Monday

20th Sep 2021

Podcast

Standing up to bullies with Frans Timmermans

  • Timmermans starts off his first podcast interview with how songwriters from Jacques Brel to Bruce Springsteen have been a source of solace and inspiration for him (Photo: Helena Malikova)

Standing up to bullies was ingrained in Frans Timmermans from his schooldays.

The Dutchman came to prominence six years ago as his country's foreign minister with an emotional speech at the United Nations. Russian-backed separatists had shot down Flight MH17 packed with Dutch nationals, and Timmermans channelled the sentiments of a shocked nation to the world.

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In his next job as first vice president of the European Commission, he squared off with right-wing populists like the UK's Nigel Farage and with autocratically minded leaders in Hungary and Poland.

Last year Timmermans, a member of the Dutch Labour Party, led a passionate and energetic campaign to become the president of the Commission.

And for a week it seemed he would be appointed.

But his tenaciousness had stirred too much bad blood with Budapest and Warsaw, and that opened the way for conservatives to coalesce around a Christian Democrat alternative, Ursula von der Leyen.

Timmermans took a role overseeing the European Green Deal as one of the Commission's three executive vice presidents.

To succeed he needs to stand up to governments and vested interests rushing to reboot economies crashed by the coronavirus.

That means ensuring the trillions of euros that the EU and its member states spend transform rather than entrench polluting industries and infrastructure.

Timmermans starts off his first podcast interview with how songwriters from Jacques Brel to Bruce Springsteen have been a source of solace and inspiration for him.

Author bio

EU Scream is the progressive politics podcast from Brussels. Produced by James Kanter with graphics by Helena Malikova and music by Lara Natale.

You may also subscribe via iTunes, Spotify or from the EU Scream website.

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