BBC BLOGS - Mark Mardell's Euroblog
Main | Next »

About Mark Mardell

Mark Mardell | 08:00 UK time, Tuesday, 12 June 2007

At WestminsterI've been the BBC's Europe editor since the autumn of 2005. Before I had been working for the BBC at Westminster for ooh, I thought it must have been at least 10 years. When I came to do the sums I had been covering British politics for 17 years. How time flies when you're enjoying yourself.

And enjoy myself I did. I ended up as chief political correspondent concentrating mainly on the Ten O'Clock News, and before that the Six. My previous incarnation was as political editor for Newsnight. I also enjoyed dressing up and making strange contributions to This Week, a programme that still reaches parts that other political programmes can't.

Before I joined the BBC I worked for a Channel Four programme called The Sharp End which was about "the world of work" - and before that was industrial editor and general news reporter at LBC. I began in commercial local radio in Leeds and Teesside.

I got a 2:1 at Kent in Politics and before that went to Epsom College in Surrey.

In front of an EU emblemI live in Brussels with my wife and three children. The fox got the rabbits, the cats died sometime ago but the teenager has a couple of rats. I like cooking, eating, reading and sleeping. These have never let me down: Lee Perry, Joe Strummer (except by dying), Massive Attack, Thievery Corporation, Iain M Banks, Phillip Roth, Haruki Murakami, Michel Faber.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 12:33 PM on 12 Jun 2007,
  • Malcolm McClure wrote:

Thank you for making European politics sound quite interesting. I had always been a Euroskeptic but was won over when I saw what its role in "priming the pump" has done for the Irish Economy. I could be transformed into a Europhile if it did the same for Scotland, which apparently is the most disadvantaged of all the leading small nations, probably as a result of the stranglehold the landowners have on economic progress. As long as the whole country outside the major cities is fossilized as grouse moors and golf courses, I see little prospect of improvement.

  • 2.
  • At 12:40 PM on 12 Jun 2007,
  • Frank wrote:

'Thievery Corporation'! But I like them! Well, I used to.. :)

  • 3.
  • At 07:32 PM on 05 Jul 2007,
  • wieslaw kwiecien wrote:

Dear Editor,
As a Pole I can only thank you very much for your brave comments on Polish position in the EU.Brave ,as the vast majority of mass media in Europe created one-black picture of "twins"and is not in the position to see nothing else..Unfortunately,point of view of many Western Europeans can be summarised as below:
_ newcomers should be quiet (Chirac),or
- Berlin Wall should not to be destroyed and we should have still our luxurious and quiet live under American umbrella.
You truly pointed out that Westerns nations and politicians had more then 50 years for forgiveness and reconciliation.We,Poles being under Soviet Union domination have had not that chance.Therefore we have to understand us when we came back to the pas.Having in mind that we have been bertayed by our Western Allies twice: firstly in Septembet 1939 and secondly in Yalta.
yours sincerely
wieslaw kwiecien

  • 4.
  • At 09:07 PM on 05 Jul 2007,
  • Clara wrote:

Good too see that you are adding to the numbers of UKC alumni here in Brussels.

Thanks too for making European Politics have some meaning to everyday life and your willingness to provide objective comment.

  • 5.
  • At 01:34 AM on 06 Jul 2007,
  • Mike Turvey wrote:

Great work Mark - really enjoying the blog. Good to see you are starting to attract academic big guns like Chalmers and Peers too!

  • 6.
  • At 02:54 PM on 29 Jul 2007,
  • Gavin Spagnolo wrote:

Hi Mark - your blog is a always great read on whats new in EU politics.

I wondered if I could ask your thoughts on a particular topic? I'm currently preparing a school paper on the question of whether the EU should have it's own military force. Do you think that this is possible, likely, or even necessary in the near-term (i.e. next 10 yrs)? Also, what do you think the prerequisites for such a force being formed may be?

Your comments are highly valued, however brief.

