16/12/2016 Politics Europe


16/12/2016

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


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Transcript


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Hello, and welcome to Politics Europe,

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your regular guide to the top stories in Brussels and Strasbourg.

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EU leaders meet in Brussels to discuss Syria,

:00:43.:00:48.

The race to replace this man heats up.

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We have the lowdown on the runners and riders to become

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the new President of the European Parliament.

:00:59.:01:02.

MEPs approve new rules to curb lobbying activities by members

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And we visit the snowy north of Sweden for the latest in our

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

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First, here is our guide to the latest from Europe

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European leaders met for a summit in Brussels this week,

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discussing the migration crisis and the conflict in Syria.

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They also talked Brexit over dinner, but Theresa May was left out -

:01:42.:01:45.

One new face at the talks was Italy's new Prime Minister,

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He took over from Matteo Renzi on Monday, who resigned after losing

:01:50.:01:54.

Greater European defence cooperation moved a step closer

:01:55.:02:04.

after the European Parliament passed a motion calling for a permanent

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The process for deciding who runs the railways is also set to change.

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MEPs approved new rules to make competitive tendering

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compulsory for public service contracts.

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It is set to come into effect in 2023.

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And MEPs will be banned from taking second jobs as lobbyists

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after voting through proposals authored

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And with us for the next 30 minutes, I'm joined

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Let's look at one of these stories in more detail.

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There is a move to ban MEPs from taking paid lobbying jobs.

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A lot of people watching this will say, how was this ever allowed

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It is all completely mysterious, but this is completely irrelevant

:02:57.:03:02.

because MEPs are still allowed to have outside jobs.

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So, for instance, the Brexit Parliament negotiator,

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Guy Verhofstad, has four outside jobs.

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One of them, according to the financial disclosures,

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But the significant thing about the Corbett report is this.

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It actually, there have been a series of procedural devices

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rammed through in order to suppress it

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in Parliament in order to have more of these laws.

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It has been my group's position that the job of an MP

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is your only job, so you can serve your constituents properly.

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But it is absolutely right it is now being made explicitly clear that

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We had to make it explicit they could not anymore,

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and also the former MEPs should not be able to come back

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What about these other outside jobs that William Dartmouth was saying?

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It is our position we wanted to have one job only,

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but because it is consensual, we could not quite get

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Being an MEP for the north-west is my full-time job.

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I'm looking for one because we are all going to be out

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What I find utterly mysterious is that Labour MEP Richard Corbett,

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who will be out in two years, has basically spent two years

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of his mandate pushing through this complicated procedural package,

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which is all about suppressing dissent.

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But I ask the questions and you are meant to answer them.

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I am having trouble with both of them today.

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It is not just Brexit preoccupying Europe at the moment.

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Members of the European Council covered the gamut of big issues

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in their end of year summit, cramming meaty subjects into just

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EU leaders strongly condemned the targeting of civilians

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and hospitals in Aleppo, as you would expect them to,

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criticising Russia and Iran for supporting the Syrian regime.

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The existing economic sanctions on Russia over the Crimean

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invasion were extended for six months, but a push for extra

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sanctions over support for the Syrian regime was rejected.

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Leaders endorsed plans for greater defence cooperation,

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including creating a new mini military HQ,

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battlegrounds of troops from member states and joint procurement

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Council members also discussed extending a deal to pay some

:06:03.:06:05.

countries to limit the number of migrants coming to Europe

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from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt,

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though a decision was put back to a later date.

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Brexit only came up at the informal dinner after Theresa May had left,

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where the remaining 27 states discussed the negotiating position

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Following the summit, Council President Donald Tusk spoke

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about how the EU could not end the Syrian conflict by force.

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It is impossible to stop this conflict by force.

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The EU has no intentions and no capacity to use this kind

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But please stop blaming the EU, because for sure, the EU member

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states, the Europeans, are not the reason we witnessed

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today this tragedy in Aleppo and other parts of Syria.

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So we've got carnage in Syria, terrible things going on in Aleppo.

