The true millennium bug

By Guilherme Becker

We were not expecting this. We were not prepared for this. The year was 1999 and the world was faced with one of its greatest expectations ever: the 2000s. The new millennium. A new era. A time forged from the previous decades, especially in the 1990s, but then also completely different. From the 2000’s on, kids would grow up connected to computers and electronic devices with limitless potential. There was the Internet, with a whole new way of communication. Worldwide. Connection. There were cableless tools. There were Nokia’s, Motorolas, Sony Ericsson’s, and then the IPhone, and Android. A beautiful picture.

Those were only some of the expectations of that time. And you could say that indeed we live in this world today. But back then, blocking the door to that new period, there was a possibly huge problem. A problem that could actually stop the development of this beautifully cybernetic world or maybe postpone it for a couple of years: the so-called millennium bug. Continue reading “The true millennium bug”

Covid-19: how will Europe get back up?

By Hannah Bieber

Disclaimer: this article was written on March 18th, 2020. Due to the instability of the situation, some of the information it contains might be subject to changes.

A lot of people were expecting it, and it finally happened: the world we live in has been challenged. Not the way we imagined it, not in the circumstances we expected, but it did. Europe is now facing one of its major crises since the day the European Union was created. And all the flaws that we knew that existed blew up in our faces. The demography of an old continent getting older and older, the weariness of our welfare states system, the instability of our financial organizations, the limits of a space without borders and the emergence of nationalism have now all been crystalized by a microscopic organism.

The recent Covid-19 outbreak and confinement measures will give us plenty of time to reflect on the consequences it will have on our societies, especially in Europe. Indeed, this virus is almost harmless for the majority of the population, but can be very harmful for the elderly, for instance. In 2016, one EU citizen out of five was over the age of 65. This is why the virus poses Europe an immense challenge today. But what about tomorrow? What will be the consequences of this crisis for the EU?
Continue reading “Covid-19: how will Europe get back up?”

What the hell is (still) going on in Chile?

Interview conducted by Guilherme Becker

Since October 2019 Chile is (almost literally) on fire. Just to have an idea of the situation, let’s start taking a look at some numbers regarding the protests that since then erupted against the government and the whole social and economic system in the South American country: At least 30 dead as well as thousands injured and jailed. Among the injured, many went blind because of rubber bullets shot by police – it is estimated that more than 200 people have got eye problems. The demonstrations have also affected the daily life, the public transport and the political spectrum. Monuments, buildings and historical places have been constantly damaged, as the streets are still full of people angrily protesting.

That is the summary of something that might have been postponed for decades.

During my internship at Deutsche Welle, in Bonn, I had the opportunity to meet people from different newsrooms. DW has newsrooms in more than 30 different languages, so imagine that it is a piece of the world inside its own world. One of the journalists that I met was José Urrejola, from Chile, who has been covering the whole situation and its developments. With a local perspective but also through an international coverage of the facts, in this interview he explains what is going on in his country, and explicitly argues that “the protests will continue until this president resigns or a ‘miracle’ happens, and he decides to make the changes that people are asking for.”

Euroculturer Magazine: What is actually happening in Chile? Tell us a little bit about the paths that the country took in the last decades and also why the protests erupted now, by the end of last year. Continue reading “What the hell is (still) going on in Chile?”

A Tower of Babel Between CEE Countries & China?

By Jingjing Ning

China has long been known as the “world’s factory”, while Central and Eastern Europe has been called the “factory of Europe”. Will there be a new type of alignment between both factories? Or just as the old story said, the scene becomes chaotic as they cannot understand each other?
According to the latest statistics of Chinese Customs, the total trade amount of import and export between China and 16 CEE countries reached 67.98 billion US dollars in 2017, with the increase rate of 15.9% compared to the previous year. China’s exports amounted to 49.49 billion US dollars, with the increase rate of 13.1%, while imports amounted to 18.49 billion US dollars, with an increase rate of 24%.[1]

The 16+1 format is a new form of international cooperation between China and CEE countries, and also between the Western and Eastern worlds. This initiative, raised by China, aimed at intensifying and expanding cooperation with 11 EU Member States and 5 Balkan countries (namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia) in the fields of investments, transport, finance, science, education, and culture in 2012.
But 6 years have passed and the echoes from two sides are still strikingly different. From the Chinese government’s side, it was said that pragmatic cooperation has been expanding which brought benefits to the 17 countries. Economic and financial cooperation has steadily increased. On the other side, the European Union and Western European countries expressed concerns about this mechanism, and the Central and Eastern European countries (especially EU countries) considered that the achievement was limited. Continue reading “A Tower of Babel Between CEE Countries & China?”

Elections in Brazil: A Case of Political Polarisation

By Guilherme Becker

After a cold and rainy winter in Southern Brazil, springtime has already come with some sunny but not so shiny weeks. As time runs towards the national election on October 7th, a land worldwide known for its clear sky and spectacular shores seems to be a bit cloudier and darker than usual. The feeling may come from the fact that things will remain the same for the next hundred years: stagnant, conservative, late, backwards and with its best minds leaving it behind. Is there anything worse than that? Well, maybe yes.
Democratic since 1985 and with direct elections since 1989, Brazil now faces a campaign full of hate. Violence has dropped off from the internet directly into the streets. Almost a month ago the right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) was stabbed while campaigning in the midst of a crowd in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Southeast.

On March this year, violent mood was already in the air, when a bus transporting voters of the then candidate of centre-left-wing Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT, Workers’ Party, former president from 2003 to 2010, sentenced to jail for corruption and thus forbidden to run under Brazilian law) was shot twice in the state of Paraná, in the South, without injuries.
The first impression is that all that hate speech that people used to flow freely on social media now has poured into reality. And that is not only worrying: it actually is a very frightening development to observe. Continue reading “Elections in Brazil: A Case of Political Polarisation”

Creative Europe: Exporting Culture at the EU Level

Exporting creative industries is important in boosting a European city, but the EU is still ignorant of such potential asset. The ‘creativity’ sector includes architecture, audiovisual products, cultural heritage related services, design, music, performing arts, publishing and visual arts.

© Yu Xichao
© Yu Xichao

María de las Cuevas Linares│mariadelascuevas@hotmail.com

Do we have to see the world only through the eyes of ‘McDonald-isation’ or ‘Nike-isation’, or may Europe contribute to it with its own culture? Exporting the European lifestyle and cultural products could have an economic impact in terms of employment and GDP growth, and it would be a way to show the world that the EU is full of ideas and creativity.

Who says that the EU is not creative? In fact, the EU is a key player in the global exports of creative goods with nine member states in the list of the world’s top 20 exporters in 2008, headed by Asia and the USA. Although our rivals are much more confident, Europe is still faring well: Germany is in third place, followed by Italy, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Spain and Poland. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the EU has been losing its reputation in ‘creativity’ since 2002. In 2008, Germany was the top developed-economy exporter of both Performing Arts and Publishing & Printed Media; Italy was the top exporter of Design, while the UK, France and Germany featured in the top five exporters of Visual Arts. Creative-goods exports from the EU in 2010 represented 36% of the total value of creative-goods exports worldwide.

Exporting creative industries is important in boosting a European city, but the EU is still ignorant of such potential asset. The ‘creativity’ sector includes architecture, audiovisual products (film, radio, television, video games and multimedia), cultural heritage related services, design, music, performing arts, publishing and visual arts. The frontiers between culture, business and technology are even more blurred. Nevertheless, they are still underestimated in relation to their positive effects on growth of the economy of a country, a region or a city.

A 2012 report by the European Expert Network on Culture (EENC) pointed out that “Europe – like other parts of the world – is becoming a society of the intangible, whose main raw material lies in the ability of its people to create and to innovate. There is a need for a new approach to the sector’s distinctive features, recognizing the creative industries as traded industries”. The Eurostat Cultural Statistics report in 2011 shows that in 2009 the EU-27 exported more cultural goods to the rest of the world than it imported, recording a trade surplus of around €1.9 billion. The main products exported were books, works of art, antiques, newspapers and DVDs.

The Eurozone is more than ever linked to creative industries, culture and innovative mind. Currently, there’s a shift from manufacturing sectors to innovate solutions, while the cultural sector is being recognised as “a driver of growth fundamental to overcome the financial crisis” by the European Commission. The Commission considers that the cultural sectors are “sectors of the future and a sound investment for our well-being”.

The eruption of the world financial and economic crisis in 2008 provoked a 12% decrease in international trade. However, the world exports of creative goods and services continued to grow, reaching $592 billion, more than double its 2002 level, indicating an annual growth rate of 14% over six consecutive years.

Rethinking of ideas, artists, originality and innovative solutions are all features in the creation of new societies. The EU in the 21st century, as set out by the ‘European 2020 Strategy’, should be governed by smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. This Strategy provides the targets – fixed by the Commission – to be met in 2020.

© Yu Xichao
© Yu Xichao

María de las Cuevas, Junior EditorMaria profile

María is a Spanish journalist. Her home University is University of Deusto and host university, University of Strasbourg. Her plan after finishing MA Euroculture is to work in the cultural field to promote the access of new audiences into social inclusion and to enhance the power of creativity in the society. She is enjoying the city of Strasbourg and is very exited about the forthcoming research track at the University of Mexico. She loves writing and reading, meeting new people and going around with her bike.