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POLITICO's EU Confidential
33 minutes | 2 days ago
Ep 199, presented by SQM: Media freedom — European travel — Social summit
Is media freedom in Europe under threat? Is the Continent ready to open up as the coronavirus abates? And how much of a social union should the EU be? We tackle all of these questions in this week's episode.In the week of World Press Freedom Day, POLITICO's Lili Bayer lays out the EU countries that give cause for concern, according to Reporters Without Borders. Matthew Karnitschnig explains how the government exerts influence over the media in a Western European country not usually seen as a press freedom blackspot. Lili and Matt, along with POLITICO's Andrew Gray, also discuss how seriously EU leaders take this issue and whether there's anything Brussels can do to protect media freedom around the bloc.Then it's time to talk travel with our mobility reporter Mari Eccles — with details about the European Commission's proposal to open up the EU to travelers from outside the bloc who have been vaccinated or come from countries on an expanded "green list" of approved nations.And finally, we preview the EU's Social Summit in Porto this weekend. Piotr Sadowski and Heather Roy from Social Platform — an alliance of European NGO networks advocating for social justice — explain what they want leaders to do to help protect the most vulnerable in society.
40 minutes | 9 days ago
Ep 198, presented by Equinor: Recovery recipes — Presidential problems — Scottish election
Recovery fund masterplans, a power struggle among EU presidents and a deep dive into next week's Scottish Parliament election all feature in this episode.Seeking approval for their share of the EU's €750 billion pandemic recovery package, governments are presenting spending and reform plans to the European Commission this week. POLITICO's Paola Tamma lays out the political battles that lie ahead.POLITICO's David Herszenhorn, Rym Momtaz and Andrew Gray discuss the inside scoop on lingering tensions between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel. They also debate von der Leyen's declaration in the European Parliament this week that the recent Sofagate scandal happened because she's a woman.Then we take a deep dive into Scottish politics, ahead of the parliamentary election on May 6. Andrew takes us to his hometown of Lanark, where SNP candidate Màiri McAllan and former Labour candidate Andrew Hilland discuss the huge political shift that's taken place there and across Scotland in recent years. We also hear from Kirsty Hughes, founder and director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations, about what would happen if an independent Scotland applied to join the EU.There's more on Scotland and the rise of the independence movement in the new episode of our Westminster Insider podcast, out early Friday morning.
35 minutes | 16 days ago
Ep 197: Germany's candidates — Super League shambles — data breach battles
The candidates vying to be Germany's next chancellor, Europe's Super League football flop and battles over people's personal data all feature in this week's episode.A resurgent Green party in Germany chose Annalena Baerbock as their candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor. POLITICO's Matthew Karnitschnig has everything you need to know about her, and the conservative coalition's decision to finally pick CDU leader Armin Laschet as its standard-bearer, after more than a week of bitter public feuding.On the not-so-Super League, POLITICO's Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz, Ali Walker and Simon Van Dorpe discuss the fierce popular and political backlash against the project, which soon fell apart. They look at some of the big questions about sports, power and politics raised by the controversy.And finally, recent data leaks from social media platforms Facebook, LinkedIn and Clubhouse collectively revealed the information of around a billion users. But the platforms have played down the revelations. Here's Facebook's response, insisting its systems were not hacked. Data regulators around Europe, however, are not so sure everything is shipshape and have launched investigations.What does the controversy say about Europe's efforts to protect its citizens' personal information and the EU's flagship General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)? POLITICO's Vincent Manancourt explains.
