High unemployment, strict austerity, weak economic growth: people in Europe's crisis-stricken states worry about the future, in particular the youth. Could their frustration manifest itself in radicalization?
Slowly but surely, Europe is dragging itself out of its economic crisis. According to latest forecasts, the overall eurozone economy will grow by around 1 percent in the coming year. Even in the states that have been plagued by crisis, economic growth has returned, albeit far too weak to make any real improvements to the labor market.
Unemployment, in particular among young people, will continue to be a very serious problem in this sixth year of economic crisis. In October 2013, there were more than 3.5 million unemployed Europeans under the age of 25; in Greece and Spain, youth unemployment is well over 50 percent.
But when it comes to job perspectives, the odds have been stacked against younger generations in southern Europe since before the current crisis began. Karl Brenke of the German Institute for Economic Research said there are structural reasons behind the unemployment crisis: the majority of young people in southern and eastern Europe simply don't have proper qualifications.
Resignation rather than revolt?
Politicians have registered the problem of youth unemployment. Over the summer, the EU organized a summit dedicated to the issue that it called a "top priority." The summit served the interests of European politicians who do not want to bear the responsibility for having created a "lost generation."
And for good measure: Brenke warned that the consequences of such a generation could be a "distancing of young people to society."
"The first feeling is disappointment," said political scientist Christian Brzinsky-Fay of Berlin's Social Science Research Center, who has researched the transition of young people from school to working life. "It is critical that these people find a job soon, because this initial sense of disappointment can lead to frustration that can in turn become long-term resignation."
The image of young people in Europe, however, is not one of resignation. Especially in many southern countries, the young people appear willing to fight for their future. In Spain, for instance, there are the Indignados who have taken their anger to the streets. This comes in addition to protests for change in many countries where people feel deceived by governments that promised a secure future, prosperity and the chance to raise a family.
The situation has led to a culture of protest that has occasionally manifested itself in public outrage: "This is the protest of a generation - these people see themselves as exploited by the older generation. They are the ones who have to pay for the mistakes of the past, for the creation and establishment of dysfunctional states and political systems," said Brzinsky-Fay.
Radicalization as self-defense
This protest movement has also at least partly spurred a number of euroskeptic and populist political groups in Europe. They have found a common scapegoat in the European Union, which they hold responsible for the deplorable economic state.
If this political atmosphere remains, Europe's populists may be successful at the EU's parliamentary elections next May. "We are seeing that rightwing populists have enjoyed success in France, the Netherlands and in Scandinavia," said Brzinsky-Fay.
At the same time, however, he said he doesn't fear any tangible radicalization of European society - the culture of democracy is too strong here. "Radicalization is a classic reaction to the lack of prospects. Not everyone who feels robbed of prospects is going to become a right-wing extremist."
As Europe's economies recover, debt levels continue to grow. But national budgets are only a few of the trees in a highly flammable forest of private debt, and government austerity may not be able to put out the flames.
A Ukrainian politician has been found dead after being "brutually tortured," says Ukraine's interim president. The move has prompted a relaunch of operations to uprooting pro-Russian separatists from eastern Ukraine.
Small arms fire has forced a Ukrainian military aircraft to make an emergency landing. The reconnaissance plane was flying over eastern city of Slovyansk, where pro-Russian separatists have taken control.
When was the last time you listened to a bedtime story? The International Day of the Book would be a good time to open your ears and listen to a gripping tale - whether read from a book or told by a storyteller.