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POLITICO's EU Confidential

POLITICO's EU Confidential

From Brussels and around the Continent ? the top European politics podcast.

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EU energy prices ? Curtains for Kurz ? Poland courts controversy

On the agenda this week: The EU's plans to tackle soaring energy prices, Sebastian Kurz's resignation as Austrian chancellor and a Polish challenge to the primacy of EU law.

POLITICO's Zosia Wanat joins Andrew Gray to explain a bombshell decision by a top Polish court, which rejected the primacy of EU law over the national constitution in key areas. Zosia explains why it's a big, big deal and explores the repercussions for Warsaw and the EU. Rule-of-law reporter Lili Bayer talks through the EU's possible responses.

Zosia also reports on an effort by Poland and Hungary to get the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to strike down a new measure that allows the EU to cut off funds to countries considered to be breaching the rule of law.

In Vienna, POLITICO's Matthew Karnitschnig speaks with independent Austrian analyst Thomas Hofer about Sebastian Kurz's resignation as chancellor amidst stunning corruption allegations. We dive into the details of the scandal, as well as its implications for Austria and Europe's conservatives.

And finally, energy prices are top of mind for Europeans struggling to pay record-high bills. POLITICO's Aitor Hernández-Morales explains the causes of the price surge and unpacks the European Commission's plan to help the bloc address the crisis.

You can send feedback or ideas directly to the podcast team at [email protected].

2021-10-14
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Macron's US stance ? Western Balkans summit ? Dark EU lobbying

This week: The EU's place in the world ? and the Western Balkans' place in the EU. And we dive deep into the murky world EU lobbying.

POLITICO's David M. Herszenhorn and Lili Bayer join Andrew Gray from Slovenia, where EU leaders met for a dinner discussion about the bloc's role on the international stage and held a summit with their Western Balkan counterparts.

David talks us through what French President Emmanuel Macron told him about whether France and the United States can patch things up after a big blow-up over a scuppered submarine deal.

Lili and David also discuss the divisions within the EU over letting Western Balkan countries into the club and the region's frustrations with the bloc.

And Lili outlines a recent in-depth story she and POLITICO's Zosia Wanat published about concerns that the EU's enlargement commissioner, Olivér Várhelyi of Hungary, has been favoring Serbia?s EU bid and playing down democracy concerns, according to officials and internal documents.

Then we turn things over to our Chief Technology Correspondent Mark Scott, who brings us up to speed on his series of investigations into European politics news sites that promoted the interests of governments, companies and wealthy individuals without disclosing connections to them.

The first story looks at Brussels news outlet EU Reporter and its blend of reporting and political advocacy, where it's often been impossible for readers to tell which is which.

The second examines EU Reporter?s relationship with Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant.

And the most recent article examines the wider web of individuals within the Brussels Bubble who blur the lines between journalism and pushing the agendas of commercial clients.

2021-10-07
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Who is Olaf Scholz? ? German election aftermath ? EU-US trade and tech push

We dive into the aftermath of the German election and take a closer look at Olaf Scholz, the favorite to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor. We also unpack a new push by the EU and the U.S. to agree a common rulebook on tech and trade.

Following Sunday's German election, POLITICO's Andrew Gray and Matthew Karnitschnig get you up to speed on the talks in Berlin about forming the next government. And Brussels Playbook co-author Suzanne Lynch discusses how the outcome is going down with EU policymakers, and what questions they still have about Germany post-Merkel.

Olaf Scholz is in pole position to lead the next government after his Social Democrats came first in the election. But just who is he? Our Executive Producer Cristina Gonzalez caught up with Der Spiegel journalist Christiane Hoffmann in Berlin to shed light on the politician and the person.

Also, Chief Technology Correspondent Mark Scott, author of POLITICO's weekly Digital Bridge newsletter, has the latest on Wednesday's inaugural meeting of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council in Pittsburgh. Mark explains why the council is such a big deal and breaks down where the two sides stand on the key issues.

