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The Economist: Europe

The Economist: Europe

With a growing global circulation (now more than 1.5 million including both print* and digital) and a reputation for insightful analysis and perspective on every aspect of world events, The Economist is one of the most widely recognized and well-read current affairs publications. The paper covers politics, business, science and technology, and books and arts, concluding each week with the obituary.

Articles by The Economist: Europe

The leader of Spain’s main opposition party is ousted

February 24, 2022

Feb 26th 2022MADRIDBELEAGUERED AND almost alone in his party’s headquarters, abandoned by its powerbrokers and most of its MPs, a bemused Pablo Casado this week suffered the implosion of his leadership of the People’s Party (PP), Spain’s mainstream conservative opposition. At a meeting that lasted into the early hours of February 24th, the party’s regional barons allowed him to save face by staying on as a figurehead until an emergency party congress on April 2nd. In return he agreed to back as his successor Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the experienced president of the region of Galicia who is the consensus choice. A smooth transition matters not just to the PP but to Spain. Vox, a newish hard-right outfit, is snapping at the PP’s heels in polls, largely because of Mr Casado’s ineffectual

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Money matters take centre-stage in France’s election

February 24, 2022

Feb 25th 2022PARISFOR THE past few months, rivals in April’s French presidential election have dwelt to excess on questions of national identity and immigration. This should soon shift. Emmanuel Macron, a former economy minister and one-time investment banker, is expected shortly to confirm officially that he is running for re-election. This is likely to turn the focus to the economy. Voters will be judging not only Mr Macron’s economic management since he took office in 2017, but how he and his rivals plan to improve competitiveness, job creation and incomes.Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.As the French economy rebounds, growth has exceeded expectations. After a contraction of 8% in 2020, GDP recovered to

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Turkey’s rapprochement with Russia may not survive the war in Ukraine

February 24, 2022

Feb 24th 2022ISTANBULTRAFFIC ON THE Bosporus, the waterway that splits Istanbul and connects the Marmara and Black seas, has been busier than usual of late, and more dangerous. Making their way past supertankers, passenger ferries and the occasional pod of dolphins are Russian warships heading north towards Ukraine. Since the start of February, at least six Russian amphibious assault ships, as well as a Kilo-class submarine, have passed through. Russia now has four such submarines in the Black sea, each armed with missiles capable of striking targets anywhere in Ukraine.Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.Few countries are watching the war for which these weapons were deployed as anxiously as Turkey. Its

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Did Pope Francis restrict defendants’ rights?

February 24, 2022

Feb 26th 2022ROMEIT HAD BEEN billed as the trial of the century. It would spotlight Pope Francis’s determination to stamp out financial jiggery-pokery by establishing whether and how the Vatican was tricked and extorted out of tens of millions of euros in a botched property deal. Among the defendants was a “prince of the church”: Cardinal Angelo Becciu (pictured), former deputy head of the Vatican’s most exalted department, the Secretariat of State. Yet seven months after Cardinal Becciu and nine other defendants were arraigned in court in the Vatican, not a word of evidence has been heard. The main outcome from seven preliminary hearings has been awkward questions about the genial pontiff’s respect for the rule of law.Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or

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Europe is the free-rider continent

February 24, 2022

Feb 26th 2022CLEVER ROAD cyclists who run out of puff keep up the pace by discreetly tucking themselves behind faster riders. Carried by this slipstream, it is easy to get comfortable, if not outright lazy. Why expend the effort needed to forge ahead if you can get away with this dolce vita? Occasionally laggards have to soothe the tired (and increasingly irate) front-runner with a vague pledge to “pull their weight”. That seems like a small price to pay. Only much later, perhaps ensconced in the comfort of a peloton, does the realisation dawn that staying too long in the rear means blindly following someone else down a road not necessarily of your choosing.Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.Europe is the

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An EU scheme to limit the use of dangerous gases runs into problems

February 24, 2022

Feb 25th 2022FOR A WHILE it looked as if all was going to plan. In a move cheered by climate activists, the European Union began in 2015 to restrict the production and import of gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs are widely used in refrigeration, air-conditioning and manufacturing, but they are also potent greenhouse gases. The first big shortages hit in early 2018. Prices across Europe multiplied sixfold or even more. The EU wanted to push HFC users to adopt pricey, climate-friendlier alternatives. It thought that the engineered shortage would do the trick.Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.But officials were soon scratching their heads. The high prices unexpectedly plummeted. And even though the EU

