16/03/2018 Politics Europe


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16/03/2018

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,

0:00:380:00:42

your regular guide to the top

stories in Brussels and Strasbourg.

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As Putin prepares for the expulsions

of former Russian nation, will the

0:00:510:00:58

EU increase sanctions on the Soviet

state? Does the EU have its very own

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Frank Underwood? We will delve

inside the shady world of European

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bureaucrats. As Britain's

relationship with Russia reaches

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those not seen since the Cold War,

the Russian embassy has upped it

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came on Twitter. Is social media a

new diplomatic weapon? All that to

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come and more in the next half an

hour. Joining me for all of it is

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Ian Dale and Rachel Sylvester.

First, here is our guide to the

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latest from Europe in just 60

seconds. This week, MEPs voted in

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favour of setting up recommendations

for future relationship with UK. The

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draft text has now been to London.

Meanwhile, European Commission

0:01:500:01:56

President told Parliament that the

UK would regret Brexit to the

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amusement of Eurosceptics.

You will

respect -- regret your decision.

It

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has emerged a European Parliament

delegation has been conducting

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secret talks with North Korea to try

and persuade them to end their

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nuclear programme. Elsewhere, Slovak

p.m. Resigned after weeks of turmoil

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sparked by the murder of an

investigator journalist who had

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raised questions about his judgement

after it was alleged a close aide

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had links to the mafia. Millions of

Europeans may have been running late

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since mid-January following an

electrical dispute between Kosovo

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and Serbia, causing Cox to lag

behind by up to six minutes across

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25 countries. -- causing clocks.

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That's picked up after that.

Will we

regret Brexit? He has to say that

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because the EU has to hope that we

regret Brexit or others may want to

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follow suit. Of course he will say

that. Some of the reaction has been

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slightly over the top. It is what we

expect him to say. It is not

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bullying Britain in any way at all.

We would expect him to say that.

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Shouldn't he give outline a rest? We

do expect it to some extent. This

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idea that we don't want to see

others go the way of Britain. Just

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drop it.

I think that's right. I

think he's probably right. Written

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may well end up removing it. It is

already proving much more

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complicated, the economic

implications becoming clear, all of

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that. I think is the worst possible

to say it. It sounds so arrogant, it

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is exactly what everyone voted

against is being told what to do by

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the EU and some Eurocrat. Maybe he

is right, but shut up, as Gavin

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Williamson might say.

And go away,

to finish that phrase. Do you think

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as you have said, actually, people

just have priced it in.

I think

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people factor it in. I think what is

more interesting is what gave the

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whole state is saying. If you look

at his tweets and statements over

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the past couple of weeks, they are

very different to what he was saying

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six months ago. Much went arrested

in getting the right deal, much more

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positive, much more constructive

than he has been. He was one of the

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first to come to Britain's support

over Russia as well. I think that

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people on my side of the argument

need to actually recognise that

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there is a little bit of a change

with some people and we should also

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be very open in thinking European

countries for their support over

0:04:440:04:47

Russia because that wasn't

necessarily a given, and France and

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Germany hadn't come so strongly and

Denmark as well, of course, Rachel

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would be writing: is saying it is

all due to Brexit and it is what we

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can look forward to in the future.

Let's discuss the relationship.

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There has only been one big story in

town this week, and that is of the

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poisoning of surrogate scruple and

his daughter. They have expelled

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diplomats and they are expecting the

same to happen to diplomats in

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Russia. We await the retaliation.

What will the EU do? A previous

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candidate to be thin and's Prime

Minister is in Brussels. What do you

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make of the European Union's

response to the poisoning?

We are

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going to see very different approach

is because some of the country is

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won't be criticising Russia very

severely. At the same time, I think

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almost a clear majority will feel

themselves very much pushed in a

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direction where they had to stand up

for the values and for member

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states, even if it is the member

state who is about to leave. So I

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think we are going to discuss this

in the Parliament in the next

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session and I think the verdict will

be pretty harsh.

Pretty harsh in

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terms of the stance against Russia?