2021-09-30
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Special edition: German election results

In a special show from Berlin, the POLITICO team analyzes Germany's cliffhanger election, gauges the mood in the different camps, and explores how coalition talks may play out.

POLITICO's Andrew Gray brings you up to speed on the latest projected results, which show the Social Democrats have a narrow lead over the conservative CDU/CSU alliance. But it's still wide open whether the SPD's Olaf Scholz or the CDU/CSU's Armin Laschet will succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor. It will all come down to who can form a coalition, likely with the Greens and Free Democrats.

Our reporters in Berlin, including Joshua Posaner, Hans von der Burchard, Laurenz Gehrke and Annette Nöstlinger, take us inside the parties' election-night events and give us a flavor of the mood there.

And POLITICO's Matthew Karnitschnig, Florian Eder and Emily Schultheis analyze the results, exploring what they say about the direction of German politics and the implications for the European Union.

2021-09-27
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German election explained ? French fury at Australian sub snub

We explore the defining moments of the German election campaign and debate the security-and-submarine deal between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom that enraged France.

POLITICO's Andrew Gray, Matthew Karnitschnig and Emily Schultheis are in Berlin for the big one, Sunday's German general election, which will bring down the curtain on the Angela Merkel era. They're joined by our in-house polling expert Cornelius Hirsch to the tell story of a surprising campaign that's gone down to the wire: The center-left Social Democrats, with their chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz, have a narrow lead over the conservative camp and their standard-bearer Armin Laschet but it's too close to call.

Then we turn to AUKUS, the three-way pact that scuppered a multibillion-dollar French submarine deal with Australia, provoking fury in Paris and triggering transatlantic turbulence.

POLITICO's Zoya Sheftalovich joins us from Sydney to explain why Australia went from agreeing to buy French diesel-fueled submarines to holding secret talks to replace that deal with a nuclear-powered fleet. Rym Momtaz and David M. Herszenhorn talk through the diplomatic fallout from the move.

Finally, set a reminder to join us for a live Twitter audio chat on the German election results this Sunday at 10 p.m. CET. We'll be analyzing the outcome and getting a flavor of the mood among the parties.

That discussion will be the basis for a special episode of EU Confidential, which will drop into your feed early Monday morning. Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts so you don't miss it.

2021-09-23
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State of the European Union ? German election latest

Ursula von der Leyen's State of the European Union address and the closing stages of the race to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor are our two big topics this week.

POLITICO's Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz and Matthew Karnitschnig bring us up to speed on the German election, which is now just over a week away. It's turning into a two-man race between Olaf Scholz, the candidate for the Social Democrats (SPD) who is now in the lead, and conservative Armin Laschet. But will talk of the SPD teaming up with more radical left-wing forces give Germans pause when considering their vote for the center-left party?

We also take an early look at next spring's French presidential election, with a number of candidates already throwing their hats into the ring.

Then we turn to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen's State of the Union address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday. The annual set-piece moment gives Commission chiefs the chance to tout their successes and set out priorities for the next year. How did von der Leyen's speech stack up?

POLITICO's team has the full analysis, starting with a dispatch from Strasbourg from Maïa de La Baume and Suzanne Lynch. Then David M. Herszenhorn addresses von der Leyen's remarks on Afghanistan and her push for greater European defense capabilities. Sarah Wheaton clarifies where the Commission president rightfully has bragging rights when it comes to the pandemic response and where she fell short. Paola Tamma takes stock of Europe's economic recovery efforts. And Karl Mathiesen and Clothilde Goujard take on two of von der Leyen's biggest legislative priorities: climate and digitization.

2021-09-16
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German election's EU impact ? Playbookers' premiere ? Age of 'unpeace'

The German election campaign's impact on EU policymakers is up for debate this week. And European Council on Foreign Relations director Mark Leonard talks about his new book, "The Age of Unpeace."

