After Brexit: The Battle for Europe This World


After Brexit: The Battle for Europe

As Britain prepares to begin withdrawing from the EU, BBC's Europe editor Katya Adler asks whether the Union can survive facing the biggest challenge in its 60-year history.


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CHEERING

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On the 24th of June last year,

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Britain woke up to a political earthquake.

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The sun has risen on an independent United Kingdom.

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The shock waves spread across Europe.

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'It's incredible, it's unbelievable, it's impossible!'

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This was the first reaction - shock.

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In Britain, we're now consumed by what Brexit means for us,

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but for the European Union, Brexit is one crisis of many.

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Following our historic vote,

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I set off across Europe

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to meet the populist Euro-sceptics

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taking this continent by storm...

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-Bonjour!

-Katya Adler, BBC.

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..and I've been witnessing the continuing misery

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with the euro in the countries of the south.

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The Italians have very good cause to be very, very angry.

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Italy's not Greece.

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If the euro collapses, that is the beginning of the end of the EU.

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Add the migrant crisis, and it's a perfect storm.

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Even those at the helm wonder if the EU can survive.

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The risk that we fall apart is a real risk, yes.

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For the first time in the history of European integration,

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we can fail.

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Failure is possible.

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This is new European politics, Italian style.

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In a nation obsessed with beauty,

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Alessandro Di Battista is possibly Italy's most glamorous politician.

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He's a leader of a movement called Five Star.

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Everyone wants to touch him, everyone wants to kiss him.

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This is a bit of a rock star

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of the Five Star Movement.

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He's just been on a coast-to-coast tour of Italy,

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meeting people, live-blogging as he goes, posing for Instagram.

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OK. Grazie. Grazie.

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The Five Star Movement really is the

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party to watch in Italy right now.

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It's only a few years old,

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but it's threatening to bring down the Italian political establishment

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with its anti-Establishment,

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anti-capitalist, anti-EU, populist,

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nationalist message, that's taking Italy by storm.

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-OVER PA:

-Alessandro Di Battista!

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HE SPEAKS ITALIAN

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If Di Battista is the rock star of Five Star,

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the godfather of the movement is a very different kind of politician.

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There he is!

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Beppe Grillo is known for being, um...

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a little bit creative, a little bit idiosyncratic.

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Will he do the interview, will he not do the interview?

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You never know. It's part of the excitement.

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See you later.

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HE SINGS THE BLUES

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Grillo started out as a blogger and stand-up comic.

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He's now a cult figure,

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and one of the most influential politicians in his country.

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CROWD CHANTS

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No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No, no, no.

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Polls show his party is Italy's most popular.

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Five Star is a rather haphazard movement,

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but one thing is clear -

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they want a vote on whether Italy should leave the euro,

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a serious threat to the power brokers in Brussels.

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This movement of Mr Grillo has for everything a scapegoat,

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for nothing a solution.

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Grillo is loud...

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funny from time to time,

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ugly from time to time with the words,

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nasty with his words.

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But I'm looking for a single solution for what to do.

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He proposed nothing.

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I think it's a wave of feelings

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against the Establishment, against, in some cases, the rules,

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against whatever can threaten what I know.

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I do not have one single example in mind

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of an anti-Establishment policy

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that has managed to solve one single problem.

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Five Star is part of a phenomenon taking Europe by storm.

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In over 20 years of living and working across Europe,

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I've never seen anything like it.

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SIRENS BLARE

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In almost every EU country, there's now an anti-Establishment,

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nationalist-minded movement on the rise.

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Dutch right-wing leader Geert Wilders is typically Euro-sceptic.

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Euro-scepticism has spread

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as part of growing anger at traditional elites.

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And Brexit broke a taboo.

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Everyone knows now if you don't like the EU, you can leave.

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Vive la France!

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People have lost trust in politicians

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and they are saying, "Let's try something different."

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In most cases, that is causing problems

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for mainstream political parties and domestic politics,

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but it isn't threatening the existence of the state.

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The difference for the EU is

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it's a fundamental challenge to its existence.

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They're shouting from the sidelines

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and they're effecting discourse

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amongst the mainstream political parties,

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and we have a populist party doing fairly well

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in almost every European country except for Cyprus.

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MUSIC: Mi Sei Scoppiato Dentro Al Cuore by Mina

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I live in Brussels, the heart of the EU.

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But Italy has always played a big part in my life.

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HORN BEEPS

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Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

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If I'm going to drive a Cinquecento, I'm going to drive it...

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like an Italian.

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Here in the south,

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it feels a million miles from the calm, organised streets of Brussels.

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This is so Italian!

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The cars are allowed in here.

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Sicily has always been amongst the poorest

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and most chaotic parts of Europe.

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One of the reasons for the EU

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was to make places like this richer and more mainstream.

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But downtown Palermo feels more left behind than ever.

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Old toys, bashed-up toys.

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I mean, more and more and more - it's like a sea.

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No surprise, then, that it's a Five Star stronghold.

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I've come to an industrial area

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to catch up with someone I met at the Five Star rally.

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Ciao!

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SHE GREETS IN ITALIAN

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Sebastiano used to work in a factory complex

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dominated by a Fiat plant.

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In 2011, Fiat closed its gates

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and moved production to Eastern Europe, where labour is cheaper,

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triggering a wave of factory closures here.

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Thousands of workers here like Sebastiano

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see themselves as victims of globalisation

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and the European Union.

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It's a story repeated across southern Europe.

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In parts of Greece, Spain and Italy,

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half of all young people are out of work.

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Italy was one of the EU's founding members.

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Faced with corruption and weak governments at home,

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Italians have traditionally been EU enthusiasts.

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But not any more.

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It's September,

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and the current Italian government is facing a huge challenge.

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The Prime Minister here, Matteo Renzi,

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came to government promising to change Italy or change jobs.

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He is now holding a referendum on political reform, but if he loses,

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Five Star, of course, are waiting in the wings.

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Matteo Renzi is a centre-left politician

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and a passionate European.

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He thinks of himself as a radical reformer.

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He's called the referendum on a series of constitutional changes

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designed to unblock Italy's costly, corrupt

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and sluggish political system.

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-Hello.

-Hello. Hi, Prime Minister. Thank you...

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-How are you?

-I'm good. And you?

-Very good, thanks.

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You've called a referendum for 4th December.

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Calling referendums, as we know, is a huge political gamble.

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Doesn't that worry you?

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I know in 2016, you use the expression "referendum"

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in the EU, it's a risk.

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But jokes apart,

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I believe this is a great challenge for the Italian people,

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and so I'm not worried.

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We wind back a few months and David Cameron wasn't worried.

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Thank you so much for being... for being the bench marker!

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I hope... I hope the result will be different.

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Isn't there a risk, though, that...?

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You know, we've seen in so many European countries,

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we look over the Atlantic to the United States.

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There are more and more angry people,

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people who feel they've been left behind

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and who are angry at the Establishment.

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And even though you want to change Italy,

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the risk is, Italians may just vote against you

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as part of what they see as an elite.

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This is a risk.

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It's a clear risk.

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But I think...

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the message of the populist will be defeated in the next election.

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So I'm not worried for the growth of the Five Star Movement.

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Five Star is campaigning for a no vote in the referendum

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against Matteo Renzi and the Italian Establishment as a whole.

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A no vote might mean early elections here, which Five Star could win,

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after Brexit - another potential body blow for the European Union.

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It's October, and there's another European referendum in the air,

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this time on migration.

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I've made my way to southern Hungary, the very edge of the EU,

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not long ago, the epicentre of a major European crisis.

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More than a million refugees and other migrants

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came flooding into Europe in 2015.

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In Hungary, the authorities were not exactly welcoming.

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Farmers living on Hungary's border found themselves on the front line.

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DRAMATIC MUSIC

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The EU seemed unable to take charge.

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Extreme right-wing mayor Laszlo Toroczkai

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became an internet sensation

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after he launched anti-migrant patrols

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and posted his action movies on YouTube.

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-Nice to meet you.

-Pleased to meet you.

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'Mayor Toroczkai says he's defending Christian Hungary

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'against a Muslim invasion.'

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Despite his extreme views, the mayor is influential here.

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And in autumn 2015, he got what he'd been demanding.

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In complete defiance of EU rules,

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Hungary unilaterally closed off its border

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with a 140-mile razor wire fence

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patrolled 24/7 by thousands of guards

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as well as the mayor's personal team.

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Shouldn't Hungary have waited for a European Union solution

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before acting unilaterally?

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But it wasn't just Hungary.

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Other EU countries soon followed suit.

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In the blink of an eye,

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the EU dream of open-border Europe was shattered.

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I've come to Hungary's capital, Budapest.

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In the wake of the migrant crisis,

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the EU has called on all its member states

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to give asylum to some of the refugees.

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Out of a million, Hungary has been asked to take just 1,300.

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The government here has called a referendum on the issue,

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and it's pretty obvious how they want people to vote.

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And there you see a government poster

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talking about safeguarding the future of Hungary.

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It has spent a fortune on this poster campaign,

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plastering them all over the country.

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Very anti-EU, very, very anti-migrant.

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Basically, nationalist

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and emphasising the importance of Hungary and national sovereignty.

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Because here in Hungary,

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the Euro-sceptic nationalists are already in power.

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Prime Minister Viktor Orban has made a career out of Brussels-bashing.

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Viktor Orban isn't the only thorn on the EU inside.

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Hungary has teamed up with Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic

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to form a controversial new voting bloc

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nicknamed the Visegrad Group.

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Viktor Orban, man of the people,

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doesn't actually like speaking to the people very much.

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At least, not people who might disagree with him. So...

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We at the BBC, we've tried for years to get an audience,

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but we failed.

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Instead, today we're going to be speaking to his right-hand man,

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the Foreign Minister of Hungary.

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Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland,

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-those are your partners in the Visegrad Group.

-Yeah, right.

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Are you kind of like a gang at the side?

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Do you sit together? Do people sort of...?

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You know, is that how it works?

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Yeah, usually we sit together before our meetings.

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We usually text each other...

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So you send each other texts during meetings?

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Yeah, that happens sometimes as well, yeah.