29 minutes | 23 days ago
Ep 196: Ukraine tension — Merkel succession battle — Marine litter
POLITICO's Matthew Karnitschnig has been following this week's dramatic battle to become the conservative nominee to replace German Chancellor Angela Merkel in September's general election. Regardless of whether CDU leader Armin Laschet or CSU boss Markus Söder ultimately prevails, how much damage has the open warfare done to their chances at the polls?We explore why alarm bells are ringing over Ukraine once again, as Russia ramps up its military presence nearby. POLITICO correspondent Dan Peleschuk gives Andrew Gray a sense of the mood in Kyiv, while the U.S. secretaries of State and Defense voiced their concerns in Brussels this week. And Rym Momtaz explains why tensions over Iran's nuclear program have skyrocketed once again.Finally, POLITICO's Eline Schaart introduces us to French MEP Catherine Chabaud. Her journey to the European Parliament began with a personal voyage three decades ago, when she became the first woman to sail solo around the world. Along the way, she discovered something that she's now working as a European lawmaker to tackle: the waste threatening our oceans and the creatures that live in them.
36 minutes | a month ago
Ep 195: Sofagate — Central and Eastern Europe's COVID struggles — Ivan Krastev
The big preoccupation for the Brussels bubble this week was a trip to Ankara by European Council President Charles Michel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Michel took a chair next to Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdoğan while von der Leyen had to make do with a nearby sofa. POLITICO's Andrew Gray and Lili Bayer break down why "Sofagate" became a symbol for hot-button issues, including women's rights as well as tensions between EU institutions and their leaders.Andrew and Lili, a former Budapest correspondent, are joined by Jan Cienski in Warsaw and Siegfried Mortkowitz in Prague to discuss why Central and Eastern Europe is struggling so badly with the coronavirus right now, despite having managed well in the first wave last year.Our special guest is Ivan Krastev. The Bulgarian political scientist is a well-known thinker on European politics and spoke to Andrew from Sofia, where he is chair of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, about the coronavirus' impact on the EU, Europe's relationship with China and the rise of illiberalism — the subject of Krastev's most recent book, The Light that Failed, co-authored with Stephen Holmes.Finally, we hope you'll take some time to listen to our special edition of EU Confidential, reflecting on the life and career of Stephen Brown, the POLITICO Europe editor in chief who died of a heart attack last month at the age of 57.
32 minutes | a month ago
Special Edition: Stephen Brown — An audio appreciation
This special edition of the EU Confidential podcast reflects on the life and career of Stephen Brown, the POLITICO Europe editor in chief who died of a heart attack last month at the age of 57.Brown pursued an outstanding career as a foreign correspondent that took him from the tip of South America to the Arctic Circle. He then took a leap of faith to enjoy an extraordinary second act as he flourished like never before, helping to change the face of European journalism.But Brown was never self-important or pompous, and his self-deprecation and dry humor shine through in his own words and in the memories of friends and colleagues.The program offers a chance for POLITICO readers and EU Confidential listeners to learn more about the man who drove so much of the publication's journalism.POLITICO's EU editor, Andrew Gray, presents this audio appreciation. It features contributions from people who worked with Brown from Buenos Aires to Brussels and the voice of Brown himself, from public appearances and interviews over the years.Contributors include Juan Bustamante, Reuters video journalist in Buenos Aires; Paul Taylor, former European affairs editor at Reuters and now POLITICO columnist; Matthew Kaminski, editor in chief of POLITICO in the United States; and POLITICO Europe's Hans von der Burchard, Saim Saeed, Lili Bayer, Zoya Sheftalovich, Sarah Wheaton, James Randerson and Eddy Wax.The program was made by Cristina Gonzalez and Andrew Gray. It features music by Craig Winneker and Bjarke Smith-Meyer. Special thanks to Natasha Bernard, Camille Gijs, Eddy Wax and the Careers Service of the University of Cambridge.
30 minutes | a month ago
Ep 194: EU faces Beijing backlash — European astronauts in conversation
POLITICO's Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz, Matthew Karnitschnig and Stuart Lau get you up to speed on recent rows between China and the European Union — alongside the United States and others — after the EU imposed sanctions on Chinese officials accused of running internment camps for hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs in the region of Xinjiang. Beijing hit back hard, with sanctions of its own on high-level EU officials, members of the European Parliament and others. Is Europe set to team up with the United States in taking a harder line against China? And what will be the consequences if it does?Then we boldly go where EU Confidential has never gone before: into space, through conversations with European astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Samantha Cristoforetti. They give POLITICO's Joshua Posaner a flavor of what life is like in the International Space Station and how they're preparing for upcoming missions. We also shed light on Europe's capabilities in space and reveal what the European Space Agency sees as the right stuff in its search for new astronauts.