Suzanne Lynch and Jakob Hanke Vela, the new authors of our flagship Brussels Playbook newsletter, introduce themselves to our podcast audience. They join POLITICO's Andrew Gray and Rym Momtaz to discuss how the Brussels bubble is looking at the German election. And they ask why chancellor candidates Armin Laschet and Olaf Scholz took time off from the campaign trail to visit French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris this week. Be sure to subscribe to our Germany Election Playbook for daily news and analysis from the campaign.

Our special guest is Mark Leonard, founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations. He discusses his new book, "The Age of Unpeace: How Connectivity Causes Conflict" with our executive producer Cristina Gonzalez.

2021-09-09
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Afghanistan fallout ? Europe's military dilemma ? Politics of loneliness

We debate whether Afghanistan's collapse moves the needle in Europe's long-running dilemma over building up its own military power. Plus, we have a discussion on a new form of loneliness among younger generations in Europe.

There's a back-to-school vibe in Brussels, and POLITICO's Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz, Matthew Karnitschnig and David M. Herszenhorn break down the main topic still dominating the agenda: the turmoil in Afghanistan and the implications for Europe, particularly in terms of its military power and place in the world.

Then we hear from Diana Kinnert, an activist and politician from Germany's center-right Christian Democrats, who speaks to POLITICO's Sarah Wheaton about her book on loneliness. Kinnert, who's 30, contends there's a new type of loneliness plaguing her generation ? which can have long-term impacts on public health, business and politics.

2021-09-02
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EU migration wrangle ? Economist Joseph Stiglitz ? EMA chief Emer Cooke

In the wake of the withdrawal of western forces from Afghanistan, the EU is confronting renewed questions about its asylum policy. We also look at the state of the global economy, as well as Europe's coronavirus battle.

POLITICO's Matthew Karnitschnig is joined by Jacopo Barigazzi and Zosia Wanat to discuss the EU's renewed migration debate. The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, along with Belarus intentionally sending migrants across its borders with EU countries, is forcing European officials to confront the bloc's failure to come up with a coherent migration policy.

Matt then speaks with U.S. economist Joseph Stiglitz on the sidelines of the European Forum Alpbach about the state of the global economy and how Europe's recovery efforts stack up.

Emer Cooke, executive director of the European Medicines Agency, is also a special guest in this episode. She recently spoke with POLITICO's Sarah Wheaton about Europe's coronavirus battle, vaccines and her own background.

2021-08-26
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Europe reacts to Afghanistan's collapse

As the Taliban consolidate their hold over Afghanistan, we have reaction from around Europe to the U.S. decision to pull out and debate the policy implications for NATO and the transatlantic alliance.

POLITICO's Chief Europe Correspondent Matthew Karnitschnig is joined by Lili Bayer in Brussels, Annabelle Dickson in the U.K. and Saim Saeed, our regional expert, to discuss how Afghanistan's unraveling has been handled by European allies.

Matt then speaks to Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, about how this crisis came to pass ? and debate the impact on NATO and Europe's relationship with the Biden administration.

Kay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S. ambassador to NATO under Donald Trump, is also a guest on the show. She spoke with POLITICO's Sarah Wheaton and David M. Herszenhorn late last week as the Taliban's rapid advance across the country was in full swing. The long-time U.S. senator discusses how she believes President Trump would have handled the situation and America's position on China and its influence on allied members.

Matt also gives us a brief update on where things stand in the final stages of campaigning as Germans gear up for their big election on September 26.

2021-08-19
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Summer special: Recommended reading, listening and viewing

We have all the recommendations you need for reading, listening and viewing to make the most of your summer holiday ? courtesy of the POLITICO podcast crew, special guests and our listeners.

This extended episode of EU Confidential features entertaining, as well as enlightening, recommendations from POLITICO's Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz and Matthew Karnitschnig. Our executive producer Cristina Gonzalez brings us listener recommendations, and we also hear from some of our special guests over the past months.

Here's the full list of tips:

Reading

"Going Dark: The Secret Social Lives of Extremists" by Julia Ebner (as recommended by Rym)

(Bonus track: Julia Ebner was a guest on EU Confidential in 2018. Listen to the episode, with former host Ryan Heath, here.)

"Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction" by David Enrich (as recommended by Matt)

"Summer Before the Dark: Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth, Ostend 1936" by Volker Weidermann (as recommended by Andrew)

"Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century" by Wolfgang Schivelbusch (as recommended by EU Confidential listener Jed)

"The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race" by Walter Isaacson (as recommended by Javier Solana and a listener)

"The Lonely Century: A Call to Reconnect" by Noreena Hertz (as recommended by a listener)

"What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract for a Better Society" by Minouche Shafik (as recommended by a listener)

"Trans-Europe Express: Tours of a Lost Continent" by Owen Hatherley (as recommended by listener Aisling)

"Soul Tourists" by Bernardine Evaristo (as recommended by listener Andrea)

"La grande illusion" by Michel Barnier (as recommended by listener Wolfgang)

"Alarums and Excursions" by Luuk Van Middelaar (as recommended by listener Murray)

"Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine" by Hannah Fry (as recommended by listener Agathi)

"The Meritocracy Trap: How America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite" by Daniel Markovits (as recommended by special guest Hans Vijlbrief)

"Machiavelli: His Life and Times" by Alexander Lee (as recommended by special guest Carl Bildt)

"Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism" by Anne Applebaum (as recommended by special guest Robert Cooper)

"The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas (as also recommended by special guest Robert Cooper)

Viewing

"Gomorrah" (as recommended by Matt)

"Succession" (as recommended by Rym)

"Lupin" (as recommended by Andrew)

Listening

"Grande Traversée : François Mitterrand, un mythe français" (as recommended by Rym)

"The Rest Is History" (as recommended by Matt)

"In Our Time" (as recommended by Andrew)

"Second Captains" (as also recommended by Andrew)

"The Intelligence" (as recommended by a listener)

"WorkLife with Adam Grant" (as recommended by a listener)

"Because People Count" (as recommended and hosted by listener Andrea)

"How To Fail With Elizabeth Day" (as recommended by listener Agathi)

"Mothers of Invention" (as recommended and hosted by Mary Robinson, along with Maeve Higgins and Thimali Kodikara)

Programming note: EU Confidential will take a summer break for two weeks. We'll be back in your feed on August 19. See you then!

2021-07-29
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German floods ? Spyware scandal ? Svetlana Tikhanovskaya

The devastating floods in Western Europe are our top story this week: We hear from our reporter in the German flood zone and debate the political consequences of the catastrophe. We also discuss a big spyware scandal and Western accusations of Chinese cyberattacks. And we hear from Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

POLITICO's Laurenz Gehrke calls in from Hagen, Germany to describe the devastation he's witnessed in towns and villages across the flood zone and recount what he's heard from people most affected. Weighing in on the political ramifications for Germany's general election campaign is Chief Europe Correspondent Matthew Karnitschnig.

Senior France Correspondent Rym Momtaz joins Andrew Gray to discuss the reaction to reports that a mobile phone number used by French President Emmanuel Macron was selected for possible targeting with Pegasus spyware by a Moroccan intelligence service.

EU-China Correspondent Stuart Lau digs into this week's joint condemnation by the U.S., the EU, the U.K. and NATO of cyberattacks on Microsoft servers, attributed to hackers based in China.

Our special guest is Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Speaking to POLITICO's David M. Herszenhorn from her office in Vilnius, Lithuania, Tikhanovskaya discusses the latest round of sanctions against the Lukashenko regime and the forced landing of Ryanair Flight 4978. She also explains what the EU can do to put pressure on the Belarusian government to hold new elections this year.

2021-07-22
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Political football ? EU's big climate combo ? Recovery cash

The political repercussions of Euro 2020, a massive package of European climate laws, and the first economic recovery plans approved for EU cash all feature this week.

POLITICO's Rym Momtaz joins Andrew Gray to fill us in on French President Emmanuel Macron's efforts to give people a big "nudge" to get vaccinated.