Well, we have a lot of indications

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in this case, Russian security

agencies have killed their former

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agent earlier, that is almost a

question of honour for them, so the

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only one who could actually be

interested in getting rid of Skripal

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are the Russians. We won't find a

person with the smoking gun going in

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or out from the Russian embassy in

London. We won't find, I am pretty

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sure we won't find a smoking gun at

all. Usually when you kill persons

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like this, it is a very cynical

killing because they didn't even

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care about Skripal's daughter. My

guess would be that they will be a

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middleman, a lot of middlemen in

between, but from my point of view,

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I think Russia should be very

interested in clearing this because

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the poison, the only source for it

comes from, awkward come from

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Russia. That is a small possibility

during the 1990s that many weapons

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in Russia were taken apart because

the State couldn't take -- pay the

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wages and the military took what

they could, just almost all the

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AK-47s, around in Europe now come

from these depots. There is a

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possibility that this also had this.

Because of your proximity, to

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Russia, in Finland, are you afraid

of Russia and Russian retaliation in

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general? No, we are probably the

only country in Europe having had a

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war with Russia and still staying

independent nation, so I think our

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credentials are pretty good day and

I don't think we are afraid of them.

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What we should be slightly scared of

in Europe in general is not very

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rational behaviour in Russia,

because it's an unstable system for

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the moment. You have somebody up

there, Vladimir Putin, and then you

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don't actually have machinery on

which you can put any, or a much

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trust. So the system as such is

unstable, and that is a problem.

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What about concrete help from the

European Union? What concrete help

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could Britain expect?

Well, it

depends on what you need. As I said,

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we have a lot of indications about

the source of this murder, but as

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also said, we won't find a gun. So

what would rate -- Great Britain

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need in these times from us? I think

if we go back to what we could

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offer, we could offer all the

knowledge, and our services could

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fire and, and if Russia is

retaliating even more in regard of

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Great Britain, then of course we

have two follow-up, we have to do

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something just to show our

solidarity. This might sort of go

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further.

Do you think that it would

have been any different's I will

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come back to you in a moment. You

think there would have been a

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difference to the EU response? They

have shown solidarity, if regs it

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wasn't happening?

No, I don't think,

I don't see what other response that

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could have been. The freight that

France, Germany and the US signed

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this, which is quite strong, it is a

very strong statement, and I imagine

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that a lot of the other countries

would the happy to sign up to it as

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well so I don't know what else we

could expect.

After that it's the

0:10:460:10:49

mango incident, Europe showed

solidarity, but there wasn't much in

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terms of concrete measures. Are we

expecting members of the European

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Union to expel their Russian

diplomats? To put further sanctions

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in place? The sorts of things we

should be expecting from the

0:11:020:11:06

European Union?

I think there could

be somewhat economic sanctions. But

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I think the show of solidarity and

strength is in itself very

0:11:090:11:16

important, and that's that's a

statement that, a multilateral

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approach is important. It does work.

Even as Brexit is going along, we

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are not ever going to be able to

live and operate and spend it in

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isolation. We are always going to

have to rely on allies in Europe, in

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America, and I think that is

incredibly important reminder at

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this very critical moment in the

negotiations to both sides,

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actually.

And this is a big story in

other European countries. It is the

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number one story for the whole week.

I think some people think it is a

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story in a small town in England.

It

is not. Finally, is that right? My

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other guest says it is a big story

in European countries. It is a big

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story in the European Parliament?

It

is a big story, yes, indeed. Why?

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Because it was a very cynical

murder, and all the indications we

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have are pointing at rush hour, so

we should demand of them some very

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honest and some very clear answers,

and if they are not able to deliver

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those answers, then we have to think

about further measures and those

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measures should be European

measures, not just UK measures or

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finished measures of Belgian

measures, they should be European

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measures.

All right. Thank you very

much for joining us. They are

0:12:380:12:41

critically ill, in hospital, not

dead. Now, it has been described as

0:12:410:12:49

a coup, and the European Union

Brodtmann very own House of Cards.

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Russes bureaucrat who used to be the

chief of staff has been promoted to

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be the head of the EU civil

servants. The EU Commission has

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argued his appointment. The

Secretary General was all above

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board. Some are timber is --

furious.

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There is something about Martin, the

man who prefers life behind the

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flags rather than in front of them.

As the chief of staff or four years,

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he has found himself in the front

row of the news before. Either for

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his slightly scary reputation or

accused of leaking details of a

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Brexit dinner in Downing Street.

Now, it is big cause of his

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promotion. -- because. He has been

going up in the world. He applied

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for and got the job of deputy

Secretary General, and then in the

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same meeting, the Secretary General

announced he was retiring and he was

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red -- transferred into his job.

Summoned by MEPs to explain, the

0:13:470:13:52

Commissioner for HR said it was all

above order.

0:13:520:13:57

TRANSLATION:

Martin has all the

necessary qualifications to take on

0:13:570:14:04

the task of Secretary General of the

commission. He has lengthy

0:14:040:14:07

experience in key positions within

the commission. He is an excellent

0:14:070:14:11

legal expert. He is very good

communication and he is certainly

0:14:110:14:15

100% suitable for this position.

0:14:150:14:19

But members from across the

political spectrum lined up to

0:14:200:14:23

criticise the

0:14:230:14:23

political spectrum lined up to

criticise the appointment of.

0:14:230:14:24

political spectrum lined up to

criticise the appointment of.

0:14:250:14:25

political spectrum lined up to

criticise the appointment of.

This

0:14:250:14:25

political spectrum lined up to

criticise the appointment of.

This

0:14:250:14:26

destroys all of the credibility of

the European Union as a champion of

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integrity and transparency and

public commercial edition. At times

0:14:310:14:35

when public trust in the EU is low,

this is devastating and the fact

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that the commission remains deaf

until the day of today to criticism

0:14:390:14:43

shows how disconnected it is from

reality.

You should do your best to

0:14:430:14:48

come out with something which is

trustworthy and you should avoid any

0:14:480:14:53

feeling for any impression that it

was a preprepared, politically

0:14:530:14:58

motivated nomination and

unfortunately, I don't think that in

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this case you did your job

perfectly.

You can see the defeat

0:15:030:15:07

etched in their faces. This is the

morning after and these were the

0:15:070:15:13

European Union's commissioners. To

some it brings back memories of 1999

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when a report accused one of Jack

Santo's accusations of cronyism and

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they all resigned en masse.

I

arrived here just after the fall of

0:15:240:15:29

the commission and I would say this

to you, that UKIP would never have

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won any seats in the European

Parliament had it not been for the

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nepotism of the commission, so I

would be very grateful.

Does this at

0:15:360:15:42

all feel like that period, could

this be the start of that sort of

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thing?

Nearly. What is interesting

is that you have thought the

0:15:470:15:50

appointment of an official to a big

job be a story that would have

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stayed within Brussels and

Strasbourg, actually it is out

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there. It has been talked about in

the French media and training on

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Twitter.

There is a lot going on in

this story, some score settling, and

0:16:020:16:08

the German journalism, some optimism

and genuine concern and now his

0:16:080:16:12

promotional bit subject of a

Parliamentary enquiry with a vote at

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some point in the future. Good luck

in the new job, Martin! Adam Fleming

0:16:150:16:21

there with good wishes. Alex Barker

in Brussels for the Financial Times

0:16:210:16:25

joins us. All this fuss about

Martin, is it overplayed? This is

0:16:250:16:30

politics.

Indeed. What makes it

special is that Martin, who was

0:16:300:16:38

basically a political appointment

and politics is against him and so

0:16:380:16:41

it brought him into the limelight in

a way that he is not comfortable

0:16:410:16:46

with.

Jean-Claude Juncker's man, how

powerful is he in this new role?

I

0:16:460:16:53

don't think his new role makes much

difference to his power. He is

0:16:530:16:58

extraordinarily powerful in terms of

a chief of staff or top aid to a

0:16:580:17:03

European Commission person and --

president. You have to go back to

0:17:030:17:09

the days of Delors and his team to

have anything equivalent to this.

0:17:090:17:12

The micro managers. His cursor is

over at almost every document that

0:17:120:17:18

emerges out of this place. What

really distinguishes him is his

0:17:180:17:24

willingness to take on a public

profile. I asked him once why his

0:17:240:17:28

kind of methods were so tough on

things, he said I cannot run the

0:17:280:17:33

commission K Montessori schools. His

methods, his micromanagement, his

0:17:330:17:39

energy has really made him stand out

in terms of a bureaucrat here.

