POLITICO's EU Confidential
Europe braces for US mid-term elections
As Americans head to the polls next week, we dive into transatlantic relations and the impact these elections could have on European policy and relations with Washington.
POLITICO's Suzanne Lynch in Brussels and Ryan Heath in Washington break down the upcoming U.S. mid-term elections. They pick out the important races to watch and discuss how a shift in the balance of power in Congress could change the course of policies impacting Europe, particularly support for Ukraine. And senior trade correspondent Barbara Moens explains the current trade tensions between Brussels and Washington and how the two sides are trying to resolve these differences.
Our special guest is Max Bergmann. He's currently the director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and has previously held several positions within the U.S. State Department. In conversation with POLITICO's Sarah Wheaton, they discuss how Washington views Europe's defense capabilities and how the mid-term elections could impact transatlantic relations.
Programming note: Suzanne and Ryan will be holding a Pro Briefing Call — which is exceptionally open for anyone to join — on the day after the vote. Join them on Wednesday, November 9 at 4 p.m. CET for a live exchange on what the mid-term results mean for U.S. allies and partners, in Europe and beyond. Register here.
326. From Moldova: The European Political Community is back25:40This week's episode comes to you from the second meeting of the European Political Community in the Moldovan capital of Chișinău. With over 40 heads of state and government invited to attend, host Suzanne Lynch discusses what's at stake for the European continent with senior France Correspondent Clea Caulcutt. We dive into the prospects for countries like Moldova and Ukraine to join the EU, as well as other issues that have bubbled up in recent days, including clashes in North Kosovo. On that issue, we hear exclusively from Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti, who spoke to POLITICO's Chief Europe Correspondent Matthew Karnitschnig and senior reporter Lili Bayer on the sidelines of the GLOBSEC conference in Bratislava.Suzanne also speaks with Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu, as well as Iulian Groza, the head of a Moldovan think tank called the Institute for European Policies and Reforms. We also hear from other EU leaders attending the EPC meeting, as well as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
325. EU's 'Defence of Democracy' debate on combatting foreign influence28:21This week, we debate the EU's latest attempt to combat foreign influence with its forthcoming "Defence of Democracy package," which some in Brussels claim could result in unintended consequences.POLITICO's Suzanne Lynch speaks to the European Commission’s special adviser on foreign interference, Ivana Karásková, a Czech academic and expert on Chinese influence. She provides insight into the degree of foreign influence in the European Union. She also explains the rationale behind a specific piece of this package, which is causing concern, particularly among NGOs: potential rules that would subject civil society organizations to report if they receive funding from third-country donors.Then we're joined by Sarah Wheaton, POLITICO's chief policy correspondent and author of our EU Influence newsletter, and Nicholas Aiossa, deputy director and head of policy and advocacy at Transparency International EU. They dig into the concerns that this package will have unintended consequences for European democracy — and discuss what better tools the Commission could consider with an eye on better transparency in EU advocacy and lobbying.
324. EU commissioner resigns — Bulgaria's breaking point — European elections 202432:12This week, we dive into the political upheaval in Bulgaria and the resignation of the country's EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel. And we begin our spotlight series on the European Parliament, as the dates for elections next year are finalized.Host Suzanne Lynch is joined by Christian Oliver, POLITICO's head of news, and Antoaneta Roussi, our cybersecurity reporter and Bulgaria expert. They reveal how Bulgaria’s mafia state is reaching its breaking point and why these rapid political changes have resulted in the resignation of Gabriel — who's been tapped to form a coalition government back home. But what kind of reputation does she leave behind in Brussels? We answer that question and explain what's next for Ursula von der Leyen's Commission.And in the week when the dates of the next European parliamentary election have been set for June 6 to June 9, our colleague Souwie Buis introduces us to two of its newest members, Damian Boeselager and Kim van Sparrentak. They give us the inside scoop on how they became MEPs and the surprising things they've learned on the job, as well as how the Parliament could be reformed ahead of the next election. POLITICO's politics reporter covering the Parliament Eddy Wax also joins the discussion.
323. The end of Erdoğan? — Turkey's EU accession ambitions — Europe Day29:35This week, the focus is on Turkey and what's at stake in elections happening May 14. We also hear from British writer and scholar Hugh Pope, who has written extensively on modern Turkey and tackles the long-standing issue of EU accession.Host Suzanne Lynch is joined by POLITICO's Head of News Christian Oliver and Turkish journalist Elçin Poyrazlar. They discuss tensions on the ground as election day approaches and the possible fall-out should incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lose. The panel also considers the growing cost of living crisis in Turkey and opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's chances of holding together a shaky alliance in the event of victory.British writer and scholar Hugh Pope provides us with historical context to EU-Turkey relations, especially when it comes to the long-contested issue of joining the bloc. He explains why the idea of Turkey joining the EU might never come to pass.Finally, this week marked Europe Day commemorating the Schuman Declaration of 1950 and we ask the significance of Robert Schuman in our decoding Brussels segment.
