Weekly Digest: November 18

Politics

The Men Who Want to Push Britain off a Cliff

Theresa May announced a Brexit deal this week, a 585-page doozy of a Withdrawal Agreement that includes provisions relating to a transition period and the issue of the Northern Irish border. Despite 17 months of negotiations, hard-line Brexiteers don’t like the deal, and they have created political chaos within the Conservative Party as May may be on the chopping block as Prime Minister.

Spain Digs Up Its Past

A recent move to exhume the body of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco from its current resting place in the Valley of the Fallen to a prominent national cathedral in the center of Spain has produced controversy in Spain. After all, the country has struggled with its identity as a democracy ever since the dictatorship, with legislation like the Historical Memory Law bringing issues with the dictatorship to light after the Pact of Forgetting repressed discussion of Franco’s regime.

Economics

Italy in trouble with the European Commission

After the Italian government failed to resubmit its budget plans, the European Commission started to consider invoking an excessive-deficit procedure against Italy. The country was required to reduce its debt ratio by 3.5 percentage points a year to get it down to 60%, but the Commission predicts the ratio will remain at 131% during 2018-2020. Although Italy estimates its deficit this year to be safe 2.4% which does not violate the 3% ceiling, the Commission’s own estimates show the actual deficit will come very close to the ceiling. If the Commission gets enough votes from member states to invoke an EDP, Italy will be given time to adjust its budget. But if the adjustments are not satisfactory, the Commission will have the power to impose on Italians a fine of 0.2% of their GDP and freeze all the payments they receive from EU funds

Euro-zone slowing down or on the brink of recession?

After two consecutive bad quarters, and a 17-month low, the European Central Bank is said to have entered a pre-recession stage. Considerations of raising interest rates by 2019 now seem improbable, as even president Mario Draghi stipulates on a rise in trade uncertainty. However, there is trust on both the side of the ECB and of economists elsewhere that these are not signs of a flailing economy, as European Zone recessions have required historically specific triggering events. These might come in the form of an intensified US-China trade war, which would push the Euro-zone on the brink of recession most likely. The effect on bond buying also seems highly critical at this time. In the coming month, until December 13th, when the ECB must make a policy decision, the Eurogroup, Germany, Italy and others are set to make big decisions on the current strife.

Culture/Society

European Arts Organizations Plea for Creatives’ Rights to be Protected Following Brexit   

As Brexit continues to dominate international interest, European arts organizations are pushing for the Arts to be considered in Brexit negotiations. Equity, UK Theatre, and Society of London Theatre warned that Brexit would repress the movement of and supply of creative talent in Europe and the UK, and a statement made by organisations such as the International Federation of Actors calls for theatre, film, and TV to be considered in Brexit negotiations.

How Did Poppies Become a Symbol of Remembrance After World War I?

The poppy flower has become a prominent symbol of remembrance of the first world war, popularly worn on the lapel and displayed in other manners to remember the lives lost. What began as the one flower to persist in muddy and barren battlefields has become, over time and through many personal stories, an internationally recognized symbol.