We get into the politics of Euro 2020 with POLITICO's resident sports expert Ali Walker, along with Annabelle Dickson in London and Hannah Roberts in Rome. The team looks at the aftermath of the final in Italy, where victory played into a bigger surge in the national mood, and England, where fan violence and racist online abuse have dominated the conversation.

Here's Hannah's write-up from Rome on Italy's wave of euphoria. This is Annabelle's coverage of the U.K.'s attempt to curb online abuse. And here's Ali's A-Z review of the tournament.

Then Kalina Oroschakoff, POLITICO's climate reporter, joins Andrew to break down the big news announced in Brussels this week: a mammoth package of climate laws aiming to cut carbon emissions by 55 percent by 2030. All of POLITICO's coverage of the package ? known in Brussels-speak as Fit for 55 ? can be found here.

Finally, POLITICO's Paola Tamma gets us up to speed on efforts to get EU funds flowing to member countries to finance their post-pandemic recoveries. Paola speaks with Hans Vijlbrief, secretary of state for finance from the Netherlands, who attended a crucial Council meeting this week in Brussels to approve the first 12 recovery plans.

2021-07-15
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Slovenian EU presidency ? Champagne spat ? Digital expert Marietje Schaake

Slovenia's awkward start to its EU presidency and a look at why Russia has France fizzing over Champagne feature this week. And our special guest is former MEP Marietje Schaake on transatlantic tech regulation.

POLITICO's David M. Herszenhorn tells Andrew Gray about his recent trip to Slovenia for the start of the country's six-month stint as president of the Council of the EU and analyzes European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen's terse warning for Slovenia's controversial prime minister, Janez Jan?a, about the importance of upholding EU values.

POLITICO's Rym Momtaz brings us up to speed on a bubbling geopolitical brouhaha between Russia and France after Vladimir Putin signed a law banning foreign sparkling wine producers from using the term "Champagne" ? even those produced in France's famed, wine-growing region that gives the drink its name.

Former Dutch MEP and digital expert Marietje Schaake is our special guest. In conversation with POLITICO's Laurens Cerulus, Schaake reveals why she left the European Parliament in 2019 to move to Stanford University in Silicon Valley as the international policy director at the Cyber Policy Center. After working for years to regulate tech from within the European Union, Schaake reflects on these efforts from her new transatlantic perspective.

Laurens has more from the conversation in this week?s Digital Bridge newsletter.

2021-07-08
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Stunning summit ? EU's engine room ? Ex-Swedish PM Carl Bildt

We unpack last week's extraordinary summit of EU leaders, take stock of the coronavirus situation in Europe and bring you inside the EU's "engine room." Our special guest is former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt.

POLITICO's Andrew Gray is joined by Chief Brussels Correspondent David M. Herszenhorn to unpack last week's remarkable European Council, where emotions ran high over Hungary's new anti-LGBTQ+ measures. Leaders also held a heated discussion on relations with Russia, with Eastern Europeans blasting a last-minute proposal from Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron to hold a summit with Vladimir Putin.

We also take stock of Europe's coronavirus situation with Chief Policy Correspondent Sarah Wheaton, as questions mount about the Delta variant and whether digital passes will allow for normality to resume soon.

Then we lift the lid on the most important EU body most Europeans have never heard of: Coreper. The committee of 27 EU ambassadors is credited with keeping the bloc's political machinery going while much of Europe went into lockdown. POLITICO's Jacopo Barigazzi joins the podcast to break down his article, "How ambassadors took over the EU."

Our special guest is former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt. The veteran statesman spoke to Sarah on the sidelines of the Globesec security conference in Bratislava about his current gig as the World Health Organization's special envoy for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, as well as Europe's relations with Russia, the situation in Belarus and EU enlargement prospects in the Balkan region.

2021-07-01
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Hungary's anti-LGBTQ+ law ? Sausage wars ? Commission VP Maro? ?ef?ovi?

Hungary's anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, France's regional elections and U.K.-EU relations are all up for debate. And we hear from European Commission VP Maro? ?ef?ovi?'s on the U.K.-EU "sausage wars" and more.

