EU industrial policy for silicon chips to space technologies to electric vehicles too often seems to rely on Europeans prevailing in a global race to mine. The phrase "drill, baby, drill" applies as much to metals and minerals as oil and gas these days. But the EU's industry hawks are in denial. This is a race Europe can't ever win. The EU has relatively few metals and minerals of its own and little capacity to process the vast quantities it will require. To make matters worse, the short-term approach risks alienating the partners Europe says it needs for a sustainable energy transition. But the voices questioning the coherence and viability of the EU strategy are easily drowned out — and so that's why we tracked them down for this episode on rethinking the race to mine. MEP Mohammed Chahim says the EU's forthcoming Critical Raw Materials Act should do more to allow supplier countries and regions to get enough value from their resources to industrialise and give people better lives. Diego Marin of the European Environmental Bureau explains why reuse is one of the most important strategies for mitigating demand and reducing the negative social and environmental impacts of mining. Elle Merete Omma of the Saami Council says mining should only be permissible within environmental limits — and only with the full consent of indigenous people like the Sámi. Together they show how misaligned Europe is becoming with parts of the world like Africa, the High North and South America on which it will be relying for supplies in future — and how a more cooperative and mutually beneficial approach is needed with the Global South if Europe wants reliable access to the building blocks of its industrial future. This episode was made in partnership with the Open Society Foundations.Support the show
The problem of X as a source of hate and a threat to democracy is back at the top of the policy agenda. Elon Musk's social media platform circulated a large amount of false information as well as images of extreme violence during the recent terror attack in Israel. A European Commissioner, Thierry Breton, said that content probably was illegal in Europe and threatened X with fines. That standoff is likely to drag on for a while. But there's another European on Musk's case. His name is Imran Ahmed and he's already done much to hold X, and Musk, to account. Imran, who's British, runs a research and advocacy non-profit: The Center for Countering Digital Hate. The Center campaigns to get social media platforms to suspend or remove harmful accounts and stop advertisers spending money at sites spreading harmful content. And whereas Musk has kept his exchanges with Breton cordial, Musk has treated Imran like, well, vermin. The tension between Musk and Imran began after the Centre published its Toxic Twitter report in February. That report said that Musk had allowed large numbers of bad actors — Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, misogynists and conspiracists — back onto the platform with the goal of getting more eyeballs and advertising dollars. Now X is suing Imran's Center for losses amounting to tens of millions of dollars in advertising and other costs. How X's lawsuit in a California court pans out remains to be seen. But the discomfort Imran has already inflicted on Musk shows that David still can take on Goliath. And Imran's approach also holds lessons for regulators, like Mr. Breton, for the battles ahead. By way of disclosure: a board member at EU Scream also serves as a member of the board of the Center for Countering Digital Hate.Support the show
We need to talk about a Far Right EU. Nativists and ultraconservatives are being actively courted by the European mainstream including at the level of the EU. There's the advent of prime minister Giorgia Meloni, with her party's roots in Italian fascism, and then there's the popularity in France of Marine Le Pen, previously seen as too extreme. But would a Le Pen presidency really mark a fundamental change for the EU? Or even an existential threat, as commentators have long warned? The disarming answer from the author and think tanker Hans Kundnani is, probably not. The EU has already veered onto a course that's compatible with the likes of Le Pen and Meloni — away from social welfare as a defining feature and more toward an agenda that draws on ethnic and cultural identity. It's one of the ideas that Hans unpacks in his new book, Eurowhiteness. In this second of two episodes that take their cue from that book, Hans is in conversation with Mehreen Khan. Mehreen was an EU correspondent for the Financial Times in Brussels, before joining The Times of London as economics editor. She observes how pro-Europeans can also make pretty good nativists — and how many are prepared to tolerate the far right, just as long as they don't challenge European monetary union or foreign policy. So with far-right ideas in the ascendant, is there scope for optimism? Europe's second largest political group, the Socialists & Democrats, could consider a spell in opposition. That would avoid a grand coalition with the group that's currently the largest, the centre right, together with the far right. But that may be wishful thinking. And as for the Greens, their agenda may make it hard to rely on them to take a stand. Hans and Mehreen are joined by Helena Malikova, who moderates this episode, which is part of our Brussels So White series about race and the EU. Helena Malikova is talking in a personal capacity and the views expressed are not attributable to her employer, the European Commission. If you enjoy this episode, be sure to listen to Part 1, How Eurowhiteness Shapes the EU.Support the show