30 minutes | a month ago
Ep 193, presented by the European Training Foundation: Vax attacks — German scandals — Syria conflict
POLITICO's Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz, Matthew Karnitschnig and Jakob Hanke Vela break down the Commission plan to give the EU more powers to stop vaccine exports — and point out a loophole that means even seized jabs may not end up in European arms. Matt brings us up to speed on spiraling mask procurement scandals and Merkel's plea for forgiveness over a botched Easter lockdown plan.Rym speaks to Save the Children's Sonia Khush, country director for Syria, about the needs of children 10 years into the conflict — and what the EU and European governments can do at an upcoming conference to help.The team also pays tribute to Stephen Brown, POLITICO Europe's editor in chief, who died last week of a heart attack. As well as being a great friend, journalist and boss, Stephen was a devoted listener to the podcast. We'll look back on his extraordinary life and career in a special edition in the coming days.
36 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep 192: AstraZeneca limbo — Vaccine export bans — COVID disinformation
As the European Commission proposes a digital certificate to allow for safe travel around the EU in the corona era, we debate how much that matters if enough Europeans aren't vaccinated. POLITICO's Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz, Matthew Karnitschnig and Annabelle Dickson discuss whether politics or science are behind recent decisions to suspend the AstraZeneca vaccine. They also look at the EU's threat to put the brakes on vaccine exports to countries such as the U.K. that Brussels says aren't playing fair when it comes to sharing jabs.Matt gives his take on last weekend's regional elections in Germany — and why they suggest Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats may struggle to hold onto power in Berlin as she leaves the stage.POLITICO's Eline Schaart breaks down the results of the parliamentary election in the Netherlands and what they mean for the country's approach to the EU.And Mark Scott, POLITICO's chief technology correspondent and author of The Digital Bridge newsletter, explores the world of COVID-19 disinformation and why Big Tech platforms and lawmakers are struggling to combat it.
43 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep 191: German election journey — EESC in spotlight
Our Trans-Germany Express stops first in Stuttgart to speak with POLITICO's Laurenz Gehrke about Sunday's regional elections. Then we head to Düsseldorf, where Matthew Karnitschnig picks out national candidates and parties to keep your eye on. In Magdeburg, capital of the state of Saxony-Anhalt, we talk to climate reporter Kalina Oroschakoff about some of the big campaign issues. Matt returns to Berlin, where we discuss what to expect on the big day — September 26 — and afterward as a new government is formed. Finally, in Brussels, politics reporter Hans von der Burchard assesses the election's potential impact on the EU.The last part of the podcast turns the spotlight on the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) — an EU institution that's not so well known but has generated more than its share of controversy lately. New EESC President Christa Schweng talks to Hans about the criticism leveled at her institution — over its relevance, its cost and its policy of paying allowances for attending virtual meetings. Schweng explains why she thinks EESC still has a useful role to play in EU lawmaking. She also talks about the organization's new code of conduct, adopted after one of its senior members was accused of (and denied) psychological harassment.
37 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep 190: EU solidarity jabbed — Vaccine passports — China relations
POLITICO's Sarah Wheaton joins podcast regulars Andrew Gray and Rym Momtaz to discuss the implications of an increasing number of EU countries shopping outside the bloc for their vaccines. Where's the solidarity when some are turning to Russia or China even though those jabs haven't been approved by European health authorities?We also break down the European Commission's proposal to create Digital Green Passes, which could make it easier for vaccinated Europeans to travel abroad. The panel looks at the challenges of creating these and other types of immunity certificates, which are being considered by countries around the globe.Then we turn our focus to China and its economic relationship with Europe. POLITICO's EU-China Correspondent Stuart Lau dives into the details of the EU's recent investment agreement with Beijng, and brings us one perspective on economic relations from an Italian academic and former government minister, Michele Geraci. Be sure to subscribe to Stuart's brand new, weekly newsletter, China Direct. You can read the first edition here.The podcast panel returns with recommendations to get you through lockdown, starting with a foodie-focused Twitter account recommended by Sarah. Rym is feeling nostalgic after listening to a podcast featuring a classic French crooner. Andrew gets in just before the final whistle with a Netflix documentary about a footballing great that also tackles politics.
30 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep 189: Message to Moscow — Frontier fracas — Euro English
EU foreign ministers this week gave the go-ahead for sanctions on Russian officials in response to the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. POLITICO's David M. Herszenhorn, Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz and Matthew Karnitschnig debate whether this will have any impact on Vladimir Putin.Citing concerns about new strains of the coronavirus, multiple EU countries including Germany have imposed border restrictions, leading to big bottlenecks and tailbacks. Will Brussels get them to back down? And how much is domestic politics driving the new measures?Our special guest is Marko Modiano, a professor of English at Gävle University in Sweden. He makes the case for the EU to define and embrace its own form of English — Euro English. We also hear from a former senior translator at the European Court of Auditors, Jeremy Gardner, who takes a different view on how English should be used in the EU and its institutions. And what about the chances of a French comeback? (Voici un spoiler: They're not good.)The podcast panel returns with lockdown recommendations. Rym's attention has been captured by a fledgling superstar podcast. In keeping with this week's language theme, Matt suggests a classic documentary series from the U.S. And Andrew takes up a recommendation from a listener, who says this Brussels-based novel is a must-read.
34 minutes | 3 months ago
Ep 188: Mario Draghi's return — Italian influence — Is the EU funny?
We discuss Italy's new prime minister, Mario Draghi, and explore how he will operate at home and on the European stage. Plus, we debate whether the EU is funny, with a talented comedic cast.POLITICO's Jacopo Barigazzi gives us the inside scoop on Draghi, the former European Central Bank president. Jacopo joins podcast regulars Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz Matthew Karnitschnig to break down the challenges facing this new government, and to discuss how Draghi will influence EU power dynamics — particularly through his relationships with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.In these super-serious times, humor is all the more important. Granted, the EU may not seem an obvious source of hilarity — but it actually has a thriving comedy scene. We brought in Berlaymonster blogger Duncan Lumsden, Brussels-based improv performer Kelly Agathos — creator of The Brexit Rap — and POLITICO's Paul Dallison to discuss how and why the EU is funny.The podcast crew returns with a couple of recommendations for lockdown entertainment. Rym says this pop-star documentary is a must-watch and Andrew recommends a classic romantic thriller.
30 minutes | 3 months ago
Ep 187, presented by Equinor: Borrell Russia rumpus — Macron's rivals — Lithuania's foreign minister
We debate EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell's controversial trip to Moscow and hear from the foreign minister of a country that knows first-hand about Russian influence, Lithuania's Gabrielius Landsbergis.Borrell is under fire for standing by as Russian's foreign minister called the EU an “unreliable partner.” POLITICO's Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz and Matthew Karnitschnig debate how damaging the trip was for Borrell's reputation, as well as the EU's credibility when it comes to foreign affairs. And is anyone buying Borrell's defense that he was just doing his job?And the author of POLITICO's new Playbook Paris, Pauline de Saint Remy, joins the panel to give us a primer on who might stop Emmanuel Macron winning a second term next year. Do subscribe to Pauline's Playbook, if you haven't already, s’il vous plaît.Our special guest is Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis. While he's only been in the job since December, his life has been steeped in politics as the grandson of his country's first post-Soviet head of state, Vytautas Landsbergis. He's also a former member of the European Parliament. Landsbergis ventured into some of the hottest international topics with our own Rym Momtaz, including relations with Russia, China and the United States, as well as vaccine geopolitics.The panel returns at the end of the podcast with recommendations to keep you occupied during whatever form of lockdown you may be experiencing. Rym flags this book, which is very much in keeping with the geopolitical theme of this episode. Matt offers up a documentary about the making of a WWII film classic. And Andrew says this multi-part documentary podcast about the disinformation war around the White Helmets rescue organization in Syria is well worth your time.
