We Europeans

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

Hot air and human rights

Like a hot air balloon, the issue of respect for human rights in Flanders goes up and up in the institutional stratosphere. After a near collision with a critical report from the Council of Europe – a report which produced no response at all from the Flemish Government – the balloon has now floated up… » 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

It’s some 15 years now that I began to get the feeling that the good ol’ USA had lost its way. More recently, that feeling has taken hold of lots of people over here. The great American public seems to have little time any longer for rational thinking. You can say the same thing about… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill

As a leading authority on nationalism, the Vienna-born historian Eric Hobsbawm recognised the rallying potential of the game. Speaking of his childhood in the 1920s he said that “the only thing that brought the Austrians together in those days was football.” Not much has changed since then. Since WWII the sport has been marked by… » 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

The national political establishments find many ways to undermine the strenuous efforts made by the European Parliament to grab the attention of Europe’s publics: gerrymandering the candidate lists, putting forward ‘safe’ people who will not challenge positions back home, and so on. On top of this, there is every sign that, out of disenchantment with… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill

The European Parliament seems to deny (or confirm?) one of the laws of physics. The more influential it becomes as part of the EU democratic process, the less meaningful it is to the man or woman-in-the-street (a down-to-earth version of ‘the European citizen’). The latest Eurobarometer poll suggests that only 34% of the European electorate… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill