EU Confidential

  • 370. How Russian disinformation could skew EU election — and whether Europe can fight it

    Ursula von der Leyen made a promise this week: if she secures another term as president of the European Commission, she will prioritize beefing up the EU's defenses against malicious disinformation from Moscow.It's a top-of-agenda issue for many in Brussels and across the bloc, with less than a month until the European election and hostile actors using sophisticated tools such as generative AI.In this episode, host Sarah Wheaton and her guests unpack some of the latest examples of interference from the Kremlin, such as sharing AI-generated deepfake videos of politicians or cloning the voices of public figures to impersonate them. Sarah is joined by Mark Scott, POLITICO's chief technology correspondent, and Jakub Kalensky, deputy director of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats in Helsinki. They also discuss what's behind Europe's modest successes in countering Russian disinformation campaigns.Further reading:Moldova fights to free itself from Russia’s AI-powered disinformation machine by Mark ScottDeepfakes, distrust and disinformation: Welcome to the AI election by Mark ScottSpot the deepfake: The AI tools undermining our own eyes and ears by Mark Scott
  • 369. Who votes for the European far right? And why?

    As recent national elections in several European countries have shown, far-right voters no longer fit the stereotype of the angry, old white man, but now often include women, young people and even migrants.In this episode we unpack what drives voters to abandon the mainstream and more traditional party loyalties for the far right, and how poverty, or fear of it, motivates typical supporters of the AfD in Germany, Geert Wilder's PVV in the Netherlands, or Chega in Portugal.Host Sarah Wheaton is joined by POLITICO reporters Hanne Cokelaere, James Angelos and Aitor Hernandez-Morales, who were recently dispatched to countries where far-right parties are gaining ground ahead of June's European election.Later on we have a fascinating conversation with Catherine de Vries, professor of political science and dean of international affairs at Bocconi University in Milan. Her research focuses on how economic hardship and problems with public services such as schools, health care or transport can fuel the far right.Further reading:Germany’s far-right believers blame spy claims on ‘witch hunt’ by James AngelosPortugal’s far-right vaccine stops working in the Algarve by Victor Jack
  • 368. Debate time! EU lead candidates go head-to-head

    It was a rare chance to see all the leading candidates from Europe's main political parties go head-to-head in a presidential-style debate to become the next head of the European Commission.With just over a month to go until the European Parliament election, eight politicians met in the Dutch city of Maastricht and spent an hour and a half answering questions on key issues such as climate change, defense and European democracy.If you missed it, don't worry — we've picked out the key moments and some of the more heated exchanges. Host Sarah Wheaton is joined by colleagues POLITICO's editor at large Nicholas Vinocur and Barbara Moens, chief EU correspondent and co-moderator of the debate. They give us their take on who won, who lost, and how it all went down. Did anyone manage to impress a room full of university students and over a quarter of a million people watching the debate online?
  • 367. European Parliament in review — MEP unAwards 2024

    Since the 2019 election this European Parliament has had to deal with various challenges, from Brexit and Covid-19 to the war in Ukraine and scandals such as Qatargate. At the same time it has managed to legislate on key issues such as climate change, AI and migration.In this episode we look back at the highs and lows of the EU legislature's last five years.Host Sarah Wheaton is joined by a roundtable of POLITICO colleagues: data reporter Hanne Cokelaere; sustainability reporter Louise Guillot; editor at large Nicholas Vinocur; policy editor Joanna Roberts; and European Parliament correspondent Eddy Wax. They share their experiences from covering the Parliament and weigh in on which of the bloc's 705 MEPs deserve POLITICO's 2024 unAWARDs.  Further reading:"The MEP unAwards 2024," by Politico staff"MEPs to watch in the next EU Parliament (if they get elected)," by Politico staff"The European Parliament by the numbers," by Hanne Cokelaere
  • 366. Brussels buzzwords of the week: competitiveness and Bolshewokism

    In this episode we unpack the EU's new buzzword and the main point of discussion at this week's European Council summit: competitiveness. We also bring you another new buzzword from Brussels this week: Bolshewokism.Host Sarah Wheaton is joined by POLITICO's chief Brussels correspondent, Barbara Moens, to recap the leaders' summit and their attempt to make the bloc's economy more competitive with regards China and the United States. We also discuss former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta's newly released report on how to overhaul the EU's single market, and we hear from Letta himself, in conversation with POLITICO's own Giovanna Faggionato.Later, we have a fascinating discussion with Atlantic Council senior fellow and author Elisabeth Braw about her new book "Goodbye Globalization: The Return of a Divided World."And we end our episode explaining how the word "Bolshewokism" came to describe a National Conservatism Conference, featuring Nigel Farage and Viktor Orbán, which was upended by local Brussels mayors.Further Reading:"Time for a European single market ‘with teeth’ to take on China, India, leaders told," by Giovanna Faggionato and and Bjarke Smith-Meyer"A new inconvenient truth: Europe’s global plans all require money no one has," by By Karl Mathiesen, Barbara Moens, Giovanna Faggionato and Giorgio Leali"Europe’s hard-right bags big win after ‘own goal’ by Brussels mayors," by Eddy Wax
  • 365. EU election latest: Knives out for Ursula von der Leyen