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Europe is using newfound powers to bring Poland into line

February 17, 2022

Feb 19th 2022MOST GOOD superhero movies have a scene in which the protagonist discovers—often after some freakish accident—that he or she has developed amazing new powers. The first attempts to use these new powers are unsatisfactory. Shirts are accidentally torn to shreds and bedrooms covered in spider-web. Given time, however, the new abilities are tamed, then mastered. Audiences soon forget how the unlikely powers were acquired and enjoy the crusade, caped or otherwise, for justice and order.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Politicians who dream of being superheroes imagine being able to bend foes to their will. How easy life would be if troublemakers quietly fell into line. Look at Europe today, and a

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Germany’s plans for wind power are dauntingly ambitious

February 17, 2022

Feb 17th 2022HALBERSTADT AND TIRSCHENREUTH“WIND ENERGY is Schmarrn [nonsense],” exclaims Albert Köstler in his earthy Bavarian vernacular. He became hostile to wind power as mayor of the small town of Neualbenreuth, near Germany’s Czech border. Having reinvented itself as an attractive spa town, Neualbenreuth fought to prevent wind farms from spoiling the view for tourists. Now Mr Köstler’s scepticism has curdled into frustration with the pushy investors and plemplem (“crazy”) politicians who wish to stud the landscape with turbines. Bavaria’s vistas tend to inspire NIMBYism in locals, admits Roland Grillmeier, chief administrator of the nearby Tirschenreuth district. But he shares their concerns.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts

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As Orban runs for re-election, Hungary’s opposition fears fraud

February 17, 2022

Feb 17th 2022BUDAPESTVIKTOR ORBAN, Hungary’s prime minister and a hero to populists in Europe and America, faces a general election on April 3rd. Hungary’s complicated electoral system has grown more so during Mr Orban’s 12-year tenure. This is no accident: the changes are designed to keep his Fidesz party in power.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.In 2014 the share of MPs elected from single-member constituencies was raised to 106 out of the 199 seats in parliament. (The rest are elected by proportional representation.) Single-member districts tend to favour Fidesz, the biggest party—the more so as they have often been gerrymandered. In 2018 Fidesz won 91 of them. Overall, it translated just under half of the

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Meet Valérie Pécresse, the French centre-right hopeful

February 17, 2022

Feb 19th 2022SIGNY-l’ABBAYE“MMMM, A NICE baguette from the Ardennes!” declares Valérie Pécresse, tearing off a chunk of the warm crusty loaf she has just bought at a boulangerie and popping it into her mouth. The centre-right Republicans’ presidential candidate, and head of the greater Paris region, has taken her campaign to the valleys and forests of north-eastern France on a recent weekday. In the village of Signy-l’Abbaye, no shop or café goes unvisited. As Mrs Pécresse breezes in and out, clutching her loaf, some locals seem bemused. The manager at Le Gibergeon restaurant confesses beforehand to having no idea who the visitor is, but is later charmed. “Oh yes, I recognised her from the telly,” she says. “It would be good to have a female présidente.”Listen to this storyYour browser

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Spain’s empty middle flexes its political muscles

February 10, 2022

Feb 12th 2022CASAREJOS“I HAVE FOUR children,” says Blanca over a midday glass of wine with olives. “None of them lives here.” There are 156 residents registered in Casarejos, down almost half from 25 years ago. Locals differ on how many children live in the village, but all use just one hand to count them.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Blanca is complaining to Laura Gil, a candidate for Soria Ya (“Soria Now”) in the regional elections in Castile and León, scheduled for February 13th. Soria Ya is a new party that will compete only in Soria, one of the region’s nine provinces. Allied groups will run in other provinces, too, unified loosely under the banner of España Vaciada, or “Emptied Spain”.This slogan is a

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A beleaguered Olaf Scholz launches a diplomatic offensive