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Do you see yourselves a bit like the bad boys of the EU at the moment?

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I wouldn't say this. I mean, you know...

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Do you think Brussels would say it?

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No, no, I don't like this kind of classification.

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What I can understand is that it's not pretty much welcome,

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and it's not without a good reason

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that whenever the Prime Ministers of the Visegrad countries meet,

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usually before that,

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the other Prime Ministers of Western Europe are really angry.

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"What's going to happen?"

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-And this is now the tightest...

-Are you happy about that?

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-You're smiling.

-I would say... I would say it's a kind of...

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You know, it's a signal of respect,

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because if we were not important, then nobody would care.

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There have been so many decisions made about central Europe

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without asking central Europeans.

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Now it's not possible any more. It's impossible.

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Finally, there's a voice of central Europe.

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To truly understand Hungary's relationship with Europe,

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I'm taking a ride on the underground.

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Budapest's Line 1 is the oldest in continental Europe,

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built when Hungary was the co-ruler

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of one of Europe's most powerful empires.

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Have a look at the architecture here and take a wild guess.

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Line 2 and 3 were built with Soviet help

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when Hungary was a communist state.

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It really is out of Soviet Central casting.

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Line 4, new and shiny, co-funded by...

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the EU.

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Economically, Hungary depends on the European Union,

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but politically, this country couldn't be further away

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from the EU vision of ever-closer union.

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Europe unites two totally distinct cultures.

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There's the Western European culture,

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born from the post-war shock of what had happened

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and the feeling that it was nationalism that destroyed Europe.

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And there's the Eastern European culture.

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They were occupied by the Soviets.

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Nationalism was outlawed.

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They feel that, having shaken off the shackles of the Soviet empire,

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they don't want to be oppressed by the European empire.

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Viktor Orban seems to relish goading the EU.

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I've come to the small village where he was born.

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It's undergone something of a boom since he became Prime Minister,

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with a new football stadium

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and one of Europe's more unusual railways,

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one of Viktor's pet projects.

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So, I'm on a train

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that basically goes from one end to the other end

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of Viktor Orban's village,

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so it starts nowhere particularly interesting,

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goes nowhere particularly interesting

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and, really, it just defies any logic.

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It's basically one big ego trip.

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An EU-funded ego trip.

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80% of the funding for this 3½-mile train line,

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and its three stations, has come from the EU.

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A cool two million euros.

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Viktor Orban is dogged by allegations of cronyism

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and corruption.

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But autocratic Mr Orban doesn't take kindly to criticism.

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In fact, he's pretty much banned it,

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by taking over large chunks of the media.

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He's a great admirer of Vladimir Putin

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and an increasing embarrassment for the European Union.

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Take this little interaction

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with European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

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Jean-Claude Juncker famously said, "Hello, dictator."

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The media laughed. But there's a serious aspect to that.

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The EU have been critical

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of laws inside countries that don't respect human rights

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or the rule of law or freedom of speech.

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There you have Hungary on your doorstep.

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How do you deal with that inside your family?

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The consistency of our laws, of our systems,

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of our reality inside the European Union

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has to be 100% solid.

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Otherwise first, we lose our soul,

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and second, we lose our credibility.

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The European Commission is the guardian of European laws,

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and yet all there are are rebukes and studies but no action.

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No, there are... No, there are instruments that can be used.

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-But they're not used.

-They can be used. They can be used.

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But they haven't been used.

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We have human rights issues not only in one country, but in many.

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The EU seems powerless to act

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when a country is not abiding by those fundamental principles

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that are in our EU treaties.

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They talk about it, but they don't know what to do about it.

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Viktor Orban's latest two fingers to Brussels

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is the referendum on migration.

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Saying no to immigration and challenging Brussels

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goes down well at home.

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Like the Brexit vote,

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this referendum highlights the gulf between ordinary voters and the EU.

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So, this is the moment that everyone's been waiting for.

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Viktor Orban on a stage, announcing the referendum result,

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and even though there was a low voter turnout,

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surprise, surprise, he says it was a huge success.

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APPLAUSE

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APPLAUSE

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And that's it. He's off. No questions allowed.

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We sent a clear message to Brussels

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that we want to control our own border,

0:26:290:26:31

we want to have our authority entirely

0:26:310:26:34

and we want to make the decision whom we let come in our country

0:26:340:26:37

and whom we do not.

0:26:370:26:38

What happens if Brussels does just ignore it?

0:26:380:26:40

-What will you do? What will Hungary say?

-They can't do it.

0:26:400:26:43

It will be too much. They cannot do it.

0:26:430:26:46

I mean, if you speak about democratic European Union,

0:26:460:26:48

if you speak about bringing Europe closer to people,

0:26:480:26:51

you must not deny the will of 3.2 million people in one country.

0:26:510:26:55

It's a very hypocritical behaviour, I think so.

0:26:550:26:59

The problem is, the member states play the game,

0:26:590:27:02

there is that union, we have nothing to do with it,

0:27:020:27:05

that union is playing against us.

0:27:050:27:08

That blame game is...

0:27:080:27:11

a virus

0:27:110:27:13

which could lead to the end of the European Union.

