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Europe
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Germany is cautiously recruiting more workers from outside the EU

Čt, 05/16/2019 - 15:13

THINK GERMANY and migration, and you probably think refugees. But German employers desperate for workers have their eye on a different sort of immigrant. After a decade of economic growth, unemployment is at its lowest and job vacancies their highest since reunification in 1990. Almost two-thirds of firms complain about a lack of skilled labour (see chart). So Germany is starting to look outward.

Germany’s modest wage growth suggests there is no widespread labour shortage. But a tour through the manufacturing heartland of Baden-Württemberg (unemployment rate: 3.1%) finds few doubts among employers. “If you advertise in the newspaper, you get zero!” cries Peter Kaufmann, who runs a house-building firm in Oberstadion, a village near Ulm. He reckons he could raise his headcount from 100 to 150 if he could find more bricklayers and carpenters. Services like elderly care and tourism are crying out for workers. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, Baden-Württemberg’s economy minister, says labour shortages hurt growth. And Germany’s greying workforce makes this a problem for the ages.

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Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

How to win the Eurovision Song Contest

Čt, 05/16/2019 - 15:13

“I COULD BE the sun that lights your dark/And maybe I would lit [sic] your world with just one spark.” The traits are all there: the key change, the dodgy English, the endorsement of peace and being nice. Such is the Eurovision Song Contest. “Too late for love” is the Swedish entry and one of the favourites to win this year’s competition on May 18th.

Eurovision was founded in 1956 to promote peace in post-war Europe. But some of its traits can turn the keenest Europhile into a Brexiteer, a Frexiteer or a Swexiteer. Since 1997 viewers across Europe have been able to vote by phone. Hence the shamelessly political results. Cyprus votes for Greece, for example, and Finland votes for Estonia. Songs that make sense in a national context sometimes prove baffling to foreigners, and flop. Successful contestants often offer a vague, generic Euro-music, a living metaphor for the EU’s homogeneous mush.

To some extent, the metaphor works. Just as European states struggle to reconcile different economic and geopolitical instincts—most Eurovision participants are members of the EU—so different musical tastes sunder Europe. Irving Wolther, an expert on European music known as “Dr Eurovision”, explains the national differences. Finnish emphasises the first syllables of words and so has its own rhythm. Italian depends on vowels. Dutch...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

A 200km loop around Paris

Čt, 05/16/2019 - 15:13

DEEP IN THE ground beneath the western Paris business district, the din is bone-jangling. With compact mechanical diggers, workers are excavating rubble from 22-metre (72-feet) shafts. These will take 60 supporting pillars for a vast new train station, to be buried 35 metres underground. Welcome to one of Europe’s biggest infrastructure projects: an ambitious scheme to encircle Paris with a new metro loop, and shift the way people think and move about the capital.

The new station at La Défense, built as part of the westward extension of the E line, will link up to a huge looping network known as the “Grand Paris Express”. Most of the French capital’s existing rail and metro lines are there to carry people in and out of the city centre. The new underground loops, by contrast, focus on moving them around the suburbs.

One loop will run from Charles de Gaulle airport in the north, via the banlieue of Seine-Saint-Denis, westward to the skyscrapers of La Défense, and on in a ring around southern and eastern Paris, outside the capital’s périphérique ring road. A second loop will link the first to Orly airport in the southern suburbs, and then west via the Saclay university cluster at Palaiseau to Versailles. When complete, the new driverless underground network will feature 68 new...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

The woes of vintners in occupied Crimea

Čt, 05/16/2019 - 15:13

VINES LINE the hills south of Sevastopol. Oleg Repin, a local vintner, surveys the land and recalls his days harvesting grapes as a schoolboy. “Living here, sooner or later you come in touch with wine,” he says. One of a handful of boutique Crimean winemakers hoping to revive fine wine on the peninsula, his brand, launched in 2010, now produces a punchy riesling and a subtle pinot noir.

When Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, it coveted many things, from strategically located ports to sandy beaches. So too its bounty of grapes. During the Soviet era, central planners used the region to mass-produce wine, often of dubious quality, for the whole Union. After the annexation, among the first assets that the new Russian authorities seized and nationalised were two tsarist-era wineries, Noviy Svet and Massandra. The Russian government has showered its new alcoholic acquisitions with subsidies.

Yet for many producers, the challenges of post-annexation life have been harder to swallow than a bottle of Soviet sauvignon. Though the Russian market is much larger than the Ukrainian one, drinking there still revolves around spirits and beer. Credit can be hard to come by, with just two banks serving the region. The transition to de facto Russian rule has made acquiring and holding property tricky; small producers have...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

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