February 10, 2022

Feb 12th 2022BERLINTHEY WERE not the sort of headlines any leader would hope to read. “Germany, NATO’s weakest link,” said the Wall Street Journal. “The ‘invisible’ chancellor heads to Washington amid fierce criticism,” offered the New York Times. As Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s border and the West fumbled for a response, Olaf Scholz, Germany’s new chancellor, stood accused by allies of being missing in action. At home Germans concerned by his reluctance to enter domestic debates detected a pattern. “Our image has been seriously damaged abroad,” says Johann Wadephul, an MP from the opposition Christian Democrats.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.With criticism mounting, Mr Scholz has belatedly sprung into

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Turkey is the arms industry’s new upstart

February 10, 2022

Feb 12th 2022IstanbulIT HAS LEFT a trail of smouldering Russian-made tanks, trucks and artillery in wars in Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria and Libya. Soon Turkey’s TB2 drone may have a chance to do so again in Ukraine, which has bought dozens of them over the past couple of years and is now bracing for a Russian invasion. On February 3rd Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and Turkey’s, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inked a deal to build more of them together. Some of the drones have already seen action. A TB2 destroyed a howitzer used by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s Donbas region in October. American officials say Russia may have been planning to fake a TB2 strike against civilians as a pretext for war.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and

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Bosnia is on the brink of falling apart again

February 10, 2022

Feb 12th 2022SarajevoA PLAQUE ON Sarajevo’s magnificent old town hall, built under the Austro-Hungarian empire, commemorates its destruction by “Serbian criminals” in 1992. The hall has been reconstructed, but Bosnia-Herzegovina is crumbling. The country is facing its worst crisis since the end of the war in 1995.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.The Dayton Accords that ended the fighting in Bosnia created a country composed of two main entities: the Serbian-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) and the so-called Federation, where Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) share power with Bosnian Croats. Above them was a largely toothless national government, which has gradually acquired a few more powers and a small army. A foreign

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In France’s election young people are all over the map

February 10, 2022

Feb 12th 2022REIMS“SHE’S THE best!” declares Adrien, a 20-year-old student, cradling a French tricolore flag. He is waiting in the winter sunshine outside a trade hall on the outskirts of the cathedral town of Reims, where a rally for Marine Le Pen is about to start. “Before making decisions,” explains Adrien, “she asks people what they think, how they live, to find the best solution to their problem.” Alexandre, a fellow student, agrees. The nationalist-populist candidate at April’s French presidential election, he adds, is focused not only on “braking mass immigration” but also on the cost of living. As for Emmanuel Macron, the president, “We detest him.”Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Young French voters,

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A European bunfight breaks out over food labels

February 10, 2022

Feb 12th 2022THE TREATY of Versailles, signed in 1919, is usually remembered for the humiliating punishments it heaped on Germany. But flip through the pages of the accord that ended the first world war and a lesser-known aim of the Allied powers appears: the protection of champagne. Article 275 ensured that never again would French palates have to suffer the infamy of tasting German-grown grapes passed off as Gallic fizz. Among diplomats and historians the treaty is not considered one of Europe’s finest hours, given its role in sparking the next world war. Pampered farmers are perhaps the only ones who remember it more fondly.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.A century later, food remains the stuff of high

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The Turkey-Armenia relationship is thawing

February 3, 2022

Feb 3rd 2022IGDIRBLANKETS OF SNOW cover Igdir, a drab town in eastern Turkey near the border with Armenia. Mount Ararat, where Noah and his ark supposedly washed up after a spot of rain, towers over the scene. The closest big city, Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, is 30km away. But there is no going there, nor is there a way for Armenians to reach Turkey by land. The border between the two countries is closed. At the crossing outside town, Turkish soldiers stand guard opposite an unused customs building, braving the cold.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Happily, a thaw seems to be coming. Turkey and Armenia, divided by regional disputes and the legacy of the mass murder of Armenians by Ottoman forces over a century

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Southern Europe is reforming itself

February 3, 2022

Feb 3rd 2022THE ACRONYM stuck for a decade, no matter how bitterly the countries it lumped together moaned about it. Being branded one of the PIGS—short for Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain—as the euro teetered was to be the perennial butt of bond-market bullying, Eurocrat nagging and German tabloid contempt. But look today and the bloc’s Mediterranean fringe is doing rather well. Those once stuck in the muck in the aftermath of the global financial crisis are now flying high. Southern Europeans are running their countries with the competence and reformist zeal all too often lacking in their northern neighbours. It may be a flash in the pan. But if it endures, it will come to change the nature of the EU.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and

