Fury at film's unflattering portrait of EU leaders

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The Independent Online

The German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, has three different views on the same subject. The French President, Jacques Chirac, rejects documents if they are not in his native tongue. And Gerhard Schröder, Germany's Chancellor, rushes negotiations so he can take his wife to London.

The German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, has three different views on the same subject. The French President, Jacques Chirac, rejects documents if they are not in his native tongue. And Gerhard Schröder, Germany's Chancellor, rushes negotiations so he can take his wife to London.

Such revelations have emerged from a fly-on-the-wall TV documentary on life in the EU, which has dismayed diplomats and infuriated European leaders.

Danish television crew given unprecedented access to the closing stages of Denmark's presidency of the EU last year trailed the telegenic Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who was apparently given the right to edit the final product. So angry are Berlin and Paris at what was allowed to be shown that, as one diplomat said, "the film may have cost Rasmussen the prospect of ever getting an international job".

In Denmark, there have been claims that Mr Rasmussen showed disrespect for his Foreign Minister, Per Stig Moeller, by approving the film without consulting him. The Prime Minister comes across as smooth and efficient, while Mr Moeller emerges as a more pedestrian politician.

The film chronicles the negotiations on admitting 10 new countries to the EU, including Poland, and talks on Turkey's bid for membership.

The biggest casualties are Mr Schröder and Mr Fischer. After a private meeting before the decisive summit in Denmark's capital, a Danish official says that the German Chancellor has agreed to a funding proposal but will not say so "until he gets to Copenhagen". At the summit, Mr Schröder is seen announcing that an agreement has been reached while talks are still under way. And in his botched attempt to claim credit for the deal, he gets the details wrong.

In another scene, Mr Rasmussen lengthens the agenda when he finds Mr Schröder has promised to take his wife to London for the weekend. "It was his own choice, if he wanted to talk about cows instead of going to London with his wife," the Prime Minister says.

Mr Fischer fares even worse in a debate on Turkey's EU candidature. Mr Moeller tells Mr Rasmussen: "Joschka Fischer had three separate positions on the question" and, after arguing that Turkey "would never become members" Mr Fischer said: "No, no, it was just a thought. Forget it."

M. Chirac emerges as overpowering, fighting for French farmers and blocking an EU declaration on Russia until it is translated into French (Mr Moeller responds: "We will have to be up all night"). And Vladimir Putin, Russia's President, says of the journalists after a press conference: "They're bandits, all of them."

The German and French governments are furious and the nations soon to join the EU are unlikely to be encouraged by the film – eleventh-hour discussions on their entry terms were interrupted for Mr Rasmussen to be consulted on a seating plan for dinner.

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