10/02/2017 Politics Europe


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10/02/2017

Andrew Neil with the latest news from Europe, including interviews with MEPs, reports from the European Parliament and a guide to the inner workings of the European Union.


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Not it's time for Politics Europe.

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Hello and welcome to Politics Europe.

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Theresa May's timetable for Brexit talks looks to be intact after MPs

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at Westminster overwhelmingly vote to trigger Article 50.

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With the start of Brexit talks just weeks away,

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who will the UK Government be negotiating with?

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We report from Brussels on the EU's Brexit negotiators.

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The EU's Trade Commissioner warns Donald Trump against protectionist

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measures and promises to push for fair trade.

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We take a look at how the EU is responding to President Trump.

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Do you think we should have new legislation for robots?

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Why not?

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And, should we be worried about the rise of the robots?

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Why members of the European Parliament are demanding

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new regulations to protect humans from artificial intelligence.

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So, all that to come and more in the next half-hour.

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First, our guide to the latest from Europe in just 60 seconds.

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MPs overwhelmingly agreed to let the Government begin the UK's

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departure from the EU as they voted for the Brexit bill.

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The ayes to the right, 494.

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The noes to the left, 122.

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Romania's Prime Minister insisted he won't resign,

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despite mass protest calling for him and his Cabinet to step down over

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a now abandoned corruption measure with many saying they have lost

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trust in their leaders.

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Following a surge in fighting in eastern Ukraine between Government

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forces and Russian-backed separatists, EU foreign ministers

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condemned the attacks on civilians.

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23 of the 28 member states are breaching air-quality standards,

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according to the European Commission.

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It recommends phasing out environmentally damaging subsidies

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such as tax breaks for privately used company cars.

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And the idea to provide free inter-rail travel passes to all EU

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citizens on their 18th birthday has hit the buffers.

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The European Commission will instead soffer a cheaper plan awarding

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a general travel budget to schools.

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With us for the next 30 minutes I am joined by the Ukip MEP Gerard Batten

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and Labour's Anneliese Dodds, welcome to you both.

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Anneliese, what happens if the European Parliament

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votes against this deal in a couple of years?

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That is a very good question and there is the possibility of that.

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It is just before European elections, not a great time

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to have a rational debate on issues.

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Any idea what the answer is?

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I hope we can get away from the conflicting,

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argumentative approach we have had.

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You don't know?

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I don't know.

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If it is rejected, there is no deal, which our British leader said

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she preferred to a bad deal, I properly wouldn't.

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If there was no deal, that means exiting, just WTO rules,

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no clear future relationship.

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Not good for Europe either.

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Bad for all sides.

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What do you think?

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An interesting point, perhaps the Council will do what it

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does when the European Parliament votes for a directive it doesn't

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want because it has been amended in such a way.

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It then ignores that and does it anyway.

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Whether it has the power to reject the vote of

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Parliament, I'm not sure.

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That would be nigh impossible if the European Parliament took

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a vote against something as basic as the Brexit deal.

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It could hardly ignore it.

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What would happen is what Mrs May said, then we would exit on WTO...

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Crash out on WTO rules.

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Precisely why going down the Article 50 route is wrong anyway.

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That boat has left the harbour.

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No.

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What we will do is have two years of negotiation with people who don't

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want to negotiate with us.

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And end up and have a deal they can reject anyway.

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What the Government can still do, and I am the Brexit spokesman

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for Ukip, writing our exit plan.

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Step one should be to repeal the 1972 European Community Act

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which would under our law mean we are no longer members.

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All EU legislation would remain in place because it has been

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incorporated as Acts of Parliament.

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Bill Cash has done a good draft.

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We haven't time for your thesis on that.

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That is not the Government strategy.

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It is also not how these issues are set out in the treaties.

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We have to make it work.

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We have to be grown-ups, start a decent conversation and stop

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shouting, and threatening the rest of the EU saying we will slap

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tariffs on their cars, turn our country into a tax haven.

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The Europeans have been quite vocal, I have noticed a change in tone,

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a more constructive tone in the past couple of weeks.

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I think so.

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It is no good for the rest of the EU if we don't have a deal

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which will work for everybody.

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We have to take some of the steam and the highfalutin politics out

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of it and talk about it rationally.

