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This week, Mareike Dalmann and Euan Walker discuss Elon Musk's controversial takeover of Twitter, Olaf Scholz's statement on the end of an era and the European Commission's decision to ban short-haul flights.
Returning to Europe’s news of the week, Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter has caused some controversy...
Indeed Mareike - the social network Twitter, which has already been at the centre of many debates about free speech and democracy, has come under further fire following a number of decisions made by its new owner, Elon Musk. After firing a large number of the app's content moderators, he has once again allowed the spread of misinformation about Covid and reinstated banned accounts the likes of Donald Trump’s.
How did the EU react to the change in Twitter's management?
In a new campaign to reduce the influence of American tech firms in Europe, EU Commissioner Thierry Breton has made the EU’s stance clear. Twitter, as it stands, does not meet the requirements of the new Digital Services Act, an act which aims to protect the fundamental rights of European citizens in the digital sphere. But it remains to be seen whether these warnings to Musk will be heeded.
On the subject of geopolitics, it seems that the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has clarified his political choices following some controversies...
Absolutely - in a statement for the publication Foreign Affairs, Olaf Scholz reiterated his belief that Europe and the world at large are going through a Zeitenwende: the end of an era. For the leader of the 'tricolour' coalition, which marks a sharp departure from the tradition of Merkel's CDU, this is particularly true.
What did Scholz seek to clarify this week in terms of strategic direction for Germany and Europe?
It seems that Scholz is trying to reinforce the need for a strong Europe in an increasingly multipolar world. However, while it is true that some effort in terms of European cooperation has been put forward by the German Chancellor, some key questions regarding strategic autonomy during this Zeitenwende remain partially unanswered and continue to divide Europeans. In the context of a potential new Cold War between the US and China, it seems that Scholz's continued mercantilism with these two countries could worry European allies.
And finally, we are talking more and more about energy sobriety as a tool towards decarbonisation - have there been any new policy developments in this area this week?
It is true, Mareike, that this trend towards energy sobriety is playing an increasingly important role, especially in the transport industry. In line with this trend, on the 2nd of December the European Commission validated the French measure to abolish domestic flights when there is an alternative train journey of less than 2.5 hours.
And what were the reactions to this decision ?
Well, the French Minister for Transport, Clément Beaune, welcomed the decision, but it must be said that this validation by the European Commission remains rather temporary at this present moment : the decision is only valid for three years and the ban on these flights will have to be re-evaluated at the end of this period. Several checks on the ability of the rail system to support this change will also need to be carried out - however, if this first attempt to reduce the number of flights is successful, we may see such initiatives replicated elsewhere in the EU - in which case it would seem to be a good time to buy one of the new Paris-Vienna overnight train tickets!
Thanks Euan, see you next week!
Thank you Mareike and thank you to our listeners, please do not hesitate to visit EuropaNova's website to learn more about the topics discussed this week in our weekly newsletter: Europe Info Hebdo. See you next week!
Euan Walker, Mareike Dalmann
French version right here