Weekly Digest: February 10

Economics

Tensions around money-laundering in Cyprus and Malta

Both the American Treasury and the European Commission have expressed their concerns about financial sleaze in Cyprus and Malta. According to the European Commission, the countries’ investor citizenship laws expose the whole EU to money-laundering risks. The governments, however, seem to be aware of the problem and take it seriously; Malta has increased its budget for money-laundering prevention six-fold and the Central Bank of Cyprus banned Cypriot banks from dealing with shell companies.


The end of Germany’s golden decade

New unsettling data suggest the Germany may be entering a period of technical recession. The statistics office, having estimated the 2018 GDP growth at 1.5% compared to 2.2% in 2017, admits that the economy is losing its momentum. While some blame weak demand home and abroad, others think it was the new strict fuel-emission regulations imposed on carmakers that slowed production. Another fear emerging on the horizon is the decline in trade between Germany and the U.K. after the Brexit as Britain is Germany’s fourth-biggest export market.


Politics

Venezuela crisis: European states recognized Guiadó as president

Nicolas Maduro may still be in power, but the international community is turning against him in greater and greater numbers: Among others, France, Germany, Spain, and the UK have recognized opposition politician Juan Guiadó as Venezuela’s rightful president. While these moves may seek to appeal to Europeans wanting action against Maduro’s dictatorial regime, they are more talk than action at this point. As long as Maduro controls Venezuela’s military (and European powers and America refuse to intervene militarily), he will keep his grip on power. European powers need to walk the walk on deposing Maduro if they actually want to do so, instead of just talking the talk.


France tells Italy 'playtime is over' in diplomatic row

Even though playtime may be over, France and Italy are still acting like children. The row started when Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini, Italian politicians prominent in that country’s government, publicly expressed support for the yellow jacket protests plaguing France and dissed France’s president Emmanuel Macron. In response, France recalled its ambassador to Italy. France’s reaction to Di Maio and Salvini’s comments indicates that their government feels threatened by the yellow jacket protests, while the two politicians’ comments indicate their desire to please their populist and nationalist bases by denigrating another government.


With North Macedonia's Inclusion, NATO Gets a Boost That Sends a Message

Finally, some positive news this week. In the face of President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to divide the European and Atlantic communities, those communities got larger with the impending accession of North Macedonia (formally the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) to NATO. Greece ceased its objections to Macedonia’s membership after both countries approved the Macedonia’s referendum to change its name. The move is a complete rejection of Russia’s geopolitical stance on NatO, especially since Russia has been accused of meddling in both sides of this dispute to keep the discord between the two countries going.


Culture/Society

Nottingham reveals European vision to lead the way in culture and creativity

Nottingham, UK, is poised to become a new hub of European culture and creativity. The city already considered to have the foundations for blossoming into a cultural hub, the Culture Cities Enquiry brought leaders from all different cultural, business-related, and creative backgrounds together to explore Nottingham’s potential to compete with other prominent cities for tourism, business, and talent investment.


Bosnia’s sole female coppersmith keeps flame burning for dwindling art

Nermina Alic, a 37 year old woman in Sarajevo who was selected to create the peace flame torches for the European Youth Olympics in Sarajevo, is fighting a battle on two fronts. She fights to keep the dying art, the coppersmith trade, alive, while on another front, she is forced to face prejudice day to day in her still-patriarchal society, explaining that most customers who enter her shop do not even address her, expecting a male in her place.


Switzerland: A microcosm of European cultures

Switzerland, only 1.5 times the size of Massachusetts, has a startlingly wide variety of linguistic and cultural traditions. More commonly known for its visual appeal, the country is the perfect place to explore many different societies while remaining in one small country, traveling from Italian-speaking Lugano to Val Müstair, a Romanesh-speaking valley; from the French-speaking region of Lavaux to predominately German-speaking Zürich.

Image Source: Reuters