09/02/2018 Politics Europe


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09/02/2018

Jo Coburn 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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Now on BBC News, Politics Europe.

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Hello and welcome to Politics

Europe, your regular guided to the

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top stories in Brussels and

Strasbourg. On today's programme: As

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the Brexit Secratary accuses the

European Union of discourteous

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language, will the government get

the frictionless trade with Europe

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they want after Brexit if we're not

in the customs union?

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Angela Merkel does a deal with her

Socialist rivals to form a coalition

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five months after the German

elections, but how stable will her

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new government be? And how should

Brussels' new top Euro grant be

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chosen, we investigate the process.

And has the European Parliament

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voted to abolish summertime? All

that to come and more in the next

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half an hour and joining me for all

of it is the Mirror's associate

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editor and Camilla comedy of the

Express but first here's our guide

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to the latest from Europe in 60

seconds. Turns out it's not just the

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Brits who like to talk weather, much

of Europe has faced freezing

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temperatures with Parisians even

skiing down Montmartre and snowfall

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shutting down the Eiffel Tower.

Frosty relations seem to have thawed

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in Germany as the country looks set

to emerge from months of political

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deep-freeze with Angela Merkel's

conservatives finally agreeing a

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coalition deal with the centre-left

Social Democrats. The European

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Parliament voted against proposals

to create a backdrop and European

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MEPs that would have allowed a vote

in Finland or Spain to be

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represented by the same MEP,

delivering a blow to Macron's plans

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to transform EU democracy. The

European Parliament also voted to

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remove one of its vice presidents

after he sparked outrage by

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comparing a fellow Polish MEP to a

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

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collaborator. The European

Commission bigwig Jean-Claude

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Juncker on the other hand is clearly

feeling coming when he ruffled the

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hair of his chief Brexit negotiator

ahead of a Strasbourg debate on the

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future of Europe. Let's talk about

Germany and the coalition that may

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or may not be secured, what do you

think will happen?

I think she will

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be but she's given a lot of ground,

the SDP, which didn't do well in the

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election, are extracting their price

and she is and what she was. She's

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still Chancellor but she's not as

commanding, all political careers

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have to end in failure at some time

and you can feel she's in a much

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later state. But I wouldn't write

her off.

The polls say she's still

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in a relatively strong position.

Her

rather than the party but she isn't

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as strong as she once but it will

still be Macron in France and her in

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Germany calling the main shots and

we will know that when redo the

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negotiations.

If the coalition goes

ahead with the Labour Party in

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Germany, and the members have to

vote on that, where does it leave

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the ADF party, the far right group,

within the Bundestag that secured

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many seats in the election?

It still

leaves them knocking on the door and

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I think they are still a threat and

I think Merkel has had a wake-up

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call as far as the electorate is

concerned that some of her policies

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haven't been popular. It's a massive

concession they've lost the finance

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ministry to the coalition partners

and looking forward to Brexit,

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thinking psychologically, will

Merkel be thinking having gone

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through this tussle to try to secure

an agreement that she has comprised

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so much that she will get tough on

the UK when it comes to the EU? Who

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knows what her state of mind is but

there's a bit of irony about her

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having a go at Theresa May not being

able to make up her mind couple of

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weeks ago when she's herself in this

hugely precarious position.

But

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Germany often goes through months of

decision making when it comes to

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coalitions, it is unusual to go

along for this long and struggle in

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the way she has to secure a

coalition, has a weakened Germany's

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position broadly in the EU?

I'm not

sure it has. Germany is such an

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industrial economic powerhouse

still, such a large country and the

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additional member system, part PR,

we're one of the countries that

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imposed it after the Second World

War, it works towards coalitions but

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it is who is in that coalition. It's

taken longer than before, it took

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some time anyway, but the Germans

work these things through but you

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just feel that she herself isn't a

commanding figure but I think paired

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to Theresa May I think Theresa May

would love to be in Merkel's

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position.

I think they are both from

the conservative background, they've

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a lot in common, they both have

religious fervour about them, they

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cut a similar figure in terms of

being isolated on the world stage.

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It's interesting, maybe they should

get together over a coffee.

