It’s been a troubled time for many countries in Europe as they grapple with the economic crisis that has hit much of the region.
Those troubles were the focus of a special investigation by a team of reporters from QUT News, working on assignment outside of Australia.
The team (pictured) prepared a series of radio reports that were first aired as part of a two day program broadcast on 4EB, now brought to you in full here.
The coverage includes reports from Bangkok – a barometer for fall-out effects from of the crisis in Europe – from Greece – the site of the most devastating weakening of the financial and economic system – and from Brussels, so-called capital of the European Union.
The Greek tragedy
The Greek economy is in shambles and there are no signs the situation is going to get better any time soon.
The country is facing a one-two of recession and stringent austerity measures that have been imposed in exchange for the bailout money that has so far kept the economy alive.
The new conservative government is led by Antonis Samaras who has promised to do anything he can to get Greece back on track.
But as Danika Ferguson reports, his task is not going to be an easy one.
Fears over Golden Dawn
Demonstrations and industrial disputes are every-day events in Greece where economic hardship has re-opened conflicts old and news.
There is tension in the country over mass immigration from outside of Europe which has given oxygen to an extreme-right immigration movement called the Golden Dawn.
Early in July, some 400 people joined a protest against the group in Nikaia, in southern Athens, after immigrant shopkeepers in the area were threatened with violence.
Stephanie Kay was there.
New Greek force to reckon with
The new political force in Greece is a coalition of radical left groups known as Syriza.
Before the first round of the elections in June the party had never won more than five per cent of the popular vote. Now Syriza finds itself the major force in opposition, controlling 71 out of the 300 seats in the Greek parliament.
Patrick Wright has this report from Athens.
Australian business in Europe
Now to Brussels, and Europe remains one of Australia’s most important partners for business, finance and mutual investment.
After China, it is our second-largest trading partner taking Australian farm products, coal and uranium.
Jessica Sier reports on Australian business in Europe.
Australia’s European ambassador
Australia’s ambassador to the European Union, Dr Brendan Nelson, says the relationship between the EU and Australia has become much more important in recent years.
He told Rachel Riley in Brussels that the EU has consolidated its powers as a group, under a treaty signed in 2009, strengthening Europe’s position as a key global player.
Despite being literally on opposite sides of the world, Australian and the Europe are long-standing partners in security and defence matters.
As the Australian ambassador to the European Union, Dr Brendan Nelson, is our country’s representative at the NATO military alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.
He told Rachel Riley that security links between Europe and Australia will continue despite the withdrawal of NATO and Australian joint forces in Afghanistan.
Reporting Europe can be tough
The thousands of journalists in Brussels – the administrative heart of the European Union – deal with a seemingly never-ending supply of stories.
But, as Rebecca Cox reports, journalists inside the Brussels bubble say the EU is having a tough time convincing people there is more to it than just bureaucracy.
Cash-strapped Europeans head for Thai break
Despite problems in Europe, Thailand’s tourism industry is still travelling well.
As Jane Schon reports, the country is still a popular travel destination even for cash-strapped European tourists.
Getting away from it
Going on holidays overseas is the chance to get away from it all.
But, as one Australian tourist in Greece found out, the joys of travel can quickly sour when something goes wrong.
Rebecca Oakley reports.
A familiar coalition from Greek elections
In Greece, troubled times has made for strange political bedfellows.
The country went so close to going broke that it triggered a debt crisis for all of Europe an in June had which saw the main centre-right and centre-left parties lose ground.
As Rebecca Cox reports, what happened next was the formation of a coalition government not too dissimilar from our own.
Tourism hit by gloom
One industry in Greece that has been hard hit by the economic downturn is tourism.
The sector is reporting significant losses this year compared to previous figures and, despite a spike in bookings at the start of the peak summer season, operators in Athens aren’t expecting the situation to get better any time soon.
Jane Schon filed this report from Athens.
Greece wants artefacts back
Some of Greece’s most treasured artefacts, including some from the iconic Acropolis in Athens, are no longer in the Mediterranean.
Britain has been the home to over half of the Parthenon’s famous marbles for 200 years, but as Anna Fleetwood reports, those in Greece and elsewhere are calling for their return.
New powers for Europe
In Brussels, the directly-elected European Parliament has gone into action to try to reduce damage caused by the financial crisis.
When the global crisis over bank loans started in 2008, the European Union was in the final stages of preparing a new Treaty that would change the role of the parliament, giving it much greater powers.
Here’s Rebecca Oakley.
Australian links to troubled areas
Some of the heavy flow of business at the European Union in Brussels comes directly into Australian territory.
Fallon Smith found a policy advisor to the EU who specialises in the conflict torn countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia and disputed territories of Abkhazia, Ngorno Karabakh and South Ossetia.
He said even in those areas there are links to Australia and the Pacific.
A new plan for Europe
The great cities of Europe are to be given new life under a plan to create green, sustainable and economically viable urban environments for the future.
Under that plan, the European Union says it will be partnering industry and local authorities to help the cities move forward.
Laura Ludwig filed this report from a European Commission briefing on the plan in Brussels.
The impact in South East Asia
European businesses have joined a rush into Myanmar – formerly known as Burma – partly to take advantage of business opportunities that have come with the opening-up of the new government in the country.
Danika Ferguson investigated what some old hands in Asia are saying about the situation. She filed this report from Bangkok.