    With just weeks to go until the European Parliament election, we're bringing you the state of play.Host Sarah Wheaton is joined by Elisa Braun, POLITICO's Brussels correspondent, and Nicholas Vinocur, POLITICO's editor at large, to discuss the many political challenges facing EPP lead candidate Ursula von der Leyen: "Pfizergate," "Piepergate" and the internal rebellion by a group of fellow commissioners.Later, a panel of keen election watchers — Eddy Wax, who covers the European Parliament for POLITICO, technology reporter Clothilde Goujard and Matteo Albania, communications director at Must Consulting — gives us an update on the new rules for online campaigning (aimed at fighting disinformation and AI-generated deepfakes) and takes stock of the campaign so far.Further reading:EU political parties promise to steer clear of deepfakes ahead of election by Clothilde GoujardEurope wields new tech law to protect EU election by Clothilde GoujardMacron ‘loved’ me sniping at von der Leyen, says French commissioner by Elisa Braun and Eddy WaxVon der Leyen struggles to quell revolt over controversial business envoy pick by Giovanna Faggionato, Nicholas Vinocur and Julia Wacket 
  • 364. 'If you want peace, prepare for war': How an old saying is making a comeback in Europe

    In this episode, we unpack the growing urgency among EU leaders to defeat Russia's Vladimir Putin. Remember the old Latin saying: si vis pacem, para bellum (if you want peace, prepare for war)? We discuss what that might mean today.We also explain what's at stake in presidential runoff elections in Slovakia and round out our episode exploring why chocolate prices in Europe are skyrocketing and what "greedflation" has to do with it.Host Sarah Wheaton is joined by Barbara Moens, POLITICO's chief EU correspondent, Milan Nič, senior fellow for Central and Eastern Europe at the German Council on Foreign Relations and Alessandro Ford, agriculture reporter at POLITICO.Have a great spring break! We will be back in your feed on April 12.Further reading:"‘Broadening’ consensus on need to defeat Putin among EU leaders, says Lithuanian president," by Jacopo Barigazzi and Barbara Moens"Slovak president election: Pro-EU diplomat tops coalition stalwart in first round," by Tom Nicholson"Slovakia, the EU’s next rule of law headache," by Ketrin Jochecová and Nicolas Camut"Big Chocolate is conning you this Easter," by Alessandro FordAnd finally ...Have your say on Europe’s future at the third edition of the Maastricht Debate. On April 29 at 7 p.m. CET, Studio Europa Maastricht and POLITICO are organizing the debate that will put the candidates in line to lead Europe onstage and in front of the issues that matter to European youth. Find out more and register to watch the 2024 Maastricht Debate by clicking here.
  • 363. Farmers lead the EU climate backlash

    As EU leaders received a stark warning about the climate risks facing the bloc, the European Commission caved to farmer protests and demands to slash environmental requirements.Host Sarah Wheaton talks to POLITICO's climate policy reporter Zia Weise about the recent report on climate risks facing the bloc, the first of its kind from the European Environment Agency. We dive into the sobering findings and the reactions.And then Sarah hosts a conversation with POLITICO's senior climate correspondent Karl Mathiesen and Tom Brookes — the head of the Meloire Foundation and one of Brussels' top green lobbyists. Tom reveals new polling on how European citizens view climate issues heading into the European election in June — and they debate the politics of climate blowback.Additional reading ..."5 things we learned from the EU’s big (and first) climate risk report" by Zia Weise"EU takes the ax to green farming rules" by Bartosz Brzeziński"Bears, cars and angry farmers fuel green backlash" by Karl Mathiesen
  • 362. Portuguese voters' anger and what it means for Europe

    Portugal's snap election has brought seismic change — the Socialists are now in opposition and the center-right Democratic Alliance, which narrowly won the vote, will try to form a minority government. But the biggest shock came when the far-right, ultra-nationalist, anti-immigrant Chega won more than a million votes and became the third-largest party in parliament.In this episode of EU Confidential, host Sarah Wheaton is joined by POLITICO’s Aitor Hernández-Morales, Barbara Moens and Nicholas Vinocur to break down the results of the vote and discuss what the far-right surge in Portugal could mean for the future of the EU — with the European elections on the horizon and the race for top jobs underway.Later, POLITICO's Stuart Lau interviews Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson after his country officially joined NATO.Further readings:Ursula von der Leyen’s reelection campaign gets off to a bumpy start – POLITICOPortugal’s far right comes roaring back – POLITICOPortugal swings right in knife-edge snap election – POLITICO