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We have the US president thinking the Kremlin tried to interfere

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We extended quite rightly the sanctions in terms

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I believe we should have toughened them, however,

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in terms of Syria, we should have imposed sanctions on Russia in terms

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We have seen intolerable suffering, with people being bombed out

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of their homes and their local communities.

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Those sanctions, by the way, it should not be against the Russian

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people, it should be against the oligarchs,

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the oil companies, the people actually taking the decisions

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There are always EU summits happening.

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In Syria, everybody shares the deep concern

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But the point I would like to share with you is that the EU is not

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the right structure to attempt to do anything about it.

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It should be between the United States and...

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How can the United Nations do that when Russia has a veto

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It is a forum in which they can talk.

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It does not invalidate the point that the EU is the wrong structure.

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Donald Tusk was right to say they do not have the capacity.

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He seemed to be putting it out to say don't blame the EU.

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If you are going to have sanctions against Russia,

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But to make sure everybody is in for these, do you need the EU?

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But that is our position at the moment.

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We have been witness to intolerable suffering.

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We have to have sanctions not against the Russian people

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But again the EU has done no more than what it has been doing already.

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By the UK remaining part of the EU, it is more likely that we will be

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taking more people with us to deliver sanctions against Russia.

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We need to be at the table not stuck outside.

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Do you think the summit's decision to look at creating a mini military

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headquarters and co-ordinate troops is going to cause concern

:09:55.:09:57.

I would like to make a related point, or share that

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We were always told we were scaremongering,

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suggesting there were plans for an EU army.

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It makes no sense at all, and would do nothing

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Our commitment should be to Nato and not to this EU fantasy army.

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Should we develop a military capability?

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I think the structures we have at the moment are adequate.

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We need political solutions to work with the people of Syria

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to reconstruct their society, education programmes,

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Let's be honest, that is meaningless.

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What I have been advocating strongly for the past few weeks,

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as have my social democrat colleagues, is having airdrops

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Really, over skies controlled by Russian jets?

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There are ways of doing it with drones.

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The whole of Europe does not have a single drone capable

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There are ways of working with partners where we could have

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We are not getting an answer so I will move on.

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It is exclusive, just for MEPs, like our two guests today.

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They get to decide who will be president of the European Union

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and as well as chairing the sittings and being responsible for the smooth

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running of the chamber, the lucky winner also gets

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to represent the parliament's view to European leaders,

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and acts as its representative to foreign dignitaries.

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We have been to Strasbourg, where in between the usual glasses

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of wine, we have found out that the campaign has made a lot

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The city of Strasbourg, viewed by many as the home

:11:54.:12:01.

But it is also known as the capital of Christmas,

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with its famous market festooned in light.

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A mile up the road, the atmosphere at the European Parliament

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This man, the socialist politician Martin Schultz,

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is stepping down as president in January.

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His decision has triggered a fierce leadership battle over who should

:12:24.:12:27.

of a gentleman's agreement between the two dominant players

:12:28.:12:33.

The Socialists and the centre-right European People's Party

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essentially divide up the five-year presidency post between them

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So by rights, it should be the turn of a candidate from the EPP

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No, says Italy's Gianni Patella, the current leader of the Socialists

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He wants to end the cosy arrangement of taking turns with EPP.

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He is putting himself forward for the presidency.

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You know, politics is politics, and suddenly because Martin Schultz has

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decided to go back to German politics, we would give up the

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fundamental political argument. It does not work.

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This has infuriated the EPP who hasn't assumed their

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candidate, another Italian Antonio Tajani,

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We swore the candidate to be president to be in Parliament

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We respected our commitments to them for 2.5 years and we are of course

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disappointed now that all of a sudden they say

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they want to go in another direction and want to

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present their own candidate and aren't going to support our

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candidate and has agreed on paper and signed by them 2.5 years ago.

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Others are also stepping into the frame.

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Helga Stevens from the European Conservatives and Reformists Group

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which includes British Conservative MEPs, says it's

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So, you are standing, representing the third

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biggest party in the European Parliament for the job

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People have been very happy I have been taken a stand.

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But I've been put forward in this way.

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They are excited to see a different face, a new face,

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somebody who can bring some fresh air to this building.

