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POLITICO's EU Confidential

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

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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Episode 67, Alexander Stubb on why he should be European Commission president

Alexander Stubb lays out his pitch for the European Commission presidency in this week's episode. Stubb is competing with Manfred Weber to be the European Peoples Party's candidate for the post in 2019. Stubb is leaning on his experience as a former prime minister and on a sharp expression of values. Nordic moderate, pragmatic and "a true European believer" who wants a "liberal democracy not an illiberal democracy.” Stubb says European values are under attack from "the U.S., China, Russia and from the inside" meaning countries like Poland, Italy, Romania, and Hungary. After claiming to be a "next generation" EU leader, Stubb (who is 50) joked that he's "next generation with bifocals." Can you guess who he names as his political hero?

25mins

4 Oct 2018

Rank #1

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Episode 9: NATO's Petr Pavel — German election campaign — Britain's Brexit papers

Regular host Ryan Heath is on holiday but the podcast rolls on with news editor Andrew Gray standing in once more. This week, we've dug into the archives again to bring you the highlights of a conversation between Ryan and General Petr Pavel, the head of NATO's military committee, at a Playbook event in June. Pavel talks about Turkey, Russia and defense spending among NATO allies. Germany's Social Democrats want to make military spending a key issue in their campaign to stop Chancellor Angela Merkel winning another term. With some five weeks to go until the parliamentary election, POLITICO Berlin correspondent Janosch Delcker brings us up to date on the battle for votes. Janosch explains why taking a holiday has worked out well for Merkel while challenger Martin Schulz runs from one campaign event to the next. In our "EU WTF" feature, Brussels brains trust regular Ailbhe Finn is joined by POLITICO's Harry Cooper to discuss the new job of Germany's former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who is set to join Russian state-controlled oil company Rosneft, the EU's response to the North Korea crisis, and the Brexit position papers published by the British government. You can contact the podcast team at playbook@politico.eu. Look forward to hearing from you!

34mins

17 Aug 2017

Rank #2

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Episode 13: Tomáš Valášek — Juncker's State of the Union — Catalonia

Ryan Heath interviews Tomáš Valášek, the former Slovakian ambassador to NATO who heads the Carnegie Europe think tank. As Russia begins its Zapad war game, the West should be worried about Moscow “downright lying about the size and the type” of military exercises it holds, Valášek says. But he also says that fears Moscow will use the exercise as a springboard to attack or invade a neighbor are overblown. Valášek said the EU has finally upped its defense cooperation game in a meaningful way, and that Jean-Claude Juncker's olive branches to eastern Europe in his State of the European Union speech are an essential gesture if the EU27 is to stay united through Brexit negotiations and planning for the next long-term EU budget. Also this week, Christian Oliver, POLITICO's European trade editor, guides us through Juncker's address. We discuss the speech's many priorities, traps, and fanciful power grabs. In our panel discussion, regular guests Ailbhe Finn and Lina Aburous discussing the political hot potato of the government of Catalonia's attempt to hold a referendum on independence from Spain. And in the Dear POLITICO advice session, we hear from a listener who says she has a bullying boss in the Europe office of a large company.

45mins

14 Sep 2017

Rank #3

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Episode 17, presented by AB InBev: Athens Mayor — EU Committee of Regions President

Episode 17 of POLITICO's EU Confidential podcast features back-to-back interviews with Karl-Heinz Lambertz, president of the European Committee of the Regions, and George Kaminis, the center-left mayor Athens. Theresa May — Not dead yet: We start by getting out of the Brexit weeds in a conversation with Paul Taylor, POLITICO's Europe-at-large columnist. Taylor takes us through the debate in London following Theresa May's refusal to say whether she would vote for Brexit today, and argues that the British prime minister is weakened, but not going anywhere. Next up, says Taylor: a Cabinet reshuffle, followed by strategically timed concessions to the EU. Grassroots Europe: Karl-Heinz Lambertz, head of the EU's Committee of the Regions — one of its newer and lesser-known institutions — talks to us about what he thinks needs to happen with the €350 billion the EU spends on regional subsidies in its current long-term budget. Lambertz, who this week hosted Donald Tusk's keynote speech on Brexit and Catalonia, and for years headed Belgium's German-speaking region, explains what it takes to negotiate a settlement between a national government and its restless regions. Athens on a collision course with left-wing Greek government: Mayor George Kaminis explains why he finds it hard to work with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and why his version of economic reform is a "fairytale." Kaminis pitches himself as a reformer who can be better trusted with EU money and Greek tax money than Greece's left-wing government. "Cities have performed much better than governments" on asylum and other migration issues, said Kaminis, who wants to be the center-left candidate for prime minister in elections expected in 2018 or 2019. For our EU WTF moments of the week, we head to Romania and Austria ... What came first, the chicken or the tax?: Varujan Vosganian, a former Romanian finance minister, argued that Romania will never have a strong welfare so long as poor Romanians keep denying the state high tax revenue by keeping their own chickens and making their own jam instead of buying such products from stores and paying value-added tax. Austria's burqa ban ensnared a shark and bicyclists: Our panelists Lina Aburous and Harry Cooper discuss how to cope with the unintended effects of lawmaking.