POLITICO's Andrew Gray is joined by Brussels politics reporter Lili Bayer to explain why the anti-LGBTQ+ bill passed by the Hungarian parliament has the Continent in uproar ? and even caused consternation in the sporting arena.

Rym Momtaz in Paris has analysis of regional and local elections in France, which could signal trouble for President Emmanuel Macron and his party ahead of next spring's presidential poll. And our U.K. colleague Annabelle Dickson joins the panel to mark five years since the Brexit vote and break down the key battles still playing out between the U.K. and the EU.

Our special guest is Commission Vice President Maro? ?ef?ovi?. The Slovakian diplomat is currently responsible for interinstitutional relations and foresight ? and has a key role for the EU in navigating the U.K.'s withdrawal from the bloc. On the sidelines of the Globesec conference in his hometown of Bratislava, he talks to POLITICO's Joshua Posaner about being dubbed "the sausage king" by his U.K. counterpart, his personal connection to the U.K. and what he's hoping for as negotiations drag on.

2021-06-24
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Biden's European summit spree ? ECB President Christine Lagarde ? Birthday bonanza

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.

2021-06-17
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Biden in Europe ? Back to Strasbourg ? Transatlantic talk

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.

2021-06-10
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Spy affair ? Laschet litmus ? Former Irish President Mary Robinson

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.

2021-06-03
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Belarusian 'hijack' ? Brussels food fight ? Art of diplomacy

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.

2021-05-27
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Ep 201, presented by Equinor: Israeli-Palestinian conflict ? Laschet's foreign foray ? Javier Solana

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.

2021-05-20
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Ep 200, presented by Shell: Vaccine patent waivers ? Macron gets mad ? Facebook's Nick Clegg

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.

2021-05-13
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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.

2021-05-06
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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.

2021-04-29
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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.

2021-04-22
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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.

2021-04-15
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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 Erdo?an 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.

2021-04-08
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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.

2021-04-04
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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.

2021-04-01
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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.

2021-03-25
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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.

2021-03-18
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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.

2021-03-11
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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.

2021-03-04
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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.

2021-02-25
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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.

2021-02-18
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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.

2021-02-11
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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 protected]!

2021-02-04
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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.

2021-01-28
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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.

2021-01-21
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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.

2021-01-14
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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.

2021-01-07
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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.

2020-12-17
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Ep 180, presented by Shell: EU deals on climate & budget ? Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya

In their final meeting of 2020, EU leaders made key decisions on the bloc's long-term budget and recovery fund, emissions targets, and foreign affairs. We delayed this week's episode to bring you a must-listen analysis of what happened and what it all means. We also have an interview with Spain's Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya.

A top team of POLITICO reporters takes you through the European Council. Lili Bayer breaks down the compromise that ended a budget blockade by Hungary and Poland over plans to link EU payouts to respect for the rule of law. Kalina Oroschakoff unpacks the leaders' pledge to cut emissions by 55 percent by 2030 and the battles that lie ahead. And Rym Momtaz and David M. Herszenhorn take a step back to sum up the summit and look at how Angela Merkel ? who came top in our POLITICO 28 power rankings this week ? fared during Germany's six-month presidency of the Council of the EU.

Ahead of the summit, David sat down with Minister González to discuss some of the big issues also on the leaders' agenda, including Turkey, transatlantic relations and Brexit. We have highlights from that conversation.

2020-12-11
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Ep 179, presented by Equinor: Von der Leyen's first year reviewed ? Manfred Weber interview

One year on from Ursula von der Leyen taking office as Commission president, we take stock of how she has performed. And Manfred Weber, leader of the largest group in the European Parliament, shares his thoughts on her first year in office.

December 1 marked the one-year anniversary of Ursula von der Leyen taking over as president of the European Commission. Did an unforeseen and tumultuous year knock her off her game, or set her up for some surprise successes? And which Commissioners in her ranks managed to stand out and keep their policy fields top of mind despite the pandemic, and which have faded into the background? A special Brussels panel including Andrew Gray, David M. Herszenhorn, Sarah Wheaton, Kalina Oroschakoff and Laura Kayali gives you POLITICO's take of how things stack up.

