Inside Europe: The inside take on European affairs 29.05.2010 May 28, 2010

from Inside Europe· ·

On this week's program: Floods devastate Poland - Eurozone nations introduce austerity plans - Upper crust leading UK government - Efforts to ban heliskiing in Switzerland pick up speed - France raises retirement age - Turkey's Imam Hatips spark interest abroad - English immersion gains popularity in Germany - Copenhagen's buses help passengers find love - Helping Germans learn to laughFloods devastate PolandFloods in Poland, the worst in a century, have left 16 people dead and caused an estimated 2.5 billion euros worth of damage.As a result of torrential rain, rivers burst their banks in southern and central Poland. Tens ...



On this week's program: Floods devastate Poland - Eurozone nations introduce austerity plans - Upper crust leading UK government - Efforts to ban heliskiing in Switzerland pick up speed - France raises retirement age - Turkey's Imam Hatips spark interest abroad - English immersion gains popularity in Germany - Copenhagen's buses help passengers find love - Helping Germans learn to laughFloods devastate PolandFloods in Poland, the worst in a century, have left 16 people dead and caused an estimated 2.5 billion euros worth of damage.As a result of torrential rain, rivers burst their banks in southern and central Poland. Tens of thousands of people have been forced from their homes. From Warsaw, Rafal Kiepuszewski reports on relief efforts. Eurozone nations introduce austerity plansThere's a growing realization here in Europe that life is going to get a lot tougher for people living in the eurozone.Virtually all countries that use the euro have breached their own rules regarding budget deficits - and they're now paying the price. Austerity measures are being introduced throughout the eurozone. In the following roundup, we look at the situation in Italy, Spain and Denmark.Upper crust leading UK governmentBritain's new coalition government has just unveiled its program. The centerpiece is a plan to cut the UK's huge budget deficit.The Chancellor of the Exechequer, or Finance Minister, George Osborne announced details of the first phase: six billion pounds worth of savings. This is the first small step in what could become an increasingly controversial process. This year's deficit will be more than 150 billion pounds. As the cuts get deeper, one feature of the new government could well come to the fore - especially in class-conscious Britain. For the first time in almost 50 years, the UK is being governed by members of the upper crust, people that the Brits call "toffs." From London, Stephen Beard reports.Postcard from Europe: Greece names and shames tax evadersIn Greece, the government has started chipping away at its mountain of debts.Prime Minister George Papandreou has cut pensions and salaries, raised consumer taxes and declared war on tax evasion. But in the following Postcard from Europe, our correspondent Malcolm Brabant in Athens wonders whether the cutbacks are hitting the right people. Efforts to ban heliskiing in Switzerland pick up speedIt's springtime in the Alps, the snow is melting and the flowers are blooming.Still, that doesn't stop some skiers looking for a final run on the powder. But how do you get up to the ski slopes that the chair lifts and the cable cars just don't reach? It's a question that's causing an environmental row in Switzerland, as Imogen Foulkes reports.France raises retirement ageAfter more than a year of preparing the French population for the shock, the government in Paris has declared an end to retirement at the age of 60.Still, even though everyone is aware that the French pension system is all but bankrupt, the labor unions have vowed to battle the reform. And as John Laurenson reports, previous attempts to raise the retirement age have led to past governments being toppled.Turkey's Imam Hatips spark interest abroadCould the Turkish education system play a role in defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan?Officials from both countries are showing increasing interest in Turkey's Imam Hatips. These are religious schools that were originally created to train Imams. Today, though, they've become the school of choice for many religious families, combining religious and general education. Dorian Jones has this report from the country's first Imam Hatip in Istanbul.English immersion gains popularity in GermanyHere in Germany, more and more parents are sending their kids to bilingual preschools. And a teaching method called "Language Immersion" is proving increasingly popular.There are over 50,000 preschools in Germany. Only 700 or so currently offer immersion programs, but this number is increasing. Last year, for instance, the number of immersion preschools rose by 25 percent. Almost half of them use English as the second language. But 14 other languages are also offered around the country, ranging from Russian and Polish, to Japanese and Persian. Leah McDonnell visited a preschool in Berlin running an English immersion program and has this report.Copenhagen's buses help passengers find loveWe tend to think of buses as simply a mode of transport to get from A to B. But a company in Copenhagen wants its passengers to look for love when they hop on board.The company, Arriva, which operates the majority of the city's buses, introduced "love seats" on more than 100 buses earlier this month for a two-week trial period. The idea was to encourage flirtation, romance and happiness on board. And it must have worked, as the experiment has now been extended until the end of the month. The idea is the brainchild of Marianne Faerch, a business developer with Arriva. She told Helen Seeney more about the "love seats."Helping Germans learn to laughLove isn't the only thing that keeps you young and healthy. They say laughter is the best medicine and Christoph Emmelmann would certainly agree.Emmelmann runs the "Laugh School" in Munich, teaching people to laugh and feel better about themselves. He calls his exercises "Laugh Yoga" and gives classes at companies and at hospitals, for example, where people are recovering from surgery or illness. Emmelmann says laughter reduces stress and releases feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine. So does it work? Mariana Schroeder went along to a session at the Laugh School and has this report.