others. It’ll be put to a vote — a formality — Wednesday.

PARLIAMENT SET TO BACK NEW COMMISSIONER: Lawmakers are set to greenlight the appointment of Iliana Ivanova as the EU’s innovation commissioner today, Pieter Haeck writes in to report. The vote is a “consultation vote,” meaning it’s nonbinding. Ivanova is set to be voted through by a wide margin, as she already got the nod from the coordinators and chairs of the committees that quizzed her (industry and culture), the Parliament’s Conference of Presidents, and the three big political groups — EPP, S&D and Renew.

TUNISIA MIGRATION DEAL IN FOCUS: MEPs are expected to grill the bloc’s enlargement chief Olivér Várhelyi over the Commission’s controversial deal with Tunisia to stem migration flows, my colleague Gregorio Sorgi writes in to report. Strong criticism will come from the center-left S&D MEPs. The group’s foreign policy chief Pedro Marques told Gregorio that the “Commission should reconsider the EU-Tunisia agreement,” arguing that it is “fund[ing] an authoritarian regime to externalize the management of migration just to please right-wing forces in Europe.”

But don’t expect similar criticism from the center-right EPP, whose leader Manfred Weber is fully behind the deal. The party’s Dutch migration chief Jeroen Lenaers will address the plenary in Strasbourg. Most MEPs for the centrist Renew also support the Commission’s policy of striking deals with foreign countries of departure, despite their concerns about the lack of human rights guarantees. But expect strong words today from Dutch centrist MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld who led the crusade against the Tunisia deal for its lack of accountability.

LET’S TALK ECONOMICS

G7 SET TO ANNOUNCE RUSSIAN DIAMOND BAN BY END OF MONTH: G7 countries are set to announce concrete plans to ban sales of Russian diamonds by the end of the month, two officials briefed on the discussions told Playbook. 

Losing their sparkle: The EU has repeatedly debated banning imports of Russian diamonds since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine — but held off amid fears this would only divert trade away from the Belgian city of Antwerp, a global diamond hub, without actually harming Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war finances. The G7 has therefore been working on an international system for tracing diamonds. One of the main goals of this coordinated G7 push is to stop sanctions being circumvented, for example by importing Russian diamonds which have first been processed and relabeled elsewhere in the world. 

Slowly but surely: The G7 now wants to make previous commitments more concrete, by announcing a ban which could partly be implemented as soon as January, according to the officials, although technical details are still being worked out. The EU then has to turn that G7 decision into a new sanctions decision, which gives Poland and the Baltics renewed momentum for their calls for a new sanctions package from the Commission.

VESTAGER PROMOTES HYDROGEN, NOT NUCLEAR IN EIB RACE: In her bid to lead the European Investment Bank, Margrethe Vestager name checked wind, solar and hydrogen as forms of renewable energy that should get funding from the bank. But the Danish politician made no mention of nuclear energy in an interview with the Center for Global Development which will be published today and was seen by POLITICO — an omission that’s likely to be noted in Paris where officials are leaning toward backing a rival candidate for the EIB job. Nick Vinocur has more.

EU LEADERS TO TALK US SUBSIDIES: Industrial policy and the effects of the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act on the EU economy will again be on the table for EU heads of state and government at their first post-summer gathering at the end of October, according to a draft agenda obtained by my colleague Giorgio Leali. Leaders “will provide targeted guidance” on “industrial policy and energy” files, he reports.

IN OTHER NEWS

LIBYA FLOODS: Thousands are feared dead after Storm Daniel brought catastrophic flooding to eastern Libya, causing a dam to collapse, sweeping entire neighborhoods away. Local officials say at least 2,000 have died in the city of Derna alone, with many more still missing. CNN has more details.

MOROCCO AID: Days after a devastating earthquake killed at least 2,800 people, Morocco is still considering an offer of emergency aid from France. Rabat has accepted aid from other countries, including the U.K. and Spain. Clea Caulcutt has more on how the stalling of Paris’ offer is becoming a political issue, and is a fresh sign of tense relations between Morocco and France.