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A sentiment echoed by the smaller euroskeptic parties who want to end

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what they see as an establishment stitch up.

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People want something else, something different.

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We can see the numbers of those are growing.

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We see more and more referendums to come.

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People want to change the politics and the great

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coalition of the Social Democrats and the christians don't

:14:41.:14:43.

They want to stick to the idea they have.

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As MEPs leave for the Christmas break, there isn't so much

:14:51.:14:53.

of a whiff of compromise in the air but deals

:14:54.:14:55.

will have to be done as none of the parties in the Parliament has

:14:56.:14:59.

The winning candidate will need to get more than half of the votes

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to be elected as president on January 17.

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We are joined now by the Green MEP Jean Lambert.

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She is the European Greens candidate.

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What do you hope to achieve by running?

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What we hope to achieve by running as the Greens

:15:25.:15:27.

You heard there about the deals that always gets done.

:15:28.:15:32.

We think it should be possible that you look at people

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that you think are actually going to bring something

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to the presidency, that can maybe change the view of the public

:15:38.:15:41.

towards the European Parliament and have a greater

:15:42.:15:43.

In terms of the process, do each of the political groupings,

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They can put up a candidate, you don't have too.

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We were considering up until very early this week in not running

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a candidate at all but then we saw what was coming from the big groups

:16:00.:16:03.

Isn't it rather for your candidacies, rather a disadvantage

:16:04.:16:10.

My group actually see this as, you know, it's

:16:11.:16:22.

Theresa May keeps saying we are there and fully engaged

:16:23.:16:26.

Sorry, are you worried you might split what I

:16:27.:16:32.

might call the staunchly pro-EU vote and make way for a more Eurosceptic

:16:33.:16:36.

A think if you look at all the candidates that are there,

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even the ones, unless you are really talking about the representative

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of the from the Front National who hopefully will be out,

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That particular group, the NF, are running a candidate, yes.

:16:56.:17:02.

There is a reason I'm supporting him.

:17:03.:17:19.

It is because, as we said, we need a fresh approach.

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We need to communicate with citizens right across the EU

:17:23.:17:25.

is standing on a pro- jobs, pro- growth, anti-

:17:26.:17:27.

austerity and gender so it's the end of any coalition,

:17:28.:17:30.

it's about actually coming in with what we need for local

:17:31.:17:33.

communities right across the UK which is jobs

:17:34.:17:35.

Hasn't European candidate, not just for the Parliament

:17:36.:17:38.

but various others, been standing on that kind of platform

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And growth has been hard to see and the use of the EU

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or the eurozone are enjoying mass unemployment.

:17:49.:17:50.

Which is a fundamental problem and as you know,

:17:51.:17:53.

we have supported the youth jobs guarantee

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I gather that your party voted against it.

:17:55.:18:01.

Well you actually voted for that, which

:18:02.:18:03.

Who do you want to be your candidate?

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I will know when the candidates are presented.

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What about Jean Lambert? A bit of Europe UK solar -- UK solidarity

:18:39.:18:56.

here. What's happened is the Socialist

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group have doublecrossed We are watching it with

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great, great interest. I don't know what that means,

:19:07.:19:09.

can you explain it? I want to make a point

:19:10.:19:11.

about of the EPP candidate... Is that the mainstream conservative

:19:12.:19:18.

group or the nonmainstream? All of our group voted for Gianni

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Pittella. We cannot have an establishment

:19:22.:19:33.

figure who is close to bill us scone it being close to the

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European candidate, can Whoever wins will have a role

:19:37.:19:39.

to play in Brexit. Part of their job is making sure

:19:40.:19:52.

Parliament is fully represented, involved in the discussions and we

:19:53.:19:56.

have a vote at the end of the process.

:19:57.:20:02.

Will the Green group vote for you en masse,

:20:03.:20:06.

The Green group will certainly support the en masse.

:20:07.:20:14.

I think this is important to actually find a party

:20:15.:20:19.

that works for the parliament which isn't just marooned

:20:20.:20:21.

If you were to win, would you try to stop Brexit

:20:22.:20:25.

It's not our role to stop Brexit as the European Parliament.