34 minutes | 3 months ago
Ep 186, presented by Equinor: Vaccine export fiasco — Von der Leyen's line — Belgian virologist
POLITICO trade reporter Jakob Hanke Vela talks us through how the Commission's export control scheme became more controversial as it evolved, culminating in a plan to override part of the Brexit deal meant to preserve peace on the island of Ireland. The Commission was swiftly forced to drop that element after uproar in Dublin, Belfast, London and Brussels.Jakob is joined by podcast regulars Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz and Matthew Karnitschnig to debate the impact of the debacle on Ursula von der Leyen's standing and on the EU's reputation.We hear directly from von der Leyen on the episode, speaking at a roundtable with POLITICO's David M. Herszenhorn and other reporters.Our special guest is virologist Steven Van Gucht, spokesperson for Belgium's COVID-19 crisis center, which advises the federal government. In conversation with POLITICO's Sarah Wheaton, he lays out Belgium's timeline for vaccination, reveals his biggest fears about the virus ... and addresses the all-important question of when haircuts might be allowed again.Just one recommendation to help you through lockdown this week: our new POLITICO podcast, Westminster Insider, hosted by Jack Blanchard. We're also keen to hear your tips — drop us a line at email@example.com!
34 minutes | 3 months ago
Ep 185, presented by BP: Europe's vaccine blame game — Brussels bubble struggles
POLITICO's Chief Policy Correspondent Sarah Wheaton joins Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz and Matthew Karnitschnig to talk through an in-depth story she co-authored with health reporter Jillian Deutsch on the EU's race to procure coronavirus vaccines.The news that the EU won't be receiving nearly as many doses as expected in the early months of this year has triggered a furious blame game between Brussels, EU capitals and drugmaker AstraZeneca. As Sarah explains, much of the debate revolves around whether the EU's insistence on solidarity — negotiating with pharmaceutical companies on behalf of all 27 countries — ultimately hindered its ability to secure vaccines quickly enough.Our special guest is filmmaker Nadine van Loon. We explore the themes in her forthcoming documentary, "Notes from Brussels," which follows the lives of three women working in the EU quarter. Van Loon's personal story — having previously worked in the Brussels bubble but now observing it from the outside — gives her a valuable double-perspective on what it takes to thrive personally and professionally in what can feel like an all-consuming environment.The podcast panel returns with recommendations to help you get through lockdown. Andrew kicks off with a French Netflix thriller. Rym offers up an EU documentary where you'll also see some familiar POLITICO faces. Sarah longs for the days of in-person theater but promises this virtual comedic endeavor to be worthwhile in the meantime. And Matt recommends this thought-proving film, in keeping with this week's remembrance of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
29 minutes | 4 months ago
Ep 184: Europe reacts to Biden's inauguration — Merkel succession
Joe Biden's inauguration may have been happening in America, but the eyes of Europe and the world were watching. POLITICO's Rym Momtaz, Matthew Karnitschnig and David M. Herszenhorn discuss European reaction to the transition and debate the issues that will define this new chapter in transatlantic relations. Matt also has an update on the outcome of the race to lead Germany's governing Christian Democratic Union, and explains why Armin Laschet's foreign policy positions could spell trouble for his chances to be the next chancellor.Our special guest is Daniel Benjamin, president of the American Academy in Berlin. As a former U.S. ambassador-at-large and foreign policy expert, with experience in government dating back to the 1990s, he spoke with Matt about what Europe can expect from Biden and his team — and why it would be "regrettable" for anyone to dismiss the U.S. out of fear that a Trump-like figure (or Trump himself) could return to the White House.