0:27:130:27:16

So, you have member states pointing the finger of blame here at Brussels.

0:27:160:27:20

You're sitting here and saying,

0:27:200:27:21

"It's their fault and their responsibility."

0:27:210:27:23

Throwing mud, both sides, is one thing,

0:27:230:27:25

but in the meantime, the European Union is falling apart.

0:27:250:27:28

But not because of me.

0:27:280:27:29

I tried to keep it together.

0:27:290:27:31

It's the people like Mr Orban, who argue against the European Union.

0:27:310:27:36

If the heads of state in the European Union

0:27:360:27:40

do not stop pointing the finger of blame at Brussels,

0:27:400:27:44

is the EU finished?

0:27:440:27:46

If that would continue as today,

0:27:460:27:48

the risk that we fall apart is a real risk, yes.

0:27:480:27:52

And what is the solution to all this Euro-griping?

0:28:000:28:04

I've got an appointment to meet a man who thinks he has the answer.

0:28:040:28:08

Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian Prime Minister

0:28:080:28:11

and chief negotiator for Brexit for the European Parliament.

0:28:110:28:15

I just have to find him deep in the maze

0:28:150:28:18

that is the parliament's headquarters here in Brussels.

0:28:180:28:21

I'm looking for 5.5 C011.

0:28:250:28:29

Um...

0:28:290:28:31

I was told that in a way that I should know where that is.

0:28:320:28:36

Excuse me, please.

0:28:360:28:38

5 C011?

0:28:380:28:41

Um...

0:28:410:28:42

Are you sure you're looking for 5, and not 5.5?

0:28:420:28:46

-What's 5.5?

-Who are you looking for?

0:28:460:28:49

Guy Verhofstadt.

0:28:490:28:51

This is not a good floor.

0:28:510:28:53

You have to go one floor up. You take the lift on that side.

0:28:530:28:57

But that's floor 6, right?

0:28:570:28:58

-No. This is floor 5.

-Yeah.

0:28:580:29:00

He will have button 5.5.

0:29:000:29:03

-Five and a half?

-Yeah.

-Whoops.

0:29:030:29:05

OK. All right. Floor five and a half.

0:29:050:29:07

-OK! I'll, um... Thank you very much.

-No problem.

-Thank you.

0:29:070:29:11

OK.

0:29:110:29:13

If you want to get an idea of how Brussels works,

0:29:170:29:21

try spending a few hours in here.

0:29:210:29:24

I still can't quite get over it that...

0:29:240:29:27

five and a half...

0:29:270:29:28

'Floor 5.5.'

0:29:280:29:31

Floor 5.5.

0:29:310:29:32

Yes.

0:29:320:29:34

Guy Verhofstadt believes the only answer to the EU's current woes

0:29:340:29:38

is to complete European union

0:29:380:29:40

and create a true European government.

0:29:400:29:43

Bingo. Here it is.

0:29:430:29:45

We have to reform this whole business.

0:29:450:29:47

A more effective union, a more democratic union,

0:29:470:29:49

with a real European government,

0:29:490:29:52

with a real European defence capacity.

0:29:520:29:57

-European army?

-A European army? Yeah. What's wrong on this?

0:29:570:30:00

Here in Europe, yeah, we don't act, we don't take the decision,

0:30:000:30:04

because you need unanimity before you can do something,

0:30:040:30:08

and it doesn't work in the world of today.

0:30:080:30:11

But look at France, look at Italy, look at Denmark, Sweden...

0:30:110:30:15

I mean, the list goes on, as you know.

0:30:150:30:17

How much support do you think there is for an idea like that?

0:30:170:30:19

-More and more.

-Popular support?

-Yeah. More and more.

0:30:190:30:21

What we feel is that since Brexit, something had changed.

0:30:210:30:25

I told after Brexit, "Oh, we're going to now have

0:30:250:30:27

"a referendum in the Netherlands about Nexit,

0:30:270:30:30

"a referendum in Denmark about Dexit."

0:30:300:30:32

It didn't happen. What we see is exactly the opposite.

0:30:320:30:36

Mr Verhofstadt, I have to tell you

0:30:360:30:37

that you are pretty much the only optimistic voice left, you know.

0:30:370:30:41

-No.

-Yes. In my work, whether it's the news on Europe

0:30:410:30:44

or whether it's in this documentary...

0:30:440:30:46

In your world, yeah.

0:30:460:30:47

But at the same time, don't underestimate that...

0:30:470:30:50

How could I say?

0:30:500:30:52

The counter-revolution is already under way.

0:30:520:30:55

Ordinary citizens who don't want it to destroy Europe,

0:30:550:31:00

who are asking for a reformed European Union.

0:31:000:31:03

More effective. So since the Brexit, something had changed.

0:31:030:31:06

In its essence,

0:31:160:31:18

the EU has always been a political project,

0:31:180:31:21

a massive post-war mission

0:31:210:31:23

to guarantee continental peace and stability.

0:31:230:31:26

We're in gorgeous northern Tuscany.

0:31:300:31:32

My mum's best friend is Tuscan

0:31:320:31:34

and I've been coming here ever since I was born.

