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Anti-European parties on course to win the third of seats in European Parliament necessary to paralyze the EU, according to new #ECFR study

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A new study by the European Council on Foreign Relations, (ECFR) reveals that anti-European parties are on course to win the third of seats in the European Parliament needed to frustrate activity, undermine the security and defence of Europe, and ultimately sow discord that could destroy the EU over time. 

‘The 2019 European Elections: How anti-Europeans plan to wreck Europe and what can be done to stop it’ is the most comprehensive mapping yet of the impacts of anti-European parties ahead of May’s European Parliament elections. Drawn from a network of associate researchers in EU capitals, interviews with political parties, policymakers, and policy experts, and analysis of patterns in voter segmentation and party manifestos, the ECFR study examines what is at stake in each of Europe’s 27 Member states and considers the influence anti-European parties could wield on key issues such as trade, security, climate change and the EU budget if they collaborate in the European Parliament.

The report warns that, despite divisions between anti-European parties, they are likely to work together to undermine European co-operation and prevent action against member states that are in breach EU values.

It concludes that this year’s European Parliament elections will be most significant ever, and that the future of the Europe, as an international power capable of guaranteeing security and prosperity to its citizens, is at stake.

The report finds that anti-European legislators could:

  • Inhibit Europe’s response to major foreign policy challenges: by pushing for the ending of sanctions against the Russia, undermining NATO, and by demanding a national, rather than a European, response to the economic threats posed by China and the US.
  • Weaken the rule of law in Europe: by blocking Article 7 procedures in the European Parliament, and undermining Europe’s ability to internally defend democracy and breaches of human rights.
  • Damage Europe’s economic competitiveness by obstructing the negotiation or ratification of free trade agreements (FTA), such as a post-Brexit arrangement with the United Kingdom.  The report predicts that trade policy will be chosen by anti-European parties as their favoured battleground.
  • Put Freedom of Movement in Europe at risk: by striving for the reintroduction of strict internal border controls as the main solution to the EU’s migration challenge;
  • Hamper global efforts to curb climate change: by advocating the withdrawal of their country, and the EU in general, from multilateral arrangements, such as the Paris climate agreement;
  • Promote the EU’s disintegration from within: by wrecking budget negotiations, stalling on the appointment of Commissioner, and using their platform in Parliament to push for in-or-out referendums in member states. The resulting paralysis will undermine the argument that the EU is reformable.
  • Change the political culture of Europe: Success in EP elections could be used as springboard for success in national elections by Europe’s nationalists.  The greatest impact of the EP elections might be on a wave of national elections in Denmark, Estonia and Slovakia over the next year, which could bring nationalists to power as coalition partners, frustrating the work of the European Council.

The report, in its analysis of the upcoming election campaigns and the strategies for fighting the anti-Europeans, notes that:

  • Pro-Europeans must broaden the debate to show the real-world costs of the anti-European parties’ agendas across a range of policies. In most countries, national political issues will dominate the campaign, and migration will only be one important issue among many in every member state except for Portugal, Ireland and Lithuania.
  • Mainstream conservative parties should refrain from adopting the agenda of far-right parties and joining them in coalition. 
  • The focus, for the mainstream parties, should be on addressing the concerns of voters on foreign policy, climate, security, defence, growth and jobs, where nationalists are divided and have less to say.

This study, on the consequences of increased anti-European representation, is the first major output of ECFR’s ‘Unlock Europe’s Majority’ project and will be supplemented by further reports as well as extensive polling across Member States throughout the election cycle.

ECFR polling will identify the battleground issues for political parties; the standout concerns of voters in 15 EU Member States; and the impacts the results will have on major policy areas, such as foreign affairs. This outreach will be undertaken, and subsequently published, in three tranches between February and June 2019.

European Council on Foreign Relations Director Mark Leonard said: “The warning in this report, that anti-European parties are gaining strength and could paralyse the EU, should concentrate the minds of pro-Europeans. They must not become trapped into becoming defenders of the status quo in Europe or allowing the election to become a referendum on the issue of migration – which is exactly the battleground that the anti-Europeans want.

“Instead, pro-Europeans need to unmute the silent majority by fighting different elections that Europe’s different publics will vote on –such as the climate change election, the ‘Facebook’ election for those concerned for their data and privacy, the election for those worried about Russian aggression, the prosperity election for those worried about stalled living standards, the rule of law election for those worried about democratic backsliding, and the ‘’saving Europe’ election for the EU’s most ardent defenders.”

