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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 26 June 2017

Europe

Image: Getty Images

Title fight

Granting EU membership to Macedonia could rein it in; perhaps Greece should think about name dropping?

Of all the things that scupper an accession bid to the EU, the name of the country doesn’t tend to be a dealbreaker. But Athens has long alleged that Macedonia has shoehorned its association with Alexander the Great, the Greek general who conquered swathes of Asia and declared himself King of the Macedons in northern Greece, and for that has vetoed any bid by its neighbour to join. But there now seem to be signs of a thaw: earlier this month the nation made a renewed push to join Nato and, on Friday, the EU’s commissioner for enlargement negotiations, Johannes Hahn, visited Skopje for talks. While Macedonia has been left out in the cold it has been dabbling in some undemocratic practices, such as politicians refusing to leave power and mounting corruption. Rethinking EU accession could bring the post-communist country back on side – after all, what’s in a name?

Economy

Image: Getty Images

Bright young things

A Japanese report aimed at getting a better deal for young people is raising eyebrows – but will decision-makers take it seriously?

Public servants working for Japan’s government ministries are often seen as elitist and out of touch with the electorate. But a recently published 65-page report called Anxious Public, Paralysed Nation by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti) is making news for its unblinking portrayal of the country’s most pressing problems. Written by a team of Meti officials in their twenties and thirties, the report raises questions about the country’s prioritising of economic performance over happiness; lopsided focus on providing benefits for the elderly; the high poverty rate for single-mother households compared to other wealthy nations; and dwindling opportunities for young people. It’s meant as a call to action: Japan urgently needs to broaden opportunities for this younger generation and encourage them to have children. More than 1.2 million people have downloaded the report since it was published – far more than most government releases. The question is, are politicians and senior ministry officials listening?

Urbanism

Image: iStock

Helping hand

The team behind New York’s successful High Line park have launched a project to help other cities reach similar heights.

When it comes to adopting a smart urbanism idea in your own city, who better to turn to for help than those who’ve already perfected it? That’s the reasoning behind the High-Line Network, a new forum that’s been publicly launched by the people behind New York’s High Line. The network was designed to help cities around the world launch their own successful adaptive re-use park projects and avoid the pitfalls that could arise along the way – something that High Line’s executive director Robert Hammond has said they’ve been doing for years anyway. The peer-to-peer network will help tackle everything from the planning process to fundraising and designing spaces that will benefit everyone. So far the network includes 19 projects across North America – including Toronto’s Bentway, Miami’s Underline and River LA – which are all in various stages of completion.

Business

Image: Alamy

Fall of Rome

The Italian capital is struggling to stem the tide of fleeing corporations.

Milan has always had the upper hand as Italy’s business centre but it seems that Rome is having an even tougher time of late. From news organisations to big corporations, more international companies are disappearing from the capital: the Italian branches of Sky News and ExxonMobil, for example, have both announced that they would transfer the majority or part of their staff to Milan and Genoa respectively. Although the motivation behind the exodus is unclear, many blame a city system that is heavy on bureaucracy and light on infrastructure and investment in research. Whatever the cause, there’s a distinct feeling that the city can’t quite find its way out of a rut.

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