Iceland escaped the grip of austerity and has turned Icelandic culture into the country’s second largest contributor to GDP, with an impact of around €1bn per year. Unemployment is at 5.7 per cent, growth at 3 per cent – and the island is alive to the sound of music and movie shoots.
If the financial collapse Iceland went through in 2008 is viewed as a laboratory of questions and answers about the current crisis, taking notes on some of the solutions the Icelanders have come up with might be wise.
Unlike in southern Europe, where cuts and tax increases have hit on the culture sector in particular, since 2008 this country of 320,000 inhabitants, which is the size of Portugal, has thrown itself into the creative industries sector. The economic impact of that activity €1bn is double that of agriculture today and ranks just under the island’s top industry, fishing – the legendary export machine that ships cod and other seafood to the continent.
The last minute negotiations in Washington to avoid a budget shortfall show that short-termism is well grounded in US politics. And by contrast, it shows that despite her controversial handling of the euro crisis, the German chancellor is wise enough to instead push for long-term solutions.
In the mountains of Bohemia, near the Polish border, lies a small hospital – the only one of its kind in Europe: The Biological Defence Centre in Těchonín is designed to treat the poor unfortunates who contract the world’s most dangerous viruses or fall victim to a biological terrorist attack.
Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet has decided to cut back on its literature section to make space for more lifestyle pages. One of the critics that the newspaper let go complains that the newspaper’s bid to reach out to a wider public will result in an increasingly impoverished press.
A scion of affluent neighbourhoods, educated at an English public school and currently a law student, nothing predestined Louis de Gouyon Matignon for the presidency of an association that protects Gypsy culture. Yet, this grandson of a marquis has embraced the cause and the religion of the Manouche, French travellers.
During the paranoid Hoxha years, hundreds of thousands of concrete bunkers were meant to protect communist Albania from invasion by its enemies. Today they are now used by young people to party and to make out, or by others to recover steel and fuel the economic boom. Excerpts.
Although they pride themselves on being a wired nation, statistics show that only a third of Estonians have registered with the leading social network. For the other two thirds, it is a question of privacy.