Susi Dennison, senior fellow and director of the European Power programme at ECFR, said: “This report shows how high the stakes are and how much damage the anti-Europeans could do. As well as frustrating EU action that will help Europe’s citizens – from trade deals to action against Russian aggression - they will use their power in the European Parliament as a launch pad to transform politics throughout Europe. We offer a strategy to fight back: by exposing real-world costs of their key policy ideas, and identifying new issues that could inspire voters.”

A copy of the ECFR study, ‘The 2019 European Elections: How anti-Europeans plan to wreck Europe and what can be done to stop it’, is available for download here and to read online here.

coronavirus

EAPM and ESMO bring innovations to health policymakers

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For the eighth year in succession, the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) has held a high-level conference series alongside the annual ESMO Congress, writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan.

The EAPM conference was opened with the announcement that the following article was published and contributed to by more than 40 experts across the EU on how to bring Greater Accuracy to Europe’s Healthcare Systems: The Unexploited Potential of Biomarker Testing in Oncology.  Please click here to have access.

Sessions include: Session I: Tumor Agnostic, Session II: Biomarkers and Molecular Diagnostics, and Session III: Utilising Real-World Evidence in a health-care setting.  The conference runs from 08.00 – 16.00. Here is the link to the agenda. The conference aims to bring  key recommendations to the EU level, so as to shape the EU Beating Cancer Plan, EU health Data Space, the updating EU Pharmaceutical Strategy as well as the EU Health Union. 

The conference is held following the first State of the Union address by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday (16 September) – in her first annual address, von der Leyen said the coronavirus pandemic had underlined the need for closer cooperation, stressing that people were “still suffering”.

For me, it is crystal clear – we need to build a stronger European Health Union,” she said. “And we need to strengthen our crisis preparedness and management of cross-border health threats.” Von der Leyen said her commission would try to reinforce the European Medicines Agency and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

And she also raised the importance of the European Beating Cancer Plan as well as European Health Data Space. “This will show Europeans that our Union is there to protect all,” she said.

Fabrice Barlesi, medical director of Gustave Roussy, said: “RCTs are no longer the way to go. A way ahead could be EU support for trialing a new drug and delivering data to a centralised registry, which could give good consolidated data from across Europe.”

Divided into three sessions, the EAPM conference at the ESMO Congress, as mentioned,  dealt with such diverse issues as tumour agnostics, biomarkers and molecular diagnostics and real-world evidence in a health-care setting. Concerning cancer, specifically tumours, the congress stated that  tissue-agnostic cancer drugs are antineoplastic medicines that treat cancers based on the mutations that they display, instead of the tissue type in which they appear.

These drugs include, for example, Entrectinib, Pembrolizumab and Larotrectinib. Former Spanish health minister and MEP Dolors Moseratt highlighted her support for the work of EAPM and looks forward to getting the recommendations of the outcomes from the conference.  “The European added value of health is obvious. It would avoid duplication and enable a better allocation of resources. And it will minimize the risk of fragmented access to therapy across member states.”

And the EAPM conference is at pains to seek the best ways forward for the implementation of Real-World Evidence (RWE) into health care in Europe – looking to find consensus with key decision makers, including at member state level, not least with representatives in the European Parliament, on how to proceed in this area. RWE for health care is a simple concept – harnessing various health data in real time to help make faster and better medical decisions.

Real-World Evidence is an umbrella term for different types of health-care data that are not collected in conventional randomised controlled trials, including patient data, data from clinicians, hospital data, data from payers and social data.

Rosa Giuliani, consultant in medical oncology at the Clatterbridge Cancer Center, said: “Key elements to advance the use of TACs is to conduct dialogue that transcends silos, and to explore re-engineering of the development pathway.” And, as far as biomarkers and molecular diagnostics are concerned, a lot has been said about testing, and often the lack of it, in terms of the COVID-19 outbreak, with different countries adopting different strategies and, also, having different resources when it comes to acquiring necessary kits.

The key focus in the ESMO session was on better and more equitable access to biomarkers and molecular diagnostics across Europe.  This is a must, but, as the attendees acknowledged, we’re a long way short of it. Access to personalised medicine and new diagnostic technologies can help resolve many inefficiencies, such as trial-and-error dosing, the potential for increased hospitalisation time due to adverse drug reactions and the problem of late diagnoses. It may also enhance the effectiveness of therapies through better tailored treatment administration.

In conclusion for the morning session, Giuseppe Curigliano, associate professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Milano, and head of the division of Early Drug Development, at the European Institute of Oncology said: “A real challenge to overcome is the different endpoints between investigators and payers. Policy frameworks and co-operation is essential.” The session in the afternoon will focus on utilizing real-world evidence in a health-care setting.

A report will be available next week. 