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Good luck.

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When the Brexit talks get underway, they will be led in the UK

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by David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU.

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What about the people he will be facing across the negotiating table?

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Adam Fleming reports from Brussels on the EU figures going head-to-head

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with the UK Government.

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# Who are you?

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Who knows who this is?

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Look familiar?

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Mr Barnier.

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Mr Barnier.

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Very important.

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French.

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Do you know much about him?

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Yes, he is going to negotiate the Brexit deal with the UK.

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Do you know him?

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Yes, because I am French.

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Is he a big deal in France?

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A big dealish.

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A grand fromage.

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Mr Barnier is a former French Foreign Minister,

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former European Commissioner, and mastermind of the

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1992 Winter Olympics.

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His catchphrase is, keep calm and negotiate.

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Let us get a more three-dimensional picture from MEPs who know him.

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He is a bit taller in real life.

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Actually, far taller.

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What is he like, do you know him?

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Yes.

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He is a very competent person.

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Truly European.

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He is very expert in one of the most sensitive areas

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like the financial services.

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He not someone with anti-British feeling, not at all.

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When he was Commissioner, he always looked for a balanced

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solution in the area of financial services.

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But of course as a chief EU negotiator, he will try first

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of all to protect the interests of the union, and also

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to strike a good agreement.

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I could say that he is a Frenchman with a British style.

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What does that mean?

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He is very concise, very precise.

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When someone gives him an argument or an idea,

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if it is something reasonable, he will say, OK, it was not

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the first idea but I accept it.

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But if he thinks it is a red line, he will be always firm

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and resilient until the end.

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Parliament has its own negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, leader

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of the liberal group.

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But his precise role isn't quite clear.

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Is he going to be in the room actually?

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Absolutely, yes.

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He is a very good negotiator and everyone recognises that.

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Years of experience.

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The Prime Minster of Belgium, you gain a lot of experience

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if you have done that successfully.

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We represent half a billion people.

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It is vital that any negotiation takes into account the needs

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and aspirations of the people of the European Union,

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that is what it is all about.

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Then there's the man from the Council, Didier Seeuws,

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a Belgian lawyer, hardly a household name.

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Let us find out more from an old colleague.

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He has a lot of expertise.

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He's excellent at coming up with compromises

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when you have positions which are seemingly irreconcilable.

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He often finds a way of reconciling them.

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He will have the knowledge.

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He will know the positions of the member states so will often

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be able to say to Barnier, you can agree this or that,

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it might be risky or might not get endorsed by the other member states.

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Or that has no chance.

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Wait, the cast of characters gets even bigger.

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The trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, will be a big

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player if the UK and the EU try to do a free trade

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deal at the same time.

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Never far from any decision is Martin Selmayr, chief of staff to

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the Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

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Give me one name who is going to be the most influential

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person in negotiations?

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I suppose it is Mrs May.

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The elected representatives on both sides.

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Mr Barnier.

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So far, with his Gallic flair, towering presence, ability

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to captivate the British press, it does seem Mr Barnier will be

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the one who dominates the headlines.

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So, what do we know of Michel Barnier?

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He has already said one of the key things in this whole debate

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which is freedom of movement is not up for discussion.

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He said it can't be changed, Britain has to accept it.

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The British people don't want to accept.

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Now Mrs May has said we are leaving the single market,

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free movement is not a matter for debate.

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He is supposed to be negotiating our position.

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No.

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No.

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Their position.

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To arrive at this mythical deal at the end of this

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long protracted process, he said freedom of movement

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is not up for negotiation.

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But I am not sure, freedom of movement was one of the four

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freedoms that comes with being a member of the single market.

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If we are now saying, rightly or wrongly, we are now

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saying we will not be a member of the single market,

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freedom of movement is not an issue.

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But the issue about tariff-free trade is, there is a solution.

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But you were talking about freedom of movement.

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They are talking about that in order to talk us out of trade issues

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which is the second biggest issue.

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A free-trade deal, we do free-trade deals with the EU

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and other countries, bilaterally, they don't involve

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freedom of movement issues.

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The EU-Canada deal, the latest, has no freedom of movement implications.

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Is that right?

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Sometimes, when Britain is trying to secure trade deals

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with countries like India, we have come a cropper

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on that issue.