FORMER AUSTRIAN FM MOVES TO RUSSIA: Austria’s former Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl will move to St Petersburg to work for the GORKI center, a think tank she leads, according to Russian state news agency TASS. Kneissl has drawn criticism for her close links to Vladimir Putin, who attended her wedding in 2018, and for holidaying in Russia as recently as August.

‘Blood money’: Speaking at a conference in Vladivostok on Tuesday, Kneissl also criticized Austria’s behavior toward Russia, comparing it to “schizophrenia.” “Austrian politics and public opinion do not get tired of condemning Russia,” she said, adding that those who still have business ties to Russia are labeled as “earning bloody money,” TASS reported. Last week, the EU Commission’s envoy to Austria, Martin Selmayr, caused a furor after he critiqued the country’s import of Russian gas, calling it “blood money.”

MACRON’S UKRAINE U-TURN: Following months of foot-dragging and zig-zagging on how to deal with Russia in the immediate wake of Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, Emmanuel Macron and his government are now firing on multiple fronts in favor of Kyiv: EU enlargement, military support and NATO. Clea examines the French president’s slow, but bold U-turn.

ALL ABOARD: North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has arrived in Russia after traveling on his private train, Reuters reports. He is expected to meet with Putin to discuss a deal to supply Russia with weapons for its war in Ukraine, U.S. officials said.

US LONG-RANGE MISSILES: President Joe Biden’s administration is in active conversations about whether to send long-range missiles to Ukraine, according to two U.S. officials and a person close to the Ukrainian government, my U.S. colleagues report. Ukraine is pushing the U.S. to greenlight the delivery of Army Tactical Missile Systems by next week’s U.N. General Assembly, but U.S. officials say that is unlikely.

AGENDA

— Plenary session continues at the European Parliament and the College of Commissioners meets in Strasbourg, France. Watch the plenary session from 8.30 a.m. Press conference following the College meeting at 3.30 p.m. Watch.

— Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is in Strasbourg; Meets with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen … also meets with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola at 9.30 a.m.

— Roberta Metsola also meets French Secretary of State for European Affairs Laurence Boone … Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Hadja Lahbib … Hungary’s EU Affairs Minister János Bóka … and High Representative Josep Borrell.

— Vice President Margaritis Schinas meets with EPP Secretary-General Thanassis Bokalas in Strasbourg.

— Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson meets with S&D group President Iratxe García Pérez in Strasbourg.

— Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi and Ylva Johansson meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Elmedin Konaković.

— European Council President Charles Michel meets French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris for lunch.

BRUSSELS CORNER

LAHBIB IN STRASBOURG TO LAY GROUND FOR BELGIAN PRESIDENCY: Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Hadja Lahbib will be in Strasbourg today to lay the groundwork for the Belgian presidency of the Council of the EU early next year, a Belgian official told Playbook. Along with her meeting with Roberta Metsola, which is public, she’ll meet with leaders of political groups and of several committees.

Busy new year: Lahbib has a busy time ahead — she will chair not just the Foreign Affairs Councils as foreign affairs minister, but also the General Affairs Councils as EU minister and the Trade Councils as Belgian trade minister. In the first months of the Belgian presidency, it will be up to Lahbib to live up to the country’s compromise seeking reputation by pushing some final deals through before the EU institutions gear up for the June election.

NEWEST ROOFTOP TIPS: As a Belgian local, my mission inside the POLITICO newsroom is twofold: first, educate my colleagues on Belgian politics (you can find our “Belgian politics for dummies” in this week’s print edition). Second, educate my colleagues on the life beyond Ixelles. (Yes, there is one.)