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Brexit

EU's Barnier still hopes trade deal with Britain possible, sources say

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The European Union’s Brexit negotiator told the bloc’s 27 national envoys to Brussels that he still hoped a trade deal with Britain was possible, stressing that the coming days would be decisive, diplomatic sources with the bloc told Reuters, write and

Michel Barnier addressed the gathering on Wednesday (16 September) and the three sources either participated in the discussion behind closed doors or were briefed on its content.

“Barnier still believes a deal is possible though the next days are key,” said one of the EU diplomatic sources.

A second diplomat, asked what Barnier said on Wednesday and whether there was still a chance for a new agreement with the UK, said: “The hope is still there.”

The first source said tentative concessions offered by the UK on fisheries - a key point of discord that has so far prevented agreement on a new EU-UK trade deal to kick in from 2021 - were “a glimmer of hope”.

Reuters reported exclusively on Tuesday (15 September) that Britain has moved to break the deadlock despite that fact that publicly London has been threatening to breach the terms of its earlier divorce deal with the bloc.

A third source, a senior EU diplomat, confirmed the UK offer but stressed it was not going far enough for the bloc to accept.

Brexit talks descended into fresh turmoil this month over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to pass new domestic laws that would undercut London’s earlier EU divorce deal, which is also aimed at protecting peace on the island of Ireland.

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden warned Britain that it must honour the Northern Irish peace deal as it extracts itself from the EU or there would be no US trade deal for the United Kingdom.

The third EU source, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said that the bloc would take a more rigid line in demanding a solid dispute settlement mechanism in any new UK trade deal should Johnson press ahead with the Internal Market Bill.

“There is unease about what Britain is doing but Barnier has stressed he will keep negotiating until his last breath,” said a fourth EU diplomat, highlighting the bloc’s wariness about being assigned blame should the troubled process eventually fail.

Asked about an estimate by Societe Generale bank, which put at 80% the probability of the most damaging economic split at the end of the year without a new deal to carry forward trade and business ties between the EU and the UK, the person said:

“I would put it around the same mark.”

Barnier is due to meet his UK counterpart, David Frost, around 1400 GMT in Brussels on Thursday.

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Brexit

Biden warns UK on #Brexit - No trade deal unless you respect Northern Irish peace deal

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US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden warned the United Kingdom that it must honour the Northern Irish peace deal as it extracts itself from the European Union or there would be no US trade deal, write and

“We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit,” Biden said in a tweet.

“Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”

Johnson unveiled legislation that would break parts of the Brexit divorce treaty relating to Northern Ireland, blaming the EU for putting a revolver on the table in trade talks and trying to divide up the United Kingdom.

He says the United Kingdom has to have the ability to break parts of the 2020 Brexit treaty he signed to uphold London’s commitments under the 1998 peace deal which ended three decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland between pro-British Protestant unionists and Irish Catholic nationalists.

The EU says any breach of the Brexit treaty could sink trade talks, propel the United Kingdom towards a messy exit when it finally leaves informal membership at the end of the year and thus complicate the border between Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland.

The EU’s Brexit negotiator told the bloc’s 27 national envoys that he still hoped a trade deal with Britain was possible, stressing that the coming days would be decisive, three diplomatic sources told Reuters.

Michel Barnier addressed the gathering on Wednesday and the three sources either participated in the discussion behind closed doors or were briefed on its content.

“Barnier still believes a deal is possible though the next days are key,” said one of the EU diplomatic sources.

Johnson told The Sun that the EU was being “abusive” to Britain and risking four decades of partnership.

He said the UK must “ring-fence” the Brexit deal “to put in watertight bulkheads that will stop friends and partners making abusive or extreme interpretations of the provisions.”

Societe Generale analysts said on Thursday they now see an 80% chance that Britain and the EU will fail to strike a trade deal before the end of the year.

Biden, who has talked about the importance of his Irish heritage, retweeted a letter from Eliot Engel, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives, to Johnson calling on the British leader to honour the 1998 Good Friday peace deal.

Engel urged Johnson to “abandon any and all legally questionable and unfair efforts to flout the Northern Ireland protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement.”

He called on Johnson to “ensure that Brexit negotiations do not undermine the decades of progress to bring peace to Northern Ireland and future options for the bilateral relationship between our two countries.”

Engel said Congress would not support a free trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom if Britain failed to uphold its commitments with Northern Ireland.

The letter was signed by Representatives Richard Neal, William Keating and Peter King.

Johnson is pushing ahead with his plan.

His government reached a deal on Wednesday (16 September) to avert a rebellion in his own party, giving parliament a say over the use of post-Brexit powers within its proposed Internal Market Bill that breaks international law.

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