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The Economist Continental Europe Edition

The Economist Continental Europe Edition 06/02/2018

The Economist is the premier source for the analysis of world business and current affairs, providing authoritative insight and opinion on international news, world politics, business, finance, science and technology, as well as overviews of cultural trends and regular Special reports on industries and countries.

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The Economist Newspaper Limited - Europe
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8 min.
the world this week

Politics Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, vetoed a proposed finance minister put forward by the Five Star Movement and the Northern League, populist movements of respectively the left and the right, who are trying to form a government. After a day of consternation on the markets, alternatives were being considered, including a technocratic government that will run Italy until a fresh election is held. Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s prime minister, faced a censure motion that might trigger early elections in the country. Voters in Ireland backed a change to the constitution to make abortion legal, by 66% to 34% in a referendum. After Ireland’s decision, the British government came under pressure to hold a referendum in Northern Ireland, where abortion remains illegal. A spokesman for Theresa May, whose majority in Parliament depends on support from…

5 min.
handle with care

DURING the worst days of the euro-zone debt crisis, the fear was that bond-market turmoil in places such as Greece and Spain would spread to Italy. The biggest debtor in Europe would be too big to bail out, so Grexit might lead to Italexit and the break-up of the euro. Now the attention is focused directly on Italy itself. In March half of Italian voters plumped for two populist parties that until recently favoured leaving the euro: the maverick Five Star Movement, which triumphed in the poorer south; and the xenophobic Northern League, which scored well in the richer north. Neither had fought the election campaign on a promise to leave the euro (the opposite, in fact). And as the two tried to form an all-populist cabinet, investors hoped that the…

3 min.
a cruel and unusual border policy

“FAMILY values do not stop at the Rio Grande,” said George W. Bush. But that may depend on which bank of the river you have in mind. Even by the standards of President Donald Trump’s administration, the way America has begun separating migrant children from their parents is horrific. The policy, part of an effort by the attorney-general Jeff Sessions to curb a seasonal rise in illegal immigration, is repugnant and self-defeating. It is a disgrace to America and should be stopped. The Obama and Bush administrations both increased deportations of illegal migrants, yet avoided separating migrant families. Mr Trump’s, by contrast, appears to view its right to deprive migrant parents of their children, when pitching them into the criminal-justice system, as a useful deterrent against future immigration. There are reports…

3 min.
just say know

AS THOUSANDS of young people danced in the sun at Britain’s Mutiny Festival on Saturday, two partygoers lay dying. Another dozen or so were sent to hospital. All are thought to have reacted badly to illegal drugs—and they will not be the last such casualties of the year. The death rate in Britain from ecstasy, a popular festival drug, is at its highest-ever level. Meanwhile deaths from opioids are on the rise across the rich world, particularly in America, where overdoses now kill more people than either cars or guns. Many of these tragedies are avoidable—as another British festival last weekend showed. At a bash in Bristol, festivalgoers queued to have their illegal drugs tested by volunteer chemists, with the consent of the police. The checks revealed ecstasy pills that were…

3 min.
live fast, die fast

WHILE Emmanuel Macron’s conflict with the strikers may be the hottest topic of conversation in French cities, la France profonde is exercised about another aspect of presidential authority. From July 1st, the limit on single-carriageway rural roads will be reduced from 90kph (55mph) to 80kph (see Europe section). The government maintains that this will save 300-400 lives a year. But opinion amid the pastis and the boules is solidly against the reduction. This decision is no Jupiterian decree, imposed arbitrarily by the powers in Paris on resentful rurals. Humanity’s love of speed needs to be tempered by considerations of safety and pollution. So the government set the costs of reducing the speed limit on various sorts of roads against the benefits, and found that the sums came out in favour of…

5 min.
perfected in china, a threat in the west

THEY’RE watching you. When you walk to work, CCTV cameras film you and, increasingly, recognise your face. Drive out of town, and numberplate-reading cameras capture your journey. The smartphone in your pocket leaves a constant digital trail. Browse the web in the privacy of your home, and your actions are logged and analysed. The resulting data can be crunched to create a minute-by-minute record of your life. Under an authoritarian government such as China’s, digital monitoring is turning a nasty police state into a terrifying, all-knowing one. Especially in the western region of Xinjiang, China is applying artificial intelligence (AI) and mass surveillance to create a 21st-century panopticon and impose total control over millions of Uighurs, a Turkic-language Muslim minority (see Briefing). In Western democracies, police and intelligence agencies are using…