Saturday

3rd Dec 2022

Be soft on Juncker, YouTube told interviewer

  • Laetitia Birbes (r) during her YouTube interview with Juncker (Photo: European Commission)

A French YouTuber has claimed she was told by YouTube not to ask difficult questions to European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker in a broadcast event last week.

Laetitia Birbes said she was threatened that her YouTube career would be over if she did not steer clear of issues like lobbying and tax avoidance.
 


Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Laetitia - her blogger name - was chosen by YouTube as one of three "YouTube stars" to interview Juncker, along with Poland's Lukasz Jakobiak and Germany's Jonas Ems.

The 32-year old participated last Thursday (15 September) in a programme called Ask Juncker organised by YouTube, a US video-sharing website, Euronews TV channel and the commission itself, which was broadcast live on internet and TV.


In her 15-minute talk with Juncker, in a kitchen setting, she asked the commission president questions about glyphosate chemical products, about his predecessor Jose Manuel Barroso's decision to join Goldman Sachs, and about his will to fight tax evasion in Europe.

"Entrust someone who was finance minister for 18 years in Europe's biggest tax haven with the mission to fight tax evasion, isn't it like naming a bank robber as police chief?" she asked Juncker, referring to his past job in Luxembourg.

"It's often said that robbers and poachers are the best members of police services," Juncker quipped in reply, before adding that the question was "superficial" and showed "French condescension" towards his country.

In a video posted on Sunday, Laetitia said she was pressured by YouTube not to ask the questions.

She included a footage of her with a YouTube representative in which she seems to be threatened not to do so.

"That's already a hyper difficult question for Mr Juncker to answer, you talk about company lobbying. At one time, you are not going to antagonise the European Commission and YouTube, and all the people who believe in you," the YouTube representative told her.

Then he added: "Well, unless you don't intend to last long on YouTube."

Birbes says in her video: "YouTube had promised I could ask all the questions I wanted. But then, as we went along, I realised there were important questions that didn't go well.

"At first I realised that YouTube was trying to gently influence me. Then it went further and I felt threatened."

In the footage, the YouTube employee can be heard saying they would have to refer to "Natasha", possibly referring to a Juncker aide called Natasha Bertaud, and that "there is a risk of red flag" to the questions.

"I realised they expected me to ask super smooth questions and that the goal of all that what to make a super big advertisement for Juncker," Beribes says.

"They suggested me to ask Juncker 'What is happiness?' to talk about his Nokia 3310 telephone and his dog Plato," the YouTuber also told the French Rue89 website.

In the interviews by the two other YouTubers, Juncker was asked questions like "Can you give us three good reasons why young people need the EU?" and "what is the most common criticism against you and how do you react to that?" and "Why is Europe not in a good shape?"

In a statement to Rue89, YouTube said that the man filmed with Birbes just "encouraged her to favour respect to confrontation".

"As the video of the interview proves, she had the opportunity to ask all the questions she had prepared," the firm said.

According to Birbes, she was offered a contract by YouTube the day after the interview, but she said she would not sign it because she wanted to stay independent.

She runs a blog and a YouTube channel called Le Corps, la Maison, l'Esprit (Body, House, Spirit), about lifestyle and personal well-being.

Commission edited out Juncker gaffe

A European Commission spokeswoman has defended the practice of editing online transcripts of speeches to remove controversial comments.

Swedish EU presidency: 'Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine'

Ukraine and a looming economic recession is set to dominate the upcoming Swedish EU presidency, which takes over at the start of next year. Sweden's ambassador to the EU, Lars Danielsson, laid out some of its priorities.

French official accused of conflict over EU fish lobby job

A senior French official is being accused of conflicts of interest for spearheading a leading role in Europeche, a fishing-industry lobby group based in Brussels. The hire comes as the EU Commission threatens a lawsuit against France over fishing.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU must break Orbán's veto on a tax rate for multinationals
  2. Belarus dictator's family loves EU luxuries, flight data shows
  3. How Berlin and Paris sold-out the EU corporate due diligence law
  4. Turkey's EU-funded detention centres ripe with abuse: NGO
  5. In green subsidy race, EU should not imitate US
  6. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  7. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  8. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us