Today at Commission: natural disasters (again) and Brexit talks timeline


Flood waters surround a building at Hamburg’s Fish Market district on October 29, 2017 as a storm hit many parts of Germany. | Daniel Bockwoldt/AFP via Getty Images


Top British anti-Brexit political figures meet Michel Barnier today in Brussels.



On the agenda: Natural disasters, economics, Michel Barnier, Brexit, Catalonia.

On the podium: Commission deputy spokesman Alexander Winterstein.

Natural disasters (again): The Commission sent condolences to friends and families of victims of violent storms that hit Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic in recent days. It also confirmed that Italy had requested EU assistance via its civil protection mechanism to tackle forest fires. The European commissioner for humanitarian assistance and crisis management, Chrístos Stylianídis, will present new measures to improve the EU system before the end of the year.

Good news — at last — on the eurozone? Winterstein pointed out that the latest Commission data on eurozone “economic sentiment” is at its best in 17 years, a sign that “the strong dynamic of the eurozone continues.” On the Greek bailout program, he said that the Commission hopes for an agreement on the third review of the European Stability Mechanism bailout before the end of the year.

No backchannels on the Brexit talks: The Commission confirmed that three British politicians — Labour’s Andrew Adonis and Kenneth Clarke; and the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg — meet today with Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner for economic and financial affairs; and with Michel Barnier, the EU’s Brexit negotiator. The meetings were organized at the request of the British politicians, Winterstein said. However, he ruled out concerns that the Commission is opening backchannels on the Brexit talks with the British government. Barnier already met in recent months with Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn. No press arrangements are foreseen.

On the official, and only, Brexit channel: Meanwhile, Alexander Winterstein confirmed that the starting date of the next round of Brexit talks in November is not yet known. POLITICO wrote on Thursday that London had failed to agree on a date with Brussels for this sixth negotiating round.

No news on Catatonia: Winterstein had “nothing more to offer” on the Catalan front other than to reiterate the Commission’s line on the Spanish political crisis. The Commission still believes that the Spanish constitutional order should be respected and that the decision for the Spanish government to call regional snap elections in Catalonia on December 21 was “part of the internal constitutional process.” Winterstein also declined to comment on the specific offer of the Belgian minister Theo Francken to grant asylum to Belgium for the former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.

Source: Politico

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