TIME animals

Carnivore Comeback: Wolves, Bears and Lynx Thrive in Europe

A Siberian lynx sits inside an open-air cage at the Royev Ruchey zoo in Krasnoyarsk
A Siberian lynx sits inside an open-air cage at the Royev Ruchey zoo on the suburbs of Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, May 18, 2013 Ilya Naymushin—Reuters

Data was pulled from all over Europe

Despite having half the land area of the contiguous United States and double the population density, Europe is home to twice as many wolves. A new study finds that Europe’s other large carnivores are experiencing a resurgence in their numbers, too — and mostly in nonprotected areas where the animals coexist alongside humans.

The success is owed to cross-border cooperation, strong regulations and a public attitude that brings wildlife into the fold with human society, rather than banishing it to the wilderness, according to study leader Guillaume Chapron, a professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences’ Grimsö Wildlife Research Station…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME europe

The E.U. Plans to Spike Key Clean-Air and Recycling Laws

Prime Minister David Cameron Tries To Take A Harder Line with Europe
E.U. flags are pictured outside the European Commission building in Brussels on Oct. 24, 2014 Carl Court—Getty Images

The proposed laws are aimed at preventing tens of thousands of premature deaths and set a 70% recycling target by 2030

The E.U. is planning to scrap environmental laws aimed at averting tens of thousands of possible deaths, according to classified documents published on Thursday.

The leaked files propose the withdrawal of a plan for a clean-air law as well as a directive setting a target of 70% waste recycling by 2030, the Guardian reported.

The plan is reportedly being withdrawn because the commission in charge of it sees “no foreseeable agreement” with states that have a poor track record on recycling, and would not be able to meet the target without additional financial help.

Read more at the Guardian

TIME europe

CIA Torture Report Creates Few Ripples Across the Pond

The Senate's revelations don't pose much risk of a rupture in transatlantic ties

Europe wasn’t exactly silent. But considering the scale of the abuses that the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee revealed on Tuesday in its report on CIA torture, one might have expected a bit more outrage from the leaders of the Old World.

Instead, the most common reaction was to praise the report as a sign of American transparency and accountability—two of the values meant to bind the West together—while many European statesmen have so far avoided saying anything at all.

That includes the leaders of France and Germany, who made no public reaction in the 24 hours that followed the report’s release. British Prime Minister David Cameron only mentioned it while on a visit to Turkey on Wednesday when a reporter asked him for a response. “I’m satisfied that our system is dealing with all of these issues,” Cameron said. The practice of torture, he confidently added, is “wrong.”

The most prominent sign of European contrition came from Poland, whose former President finally admitted during a press conference on Wednesday that his country hosted one of the CIA’s “black sites,” or secret prisons, where the abuse of detainees occurred. The U.S. had asked Poland “to find a quiet place, where effective measures could be taken to obtain information,” said Alexander Kwasniewski, who served as President from 1995 to 2005. Poland had consented to the request, he added, without knowing that the “quiet place” could be used for torture. He did not clarify the year when the facility was shut down.

But the prevailing sentiment among Europe-watchers was that these revelations were considered old news. “All of this was ten years ago,” explains Constanze Stelzenmueller, an expert on European politics at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. “What’s striking is that the Americans are now really trying to do a reasonably honest and non-partisan accounting of what happened.”

That American admission of guilt, and the integrity it required, did not go unnoticed even in some of the most damning editorials published in the mainstream European press. “The United States makes mistakes, sometimes terrible ones,” read an editorial in Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading newsmagazine. “But it has the strength to acknowledge it and learn from it.”

The muted reaction from European leaders, says Stelzenmueller, is perhaps best explained by the dilemma this issue presents. If one of them praises the report’s transparency, they could be perceived as downplaying the gravity of the crimes committed in the execution of the war on terror. If one of them condemns those crimes, they will almost certainly face questions about their own country’s complicity, if not also its direct involvement, in torture and illegal detention. “The risk of the follow-up question is in any case greater than the political gains,” Stelzenmueller says.

But that did not stop some European politicians from using the report as political ammunition. In Germany, the co-chairman of the opposition Left Party, Bernd Riexinger, called for Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to resign over the revelations. He also demanded Berlin rethink its cooperation with the U.S. on matters of intelligence. “I see no basis for cooperation with torturers,” Riexinger, whose party controls about 10% of the seats in the German parliament, told the Handelsblatt newspaper.

The Foreign Minister, who also held the position from 2005 to 2009, did not deign to respond to the remarks, though he did issue one of the harsher condemnations against the CIA’s torture practices to issue from the European leadership.

