State of the European Union — the big annual speech and MEPs debate
In this bumper episode, we bring you the main takeaways from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen's annual State of the European Union address, as well as reactions from members of the European Parliament.
The Commission president needed over an hour to highlight her key achievements and lay out plans for the coming months. Host Suzanne Lynch talks to POLITICO’s Chief Policy Correspondent Sarah Wheaton and together they break down the main points highlighted in the speech: the European Green Deal, the EU’s industrial plans, migration, enlargement and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. They also look for hidden messages and potential clues regarding von der Leyen's political future — did she hint she wants a second term as Commission chief?
Later, our colleague Eddy Wax, who covers the European Parliament for POLITICO, chairs a lively debate about the Commission president’s address with members of the European Parliament: Karen Melchior from Renew Europe, Eva Maydell representing the European People’s Party and Marc Botenga from the Left.
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348. Geert Wilders stuns with far-right election victory in the Netherlands29:01Far-right leader Geert Wilders came out on top in the Dutch election this week, sending shock waves through Brussels and beyond.In this episode of EU Confidential, host Suzanne Lynch is joined by Eline Schaart and Nicholas Vinocur to break down the results of the vote, and what it potentially means for the EU moving forward.Later, we have a fascinating discussion with David O'Sullivan, the EU's sanctions envoy. His main job is to make it harder for Russia to evade sanctions imposed by the EU over the war in Ukraine.We end the episode with an important announcement about the podcast, so do be sure to stick around for that and to sign up for Suzanne's new newsletter she'll be authoring: POLITICO's Global Playbook, your VIP pass to the world’s most influential gatherings.
SPONSORED CONTENT: Carbon capture and storage to reach net zero16:52Oil, gas and coal still made up 81.5 percent of the global energy mix in 2022 — down just 3 percent from 2015, when the Paris climate agreement was signed. Given the slow pace of the energy transition, carbon capture and storage, or CCS, has the potential to become an important technology for achieving net zero. Advocates believe that without CCS — which gathers emissions, processes them and stores them safely underground — we simply won’t meet our climate targets. But the technology faces a range of obstacles. Campaign groups believe CCS offers oil and gas companies a free pass to keep extracting and burning fossil fuels. Others worry about the safety of stored carbon dioxide. There are also practical constraints. CCS technology, while proven, is expensive to install, and needs subsidies and financial incentives to encourage the industry to make the short-term capital investment needed. In this podcast episode produced by POLITICO Studio, science and technology writer Adam Green interviews leading European experts from industry and policy about the need for CCS, what’s holding it back and where it fits into Europe’s energy transition. Ruth Herbert, CEO of Carbon Capture and Storage Association, breaks down the fundamentals of CCS. Chris Davies, a former member of the European Parliament and now director of CCS Europe, talks about the need to educate the public on the safety of onshore CCS. Jan Theulen, of building material producer Heidelberg Materials, explains why industries such as cement, where production itself results in large CO2 emissions, will need CCS most. And Torbjørg Klara Heskestad, vice president for global CCS solutions at Equinor, speaks about shared infrastructure that will help reduce the costs of CCS for carbon emitters.
347. Spain's Pedro Sánchez to form new government as prime minister26:16Ending months of political paralysis, we bring you up to speed on the turmoil in Spain that has left Pedro Sánchez clinging to power. The Socialist leader secured another term as Spain's prime minister thanks to a controversial amnesty deal with Catalan separatists, which saw thousands of people take to the streets in protest.EU Confidential host Suzanne Lynch talks to POLITICO's Aitor Hernández-Morales and Nick Vinocur about the stability of the new coalition in Madrid and its wider impact on EU politics, as well as the implications of Sanchez's victory for next year's European Parliament elections.Later in the episode, we discuss the EU-Mercosur trade negotiations in an exclusive interview with Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira and POLITICO's trade expert Camille Gijs.
346. The EU's report card: Ukraine, Moldova and other aspiring members26:58The EU made important steps this week toward bringing new members into the bloc — our POLITICO team explains in this episode of EU Confidential.Host Suzanne Lynch is joined by POLITICO's Barbara Moens and Jakob Hanke Vela in Brussels, as well as Sam Greene from the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington to discuss the European Commission's annual report card on the ten countries hoping to join the 27 EU members. The report recommends the start of formal accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova, but what exactly does that mean? And where does that leave others in the Western Balkans, for example, who've been waiting in the wings for years?Also in this episode, POLITICO's Aitor Hernández-Morales explains what's behind the shock resignation this week of Portugal's Prime Minister António Costa amid a corruption probe.And finally, POLITICO's Anne McElvoy brings us details of her conversation with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on our Power Play podcast, out this week. The PM has some "hard truths" for Israel, and sheds light on relations with nearby Turkey, as well as his country's approach to migration and climate change; and he addresses rule of law concerns. Listen to the Power Play interview here.