You’re welcome: If you miss some glamor in Brussels, I very much recommend spending your Friday evening sipping a Hibiscus Cosmo at Tope’s rooftop, on top of the new Hoxton hotel near the less glamorous neighborhood of Brussels North train station. After your cocktail, head downstairs for some of the best ceviche in town. If you have to want to bring your kids along, the recently opened 58 is so large that they can play around. Expect a more laid-back vibe here. The latest addition to Brussels’ rooftops is on my to-do list for the upcoming weekend: the Skybar on top of the newly renovated Brussels Stock Exchange in the car-free center of town. Less new, but still a good insider tip is a rooftop lunch at Albert, on top of the Royal Library near Central Station, or a concert at the rooftop of Centre for Fine Arts Bozar. Veel plezier!

EVEN MORE EU LAUGHS: Brussels’ favorite comedy night, the Schuman Show, is back this month and due to popular demand will take place on three nights (September 28, 29 and 30). There won’t be another show until the end of November, so make sure you don’t miss this one. Tickets here.

BIRTHDAYS: MEPs Adam BielanFrancisco Guerreiro and Bogusław Liberadzki; Former MEPs Mark Demesmaeker and Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg; German politician Sigmar Gabriel; European Lotteries Association’s Arjan van ’t Veer; International Currency Association’s Jutta Buyse; Former Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

THANKS TO Nicholas Vinocur, Camille Gijs, Jacopo Barigazzi, Paola Tamma, Suzanne Lynch, Giovanna Faggionato editor Jack Lahart and producer Seb Starcevic.

UPDATE: This newsletter has been updated to reflect that EPP MEPs will vote on admitting new MEP Anja Haga as an EPP member on Wednesday.

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COLLEGE IN STRASBOURG: THE UNOFFICIAL AGENDA

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: The College of Commissioners is meeting in Strasbourg today to discuss a range of economic files (more on those below). The elephant in the room, of course, will be one of the best kept secrets in this town: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the European Union speech, to be delivered on Wednesday.

Collegial? We fully understand the desire to avoid leaks — not even EU ambassadors or the European Parliament’s group leaders have been given a heads-up to what’s in the speech. But in an executive which is called a “college,” it seems quite uncollegial that commissioners or even executive vice presidents only find out which of their policy ideas make it into actual policy at the same time as the general public.

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In mounting frustration with von der Leyen keeping the cards so close to her chest, one Commission official leaked an article to Playbook from the Commission’s internal communication system on … leaking, dubbed “just don’t do it.” The text argues that while it is difficult to pin down the exact number of leaks, “we are talking about 25 cases a year, more or less.”

Seriously? Playbook and colleagues deem that figure to be, shall we say, conservative …

MEANWHILE, FRANCE’S DEMANDE FOR THE SPEECH: Judging by our inboxes and conversations from the past few weeks, the lead-up to Wednesday’s speech is a good peg for every industry organization, lobbyist and national government to suggest their own wish list for the coming work year. Paris for example has been pressuring von der Leyen to announce a new probe against Chinese electric vehicles in her speech, despite fears across the bloc that Beijing could retaliate.

Wait, what is this about? For months, the French government and its proxies in industry and the Commission have been pushing the EU executive to launch an anti-dumping investigation against insurgent Chinese e-carmakers. This could open the way for Europe to impose additional levies against Chinese vehicles it reckons are being sold unfairly cheaply to grind down European competitors.

On continue: “We’re not giving up on it,” a French official told POLITICO. “It wouldn’t hurt to have it in the State of the Union, because it’s vital for the automotive industry as part of the industrial sector. It would be quite satisfying to see there is movement.”

Hitting the brakes: But in Brussels and Berlin, there is increasing irritation over the French demand, as politicians, civil servants and industry officials fear Chinese retaliation. Three EU trade diplomats, who were granted anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly, said they are very skeptical about the chances of success. “There is simply no way this will fly,” one of them said, capturing the mood. Read more in this story from Josh Posaner, Nick Vinocur and myself.

CAMPAIGN KICKOFF OR NOT? Despite the wish lists, don’t expect too many grand announcements on Wednesday. As the European election approaches, von der Leyen is likely to highlight the achievements of her time in office so far, with a focus on implementing plans that have already been announced.

Sounds like a campaign speech, you said? You can read more on how to interpret von der Leyen’s speech in this story from Sarah Wheaton.

