Welcome to our weekly round-up where we take a look at the hot topics that have had you talking last week. With discussions around constitutional change in Spain to the legacy of President George WH Bush, we aim to give you a flavour of the opinions here on View that have driven debate across Europe and beyond.
The past week has marked a milestone for momentous change in Europe; on the one hand, Spain has celebrated the fortieth anniversary of its constitution, which smoothed its path from dictatorship to democracy. On the other, a third week of protests by the “gilets jaunes” appears to be a harbinger of a new era of change in France.
With the benefit of hindsight, history is often open to interpretation. So it is with the Spanish Constitution. While it was enacted by a strong majority of the Spanish people in 1978, recent events in the country have put its articles firmly under the microscope. After securing period of stability that has endured for four decades, is it now time to amend it to make it fit for the 21st century? In a three-part series, Euronews put it to Spanish MEPs to give their verdict on the document – and what should happen next.
Looking back in history can be a painful process, something Spain is experiencing right now with the Catalonia crisis and its civil war legacy. With the death of a former head of state, too, is enough to question a given period of a nation’s history. With the passing of former American president George HW Bush, the United States has lost one of its most ‘civil and decent’ statesmen. Many commentators and political pundits arguably rushed to praise him, including Michael Steel in his op-ed which looked back at his own personal memories of the man. But Noah Berlatsky has issued a warning against whitewashing his legacy so soon after his death, given some questionable and contentious decisions made during his tenure in the White House.
Some of Bush’s greatest achievements, however, were made in foreign policy, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification the pinnacle of his effective realpolitik abroad. But what would have happened if humanity had chosen a different path during the Cold War? The exploration of alternative histories has also fascinated novelists and filmmakers, most recently in the Netflix original series ‘1983’. Ani Bundel gives her verdict on a series which shows what Poland might have looked like had communism not fallen.
Of course, history is being made every day. In France, the “gilets jaunes” are leading the charge to create a wave of unprecedented social change. One way of assuaging the fury of those ‘left behind’ by society, according to French senator Nathalie Goulet, is the fight against fraud and tax evasion in the country.
Climate change continues to the biggest threat to people of all social classes and here too, a social revolution is taking the world by storm. In this particular case, it is the world’s young people taking the lead. It’s imperative that we listen to them on this issue, as young climate activist Melati Melati Wijsen writes in her View piece: “We youth may only be 25% of the world’s population but we are 100% of the future.”
For many young people, the decisions of the ruling elite in their country have provoked them into action. We saw this most recently on the streets of Budapest where students protested the eviction of the Central European University. Riling against his country’s right wing government, CEU alumnus István Ujhelyi argues in his op-ed that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is the real power behind the EPP bloc in the European Parliament.
This is not the only challenge facing the EU at the moment. Other View op-eds worthy of your attention this week include a piece by Baltic farmers who are urging the EU to act on the disparity between financial aid for richer member states and those who most need the bloc’s support in the Baltic states. Ursula Pachl takes up the fight against corporations who flout insurance and compensation rules, calling on the EU to make sure consumers on the continent are able to seek justice.
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