On that,

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we will move on! The second stage of

Brexit negotiations with the EU have

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begun with talks moving onto the

transition stage. On Sunday, the

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government confirmed that we are

categorically leaving the customs

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union and it is not our policy to

stay in a customs union. Visiting

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London on Monday, chief EU

negotiator Michel Barnier responded

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by saying:

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Adding that:

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It's still unclear whether the UK

will stay in the customs union and

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the single market during any

transition period. A leaked EU draft

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of the withdrawal agreement

suggested the UK's access to the

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single market would be restricted

during the transition phase if

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there's a dispute after Brexit.

Brexit Secratary David Davis the EU

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of using discourteous language in

the document and Brexiteers claim

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continued membership of the customs

union and single market would render

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Britain a vassal state. Remainers

and some business groups have called

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for urgent action from government to

address the uncertainty with the

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British Chambers of Commerce this

week that their patience is wearing

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thin. We're joined now from

Amsterdam by the Dutch MEP Paul Tang

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who earlier this week described

Theresa May's Brexit strategy as

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stupidity. From Brussels by the

Conservative MP Dan Dalton. Welcome

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to both of you. Paul Tang first of

all, do you regret calling Theresa

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May's strategy on Brexit stupidity?

Well, no. I think it is still

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stupid. There are huge problems with

exiting not the EU but the customs

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union. The customs unions will lead

to a hard border, leaving the

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customs union will lead to a hard

border between Ireland and Northern

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Ireland, that has been an issue

before. Moreover, it will hamper the

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trade and transport of goods and it

will take a big swing at the

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factories in England. It will hit

the blue-collar workers that still

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work in factories. They are the ones

that play and I think they're

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stupid, are they the ones to pay for

these ideological choices?

Dan

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Dalton, what was your response to

hearing that language about the

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strategy and do you think the

Conservative government should keep

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some sort of customs union

relationship on the table?

No, I

0:08:180:08:23

think there's a misunderstanding

about the customs union because it

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is often portrayed as if staying in

the customs union when leaving the

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EU is the status quo and it isn't.

What it would mean is the day we

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left the EU but stayed in the

customs union, we would lose trade

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access to all the countries the EU

has done trade deals with around the

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rest of the world in addition to not

being able to do trade deals are

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self. So staying in the customs

union would mean an EU only trade

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policy, there is no professional

agreement with any other company and

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we wouldn't be up to get one so the

only option frankly for the UK is to

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leave the customs union despite the

troubles, there is the only option

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on the table.

Paul Tang, do you

agree we would lose access to any

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third country agreements that have

been made with the EU, we would be a

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vassal state?

Know because I think

the new trade agreements are not

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about the trade and transport of

goods, they are about services, much

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more important and growing part of

the economy. This is what is at

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stake for the future relation. I

think Great Britain after exiting

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the UK can make trade agreements

especially on services. But coming

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back one moment, we think that

Turkey and the EU are not best

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friends, right? But Turkey is still

part of the customs union and that's

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an economic reason. This is a way to

trade and transport goods.

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Dan, is it your understanding that

Britain remains in the customs union

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during the transition period?

It hasn't been fully discussed. The

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government has certainly said it

needs to address the issue I just

0:10:010:10:05

talked about, i.e. Losing access to

third countries for our exports.

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Are you saying like the

international trade Minister earlier

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this week that the government still

hasn't got a position on whether

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Britain stays in the customs union

despite the fact David Davis has

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said we will remain on the same

terms during that implementation

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period?

I think you sort of answer

the question yourself.

Can you say

0:10:220:10:28

it for us, are we going to stay in

the customs union?

We will stay on

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the same terms as currently but we

need to address this issue, which is

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the key issue that we suddenly lose

access to all our export markets for

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those that countries that have done

deals with the EU and that's the

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issue David Davis is trying to

address and needs to be addressed in

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the midocean Asians. If we get that

then I suggest we will be staying in

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for the transition.

-- negotiations.

Your position, I take this is a

0:10:510:10:56

negotiation, it still hasn't been

cleared up whether Britain has

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access to the countries that have

made agreements outside the EU, but

0:10:590:11:05

the British government position in

the transition that Britain would

0:11:050:11:09

remain in the customs union?