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Why Ukraine’s president is talking down the threat from Russia

February 2, 2022

Feb 5th 2022KYIVBLOOD MAY soon be spilled in Ukraine, but will it be real or fake? On January 31st authorities arrested a group they said was planning to stage riots in Ukrainian cities. The plot allegedly involved thousands of paid anti-government protesters, smoke bombs and litres of fake blood for the cameras, with medics on the scene to simulate first aid. The goal, explained Ihor Klymenko, Ukraine’s police chief, was to shake the country with viral images of unrest and police brutality.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Yet two days earlier, Ukraine’s government dismissed leaks from American intelligence officials that Russia was transporting supplies of blood to its troops at the Ukrainian border to treat

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Emmanuel Macron is highly likely to be re-elected as France’s president

February 2, 2022

Feb 5th 2022PARISSO KEEN ARE the French to evict any leader they vote into office that the language even has a word for it: dégagisme. No French president has been re-elected for 20 years. This April, five years after Emmanuel Macron seized the presidency in his first attempt at winning elected office, voters will decide whether to keep him on for a second term. The Economist’s election model, launched on February 2nd, suggests that they will. It puts Mr Macron’s chance of re-election at 79%. If he wins, the 44-year-old will break yet another rule of French politics.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Our model suggests that Mr Macron’s most serious challenger is the candidate of the centre-right Republicans,

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As Russia menaces Ukraine, eastern European countries grow nervous

January 30, 2022

Feb 5th 2022NARVA AND BUDAPESTTHE MUNICIPAL offices in the Estonian city of Narva are just a snowball’s throw from Russia. From her window Katri Raik, the mayor, can watch cars and lorries trickling through a border checkpoint. More than 80% of Narva’s residents are ethnic Russians, a legacy of the centuries during which Narva was part first of the Russian empire and then of the Soviet Union. Ethnic Russians, nearly a quarter of the population, have grown more integrated since Estonia became independent 30 years ago. Yet most send their children to Russian-language schools and rely on Russian media. “Yesterday someone on the city council said ‘U nikh v Estonii tak [That’s how it is over there in Estonia],’” says Ms Raik.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy

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As the pandemic raged, Europe bulldozed historic buildings

January 27, 2022

Jan 29th 2022COVID-19 HAS been a mixed bag for Europe’s architectural treasures. During the pandemic’s first year, overnight stays by international tourists dropped by 68% across the continent. Fewer visitors means less wear and tear on monuments, but also less income to maintain them. Gargoyles are not falling off cathedrals yet. But while attention was distracted, authorities have carried out some dubious renovations.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Take the Acropolis. (Xerxes did.) During Greece’s second lockdown in October 2020, builders poured wide concrete pathways around its temples. Authorities say the paths improve accessibility. Critics say they are causing floods. One academic accused the site’s

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Macron’s path to re-election runs through France’s outer suburbs

January 27, 2022

Jan 29th 2022SAINT-BRICE-SOUS-FORÊTON THE FRINGES of greater Paris, where urban concrete meets farmed fields, lies the suburb of Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt. Gently curved streets of two-storey houses, each with a parking space and garage, cover what were once apple and pear orchards. The narrow high street has just one café, and a “Cheesy Pizza” takeaway joint; but there is a drive-in Burger King on the outskirts. This is what the mayor, Nicolas Leleux, calls “the border of two universes”: city and countryside. It captures the worries and hopes of middle France, and exemplifies a crucial electoral battleground for April’s presidential poll.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Shy of extremes, the suburb tilts to the

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Peace and order reign in the EU, but seldom near it

January 27, 2022

Jan 29th 2022PRESS A EUROCRAT hard enough about the EU’s many imperfections, and sooner or later you hear a familiar defence. Never mind about coddled French farmers or Polish populists tearing up the rules: the crucial thing about the European project is that it has delivered peace. (The emphasis on this word is emotional; a small tear may well up at this point). Replacing centuries of warfare with decades of late-night summits quibbling over fish quotas is the European project’s proudest achievement. Fair enough. But peace stops at the EU’s borders. Surrounding the club is a zone of turmoil, which Europe seems powerless to soothe.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.The prospect of war in Ukraine currently