  • 7.
  • At 08:40 AM on 02 Aug 2007,
  • Edward Freeman wrote:

Your blog on Turkish cuisine and the general decline in the flavour of things in Western Europe (and I'm sure we can add North America and probably the rest of the English-speaking world too) rang a real bell. I live in Kenya and well remember my first taste of locally grown veg. - just humble onions and carrots - which instantly took me back to childhood visits to my grandparents in eastern Scotland. Of course, in Africa one of the reasons for the low agricultural productivity is what I have seen called the "homeopathic" use of fertilizers and pesticides...

I wonder if the spice in your coffee could have been "cassia" - the Wikipedia article on this is really interesting - and googling "malabathrum" and "malabathron" will take you some quite fascinating places!

  • 8.
  • At 06:44 AM on 03 Aug 2007,
  • Glyn Harrison wrote:

I read your remarks about European food with interest. Have you read Jane Grigson's English Cooking? The essays at the start of each section are pretty blunt about what she too saw as the damage done by factory farming and laws that are meant to take any risk out of buying food but which have really just deadened our expectations along with our taste buds. Keep up the good work.

  • 9.
  • At 12:10 AM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • Cristiana wrote:

What a delightfully refreshing article on Turkish culinary experience and none the less commentaries on it. I lost hope that anything of good taste could be read online but I am glad to have found this blog that proves quite the contrary. I am Romanian living in USA for the past 14 years and home sick remembering all the childhood tasty foods, from my grandparents' fresh juicy and aromatic apricots and black cherry comfiture (which does not even have a name here) to the pastries and baked goods from our poor provisioned bakeries. And tomatoes..... this is a constant pain. I have my own places where I buy tastier tomatoes when in season, but nothing like the ones grown in my childhood gardens. I don't have an answer to your questions but looking forward to read your esteemed audience's responses.

Glad to see some good coverage on Romania. I live with my family in Brasov. You should also try to make it to a shepherd's hut and try the cheeses there!

  • 11.
  • At 03:56 PM on 04 Sep 2007,
  • john cronin wrote:

I have an irish and us passport and live in Belgium. When I read that report on Romania I'm furious. Europeans have access to irreplaceable artisanal natural farm methods and, while they go out and knock the US for its fast food, they go out of their way to destroy the traditional methods that come under their sway. Their stupidity is almost unbelievable!

  • 12.
  • At 05:23 AM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • JENNY VAN wrote:


  • 13.
  • At 02:11 PM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • Anthony Bennis wrote:

I really enjoy your blog and look forward to new entries. I've stereotyped the British as a bunch that are quite cynical when it comes to European issues, and read with interest your quite unbiased views on the various topics.

Anthony, Ireland.

Thank Mark for an insightful, often irreverent, Euroblog. I studied EU politics for 5 years in Australia, Germany and France and I now enjoy reading your blog at work.
It keeps me abreast of the news items that last more than a day or week and don't get much of a profile on the usual headlines news on the BBC or elsewhere.
Thank you.

  • 15.
  • At 10:00 AM on 27 Sep 2007,
  • Carla Van de Velde wrote:

I have just read Mark Mardel's article on Belgium (Divided Belgium - 27 September 2007) - it's excellent, absolutely spot on !
I'm Belgian, live in Ghent but work in Frankfurt and forwarded the article to some of my British colleagues. I don't think there is a better way to explain my country and what makes (or doesn't make) it tick.
It's true that despite the "common" language we share with Holland, we look more towards the UK as far as culture is concerned.
Your article especially made me laugh, when you mention the fact that Flemings make fun of the Dutch. When, recently, a Dutch poll showed them to be very much in favour of Flanders joining Holland, we all thought they had gone mad since we have absolutely nothing in common with those "Calvinists.."
Anyway, brilliant article Mr. Mardel!

Liked your recent piece on Belgium. I was in the College of Europe in Brugge (Bruges) during the linguistic upheavals.

Interesting that the piece attracted over 170 comments and virtually all of them substantial.

Keep up the good work.