Europeans are comfortable talking about whiteness in the American context. But when it comes to their own continent, not so much. That serves to shut down an important conversation about police brutality, decolonisation and migration. The resistance to discussing whiteness is starkly apparent at the level of the EU and it's another sign the European project is heading in a troubling direction. That's the assessment of Hans Kundnani, the author of a ground-breaking new book titled Eurowhiteness. Hans is an associate fellow at the think tank Chatham House in London, and he was previously with the German Marshall Fund and the European Centre for Foreign Relations. In his book, Hans describes an EU that still presents itself as congenial and cosmopolitan. In reality, he says, the EU has become much harder edged — and much more about protecting cultural and ethnic identity. Marking her return to EU Scream is Mehreen Khan, a former EU correspondent for the Financial Times in Brussels and now economics editor at The Times of London. Mehreen says Eurowhiteness is a rich concept — one that helps shed light on the Balkan wars, the colonial reflexes of senior EU figures as well as the quasi religious aspect of some pro-Europeanism. Hans and Mehreen are joined by Helena Malikova, who moderates the first of two episodes that are part of our BrusselsSoWhite series about race in the EU. Helena is talking in a personal capacity and the views expressed are not attributable to her employer, the European Commission. If you enjoy this episode, look out for Part 2 on Eurowhiteness and a far right EU.Support the show
News from Spain where a far-right political party called Vox lost seats in the recent general election. Vox are culture warriors in the mould of the US MAGA movement: anti-migrant, anti-LGBT+, anti-Islam, anti-feminist and with a predilection for blocking action on EU climate goals. The response in Brussels to Vox's poor showing was triumphalism. But the uncomfortable truth is that Vox could well have been headed into power as the preferred coalition partner for Alberto Feijóo, the leader of the Spanish conservatives. As it turned out, the July 23 election was a stalemate. A coalition with Vox looks less likely, for now. But Vox could yet form part of a conservative-led government in future. And the prospect of conservatives relying on the far-right mirrors a similar dynamic across Europe. Conservatives already partner with the far-right in Italy, Sweden and Finland and at the regional level in Spain and Austria. Even the leader of Germany's conservative CDU has been eyeing such an arrangement. So how to make sense of this courtship of far-right parties? Can conservatives defang those to their right by co-opting them? Or does co-option merely give bigotry a bigger platform and move politics in a more radical direction? Whatever the case, conservatives bear a special responsibility when making alliances to their right. That special responsibility was the topic of our episode with Harvard professor Daniel Ziblatt a couple of years ago. We're re-running an abridged version of that conversation in response to what's happening in Spain — and because we're in the run up to EU election season. The European People’s Party, which groups together centre-right national parties, is flirting more openly than ever with potential allies who represent a new era of blood and soil politics, and who balk at modern progressive democracy — including the need to address climate change. Conservative parties "have to deal with and think about and worry about what happens on their right edges," says Dan. They must "figure out a strategy to distance themselves from these groups, but at the same time not allow these groups to get out of control, and shape politics."Support the show
Polish state media still is treated as a legitimate public service by European authorities. Yet many Poles refer to it as a factory of hate. They say Polish state TV and radio first and foremost serve to advance the agenda of the ruling Law and Justice party in Warsaw. And while Silvio Berlusconi of Italy was a pioneer in bullying media, and Viktor Orbán of Hungary took state control to new extremes, the Polish hard right has been quick to catch up. Since Law and Justice came to power eight years ago, Polish state media has become an outlet for demonising judges, LGBT people, and opposition politicians — and the deleterious effects are even felt beyond Poland. In the case of Dorota Bawołek, a respected Polish TV correspondent in Brussels, the abuse appears to follow a pattern. First her words and actions are misrepresented; next those misrepresentations are turned into lurid stories broadcast by Polish state media; and finally Dorota is confronted by an avalanche of online trolling. The attacks on Dorota are part of wider concerns about press freedom that have prompted EU plans for a Media Freedom Act. Among the Act's priorities