New episode of The European Lens-In Conversation with Catherine Day
Updated: Apr 7
Press Statement from Frances Fitzgerald MEP
Friday 19th March 2021
The European Lens hears of the UK’s unwillingness to compromise throughout its period of EU membership
On the fifth episode of MEP Frances Fitzgerald’s podcast, The European Lens, former Secretary General of the European Commission Catherine Day spoke of her experience working with the United Kingdom throughout her illustrious EU career.
Speaking on the podcast, Catherine Day said:
“In the 10 years I was observing (the UK) up close, there was always the tendency to have to come out a winner. There was not the spirit of compromise. I think that's because the British political system is so adversarial. Their system is winner takes all.
Whereas most other European governments are coalition governments and their daily bread and butter is finding compromise. Nobody can get their own way all the time or even most of the time in the European Union. Even Germany has to compromise. Even France has to compromise. They have to find allies. And the UK just didn't ever really seem to get that and be fully part of that world.
Catherine Day also spoke about the EU’s future post-Brexit and whether it will recover from the loss of the UK:
“The UK brought an enormous amount of expertise and I think it will take quite a bit of time for the rest of the EU to make up for that. But I do think, if I have to look for an upside, I think it will mean less holding back in important policy areas where the public expects the European Union to act.
Not having somebody at the table anymore who is always looking for problems, who is not convinced about the whole process, I think that will make it more cohesive.
In a wide-ranging conversation, Day discussed the various distinguished roles she held throughout her career and the fact that very few women tend to reach these positions.
She told Frances Fitzgerald:
“On the walls of the Council building, there are a few rare photographs of when there would be more than two or three women prime ministers.
For all of my time there, Angela Merkel was the strongest and always the best prepared and the hardest working member of the European Council. And there are various photographs around which show her sometimes with one or two other women. I think in the ten years I was there, the most they got up to was four. So it was a very male world.”
Fitzgerald and Day also discussed Catherine’s current role as Chairperson of the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality which is due to finalise its recommendations shortly.
The podcast series aims to bring the Irish public closer to the EU by helping them
understand how major issues are playing out on the European stage.
The European Lens is available from all usual podcast outlets.
Notes to the editor
Marcus Glynn: +32 483376559
Conor Glynn: +353 833866022