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Europe- Topics

European Debt Crisis

By far, the dominating political and economic issue currently in Europe, the entire European Union is concerned about the debt crisis. In short, many countries have overspent for years, and now the debt is starting to catch up on them. Already, Greece, Ireland and Portugal have been forced to seek bailout packages from the European Central Bank. Now, with larger economies  such as Spain and Italy teetering on the verge of collapse, collapse of the Eurozone as a whole seems inevitable. Many politicians, such as Germany’s Angela Merkel, are seeking to enforce tight austerity measures upon the Eurozone. Additionally, many are considering a breakup of the Eurozone as a possible solution, although that would likely bring more problems than it would solve.

European Union Expansion 

The European Union currently has 27 member nations in it, however the EU has stated that they are always willing to expand. In order to become a member nation, a European nation must  have a “respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.” This simple standard is what determines who can and cannot enter. Currently, Croatia is set to be the next EU member in 2013. Other countries on deck to join include Montenegro and Macedonia. Additionally, Iceland and Turkey have submitted applications but are still being debated.

France

Recently, French presidential elections were held in which the Socialist candidate, Francois Hollande beat out the conservative incumbent, Nicholas Sarkozy. Sarkozy had long been teaming up with Germany’s Angela Merkel to lead policy dealing with the debt crisis. However, Hollande’s victory shows a strong shift to the left in France. France has a tendency to have strong social welfare, to the point that it cannot afford it. Hollande will likely expand this welfare, but doing so may be disastrous.

Germany

As the largest economy in Europe, 6th largest in the world and the worlds largest exporter, Germany plays a key role in European affairs. Led by the center-right Angela Merkel, Germany is one of the few countries in the world that has mostly recovered from the recession. Additionally, their stance has led them to make most of the decisions in how to get out of the debt crisis. However, Germany is experiencing a move to the left as many are fighting against the strict austerity of Merkel. This move is exemplified by the rise of the Green party.

Immigration

A large point of contention recently within Europe has been immigration. There is currently a treaty which all EU members except the United Kingdom and Ireland have signed that creates the Schengen Area, a sort of loose border control between these states. However, many countries are starting to see the rise of nationalism and an anti-foreigner spirit. This mood is especially strong toward Muslims, and many nations are considering tighter border controls including pulling out of the Schengen Agreement.

Russia

Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin, has had a rocky road from Communism to democracy over the last two decades.  Putin has held control over the nation since 2000, and even though he had to temporarily step down as president due to constitutional term limits, he secured the presidency for political ally Dmitry Medvedev in his absence.  Back in power following an election in 2012, Putin has faced growing protests over his long time control, partly brought on by a lackluster economy.  Russia is generally considered to have the largest amount of nuclear weapons of any nation, and has worked with the United States to create a joint arms reduction treaty.  Russia tends to be against Western involvement in troubled nations, which has recently provoked debate about the correct response to issues plaguing Syria.

United Kingdom

While not a part of the Eurozone, the United Kingdom, led by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and his coalition with the Liberal Democrats, has also suffered an economic blow.  Britain’s government has often tried to distance itself from the rest of the European Union, a policy most easily seen by its continued use of the pound as its currency, while many other E.U. nations have switched to the Euro.

 

2 Comments

  • On August 10, 2012 at 10:57 am Julia said

    Is Russia a part of the EU????

    Reply

    • On August 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm Tyler Miksanek said

      No.

      Reply

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