You

0:17:390:17:43

have met him, what is he like?

He is

good company. He is quite funny. He

0:17:430:17:49

is absolutely determined he can turn

against you quite easily. He runs

0:17:490:17:55

the place like a tight ship. He

surrounds himself by people who are

0:17:550:18:00

loyal to him, his top appointments

in the commission at the people who

0:18:000:18:05

are loyal to him. But I think the

pressure he is facing is partly a

0:18:050:18:12

function of unease about his boss,

really, as well. Jean-Claude Juncker

0:18:120:18:16

has not got the energy that some

MEPs would hope a European

0:18:160:18:22

Commission president would have and

yet it is powerful at the same time.

0:18:220:18:25

Lot of attention is turning to his

aid and he is absorbing some of the

0:18:250:18:31

criticism too.

He is described as

anything from a monster to Rasputin,

0:18:310:18:35

to think are fair descriptions?

I

asked him that as well and he said

0:18:350:18:41

that Jean-Claude Juncker is the good

guy and I am the bad guy. He is an

0:18:410:18:46

enforcer and for some member states,

they are pleased that he is playing

0:18:460:18:49

that role. This is a big unwieldy

place, 30,000 odd bureaucrats here

0:18:490:18:54

and he delivers for them. At times,

when they have a special favour to

0:18:540:19:00

ask Tom in a political problem, but

it also means that he upset a lot of

0:19:000:19:05

people. So, you know, there are

peoples upset that there are too

0:19:050:19:09

many Germans in top positions, the

Germans are upset that Martin is not

0:19:090:19:14

German enough. There are those who

would prefer this to be a civil

0:19:140:19:19

service and not run by effectively a

political appointees. The coalition

0:19:190:19:23

of the upset is growing and he is

under quite a lot of pressure.

You

0:19:230:19:30

can't please all people all of the

time or even any of the time. Alex

0:19:300:19:34

Barker, thank you from much for

joining us. While Russian British

0:19:340:19:37

relations have fallen to their

lowest level in decades, a very new

0:19:370:19:41

type of diplomacy has been playing

out on Twitter. The official account

0:19:410:19:44

of the Russian Embassy in London

have frequently goaded the British

0:19:440:19:48

government so much so that they have

been called professional trolls by

0:19:480:19:51

some. In Theresa May called Russia's

reaction to the poisoning affair one

0:19:510:19:57

of sarcasm, content and defiance,

she could have had their social

0:19:570:20:02

media output in mind. After the

expulsion of 23 of their own

0:20:020:20:06

diplomats this week, they posted the

temperature of Russian British

0:20:060:20:11

relations drops to -23, but we are

not afraid of cold weather. On

0:20:110:20:17

Tuesday, they said any threat to

take punitive measures against

0:20:170:20:20

Russia will meet with a response.

The British side should be aware of

0:20:200:20:24

that. With a handy diagram to

explain their point. This Post asked

0:20:240:20:29

a week after the poisoning toll on

-- poisoning toll and. Last month,

0:20:290:20:39

when the UK was battling the beast

from the east, their poll asked:

0:20:390:20:45

The most popular answer was tricked

more vodka. Joining us now is Molly

0:20:490:20:55

Goodfellow and Russian comedian,

Constantine. Welcome to both of you.

0:20:550:20:58

Constantine, to a British audience

these tweets are pretty bizarre,

0:20:580:21:02

even offensive. Given the current

context. Are we missing digit joke?

0:21:020:21:06

I don't think so, these tweets are

cheesy and slightly unoriginal. But

0:21:060:21:12

I think that is where Russia finds

itself now. It is trying to fight a

0:21:120:21:17

war of words and one of the

interesting things in terms of

0:21:170:21:20

difference, we don't have the

concept of banter in Russia. The

0:21:200:21:23

idea that you it's a horrible things

to your friends as a sign of

0:21:230:21:27

affection. When he sees attempts,

these are an attempt to undermine

0:21:270:21:31

the West's message that Russia is

doing through humour. How effective

0:21:310:21:35

that is I don't think we really know

that is what I think is happening.