I'm not

a spokesman for the British

0:11:090:11:14

government but my understanding is

if we can address this issue with

0:11:140:11:17

regards to those third countries and

also the ability to do our own trade

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deals as well then as I understand

it the government is open for

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staying in for that period providing

those provisos are met.

Paul Tang,

0:11:250:11:30

isn't that the point, this is a

negotiation so whatever's been said

0:11:300:11:34

by Michel Barnier when he says the

decision the UK will leave the

0:11:340:11:38

single market and customs union will

mean border checks at the Irish

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frontier is his negotiating

position, it doesn't mean it is

0:11:420:11:45

fact?

No, I would say it is logic. I

0:11:450:11:54

haven't seen the alternative for the

border between Ireland and Northern

0:11:540:11:57

Ireland. I'm not sure you have heard

it, I haven't heard it. The customs

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union is the option on the table and

I wouldn't throw that option away if

0:12:030:12:07

I were Great Britain. So it's not

just a matter of negotiation, it's

0:12:070:12:14

also a matter of logic. By the way,

just look at a map. You can try to

0:12:140:12:21

agree new trade agreements but let's

face it, the UK and the EU are

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pretty close geographically. We are

a logical trading partner so the

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first priority should be, especially

if you want to protect jobs and

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industry, find a trade agreement

with the EU.

0:12:340:12:37

You said, Dan, that you're not a

spokesperson for the British

0:12:370:12:41

government, are you happy with the

government's negotiating position?

0:12:410:12:46

Yeah, I think the government has

been very clear from the word go

0:12:460:12:49

that we want to leave...

Your answer

slightly led me to believe that the

0:12:490:12:54

UK government hasn't been very clear

because you don't seem to be sure

0:12:540:12:57

about what the position is?

I'm very clear on the position, I'm

0:12:570:13:01

just saying I'm not representing the

British Government, I'm a

0:13:010:13:05

Conservative MEP from the government

party but I'm not privy to

0:13:050:13:08

negotiations but my understanding is

clear that the government position

0:13:080:13:11

is we would leave the customs union

and single market and we would have

0:13:110:13:15

a frictionless trade partnership

with the EU.

Is the right thing,

0:13:150:13:20

Paul Tang, to use language to make

Britain get punished if, as far as

0:13:200:13:26

the EU is concerned, the UK doesn't

stick to the letter of the

0:13:260:13:30

transition agreement, that somehow

restrictions would be placed on

0:13:300:13:33

Britain in terms of access to the

single market. Does that help smooth

0:13:330:13:37

the way to successful negotiations?

Know, normally it doesn't. I know

0:13:370:13:45

how words from Barnier are perceived

in the UK. That is unfortunate. It's

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also in the perception I would say.

I don't think that the EU is

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threatening but it's pointing out

the options that are on the table

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and personally I don't think the

British Government has been clear on

0:14:020:14:06

that. I would love the British

Government to be clear. It never

0:14:060:14:09

ceases to amaze me that the British

government seems more divided than

0:14:090:14:13

the 27 other states.

Right, you say that, but does Michel

0:14:130:14:18

Barnier really now speak for the

entire European Union? Oh, I think

0:14:180:14:23

we have lost... We've got you back,

can you still hear me, Paul Tang?

0:14:230:14:28

Yeah, I can hear you.

We lost you

momentarily, we've got you back. Are

0:14:280:14:33

the big question, you say Britain is

more divided than the EU 27, but

0:14:330:14:39

does Michel Barnier speak for the

Netherlands in terms of the draft EU

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text? Can we really imagine a state

where the Netherlands would want to

0:14:420:14:46

put up barriers to trade with the

UK? They don't want to make it more

0:14:460:14:50

difficult, do they?

0:14:500:14:57

There will be different in that they

have been excluded by the British

0:14:570:15:00

government. I expect there be

differences but we don't see a

0:15:000:15:04

difference is it you cannot cherry

pick. That is the fear that keeps

0:15:040:15:11

the EU 27 together. But when there

are real choices on the table, I

0:15:110:15:17

expect there will be some kind of

deficient between the EU 27.