“What was then considered right and done in the fight against Islamic terrorism was unacceptable and a serious mistake,” Steinmeier told the German daily Bild, adding that the CIA’s activities amounted to a “gross violation of our liberal, democratic values.”

But experts still saw no real chance of the report forcing Berlin or any other major European power to question their transatlantic ties. The reason, says Joerg Forbrig, an expert on Central and Eastern Europe at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin, has to do with the ongoing standoff with Russia over Ukraine, which has urged the West to band together against what they perceive as a common threat to their security.

“The key ingredient to any successful Russia policy is Western unity,” he says. And as German Chancellor Angela Merkel pursues an ever tougher line against Moscow, “She needs to rally the Europeans, and she needs to make sure the coordination with the Americans remains intact.” So if the White House was expecting the Senate report to freeze relations across the Atlantic, it can probably breathe a sigh of relief.

Read next: Here’s What the CIA Actually Did in Interrogations

TIME Behind the Photos

Photographing TIME’s Person of the Year in Africa, Europe and the U.S.

Sworn to secrecy, photographers Jackie Nickerson and Bryan Schutmaat were on the assignment of a lifetime when TIME asked them to photograph the 2014 Person of the Year -- the Ebola Fighters

“To have an African doctor, who grew up in a shantytown in probably one of the most disadvantaged countries in the world, on the cover of TIME magazine’s Person of the Year is the right thing to do,” says Jackie Nickerson, the fine-art photographer who shot the cover of TIME’s Person of the Year.

This year, TIME chose to highlight the incredible work Ebola fighters are doing to bring to a stop an epidemic that has killed more than 6,000 people. TIME commissioned Nickerson and U.S. photographer Bryan Schutmaat to shoot more than 20 portraits in 12 locations around the world—from London to Geneva, Boston to Dallas, and all the way to Monrovia, Liberia.

“I was working on a job in Paris when Kira Pollack and Paul Moakley [the director and deputy director of photography at TIME] called me,” says Nickerson. “They told me they had this assignment for me and asked if I could go to Monrovia. I immediately knew this was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bear witness to this moment in history. There was no doubt in my mind that it was something I wanted to do.”

Nickerson was surprised. “I had actually never worked for TIME before,” she says. “I had no idea what the commission process was, so this call came out of the blue.”

Meanwhile, Schutmaat was in Amsterdam attending World Press Photo’s Joop Swart Masterclass when he received his phone call. “My schedule was very busy, and I thought [being in Europe wouldn’t work], but photo editor Natalie Matutschovsky, who’s been championing my work at TIME, just said: ‘That’s good, because two of the subjects we need you to shoot are in Europe already.’” The following week, he was on a flight to Geneva.

Both photographers were selected for their strong sense of aesthetics, which come from their fine-art backgrounds. “They are celebrated artists,” says Pollack. “There is a heartbeat to Nickerson’s portraits that lent itself to just the right mood for this project. She’s spent a considerable amount of time working throughout Africa. She is agile and informed on how to photograph in the harsh African light, and her portraits are honest and beautiful. Schutmaat’s studied portraits have an almost painterly quality. There is something very telling about capturing a body posture or a simple gesture.”

For weeks, TIME had been preparing for Nickerson’s assignment. “We talked to NGO workers, journalists and photographers who had been in the field before we decided to go ahead do this,” says Moakley. “We talked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and we packed everything we needed—including Personal Protective Equipment suits for all of us.”

TIME’s Africa Bureau Chief Aryn Baker, who spent the summer covering the Ebola epidemic, met Nickerson and Moakley in Monrovia. “Aryn did a lot of the work ahead of time as well,” says Nickerson. “With Paul, she had selected the sitters, so we had a very good idea of who we were going to shoot, so that made things incredibly easy for me.”

Few people would know Dr. Jerry Brown’s name. The Liberian doctor, who is featured on the first of five covers shot for TIME’s Person of the Year issue, opened his country’s first Ebola treatment center in early 2014, at a time when many of his colleagues failed to react to the growing epidemic. “There was a kind of gravity to the way Dr. Brown and his staff were working,” says Nickerson. “When we met [him], we had the idea to do something very simple against a plain color, something of a more formal portrait. And then, he invited us to go into the reception area where he gets dressed. It was a very simple, bare room. It had a single light bulb, and I just thought it captured the atmosphere and gravity of what they were doing.”

The photograph is not a staged shot: It’s a portrait that was caught in the middle of Brown’s regular dressing procedure.

Over four days, Nickerson, Moakley and Baker witnessed the commitment of dozens of health workers and body-retrieval teams. “Sometimes, we would be waiting to get access to someone and we’d be chatting to other people with incredible stories,” says the photographer. “It just never stopped. Their stories really touch you—the self-sacrifices that people are making. They are doing such a brilliant job.”