0:31:340:31:37

But many of the problems Europe now faces

0:31:380:31:41

are caused by the EU's vast economic experiment - the euro.

0:31:410:31:45

Love. We were in love.

0:31:550:31:57

We thought that this was going to be the marriage

0:31:590:32:01

of the next two centuries.

0:32:010:32:03

If you look at the statistics on...

0:32:030:32:05

the surveys on who liked most the euro,

0:32:050:32:08

Italy was always the leader.

0:32:080:32:10

The north is the richest part of Italy.

0:32:150:32:17

It's the industrial heartland of the country

0:32:170:32:20

as well as a tourist magnet.

0:32:200:32:22

I'm paying a visit to Empoli.

0:32:260:32:27

It's a town I've been coming to since I was little.

0:32:270:32:30

Look how many "for rent" signs there are. All these closed-down shops.

0:32:340:32:39

It's actually quite shocking.

0:32:390:32:41

I mean, this is supposedly posh northern Tuscany.

0:32:410:32:44

And...

0:32:460:32:48

I remember lots of very elegant northern Tuscan shops.

0:32:480:32:52

That's what made it so exciting to come here in the summer.

0:32:520:32:54

In the nearby village of Vinci, I'm meeting up with an old friend.

0:32:570:33:01

In fact, a childhood sweetheart.

0:33:010:33:03

We used to play here as kids.

0:33:060:33:08

Like many people around here, Fausto has fallen on hard times.

0:34:170:34:22

His restaurant business collapsed

0:34:220:34:23

and he now has three part-time jobs to try and make ends meet.

0:34:230:34:27

Europe's middle classes

0:34:310:34:32

have traditionally been big EU enthusiasts.

0:34:320:34:36

But the euro crisis hit them hard.

0:34:360:34:39

Fausto's backing the Euro-sceptic Five Star Movement.

0:34:400:34:44

Without fundamental change,

0:34:440:34:46

he can't see much future for his children.

0:34:460:34:48

The problems of the euro have dragged on for years,

0:35:180:35:22

since Greece first plunged the continent into crisis.

0:35:220:35:26

A fundamental flaw of the euro is that it's made southern Europe,

0:35:260:35:29

including big economies Italy and Spain, uncompetitive,

0:35:290:35:34

while the north, especially Germany, has boomed.

0:35:340:35:38

This creates deep and bitter European divisions.

0:35:380:35:42

The Italians have very good cause to be very, very angry.

0:35:420:35:45

Italy's not Greece. Italy's a successful country.

0:35:460:35:49

And yet Italy is sliding deeper every year

0:35:490:35:54

into a debt deflationary cycle,

0:35:540:35:57

and that is because of the design of the euro.

0:35:570:35:59

The signs of economic collapse are everywhere.

0:36:030:36:06

The euro alone can't be blamed, but at one point in Italy,

0:36:060:36:10

1,000 companies were going bust every day.

0:36:100:36:13

Across the eurozone,

0:36:130:36:15

a dangerous explosion of debt followed the 2008 economic crash.

0:36:150:36:19

It's December, and one of Italy's most famous national institutions

0:36:210:36:25

is in freefall.

0:36:250:36:26

# Na, na-na, na-na, na-na na-na na

0:36:260:36:30

# Ma il cielo e sempre piu blu... #

0:36:300:36:33

The oldest bank in the world is Tuscan.

0:36:330:36:36

Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena is Italy's third biggest bank.

0:36:360:36:39

-VOICE-OVER:

-Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena...

0:36:390:36:41

According to stress tests, this is the weakest bank in Europe.

0:36:450:36:50

Monte Dei Paschi has a mountain of toxic debt.

0:36:500:36:53

Here are some worrying numbers for you.

0:36:540:36:57

This bank alone has more than £40 billion worth of bad debt.

0:36:570:37:02

Look across the Italian banking sector,

0:37:020:37:05

and there you see more than £300 billion worth of toxic debt.

0:37:050:37:10

And then, there is the Italian government.

0:37:100:37:13

With £2 trillion worth of debt,

0:37:130:37:16

that is the highest debt to national income level

0:37:160:37:19

in the whole of the EU - after Greece.

0:37:190:37:23

How vulnerable does that make this country?

0:37:230:37:26

Under pressure, the Italian government has agreed to a bailout,

0:37:270:37:31

but the rot at the heart of the Italian economy remains.

0:37:310:37:36

I think Italy is probably one of the biggest risks for Europe.

0:37:360:37:40

It is such a large country,

0:37:400:37:41

it is the third-largest economy in the eurozone,

0:37:410:37:44

and so if we did have Italy go into crisis,

0:37:440:37:48

there would likely be contagion elsewhere.

0:37:480:37:51

Grazie.

0:37:550:37:57

So, this...this is quite something.

0:38:010:38:03

This is a very mainstream Italian newspaper,

0:38:030:38:07

and yet it's got one article threatening that Italy

0:38:070:38:10

is poised to walk out of the eurozone

0:38:100:38:13

and another article saying why that...the majority of Italians

0:38:130:38:18

think that Germany is doing extremely well

0:38:180:38:20

out of the single currency,

0:38:200:38:22

whereas it says that more than 90% of Italians

0:38:220:38:25

think the euro has been a complete disaster.

0:38:250:38:27

If a country like Italy, with an economy the size of Italy

0:38:290:38:33

were to leave the euro, there are many people here who say

0:38:330:38:36

that would be the beginning of the end of the euro,

0:38:360:38:39

and many argue that if the euro collapses,

0:38:390:38:41

that is the beginning of the end of the EU.

0:38:410:38:43

Because that is the most central and important project, really,

0:38:430:38:47

in the EU's 60-year history.

0:38:470:38:48

That would end in a disaster, economic disaster.

0:38:480:38:52

A reintroduction of the German mark in Europe

0:38:520:38:55

in relation to Italian lira and French franc -

0:38:550:38:59

it's not necessary to be a Nobel Prize in economy

0:38:590:39:02

to understand that that would lead to a disaster in Europe.

0:39:020:39:06

The eurozone crisis has turned Europeans against Europeans.

0:39:060:39:11

It has sown division in Europe.

0:39:110:39:14

And that will stigmatise Europe for a very long time to come.

0:39:140:39:17

It's a bit like invading Russia -

0:39:170:39:19

it starts off beautifully, is a very spirited advance.

0:39:190:39:23

Remember Napoleon, Hitler, and so on.

0:39:230:39:26

Until you get bogged down in the snow

0:39:260:39:28

and you end up with blood on the snow.

0:39:280:39:31

And this is what is happening now in the European Union.

0:39:310:39:33

I am back in Rome as the Italian referendum approaches,

0:39:400:39:44

catching up with the rock star politician

0:39:440:39:46

of the Five Star Movement.

0:39:460:39:48

MAN OVER LOUDSPEAKER:

0:39:500:39:53

The referendum is meant to be about constitutional reform,

0:39:550:39:59

but Five Star has turned it into a vote of no-confidence

0:39:590:40:02

in Prime Minister Renzi's government.

0:40:020:40:04

CROWD CHANTS:

0:40:090:40:12

Anti-Renzi protests slip into violence.

0:40:410:40:45

So confident just a few months before,

0:40:450:40:47

it is now clear he is fighting for his political life.

0:40:470:40:51

And true to the 2016 anti-Establishment script,

0:41:070:41:12

Italians vote by a margin of 60 to 40

0:41:120:41:15

against the government.

0:41:150:41:17

It's a bitter, personal humiliation for Matteo Renzi.

0:41:170:41:21

CHATTER

0:41:470:41:49

SINGING:

0:41:520:41:53

Another pro-European politician booted off stage.

0:41:530:41:59

Another slap in the face for the EU.

0:41:590:42:01

Amid typically Italian chaos and uncertainty,

0:42:030:42:06

there are rumours of an early general election -

0:42:060:42:09

all great news for Five Star.

0:42:090:42:11

Five more years of lack of growth,

0:42:170:42:20

five more years of rising unemployment among the youth.

0:42:200:42:24

The more you stay in the recession, the more people grow angrier,

0:42:240:42:27

the more the political parties are in power, we lost consensus.

0:42:270:42:32

The more populistic parties will grow,

0:42:320:42:34

and the quicker the constructure will fall apart.

0:42:340:42:38

We don't have much time.

0:42:380:42:40

HE SINGS THE BLUES

0:42:410:42:45

CHANTING

0:42:450:42:50

But if this uprising in Italy

0:42:500:42:51

feels like another blow to the European project,

0:42:510:42:55

it's in France where it might meet its Waterloo.

0:42:550:42:58

BELL RINGS

0:42:580:43:01

Henin-Beaumont in northern France -

0:43:010:43:03

another of Europe's desperate outposts.

0:43:030:43:06

France isn't Greece, or Italy.

0:43:100:43:13

The French economy has always been relatively successful.

0:43:130:43:17

But the national mood is deeply gloomy,

0:43:170:43:20

especially in places like this.

0:43:200:43:22

Jean-Claude was one of more than 800 workers

0:43:260:43:30

at this metal works before it closed.

0:43:300:43:32

Production moved to China.

0:43:320:43:34

In 2014, this town elected a mayor

0:44:130:44:15

from the anti-immigration, anti-globalisation Front National,

0:44:150:44:20

known for its nostalgic nationalism.

0:44:200:44:22

It's January, and I am in Paris to meet Marine Le Pen,

0:45:080:45:12

leader of the Front National.

0:45:120:45:14

The party was founded by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen,

0:45:140:45:18

who was widely condemned for his extreme right-wing views.

0:45:180:45:22

-Bonjour.

-Katya Adler de la BBC.

-Ah, oui.

-Merci.

0:45:240:45:28

But Marine insists that the old divisions of right and left

0:45:300:45:33

no longer apply to the current revolution in European politics.

0:45:330:45:38

The Front National's views on migration and Islam

0:48:110:48:14

make Marine Le Pen one of the most divisive figures

0:48:140:48:17

in European politics.

0:48:170:48:19

But she is a top contender in presidential elections

0:48:190:48:22

here this spring.

0:48:220:48:24

Accepted wisdom predicts French voters of the left and centre

0:48:240:48:28

will come together to prevent a Front National president.