:20:26.:20:29.

That's the decision of the British people.

:20:30.:20:31.

Our role, particularly as president of

:20:32.:20:33.

the Parliament, is to make sure the European Parliament is engaged

:20:34.:20:36.

in this, that our views, our knowledge,

:20:37.:20:38.

Now, with a Christmas addition of our meet the neighbour series, Adam

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Fleming reports from the smelly north of Sweden. -- snowy.

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I am in Lapland. They are enjoying a few hours of light before the sun

:21:08.:21:18.

goes down and doesn't come up again until next year. Of course, all a

:21:19.:21:21.

way out here, you meet an Italian. You either like it or you hate it.

:21:22.:21:26.

If you like it, is paradise. If you don't like it, you go crazy. Two

:21:27.:21:30.

weeks. If you love it and get used to it, it's hard to go back to any

:21:31.:21:39.

other lifestyle. It's not all dogsledding and Northern lights. It

:21:40.:21:45.

is the largest iron ore mine. It brings jobs and one big problem. As

:21:46.:21:50.

it expands, the town is sinking. The entire city centre is going to be

:21:51.:21:55.

torn down and moved two miles. 3000 flats will be demolished along with

:21:56.:22:02.

300,000 square metres of public property. Including the wooden

:22:03.:22:06.

church, once voted the country but like most historic building. They

:22:07.:22:12.

are going to need a bigger map. This will be the big city centre. If you

:22:13.:22:22.

imagine going out like this. As a politician, is this a blessing or a

:22:23.:22:27.

curse for your town? It is both. We are getting paid to do something new

:22:28.:22:31.

so we can focus on all the new technology that we have around in

:22:32.:22:37.

the world today and doing their proper environment thing to do when

:22:38.:22:42.

you are creating a city centre but the curse is that of course, other

:22:43.:22:49.

30% of the city's inhabitants are worried. The new City Hall is taking

:22:50.:22:58.

shape. The buildings have stopped when the temperatures Obst -38

:22:59.:23:01.

degrees. Infrastructure like roads and water will come next. In 20 13,

:23:02.:23:07.

residents will decide whether they want to move here or take the money

:23:08.:23:11.

in their old home. It is an undisclosed sum, mostly paid for by

:23:12.:23:15.

the mining company. But it comes to other things happening here,

:23:16.:23:17.

immigration is a big topic. Sweden was one of the top three destination

:23:18.:23:22.

countries or asylum seekers during the migrant crisis. When it comes to

:23:23.:23:27.

the economy, Sweden is one of the few countries in the world

:23:28.:23:32.

experimenting with negative interest rates. And what about all the

:23:33.:23:37.

Swedish cliches? Hi taxes, loads of welfare, lots of leave for when you

:23:38.:23:41.

have children and being flat that. Is Sweden really like that? Yes,

:23:42.:23:47.

it's true. And others that stuff, here are some more pictures of cute

:23:48.:23:50.

puppies. A Christmas gift from politics Europe. The gift is

:23:51.:24:01.

appreciated, Adam. When you look at the mood music coming out of stock

:24:02.:24:07.

home both by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary -- Stockholm.

:24:08.:24:14.

They could be, if we have any allies, it will be the Swedes in

:24:15.:24:18.

these Brexit negotiations. And there is a big slice of public opinion

:24:19.:24:23.

which is in favour of leaving. We could be looking at Swexit. It's

:24:24.:24:36.

news to me. Is news to me too and I am married to a suite. They are big

:24:37.:24:42.

supporters of Britain. They are not in the eurozone. I was speaking a

:24:43.:24:45.

Swedish colleague yesterday and they were saying it's a shame because a

:24:46.:24:49.

lot of mutual support came from the UK and Sweden especially when it

:24:50.:24:53.

came to improving environmental standards. Trade. The emissions of

:24:54.:24:59.

scandal et cetera. We are working closely with our Swedish colleagues

:25:00.:25:03.

who definitely want to remain. We will keep an eye out. We will keep

:25:04.:25:10.

an eye out. But is it for now. Thanks for joining us.

:25:11.:25:11.

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