Manfred Weber might have been reflecting this week on his first year as European Commission president, if things had worked out differently for the Bavarian MEP who leads the European People's Party group in the Parliament. He shares his perspective with Maïa de La Baume and David M. Herszenhorn on Ursula von der Leyen's handling of the crisis, her management style and how things are working in Brussels under new Commission leadership and changed dynamics in the European Parliament.

Our podcast panel returns with new lockdown entertainment suggestions. Playing by the rules (in politics and sports) is top of mind for David in this podcast recommendation. Laura's been watching this classic political thriller TV series and Kalina's also feeling nostalgic with this sci-fi adventure comedy movie. And Sarah recommends next Monday's POLITICO 28 event that's sure to kick-up discussions looking ahead to 2021.

2020-12-03
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Ep 178: Europe's new US BFFs ? Biden calling ? Big tech lobbying

They like America's traditional allies! They talk about multilateralism! Some of them even speak French! U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's foreign policy team has drawn rave reviews in Europe. We debate how much the hype is justified. And we look at the intense lobbying around two cornerstone pieces of tech legislation to be presented in Brussels soon.

POLITICO's Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz and Matthew Karnitschnig discuss Biden's key picks and their likely impact on relations with Europe. And as Biden picked up the phone to call world leaders in recent days, which Europeans made the cut and in which order ? and does that even matter? We also discuss where Britain may fit in the new transatlantic order.

Brussels is set to unveil key pieces of legislation on December 9: the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act. Our Technology Editor Nicholas Vinocur explains what's at stake. And he sits down with Jan Penfrat of European Digital Rights and Margarida Silva of Corporate Europe Observatory to shed light on the lobbying battle to try to shape the legislation.

The podcast panel also has a few lockdown recommendations. Rym picks a podcast about an American musical icon who supported one of the successful coronavirus vaccine makers. Matt does his bit for the Franco-German relationship with a German biography of a French statesman. And Andrew has a mystery podcast which is kind of about cryptocurrencies ? and kind of isn't.

2020-11-26
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Ep 177 In Focus: Energy, presented by Shell: Budget blocked ? Strategic autonomy ? COP26

Hungary and Poland's block on the EU's budget and recovery package and a Franco-German clash over European strategy autonomy are up for debate in this episode. And we take a deep dive into climate diplomacy, looking at some new pledges and the impact of the postponement of the COP26 conference.

POLITICO's Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz, Matthew Karnitschnig and Lili Bayer examine Hungary and Poland's freeze on the EU's ?1.8 trillion long-term budget and coronavirus recovery package. How dangerous is this crisis for the EU as a whole and where might things go from here? The panel also demystifies the public spat between French President Emmanuel Macron and German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer over European strategic autonomy and how much the EU should depend on the United States for its defense and security.

Our special In Focus: Energy series continues with a look at COP26 ? the annual climate conference that was set to take place in Glasgow but got postponed until next year due to the coronavirus. POLITICO's climate reporters Kalina Oroschakoff and Karl Mathiesen speak to John Murton, the UK's COP26 envoy, about how the delay has impacted global climate diplomacy. And we hear from Mohamed Adow, director of energy and climate think tank Power Shift Africa, about how the coronavirus has affected climate conversations in Africa and about his hopes for climate financing.

For this week's lockdown recommendations, Rym gives the thumbs-up to an unfiltered conversation about what it's like to be a woman in the public sphere, Matt suggests a Cold War conspiracy-theory-turned-music-mystery podcast series, Lili promises the new season of a certain Netflix royal drama is better than the last, and Andrew comes through with not one but two music podcasts for those who want a bit of an escape from politics.

2020-11-19
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Ep 176, presented by Equinor: Vaccine hopes ? Budget breakthrough ? US election reaction

The prospect of a coronavirus vaccine, European reaction to Joe Biden's victory in the US presidential race and a breakthrough on the EU's ?1.8 trillion budget ? it's all up for debate in this episode, featuring renowned virus expert Peter Piot.

