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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

Spain needs immigrants. But does it still want them?

3 days ago

Dec 4th 2021MADRIDIT IS THE season of calm seas off the Sahara, and each week several hundred African migrants turn up on the shores of the Canary Islands, packed tightly into open fishing boats. Some of them, especially those from Mali, are fleeing violence. Many more are economic migrants, lured by the prospect of much higher wages in Europe, if they can somehow get there.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.It is a hazardous trip: at least 900 migrants have died on this route so far this year. But most who make it to the Canaries eventually find their way to the Spanish mainland. There they find a country whose traditional welcome for immigrants is showing signs of strain.Modern Spain acquired an immigrant

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Linguistic trivia highlight Spain’s enduring cultural divisions

3 days ago

Dec 4th 2021MADRID“WITH THE stroke of a pen” is a phrase usually used metaphorically. But just a single stroke differentiates the two forms of the name of a Spanish city: “Valencia” (in Spanish) and “València” (in the regional language). A left-wing regionalist party recently kicked off a debate in Spain’s Senate by insisting on “València” as the only spelling—even in Spanish (which does not have the letter è).Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Spain’s regional squabbles are often this tiny. Some Catalans detect an insult in the use of the letter ñ, which is used only in Castilian (Spanish), but not in Catalan. Barcelona’s second-biggest football club was named “Español” on its founding in 1900, to distinguish it

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Might Silvio Berlusconi become the next president of Italy?

3 days ago

Dec 4th 2021ROMEOPENING THEIR parliamentary mailboxes last month, Italian lawmakers were surprised to find an anthology of speeches by Silvio Berlusconi. On the cover was a photograph of the former prime minister, his arms raised high to acknowledge the adulation of an unseen crowd. The booklet, modestly entitled “I am Forza Italia” (“Come on, Italy”, the party that Mr Berlusconi founded and leads), was the opening gambit in the 85-year-old media mogul’s undeclared campaign to crown his turbulent career with election, by a college of parliamentarians, to Italy’s highest office. The term of the incumbent president, Sergio Mattarella, expires on February 3rd, and he has repeatedly ruled out an extension. The race to succeed him is now dominating Italian public life.Listen to this storyYour

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Nord Stream 2 could still sabotage German-American relations

3 days ago

Dec 4th 2021BERLINOLAF SCHOLZ and Joe Biden seem to be destined to have as cordial a relationship as Angela Merkel and Barack Obama did. The incoming German chancellor and the American president are both Atlanticists on the centre-left of their respective political spectrums who are committed to fighting climate change. Mr Scholz has called America “Europe’s closest and most important partner”. As finance minister he got on well with the Biden administration.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Even so, one geopolitical conundrum is casting a big shadow over the relationship. Nord Stream 2, a recently completed 1,230km (764-mile) undersea pipeline for natural gas from Russia to Germany, is fiercely opposed by

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Riches lie below the waters of Russia’s Arctic

10 days ago

Nov 27th 2021RUSSIA’S LARGEST component republic is Yakutia. It extends well into the Arctic Circle and is as big as Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Finland and Romania combined, but with a population of just 1m people. Over the past decade retreating sea ice has opened up a new shipping lane along its coast, the Northern Sea Route (NSR). This is the shortest passage between the ports of east Asia and western Europe, but its icy waters also offer something even more precious: geological bounty, in the form of cobalt, tin and rare-earth metals, deep below the surface.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Hostile weather and other obstacles to extraction make prospecting along the NSR a daunting venture.

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E-sports are trying to encourage more women to compete

10 days ago

Nov 27th 2021YOU WAIT, rifle in hand. An enemy appears. You kill him, and whoop for joy. Welcome to VALORANT, a popular video game that some people play professionally. This year the VALORANT Champions Tour, a series of contests that ends next month, will offer $1m in total prize money. Eighty players are competing; all are men.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Some 42% of gamers who watch e-sports (at least occasionally) are female, and women often commentate on tournaments. But of the 300 highest-earning e-sports players, not one is a woman. Why so few women make it to the top is poorly understood. E-sports do not require physical strength. But they do require dedication, and the pool of avid female gamers is

