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By JAKOB HANKE VELA and SUZANNE LYNCH
with ALI WALKER
UKRAINE AND RUSSIA AT ONE TABLE: Political advisers from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany meet in Paris at the moment for talks within the so-called Normandy Format, in one other try to dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin from beginning a brand new conflict in Europe. Talking Tuesday night, French President Emmanuel Macron mentioned he hoped the assembly would pave the way in which for talks at leaders’ degree in Berlin within the close to future.
WEST GETS MORE SPECIFIC ON SANCTIONS: Officers on Tuesday mentioned Western allies plan to impose export restrictions to chop Russia off from essential applied sciences, in addition to monetary sanctions.
No extra hi-tech: “The export management choices we’re contemplating alongside our allies and companions would hit Putin’s strategic ambitions to industrialize his financial system fairly laborious,” a senior U.S. administration official informed reporters on a briefing name. “It might impair areas which might be of significance to him, whether or not it’s in synthetic intelligence or quantum computing, or protection or aerospace or different key sectors.” Consultants say such restrictions may be painful, as a result of the EU and U.S. are leaders in sure applied sciences for which there are not any options from China.
Allies are additionally getting ready to chop off Russian banks from entry to monetary markets.
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However allies are nonetheless uncertain about when to set off these sanctions, write Lili Bayer and David Herszenhorn.
Securing Europe’s fuel provide: The U.S. additionally has been working with allies to make sure Europe has sufficient vitality provides ought to Putin determine to cease pure fuel flowing into the EU by Ukraine, officers mentioned.
US Congress on the town: A delegation of US Congress members, led by Home overseas affairs committee Chairman Gregory Meeks, is in Brussels at the moment for conferences. The cross-party group landed final night time and is scheduled to satisfy representatives from NATO and the EU at the moment, together with EEAS Secretary-Normal Stefano Sannino and chair of the European Parliament overseas affairs committee David McAllister. They may then journey to Kyiv tomorrow for additional discussions on the safety state of affairs in Jap Europe and the buildup of Russian troops alongside Ukraine’s border and in Belarus.
PUTIN MAKES EYES AT ITALIAN BUSINESS: The Russian president will this morning deal with main Italian companies equivalent to Barilla, Enel, Eni, Pirelli and Unicredit at an occasion by way of videolink organized by the Italian-Russian chamber of commerce. However he shouldn’t anticipate the identical dovish response from Rome as he bought after annexing Crimea in 2014, writes Giorgio Leali.
What’s subsequent: Macron and Putin have scheduled a phonecall for Friday.
IRISH FISHING BOATS VS. RUSSIAN NAVY: Irish Overseas Minister Simon Coveney briefed his EU counterparts this week on plans by Russia to conduct navy drills 240km off the southwest coast of Eire subsequent month. In actuality, there may be little that Eire can do because the operation will happen in worldwide waters. However Irish fishermen aren’t impressed by Putin’s maneuvers, and plan to peacefully disrupt the operations, a neighborhood fishing group informed POLITICO’s Louis Westendarp.
PUTIN MAKES NATO GREAT AGAIN: As Playbook wrote Monday and Paul Taylor argues brilliantly in his column, Putin has managed to resurrect the transatlantic alliance.
CAN SCHOLZ LEAD? That’s the query on the lips of Western allies this week — but additionally of Germans themselves. EU nations had been perplexed by Scholz’s politically poisonous opposition to sanctioning Nord Stream 2 — which he later gave up. His determination to dam arms shipments to Ukraine, together with these of EU companions, is now additional undermining the bloc’s unity. And in Germany individuals are questioning his pandemic management, after Scholz mentioned he would impose a vaccine mandate, solely to not comply with by.
Scholz’s inaction “is damaging the transatlantic relationship greater than Trump ever did,” writes Süddeutsche Zeitung. “When the American president does extra to forestall a conflict in Europe than the German chancellor, there’s something incorrect with German overseas coverage.”
Standing subsequent to France’s Emmanuel Macron at a joint press convention in Berlin on Tuesday night, there was an evident distinction between the leaders. Whereas Macron gave a transparent, if grim, evaluation of Russia’s actions; Scholz wavered and tiptoed — too fearful or unable, it appeared, to discourage enemies and reassure allies.