345. The race to regulate AI before it's too late29:11It has been a big week for the world's key players in the race to regulate AI development and make it safe. In this episode of EU Confidential, we bring you a roundup of where things stand — after the AI Safety Summit, organized by U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak; the publication of the G7 AI code of conduct; and the signing by U.S. President Joe Biden of a long-awaited 100-page executive order on regulating and funding AI.Host Suzanne Lynch, with some assistance from AI technology, talks to POLITICO's technology gurus Mark Scott and Gian Volpicelli about what's at stake and where the EU stands in this regulatory race. Will we see an agreement on facial recognition technology in the EU, or AI-generated surveillance methods?Later in the episode, we have a fascinating conversation with Professor Anu Bradford, author of "Digital Empires: The Global Battle to Regulate Technology," which focuses on the ongoing rivalry between the tech superpowers.
344. EU leaders meet amid Israel-Hamas war18:10Coming to you directly from the European Council summit, our POLITICO team brings you the very latest on a range of difficult subjects facing EU leaders during their two-day meeting in Brussels.In a packed press centre, host Suzanne Lynch, along with Jacopo Barigazzi, Barbara Moens, Nicholas Vinocur and Hans von der Burchard unpack the topics on the table, including: the Israel-Hamas war, support for Ukraine, the EU's long term budget, and migration.
343. Welcome back, Donald: Seismic shift in Poland after general election27:01In this episode, we analyze what Poland's recent election means for its political future and EU relations — in conversation with journalist and historian Anne Applebaum. We also shed light on a troubling terrorist attack this week in Brussels.With a record turnout of over 74 percent, Polish voters decided they wanted change. They waved goodbye to the ultra-conservative, anti-EU Law and Justice government and handed power to the democratic opposition led by former prime minister and European Council President Donald Tusk.POLITICO's Jan Cienski and Nick Vinocur join us to discuss the implications of the Polish election for both Poland and the EU, and they bring us up to date on this week's major events in the Middle East and the terrorist attack in Brussels, in which two Swedes were shot dead by a radicalized gunman.Later, host Suzanne Lynch talks to Anne Applebaum. The American-Polish journalist, commentator and historian explains the challenges facing the future Polish government as it will try to restore the rule of law and depoliticize state institutions after eight years of anti-democratic rule.
342. Deadly attacks on Israel and a bitter Polish election31:58In this episode of EU Confidential, POLITICO's Barbara Moens joins us to discuss the EU’s muddled response to the heinous attack on Israel in which Hamas killed over a thousand civilians and took dozens of people hostage, sparking outrage and disbelief.Then we turn our focus to Poland. Host Suzanne Lynch brings us up to date on the crucial general election this Sunday and its potential impact on the EU and Poland’s relationship with Brussels. We hear from POLITICO’s Jan Cienski in Warsaw, who reports on the final stages of a bitter and brutal election campaign, and from Polish members of the European Parliament representing opposition parties in Poland – Róża Thun and Radoslaw Sikorski, outspoken critics of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. We invited PiS to join the conversation, but they declined.Also in the episode, our producer Dionis Sturis speaks to pro-opposition demonstrators at a Polish anti-government protest in Brussels.
341. Donald Trump 2.0 — is Europe ready?34:07In this episode of the EU Confidential, we entertain the idea of Donald Trump returning to the White House in 2024 and what that would mean: for the EU, for the war in Ukraine and for transatlantic relations.The U.S. presidential election is more than a year away and Trump has yet to secure the Republican Party’s nomination; he's also facing a mountain of legal hurdles. But it's worth considering whether Europe is preparing or if it would be as shocked as it was in 2016 if Trump won again. Host Suzanne Lynch discusses this with POLITICO’s Nick Vinocur and Majda Ruge from the European Council on Foreign Relations. Both our guests have recently written fascinating articles on that very subject:Majda Ruge: Polarised power: the three Republican “tribes” that could define America’s relationship with the worldNick Vinocur: Can Europe survive Trump 2.0?Also in the episode, a riveting account of life in war-torn Ukraine from our guest Matti Maasikas, the former EU ambassador to Kyiv.