  • 17.
  • At 11:42 PM on 12 Nov 2007,
  • Ioannis Kleisiaris wrote:

I find the article / comment on 'olive oil / con?' a rather unfortunate one. There is no doubt, there is a certain element of truth on the misrepresentation of farmers land accross the EU and particularly in the South - but your insistence to associate it with Greece's olive oil, and not for example with any other Medditeranean (or not)product is very much unfortunate. Inevitably someone would wonder what does it add to your article to dress it up with such ugly images. If it wasnt for the BBC someone could very easily think of a mean negative advertisement by a Public Affairs Consultancy on behalf of an antagonist producer country who sees its quality (and revenues) falling substantially behind Greece's outstanding and distinct quality. I hope in the non-distant future you see the purity and fullness of Greece's olive oil through a different perspective - and certainly not presented in association with the notorious CAP payments that everyone of us consider up to a certain extent odd. With respect, I.K.

Mr. Mardel. Reading your blog reminds me that there are a lot of things people living on a island never learn understand.

I like reading about the EU and the politics surrounding it.

But I thought the story that broke about the West Midlands Tory MEP's having a picture of the Birmingham Alabama skyline on their own web site, instead of 'Brum' West Midlands as a real hoot!

Speaks volumes of a Tory's with their finger on the pulse doesn't it!

  • 20.
  • At 07:41 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

Another ridiculess attempt by protectionist EU to deprive Windows users of a free Internet browser versus an immminent shortage of sausages due to EU protectionism preventing importation of sausage wrappers from Brasil would make an interesting topic, don't you think?

  • 21.
  • At 06:49 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • tomas white wrote:

Hi mark to pro european instead of being in the centre.Its time we had a open debate on the EU if were in and if were out were out.I hope we come out .

  • 22.
  • At 04:52 PM on 18 Jan 2008,
  • Tamar wrote:

I have been fascinated with Eastern Europe most of my life (being a half Hungarian, first generation american). In more recent years I have become even more fascinated with the Balkans and have been fortunate enough to spend some time there. I always read whatever news I can from Mr. Mardell and thought sure you lived there, as you seem to have the tone of the place down to a T. I even tried to find you and meet you.... Oh! well. The blog works just fine. Thanks for your work/s and for your understanding of that area. It has been inspiring and insightful for sure.

  • 23.
  • At 02:35 PM on 22 Jan 2008,
  • brunilda marc wrote:

please dear mark where did you find those shia in albania?they are a small minority escaped in time of ottoman empire god knows when and the numbers of these people are counted in albania like many jews we helped during second war they arent us so please dont put us all in the same michael paulin did

  • 24.
  • At 11:19 PM on 22 Jan 2008,
  • Graeme Phillips wrote:

I was reading your article about European Islam at .

You seem to acknowledge that there are diverse people in the Christian community, but it appears that even you underestimate the diversity of Christianity.

You mentioned the difference between the Christianity found in the Church of England and the Christianity found in the Bible belt.

This really depends which Church of England church you are using for the comparison. If you visit St. George's (part of the Church of England's Europe diocese) in Berlin, you would see an enormous difference, as this church has unfortunately succumbed to the devil and started performing homosexual marriage blessings.

On the other hand, if you visit St. Saviour's in Guildford (part of the Church of England), their take on Christianity is not entirely dissimilar to that of the Bible belt. St. Saviour's is very much an evangelical church and takes a conservative stance on most theological and social issues.

All the things I have said above don't account for the wide variation in the views of the people attending these two churches.

  • 25.
  • At 11:08 AM on 30 Jan 2008,
  • Ana wrote:

Everyone is forgetting the fact that Albanians took the muslim religion under the ottoman occupation,before that they were of the christian orthodox or catholic religion.If the monasteries in Kosove from twelfth-, thirteenth-, fourteenth-century are serb monasteries,as everyone believes so,then where did albanians worship their GOD?! I can track back up to 6 generations of my family and we were of orthodox religion!
Dear Sir,the monasteries and the churches you are talking about are albanian ones!The fact that vast majority of Kosova albanians are now of muslim religion and do not use the churches anymore,doesn't make them serbian churches!