0:15:170:15:25

Listening they're to Dan Sultan,

what is your impression of this

0:15:250:15:29

seemingly confusion over whether

Britain is going to remain in the

0:15:290:15:33

customs union?

It was made clear

that we would be leaving the single

0:15:330:15:41

market and the customs union. What

is she going to do? Stowing -- going

0:15:410:15:48

and briefing against Hammond and

others before she has a Cabinet

0:15:480:15:52

consensus only then to face more

counter briefing...

But we have

0:15:520:15:57

ready head David Davis saved will be

on terms.

This is what is confusing

0:15:570:16:01

because David Davis... And this is

why we have reason mocks... There is

0:16:010:16:07

acclaimed David Davis has lost

control to Lee Robbins who seems to

0:16:070:16:13

be briefing he does want us to stay

in the customs union. There is a

0:16:130:16:17

problem with the ad men of this

process.

Yes. If it was only about

0:16:170:16:21

admen. -- admen. -- admin. Is it

about using the sort of language

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that David Davis used as

discourteous, that this is them

0:16:320:16:35

trying to exert political pressure?

Of course, the 27 are looking after

0:16:350:16:40

their interests as the UK are

supposed to be. I think the current

0:16:400:16:47

policy is the national interest but

that is their attempt. It is clear

0:16:470:16:50

as a drunken mass or in a bar after

midnight. What is actually

0:16:500:16:54

happening. Theresa May have a

warring Cabinet, a warring parties.

0:16:540:17:00

She might think is she knows what

she wants but she can't get it which

0:17:000:17:05

is why we are in this ridiculous row

about what we are asking for in the

0:17:050:17:09

transition period and if we don't

know what we are asking for, how can

0:17:090:17:13

we get it?

We will find out. Now,

the ship its candidate process. --

0:17:130:17:25

Schpitzen. It is about choosing

your's top bureaucrat.

When

0:17:250:17:31

Jean-Claude Juncker comes to

Strasberg, he sits here. He got his

0:17:310:17:36

job through the lead candidate

system which it says the European

0:17:360:17:40

Commission president should be the

person put forward by the political

0:17:400:17:43

grouping that does best at the

European Parliament elections. In

0:17:430:17:47

2014, that was the centre right EP

peak, yorker was their man and

0:17:470:17:51

that's why this is now his chair. --

ETP. Jean-Claude Juncker. It was

0:17:510:17:57

opposed to -- by David Cameron. Now

MPs say they would reject anyone who

0:17:570:18:05

wasn't a Schpitzen Candidat.

We will

not accept anyone as lead candidate

0:18:050:18:19

of the Democratic Party. And can

bring about a majority in the new

0:18:190:18:24

elected European Parliament.

The

Liberals tried to go further this

0:18:240:18:28

week. A directly elected president

rather than someone selected by

0:18:280:18:33

party bosses like last time.

They

were never relate it by citizens of

0:18:330:18:39

Europe. -- never elected. They were

just appointed will stop in this

0:18:390:18:44

case, we have Jean-Claude Juncker

who was appointed by the ETP. They

0:18:440:18:50

were the biggest party. We would get

away from that and people would stop

0:18:500:18:54

blaming us for democratic

deficiencies if they can actually

0:18:540:18:59

pick up the list and vote for a

person.

Others think it should be

0:18:590:19:03

jumped altogether.

It is taking away

some member states' power. This is a

0:19:030:19:16

wrong message. We avoided the system

to get completely in 2014.

Now the

0:19:160:19:29

debate moves from Parliament's

corners to a meeting of EU leaders

0:19:290:19:35

at the end of the month where there

is a split between opponents and

0:19:350:19:38

supporters but the Croatian Prime

Minister who I chanced upon doing a

0:19:380:19:42

bit of gladhanding.

In 2014 when I

was leading the list of my political

0:19:420:19:50

party and my political family in

Croatia. It was a cohesive element

0:19:500:19:56

for the elections. I feel that we

should continue with this concept at

0:19:560:19:59

these elections. I supported it

again today.

Who is this? Somebody

0:19:590:20:12

who wants to be the Schpitzen

Candidat. Do you think is it a good

0:20:120:20:20

idea?

Brexit, Brexit.

Sticking to

their day job for now.

