Inside Europe: The inside take on European affairs 03.02.2011 Feb. 5, 2011

from Inside Europe· ·

On today's program: Can the Mediterranean Union stabilize the Middle East? - Italy's version of Obama - Brits grapple with their foreign language record - Sarkozy is promoting English - The EU probes organ trafficking in Kosovo - Spain takes on the cocaine trade - A Dutch vegetarian butcher makes a killing - France holds the "Culinary Olympics" - Austria and Hungary vie for Franz Liszt's heritage.Can the Mediterranean Union stabilize the Middle East?This week the European Union joined the United States in calling for an "orderly transition" to democratic rule in Egypt. This comes after the EU was criticized ...



On today's program: Can the Mediterranean Union stabilize the Middle East? - Italy's version of Obama - Brits grapple with their foreign language record - Sarkozy is promoting English - The EU probes organ trafficking in Kosovo - Spain takes on the cocaine trade - A Dutch vegetarian butcher makes a killing - France holds the "Culinary Olympics" - Austria and Hungary vie for Franz Liszt's heritage.Can the Mediterranean Union stabilize the Middle East?This week the European Union joined the United States in calling for an "orderly transition" to democratic rule in Egypt. This comes after the EU was criticized over its reluctance to endorse the pro-democracy movement, which appears to be spreading in the Arab world.However, there is another Union which has also kept a rather low profile in recent weeks, but which - in theory at least - has a far greater network in the area. The Mediterranean Union, based in Barcelona, consists of European and Arab states as well as Israel and Turkey. The 43-nation body was launched in 2008 by France and Egypt in a bid to foster cooperation in one of the world's most volatile regions. However, since then the Union has been hampered by disagreements between Arab countries and Israel. Ilan Chet is the Deputy Secretary-General of the Mediterranean Union. Neil King asked him whether it's possible that the recent upheaval in Tunisia and Egypt could boost the Union's role in the region? Is Italy ready for its own Barack Obama?Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has always played the Don Giovanni but now his behavior has landed him in serious trouble. Prosecutors accuse him of paying for sex with two underage girls and a veritable brothel of other starlets. He's also embroiled in corruption cases. Time for change?More than one million people have signed a petition demanding Berlusconi's resignation and Italian women are planning national protests for February 13th. It would seem the ideal opportunity for the left to rise. And an unconventional future leader is stepping into the spotlight. Nancy Greenleese has this profile of the man that some are calling Italy's Obama. Brits grapple with their foreign language recordA new study in the UK reveals that the number of teenagers studying a foreign language has plummeted in state schools to just 40%. There are concerns that this trend is preventing young people from getting top jobs with multinational companies. And that the Brits are jeopardizing their leverage on the world stage and global competitiveness by failing to speak enough languages.The Ministry of Education recently signalled the possible return of a compulsory foreign language for British teenagers, seven years after the requirement was dropped by the previous government. Nina-Maria Potts has more from London.France's Sarkozy promotes English for kidsLa Grande Nation has always been very proud of its cultural heritage and its colourful language, so proud in fact that in the past it even introduced laws which banned the use of un-translated English words in advertising or stipulated that 40 percent of songs on French radio must be in French.But now President Nicolas Sarkozy in a bold move has announced a plan to teach English to French three-year-olds. And as John Laurenson points out in this postcard from Paris, French linguistic purists are not amused.The EU probes organ trafficking in KosovoThe EU mission in Kosovo has launched a preliminary investigation into allegations that the country's Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, was involved in organ trafficking during the war against Serbia in 1999.The claims were made in a report presented by Swiss senator Dick Marty in December. It also claimed that members of the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army were involved in heroin smuggling and assassinations. Mr Thaci and other members of his government have denied the allegations. Mark Lowen has been finding out more in Kosovo.Spain tries to snuff out the rising cocaine tradeSpain has the highest per capital consumption of cocaine on the continent. In fact, traces of cocaine have even been detected in an analysis of the air in Madrid and Barcelona. And the country has become Europe's main entry point for drugs from South America.There's now evidence of increasing numbers of drug shipments from Argentina, often via Africa. The Spanish authorities are working with their South American counterparts to crack down on this trade. Ignacio Cosido is the speaker for home security for the Popular Party in the Spanish Congress. Neil King asked him why Spain has become a hub for cocaine dealers.Into the frying pan at France's "Culinary Olympics"The Bocuse d'Or is perhaps the most prestigious cooking competition in the world. It's sometimes called Culinary Olympics. It has been taking place every two years for the last quarter century in Lyons, France.Over the course of two days, 24 chefs from around the world, have to make two ideal dishes that reflect their country in front of a screaming audience. All the participants have the same list of ingredients and the same time allotted. A gruelling five hours and 35 minutes of culinary excellence. Genevieve Oger has more from Lyons.A Dutch vegetarian butcher makes a killingHave you ever thought about becoming a vegetarian but decided it's just too difficult giving up those lamb chops and angus steaks?If so, a new shop in the Netherlands might be the place for you - it's a vegetarian butcher. Now that might sound contradictory. But our correspondent Cintia Taylor checked out the shop in The Hague and discovered that meat substitutes are a tasty alternative. Austria and Hungary vie for Franz Liszt's heritageThe small town of Raiding in the east of Austria is celebrating the birth there 200 years ago of Franz Liszt the great Hungarian pianist and composer.So why isn't a Hungarian town celebrating? And how Hungarian was Liszt anyway? Kerry Skyring has been finding out more in Vienna.