Another thing is the Battle for Kosovo that serbs want to talk so much about.Why was that battle in Kosovo?! Why not in Serbia?The serbs wanted to fight the turks before entering Serbia!!! In that battle albanians took part as well,but we are ignorant enough not to even mention it!Kosova has not over time become overwhelmingly Albanian,it has always been albanian while serbs came in Kosova.It is as if you say that southern Spain is British,beacuse in all honesty there are now more brits than spaniards!But British people moved to Spain,serbs moved to Kosova.

My point is that Kosova has NEVER EVER been part of Serbia and I urge Europe and USA to rectify the wrong deed that have been done to albanian nation in the early 20th century when the same forces decided to divide albanian lands! We,albanians are the oldest nation in Europe and look where we are now,fighting and dieing for our OWN lands.This should not happen in this day and age in the middle of Europe.We have our ancestors buried here,have nowhere to go,did not came from anywhere but have been on these lands forever.Please tell the whole truth and this time make the right decision.

  • 26.
  • At 04:46 PM on 01 Feb 2008,
  • mim wrote:


thanks for generating a lively and engaging debate on the Balkans especially Albania and Kosova. quite a useful exercise in trying and testing your own ideas and information towards others'

It helps people to learn to listen to what other people have to say

Mim from Albania

  • 27.
  • At 05:46 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • JelenaC wrote:

Marc; I know see that you do have quiet a few accomplishments under your belt (in reference to my earlier post on your Serbian Elections in the eyes of an Albanian rapper post).

It truly puzzles me why such an accomplished individual would side with a party to a conflict without sufficient research ? It suffices to say Albanians above are not expressing their gratitude for your posts for no particular reason.

If Kosovo ever had a skilled political Albanian elite, capable enough of implementing the law and order in the province, do you seriously think that it would have taken the world so long to dwell on this issue of independence ? I carefully mention implement and not restore because decades of unlawfulness in the region since 1974 would not quiet meet the requirements of an existing order which one could 'restore'.

I do believe that your intellect has led you to a position where you currently are...It would be sad to attach your name to something as ugly as an uneducated bias towards this ridiculous idea of justification of Albanian demands in Kosovo. While the victors write the history books, rules books are written every once in a while and while slow, corrections have been know to appear. Would love to discuss however your blog to which I responded initially had no logical substance which would be worth my time. Seriously.

  • 28.
  • At 10:16 AM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • Fatmir loshi wrote:

Thank you very much mr Merdell for bracing the cold and bringing us the best news from free Kosova.
God bless you Mark Merdell!

  • 29.
  • At 03:43 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:


Since I can see that you get criticised a lot and rather severely for an alleged bias, anti-Serb/anti-Russian stand, etc., in all debates pertaining to Kosovo/Balkan issue, here's a quote from a post I've found on HYS (same subject), addressed to its moderators:

"Do you have your own biases/hatred? Nothing else could explain why you post 5+ hate-inciting comments from some same people. Read comments in Mardell's discussion board for a balanced debate. And you should leave the job to competent people.

appalled BBC reader, US"

Now, feeling a little better?

So now, for necessary balance (from me):


Aren't you ashamed?!

Why is you blog's server down and out more often than not?

How come that HYS servers work most of the time and yours doesn't?

Do you realize that the current situation is hate-inciting?

Perhaps you should get a 4+ core blade with plenty of DDR and leave the maintenance job to competent people.


  • 30.
  • At 01:39 AM on 23 Feb 2008,
  • Jonathan.N wrote:

Serbians have every right to burn down the santuary (embassies)of those who burnt the rights of Serbs to own and live in their own country which is kosovo. The above is a picnic compared to the 196 othodox churches burnt down by albanians in kosovo on order of the EU-USA alliance.

  • 31.
  • At 01:26 PM on 25 Feb 2008,
  • wieslaw kwiecien wrote:

I have a mixture filling when talking about Kosovo.It is true that many Serbs during Milosevic time were too nationalistic and cruel.But independent Kosovo is too big penalty.I am of the opinion that it would be more better if US and UE pressed ( they had instruments to do this) Albanian for a wide autonomy not for independnce.I spent one year in Prishtina and now I have frequent visits to Macedonia and can see that this move can undermined Balkan countries as a whole.Besides Kosovo will be very soon European centre of mafia and hard islam and will make a lot problems for European.

  • 32.
  • At 10:53 PM on 25 Feb 2008,
  • Tamara wrote:

Dear Mark, first of all, thank you for this interesting blog:D... I really felt like i had so many things to say, but the western media slammed the door in my face so many times I felt helpless. Second - i am not sure what is your attitude about Kosovo, but leaving this much space where people can express them selves is a really great thing. It takes a big man to say - "Hey, maybe I need to know more before I continue spiting on something."
To anyone ready to yell into space a lot about nothing, I would recommend going trough some books first. Everyone has their own idea of "freedom" and for parasites - it is to infiltrate, multiply and spread. Isn't it?
Thanks again!

  • 33.
  • At 11:32 PM on 25 Feb 2008,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

"Serbians have every right to burn down the santuary (embassies)of those who burnt the rights of Serbs to own and live in their own country which is kosovo"

Wouldn't you than agree that those whose sanctuaries (embassies)were burnt would have every right to turn a lunatic asylum those burners came from into a huge parking lot?

  • 34.
  • At 05:33 PM on 26 Feb 2008,
  • Andrej Novak wrote:

Dear Mark,

so far I have not seen a report on the BBC about the closure of one of Russia's most unique social science universities, the European University at St. Petersburg and am therefore asking you to make the situation more widely known to the public.

Please feel free to contact me, a graduate of the IMARS programme, with any further questions that you may have.

Many thanks.

With kind regards,
Andrej Novak

  • 35.
  • At 06:10 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Milan wrote:

I think what happened in Kosovo was pushed hard by the United States. It was illegal as it went against the UN resolution 1244 and against the right of a nation to its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Kosovo was never a republic in former Yugoslavia, and the Albanians in Serbia were a minority, not one of the constitutional people. But you probably know all this already. In 1999 Serbia refused to sign the Ramboiullet accords/ultimatum because it meant granting independence to Kosovo. It got bombed as a result until a peace agreement was reached which guaranteed territorial integrity of Serbia. The essence of that same peace agreement is now violated by the US and its allies/satellites, so it makes the whole 1999 war pretty pointless for Serbia.

I think US planned for this outcome for a long time, led by its own interests and the Albainan lobby: New role for NATO (which has no restrictions in Kosovo), one of the biggest American military bases in Europe is now there, weakening the significance of UN in this unipolar world, privatization of Trepca coal mine and snatching of all other Serbian assets and property there...

And of course the power of the Albanian lobby is not just the money, it's the genuine threats of destabilization. They almost caused a civil war in Macedonia a few years ago, and now that they struck a deal over Kosovo they will probably relax for a short while. The reason being that Kosovo is not fully independent even with what the Americans gave them (Ahtisari’s plan), so if Albanians try to start something in Macedonia, southern Serbia, Montenegro or even Greece... they risk being punished for it. This “stalemate” is also main part of the reason that Americans don't want northern Kosovo with its mainly Serbian population to separate from Kosovo, and why they obstructed any kind of negotiated settlement. They want to be able to move their troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than deploy more of them in the Balkans.

Americans calculated that a pro-EU/western government in Serbia (re-election of president Boris Tadic) can hold Serbia from doing anything unpredictable when they illegally recognize Kosovo Albanians' independence immediately after. They probably thought that by obstructing Albanian separatism in Kosovo it could put their troops under fire in Kosovo and they didn’t want that with their resources heavily stretched in the Middle East at the moment. They also calculated that in Bosnia they could control the Serbs from proclaiming independence of Serbian Republic from the rest of Bosnia. But they didn't just calculate it, they actively worked on it. While they were transferring government functions to local authorities in Kosovo over the last 9 years, they were doing the exact opposite in Bosnia. They abolished Bosnian Serb military, they proclaimed Brcko (a crucial strategic place connecting western and eastern part of Serb Republic) to be a "neutral city" outside of entity borders, they basically did everything possible to centralize the government as much as they could and weaken the powers of the individual entities (Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat federation) that were guaranteed by Dayton peace accords. Now they are even trying to transfer the jurisdiction over the police from state entities to federal government. The will of the Serbian people in Bosnia and its politicians is being suppressed by the UN Ombudsman who has the exclusive right to overturn any decisions made by the democratically elected politicians there This is why it’s difficult for Serbs in Bosnia to proclaim independence at the moment, independence they deserve much more than Albanians in Kosovo, both legally and historically.