is stopping governments turning public service media into their mouthpieces — although few observers expect any immediate impact. For its part, the European Broadcasting Union has warned about the undue influence of "political masters" and it says it wants independent oversight of public media. Yet Polish state radio and television remain full EBU members. The latest attack on Dorota came in October after she interviewed Polish politician and former president of the European Council Donald Tusk. Tusk's centre-right Civic Platform is the only real viable challenger to Law and Justice in Poland's upcoming elections. But there are worries the elections will prove neither free nor fair, especially in a media environment largely controlled by Law and Justice. "The game is not fair, for sure," says Dorota. The "media are the fourth power" but "we are being killed and the EU is watching." Listen (in Polish) to Dorota's podcast Stacja Bruksela.Support the show
Philippe Lamberts is advancing one of the most progressive agendas ever to reach the upper echelons of the EU power structure. This month the co-head of the Greens at the European Parliament will convene a conference that seeks to change, well, just about everything. The conference is called Beyond Growth — an umbrella term for thinking about how growth in a materially finite world is reaching its limits. All 1,500 seats have been snapped up and thousands of people are expected to watch via the Internet. But what's more remarkable is how Philippe got some of the EU's heaviest hitters to come along too. Among those expected to address the conference: Ursula von der Leyen, the conservative president of the European Commission. Her presence shows the growth debate is no longer "for loonies," says Philippe. But Philippe may also be cover for von der Leyen: she may want to be remembered as someone who at least tried to seek alternatives to growth models and metrics like GDP before the climate crisis worsens. For now, most policymakers are stuck on the idea that we'll be able to find a source of nearly unlimited high efficiency low carbon energy, and that we'll do so in time to avoid sharp declines in standards of living. The resulting inertia infuriates activists like those who disrupted the Brussels Economic Forum this month. They are demanding that the EU jettison an "ideology of infinite economic growth" without delay. But such demands sit awkwardly with winning steady and sustained buy-in from lobbies and voters. So how to face the future with the odds stacked so heavily against a satisfactory outcome? Philippe starts this episode with thoughts on how his Christianity informs his thinking on Beyond Growth — and on how his faith helps him deal with the existential questions we all must now live with.Support the show
Conveniently at the heart of the EU Qatargate corruption scandal is a rogue NGO. Conveniently, that is, for EU officials and lawmakers who dislike non-governmental organisations. NGOs frequently end up in an awkward relationship with states and international organisations, says Thomas Davies at City University, and that awkwardness increasingly seems to include the EU too. The trigger for the current tensions is an NGO ("Fight Impunity") that allegedly worked with Morocco and Qatar to channel cash to socialist members of the European Parliament. Conservatives, ultraliberals and the far right now are calling for NGOs to pass a kind of EU loyalty test and to classify some NGOs as foreign agents. Carlotta Besozzi, the head of Civil Society Europe, is among those who detect an increasingly hostile environment for NGOs. Among organisations under assault is Femyso, the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations. EU support for Femyso irks MEPs who dislike its fight against Islamophobia and who suggest it has links to the Muslim Brotherhood. Femyso says such allegations are false and malicious and designed to undermine an organisation with no ties to political parties or political movements. Femyso's former president Youssef Himmat was smeared in similar ways by the United Arab Emirates — and his story now forms part of a must-read article in a recent edition of The New Yorker. With thanks to the Open Society Foundations for partnering with EU Scream on this episode.Support the show
Families can go wrong. And unless you've been under a rock these last weeks, you'll know that a number of members of the Socialist family at the European Parliament went very wrong. They allegedly took sack loads of Qatari cash on top of their already generous salaries and benefits in return, it seems, for trying to block their own Socialist colleagues from criticising Qatar's record on human rights. In this episode, Lara Wolters, a Socialist member, gives a first-hand account of being obstructed and misled by two of the prime suspects in the scandal. She also shares her feelings of vindication now that the truth is coming out. Yet Lara shows compassion for Eva Kaili, a young mother like herself, who has been implicated in the so-called Qatargate scandal and separated from her daughter. Also in this episode, a lawmaker from outside the Socialist family: co-president of the Left group Manon Aubry. Manon was convinced she saw the heavy hand of Qatar on lawmakers weeks before news about the scandal broke. So she blew the whistle on social media, where her video on the topic has racked up nearly 70,000 views. Manon, who has emerged as one of the firmest advocates for an EU ethics overhaul, reserves some of her most acid criticism for the conservative EPP group, which she says perpetuated a culture of opacity that has helped breed corruption.Support the show