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A new treaty between France and Italy upends EU politics

10 days ago

Nov 27th 2021THE LIST of things France and Italy have argued about in the past decade ranges from the serious to the silly. Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi scrapped over migrants crossing from Italy into France. When the gilets jaunes popped up in France, Luigi Di Maio, then deputy prime minister, offered his support to the protesting petrolheads. “The wind of change has crossed the Alps,” said Mr Di Maio. France responded by pulling its ambassador across the Alps back to Paris in protest. In Libya, Italy and France found themselves backing opposite sides in a civil war on Europe’s doorstep. An Italian minister even complained that the French were trying to claim Leonardo da Vinci was French and spelling his name wrong to add insult.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support

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A surge of deadly covid cases in Europe is met by popular fury over lockdowns

11 days ago

Nov 27th 2021BERLINTHE SIGHT of 40,000 unvaccinated Austrians marching through their capital, Vienna, in recent days was troubling twice over. The tightly packed opponents of lockdown measures were at risk of spreading the coronavirus. They also threatened to stir up an already tense political situation. Karl Nehammer, Austria’s interior minister, warned that anti-vaxxers in the Alpine republic are growing more radicalised. He called the demonstration’s mood “incensed” and “aggressive”. Some protesters were extremely provocative, carrying placards likening Alexander Schallenberg, Austria’s new chancellor, to Josef Mengele, the sadistic physician at the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or

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Olaf Scholz’s coalition prepares to take office in Germany

11 days ago

Nov 27th 2021BERLINTHREE-AND-A-HALF years ago German politics looked exhausted. Angela Merkel had just assembled her third “grand coalition”, a tired centrist alliance that left no one satisfied. Today, two months after an election that saw Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrats booted from office, the mood is markedly brighter. On November 24th the leaders of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP), a pro-business party, exuded optimism as they gathered in a converted Berlin warehouse to hail their new “traffic-light” coalition (named after the parties’ red, green and yellow colours). In 177 pages and 52,000 words—a shade more than “The Great Gatsby”—their three-party deal lays out a policy agenda for the next four years.Listen to this storyYour browser does not

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Last of the commies

17 days ago

Nov 18th 2021A PERK OF being locked up by a fascist dictator is that it leaves you with a lot of time on your hands. Altiero Spinelli, an Italian communist, spent the bulk of his youth imprisoned by Benito Mussolini. During one stint of internment in 1941, Spinelli used his spare time to come up with the Ventotene Manifesto, named after the island off Naples to which he was banished. Pieced together on cigarette papers, it provided a socialist blueprint for a federal Europe, earning the communist thinker a legacy as one of the more obscure founding fathers of the EU.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Aside from the European Parliament building in Brussels, which bears Spinelli’s name, communists left little mark on

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Near death in jail, Georgia’s former president defies its current one

17 days ago

Nov 18th 2021TBILISIEIGHTEEN YEARS ago this month, the 35-year-old Mikheil Saakashvili, an American-educated Georgian politician, led the first “colour revolution” in the countries of the former Soviet Union. When he subsequently became president he turned around the corrupt and failing republic, although he was also much criticised for hogging and abusing power. Now he is in prison fighting for his life after seven weeks on hunger-strike.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Mr Saakashvili stepped down in 2013 after his party lost an election, surrendering power to Bidzina Ivanishvili, a reclusive billionaire who founded and still controls the ruling Georgian Dream party. Mr Ivanishvili chased him out of the country

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Allies fear Germany’s incoming government will go soft on nukes

17 days ago

Nov 20th 2021BERLINGERMANY’S COALITION talks have done little to dispel its reputation for political dullness. After winning a majority in September’s election, the Social Democrats (SPD), Free Democrats and Greens aim to wrap up negotiations next week on their “traffic-light” coalition (named after the parties’ colours) before taking office in early December. Bar the odd wobble the talks seem to have been largely straightforward. But Germany’s closest allies have been watching one issue with mounting alarm.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.The “P3”—America, Britain and France, the three nuclear-armed NATO allies that hold permanent seats on the UN Security Council—have two related concerns. First, that Germany