Is any of this fair, moral, ethical or justifiable? Did the pro-western regime that delivered Milosevic to the Hague tribunal deserve to be blackmailed and now punished by the theft of Kosovo? Is this situation going to stabilize the Balkans? Absolutely not. It will flare up again the next time there is a shift of power on the global stage. And it will drag with it many separatist regions and frozen conflicts around the world. Are there plenty of double standards at work here? Absolutely yes. But anyone who thinks political decisions are made out of ethical/humanitarian reasons doesn't deserve the right to vote in my opinion.

What should happen in Kosovo is that its northern (Serbian populated) part joins the rest of Serbia, while remaining Kosovo Serbs and 1000+ monasteries and churches there belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church be given special status and protection. And maybe it would be nice to have those 250 000 Serbian refugees that no one is talking about in the news anymore come back to their homes in Kosovo once they are rebuilt. That could be a negotiated solution, but I see little chance of it happening judging by the American autocratic stance.

  • 36.
  • At 11:13 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Lev wrote:

I must say, although I disagree with almost every single one of your views, you make politics and news sound quite interesting.

Regards from Russia.

  • 37.
  • At 03:35 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • christopher boote wrote:

Have you any more information on this story?
Especially the section where it says that the Govt cannot ratify the treaty while a Judicial Review is underway?

Haha "toothless serb sindrome strikes again" Mark

I had to post it here...anxiously waiting your next blog on Balkans!

  • 39.
  • At 01:19 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:


Perhaps it's time for you to visit Abkhasia and S. Osetia and find out why Russia, which is vehemently opposed to the independence of Kosovo so staunchly supports and arms (although tacitly) their separatists?

I think you should also try and find out whether those two regions have any deposits of polonium before president/premier Putin's visit at NATO summit.

Hello and greetings from sunny Sofia.
I have been reading your blog for more than a year now, and find it immensely enlightening on EU-related matters. Thank you for providing an objective and unbiased viewpoint on them, one which does not compromise for interests other than the readers'.

  • 41.
  • At 07:20 PM on 21 Mar 2008,
  • Anne - Cannes, France wrote:

I have just read your comments, pretending that Sarkozy was a dictator. Are you mad ? Our president made a big mistake from the biginning (he wanted to be "clear" changing the hypocritical French's usual communication), then he has been personally loosing control... Even if the last election was a failure, no one can denied (less French socialists) that in 10 months it's impossible to change efficiently a country with such social powers and financial problems. You have also to consider that just a part of French people were voting two weeks ago. Actually, a large part of us believes that himself and his government should be abble to succeed where socialists have failed and ruined our finances (it's why most of them didn't vote to choose a mayor - and not a new government or president). I'm french, living in France, I'm not always proud about the way we act, but France is not Iran and some of your comments are really stupid (I'm sorry but think before writing, please). Well, wish us good luck !

  • 42.
  • At 10:40 AM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • John Danziger wrote:

Yesterday on ABC News (Australia) there was an article concerning a book written by Carla del Ponte in which it was revealed that Kosovans associated with their so-called "Liberation Army" had kidnapped upwards of 300 Serbians including women and children, transported them to Albania, and removed kidney organs for sale before killing them for other organs. I have seen nothing of this elsewheres in the media. Have I missed something? Or is this too embarrassing to the wise men of Europe who so easily gave Kosovo away without showing too much concern for the past and future safety of the Serbians in Kosovo.The fact that del Ponte avoided saying anything publicly before the decision for independence suggests something unpleasant about that lady's value system also.

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.