Why did #callbrussels work?

Public phone for people to call into Brussels and ask how things are.

After tweeted cat pictures kept up morale during Brussels’ lockdown last year, the city’s imaginative side worked to restore its image in the aftermath. The local tourist board, visit.brussels, invited people to call in via the internet to ask how things were – in…

National Brands Are Fine; Just Don’t Believe Them

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The standout exceptions to the international commercial failure of European TV and film are Britain and Scandinavia. A key for them both is their national brands. If you see a Danish crime drama such as The Bridge, you know you will get sleek interiors,…

Fear and Suspense in Brussels

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The Brussels lockdown was an anxious time, and we’re all more relaxed now. That’s because we’re safe, right? In fact, while no one has been killed in Belgium by terrorists during the recent period of alerts, 755 are likely to have been killed on…

Greek remedy ahead of Brexit vote

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Three little words are playing an outsized role in the future of Europe. An opt-out from “ever-closer union” – which has featured in every EU treaty since 1957 – is one of David Cameron’s four main demands for change in the UK’s participation in…

Mario Cuomo’s Wagon Train

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After Mario Cuomo died on New Year’s day, many tributes referred to a 1984 speech, in which he criticised Reaganomics and conjured up a different vision of the United States. It resonates today, because the inequalities that were rising during Reagan’s era have continued…

Did Barroso Help the EU in Britain?

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There are too few EU representatives on British television, so it was good to seeoutgoing Commission President José Manuel Barroso putting in an appearance on the Andrew Marr show in October. Barroso highlighted the EU push for a transatlantic trade deal; said Britain is stronger…

Juncker to EU Commissioners: End “more Europe”

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Little noticed in Jean-Claude Juncker’s mission letters to his Commissioner-candidates is some surprisingly bold language, which seems to swap federalists’ mantra of “more Europe” for “Europe, when nothing else will do”. The wording is important because of the recent debate over the EU’s pursuit of “ever-closer…

Independence: Who’s Next?

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A few weeks after Scots came close to breaking up the United Kingdom, Belgium will likely get a federal government that for the first time includes Flemish nationalists. Will Belgium be the next to flirt with a breakup? There are good reasons why it…

Solutions for “Boring Snoring”

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The editor of Newsnight, the BBC show famous for its political interviews, thinks many political interviews have become “boring snoring”. Ian Katz and others say the format has reached an impasse in Britain. Interviewers are aggressive, so politicians focus on avoiding gaffes – a…

An Independent Scotland? Just Imagine…

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Why has support for a Yes vote in the Scottish referendum risen this year, as difficulties for an independent Scotland become increasingly clear? My guess is that it’s linked to the way in which people handle difficult-to-answer questions about the future and the difficulty of imagining…