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The EU’s stand-off with Belarus is complicating its row with Poland

17 days ago

Nov 18th 2021WARSAWTHE MIGRANTS had nowhere to go. Behind them stood Belarus’s brutal security officers, before them rows of Polish soldiers. Mostly Iraqi Kurds, they had been lured to Minsk, Belarus’s capital, with promises of passage to Germany, then dumped in the forests, told to breach the border fence and beaten if they did not. On November 16th the Belarusians moved hundreds of them to a border crossing. Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’s dictator, hoped that by provoking violence he could embarrass Poland and divide the EU, which imposed sanctions after he stole an election. When migrants threw stones, the Poles sprayed them with water cannon.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Mr Lukashenko’s use of helpless

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Putting Cyprus together may be impossible

17 days ago

Nov 18th 2021VAROSHAAPOSTOLIS, A RETIRED Greek-Cypriot dentist aged 78, tours his former clinic in Varosha, now a derelict shell of a building, for the first time in nearly half a century. His friend Despo wipes away tears in front of her grandfather’s old shop, where she would park her bike after school. Varosha was once home to some 39,000 Greek-Cypriots and swarms of tourists. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton strolled on its beaches. Four young Swedes, later known as ABBA, gave one of their first concerts here. Now it is a ghost town, overgrown by bushes and trees. Opposite Apostolis’s clinic, painted over the façade of what was once a Greek high school, are a pair of flags, one Turkish, the other belonging to the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC), set up after the island was

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France is doing well, but feeling miserable

19 days ago

Nov 18th 2021PARISTUNE IN TO any French prime-time talk show this autumn and discussion rages over the country’s wretched decline. France is losing its factories and jobs, squeezing incomes and small businesses, destroying its landscapes and language, neglecting its borders and squandering its global stature. Its people are fractious and divided, if not on the verge of a civil war, as a public letter from retired army officers suggested earlier this year. At the second presidential primary debate for the centre-right Republicans party, on November 14th, the five candidates competed with each other to chronicle French disaster. Listen to the hard right and it is “the death of France as we know it”.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts

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How trains could replace planes in Europe

24 days ago

Nov 13th 2021BERLINTHE CENTREPIECE of this year’s European Year of Rail was the “Connecting Europe Express”. Between September and October its cars whisked EU officials across the continent on a whistle-stop tour promoting the future of railways. But the train itself was a nostalgia trip: most of its wagons were built in the 1980s, since more recent models were less likely to be certified by the rail-safety boards of all 26 countries it visited. Without arm-twisting by the European Commission, said Alberto Mazzola of the CER, a rail-industry group, the trip would have been impossible.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.It was a classic European story. The EU has grand ambitions for trains as a way of cutting carbon

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Eastern European countries are being hit by a wave of covid deaths

24 days ago

Nov 13th 2021ON NOVEMBER 6TH teams of medics dressed in full protective gear packed equipment into a Romanian military transport plane before pushing beds with two severely ill covid-19 patients up the ramp and inside. As the propellers began to whirr, the back door slowly closed and the plane lumbered up the runway heading for Denmark. “There is no secret,” says Raed Arafat, who is co-ordinating Romania’s fight against covid: the country’s hospitals are “overflowing”. About 90 patients have been evacuated to Denmark, Germany, Hungary and elsewhere. Teams of doctors are also flying in from all over Europe to help their beleaguered colleagues.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Across Europe the numbers of people

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Turkey’s government sees no humour in soft fruit

24 days ago

Nov 11th 2021ISTANBULTURKEY HAS deported Syrian refugees before. Some were sent back to their war-scorched homeland for failing to register with the authorities or for minor crimes. Some say they were tricked or forced into signing voluntary return forms. But none thought they would be thrown out for eating bananas. Until now.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.In October the government said it would deport seven Syrians for sharing “provocative” videos on social media, which showed the young refugees staring into their phones and munching yellow fruit. This was in response to an interview with a Turkish man who had blamed Syrians for driving up rents and complained that they could afford bananas, which he could