It is all

0:20:200:20:27

about Brexit. We are talking about

the Schpitzen Candidat today. I hope

0:20:270:20:34

you can hear me. How much backing of

this have? This idea of the

0:20:340:20:42

Parliament or the biggest party

having a say?

They clearly support

0:20:420:20:56

the idea. They stand behind the

idea. It is a way to strengthen

0:20:560:21:04

democracy in the EU. The main

challenge is the European countries

0:21:040:21:09

because a lot of them think it would

reduce their powers. They have drawn

0:21:090:21:26

a lot of criticism in the EU. --

Spitzenkandidat. It is not necessary

0:21:260:21:36

and far from the EU's concerns of

the EQ.

David Cameron was unhappy

0:21:360:21:40

about the idea of Jean-Claude

Juncker, for example, becoming

0:21:400:21:45

president. Didn't want to lose the

power that nationstates had in

0:21:450:21:50

deciding what influencing that

decision. When you say people are

0:21:500:21:53

against it, who else is against the

idea of the Parliament having more

0:21:530:21:58

influence?

The most surprising

country against the Spitzenkandidat

0:21:580:22:02

is France. It is surprising because

a Emmanuel Macron, the French

0:22:020:22:06

President, has always declared and

supported an election process that

0:22:060:22:11

would be more democratic and he has

always been very keen to make Europe

0:22:110:22:18

much more transparent and

democratic. It is surprising from

0:22:180:22:25

him. His position is that the

Spitzenkandidat would favour the

0:22:250:22:30

party in the European Parliament

that has won the most seats which

0:22:300:22:34

means there EPP. We know, he never

said it publicly, but clearly we

0:22:340:22:43

know he doesn't like that because it

is not his party.

Funny that. All

0:22:430:22:48

editions always like an idea unless

it doesn't go the way they would

0:22:480:22:51

like to -- politicians. What about

directly appointing the president --

0:22:510:23:03

electing the president?

It might

happen some day but clearly not now.

0:23:030:23:09

The Spitzenkandidat itself is

already an improvement because the

0:23:090:23:13

so many years it was decided among

EU leaders in backroom deals and the

0:23:130:23:22

Parliament wasn't involved. It is a

big step forward that the Parliament

0:23:220:23:25

could have the right at some point

to elect the candidate. Maybe in it

0:23:250:23:33

you years, we would have an elected

president.

Thank you very much. Now,

0:23:330:23:40

did MEPs vote to abolish summertime

this week? Well, no. But they did us

0:23:400:23:45

the European Commission to consult

on stopping the practice of changing

0:23:450:23:48

the clocks between the summer and

winter months. Currently the EU

0:23:480:23:51

decides when the clock should go

forward and when they go back. One

0:23:510:23:55

Italian MEP thought the whole thing

was a waste of time and money.

0:23:550:24:03

TRANSLATION: Here we are talking

about whether Ronald we should

0:24:030:24:07

abolish this. What if we move the

fingers of the clock in our back and

0:24:070:24:13

that would mean saving, for European

citizens, at Tally and citizens, a

0:24:130:24:24

saving of 150,000 euros which we

could then give back to citizens. --

0:24:240:24:27

Italian.

Your thoughts?

I would love

to do it. It comes up every now and

0:24:270:24:37

again in this country. I can see the

argument for more sunlight in the

0:24:370:24:41

morning. It is a pain.

What do you

think?

My children, three under

0:24:410:24:49

nine, are already wired into the

city -- wide into the system. I can

0:24:490:24:54

tell we need the clocks go forward

to keep them back in bed a bit

0:24:540:24:58

longer. We are wired to the system.

I don't think people take kindly to

0:24:580:25:02

being tech -- dictated to by that

EU.

Do it themselves. I have had

0:25:020:25:10

Brexit extremists saying just do it.

I like the way you both got in your

0:25:100:25:17

little calling cards. Brexit

extremists. Consultation, do you

0:25:170:25:23

think it will actually happen?

A

consultation, God.

On that basis, I

0:25:230:25:32

will consult on both of you. It's

the end. That is it for now. Thank

0:25:320:25:36

you for our guests. From all of us

0:25:360:25:40