Produced by The Local’s Creative Studio in partnership with Arte 

The video series shining a light on personal European stories

The video series shining a light on personal European stories

Every day we are confronted with news and views on the many issues that concern us as people living in Europe. 

The lives of those living in modern Europe are subject to ever greater, and often conflicting, pressures. But monitoring the flow of events can easily seem bewildering, abstract and impersonal. Too often the very real, personal impact of a news story is hidden from sight.

Pan-European television channel, ARTE.tv addresses this gap with ARTE RE: European Stories, a series uncovering the main issues issues impacting Europeans today.

Migration and movement

Digitalization and increased transport infrastructure means that the world has never been so small. National borders are no longer the barriers they once were to movement, and as a consequence, many people are migrating to where they feel that there are more opportunities. 

In the ARTE RE: series, Viktoria and Zoltan make the move from Hungary to Germany. Both workers for Bosch, they see Germany as a land removed from the ‘frustration, nepotism and corruption’ that they see in Hungary. However, it’s not all smooth sailing. The language barrier, job rejections for Zoltan and a lack of assistance for new arrivals all must be overcome.

The series also follows Pippa, who is the British descendant of Jewish Germans as she seeks to return to the land of her ancestors. Pippa, especially, wants to learn about her grandfather’s role in the First World War, before the wide-scale persecutions of Jews began. However, it is really her homeland? What connects her to it? How long does it take us to lose our sense of identity? 

As Pippa muses as she follows her family’s history: “Where exactly was I? Home or elsewhere?

Follow Viktoria, Zoltan and Pippa as they navigate their way through migration journeys with the ARTE RE: series from ARTE.tv

Pippa searches for her Jewish roots in Frankfurt. Photo: ARTE.tv
Viktoria & Zoltan dance in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: Arte.tv

Saving the planet

Reversing the damage that man has done to the planet has been a hot-button issue for decades. In recent years, the startling increase in global warming has brought the issue to the fore. It seems that every day we are faced with debates over what can be done to prevent perhaps fatal climate change. 

ARTE RE: takes us to see people making extraordinary choices in the battle against climate change. In France, Vincent struggles against scepticism and the challenges of farming as he tries to bring a hemp crop to fruition – a material that he believes is far more sustainable than other crops used to make both foodstuffs and fabrics. 

In Wales, the Watkinsons live a life completely off the grid. They generate their own power, maintain their own water source and pick their own food, in an attempt to live in such a way that their ‘ecological footprint’ is far smaller than the average consumer.

As Matthew Watkinson states: “We’re only using our fair share of the earth’s renewable resources. In the West, we’re living as if we have two or three planets. In America, they’re living as if they have five.

 “The party is coming to an end, I think. The planet can’t take it, the climate can’t take it.” 

Far away in the Hebrides, Rock lives a similar lifestyle in such a way that it leaves as little trace as possible – yet as both can see, change may be irreversible, despite their efforts. 

Rock, for example, ponders the inexorable arrival of plastic on his island: “More and more keeps coming in. We can’t win”. 

See how the Watkinsons, Vincent and Rock are all trying to live in harmony with an earth that is rapidly changing, with the ARTE RE: series from ARTE.tv 

Rock walks in the Hebrides. Photo: ARTE.tv

Matteo Salvini and supporters in Rome. Footage: ARTE.tv

Populism and the power of the people 

With an ever-changing environment, and human movement on an unprecedented, it can be hard for governments to keep up in governing individual nations. This has both fed, and enabled a rise in populist movements that who have scapegoated both certain minority groups, and institutions such as the European Union. These groups are portrayed as being technocratic, out of touch and not fit for the realities of the 21st century. 

In one recent ARTE RE: episode, Italy’s Republic Day is the scene for rising tensions, as supporters of populist politician Matteo Salvini meet Daniel and Emmanuele, supporters of a pro-European group. Can Daniel’s impassioned entreaties of “Italy and Europe, together strong!” win over his opponents, or will it only further inflame their anger? With emotions high, and the pan-European response to the coronavirus pandemic at the forefront of many Italians minds, will there be a chance for dialogue – or will polarisation continue? 

Walk through an anti-European protest with Daniel, Emmanuele and their friends as they seek to stand up for what they believe in, in the acclaimed ARTE RE: series from ARTE.tv

POLITICS

Swedish government offers tax deferral to businesses

High energy prices and high inflation are hitting Sweden's businesses hard. With energy price subsidies for these consumers delayed, the government is now extending existing tax deferral schemes implemented during the pandemic to ease the pressure.

Swedish government offers tax deferral to businesses

Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson and Energy and Business Minister Ebba Busch announced the scheme at a press conference on Thursday.

“Many, many companies are now struggling with their liquidity,” Svantesson said.

The deferral scheme is similar to that proposed by the previous government in order to ease the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on companies, which was due to run out in February. The government has now proposed extending this scheme, allowing companies to delay their tax payments.

“These proposals will make things easier for many businesses,” Svantesson said.

The tax deferral scheme is not, Busch explained, being introduced as a replacement for the energy price subsidy for businesses which was supposed to be paid out “before Christmas” and which has now been withdrawn temporarily while the government figures out how it can be introduced without breaking EU law.

“No, rather this is a measure we’ve been looking at for a while, which should be seen as a complement,” she said.

According to rough estimates, the government believes that around 12,000 companies will apply for tax deferral, which would mean around 16 billion kronor in tax payments being delayed until a later date.

Företagarna, Sweden’s largest organisation of business owners representing around 60,000 companies across different branches, has welcomed the move, despite also voicing criticism that it’s just pushing these problems further into the future.

“It’s a loan and all loans need to be paid back over time,” Företagarna’s CEO Günther Mårder said.

Företagarna did, however, agree that the scheme will be necessary for some businesses to survive.

“Most companies going under are doing so because of liquidity problems, and this new measure will strengthen liquidity in the short-term,” Mårder said, adding that the measure could “save businesses”.

However, with many businesses already owing back taxes delayed during the pandemic, Mårder believes this could just be adding to the mountain of debt already faced by some companies.

“It means it will be record-breakingly difficult to get over this hump,” he said. “What they’re doing now is pushing problems into the future, and of course, that’s also a solution.”

The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise is positive towards the government’s proposal, adding that the many Swedish companies are currently in a difficult situation.

“Since the repayment of bottleneck revenues [energy price subsidies] is delayed, it is good and fair that companies have the opportunity to extend their tax deferrals,” Jonas Frycklund, vice chief finance officer of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise wrote in a statement.

“This will lower the risk of having to let employees go unnecessarily.”

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