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Minimum wage, maximum rage

24 days ago

Nov 13th 2021EVERYONE WANTS to be a little bit Danish. Hygge, a sense of Nordic contentment attained via baking, candles and good company, became the philosophy du jour during lockdown. Danish dramas win garlands, while its comedies contain jokes so enjoyably dark that viewers may worry about finding themselves on a Europol watch list. Even Danish semen has become a booming export, thanks to the country’s combination of liberal rules for donors and reputation as a small nation of tall hunks.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.But it is the Danish labour system that attracts the most plaudits. Leftists drool over a model that sees burger flippers in McDonald’s paid the equivalent of $22 per hour. Those on the right

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A scheme to use migrants to split the EU is likely to backfire

25 days ago

Nov 13th 2021ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, master tactician? The president of Belarus has brought thousands of migrants from the Middle East to the EU’s doorstep on the eve of winter, daring the bloc to abandon its humanitarian instincts as the world looks on. Mr Lukashenko seems to have intended to reignite the internal division and political upheaval that followed the influx of migrants to Europe in 2015. He has instead forged a consensus in favour of the swift punishment of his regime.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.The scenes that have unfolded at the Polish-Belarusian border since November 8th were his concoction. Belarusian travel agents in Iraq offer flights, a visa and the sham promise of an easy path to a new

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Bouncers at gay clubs in Georgia screen patrons for bigotry

November 4, 2021

Nov 4th 2021TBILISIQUEEN YULIA spends her nights lip-synching in a cheap wig and a disco-ball bra. Sometimes she does so on a plastic horse. She is one of a handful of professional drag queens in Georgia. She is also a co-owner of Success Bar, the country’s only avowedly gay pub. (Some other clubs in Georgia run occasional gay nights.) Before she made a living on stage, she was in charge of “face control” for the bar. For bouncers at most other venues, that means maintaining an air of exclusivity by letting in only stylish folk. For Queen Yulia and security guards at other LGBT events in Georgia, it means screening out bigots who might turn violent.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.This is hard. Hatred, unlike a

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Sixty years of Turkish “guest workers” in Germany

November 4, 2021

Nov 6th 2021COLOGNE AND DÜSSELDORFIT WAS NOT poverty or ambition that drew Irfan Demirbilek to Germany from Turkey in 1968, but the lure of its splendid cars. Spotting a queue outside an employment office in Istanbul one day, Mr Demirbilek, an electrician who had long dreamed of having his own wheels, decided to join them in applying to work in West Germany. The countries had signed a “guest-worker” deal in 1961, and a brief spell earning Deutschmarks would suffice for an Opel or VW Beetle. A few months later Mr Demirbilek was on a three-day train to Cologne, his head full of excitement and apprehension.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.As with so many Turkish guest workers, his brief German sojourn turned out to

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Snap elections are called after Portugal’s government collapses

November 4, 2021

Nov 6th 2021LISBONA GERINGONÇA IS pleasing to say, but difficult to operate. The Portuguese term, sometimes translated as “contraption”, refers to a device patched together from oddly fitting parts. Although the governing arrangement that António Costa, Portugal’s prime minister, assembled in 2015 was dubbed the geringonça, it proved surprisingly durable. But on October 27th it finally fell apart, as two left-wing partners voted down his budget, triggering elections two years early—a rare occurrence in Portugal.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Though the budget was expansive, splashing out on free kindergarten and other goodies and increasing the minimum wage, it was not lavish enough for Mr Costa’s radical

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Why Britain is such a noisy neighbour

November 4, 2021

Nov 6th 2021THE BRITISH government is easily distracted. At the G7, it was sausages that knocked its concentration. Leaders gathered in Carbis Bay in June to discuss the pandemic and climate change. Instead they found Boris Johnson, their British host, embroiled in an argument with the EU about the export of chilled meats to Northern Ireland. At COP26, the environmental jamboree in Glasgow in Scotland, it was fish. Mr Johnson argued with France over the fate of a few dozen fishing licences in the Channel Islands.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Britain’s relationship with the EU has a habit of interfering with set-piece events. France threatened to ban British boats from its ports, as well as jam up freight

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How might climate change affect European gastronomy?

