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Wednesday, 01 February 2012 07:06

Good Reads 01/02/12

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Each week, two E&M editors share their favourite European reads. From blog posts to essays, it can be anything that amused them, worried them or got them thinking about Europe.


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Marta, Heart Editor

It's the Erasmus, stupid!

It's comforting to hear, from time to time, that it's not only us, young Europeans, who understand the importance of the Erasmus experience in building a European identity. The writer and semiologist Umberto Eco recently said in an interview with The Guardian that it's not the economy or wars that cement a European identity, but culture and, especially, programs like Erasmus.

Eco even suggests that Erasmus should be compulsory for everybody, "not just for students, but also for taxi drivers, plumbers and other workers." We couldn't agree more!

The time might come when we'll end up begging Turkey to join the EU...

Yes, Europeans, hold your breath before you look at the results of the new survey from Brookings Institution – a non-profit public policy organisation –, which ranks the 200 most prosperous metropolitan economies of the world. It's simply scary to look at the bottom 10 – that is, the least prosperous metropolis – and see that it is crowded with European names (from bad to worse: Valencia, Barcelona, Naples, Madrid, Sevilla, Dublin, Lisbon and Athens). Whereas when we look at the top 10, Turkey can be proud to have 3 cities ranked among the most prosperous: Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. Who still has anything against Turkey joining the Union?

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Matt, Sixth Sense Editor

Looking East

My new years resolution for 2012 was to learn more about Eastern European politics and I've begun hunting down new sources to find out what's going on the other side of Berlin. There have been large protests in Romania for over a week now, seemingly unreported in the English newspapers, and I really liked this press/blog analysis that looks at the changing voice of the protests, their hopes and aims, as well as their expectations for Romania in the future.

Belarus has been named one of the worst countries for press freedom this week. Not surprising, but important to note.

And finally, "The unmasking of Yulia Tymoshenko" is a fantastic article charting out the internal trial brought against former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoschenko. What surprised me when reading this article was the fact that Tymoschenko is only the third most popular politician in Ukraine, hardly what you'd expect of someone being imprisoned for trumped up charges by her political rival. I also learned that there's a new informal group in Ukraine called "We are Europeans" who feel that European politicians should not look at Ukraine from the perspective of its authorities but rather from that of the people themselves. They argue that the people of Ukraine are demanding further European integration.

Eurozone news

Back to the eternal Eurozone crisis and this week six of the leading newspapers from across Europe have come together to work on the 'Europa' project. The Guardian (Britain) promised the project would be "A unique collaboration to explore the EU's predicament." Its certainly a noble attempt, but is it unique? The newspapers conducted an exclusive interview with Angela Merkel, here's the Guardian's article and the Süddeutsche Zeitung article.

Read both and look at the difference in narratives, the focus, and what we can learn about the problems that exist in different national medias. That's what a transnational approach would bring to the issue, but here I just see two separate, self perpetuating national representations of Europe. There has been no attempt by either national medium to understand what perspective their foreign counterparts are bringing to the same, common issues. So this is hardly a unique perspective, nor particularly constructive.

Finally, I enjoyed this piece by Hans Kundani, of the European Council of Foreign Relations, called "Kanzleramtology." Its a term he's invented, a play on the old 'Kremlinology,' to describe the speculations that are emerging about the inner workings of German politics. Just like in the Kremlin during the Cold War, the implications of one politician falling out of favour with Angela Merkel doesn't just have an impact in Germany, but could now affect the future of Europe! 

Last modified on Wednesday, 01 February 2012 16:48
Editorial

If the Editorial team had an actual office it would have to stretch from the corner of Britain to the edges of Spain, Sweden, Germany and beyond. (With frequent trips to America too) .  The term 'from the editorial office' then, is very much a figure of speech. 

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