Today's flare-up between France and Italy was a preview of the European parliamentary elections, coming up in May.

The EU flag flies in Westminster. Photo: Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Célia Belin, a former French diplomat now at Brookings, says, "For the first time, [those elections] will be fought on European issues, not on national issues," and Macron and the Italian populists "represent two pure versions of what's going to be offered."

  • Belin argues that Europe is "now entering a phase where the political fight is in Brussels. It is now a place where you have parties and platforms, and the direction might shift very much if a new party wins."
  • That's driven in part by geopolitical factors — an assertive Russia, trade wars, immigration — that demand European, not national, answers.

Between the lines: Belin says that on issues like those, nationalists around the continent "have common values but not common policies." As recent twists in France-German relations show, though, the same could be said of the multilateralists.

  • The nationalists have stopped talking about leaving the EU, and are focusing on changing it. “I think Brexit probably was the best vaccination against any future exits," Rinkēvičs told me.

Go deeper: Europe bands together and pulls apart

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What to expect from the final debate of the 2020 election

Trump and Biden at the first debate. Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Image

Watch for President Trump to address Joe Biden as “the big guy” or “the chairman” at tonight's debate as a way of dramatizing the Hunter Biden emails. Hunter's former business partner Tony Bobulinski is expected to be a Trump debate guest.

The big picture: Trump's advisers universally view the first debate as a catastrophe — evidenced by a sharp plunge in Trump’s public and (more convincingly for them) private polling immediately following the debate.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did" — Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted relief bill.
  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: FDA approves Gilead's remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment How the pandemic might endMany U.S. deaths were avoidable.
  5. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  6. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.

FBI: Russian hacking group stole data after targeting local governments

FBI Headquarters. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Energetic Bear, a Russian state-sponsored hacking group, has stolen data from two servers after targeting state and federal government networks in the U.S. since at least September, the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said on Thursday.

Driving the news: Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced Wednesday that Iran and Russia had obtained voter registration information that could be used to undermine confidence in the U.S. election system.