Putin's barbarism is somehow felt by us all even though it can be hard to get to grips with the magnitude of what's at stake. One reason may be what writer and academic Tom Nichols calls normalcy bias, an inherent resistance to accepting that large changes can upend our lives. Another may be what Lithuanian arts curator Raimundas Malasauskas calls unlearned lessons from history about Russia's imperialist and colonialist drives. Political scientist David Rowe is a Fulbright NATO Security Studies scholar and a visiting fellow at the German Marshall Fund, and he has been looking into why so much of Europe wasn't ready for Putin. David, who's on sabbatical from Kenyon College in the US, gives his personal views about how the EU needs to rethink the role of war and peace in building and maintaining liberal democracy. Among points he addresses in this podcast are the consequences for the Western allies of not spilling their own blood in Ukraine, and the resentment Ukrainians will surely feel if the door to the EU club isn't really open after all. David starts with a description of the philosophical roots — laid some two centuries ago — of the EU's approach to international politics. It's an approach that's helped much of Europe keep the peace over recent decades. But it may also have left Europe flat-footed in the face of abhorrent aggression. "The problem," says David, "is that peace seems so evidently good, that it is very easy to overlook the deep structures that give rise to it."
Poem 11/22 by Ariana Reines.
Video from Mars Returns in Kaunas.
The European Parliament is reeling from corruption allegations involving the Gulf state of Qatar. Members' offices have been sealed. Raids have been carried out by Italian and Belgian authorities. And large sums of cash seized including sacks of banknotes from the father of one of the lawmakers at the centre of the scandal. That lawmaker, Eva Kaili, was with the Greek socialist Pasok party. She was a vice president of the European Parliament — and she'd been strongly promoting Qatar. Kaili has now been stripped of her title and is in custody. Of course it's far from the first corruption scandal in the EU. But in this case there's the promise of further lurid revelations of cash-fuelled influence peddling on a much bigger scale than previously thought. And now the race is on to apportion blame. Some lawmakers suggest malign foreign interference is mainly responsible. Others say non-governmental organisations and campaign groups should be in the crosshairs. Still others stress that there will always be bad apples and so there should be no need for collective guilt in a Parliament with 705 members. But such finger-pointing mostly amounts to denial and deflection. That's because the dumpster fire at the European Parliament may be largely of the EU's own making. Foreign governments still can meet lawmakers largely undetected, and there's still no central independent investigator and no system for anonymous whistle-blowers. It's what Transparency International calls a complete lack of independent ethics oversight. And while the EU has many gifted politicians and policymakers who are above reproach — still too many are low grade national party hacks and worse. One of the leading voices on making the E.U. more accountable and transparent is Alberto Alemanno. Alberto is Jean Monnet Professor in European Union Law at HEC Paris, and he sits on the board of several civil society organisations. He's also a good sport for taking a scooter through downtown Brussels, in the dark, on an icy evening, to come talk about, yes, "Qatargate".Support the show
The European Union wants India as a strategic ally. And India loves the positive attention it's getting from Europe. Both sides are trying to speed up a long stalled-trade agreement amid steadily tightening relations. But that only serves to magnify a glaring double standard in EU foreign policy. While the EU openly criticises China for abusing its the mostly Muslim Uyghur population, the EU turns a blind eye to the way India treats its own Muslim minority. The problems run deeper still. India's prime minister Narendra Modi has his roots in a fascist Hindu movement. And like Viktor Orbán of Hungary, Modi is associated with a rise in the kind of right-wing national populism that the EU supposedly deplores. So while the EU still describes India as the world's largest democracy, a looming question is how much longer that will continue to be the case. Journalist Rana Ayyub has emerged as one of the most prominent critics of Modi. She went undercover to investigate the extent of official complicity in mass killings of Muslims in Gujarat when Modi was the state's chief minister. Rana has been profiled in Time magazine and the New Yorker, and she's now a columnist for The Washington Post. She says any rapprochement with India mustn't come at the expense of the truth about Modi's authoritarian instincts and links to brutality against minorities. Also in this episode: Dutch member of the European Parliament Agnes Jongerius on her priorities for trade talks with India. Agnes represents the Socialists & Democrats group within the influential trade committee.Support the show