November 4, 2021

Nov 6th 2021FARMERS IN SOUTHERN Italy are cultivating avocados and mangos. Tropical creatures such as the rabbitfish are turning up in Mediterranean nets. And Bordeaux winemakers fret that their Merlot grapes may become extinct. Fifty years ago all this would have been unthinkable. But since the early 1980s rising temperatures have forced some farmers to swap grapes for passion fruit.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Italy and France have long been proud of their cuisines. Both countries jealously guard the rules that say only ham made in Parma can be called “Prosciutto di Parma”, and only fizzy wine made in Champagne can be called champagne. Roquefort, that most celebrated of blue cheeses, was given special

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Italy’s new prime minister has had a good first nine months

November 2, 2021

Nov 4th 2021FOR THE past six months Italians have been floating from triumph to triumph. It began in May when an Italian band, Maneskin, won the Eurovision song contest. In July their men’s football team became Europe’s champions and in August, at the Olympics, their male sprinters astonished the sporting world, claiming gold in the 100 metres and 4 x 100 metres relay. In October an Italian scientist, Giorgio Parisi, shared the Nobel prize for physics.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Italy has meanwhile had what is, for it, the novel experience of being governed by an internationally respected prime minister, Mario Draghi, with a huge parliamentary majority that allows him to turn his projects swiftly into law.

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The EU is being asked to pay for border fences to keep migrants out

October 28, 2021

Oct 30th 2021THE EUROPEAN UNION has a firm stance on paying for border walls: it won’t. Even after Europe’s migration crisis in 2015-16, when 1.4m people arrived, many fleeing Syria’s civil war, the European Commission sent Hungary away with a flea in its national ear when it asked for reimbursement for fencing off its border with Serbia, one of the main entry points.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Nothing in the Schengen Borders Code, which governs border management, a shared responsibility between the EU and its member states, stops the commission from paying for fences. But the view in Brussels is that they are costly and ineffective. They can be climbed. They divert rather than deter migrants. And they get

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As the lira tanks, so does the stock of Turkey’s president

October 28, 2021

Oct 28th 2021ISTANBULA GOOD DUST-UP with one Western ally or another is something that Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, always relishes. On October 23rd he took on ten of them at the same time, announcing that he had ordered the American, French, German, Dutch, Canadian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, and New Zealand ambassadors to be declared personae non gratae, a prelude to having them kicked out of the country. Their offence was to have signed a letter urging Turkey to release Osman Kavala, a philanthropist locked up on farcical terror and coup charges. It took another couple of days, the exhortations of Turkish officials, who warned him of the dire potential consequences to the country’s economy, and a carefully crafted statement by the American embassy, in which the

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Serbia is on a shopping spree for weapons

October 28, 2021

Oct 30th 2021BELGRADE“COME WITH me,” says Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s president. “Now you are going to see a smile on my face!” From the terrace of Belgrade’s presidency building he points at skyscrapers shooting up and declares triumphantly: “Like a phoenix rising from the ashes!”Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Other former Yugoslav states worry that Serbia’s army is also rising from the ashes. During a petty dispute with Kosovo about car number-plates in September, Serbia flew warplanes close to the border and deployed armoured vehicles to cow its smaller neighbour.Between 2015 and 2021 Serbia’s defence spending jumped by some 70% to $1.4bn a year. Russia and Belarus have given it ten MiG-29 jets. Russia has

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Nuclear energy united Europe. Now it is dividing the club

October 28, 2021

Oct 28th 2021BEFORE THE euro, Schengen, “Ode to Joy”, butter mountains and the Maastricht treaty, there was the atom. “The peaceful atom”, wrote Jean Monnet, the cognac salesman turned founding father of the EU, was to be “the spearhead for the unification of Europe”. Europe was a nuclear project before it was much else. In 1957 the EU’s founding members signed the Treaty of Rome to form the European Economic Community, the club’s forebear. At the same time they put their names to a less well-known organisation: Euratom, which would oversee nuclear power on the continent. The idea of the common market was nebulous; the potential of nuclear energy was clear.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Where nuclear power was

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