Macron warned that the Kremlin was in search of to destabilize former Soviet Union nations and that Russia was turning into “a drive of instability” in Europe. Scholz didn’t discover such clear phrases.
Requested if France and Germany would ship troops to defend NATO’s Jap members if Russia began a conflict, because the U.S. was getting ready to do, Scholz riffed concerning the OSCE and its historic significance in securing dialogue, whereas Macron made clear nobody ought to doubt the unity of NATO. (Certainly, Macron has already introduced France will ship troops to Romania to ramp up NATO presence within the East.)
In one other case of German pleasant hearth, EU officers and diplomats inform Playbook and POLITICO’s Stuart Lau that Berlin has been working behind the scenes to undermine a standard place towards China. Officers mentioned Scholz’s workplace feared the EU was turning into too aggressive in its protection of Lithuania towards Beijing’s financial coercion.
The chancellery has been “calling everybody who speaks German within the Fee” to tone down the stress on China, after France final week mentioned Beijing had gone too far with its assaults on the one market, one of many officers mentioned. If anybody believed Berlin was really following the odd technique of now-former Navy Chief Kay-Achim Schönbach who mentioned Europe wanted Russia as an ally towards China shortly earlier than dropping his job, clearly that’s not the pondering within the chancellery. Berlin has no technique, however favors the trail of least resistance — and its allies are beginning to discover.
DIVVYING UP: A scramble for the coveted roles of committee chairs and vice-chairs is in full swing this week in Brussels, every week after Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola was elected as the brand new European Parliament president.
Pulling the strings: It’s not for nothing that lobbyists are eager to get face time with the important thing figures on committees and subcommittees. The roles are among the many strongest within the EU establishments provided that chairs and vice-chairs typically play a job in shaping the route and priorities of ultimate negotiations and legislative proposals.
Huge names: Thus far it’s been extra of the identical — German S&D MEP Bernd Lange stays on the helm of the worldwide commerce committee; German Christian Democrat David McAllister has been reelected as chair of the overseas affairs committee; whereas Italian Social Democrat Irene Tinagli will chair the ECON committee till 2024.
New faces: There have been some new faces, nevertheless. In a primary, the Committee on Ladies’s Rights and Gender Equality — in any other case generally known as FEMM — has elected a male MEP as chair. Robert Biedroń, a Polish MEP from the S&D Group, was chosen on Tuesday.
‘Particular place in hell’: Channelling his internal Madeleine Albright, Biedroń informed Playbook why he’s up for the problem. “I consider there’s a particular place in hell for males not serving to girls of their combat for equality,” he mentioned, quoting the previous U.S. secretary of state. “We as males have a accountability to face facet by facet with girls.”
“I’ve observed in politics that males are typically concerned in fields the place there may be cash, an emphasis on spending public funds,” he added. “In terms of vital points like poverty, social points, schooling and so forth, girls are sometimes within the committees however there isn’t any cash. This can be a big inequality.”
Preventing for Polish girls: Biedroń brings a selected perspective to the position given the clampdown on girls’s rights in Poland. “When Poland joined in 2004, many ladies and men dreamed that we’d dwell in a union of equality. Now girls in Poland have much less rights than they did in 2004,” he mentioned, referencing the nation’s abortion legal guidelines.
“I’m on this committee as a result of I dream that someday girls in Poland — and wherever they dwell within the European Union — will all have equal rights, as a result of I consider Polish girls deserve the identical rights as French, Dutch or Spanish girls,” he mentioned.
Immediately, a number of committees together with growth (DEVE), Civil Liberties (LIBE) and Setting and Well being (ENVI) select their management for the following two and a half years.
METSOLA STAFFS UP: As the choice course of for the committee roles continues this week, Metsola has additionally been staffing up within the president’s workplace. Jüri Laas, a Swedish-Estonian and former Council spokesman, has been appointed as her spokesperson, Maïa de La Baume experiences. A variety of Finnish names are additionally in circulation for key posts — maybe not shocking provided that Metsola’s husband is a Finn who beforehand labored within the Finnish authorities and as soon as ran for the European Parliament himself.