Decolonisation is a new way of confronting racism. It means rooting out colonial-era attitudes of white superiority that linger in our societies and institutions. The push for decolonisation in the US and parts of Europe took wings with the Black Lives Matter movement. But the EU still is nowhere near starting the process of decolonisation. Its reticence was underlined this month when top EU diplomat Josep Borrell branded most of the world a jungle and then got away with making only a grudging apology. In this episode: a look back at Borrell's offensive comments at the College of Europe; and a look ahead at how to decolonise EU foreign aid, with Shada Islam and Dylan Mathews of Peace Direct.Support the show
Georgia Meloni was 19 and speaking to French TV when she praised Italian dictator and Hitler ally Mussolini. Back then the likely next prime minister of Italy was dressed all in black and flanked by burly men. Twenty-six years later things look very different. Meloni favours bright white pant suits and presses the flesh with European dignitaries. The normalisation of the neofascist far right in Italy seems complete. Part of the answer as to how this happened lies with an international political party, the European Conservatives and Reformists or ECR. Meloni is the president of the ECR party which has significant representation in the European Parliament — and branding that's disarmingly centrist. In fact the ECR is led by representatives of ultraconservative and radical right parties from Poland and Spain and by Meloni's own party: the Fratelli d'Italia or Brothers of Italy. Other key allies include Trumpist US Republicans. So should Meloni still be considered neofascist? She insists she's a patriotic conservative. And indeed, if she's prime minister, she's expected to respect Italy's democracy — if only to keep money flowing from the EU. She's also vowed to keep up support for Ukraine and NATO. Yet Meloni has shown scant if any remorse for her past. She congratulated Vladimir Putin for an "unequivocal" election victory in 2018. And only last year she was lauding Russia's defence of European values. And so, questions remain about how much Meloni has really moderated. Valerio Alfonso Bruno is a senior fellow at the UK-based Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right who is writing a book on the Brothers of Italy. Valerio says there could be troubling times ahead — and not just for Italy. Meloni and her international allies still want a Europe that deprives LGBT+ people of civil rights; that tells women what they can and can't do with their bodies; and that falls into line with racist conspiracy theories like the Great Replacement. With Meloni, it's not like we haven't been warned.Support the show
There are many things to love about France. But a stated policy of colour blindness is not one of them. Among those leading the charge against a French conception of universalism that makes discussing race so awkward is Grace Ly. Her Chinese Cambodian parents fled the Khmer Rouge during the late 1970s for France, where she has found success and celebrity with books like Jeune fille modèle and the podcast Kiffe Ta Race that she co-hosts with Rokhaya Diallo. The French still preach that everyone is equal in the eyes of the Republic, but Grace says the reality is very different. She cites a notorious incident where a former French interior minister, Brice Hortefeux, was caught saying in reference to immigrants of North African descent that, "when there is one it's OK,” but that, "when there are lots of them that there are problems." Grace is from an Asian European community that's often portrayed as a model minority. But she says that's a corrosive stereotype, and she too has to navigate double standards. "When I walk out in the streets, people see me, they actually see me very well because they still say ni hao to me, so they do see me. But it's what they want me to be. They want me to be invisible." Grace is in conversation with journalist and think tanker Shada Islam and commentator Helena Malikova.Support the show
Europeans howl about U.S. backsliding on abortion rights but they don't exactly have their own house in order. Take the case of Bianca. She's a Romanian. She was studying medicine in Germany. And she discovered she was pregnant in Korea. Bianca eventually made her way home to Romania to terminate the pregnancy. But the doctor at her regional hospital was obstructive and barely paid attention to the medical code. Bianca was, to all intents and purposes, left to fend for herself.Support the show
Legal scholar Sahar Aziz says people who identify as Muslim are often perceived in racial terms, like black and brown people, in white-dominated societies. That makes Muslims on both sides of the Atlantic the subject of similar forms of racism. She also says protecting observant Muslims in Europe may be more difficult than in the United States, where religious observance is more commonplace. In this episode: Sahar Aziz in conversation with the journalist and think tanker Shada Islam.