COLLEGE IN STRASBOURG: THE OFFICIAL AGENDA

CORPORATE TAXATION? MAYBE ANOTHER TIME: The Commission will today adopt new rules for EU corporate taxation. But the executive shied away from suggesting that companies should be taxed where they create value — something called formulary apportionment — instead suggesting they should keep doing what they’re doing, but at the EU level, according to the proposal obtained by my colleague Paola Tamma.

Hope never dies: The reason that Brussels shied away from the more hands-on approach is that countries pushed back, fearful they’d miss out on tax revenue if, for example, a multinational that had been booking their profits with them due to their comparatively low tax rates would have to move them to a jurisdiction where they generate the bulk of their sales. In the long term, the Commission hopes this approach would pave the way for next steps.

Which are: Taxation matters need unanimous backing of all member countries, the result of which has seen many fiscal proposals sent to die in the waiting room. But all EU countries — as well as over 100 others — have signed up to a global tax deal, which includes a minimum corporate tax rate of 15 percent and the partial reallocation of profits for some of the world’s largest companies. That’s why Brussels thinks it has a shot of reaching consensus now. “Something has changed,” an EU official told Paola. Read her full story here.

BUSINESS RELIEF: Brussels will today also unveil a recovery package for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which was among Ursula von der Leyen’s promises at last year’s State of the Union speech. The package aims to get small businesses paid more quickly, which matters when interest rates have soared and only 40 percent of invoices are paid on time.

 
 

AROUND PARLIAMENT

MORE NEW MEPs: The European Parliament is adding two new faces, alongside newbies Laura Ballarín for the S&D and Ana Collado for the EPP — both Spaniards — which Playbook reported on last week. France’s Catherine Amalric and the Netherland’s Anja Haga were announced as new MEPs by Parliament chief Roberta Metsola on Monday evening, Eddy Wax writes in to report from Strasbourg. 

New faces: Renew’s Amalric (not Almaric as the Parliament mispelled her name) will replace the late MEP Véronique Trillet-Lenoir, for whom MEPs held a minute’s silence Monday. Fittingly, like her predecessor, Amalric — who is part of the Radical party and not French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance — is also a medical doctor

Haga will replace Peter van Dalen, a 14-year MEP for the European People’s Party (EPP). Van Dalen said he stepped down at the request of his Christian Union party. Haga will sit as a nonattached member until a vote by EPP MEPs on Wednesday to admit her as an EPP member.

It’s getting stuffy in here: If you think that’s a lot of new faces, get ready for 2024. The constitutional affairs committee on Monday night rubber stamped a proposal — already reported by POLITICO — from the Council of the EU to increase the size of the chamber by an extra 15 lawmakers to 720, meaning two more MEPs for France, Spain and the Netherlands and an extra one for nine others. It’ll be put to a vote — a formality — Wednesday.

PARLIAMENT SET TO BACK NEW COMMISSIONER: Lawmakers are set to greenlight the appointment of Iliana Ivanova as the EU’s innovation commissioner today, Pieter Haeck writes in to report. The vote is a “consultation vote,” meaning it’s nonbinding. Ivanova is set to be voted through by a wide margin, as she already got the nod from the coordinators and chairs of the committees that quizzed her (industry and culture), the Parliament’s Conference of Presidents, and the three big political groups — EPP, S&D and Renew.

TUNISIA MIGRATION DEAL IN FOCUS: MEPs are expected to grill the bloc’s enlargement chief Olivér Várhelyi over the Commission’s controversial deal with Tunisia to stem migration flows, my colleague Gregorio Sorgi writes in to report. Strong criticism will come from the center-left S&D MEPs. The group’s foreign policy chief Pedro Marques told Gregorio that the “Commission should reconsider the EU-Tunisia agreement,” arguing that it is “fund[ing] an authoritarian regime to externalize the management of migration just to please right-wing forces in Europe.”