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IN OTHER NEWS
EU COUNTRIES TO APPROVE COMMON CHARGER TODAY: EU deputy ambassadors are set to log off on plans to determine a widespread charger at the moment, based mostly on a current compromise textual content drawn up by the French Council presidency and obtained by our POLITICO Professional colleagues. As soon as EU nations have green-lit the plans, negotiations with parliament on the ultimate particulars of the legislation can begin in spring. Sam Stolton has extra for POLITICO Execs.
RULE OF LAW MECHANISM: The Court docket of Justice of the European Union will problem a hotly anticipated ruling on February 16, on the legality of the EU’s new mechanism that hyperlinks EU funding to respect for the rule of legislation.
When Poland and Hungary love the ECJ: The lawsuit towards the mechanism was launched by Warsaw and Budapest (one thing critics may contemplate an uncharacteristic embrace of an unbiased judiciary). The European Fee has kept away from utilizing the mechanism whereas the lawsuit is pending.
NEW COVID RULES: EU ministers backed new nonbinding guidelines that may permit folks to journey all through the EU with proof of vaccination, restoration, or a unfavourable check, with out having to face quarantine or further testing measures. Ministers at Tuesday’s Normal Affairs Council signed off on the principles, which intention to make journey much less restrictive.
It comes as BioNTech/Pfizer launch a research of a brand new coronavirus vaccine that targets the Omicron variant.
BORIS JOHNSON FACES POLICE PROBE: Strain continues to construct on Boris Johnson as London’s Metropolitan Police confirmed it’s investigating a collection of lockdown-busting events at No. 10 Downing Avenue. Nevertheless, unbiased investigator Sue Grey’s report may nonetheless be printed as early as this week.
HAWKISH US FED PRESSURES EUROPE: European Central Financial institution President Christine Lagarde will discover herself beneath recent stress from markets to regulate course if the spillover from at the moment’s U.S. Federal Reserve coverage strikes begins to threaten the eurozone’s nascent restoration, writes Johanna Treeck in Frankfurt.
ANTWERP’S DIAMOND INDUSTRY BATTLES BANKS: Diamonds should still be a woman’s finest good friend — however banks have gotten much less eager, experiences Hannah Brenton from Antwerp.
**One month into the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, POLITICO journalists will maintain a Professional Briefing Name on February 1 to evaluation the continuing negotiations on digital platform laws (DSA/DMA), digital sovereignty and the European inexperienced taxonomy. Not a Professional but however all in favour of attending? E-mail [email protected]. This Name shall be held in French.**
— Assembly of the Faculty of Commissioners.
— European Council President Charles Michel visits Slovakia and Austria. Assembly with Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger, press convention at 3:30 p.m. Assembly with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, press convention at 6:30 p.m.
— EU overseas coverage chief Josep Borrell co-chairs the EU-G5 Sahel Ministerial assembly.
— Commissioner Johannes Hahn meets Poland’s financial growth and know-how minister, Piotr Nowak.
— Commissioner Mairead McGuinness in Frankfurt. Assembly with ECB President Christine Lagarde, and Mark Branson, president of the Federal Monetary Supervisory Authority (BaFin).
— Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi visits Ukraine.
— Commissioner Ylva Johansson in San Francisco. Meets executives from Google/Youtube, Apple and Meta/Whatsapp, TikTok.
— Commissioner Thierry Breton meets Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.
— NATO Secretary-Normal Jens Stoltenberg meets U.Okay. Protection Secretary Ben Wallace at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
SCHOOL RULES: Belgian schooling and well being ministers are assembly this morning to look into new quarantine measures in colleges, after many lecture rooms needed to shut throughout the nation, writes Camille Gijs. At present, a category should shut as quickly as 4 COVID circumstances have been detected and contaminated youngsters should stay at dwelling. However Well being Minister Frank Vandenbroucke is suggesting a short lived easing of the principles — youngsters with no signs who’ve had a high-risk contact of their household can be allowed to go to high school (although for different actions, the quarantine obligation stays). The proposal shall be mentioned this morning.
BIRTHDAYS: MEPs Rasa Juknevičienė, Reinhard Bütikofer and Eva Maydell (a POLITICO 28 alum); Former Danish PM and NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen; Former MEP and Belgian politician Sander Loones.
Due to our producer Max Fahler.
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