41mins

12 Oct 2017

Rank #4

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Episode 55, presented by Raytheon: Inside the NATO summit

A special defense-themed episode take you inside this week’s tense NATO summit and discusses the new specialism of 24/7 POTUS management. The stellar line-up includes United States Ambassadors Alexander Vershbow and Daniel Fried; Beatrice Fihn who leads ICAN an anti-nuclear and Nobel Peace Prize-winning campaign group; Brookings Institution’s Constanze Stelzenmüller and journalist Paul Taylor.

30mins

12 Jul 2018

Rank #5

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Episode 34: Alexander Stubb — Spitzenkandidat — MEP of the Week

This week's special guest is Alexander Stubb, the former Finnish prime minister and ex-MEP who is now vice president of the European Investment Bank (EIB). Stubb talks about how the bank will handle Brexit and how it will play an increasing role as the EU tries to do "more with less" in its next long-term budget. The podcast panel discusses the Oxfam sex scandal, the controversial Spitzenkandidat system for picking the Commission president and the intriguing backstory of a notable MEP. Highlights from the show: Stubb on the EU budget after Brexit: "The basic idea is that you have to be realistic. That the EU budget is not going to grow, especially after Brexit, so then you're going to have to come up with different types of ideas of leveraging or getting more bang for the buck or for doing more with less." Stubb on the impact of Brexit on the EIB: "We will have less money to invest as the U.K. leaves the EU... but then again we'll also have less population and we'll have less member states in the EU. At the end of the day, these things balance out, and you must remember the EIB is a rather flexible bank in the sense that during difficult times we are able to increase our firepower." Will Stubb run for Commission or Council president? He’s open to it, but POLITICO’s Finnish sources suggest Stubb will not try to elbow his compatriot and party colleague Jyrki Katainen out of the way. "It's always a big hypothetical ... if someone was asking if I'll go back to national politics, the answer is no. But European politics is always an appealing affair to me,” Stubb says. EU WTF — Oxfam sex scandal: The Brussels brains trust talks about the Oxfam sex scandal over the behavior of its staff in countries including Haiti and asks how the EU, as a major aid donor, will react. EU Thumbs Up — One Brussels, One Vote: A group of Brussels residents has urged the Belgian government to change the law — and potentially the constitution — to allow more than 300,000 non-Belgian citizens to participate in regional elections. Feud of the Week — Spitzenkandidat: The podcast panel debates the pros and cons of a feud that will last more than a week — and tries to outdo the Commission and the Council with some blue-sky thinking of its own on how to make the EU more democratic. MEP of the Week: Panelist Ailbhe Finn did her homework on an MEP we picked out of our big box of parliamentarians two weeks ago — France's Marc Joulaud. She tells us why Joulaud was at the center of a recent big French political scandal. Listen to the podcast to find out more — and discover our new MEP of the week, a former TV journalist.

34mins

15 Feb 2018

Rank #6

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Ep 115, presented by the European Commission: Brexit drama — MEPs Caroline Voaden and Judith Bunting

Our brand new podcast focuses on the Brexit drama in London — but not just from a British perspective. POLITICO journalists Rym Momtaz (based in Paris), Matthew Karnitschnig (Berlin), Annabelle Dickson (London) and Andrew Gray (Brussels) bring you insights from across the Continent. With previous host Ryan Heath now in a new role at POLITICO in the U.S., this quartet from Europe’s key capitals will be your regular guides through European politics. Annabelle tells us what it was like to be in the House of Commons as Boris Johnson was defeated by a rebel alliance — and emotional MPs on both sides of the divide vented their anger. Rym and Matt bring us the French and German views of Brexit: Any chance Macron or Merkel will step in to seal a deal? In this week’s interview, newbie MEPs Caroline Voaden and Judith Bunting of Britain’s Liberal Democrats tell us what it’s like to get to grips with life in the European Parliament — and why they decided to make a podcast about it. “Our MEP Life” is the first and only podcast of its kind, giving listeners — in Bunting’s words — “the slightly unadulterated behind-the-scenes-ness.” Voaden and Bunting also talk about how the uncertainty around Brexit affects their lives and work, and how two former journalists are adjusting to instructions to tow the party line.