35 minutes | 4 months ago
Ep 183: CDU contenders — Platforms and politicians — 'Good' countries
POLITICO's Andrew Gray and Matthew Karnitschnig set up the biggest political event in Europe this week — the election of the next leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Matt goes up against the clock to deliver potted profiles of all three candidates. He also predicts a surprise winner and explains how the contest fits into the race to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor.POLITICO's Technology Editor Nick Vinocur joins the panel, along with Rym Momtaz, to debate the repercussions of the social media bans imposed on Donald Trump. How has Europe reacted to these moves by the companies they are seeking to further regulate?Our special guest is British author Simon Anholt, who's spent the past two decades advising governments on how to better engage with the international community. He breaks down his latest book, "The Good Country Equation: How We Can Repair the World in One Generation."The panel returns with recommendations to keep you entertained during these winter months as lockdowns persist. Rym urges listeners (especially those in America) to revisit some mainstream media classics to fill your reading, watching and listening diet in this time of "alternative facts." Nick is hooked on a deep-dive health podcast, delving into medical issues that are top of mind for many at the moment. Fans of "The Wire" may enjoy this not-safe-for-the-family TV recommendation from Matt. And Andrew picks a long-running radio classic, which has politicians, sports stars, actors and others dusting off their record collections and preparing to be cast away.
41 minutes | 4 months ago
Ep 182: Vaccine vexation — EU-UK deal — Previewing 2021
We look back on the big news of the holiday period and forward to the stories we expect to shape 2021 in another bumper podcast panel edition of EU Confidential.POLITICO's Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz, Matt Karnitschnig, Sarah Wheaton and Charlie Cooper discuss an unusually newsy Christmas and New Year, including Europe's coronavirus vaccination travails, the trade deal between the EU and the U.K., and an investment pact between Brussels and Beijing that hasn't gone down well in Washington.Then it's onto the year ahead. Among the questions we try to answer:Who will take over from Angela Merkel as German chancellor? Armin Laschet, Friedrich Merz and Norbert Röttgen are running to lead her party — but could Bavarian premier Markus Söder or Health Minister Jens Spahn end up running the government?Does Emmanuel Macron have a shot at succeeding Merkel as Europe's pre-eminent leader?How will Brexit Britain fare as it moves to the center of the international stage, hosting a G7 summit and the COP26 climate conference?Where will the Biden administration find common ground with the EU and the U.K. — and where might they differ?We also have a few suggested New Year's resolutions for some European politicians.Finally, we invite you to check out a brand new POLITICO podcast — Westminster Insider, hosted by U.K. Political Editor Jack Blanchard. In the pilot episode out on Friday, Jack explores how Western leaders struggling with the coronavirus pandemic are repeating the same old mistakes politicians have made for centuries.
41 minutes | 5 months ago
Ep 181, presented by Google: Reflecting on 2020
It's a bumper end-of-year review edition! But don't worry if 2020 is the year you're already trying to forget — we want to reflect on key moments and themes, rather than relive the trauma.POLITICO's Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz and Matt Karnitschnig take stock of the year that just wouldn't stop, while producer Cristina Gonzalez weaves in audio from the past 12 months that reflects the wild ride we've all been on.We start by rewinding to our first episode of 2020. How did our predictions hold up? For a year that held one huge nasty surprise, actually not too badly. In some cases, our words of wisdom proved more prescient than we could ever have imagined.Then we're off on a journey that takes in the EU's wobbly initial response to the coronavirus, its historic recovery fund, the continuing clash over core values and how Europe has fared in the wider world.We end with recommendations for the holiday season, which give us the chance to pay tribute to John Le Carré. Matt selects the author's memoir while Andrew recommends audiobooks read by Le Carré himself and classic BBC TV adaptations. (Even in 2020, they may make you feel a little more Smiley.) Rym suggests getting away from screens with a graphic novel or two.We also have a preview of a brand new POLITICO podcast, Westminster Insider hosted by U.K. Political Editor Jack Blanchard, which will launch early in the new year.EU Confidential will be back with our first edition of 2021 on January 7. Until then, wherever and whenever you found us in 2020, the whole team thanks you for listening and wishes you healthy and happy holidays.
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