Focus On Europe
This series provides offers a fascinating mix of stories exploring the important political, economic and cultural developments in Europe. With the unity of the region under threat from the bankrupt economies of Greece, Portugal, and Spain, the global economy continues to feel Europe's pain, and EJ is there each week with reports and analysis from Berlin, Paris, and London. The program also views the crises in Europe through the eyes of those whose lives have been affected the most. Presenter Nina Haase provides her unique take on the week's stories, telling the story with compelling video, strong reporting, and a good sense of humor.
Au Revoir! Paris Car Free By 2020? (#3310) Duration: 26:10 STEREO TVG
France: Smog Over the City of Light - Air quality is becoming a critical issue in Paris, the French capital, where pollution limits are exceeded every second day. Mayor Anne Hidalgo is now hoping to implement an environmentally friendly traffic concept. The plan calls for making the city center largely car-free by 2020. Only busses and electrically powered vehicles will be permitted in the central district. Plus another 100m are also slated for cycling paths. The traditionally popular diesel-fueled vehicles are to be banned altogether. Most Parisians welcome the idea of a low-traffic city center, but auto manufacturers are protesting the plan. Belarus: Questions for Justice - Three years ago, a death sentence against Vladislav Kovalyov was carried out in Belarus. Kovalyov had been convicted of carrying out a subway bombing and was executed in March 2012. His mother still does not know where her son was buried. The 26-year-old was accused of conducting a deadly attack on the Minsk metro together with a friend. Human rights organizations say that Kovalyov's confession was obtained through torture, and that witnesses who would have testified in his favor were pressured to remain silent. To this day, Kovalyov's mother is fighting to have the case reviewed, but the authorities have refused to do so. The European Union and the United States imposed renewed sanctions on Belarus after the execution was carried out three years ago. Spain: Plaza de la Sagrada Familia - "Europe's Squares Series" - With its beaches, spectacular architecture, and picturesque scenery, Spain has been a major tourist destination for decades. But at the square around the Sagrada Familia church, one of Barcelona's best-known landmarks, the constant throng of tourists is starting to wear on locals' nerves. The famous incomplete church designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi is one of the city's biggest tourist draws. The square is overwhelmed with tour buses and visitors standing in lines to get in. The city has now decided that the visitors and the cathedral need more space. One proposal calls for demolishing two blocks of buildings, which would force many residents and shops to move. Portugal: Down on Debt - Greece is not the only southern European country that is struggling economically. Portugal has also been suffering from the crisis for years. But Lisbon wants to pay back its IMF bailout loans as quickly as possible, with broad public support. Portugal's unemployment rate has gone down from 17 to 13 percent, and rigorous austerity has restored market confidence. Portugal is now poised to take advantage of extremely low interest rates, and begin repaying part of its bailout loans more quickly than planned. For many Portuguese, it's not just a matter of balancing the books - it's a matter of pride. Sweden: The Hunt for the Northern Lights - The northern lights are a major tourist attraction in Sweden's north. Thousands of visitors, many from Asia, go there every year hoping to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon. The remote community of Abisko can practically guarantee visitors that they'll see the northern lights or "Aurora Borealis". The village fell onto hard times after iron ore mining declined in the area, and young people started moving away. But now Abisko has become popular with tourists, and 300-bed hostels are booked up all winter. Northern lights are formed when electrically charged particles form the sun enter the Earth's atmosphere, which can make the sky light up in a multi-colored display.