Life

TV Review: Inside Europe lived up to its name

Inside Europe: Donald Tusk and Angela Merkel - (C) European Council Newsroom
Billy Foley

Inside Europe: 10 Years Of Turmoil, BBC 2, Monday at 9pm

From the same team that brought us Inside Obama's White House, this is TV documentary making of the highest level with astonishing access to the key players.

Inside Europe reminded us that Britain's relations with Europe have always been fractious and explained cogently how these cracks have widened since the financial crisis of 2008.

And just as the punches are landing in the final rounds of the heavyweight contest between the UK and the EU, it brought us the thoughts of a significant number of heavyweights, many of them still calling the shots.

Theresa May wasn't there of course, neither was David Cameron (tied up in an exclusive book deal apparently), but there was Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker, Mark Rutte, Francois Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy, William Hague, Nick Clegg and George Osborne.

Nigel Farage was also a notable absentee and I doubt he turned it down so it's reasonable to assume he wasn't asked. He wasn't inside the negotiations so perhaps he was surplus to requirements for the focus of this programme, but there's no denying his importance to the overall story.

Part one (it's a three part series) brought us the Cameron years, when the prime minister sought to head off an insurgent UKIP and the eurosceptic wing of his own party emboldened by the EU's troubles, by acceding to the demand for a referendum.

The EU was unimpressed and Cameron was unsuccessful in persuading the British people that the reform measures he negotiated were enough. This was the best section of episode one with a detailed explanation of what Cameron wanted and thought he needed, plus the nuanced response of the EU and in particular the eastern members.

Essentially Cameron needed something significant on immigration and depending on who you believe he failed to get it or failed to sell correctly what he got.

In retrospect this was a foretaste of the continued disconnect and misunderstanding between the EU, British establishment and the UK electorate. Theresa May also negotiated hard with the European Commission and brought back a deal which failed miserably to command the support of her people.

Donald Tusk provided the most interesting contribution to 10 Years Of Turmoil on the Cameron negotiation and the wider project of the UK leaving.

He tells us he told Cameron the plan was “stupid” and continued refer to the referendum in other sections of his interview as “stupid.”

You have to wonder. Tusk knows that this programme will air amid the turmoil of the final stages of negotiations, so has his ego got the better of him or is he trying to be insulting?

The two final sections of Inside Europe look like being unmissable. Next week deals with the financial crisis in Greece and then the migrant crisis of 2015 which couldn't have come at a worse time for EU/UK relations.

***

Getaways, RTE 1, Tuesday at 8.30pm

Our own Tommy Bowe is settling gently into a new life of television presenting.

The former rugby international is on his second series of BBC/RTE's travel show, Getaways, and has successfully made the journey from professional sportsman to TV presenter.

Perhaps I'm forgetting a few, but with the exception of Dion Dublin, I can't think of another athlete who has broken out of the sports analysis/commentating side of television.

Tommy, who has 69 Ireland caps, visited Porto this week with co-presenter Mairead Ronan.

It was a solid job, with the pair successfully selling the sights of a city with the architecture to match its former position in the Portuguese empire.

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