POLITICO Confidential: Europe’s strategic impotence — Silvio the seducer — France wants a trade war

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Dear readers,

It’s been a very busy and productive week in POLITICO towers across Europe. I can’t go into detail because these were all off the record but I was personally very busy meeting lobbyists, spies, disgraced politicians, tech entrepreneurs, hedge fund managers, tech regulators, baronesses, various diplomats, Chinese émigrés and sundry other fascinating characters. Exhausting as it was, I was definitely reminded this week of how much fun it is to be a journalist — even one that spends much more of his time managing other people, rather than reporting and writing!

Two exciting developments this week: 

POLITICO held its first ever global event, drawing on the expertise and excellence of our newsrooms across the U.S., Europe and U.K. to host a Global Tech Day in London on Thursday.

We had top speakers from all over the world and the day produced lots of impactful news lines from people like Senator Ted Cruz, e-safety commissioner of Australia Julie Grant, former top MI6 official Nigel Inkster, deputy Bank of England governor Jon Cunliffe and U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai. Look out for more global events from us in the coming months.

The other achievement came in the form of accolades. POLITICO reporter Elisa Braun won journalist of the year in the Drum Online Media Awards for her tireless reporting on transparency and lobbying in France in 2022. We also won specialist news site of the year for POLITICO Pro, our policy and legislative coverage service which we are currently expanding rapidly in Europe and the U.K.

I’ve noticed Brussels in particular is a very seasonal town, with peaks of frenetic activity punctuated by lulls when the political circus goes on holiday and the city empties out. Right now is one of those peaks and I’m looking forward to another month of frantic busyness before I head off for my (uncommonly short!) summer holiday. My family and I will go where we usually head, which is in the Tuscan countryside near my grandmother’s ancestral home of Lucca. 

Until then, keep an eye out for all the scoops and analysis we have in the publishing pipeline and stay hydrated.

Bon weekend,


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Europe’s military buildup: More talk than action

Our team dug deep into a new policy area and produced a well reported story looking at the gap between policy pronouncements on beefing up defense and what’s actually happening on the ground. Read the story.

Silvio Berlusconi: The man who seduced an entire country

What an opening! What a story! Silvio Berlusconi just wanted to be loved. How could anyone not read this compelling obituary from start to finish. Read the story.

A top EU official helps run a luxury hotel in Bali — and never had to tell Brussels

How can you hide your ownership of a luxury hotel in Bali, if you’re a top Brussels official who has to meet EU rules for transparency? The answer is, you don’t have to. In this piece, we revealed that Gert Jan Koopman, the top official in the European Commission’s powerful enlargement division, developed an “eco-luxury resort” renowned for its infinity pool — and simply did not need to tell his employers. That, according to transparency campaigners, shows that EU processes for handling potential conflicts of interest are not worth the paper they aren’t written on. Read the story

Behind enemy lines: Inside the operation to rescue Ukraine’s abducted children

This article puts a spotlight on one of the more horrific elements of Vladimir Putin’s brutal war in Ukraine: The deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia. Through the story of a 16-year-old girl and her mother, it details how children are being transferred from occupied territory to education camps in Russia or Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine — and recounts how parents are risking travel into enemy territory to bring their children back. Read the story.

France presses EU to declare trade war against China

A fantastic team effort to transform a Brussels Playbook scoop into a first-class front-page story on France’s push for the EU to hit Chinese electric vehicle exports with anti-dumping tariffs. This story has the potential to be huge, and POLITICO is out in front on it. Read the story.

20 people who matter in the UK’s race to net zero

The U.K.’s new climate and energy vertical is off to a roaring start, anchored by a strong, incisive explainer-list. In general, it was a great week for new frontiers at POLITICO. Read the story.

Paris is warming up to EU-Mercosur deal, but slowly

Our interview with French Trade Minister Olivier Becht shed light on Paris’ updated position on the politically explosive EU-Mercosur trade deal. It was quoted several times in the National Assembly during a parliamentary debate on the subject and is a great example of our ability to make an impact with stories that we’re uniquely placed to cover. Read the story.


EU Confidential: Artificial intelligence and the EU’s attempt to regulate it — Commissioner Thierry Breton

This week’s episode dives deep into artificial intelligence — and how the EU is responding to this rapidly developing technology. Host Suzanne Lynch joins listeners from Strasbourg as the European Parliament took a major step forward this week on turning the EU’s sweeping legislation, the Artificial Intelligence Act, into reality. We hear directly from European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton on the origins of this act, and its aims — and he addresses the criticism that it could harm innovation. POLITICO’s Technology and Competition Editor Aoife White and Mark Scott, chief technology correspondent, put Europe’s efforts to regulate AI into the broader context of European tech regulations and discuss how this affects Brussels’ relations with the United States and others. We also hear the industry’s perspective from Victoria Espinel, president and CEO at BSA | The Software Alliance. Listen to the episode.

Westminster Insider: Harassment and bullying: What is wrong with British politics?

This week, host Aggie Chambre asks why we keep hearing new allegations of sexual misconduct and bullying in the British parliament, and asks what can be done to make it better. She speaks to her POLITICO colleague Esther Webber, who has broken numerous stories on inappropriate behavior. Esther tells Aggie her theories on what is going wrong and how it can be fixed. Former clerk Jenny McCullough tells Aggie about her experience of being bullied while working in Westminster. Labour MP Jess Phillips talks about what she would do if someone came to her and said they were being bullied. Tory MP Mark Jenkinson questions whether some bullying allegations should really be described as bullying, and says politics is no place for snowflakes. Former special adviser Lucia Hodgson talks about setting up parliament’s the independent complaints scheme. Listen to the episode.


Three of the absolute masters of being petty have been in the headlines. Read Declassified to find out who they are.

Caption competition

Do you think the regulation prison orange jumpsuit will go with my fake tan?”

 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 asked my political adviser for boat shoes but instead I received these” by Peter Nieman.

**A message from Meta: Instagram’s Family Tools were created to help teenagers have a healthier and safer experience on the app. Accounts for under 18s are set to private by default, so what they post stays between them and their followers. The Supervision tool gives parents more insight into who their teenagers are following, and who’s following them back, and setting up Daily Time Limit together helps them keep healthy habits on Instagram. Learn more about these and other tools and features like Sensitive Content Control, Education Hub and the Family Centre, that help teenagers have a safer experience on Instagram.**

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Jamil Anderlini