Just as the French economy started giving signs of recovery, albeit belatedly, spectacular demonstrations and strikes have hit the country, paralyzing significant parts of transportation systems including roads, subway (RATP), rail (SNCF) and air (Air France), as well as oil depots and EDF nuclear plants. Some of the demonstrations have been violent, destroying numerous stores and brutally attacking people, including police. Normal daily activities have been disturbed. Sometimes, it is impossible to find fuel in gas stations because refineries paralyzed by the strikers did not deliver their products. Metro and trains stopped providing regular services. This chaotic situation is taking place on the eve of the UEFA 2016 European Soccer Championship scheduled to bring one million visiting fans to France. And this on top of continuing concerns about terrorist attacks.
Europe cannot escape its history. It needs to digest it.
It is in this spirit that a group of 30 eminent historians from seventeen European countries and different schools of thought recently met at the College des Bernardins, a foundation close to Notre Dame de Paris, to present their research and launch a dialogue on the commonalities that lie at the core of a European consciousness. It is a consciousness that is increasingly discussed, despite, or perhaps because of, the many criticisms leveled at the European Union.
The European Union and United States both want to lead on “5G” – the Fifth Generation of mobile technology. Indeed, the European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Günther H. Oettinger has said that 5G will be the backbone of Europe’s Digital Single Market.
Greece faces another summer of deadlines for enormous debt repayments. Fifteen different obligations, totaling more than €15 billion ($16.78 billion), are due between June and mid-September, with Treasury bill holders owed the largest amounts, a combined €12.4 billion ($13.86 billion). Treasuries had been Greece’s main source of short-term funding until Europe and the IMF provided credit through a series of bailout programs.
As mayor of Istanbul in 1996, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "Democracy is like a streetcar. We ride it as long as we can, and then get off.” Apparently, twenty years later, Turkey’s President stays true to his word. Having skillfully used democratic mechanisms to come close to his final destination, which is absolute power, he now appears ready to get off the streetcar, as evidenced by Turkey’s autocratic trajectory, especially in the last few years.
© COPYRIGHT THE EUROPEAN INSTITUTE 2009
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