We Europeans

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East, West, who’s worst?

Minor yet significant events are easily swallowed up in the digestive tract of history. Personal tragedies get buried under the steamroller of power politics. Over 60 years ago, in 1948, I was drafted into national service in the British army. After training in Northern Ireland (in the company of IRA sympathisers on the run from… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill

Media commentators are talking about the long-term risk that the European institutions will “disintegrate”. But the foundations on which these institutions are based – the subsoil of the European Union – are also shaky. There are a number of long-term trends that all seem to point in the same direction: the ‘balkanisation’ or fragmentation of… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill

We owe this statement to the original Henry Ford, pioneer of the ‘Model T’. He went on to tell the journalist interviewing him: “It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker’s dam is the history we made today.” But even the… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill

With the help of new technologies and the social media, our world is changing so fast that we have difficulty in keeping up with it. Instant videos and SMS messaging fuel grassroots movements and challenge the established order. They create novel situations that, as in the Arab world, bring the need for new social constructs… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill

We may well ask where Europe is heading these days. Public opinion is notoriously fickle, and we are getting conflicting signals from different sources. Adversity, as in recent times, tends to reinforce the hold of traditional national identities. So we still have to see whether we have really seen the back of old-style nationalism in… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill

Conferences, in our experience, can be very boring, but one that we found ourselves at last month was really thought-provoking. The subject was that old ‘chestnut’ of how to get development aid to Africa. It could have been a mind-numbing experience, despite the continued urgency of the issue, but it was transformed by the vitality… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill

A piece about the euro crisis published early in December in the New York Times pointed out that “Portugal shares the high wages and prices of richer northern European neighbors, but not their competitiveness”. The headline read “Euro Zone Is Imperiled by North-South Divide”, but the article failed to deliver on its promise, apart from… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill

It’s no secret that Italy’s economia sommersa is one of the biggest in Europe. Traditional estimates of no less than 15 per cent of GDP have now been topped by an independent study which puts the Italian black economy at nearly 25 per cent, one-third of which is not surprisingly attributed to creative minds in… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill

The revelation that Greece had been fiddling the accounts for so long prompted one of its citizens to exclaim to a reporter that “we gave the world democracy, and we expect the European Union to support us!” Yes, well… If the democracy we’re living with today is anything to go by, we don’t have much… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill