Tuesday, 05 June 2012 09:04

Good Reads 05/06/12

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Each week, two E&M editors share their favourite European reads. From blog posts to essays, it can be anything that amused them, worried them or got them thinking about Europe.


Matt, Sixth Sense Editor

Günter Grass on Israel and Europe

Famed German author Günter Grass was banned from Israel a few months ago for writing a poem which attacked both Israel's policy towards Iran and Germany's plan to sell submarines to them. 'What must be said' remains an interesting case for what "can" and "can't" but should be said about Israel, Palestine, and Iran.

You may have missed a more recent publication by Grass called "Europe's shame" in the Suddeutsche Zeitung this month. Less opaque than "What must be said", I'll leave the interpretation of the poem in your hands. Here's a short description if you don't trust google translate. Let us hope his final line does not come to pass - "You will waste away spiritlessly without the country whose spirit, Europe, conceived you."


Grass brings me to the Grexodus (or more commonly termed the ‘Grexit’), and the words of the Ancient Greek tragedian Aeschylus have increasingly resonated in my thoughts. One quote from Agamemnon in particular seems to offer some insight into the current dilemma. Between sacrificing his daughter or failing in his deep (but also beneficial) commitments, Agammemnon, the ancient king of Mycenae, faces an impossible decision, "Pain both ways and what is worse? Desert the fleets, fail the alliance?" Anyway, the play is well worth a read. Equally, Germany's early speculative alternative to the austerity package and Grexit deserves a read.

Don't know your fiscal pact from your 'big bazooka'? Read this excellent and clear article from the European Council of Foreign Relations. Then tackle 'Europe after the Crisis' (Sorry, it's behind a paywall). Any student of Europe will know the name Moravcsik. I've never been a huge fan of his, but this article is one of the best I've read on the overarching problem inherent in the Eurozone. And this approach, a restatement of causes seems to me somewhat unhelpful when trying to figure out how to save (or otherwise dismantle) the Eurozone. Surely, we're past all of that pointing of fingers? At least in approach, this article seems to get it right, and by framing the problem as Saving the Euro without losing the Europeans is much more constructive.

And something else

And something different... Zack Beauchamp published this article on the American website "The Daily Beast" back in April. I was drawn to it for two reasons, firstly, it opens with references to the legacy of German history and a bold picture of the 'memorial to the murdered jews of Europe' and secondly, its a full-on defence of liberalism, currently under pressure in Europe, and something I'm more than a little bit sceptical of. Needless to say, it's excellent, and I'm still looking for the right line of response after a number of reads.  

And finally, I've been fortunate enough to publish an article entitled 'Half A Europe away', on New Eastern Europe. It examines the views of young Germans on Eastern Europe and contains the views of a number of E&M readers, writers and editors, which is why you should definitely read it, not because it has my name at the top!

Follow Matt on Twitter @shearmanm


Marta, Heart Editor

The best aeroplane seat

Still hesitant when you're waiting to get into an aeroplane from a low-cost airline, trying to decide quickly whether it's worth joining the line on the front escalator or better to run past the wing and catch a decent seat in the middle area? Well, knowledge is power, and the British travel website Skyscanner has recently published a survey that reveals which is the favorite seat for passengers: 6A. They asked 1000 travellers and the result, despite not being that surprising, gives us an idea of what most of us are fighting for as we hurry onto the plane – a front seat with a window. The less desirable seat? 31E. Or, a middle seat at the back of the plane.

Another thing to consider when flying, especially with low cost airlines, is leg room. On this website you can find information about how many inches you'll get to stick your knees into, and even if it's always less than we would like, you might be surprised to learn that Ryanair is not the worst one. While the most famous (and infamous) low-cost airline offers 76,2 cm of legroom for economy seats, Easyjet will make you fit into 73,6 cm. Well, at least they offer a good magazine to endure the pain!

Le Budget de l’Élysée

Infographics like this might've contributed to Hollande winning the presidential election last month... During his time as president, Sarkozy increased his salary 173%, he spent over 250 million euros on his "Sarko One", his presidential plane, and over 8 million on communication. And that's just a few of the things you can find on the complete list right here.

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 June 2012 23:42

If the Editorial team had an actual office it would have to stretch from the corner of Britain to the edges of Spain, Sweden, Germany and beyond. (With frequent trips to America too) .  The term 'from the editorial office' then, is very much a figure of speech. 

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