Fear mounts as crack cocaine floods Brussels – POLITICO

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


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Dear readers,

As I step in for Jamil to write this week’s POLITICO Confidential, I find myself thinking of the election year ahead — and not only because we’ve used this quiet August to progress planning here at POLITICO Europe HQ!

Many governments will no doubt be hoping the post-invasion, post-pandemic cost-of-living crisis has largely eased before electoral gavels drop, but a campaign by medics in the U.K. this week caught my eye as a big hint this issue will be loud in upcoming elections. Medical professionals are painting a stark picture of patients unable to afford bus fares to medical appointments and having to choose between medication and food, in a warning to the U.K. prime minister that high prices and insufficient social support pose a major risk to health. Closures of ER departments in France due to a lack of staff is another illustration of the existential question facing European countries about the longevity of socialized health care; an important and challenging story that our newsroom with its policy reporting muscle is so well placed to cover.

Another very different story on my mind in a week where the Women’s World Cup was a major political story — with Spain’s deputy prime minister, Teresa Ribera, telling POLITICO that football chief Luis Rubiales, who has refused to resign amid a sexual harassment furor, had behaved in a “shameful” and “unacceptable” manner — is the Paris Olympics. As a former athlete I love watching friends and former competitors still at it on the biggest sporting stage. Yet as a political journalist I would bet on the good news stories being somewhat overshadowed: Just how long will jam-packed European cities with overindebted governments be able to successfully host 10,500 athletes and more than a million tourists in the height of summer? One hint as to where this geopolitical story might be heading is that Qatar is tipped to be interested in hosting the 2036 Summer Olympics …

In the meantime there’s more pressing news to consider — the story of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s demise this week defied the quietness of both Brussels and Berlin’s government quarters, in which I spent time. Read on for our highlights.

Wishing you an excellent last weekend of summer,



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Crack cocaine floods Brussels as alarm sounds over safety in EU capital

Fantastic piece on how drug trafficking and use is changing the neighborhood around Gare du Midi, a major international hub for Brussels (and our readers). It’s a really well-executed look at the local impact but also the broader political debate around how to address the problem. Read the story.

Wagner boss Prigozhin killed in jet crash in Russia

POLITICO was quickly on top of this week’s biggest story, the death of Wagner warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash near Moscow. Our breaking news team was quickly able to provide the context and implications for Russia, while — unlike some other outlets — sticking tightly to the facts known at the time. This is a masterful piece of storytelling. Read the story. 

A Viking funeral? Dwindling Nordics in Brussels blame the EU

The Nordics say they’re becoming extinct in Brussels. How bad is it really? We dug into the data, painting a picture of how underrepresented Denmark, Sweden and Finland really are in European institutions. This group has a proposal for how to change the situation, but it will put them on a collision course with other EU members, like Italy, Romania and Greece. Read the story. 

Springtime for Europe’s fascists 

The far right has been gaining popularity across multiple European countries in recent years, including in Finland, Italy, France and Austria. In this story, we pinpointed why now is the time when anyone who cares about Europe’s political stability should take note: Germany’s at the center of the storm. Read the story. 

Brexit Wars part II: Tories plot British exit from Europe’s human rights treaty

Very smart, insightful take on the next big battleground for U.K. Brexiteers — a push to get Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights. Is anyone really up for doing Brexit all over again? Read the story. 

**Enter the “room where it happens”, where global power players shape policy and politics, with Power Play. POLITICO’s brand-new global podcast will host conversations with the leaders shaping today’s and tomorrow’s ideas, moderated by award-winning journalist Anne McElvoy. Sign up today to be notified of the first episodes in September – click here.** 


Europe’s online content law has teeth — now it has to bite

This article rounds off a brilliant series on the EU’s Digital Services Act. The DSA is a sweeping, meaty, complicated web, but our coverage broke it down expertly, giving readers the essential bits and pieces they needed to know across a multitude of angles. Content was drip-fed in newsletters too — just a fantastic way of munching through hefty EU legislation. Read the story.  

Inside the toxic world of vaping scientists 

Superb finale to our vaping series on the internal rifts among scientists and how, ultimately, Big Tobacco wins. We deftly lifted the veil on the public ridicule, bullying and accusations of bias experienced by researchers, both from lobbyists and former colleagues. Engaging and insightful article. Read the story. 


EU Confidential

EU Confidential is on a break, but our episodes are not time-sensitive: Have a listen to our catalog here or via the links below.

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Westminster Insider: I know what MPs did last summer

With Westminster largely empty during the summer recess, host Aggie Chambre heads out of London to watch MPs in different parts of the country meet the people who really matter — the voters. At constituency surgeries in Glasgow East, Pontypridd and North Norfolk, Aggie watches politicians help desperate constituents who have nowhere else to turn, hearing heartbreaking stories of poverty as well as local rows about overgrown trees and NHS dentists. And on doorstep visits she sees them met by barking dogs, angry voters and even the occasional slammed door. Aided by Tory MP Duncan Baker, Labour MP Alex Davies-Jones and SNP MP David Linden, Aggie explores how the job of an MP has changed — and whether this is really the sort of work they should be carrying out at all. Listen to the episode.

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Laura Greenhalgh


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