Weekly Digest: February 17

Economics

The Nord Stream 2 Still in Progress

Despite strong objections raised by multiple E.U. states, especially in Eastern Europe, and by the U.S., Germany keeps pushing forwards with its plan to finish NS2 construction works in the Baltic Sea by the end of this year. The opponents fear that the pipeline will increase Russia’s influence in Europe’s domestic politics by allowing Kremlin to blackmail selected European states. France, Britain, and Poland hoped the European Commission would stop the project which clearly favors German interests over those of the whole union but at this stage it is becoming clear that the E.C. may merely delay it.

Italy’s Central Bank About to Lose Independence

Tensions are arising between the current Italian government and senior management of the bank which is commonly perceived as one of the country’s most corrupt and inefficient financial institutions. Opponents of the reform suggest the government wants to take control of the bank’s large gold reserves in order to fund its expansionary fiscal policies. The E.U. commissioner for economic affairs, Pierre Moscovici, stressed out that Italy’s bank as one of the euro zone central banks must remain independent.


Politics

Rift Between Trump and Europe Is Now Open and Angry

The omnipresent Kennedy School professor Nick Burns kept hoping for an improvement in the transatlantic relationship in the short term. His hopes were dashed this week as attendees the Munich Security Conference ripped off the transparent band-aid to reveal a gashing wound in the relationship. Angela Merkel, on her way out as Germany’s chancellor, gave a passionate speech arguing for multilateralism and the dangers of a single country pulling out of multilateral alliances (cough, cough, Donald). Meanwhile, other attendees worried that the rifts could create fertile ground for Russia and China to exploit. While the long-term future of the transatlantic relationship is up in the air, it will certainly get worse before it gets better… if it gets better.

Catalan Leaders' Lawyer Attacks "Vaudeville" Case as Trial Begins

Remember Catalonia? Yeah, that Catalonia that held a referendum in which an overwhelming majority of voters opted for independence (and then declared independence unilaterally). The saga continues: Spain has put 12 Catalan government officials and other leaders of civic society on trial for charges including sedition and rebellion. Reigniting tensions between the two sides, both pro- and anti-independence protestors demonstrated outside the courtroom, guarded by a heavy police presence. As the trial unfolds, resentment against Spain will surely continue, although resentment certainly won’t make Catalonia’s case for independence grow any stronger.

Culture/Society

The 2019 30 Under 30 Europe in Art & Culture: Creatives Making Millions, Making Social Good

The 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe Art & Culture honorees form an impressive group. The young artists and entrepreneurs include women and men such as Amar Singh, who founded an art gallery in London (Amar Gallery) to represent female artists and fix the underrepresentation of women in the art world, Hannah Rose Thomas, who paints displaced women such as Myanmar refugees, and Merlin Labron-Johnson, the youngest British chef to receive a Michelin star, who has addressed food issues by partnering with many important chefs and cooks for homeless and refugee populations in his spare time.

Berlin: European Art House Cinemas Want Netflix Ban

The international confederation of art cinemas (CICAE) has criticized the Berlin Film Festival for having included Elisa and Marcela by Isabel Coixet in the competition, as it is a Netflix film. The group stated that Netflix poses a danger to cinemas as being a place for culture and diversity. A similar complain occured in Cannes and at the Venice Film Festival last year.