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A visa issue.

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I would come back on one thing about the British people deciding

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they don't want to have freedom of movement.

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they don't want to have freedom of movement.

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Most opinion polls show even a majority of Leave voters said,

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if there was a top up between having access to trade across the EU,

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and some freedom of movement, they would prioritise

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access to trade.

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Theresa May has decided she wants to take us

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in a particular direction.

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There will be some freedom of movement and access

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to the single market.

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These are the issues that have to be negotiated.

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Do we know anything yet, there were so many names in Adam's film,

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all with their own constituencies, I don't mean that in a political

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sense, but their own interests in Brussels.

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Do we have any idea what the common line will be?

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Ultimately, the EU 27, talking about them represented

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in the EU institutions or member and never states, they want the best

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outcome for all of them.

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That is one that has a good deal for Britain as well.

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That will not happen if we keep having a zero-sum politics

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and this trade-off saying, if we have a deal that works

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for the rest of the EU, it won't work for Britain,

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and vice versa.

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Who is saying that?

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Some political voices.

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Who?

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We have had threats from Theresa May saying, if we don't get that deal,

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we will turn ourselves into a bargain basement tax haven.

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No.

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That is your party's phrase.

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What she is saying is, if we did come out on WTO rules,

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we would need to also consider our economic model.

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There are plenty of choices between being what we are now,

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and Singapore which isn't that much of a bargain.

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Philip Hammond has pushed the same line.

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They are grown-ups, they know the messages they are sending.

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They are damaging, when we should be building bridges rather

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than blowing them up.

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Except if you hear what is coming out of Europe, listening

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to a Baltic States minister this morning on another channel,

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he was much more conciliatory Poland is beginning to say the same.

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Even Michel Barnier has said he understands the importance

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of the London capital markets to the whole of the EU.

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What I wanted to ask you is, we have a rough idea,

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because of the white paper and Mrs May's Lancaster House

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speech, of the British Government's negotiating position,

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a rough idea.

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Don't we need, doesn't the EU now need to give

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its equivalent of its rough idea?

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Yes.

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A good point.

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We will have these long protracted negotiations to end up in a position

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where we should know where we want to be now.

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Which is we have freedom to make our own laws, continue trade

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on a tariff free basis.

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The people, although Parliament has a vote on this,

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and the European Parliament could scupper the whole thing,

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depending what it looks like.

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It is the Council that makes the decisions to accept.

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The Council of Ministers.

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They are the heads of governments, they will come under pressure

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from their own industries and businesses to reach a sensible

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agreement rather than the ideologues in the European Parliament.

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One thing that could scupper the negotiations would be if the EU

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insists on agreeing some kind of Brexit bill upfront,

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whether it is 40 or 60 billion.

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Because I would suggest to you no British Government

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can agree to that.

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Well, in an ideal world, would we be here at all?

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I can understand their thinking.

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More recently they have been saying they want to agree a methodology

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for deciding what the commitment would be, rather than a figure.

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But people extrapolate figures immediately.

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What would we be paying for?

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Take one example, imagine a Lithuanian civil servant who joins

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the Commission at 25.

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When she joins, the British state had a liability for part

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of her pension when she retires.

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That still will be there in the future.

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In the same way the British state has a liability for my pension

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when I have paid national insurance.

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But you are not leaving the British state.

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You are aware the Brussels pensions of bureaucrats,

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are between two and three times average earnings in Britain.

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Do you think the British people will stand for that paying

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the pensions that are up to three times their average wage?

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I agree with you, there will be difficult discussion.

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What I worry about is if this is turned into bashing a small

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number of people essentially.

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Small amounts of money in comparison to the overall amount we could lose

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in trade deals, and I am not saying it is peanuts.

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In comparison to what we could lose, we need to look at these issues

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with an adult head on our shoulders.

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What would you say to the demand, if that is what it is,

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for a divorce Bill?

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Well, the EU will do what everyone has to do,

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when their income drops, they have to also reduce their outgoings.

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There will be people who have got pension liabilities.

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But I think that will be minimal.

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The governments can agree between them how to deal with that

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with obligations to particular people.

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The idea we give billions of pounds in order to pay for our membership

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up until 2020, the end of the current budget period,

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is pure fantasy.

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It shouldn't happen.

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There are lots of things the Leave campaign kept promising,

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like research funds, we were told we would still get that.

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But that has to come from somewhere.

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It is our taxpayers' money anyway, and research funds are a small

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proportion, the Government can easily make that up.

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We shall see, plenty of time to debate this in the months ahead.

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Donald Trump's arrival at the White House three weeks ago

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has got something of a political earthquake in Brussels,

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with EU leaders going public about their concerns

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about the new president's approach to trade, defence,

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human affairs, international relations.

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In an open letter, the President of the European Council that brings

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all the members together as heads of state, wrote this.

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Donald Trump's presidency and the change in Washington puts

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the European Union in a difficult situation

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with the new administration.

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Seeming to put into question the last 70 years of

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American foreign policy.

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The chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt told a thinktank

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in London, Chatham House, in January, on a trip to Washington

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after the election, every Europenan I met in the US had only

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one conclusion which is that the EU has fewer friends than ever

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in the USA today.

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This week, the EU's Trade Commissioner Cecilia MalStrom

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attacked Donald Trump's protectionist policies of trade

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and migration, saying, those who in the 21st century think

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that we can become great again by rebuilding borders,

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reimposing trade barriers, resticiting people's freedom

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of movement, they are doomed to fail.

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There we go.

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The one thing that is clear is, for the first time since this

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was an issue, the White House is run by someone who is basically hostile

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to the EU.

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That is a total change from any previous administration.

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How should the EU handle this?

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Well, I think it is very important that we try and get some kind

0:19:420:19:45

of workable relationship, but not one where the EU

0:19:450:19:48

and we will talk about Britain as well, we are in a supplicant

0:19:480:19:51

relationship.

0:19:510:19:52

I am worried about the idea we have to somehow support everything that

0:19:520:19:56

Donald Trump is doing and not criticise it in order

0:19:560:19:59

to have that relationship.

0:19:590:20:00

We will still have those commercial relationships at the same time

0:20:000:20:03

as criticising him on human rights.

0:20:030:20:04

And depend on America for defence?

0:20:040:20:15

Potentially.

0:20:150:20:16

This whole development and could push more defence

0:20:160:20:18

cooperation across the EU, could push the EU to

0:20:180:20:20

working more together.

0:20:210:20:21

Spend more money?

0:20:210:20:22

Who knows?

0:20:220:20:23

That is not something for Britain to be involved in.

0:20:230:20:25

We meet our 2% on Nato.

0:20:250:20:27

An interesting point raised there.

0:20:270:20:28

It could be, if the 27 now regard the White House as something

0:20:280:20:32

that is hostile to them, this could actually pull Europe

0:20:320:20:35

together in a number of fronts.

0:20:350:20:36

Yes.

0:20:360:20:41

I think they should cease their hostility to Mr Trump,

0:20:410:20:46

and accept the situation, and talk to his ambassador rather

0:20:460:20:49

than insulting him.

0:20:490:20:52

He hasn't been appointed yet.

0:20:520:20:57

It will be him or someone like him.

0:20:570:21:00

He is a fantasist.

0:21:000:21:01

Let us not go down that road.

0:21:010:21:03

This point has been made, you are right, if the EU wants

0:21:030:21:06

to preserve itself in some form, it should look at what has gone wrong.

0:21:060:21:10

All these political things we have been talking about,

0:21:100:21:13

it should get back to the idea of facilitating trade

0:21:130:21:15

and cooperation, then it could have some future.

0:21:150:21:17

Like the European Free Trade Association.

0:21:170:21:19

That is what we were told it was supposed to be.

0:21:190:21:23

Nobody would object to that.

0:21:230:21:30

It is difficult for you.

0:21:310:21:32

The transatlantic trade deal is dead, over.

0:21:320:21:34

There is a huge argument over defence and of the right

0:21:340:21:37

attitude to Russia.

0:21:370:21:38

There will be increasing, we have not even touched

0:21:380:21:40

on the White House's attitude to Germany's trade

0:21:400:21:42

and currency policy.

0:21:420:21:47

Rough times ahead.

0:21:470:21:51

The way we can face up to them is actually not by supplicating

0:21:510:21:55

ourselves in front of Donald Trump.