0:21:350:21:39

You think it represents a Russian

sense of humour, even if it is not

0:21:390:21:44

good and clumsily done?

These are

the kinds of church you write when

0:21:440:21:48

you haven't in jokes before.

He says

crushingly. Are they funny at all?

I

0:21:480:21:53

think some people are finding humour

in them. If you look at the joke

0:21:530:21:57

tweets they do versus the quite

straight ambassadorial tweets they

0:21:570:22:00

do, the jokes would have a far more

sense of engagement and favourites,

0:22:000:22:06

there are people who are finding it

funny and that disconnect between

0:22:060:22:10

this is a very serious political

unit versus being quite trolled and

0:22:100:22:17

tweeting in the way that tweeters

tweet. Looking at a political

0:22:170:22:24

account, is quite rare.

Using the

medium and the current context is

0:22:240:22:28

serious. But actually when you look

at what has been written, they are

0:22:280:22:31

not bad in an attempt to break the

ice. I am sorry, I know. That cannot

0:22:310:22:41

the top of my head.

I think it is

such a serious situation. You have

0:22:410:22:48

got three people in hospital having

been poisoned with a nerve agent, it

0:22:480:22:52

is not a time for silly jokes on

Twitter. Again, there has also been

0:22:520:22:58

Russian bots interfering in Western

democracy around the world. I think

0:22:580:23:03

it is just not a laughing matter

actually.

Tasteless and

0:23:030:23:07

inappropriate?

No, it is a

deflection tactic. I think they are

0:23:070:23:11

quite funny in some ways but we all

pay attention to them, discussing

0:23:110:23:15

them here now, we would be

discussing the Russian Embassy if

0:23:150:23:18

they haven't done that. It was like

a press office, they did the same,

0:23:180:23:24

the Liberal Democrat press office.

What you think the Russian reaction

0:23:240:23:27

would be to these kind of tweets

from an official British account?

I

0:23:270:23:31

wouldn't know but I think in terms

of the Russian reaction to these

0:23:310:23:35

tweets, most Russian people would be

quite enjoying this trolling, I

0:23:350:23:38

think. In terms of your point about

seriousness, Russian people tend to

0:23:380:23:44

be less squeamish and politically

correct on these issues. When most

0:23:440:23:47

Russian people see these tweets they

will be kind of enjoying it.

You

0:23:470:23:52

should offer them your services!

I

think it works in their favour, I

0:23:520:23:57

should say. It is that dichotomy

between the strict parents telling

0:23:570:24:01

Russia to stop it and the child that

is pointing their tongue out and

0:24:010:24:06

blowing raspberries.

Gavin Williams,

the Defence Secretary.

You do think

0:24:060:24:12

we have British equivalents clearly

on this site. Playing of course, to

0:24:120:24:17

cultural norms in Russia, like the

weather and a vodka. In a way, is

0:24:170:24:21

that not an attempt to reach out

somehow?

Is a staple of my comedy,

0:24:210:24:26

absolutely. I think you do have to

play with this but it is a question

0:24:260:24:31

of what you're trying to achieve and

I think in this case in terms of

0:24:310:24:35

Russian humour, we are not quite as

self-deprecating as British people

0:24:350:24:39

asked when we make fun of someone

else it is to undermine and question

0:24:390:24:43

what they are saying, to make a

point. I think this is a

0:24:430:24:47

continuation of politics.

It is a

case of 1-upmanship than the. A

0:24:470:24:51

dither completely Russian and

English comedy, there is not a

0:24:510:24:54

meeting of the minds?

No, I don't

think there is.

You are a meeting of

0:24:540:25:00

the minds! Isn't this what Twitter

is for? To do this sort of thing?

0:25:000:25:04

Absolutely. I think it is.

Politically the Russian Embassy is

0:25:040:25:09

probably the account that is doing

the best in terms of understanding

0:25:090:25:12

the Twitter trolling- mind.

When the

Minister of defence Twitter account

0:25:120:25:19

start doing this then it becomes a

war of words.

On that, that is it

0:25:190:25:24

now. Thank you for joining us and

thank

0:25:240:25:27