36mins

5 Sep 2019

Rank #7

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Episode 10: Brexit & Ireland — John Bruton — Trump's tax break

While regular host Ryan Heath recovers from his holiday jet lag, news editor Andrew Gray presents an interview with former Irish PM John Bruton on Brexit, a roundup of the latest on Britain's departure from the EU, and discussion of stories from across the Continent. We start with POLITICO's Brexit editor James Randerson, who brings us up to date on the flurry of Brexit position papers released by the U.K. government as well as the EU's official reaction — and what it really thinks. Bruton, the former Irish prime minister who later served as the EU's ambassador to Washington, tells us what Brexit will mean for Ireland, why Britain may decide its vision of life outside the EU isn't achievable and how the rest of the European Union will fare when the negotiating gets tough. In our "EU WTF" feature, Playbook's Harry Cooper and POLITICO tech reporter Joanna Plucinska discuss Donald Trump's Scottish tax break, Cambridge University Press's Chinese challenge and a big rise in popularity for the EU. You can contact the podcast team at playbook@politico.eu. Look forward to hearing from you!

36mins

24 Aug 2017

Rank #8

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Episode 37, presented by DowDupont: Marianne Thyssen — Lulwah Al Khater — Selmayr vs the world

Ryan Heath talks to Marianne Thyssen, the European Commissioner for employment, about how she wants to overhaul EU policies on jobs, education and training to face up to globalization. She also talks about the surprise in the College of Commissioners when Martin Selmayr was nominated as the Commission’s new secretary-general. Lulwah Al Khater, the first female spokesperson for the Qatari ministry of foreign affairs, drops by to tell us about her job and the challenges facing her country. Highlights from the show: Women in the workplace: As we mark International Women’s Day, Thyssen discusses barriers to success for women in the workplace. “If we look into the labor market and in the progress of women, we see that everything is going fine until the moment of children and then … women are penalized in the labor market … [they] don’t have the possibility to reach their full potential in their career,” Thyssen says. Thyssen on Martin Selmayr: The commissioner describes how she felt when she found out about the appointment of the European Commission’s new secretary-general. EU WTF: Our regular Brussels brains trust panelists, Lina Aburous and Ailbhe Finn, talk about the case of a Brussels man convicted for verbal abuse of a female police officer. They also discuss the #MeToo movement. Dear Politico: The panel advises a listener about a housing scam in Brussels. MEP of the week: In this segment, the panelists dive into a box of MEPs’ names and pull out a young farmer and a few unknowns before someone earns the title MEP of the Week. We want to hear from you! Please fill out this survey so we can make EU Confidential better than ever: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CVD7TDT

46mins

8 Mar 2018

Rank #9

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Episode 80: Netflix's David Hyman

Netflix plans 153 original shows in Europe in 2019, worrying local broadcasters and delighting consumers. That level of ambition also leaves the company burning through billions in cash. The week's featured guest is David Hyman, general counsel at Netflix. The podcast panel of Lina Aburous and Alva Finn discusses the European Commission's efforts to brand 2019 as being about delivery, destiny and democracy, and we remember the highs and lows of the "father of the house" of the European Parliament, Elmar Brok, dumped this week by his party after 38 years.

26mins

10 Jan 2019

Rank #10

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Episode 52, presented by Martens Centre: Women Rule! - Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka - Rome's Roma rhetoric

This week’s theme is Women Rule! Our feature interview is with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of U.N. Women, who’s got passionate views about violence, #MeToo and more. Mlambo-Ngcuka spoke to POLITICO reporter Ginger Hervey, who joins us to put the conversation in context. Our podcast panel gets into the World Cup spirit with a series of "EU kick-offs" and "EU red cards" as we chew over the Italian government’s views on its Roma communities, and the political strategy of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

34mins

21 Jun 2018

Rank #11

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Episode 98: EU Presidential Debate highlights

In this episode we offer you highlights from Monday's 95-minute EU presidential debate in Maastricht, co-moderated by EU Confidential host Ryan Heath. Five candidates debate on Digital Europe, Sustainable Europe and the Future of Europe. The podcast panel is back together to critique the debate and the five new far-right ministers who have joined the government of Estonia, even though two liberal parties won a majority of seats in the country's March election. If you want to here the full 95-minute presidential debate, you can listen to it at: https://soundcloud.com/ryanheatheu/2019-eu-presidential-debate-maastricht-full-length#t=7:49

53mins

2 May 2019

Rank #12

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Episode 97: Manfred Weber, EPP EU presidential candidate

This week it's a short episode: just a 20-minute interview with Manfred Weber, the person in pole position to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission president later this year. The interview was conducted by POLITICO's Ryan Heath and Nazan Gökdemir, a journalist from the Franco-German TV station ARTE, part of a series of interviews with six presidential candidates. You can binge-watch all the interviews on politico.eu. We focus on Weber this week, because next week's podcast will be highlights of the Maastricht EU presidential debate, featuring all the candidates and parties except Oriol Junqueras (who is in in pre-trial detention in Spain) and Weber, who is skipping the debate to attend a celebration of Theo Waigel, his fellow Bavarian politician and a political mentor. Before the interview Ryan speaks to Andrew Gray, POLITICO's EU editor, about Weber's side of the story.