But don’t expect similar criticism from the center-right EPP, whose leader Manfred Weber is fully behind the deal. The party’s Dutch migration chief Jeroen Lenaers will address the plenary in Strasbourg. Most MEPs for the centrist Renew also support the Commission’s policy of striking deals with foreign countries of departure, despite their concerns about the lack of human rights guarantees. But expect strong words today from Dutch centrist MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld who led the crusade against the Tunisia deal for its lack of accountability.

LET’S TALK ECONOMICS

G7 SET TO ANNOUNCE RUSSIAN DIAMOND BAN BY END OF MONTH: G7 countries are set to announce concrete plans to ban sales of Russian diamonds by the end of the month, two officials briefed on the discussions told Playbook. 

Losing their sparkle: The EU has repeatedly debated banning imports of Russian diamonds since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine — but held off amid fears this would only divert trade away from the Belgian city of Antwerp, a global diamond hub, without actually harming Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war finances. The G7 has therefore been working on an international system for tracing diamonds. One of the main goals of this coordinated G7 push is to stop sanctions being circumvented, for example by importing Russian diamonds which have first been processed and relabeled elsewhere in the world. 

Slowly but surely: The G7 now wants to make previous commitments more concrete, by announcing a ban which could partly be implemented as soon as January, according to the officials, although technical details are still being worked out. The EU then has to turn that G7 decision into a new sanctions decision, which gives Poland and the Baltics renewed momentum for their calls for a new sanctions package from the Commission.

VESTAGER PROMOTES HYDROGEN, NOT NUCLEAR IN EIB RACE: In her bid to lead the European Investment Bank, Margrethe Vestager name checked wind, solar and hydrogen as forms of renewable energy that should get funding from the bank. But the Danish politician made no mention of nuclear energy in an interview with the Center for Global Development which will be published today and was seen by POLITICO — an omission that’s likely to be noted in Paris where officials are leaning toward backing a rival candidate for the EIB job. Nick Vinocur has more.

EU LEADERS TO TALK US SUBSIDIES: Industrial policy and the effects of the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act on the EU economy will again be on the table for EU heads of state and government at their first post-summer gathering at the end of October, according to a draft agenda obtained by my colleague Giorgio Leali. Leaders “will provide targeted guidance” on “industrial policy and energy” files, he reports.

IN OTHER NEWS

LIBYA FLOODS: Thousands are feared dead after Storm Daniel brought catastrophic flooding to eastern Libya, causing a dam to collapse, sweeping entire neighborhoods away. Local officials say at least 2,000 have died in the city of Derna alone, with many more still missing. CNN has more details.

MOROCCO AID: Days after a devastating earthquake killed at least 2,800 people, Morocco is still considering an offer of emergency aid from France. Rabat has accepted aid from other countries, including the U.K. and Spain. Clea Caulcutt has more on how the stalling of Paris’ offer is becoming a political issue, and is a fresh sign of tense relations between Morocco and France.

FORMER AUSTRIAN FM MOVES TO RUSSIA: Austria’s former Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl will move to St Petersburg to work for the GORKI center, a think tank she leads, according to Russian state news agency TASS. Kneissl has drawn criticism for her close links to Vladimir Putin, who attended her wedding in 2018, and for holidaying in Russia as recently as August.

‘Blood money’: Speaking at a conference in Vladivostok on Tuesday, Kneissl also criticized Austria’s behavior toward Russia, comparing it to “schizophrenia.” “Austrian politics and public opinion do not get tired of condemning Russia,” she said, adding that those who still have business ties to Russia are labeled as “earning bloody money,” TASS reported. Last week, the EU Commission’s envoy to Austria, Martin Selmayr, caused a furor after he critiqued the country’s import of Russian gas, calling it “blood money.”

MACRON’S UKRAINE U-TURN: Following months of foot-dragging and zig-zagging on how to deal with Russia in the immediate wake of Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, Emmanuel Macron and his government are now firing on multiple fronts in favor of Kyiv: EU enlargement, military support and NATO. Clea examines the French president’s slow, but bold U-turn.

