Can the Frugals transform the EU?

The geopolitical grouping known as the “frugal four” — Austria, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands — has emerged as a key power centre in this year’s negotiations over the EU’s next budget and the covid-19 recovery fund. Does “frugality” actually reflect the public sentiment in those countries?

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The geopolitical grouping known as the “frugal four” — Austria, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands — has emerged as a key power centre in this year’s negotiations over the EU’s next budget and the covid-19 recovery fund.

However, flying the “frugal” banner now seems like it could become a trap — both for the countries themselves and for the rest of the EU. In this week’s episode, host Mark Leonard is joined by Catharina Sørensen, deputy director of the Danish “Think Tank Europa”, Caroline de Gruyter, ECFR Council Member and Europe correspondent and columnist for the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, Daniel Sachs, ECFR Council member and CEO of the board of Sweden-based Proventus AB, and ECFR policy fellow Pawel Zerka. Does “frugality” actually reflect the public sentiment in those countries? How do the citizens really feel about the recovery fund? And how could the leaders of the frugal states reposition their countries as transformative engines for the EU?

Further reading: The transformative five: A new role for the frugal states after the EU recovery deal, by Pawel Zerka and Susi Dennison

Bookshelf:

The Mirror & the Light (Thomas Cromwell #3), by Hilary Mantel

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Leaving, by Vaclav Havel

The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann

The Joe Biden Experience, The Ezra Klein Show

This podcast was recorded on 25 November 2020.