24mins

25 Apr 2019

Rank #13

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Episode 54: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg — Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki — EU Parliament expense shock

A bumper episode featuring NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg who’s got a present for Donald Trump ahead of next week’s NATO summit in Brussels, and Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who has presided of the sacking of 27 Polish judges this week, but who is at pains in our interview to explain what he likes about the EU and Jean-Claude Juncker. The podcast panel discussing a whirlwind of good deeds, hypocrisy and protest at the European Parliament this week.

36mins

5 Jul 2018

Rank #14

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Episode 41: Bill Gates — Judging junkets — Greek MEPs' special stopover

Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder and philanthropist, is this week’s main guest. He talks to Ryan Heath about the work of his foundations, the next EU budget and the Oxfam scandal. And we talk to Politico health reporter Carmen Paun about how Gates has shaken up the world of public health — not without criticism. In our Dear Politico advice session, we hear from an assistant to a member of the European Parliament, who says their MEP is using their job to get trips to exotic locations at taxpayers’ expense. We also say EU WTF! about an Italian mayor’s plan to host a Nazi re-enactment and a Greek airline’s special stopover for MEPs — and give a big EU Thumbs Up to the Iberian lynx.

38mins

5 Apr 2018

Rank #15

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Episode 62 — Inside Europe's right-wing extremist groups with Julia Ebner

This week's episode revolves around two political hot topics: how Europe should manage the growth of far-right politics across the continent, and whether to support redrawing the borders of Serbia and Kosovo along ethnic lines. Julia Ebner, author of The Rage, is a fascinating interview: she takes you inside far-right parties and networks, how they organize, why they appeal to certain people, and what we can expect from Steve Bannon's "ability to be a chaos agent” as he moves into the fringes of European politics ahead of the 2019 European election.

43mins

30 Aug 2018

Rank #16

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Episode 102: Martin Selmayr — EU election results

A look back at the European Parliament election results, and a look ahead to the race for EU top jobs. Ryan Heath interviews Martin Selmayr, the powerful and controversial secretary-general of the European Commission, at a special POLITICO event the day after the election. Selmayr gives his insights on what it will take to install a new Commission, and what and who will shape its policy agenda. The podcast panel of Alva Finn and Lina Aburous debate the meaning of the partial liberal, green and Euroskeptic waves that took away the decades-long parliamentary majority enjoyed by the European People’s Party and Party of European Socialists.

35mins

30 May 2019

Rank #17

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Episode 76, presented by Ericsson: Carlos Moedas - Macron's climb down - Denmark's immigration plan

We talk to Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for innovation, research and science, about his passion for zero-emission cities, artificial intelligence and blockchain. The panel debates the Yellow Jackets eco-tax protest movement in France, and Denmark’s plan to send migrant criminals to an isolated island.

39mins

6 Dec 2018

Rank #18

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XX Factor Episode 5 — UK: Annunziata Rees-Mogg, and MPs Mary Creagh, Jo Swinson, and Helen Whately

After three years of divisive Brexit debate and voting in the United Kingdom, POLITICO's Annabelle Dickson surveyed the damage and opportunities that have arisen as British voters unexpectedly head to vote in the 2019 European Parliament election. How have Britain's political relationships changed? Why are female politicians a particular target of abuse? What other type of politics is possible? Annabelle interviewed Annunziata Rees-Mogg (Brexit Party MEP candidate), and MPs Mary Creagh (Labour), Jo Swinson (Liberal Democrat), and Helen Whately (Conservative).

27mins

19 May 2019

Rank #19

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Episode 43, presented by Grow with Google: Cécile Kyenge — Harassment investigation — Winking Macron

Cécile Kyenge, one of the few black members of the European Parliament, talks to Ryan Heath about the obstacles and abuse she’s faced in her career — and what she wants the EU institutions to do to foster more diversity in their ranks. We also talk to our regular podcast panelists, Lina Aburous and Ailbhe Finn, about Emmanuel Macron’s big moment at the European Parliament, the European Commission giving the green light for membership talks to two more countries and the EU’s role (or lack of it) in the Syrian crisis. And to kick off the podcast, POLITICO reporter Ginger Hervey gives us the inside story on her investigation into sexual harassment at one of the last places you would expect to find it — the EU’s gender equality agency. You can read that story here: https://www.politico.eu/article/sexual-harassment-eu-gender-equality-agency/

33mins

19 Apr 2018

Rank #20