ALL ABOARD: North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has arrived in Russia after traveling on his private train, Reuters reports. He is expected to meet with Putin to discuss a deal to supply Russia with weapons for its war in Ukraine, U.S. officials said.

US LONG-RANGE MISSILES: President Joe Biden’s administration is in active conversations about whether to send long-range missiles to Ukraine, according to two U.S. officials and a person close to the Ukrainian government, my U.S. colleagues report. Ukraine is pushing the U.S. to greenlight the delivery of Army Tactical Missile Systems by next week’s U.N. General Assembly, but U.S. officials say that is unlikely.

AGENDA

— Plenary session continues at the European Parliament and the College of Commissioners meets in Strasbourg, France. Watch the plenary session from 8.30 a.m. Press conference following the College meeting at 3.30 p.m. Watch.

— Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is in Strasbourg; Meets with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen … also meets with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola at 9.30 a.m.

— Roberta Metsola also meets French Secretary of State for European Affairs Laurence Boone … Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Hadja Lahbib … Hungary’s EU Affairs Minister János Bóka … and High Representative Josep Borrell.

— Vice President Margaritis Schinas meets with EPP Secretary-General Thanassis Bokalas in Strasbourg.

— Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson meets with S&D group President Iratxe García Pérez in Strasbourg.

— Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi and Ylva Johansson meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Elmedin Konaković.

— European Council President Charles Michel meets French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris for lunch.

BRUSSELS CORNER

LAHBIB IN STRASBOURG TO LAY GROUND FOR BELGIAN PRESIDENCY: Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Hadja Lahbib will be in Strasbourg today to lay the groundwork for the Belgian presidency of the Council of the EU early next year, a Belgian official told Playbook. Along with her meeting with Roberta Metsola, which is public, she’ll meet with leaders of political groups and of several committees.

Busy new year: Lahbib has a busy time ahead — she will chair not just the Foreign Affairs Councils as foreign affairs minister, but also the General Affairs Councils as EU minister and the Trade Councils as Belgian trade minister. In the first months of the Belgian presidency, it will be up to Lahbib to live up to the country’s compromise seeking reputation by pushing some final deals through before the EU institutions gear up for the June election.

NEWEST ROOFTOP TIPS: As a Belgian local, my mission inside the POLITICO newsroom is twofold: first, educate my colleagues on Belgian politics (you can find our “Belgian politics for dummies” in this week’s print edition). Second, educate my colleagues on the life beyond Ixelles. (Yes, there is one.)

You’re welcome: If you miss some glamor in Brussels, I very much recommend spending your Friday evening sipping a Hibiscus Cosmo at Tope’s rooftop, on top of the new Hoxton hotel near the less glamorous neighborhood of Brussels North train station. After your cocktail, head downstairs for some of the best ceviche in town. If you have to want to bring your kids along, the recently opened 58 is so large that they can play around. Expect a more laid-back vibe here. The latest addition to Brussels’ rooftops is on my to-do list for the upcoming weekend: the Skybar on top of the newly renovated Brussels Stock Exchange in the car-free center of town. Less new, but still a good insider tip is a rooftop lunch at Albert, on top of the Royal Library near Central Station, or a concert at the rooftop of Centre for Fine Arts Bozar. Veel plezier!

EVEN MORE EU LAUGHS: Brussels’ favorite comedy night, the Schuman Show, is back this month and due to popular demand will take place on three nights (September 28, 29 and 30). There won’t be another show until the end of November, so make sure you don’t miss this one. Tickets here.

BIRTHDAYS: MEPs Adam BielanFrancisco Guerreiro and Bogusław Liberadzki; Former MEPs Mark Demesmaeker and Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg; German politician Sigmar Gabriel; European Lotteries Association’s Arjan van ’t Veer; International Currency Association’s Jutta Buyse; Former Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

THANKS TO Nicholas Vinocur, Camille Gijs, Jacopo Barigazzi, Paola Tamma, Suzanne Lynch, Giovanna Faggionato editor Jack Lahart and producer Seb Starcevic.

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