322. POLITICO reviews ‘The Diplomat’ — Meloni surprises Brussels — The key to Ukraine's victory33:16As the EU defense industry gets the green light to ramp up ammunitions production, we hear from former Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe Ben Hodges on why Crimea holds the key to a Ukrainian victory. We also ask why Giorgia Meloni's far-right government in Italy is struggling to spend EU recovery funds in time — yes, you read that right, and find out what European diplomats think of Netflix series “The Diplomat.”This week our host, Suzanne Lynch is joined by POLITICO's Senior EU Reporter Jacopo Barigazzi to take stock of Meloni's first six months in office — including her surprisingly pragmatic relationship with Brussels and her struggles to provide concrete spending plans for the billions of euros of EU recovery funds ear-marked for Italy.Our Editor at Large Nick Vinocur reviews the new Netflix series, “The Diplomat,” and shares how it’s landing with diplomats in Brussels and how it stacks up against their own experience.POLITICO's Senior Policy Reporter Joshua Posaner speaks with former Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe Ben Hodges in Berlin about why Ukraine will never be safe so long as Russia occupies Crimea, and Europe's surprising lack of infrastructure for transporting military equipment to Ukraine.And finally, Jacopo returns to decode this week's Brussels jargon: COREPER.
321. Timothy Garton Ash on the future of Europe — Eva Kaili back in the spotlight31:50"We have created the best Europe there has ever been" — so says Timothy Garton Ash, this week's special guest. Meanwhile, former vice president of the European Parliament, Eva Kaili, is fighting more criminal allegations, this time for a kickback scheme involving four of her former assistants and approximately €100,000.Host Suzanne Lynch is joined by POLITICO's politics reporter, Eddy Wax, who has been following the saga of Greek MEP Kaili since her arrest late last year in the Qatargate scandal. Now, under house arrest, Kaili faces renewed scrutiny as further evidence of her involvement in three potentially fraudulent activities has come to light in documents obtained by POLITICO earlier this week. Her lawyers deny all wrong-doing on her behalf and are fighting to maintain the parliamentary immunity she currently enjoys.If you're wondering what exactly this immunity entails, listen for this week's EU jargon-busting blast!British historian Timothy Garton Ash talks to us about his new book, "Homelands: A Personal History of Europe," which "isn't a book about Brussels or the EU" but does grapple with vital questions like how Europe's past will shape its future. Garton Ash believes Germany and the war in Ukraine hold the key to this future. He also weighs up the chances of Britain's return to the EU.
320. Ukraine grain strain — Von der Leyen 2.0 — EU diplomacy in review33:33We're back from a break and straight into tackling the geopolitical tensions that underlie a sudden ban on Ukraine's grain exports by neighboring Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. We also discuss Ursula von der Leyen's recent visit to Germany where she has been assured of the support of her Christian Democrat party, should she try for a second term as Commission president. And we hear from the EU's first high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Catherine Ashton, as she looks back on the highs and the lows of her time in office.A compromise has now been reached between Poland and Ukraine on the transit of grain through Poland and on to the Baltic Sea ports. Our host, Suzanne Lynch, is joined by POLITICO's Senior Policy Editor for Energy & Environment, Jan Cienski, to explore how this stand-off has affected already frayed relations between Brussels and the Polish government and potentially undermined its close connection with Ukraine.We are also joined by POLITICO's Senior Politics Reporter in Germany, Hans von der Burchard, who dives into the tricky terrain of the spitzenkandidaten process — how it went wrong in the 2019 elections and whether it will help or hinder von der Leyen should she go for another term as Commission president.Finally, we hear from Catherine Ashton, about her new book: "And then what?: Inside Stories of 21st Century Diplomacy." She talks with Suzanne about negotiating the Iran nuclear deal, Russia's war in Ukraine and proving her critics wrong.
319. Finland joins NATO — Ukraine foreign minister in Brussels — EU's China visit28:35This week, Finland joins NATO while Ukraine's foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, joins us here in the POLITICO studio to talk about his own country's NATO ambitions. We also follow EU chief Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron's China visit as they meet Xi Jinping in Beijing this week.Our host, Suzanne Lynch, is joined this week by POLITICO's EU-China Correspondent Stuart Lau, co-author of our recently relaunched China Watcher newsletter. We also hear from our Senior France Correspondent Clea Caulcutt, who is in Beijing. Together they unpack the diverging agendas of von der Leyen and Macron in China with the help of POLITICO's very own Editor-in-Chief Jamil Anderlini, who travelled with the French president to China.Stuart also decodes some important Brussels-speak when it comes to EU-China trade relations in our regular jargon-busting segment.Finally, NATO's open-door policy on Ukrainian membership, Western war fatigue and China's role as peace broker in Russia's war on Ukraine, are all on the table in Suzanne's conversation with Kuleba during his visit to Brussels this week.Programming note: EU Confidential takes a break next week, but we'll be back in your feeds on April 20!
318. France & Germany on strike – Commission Legal Chief, Daniel Calleja Crespo31:57The worst strikes and protests in decades bring both France and Germany to a standstill this week. Is this just the beginning of Europe’s cost of living crisis? Our special guest is Director General of the Commission Legal services, Daniel Calleja.Host Suzanne Lynch is joined by POLITICO’s Senior France Correspondent, Clea Caulcutt and Chief Europe Correspondent, Matt Karnitschnig to delve into the forces driving unrest in France following President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms. They ask if the worst transport strikes to hit Germany in decades are a sign of things to come for a less economically affluent Europe? And wonder if a visit from Britain’s King Charles might provide some welcome distraction. SCOOP: POLITICO’s Senior Climate Correspondent, Karl Mathiesen reveals how top EU Chiefs – Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, shared a private jet to major climate change event, COP27 .We also hear from the man in charge of “the best law firm in Brussels” – Daniel Calleja, who has held a number of top Commission posts in more than thirty years with the institution.