Was Emmanuel Macron right to talk so much with Vladimir Putin before and after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine? And did Macron cross a line from well-intentioned engagement into something like naive appeasement? French journalist Guy Lagache spent the first six months of this year in close proximity to Macron, making a film that ended up focusing on the French president's Putin strategy.Support the show
Author Rafia Zakaria turned the feminist world upside down with her bestselling book Against White Feminism. White feminists, she writes, fail "to cede space to the feminists of colour who have been ignored erased or excluded from the feminist movement." In this episode Rafia talks with the Brussels-based journalist and think-tanker Shada Islam about the prevalence of white feminist thinking in Europe — and in France in particular.Support the show
Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine has threatened to be a public relations disaster for hard-right gatherings like CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference. Previous editions featured Putin supporters — and a CPAC meeting getting underway in Budapest will feature Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who remains on highly cordial terms with the Kremlin. So what playbook can participants at CPAC — which is being held for the first time in Europe — use to put a cordon sanitaire between them and Putin? A similar conference of National Conservatives, who met in Brussels in March, offers clues.Support the show
Would you pick up a gun and fight for Ukraine? The injustice of the Russian invasion has led white-collar professionals like Florent and Tomas to trade suits and ties for camouflage and Kalashnikovs. Florent, who is French, and Tomas, a Lithuanian, met for the first time in February at the Ukrainian embassy in Belgium. They teamed up for the trip to Ukraine and they're now back in Brussels to tell their story.Support the show
When Thomas left Brussels for Ukraine to train as a foreign fighter, he joined up with the Georgian Legion, a paramilitary group that's fought for years to stop Russian aggression. In this episode Thomas and his unit arrive in Kyiv, as part of efforts to try to stop Putin's army from taking the capital. Please note: this is a reedited version of the episode Foreign Fighter Diaries — Part 2.
Listen to Part 1.
Thomas lives in Brussels. But last week, seemingly out of the blue, he upped sticks and left. He was already heading into Ukraine when he began sending his first dispatches — simple but captivating voicemails. Thomas is now in the international brigades, which are comprised of foreign fighters from all over the world. Like Thomas, many of the fighters were responding to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky's call to help his country in its hour of need. And, like Thomas, they now are patrolling Ukrainian streets against Russian incursions, on Europe's new frontline.Support the show
Policy differences between Europe and Africa have been widening, and while there may be warm words about a new partnership when the leaders of the EU and African Union meet in Brussels, there are unlikely to be breakthroughs on key African demands. One area where Europeans and Africans have long seen eye-to-eye is fighting jihadists, and Europe has not hesitated to ally with African autocrats who promise a measure of stability. Could Françafrique — the French sphere of influence that outlived the end of French colonialism — still be revived on a European scale, as Eurafrique?
Nick Westcott is the director of the Royal African Society in London and he was the first managing director for Africa at the EU's European External Action Service. Faten Aggad is a senior advisor at the African Climate Foundation and she was formerly a senior advisor for negotiations with the EU with the African Union High Representative in Addis Ababa. Elissa Jobson is director for global advocacy at the International Crisis Group and she was previously the group’s main liaison with the African Union. The Open Society European Policy Institute partnered with EU Scream in making this episode.Support the show
Europe is green. Europe is humane. Europe has defeated populism. These views are common among the EU chattering classes. But they often seem more reflexive than reflective, and some of them amount to shibboleths — beliefs that are outmoded or no longer as useful as they once may have been. In this episode Mehreen Khan of the Financial Times unpacks the European shibboleths that rank among her favourites. Past episodes with Mehreen feature her commentary on race and strategic autonomy; her clairvoyant take on French President Emmanuel Macron's ugly side; and her own brush with his policies on Islam.