With Joe Biden declared the winner of the U.S. presidential race but Donald Trump yet to concede, European leaders are in an awkward place. How have they responded so far and were there any surprises in the reactions across Europe? POLITICO's Andrew Gray, Rym Momtaz, Matthew Karnitschnig and Lili Bayer get us up to speed ? and Lili catches us up on the big breakthrough in Brussels this week on the EU's long-term budget and coronavirus recovery plan.

Peter Piot, the eminent Belgian virologist advising European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on COVID-19, is our special guest. He spoke with Andrew just as news broke of a highly-effective coronavirus vaccine candidate. Piot talks about what the news means for our prospects of returning to normal. He discusses what he's learned about the virus, both as an expert and as someone who himself contracted COVID-19. And he explains why he thinks we should be preparing for more pandemics.

The podcast panel returns at the end of the episode with recommendations to help get you through lockdown. Andrew nominates an article by President-elect Joe Biden setting out his foreign policy agenda. Rym offers a lighter listening option ? an insightful interview with another American "Boss." Lili is working her way through the works of a famed German novelist, with this being her favorite thus far. And Matt promises high drama with an Israeli thriller series.

2020-11-12
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Campaign Confidential #13, presented by Huawei: Key election lessons ? Georgia on our minds

In the final episode of our pop-up series on the US elections, we share the key takeaways, looking at what we heard over the past 3 months and how it explains where we ended up. We also look ahead to looming Senate runoff races in Georgia, with the balance of power in Washington at stake.

Ryan Heath picks over the result of the U.S. elections and looks back at the campaign to see which moments turned out to be prescient: from predictions of massive Democratic turnout via mail-in ballots to warnings on the need for patience in declaring a winner (and the likelihood of litigation over the result).

And it's not all over yet. Even as the final presidential votes are being counted, two crucial senate seats are yet to be decided. Greg Bluestein, political reporter at the Atlanta Journal Constitution, joins the podcast to break down the two Senate runoff races in Georgia, where candidates must receive at least 50 percent of the vote to win an election outright. The outcome in January will determine the overall balance of power in Washington. Bluestein explains why Georgia's vote was so close and what it says about the state of America's political system.

2020-11-10
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Ep 175: Biden, Trump and what the US elections mean for Europe

In this special extended episode, we debate and dissect the U.S. presidential vote, looking at its implications for America, transatlantic ties and European politics.

Even as the final outcome remains uncertain, the election has already told us plenty about America. It has exposed the extent of the country's polarization and made clear that Trumpism isn't going away ? even if the U.S gets a new president. What does that mean for America and for Europe? And if Joe Biden clinches the presidency as seems likely, how will relations between Europe and the United States change?

We assembled an all-star cast of POLITICO journalists including Andrew Gray, Matthew Karnitschnig, David Herszenhorn, Lili Bayer and Sarah Wheaton to debate these questions. And Ryan Heath joins from across the Atlantic to discuss his big takeaways from the election and suggest how the EU should handle a possible Biden presidency.

2020-11-05
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Campaign Confidential #12, presented by Huawei: How to watch election night like a pro

In this episode of our pop-up series on the US elections, hosted by Ryan Heath, we give you all the details you need to follow the big night like a seasoned DC insider  ? including what to look out for, where to keep a close eye on and what the polls are saying.

POLITICO Intelligence Analyst Cornelius Hirsch and Cameron Easley, senior editor at data intelligence firm Morning Consult, explain how the polls are different from four years ago, what lessons were learned in 2016 and the key places that will indicate how the election will play out. Ryan rounds out the discussion with his guide for what to watch for, and key numbers to keep in mind, as results start to pour in.

After election day, Ryan will join the regular EU Confidential podcast, which will be back in your feed as early as Wednesday to bring you reaction and analysis from both sides of the Atlantic on what the result means for Europe.

2020-11-02
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