0:48:280:48:32

But polls and political wisdom can't be trusted these days.

0:48:320:48:36

Victory for Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election

0:48:380:48:41

would be the end of the European Union.

0:48:410:48:43

There is a serious risk that France,

0:48:430:48:45

one of the biggest members of the European Union,

0:48:450:48:48

a founding member of the European Union,

0:48:480:48:50

part of that Franco-German axis.

0:48:500:48:52

If France were to leave, that would be, probably, the deathblow.

0:48:520:48:56

Brexit is hard for the EU to cope with,

0:48:560:48:58

but we were always, the UK, a semi-detached nation.

0:48:580:49:02

This would be a fundamental blow,

0:49:020:49:03

and many people believe it would not recover.

0:49:030:49:06

That woman wants to become president of France,

0:49:060:49:09

but win an election, it's unthinkable.

0:49:090:49:11

Unthinkable?

0:49:110:49:13

Definitely not going to happen, in your opinion, Marine Le Pen?

0:49:130:49:15

You are relaxed about the French presidential election?

0:49:150:49:18

She will never win. I'm absolutely sure.

0:49:180:49:21

-Would you bet on that, though?

-Yes. Yes.

0:49:210:49:24

Oui.

0:49:300:49:31

MUSIC: Egmont by Ludwig van Beethoven

0:49:430:49:46

With Britain on the way out,

0:49:500:49:53

France flirting with Marine Le Pen

0:49:530:49:55

and Italy in political and economic turmoil,

0:49:550:49:58

the fate of the continent increasingly seems to lie

0:49:580:50:01

here in Germany.

0:50:010:50:03

And with one politician.

0:50:030:50:04

For 12 years, Angela Merkel has been the real power behind the EU.

0:50:160:50:21

EU membership has meant so much for her country -

0:50:210:50:24

the chance for a new European beginning

0:50:240:50:27

after the horrors of the Nazi past.

0:50:270:50:30

Though dented by the migrant crisis,

0:50:300:50:32

with the unfolding drama of Donald Trump's presidency,

0:50:320:50:35

many see Merkel as the champion of moderation.

0:50:350:50:39

And her government remains deeply committed to the EU.

0:50:390:50:44

We are benefiting from Europe.

0:50:440:50:46

We have seen the history, and in the present,

0:50:460:50:48

we are benefiting from Europe.

0:50:480:50:50

We are so well-off as never before.

0:50:500:50:53

This is due to the euro, this is due to our unity.

0:50:530:50:56

Europe is the best thing that can happen for our interests.

0:50:560:51:00

So our main interest,

0:51:000:51:02

the pivotal interest, is to make Europe work again.

0:51:020:51:06

One of Angela Merkel's nicknames used to be "Queen of Europe",

0:51:070:51:11

but her crown has now slipped.

0:51:110:51:13

The migrant crisis has damaged her, not only here at home,

0:51:130:51:17

but also abroad.

0:51:170:51:18

And she used to be known for bullying, or charming,

0:51:180:51:21

other EU countries into following one EU line.

0:51:210:51:25

So she was the glue, if you like, that held things together.

0:51:250:51:29

Now that glue is becoming unstuck.

0:51:290:51:31

And for many ordinary Germans,

0:51:310:51:33

Europe seems to have become a bit of a joke.

0:51:330:51:37

And a bad one.

0:51:370:51:39

Germans are tired of having to stump up for endless Greek bailouts.

0:51:450:51:49

LAUGHTER

0:51:530:51:56

And there are doubts about Germany's ability

0:51:560:51:58

to integrate up to a million refugees and other migrants.

0:51:580:52:02

And now Germany has its own

0:52:200:52:22

populist, Eurosceptic nationalist party - the AFD.

0:52:220:52:26

The themes are familiar -

0:52:280:52:30

anti-migrant, anti-EU,

0:52:300:52:33

and, especially in the wake of recent terror attacks, anti-Islam.

0:52:330:52:37

In painfully politically correct Germany, this is hugely significant.

0:52:370:52:42

I joined in January 2016

0:52:440:52:46

because I was so shocked, you know, the borders had been opened.

0:52:460:52:49

I thought this loss of serenity, this loss of home

0:52:490:52:53

made many people rethink their political ideas.

0:52:530:52:56

We need a strong voice of the right-wing in Parliament.

0:52:560:53:01

Everything else is progressive, left-wing, bad. You know?

0:53:010:53:05

There was a big problem in German policy,

0:53:050:53:08

there was political correctness, and many people said,

0:53:080:53:11

"I don't feel represented by the parties in Germany".

0:53:110:53:14

And so the AFD was founded.

0:53:140:53:16

Now we have much more diverse opinions in the German policy

0:53:160:53:21

and that is fresh life for democracy.

0:53:210:53:24

Polls predict AFD could win 15, even 20% of the vote

0:53:270:53:31

in the general election here this autumn.

0:53:310:53:34

Germans have a right to decide their own future,

0:53:340:53:36

and it is time that the Germans take back the power

0:53:360:53:39

from this bureaucracy in Brussels.

0:53:390:53:42

For the first time in Germany,

0:53:420:53:44

European integration is being seriously questioned.

