European rebrand, political thrillers and Brexit plans

European rebrand, political thrillers and Brexit plans
Copyright REUTERS
By Stefan GrobeEfi Koutsokosta, Elena Cavallone, Isabel Silva
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In this edition of State of the Union: a new look Commission ruffled feathers in the Bubble, Europe and Britain make plans for No Deal and we look at political literature for your Autumn reading lists.


This week we witnessed high political drama, right here in Brussels.

Ursula von der Leyen presented the new European Commission that she is about to lead.

But it wasn't just a presentation – by giving some portfolios almost Orwellian titles, she actually injected political poetry into what otherwise would have been a stale reading of names.

Where else in the world would you find a commissioner for “An Economy that works for People”? Or a commissioner for “Protecting our European Way of Life”?

The latter immediately ruffled some feathers among politicians and on social media.

And it even prompted von der Leyen's predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker to mildly rebuke his fellow Christian Democrat.

European way of life is putting together our main talents and energies and included in that room is the fact that you have to respect the others. Independently from their color and independently from their initial home state. Knowing Margaritis well because I was in early contact with him, I know that the title is not corresponding to his own values, and I think this will have to be changed

Suicide Prevention

The World Health Organization estimates that roughly one million people die each year from suicide. That's a million stories of pain, of suffering of unspeakable sadness. It leaves families and friends at loss looking for explanations and finding a path forward. This week marked the World Suicide Prevention Day. Elena Cavallone's report tries to shed some light on a dark side of life.

It's September and Brussels will soon put on a costume of fall colors and feature anything from light drizzle to cold rains.

In other words: time to get excited about all the new books people now have the time to read. I'm talking, of course, about political books.

With so much going on in the world, the reading public is eager to get their arms around Brexit, climate change, migration and the #MeToo movement. Isabel Marques Da Silva has the latest trends here.

Next week

On Monday, Turkish president Erdogan hosts his Russian and Iranian counterparts, Putin and Rohani, for a tripartite summit on Syria in Ankara.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court in London hears arguments about the legality of the forced shutdown of Parliament by the Johnson government.

And on Wednesday, French president Macron travels to Rome in an effort to push the reset button on French-Italian relations following the change of government in Italy.

Before I forget, we haven't mentioned Brexit yet.

The British government was in panic mode this week, reminding folks that we will likely see disruptions and shortages in case of a no-deal Brexit, even civil unrest.

Well, all doom and gloom - except that, fortunately, some things in life will never change. See you next week.

Here's Pierre Emmanuel Taittinger, head of one of France's most iconic champagne makers.

Last Word

Champagne is a very traditional product, a very traditional drink, which the British adore. They contributed a great deal to the sense of romance and the glory of champagne and, knowing the British character as I do, none of that will change.

Journalist • Joanna Gill

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