Locked up in Madrid – Impressions From the European Corona Hotspot

The small bar in Calle de Fortuny in Madrid’s city centre is crowded, as are many others these days. The people of Madrid don’t miss the chance to go out with friends. And yet everything is different since the weekend: Once again it has become quiet in the streets, and the normally lively Spanish capital has been closed off. According to the World Health Organisation WHO, 850 cases per 100,000 inhabitants have once again made the region the epicentre of the pandemic in Europe. Spain currently counts 32,000 corona deaths and 800,000 corona cases, almost forty percent of which are reported in Madrid. The second wave has hit the city with full force. Thousands of jobs in hotels, restaurants, flower shops and travel agencies are disappearing. The pandemic is hitting Spain not only in the geographical sense, but right in the heart.

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Life After Lockdown: What Will the World Look Like After the Coronavirus Pandemic?

 

From day to day, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way people live around the globe. Even when lockdown restrictions are lifted, many say that the world will never be the same. What might the world after the pandemic look like? How will the novel coronavirus change our daily lives, our countries and our cities?

The Institute for Politics and Society (CZE) together with Prague office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom organized a competition “World through my eyes” to encourage young high school and university students from the Czech Republic to think about how the world might change after the global pandemic. The students were asked to introduce their thoughts, ideas and visions in a short policy brief. The winning policy briefs will be presented to the members of the Czech Chamber of Deputies and the winner will also get the opportunity to organize a public event on the topic.

We are bringing you an interview with the three winners of the competition: Marie Ptáčková, 21-year-old student of biochemistry, who was best placed in the competition, Štěpán Hartl, 18-year-old student of secondary school of pedagogy, who placed second, and Magdaléna Kráľová, 24-year-old law student, who finished in third place. What are their perspectives of the world after the pandemic and how has Covid-19 changed their perception of life? Continue reading

Quo Vadis Hungary?

What has happened in Hungary since the adoption of the controversial emergency law?

 

 

The “Coronavirus Law” adopted by the Hungarian Parliament on 30th March did not only enable Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to govern by decree for an unlimited period of time, but also suspended elections and referendums. With the passing of the emergency law, the parliament controlled by Orbán’s right-wing conservative Fidesz party had disempowered itself. The law also provides for prison sentences of several years for the dissemination of false news as well as for news that could cause panic. This emergency law has somewhat distracted the public from the fact that the dismantling of fundamental freedoms is not only being pursued under the banner of the fight against corona, but is continuing on all fronts.

What has Hungary as a whole been doing since the so-called “Enabling Act” was adopted by Parliament? Here is a chronicle of events: Continue reading

Europe Today – Remaining Confident, Becoming More Sovereign

New EU states

 

Europe in May 1945: a destroyed continent, over 50 million war victims, tens of millions of refugees, uprooted and injured. Hunger, devastated lands and torn societies. Continuing civil wars and partisan fights in Italy, the Balkans, Greece and Eastern Europe. A political geography of failed states with dysfunctional judicial and financial systems, mistrust and a desire for revenge between neighbouring states.

Europe in May 2020: A continent in corona lockdown, Brexit on the doorstep, a difficult transatlantic partner, China as a rival gaining influence, deep mistrust of neighbour Russia, which is waging a hot war in Europe. Climate change and migration as megatopics challenging Europe’s material and political resources.

Is Europe finished? No, because Europe today is also the following: one of the three largest economic areas in the world, winner of the Cold War in the 20th century, a community of continuously developing and expanding work of peace and prosperity by former enemies of war. Europe, that is the reality of a deeply integrated area of economy and law, of learning and research, of free encounters and free speech. A place of longing for millions who want to escape misery and make the dream of a better life come true.

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Czech Republic: Court Puts Government in its Place

Judges declare restrictive measures unlawful

 

 

With the introduction of a travel ban for its own citizens, the Czech measures to contain the corona epidemic have so far been among the strictest in Europe. Two weeks ago, the Prague City Court overturned four measures taken by the Czech Ministry of Health that restricted the free movement of citizens and retailers. A number of lawyers believe that this ruling increases the chances of businessmen and entrepreneurs to claim compensation from the state. Some legal experts also stress that the Czech government must provide more detailed justification explaining the need for the significant restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms. Continue reading

Animate Europe Presents: Animating COVID-19

 

Europe in times of coronavirus – captured in fourteen graphic stories

Since 2013, our Animate Europe comic competition has been a vivid platform for cultural and artistic approaches to and exchange on European realities. Amidst the current situation, we are launching a special Animate Europe project: Animating COVID-19.

In-between competitions (the next round of Animate Europe is scheduled for 2021), we asked seven of our previous finalists to capture their creative interpretations of fundamental European questions during the coronavirus pandemic in on-page comics. Continue reading