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The Nordic left is back in charge

January 20, 2022

Jan 22nd 2022STOCKHOLMTHESE ARE happy days for the Nordic left. For the first time since 2001, they are running all four big Nordic countries—all five, counting tiny Iceland. Four of the five leaders are women: Magdalena Andersson, a Social Democrat, became Sweden’s first female prime minister in November. The Nordic model envied by foreign left-wingers (though not always understood) is having a moment.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.So one might have expected a satisfied mood among the members of Byggnads, a construction trade union, who met at a Folkets Hus (community centre) in Stockholm in December. Instead they were angry. The LO, Sweden’s trade-union confederation, had just struck a deal with the

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Emmanuel Macron’s rivals are less Eurosceptic than before

January 20, 2022

Jan 22nd 2022PARISFIVE YEARS ago, when Brexit prompted fears that the European Union would unravel, Emmanuel Macron put Europe at the heart of his political identity. Supporters at his rallies enthusiastically waved the EU flag. So it was no surprise that, with France in charge of the rotating six-month presidency of the Council of the EU since January 1st, the French president headed on January 19th to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to renew his vows.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.The EU, declared Mr Macron, represented democracy, progress and peace at a time when each was under threat. Faced with rising authoritarian powers, breaches of the rule of law within the EU and the menace of war on its

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What China’s bullying of Lithuania reveals about Europe

January 20, 2022

Jan 22nd 2022WHEN EASTERN EUROPEAN countries about to join the EU in 2003 spoke up in favour of America’s invasion of Iraq, France’s president at the time, Jacques Chirac, haughtily declared they had “missed a good opportunity to shut up”. Their furious response suggested they thought the same of him. Europe likes to stress its collective power, born of an ever-closer union that includes joint foreign-policy ambitions and dreams of an EU army. Yet each country also wants a licence to pursue pet diplomatic forays. While sometimes these policies are sound (like opposing ill-fated invasions in the Middle East, it turned out), occasionally they end up dragging the entire bloc into fights it would rather avoid. If Europe wants geopolitical relevance, it cannot allow every member to foment its

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Friedrich Merz takes over as leader of Germany’s Christian Democrats

January 20, 2022

Jan 22nd 2022BERLINANGELA MERKEL’S lethargy covered Germany like a “carpet of fog”, raged Friedrich Merz in 2019. There was never any love lost between Germany’s ex-chancellor and the man she forced out of a top job in the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in 2002. Tail between his legs, Mr Merz left the Bundestag in 2009, only to re-emerge nine years later to compete for the party leader ship Mrs Merkel had vacated. His candidacy thrilled CDU members seeking conservative red meat. But moderates found his arrogance off-putting. His bid flopped, as did another last year.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.But in September the winner of that second contest, Armin Laschet, led the CDU and its Bavarian

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As war looms larger, what are Russia’s military options in Ukraine?

January 17, 2022

Jan 22nd 2022“WHAT STANDS in front of us, what could be weeks away, is the first peer-on-peer, industrialised, digitised, top-tier army against top-tier army war that’s been on this continent for generations,” warned James Heappey, Britain’s junior defence minister, on January 19th, pointing to Russia’s build-up of over 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border. “Tens of thousands of people could die.” Estonia’s defence chief echoed the warning. “Everything is moving towards armed conflict,” he said.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, is due to meet Antony Blinken, America’s secretary of state, in Geneva on January 21st. But the prospects for diplomacy are dim. On January 19th

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Arguments over compulsory covid-19 vaccination are raging across Europe

January 16, 2022

Jan 22nd 2022BERLINEARLIER THIS month President Emmanuel Macron said he wished to “piss off” those who had chosen not to be vaccinated against covid-19. France’s 5m unjabbed people will soon be barred from restaurants, theatres and long-distance trains, among other things. Yet they might consider themselves lucky. Italy and Greece have passed laws making vaccination obligatory for all residents over 50 and 60 respectively. Austria has just done so for all adults, and Germany may follow suit.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Most European countries have already excluded unvaccinated people from large swathes of public life, to varying effect. In many places jabs are a condition of employment in hospitals and care

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