POLITICO Confidential: Inside Macron’s China trip — Dispatch from the sauna — ChatGPT braces for pain

POLITICO Confidential: Inside Macron’s China trip — Dispatch from the sauna — ChatGPT braces for pain
Опубликовано: Saturday, 08 April 2023 08:35

The best of POLITICO’s coverage selected by Editor-in-Chief Jamil Anderlini.


View in your browser

Dear readers,

It’s Easter weekend across Europe so what better way to start than with this tale from Brussels airport, where customs officials have uncovered use of the world-recognized Belgian bunny shape to smuggle not chocolate but rave drug ingredient MDMA. That’ll keep things hopping!

While the EU has been winding down for the holiday break since Wednesday, elsewhere it’s been full steam ahead on the major-league political news.

If you’re wondering what the indictment of Donald Trump means for the 2024 presidential race, I’d recommend this read from D.C. that answered all my questions including what would happen if a person in prison actually won the presidency!

And of course we’ve followed every twist and turn of Emmanuel Macron and Ursula von der Leyen’s China visit, partly thanks to your usual author Jamil who has been on the trip together with POLITICO’s Clea Caulcutt. I’m certain that next week we’ll hear Jamil’s personal reflections on returning for the first time in some years, after spending two decades as a journalist in China. In the meantime, keep an eye on our website for more excellent and exclusive coverage of all the diplomatic details, as well as the protocol faux pas.

There’s more pomp and pageantry coming up very soon with U.S. President Joe Biden’s trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland early next week. Monday is the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement — a moment of reflection for those of us who grew up in Britain in the 1990s on the eternal and yet fleeting nature of a quarter-century in politics.

And one final reflection: I’ve been thinking a lot this week of Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter detained in Moscow on allegations of espionage by the Russian government — a move vehemently condemned by the U.S. government and media outlets around the world, including POLITICO. This week his loved ones received the somewhat positive update that he remains cheerful and is reading the novel “Life and Fate” from the prison’s library. The next step is expected April 18 when a Moscow City Court hears an appeal from Evan’s lawyers, as his case heads through a system with a conviction rate estimated above 99 percent. Independent media coverage of authoritarian regimes has never felt more important.

Until next week,


Managing editor


The warm embrace and the cold shoulder: China mines Europe’s fractures during joint visit

Emmanuel Macron’s trip to China was the big news of the week. But if he wanted to convey a united front of EU leadership by inviting Commission President Ursula von der Leyen along for the ride, it didn’t quite work out as planned. Macron received the red carpet treatment of a state visit, complete with banquet, while von der Leyen got only the briefest of meetings with China’s president and was then attacked by Beijing commentators as a U.S. puppet. Divide and rule? Read the story.

Finland’s top political ally: The sauna

Boasting what could be one of the best datelines in POLITICO history — “THE SAUNA AT THE FINNISH PERM REP, BRUSSELS” — this quirky, fun feature also leaves the reader better informed about a political phenomenon the uninitiated may never have otherwise known. A brilliant lede, excellent anecdotes and fantastic voices really make this story stand out. Read the story.

Turkey is the headache NATO needs

This smart story took a different angle on the question of Turkey’s NATO membership, and revealed the symbiotic relationship between the members of the defense alliance. Running through the tactics Turkey is using to extract maximum concessions from the U.S. and others, while at the same time explaining its self-interested approach to Russia’s war on Ukraine, this is the sort of story that answers a question everyone is asking. Read the story.

Oops! She did it again: German lawmaker crafts media rules while on board of public broadcaster

In this article, we put the spotlight on yet another potential conflict of interest: A German lawmaker who sits on the board of a public broadcaster, even as she works on legislation the broadcaster has lobbied against. Petra Kammerevert says she’s done nothing wrong, but it’s the second time critics have singled her out for regulating an industry she receives money from. Read the story.

Trump’s tariff time bomb threatens to blow up transatlantic trade

Relations between Europe and the U.S. are already tense when it comes to trade rules, thanks to Joe Biden’s subsidies for American-made green tech. As this story reveals, there are growing fears in Brussels that the situation will get a whole lot worse thanks to Biden’s decision to keep alive his predecessor Donald Trump’s threat of tariffs on European steel and aluminum. Read the story.


ChatGPT is entering a world of regulatory pain in Europe

First TikTok, now ChatGPT. We pivoted excellently to the next Bad Boy Du Jour, picking apart the regulatory landscape in which ChatGPT finds itself. The chatbot may be treated like a fun toy, but its privacy implications are dead serious. It’s a terrific explainer of what the big deal is. Read the story.

Inside the secretive committee wiring Europe’s finances

This was an original and engaging take on the inner workings and politics of an opaque financial committee in Brussels with a lot of power. Just goes to show that personalities really drive stories and can turn even the most ostensibly dull topic into gripping reads! Read the story.


EU Confidential: Finland joins NATO — Ukraine foreign minister in Brussels — EU’s China visit

Our host, Suzanne Lynch, is joined this week by POLITICO’s EU-China Correspondent Stuart Lau, co-author of our recently relaunched China Watcher newsletter. We also hear from our Senior France Correspondent Clea Caulcutt, who is in Beijing. Together they unpack the diverging agendas of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron in China with the help of POLITICO’s very own Editor-in-Chief Jamil Anderlini, who traveled with the French president to China. Stuart also decodes some important Brussels-speak when it comes to EU-China trade relations in our regular jargon-busting segment. Finally, NATO’s open-door policy on Ukrainian membership, Western war fatigue and China’s role as peace broker in Russia’s war on Ukraine, are all on the table in Suzanne’s conversation with Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, during his visit to Brussels this week. Listen to the episode.

featured image featured image featured image featured image featured image

Westminster Insider Inside the room: The Good Friday Agreement 25 years on

In a special anniversary episode 25 years on from the agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland, host Ailbhe Rea heads home to Belfast to retell the gripping story of how a historic compromise was reached. Former British PM Tony Blair and former Irish premier Bertie Ahern explain why — and how — they decided to pursue a peace deal. David Kerr, right-hand man to the late David Trimble; chief SDLP negotiator Mark Durkan; Mitchel McLaughlin, spokesperson for Sinn Féin during the negotiations; Jonathan Powell, chief of staff to Blair; and Monica McWilliams, co-founder of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition, speak to Ailbhe. Cathy McCann and Betty Speers, two victims of an IRA bomb in 1990, reflect on what the Good Friday Agreement means to them. Ailbhe ends the episode with Sara Canning, the partner of the late journalist Lyra McKee, who was killed by dissident republicans on the 21st anniversary of the agreement. Listen to the episode.

featured image featured image featured image featured image featured image


Playboy and erotica in Emmanuel Macron’s Cabinet of sin. Read more, if you dare, in this week’s Declassified column.

Caption competition


“Welcome home, your majesty.”

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.

“At last! Some transparency in the meeting & greeting department,” by Graeme Clement.

SUBSCRIBE to the POLITICO newsletter family: Brussels Playbook | London Playbook | Playbook Paris | POLITICO Confidential | Sunday Crunch | EU Influence | London Influence | Digital Bridge | China Direct | Berlin Bulletin | D.C. Playbook | D.C. Influence | Global Insider | All our POLITICO Pro policy morning newsletters