0:21:550:21:56

I am very concerned, you talk about trade deals,

0:21:560:21:59

we have had no assurance from the UK Government as part of our new deal

0:21:590:22:03

with the US our health services won't be opened up.

0:22:030:22:06

We haven't even started negotiating it.

0:22:060:22:07

Mrs May says she wants to start.

0:22:070:22:09

No, she said as far as she's concerned the NHS is not for sale.

0:22:090:22:13

At the end of the day, that trade deal, that is a matter

0:22:130:22:17

for the Parliament across the road to decide.

0:22:170:22:19

The British people will decide that.

0:22:190:22:24

The British people are quite disturbed by having their leader

0:22:240:22:27

appearing to fawn and supplicate herself in front of another foreign

0:22:270:22:30

bidder.

0:22:300:22:32

If people decided they wanted to have control when they voted

0:22:320:22:35

to leave the EU, I accept a lot of people did,

0:22:350:22:38

surely we don't want to leave the EU suddenly to become controlled

0:22:380:22:41

by the US.

0:22:410:22:42

We have to move on.

0:22:420:22:44

MEPs are gearing up for a vote on proposals for a new law

0:22:440:22:48

governing non-military robots.

0:22:480:22:50

I guess the military ones got a get out of jail card.

0:22:500:22:53

A committee decided treat leaps ini technology required regulation

0:22:530:22:56

at an EU level.

0:22:560:23:01

Here is Adam again, he's been joined by his new friend,

0:23:010:23:04

his only friend, Sheldon.

0:23:040:23:05

Do think we should have new legislation for robots?

0:23:050:23:08

Why not?

0:23:080:23:11

Why not?

0:23:110:23:12

Yes.

0:23:120:23:14

MEPs on the Justice Committee agree, they have spent two years coming up

0:23:140:23:17

with ideas for new legislation.

0:23:180:23:19

Robots before, in industry, they were kept far away from humans

0:23:190:23:22

because of the dangers.

0:23:220:23:23

Now we see a new generation, but it is also linked

0:23:230:23:27

to interconnectivity, because a new generation of robots

0:23:270:23:30

are connected to networks and they collect a lot of data.

0:23:300:23:33

As they become more intelligent, how will we interact with them

0:23:330:23:36

and what will be the influence on our daily life?

0:23:360:23:47

Top of the list is sorting out who is responsible for driverless

0:23:470:23:50

cars if they have a crash.

0:23:500:23:52

It also suggests robots have a legal status of electronic people.

0:23:520:23:55

Parliament was turned into a sort of low-budget edition of Robot Wars

0:23:550:23:58

to get everyone ready for a vote next week.

0:23:580:24:01

For all the new technology on display, there is plenty

0:24:010:24:03

of old-fashioned human politics as well, because MEPs are split

0:24:030:24:06

on a range of issues, whether there should be a new EU

0:24:060:24:09

robotics agency, a tax on robots for all the jobs they replace,

0:24:090:24:12

even whether robots are scary or not.

0:24:130:24:16

If MEPs vote it through next Thursday, the report will be handed

0:24:160:24:23

to the Commission who will decide whether to proceed with legislation

0:24:230:24:26

which could take years.

0:24:260:24:34

Meaning one country is unlikely to be affected.

0:24:350:24:37

What do you think about Brexit?

0:24:370:24:38

Brazil?

0:24:380:24:39

No, not Brazil, Brexit!

0:24:390:24:46

A problem of communication.

0:24:460:24:49

The French Socialist candidate for President is suggesting

0:24:490:24:51

we should tax robots.

0:24:510:24:52

That would put them in their place.

0:24:520:24:54

On a serious note, we do need to think about what we do to support

0:24:540:24:58

people who have been made unemployed through these developments.

0:24:580:25:00

In Finland, they have brought in a universal income,

0:25:000:25:03

partly to help people whose jobs are being digitised.

0:25:030:25:09

Tax robots?

0:25:090:25:10

Try sending a tax bill to the Terminator.

0:25:100:25:13

I will leave that to you.

0:25:130:25:15

I won't try that myself.

0:25:150:25:16

Thank you, both.

0:25:160:25:18

That is it for now.

0:25:180:25:19

Thank you for joining us, bye-bye.

0:25:190:25:23

Hi there.

0:25:350:25:36