0:53:440:53:47

It's not possible for Germany to rescue all of the rest of Europe

0:53:500:53:53

by paying off the debts of Greece and, next, Italy,

0:53:530:53:56

and then Spain, and, in the end, France.

0:53:560:53:59

This is... That is not possible.

0:53:590:54:00

Look at Greece. You leave Greece on its own, it'll collapse.

0:54:000:54:03

Greece should leave the euro.

0:54:030:54:05

-Yes, the euro is too strong...

-And Italy? And Spain?

0:54:050:54:07

-And probably France as well.

-Portugal?

0:54:070:54:09

The euro is too strong for them, yes.

0:54:090:54:11

So, this is the end of the euro, then, isn't it, really,

0:54:110:54:14

that you are arguing for?

0:54:140:54:15

If countries like Germany say,

0:54:150:54:16

"We're not going to help countries with a weaker economy," that's it.

0:54:160:54:19

It's over, isn't it?

0:54:190:54:21

The euro is not good for the weaker countries,

0:54:210:54:23

so it is not for the economy.

0:54:230:54:25

The EU failed to deal, as a body, with the migrant crisis,

0:54:250:54:30

it has failed in the eurozone project.

0:54:300:54:32

"What is it good for?" you could be forgiven for asking.

0:54:320:54:35

We have to do better.

0:54:350:54:37

Europe remains indispensable.

0:54:370:54:40

Perhaps it is even more indispensable than ever before

0:54:400:54:43

in a globalised world.

0:54:430:54:45

So the only consequence of your description is, we have,

0:54:450:54:48

we really HAVE to do it better.

0:54:480:54:50

Do you see yourself as part of a bigger movement

0:54:500:54:53

in the rest of Europe?

0:54:530:54:54

Surely, yes. The voices are different,

0:54:540:54:57

but I think there is a basic line within all of those parties

0:54:570:55:01

which are now growing in several states,

0:55:010:55:04

stating that we don't want to give up our sovereignty.

0:55:040:55:08

And this is why we want to ask the people.

0:55:080:55:10

The danger of holding a referendum is,

0:55:100:55:12

even though you are not calling to leave the EU,

0:55:120:55:15

that is what the German people would vote for if you asked them.

0:55:150:55:18

-Yes. And if people...

-And the whole thing could crumble.

0:55:180:55:21

Yes, but, you know, if the whole thing crumbles,

0:55:210:55:24

because the people want it to crumble,

0:55:240:55:26

then it should crumble.

0:55:260:55:29

MUSIC: Lacrimosa (Requiem) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

0:55:290:55:34

Over the next few months, the EU is bracing itself for a battering.

0:55:340:55:39

Big election gains are predicted for

0:55:390:55:41

Eurosceptic, anti-Islam Geert Wilders in the Netherlands.

0:55:410:55:46

While in Italy, an early election could mean victory

0:55:460:55:49

for anti-euro Five Star.

0:55:490:55:51

We are going to lose one of the most magnificent constructions of peace

0:56:040:56:08

that mankind has ever done.

0:56:080:56:10

I don't care, I am old.

0:56:100:56:12

But I look at my children and I'm really scared.

0:56:120:56:16

In spring, France goes to the polls

0:56:180:56:21

with Marine Le Pen and her Front National standing strong.

0:56:210:56:25

Elections follow in Germany.

0:56:250:56:28

And all the while,

0:56:280:56:30

a potentially messy divorce with Brexit Britain is being negotiated.

0:56:300:56:35

It is no exaggeration to say that people in this town

0:56:350:56:39

who believe passionately in what they have built

0:56:390:56:42

over these last 60 years

0:56:420:56:44

really do believe that the whole project is under threat now.

0:56:440:56:49

We have something that the entire world looks as a miracle.

0:56:490:56:54

They look at the European Union as a miracle of history

0:56:540:56:58

and of political determination.

0:56:580:57:00

We have an enormous strength

0:57:000:57:03

and we spend our time talking about our own crisis.

0:57:030:57:07

We should be proud of what we achieved,

0:57:070:57:10

that your country, the United Kingdom,

0:57:100:57:12

and my country, Germany, were enemies in the war

0:57:120:57:16

and became friends.

0:57:160:57:18

It was a 2,000-year history of war.

0:57:180:57:21

And since seven decades, we have had no war.

0:57:210:57:24

In my eyes, this is a success story.

0:57:240:57:28

The power brokers of Europe face an unprecedented challenge.

0:57:560:58:00

For the EU, this is a battle to survive.

0:58:000:58:04

Now, Brussels doesn't exactly have a reputation for moving fast,

0:58:040:58:08

but something will have to give.

0:58:080:58:11

It could be that our national debate in Britain about Brexit

0:58:110:58:15

turns out to be an irrelevance.

0:58:150:58:18

Sooner or later, the EU as we know it

0:58:180:58:21

may no longer be there for us to leave.

0:58:210:58:24

The European Union faces the biggest challenge in its 60-year history, with the rise of populist eurosceptic movements across the continent. As Britain prepares to begin the process of withdrawing from the EU, the BBC's Europe editor Katya Adler asks whether the Union itself can survive.