To commemorate the death of the former Czech president, on December 18, 2011, a neon heart was yesterday hung from the facade of the European Parliament in Brussels. After the Velvet Revolution, Václav Havel always drew a little heart, which became his symbol, alongside his signature. In the year following his death, his book sales have soared and his plays have been performed all over the world. The Czech Republic is to honour his memory with a silent gathering, exhibitions, religious ceremonies and “short trousers day”, a reference to the sartorial “faux-pas” that marked his investiture in 1989.

A year on from Havel. Still relevant – Mladá Fronta DNES

President Traian Băsescu has invited his rival, outgoing Prime Minister Victor Ponta, to form a new government in the wake of the December 9 elections. The two men have provided European institutions with a written commitment pledging that they will respect Romania’s constitution and ensure the “correct functioning of institutions”.


What is contained in “the cohabitation agreement” between Băsescu and Ponta? – România libera

The Dutch Minister for Finance, Labour MP Jeroen Dijsselbloem, has been tipped to succeed Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker at the head of Eurogroup. According to a number of sources, Dijsselbloem will benefit from the fact that he comes from a strong eurozone country, and from his opinions, which are more moderate than those avowed by his predecessor, Christian democrat Jan Kees de Jager. The post will enable the Netherlands to ”restore to some extent the [country’s] good position in the EU, which the virus of Euroscepticism has caused the country itself to neglect,” notes the daily.


Netherlands to land Eurogroup job – Trouw

Courts have rejected part of a public health reform law, which was approved in September, that would have excluded illegal immigrants from receiving state healthcare. Nine of Spain’s 17 regions had begun to apply the measure, while others treated the patients without papers on a case-by-case basis. Another of the decree’s measures, which introduces co-payment for prescriptions, was upheld.


Constitutional court rejects law refusing healthcare to illegal immigrants – El País

The Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho will head a trade delegation to Turkey on December 18, joined by 19 national entrepreneurs, from the technology and agro-food sectors. The trip’s main focus is to boost trade links, the business daily said, but there will be room for economic diplomacy, with agreements expected to be signed between the two countries.


Passos boosts agro-food and technology trade with Turkey – Jornal de Negócios

The cause of the low fertility rates in Germany and Austria (1.39 and 1.43 children per woman, respectively) is not a shortage of childcare centres, but rather the idea that people have of a mother’s role. According to a study conducted by the federal demographic institute, 65 per cent of Austrian adults aged under-40 approve of the phrase: “A small child will likely suffer because his or her mother works.” The approval rating for the same phrase was 63 per cent in former West Germany, and 36 per cent in former East Germany. At the same time, professional status and friends are viewed as avenues for personal development and sources of happiness that are better than having children.


Better childless than a bad mother – Die Presse

Figures from the latest census show that the country had 4,284,889 inhabitants in 2011; this is 152,571 less than in 2001. The active population has also declined by approximately 100,000, and today only one in two people works. The number of people declaring themselves to be Catholics has fallen by 204,408, while an extra 95,960 now categorise themselves as atheist or agnostic.


This is Croatia — We are older, work less, and are less likely to believe in God – Jutarnji List