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POLITICO's EU Confidential

Author: POLITICO Europe

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From Brussels and around the Continent — the top European politics podcast.
251 Episodes
We take stock of Joe Biden's visit to Europe and what it means for EU allies. And our special guest is European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, discussing the uphill battle for gender equality in finance.Kicking off our special 4th birthday edition, POLITICO's Andrew Gray and Rym Momtaz welcome Ryan Heath — the original host of EU Confidential — to the podcast panel. Rym gives us the inside scoop on her coverage of the G7 and NATO summits, while Ryan has the perspective from Washington on those gatherings, as well as the EU-U.S. summit that took place in Brussels this week.Then David M. Herszenhorn, POLITICO's chief Brussels correspondent, joins Andrew from the Geneva airport to break down the much-anticipated meeting between Biden and Vladimir Putin. (Check out our coverage of Biden's visit to Europe here.)In our feature interview, ECB President Lagarde talks to POLITICO's Johanna Treeck and Florian Eder about encouraging gender equality at the bank and across the world of finance. (You can read more coverage of that exclusive interview here.)And to celebrate EU Confidential's 4th birthday, our Executive Producer Cristina Gonzalez will be taking over the POLITICO Europe Twitter account (@POLITICOEurope) on Friday, June 18. It's your chance to ask any questions about our audio offerings and reminisce about some of our favorite — and most controversial — episodes.
Joe Biden's trip to Europe, an interview with Germany's transatlantic coordinator, the European Parliament's strange return to Strasbourg, and a brewing Brussels brouhaha over the French language all feature in this episode.As Biden makes his first overseas presidential trip for a series of summits — with the G7, NATO, the EU and Vladimir Putin — POLITICO's Andrew Gray gets a preview from colleagues Rym Momtaz, David M. Herszenhorn and Anna Isaac, who are all headed to Cornwall for the first of those powwows.Peter Beyer, the German government's transatlantic point man, talks to POLITICO's Matthew Karnitschnig about what's changed now that Donald Trump no longer occupies the White House, how the West's approach to China is evolving and how the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline impacts relations with Washington.Meanwhile, a debate is heating up in Brussels over plans by Paris to use only French when conducting business during its upcoming presidency of the Council of the EU, starting in January 2022. POLITICO's Maïa de La Baume has the inside scoop on that, and on the European Parliament's strange return to Strasbourg after more than a year of pandemic-enforced absence.
Claims that Denmark helped the U.S. spy on European leaders, demands for the EU to step up on defense and bellwether state elections in Germany's Saxony-Anhalt all feature in this episode. Mary Robinson is our special guest.POLITICO's Rym Momtaz and David M. Herszenhorn analyze new revelations by Danish media that the country's intelligence service reportedly helped the NSA spy on European leaders during the Obama administration, and how the news could impact U.S. President Joe Biden's visit to Europe later next week. They also debate the implications of this report by the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank with close ties to the Biden administration, calling for the EU to become a global military power.Rym is then joined by POLITICO's Laurenz Gehrke to break down state elections this Sunday in Germany's Saxony-Anhalt, and what the result could indicate about the way the political winds are blowing heading into the country's federal elections in September.We're also joined by Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and currently chair of The Elders, a group of distinguished figures formed by South Africa's former President Nelson Mandela in 2007. In a conversation with POLITICO's Sarah Wheaton, they cover everything from coronavirus vaccines and climate change, to the geopolitical "rift" between the United States and China, and where Europe should fit in. Finally, Robinson recommends her own podcast — which she hosts, along with comedian-writer, Maeve Higgins, and series producer, Thimali Kodikara — to our listeners, Mothers of Invention.
The Belarus airliner drama and EU leaders' response, as well as a big bunfight over farm subsidies, are up for debate this week. And longtime EU diplomat Robert Cooper talks about his new book "The Ambassadors."POLITICO's Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz, David M. Herszenhorn and Jan Cienski analyze the repercussions of what has been branded a state-sponsored hijack — Belarus forcing a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius to land in Minsk, where an opposition activist and his partner were detained. The team also asks: Did EU leaders step up to the challenge?POLITICO's Eddy Wax sheds light on a big Brussels battle coming to a head this week: the fight over the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. With billions of euros at stake, Eddy has the inside scoop on how the reforms are taking shape, and who's trying to influence them. Read more here.Robert Cooper — a former British diplomat who played a key role in building up the EU's foreign policy apparatus — is our special guest to discuss his new book, "The Ambassadors: Thinking about Diplomacy from Machiavelli to Modern Times." He has a frank assessment of EU foreign policy today when it comes to China — he's not a fan of "pinprick" sanctions over human rights abuses. He also has some recommended reading for listeners, including a book on democracy under threat and some lighter fare, which he enjoys en français.The podcast panel also has a few recommended reads. Jan's tip is a profound book about how life on Earth arose. Rym's recommendation may have you rethinking how you view relationships. And David previews this tome by a recently-retired NATO bigwig.
European attitudes toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the foreign policy of Germany's conservative candidate for chancellor, and a chat with former EU High Representative Javier Solana all feature in this week's episode.POLITICO's Rym Momtaz, David M. Herszenhorn and Andrew Gray unpack the divisions within the EU over the upsurge in violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They also explore whether Europe would have much of a role to play in efforts to resolve the conflict, even if it could speak with one voice.Armin Laschet, Angela Merkel's would-be successor, set out his foreign policy vision in a big speech this week. POLITICO's Matthew Karnitschnig sums up the key points and looks at the main dividing lines between Laschet and the Greens, the conservatives' biggest rivals in the polls.Javier Solana has quite the political CV — former Spanish foreign minister, NATO secretary-general and EU foreign policy chief. These days he's still very plugged into international affairs, as president of the Spanish-based Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics (EsadeGeo). He spoke to Andrew about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, his disagreement with his old friend Joe Biden on China, and the future of European defense. He also had a book recommendation for EU Confidential listeners.
European leaders' cool reaction to a U.S. proposal to waive patents for coronavirus vaccines is up for debate this week. We also discuss big issues facing Facebook with the company's public affairs chief Nick Clegg, and get an alternative take on those hot topics from a media executive.The surprise U.S. proposal to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines became the talk of an EU summit in Porto. POLITICO's Rym Momtaz takes us behind the scenes and breaks down Emmanuel Macron's emotional response. POLITICO's Andrew Gray and Matthew Karnitschnig join Rym to analyze the reasons behind Joe Biden's move and why it's put EU leaders on the back foot.Then we hear from Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister in the U.K. who is now vice president for global affairs and communications at Facebook. POLITICO's Nicholas Vinocur talks to Clegg about the Facebook Oversight Board's decision to back Donald Trump's suspension from the platform, the data scrape that grabbed the information of roughly 500 million Facebook users, changes to the platform's news algorithm and the impact of Apple's new iPhone privacy settings.Then we hear from Guillaume de Posch, president of the Association of Commercial Television in Europe, who makes the case for regulating Facebook and other tech platforms more like publishers and broadcasters when it comes to political speech.The podcast panel returns with recommendations for reading, watching and listening. Matt's tip is a new documentary on the fate of a Saudi dissident. Rym recommends a new book on the political intricacies of Lebanon. Andrew says a colorful tale about allegations of Russian spying in the United States is well worth adding to your podcast feed.And we have one final recommendation: If you want to dive deep into Germany's general election campaign, we have a shiny new web hub just for you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Comments (3)

Midnight Rambler

anti Eu your FAR right! 😂

Jun 4th

Midnight Rambler

Lil clegg the censor chief

May 17th

Midnight Rambler

the joy of censorship

Mar 25th
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