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POLITICO's EU Confidential

262 EpisodesProduced by POLITICO EuropeWebsite

From Brussels and around the Continent — the top European politics podcast.


Episode 33: Nick Clegg — Western Balkans tough love — Lambert van Nistelrooij

EU politics this week was all about shrinkage and enlargement.

The shrinkage of course is Brexit, with the U.K. government again failing to set out its negotiating position and Michel Barnier sweeping through London to explain the EU's red lines. EU Confidential's featured guest this week is former U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

The enlargement — or potential enlargement — comes from the Western Balkans. The European Commission Tuesday issued a strategy that opens the way for top-performing countries in the region to join the EU in 2025. There's a catch: the Commission all but said none of the Western Balkans countries will be ready by then, because of endemic corruption, organized crime and fragile democratic institutions.

Highlights from the show:

Nick Clegg says U.K. government is "a bunch of muppets": "I think it is impossible to exaggerate the level of a cluelessness and incompetence now at the heart of British government." He said the current government has torn up the U.K.'s reputation for competence and "to all extents and purposes the British government now looks like a bunch of muppets."

Looming constitutional crisis: Clegg warned of — and encouraged — a constitutional crisis later in 2018, caused by a standoff between the U.K. parliament and Theresa May's government as MPs warm to the idea of rejecting whatever Brexit deal emerges. "I don't think MPs should feel remotely duty bound to vote for this (Brexit deal),” he said.

Jacob Rees-Mogg = Don Quixote in pinstripes: Clegg said the leading Brexiteers are "like Maoist revolutionaries. They don't care how many bodies they sacrifice along the way" to their "promised land."

MEP of the Week — Lambert van Nistelrooij (Netherlands): Lambert, a Christian Democrat with a passion for connecting generations and communities to the digital revolution, talks about his latest efforts to make online shopping easier outside your home country.

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