In the U.S., meanwhile, Schutmaat was meeting with Dr. Kent Brantly. The 33-year-old physician with Samaritan’s Purse was the first American citizen to be diagnosed with Ebola while working in Monrovia. “Kent was doing a lot of hard, selfless work to help people out,” says Schutmaat.“I met him at his church in Fort Worth, Texas. TIME’s photo editors and I felt that since he was a man of faith and since he was guided by that faith, it would be good to photograph him in there.”

Schutmaat had no idea then that it would be featured as part of the magazine’s Person of the Year franchise. “I just thought I was doing a big story on Ebola that would end up somewhere inside the magazine,” he says. “I didn’t think it would be such a huge deal.”

Nickerson was similarly in the dark: “Kira Pollack had said it could be an important story, and I knew that Person of the Year happened around this time of the year, but I didn’t dare to hope because I think there had always been people of status on the cover, and I couldn’t believe it was going to be a non-famous, African doctor on the cover.”

It was only when TIME’s photo editors ordered the final, high-resolution images that both photographers found out the real purpose of their work. “It’s probably the biggest privilege of my professional career,” says Nickerson. “There’s no question about it. Doing this whole story was a privilege.”

“I’m honored,” adds Schutmaat. “And to know that the editors at TIME would think that my photos would stand up next to Nickerson’s is pretty awesome.” A sentiment Nickerson reciprocates. “Bryan’s a great photographer. I love his work. I’m really happy to be sharing this story with him.”

Jackie Nickerson is a fine-art photographer based in Dublin, Ireland. She is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery. TIME last featured her work, Terrain, on LightBox.

Bryan Schutmaat is a Austin-based photographer. He is represented by Sasha Wolf Gallery.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent. Paul Moakley, TIME’s deputy director of photography, and Natalie Matutschovsky, a senior photo editor at TIME, edited this photo essay.

TIME europe

U.S. Envoy Blasts Kremlin Ahead of NATO Meeting

US Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute gives a press conference on Dec. 1, 2014, at the organization's headquarters in Brussels. John Thys—AFP/Getty Images

The war of words between the Western military alliance and Moscow heated up ahead of a NATO gathering in Brussels on Tuesday

U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute accused the Russian military on Monday of engaging in irresponsible aerial maneuvers that put civilian aircraft in unnecessary danger.

The envoy’s remarks follow the alliance’s public announcement in late October that accused the Russian military of conducting an unprecedented number of unannounced aerial forays into Europe’s skies. NATO says it has scrambled its own aircraft over 400 times in response to Russian incursions this year — a more than 50% increase than the total number during 2013.

“These Russian actions are irresponsible, pose a threat to civilian aviation and demonstrate that Russia is flagrantly violating international norms,” said Lute during a press conference in Brussels ahead of a NATO foreign ministers meeting on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

NATO says Russian forces have repeatedly refused to submit flight plans to civilian air traffic control stations when flying exercises and, in multiple instances, have flown with their transponders turned off.

The Kremlin’s alleged indifference toward civilian aviation procedures is seen as particularly concerning to NATO members following Washington’s insistence that a Russian-supplied weapons system was responsible for downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in southeastern Ukraine this summer. Russia vehemently denies responsibility.

As relations between Moscow and the alliance continue to sour, NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg boasted on Monday of the organization’s increased presence in Eastern Europe.

This year has been one of “aggression, crisis and conflict. But NATO stands strong,” said Stoltenberg during a press conference. “Russia’s aggressive actions have undermined Euro-Atlantic security.”

Meanwhile, the Kremlin unleashed its own criticisms of NATO and panned the alliance for destabilizing northern Europe and the Baltics.

“They are trying to shake up the most stable region in the world, which is Europe’s north,” Alexei Meshkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, told his nation’s Interfax news agency. “Those endless military exercises, rebasing of aircraft capable of delivering nuclear weapons to the Baltic nations. This is the reality, a very negative one.”

NATO has been steadily increasing its defensive capabilities in Eastern Europe following Russia’s forceful annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in March. In September, the alliance unveiled plans to build a new expeditionary outfit that would be able to “travel light but strike hard if needed.” On Monday, NATO’s secretary general said he expected the “spearhead force” to be ready by 2016.


A Right-Wing U.K. Party Mistook Westminster Cathedral for a Mosque

Facade of Westminster Cathedral. Adina Tovy—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

Clearly a case of seeing Islamization where none exists

The anti-immigration U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) was left red-faced on Thursday after a local branch mistook Westminster Cathedral — one of the most famous Christian churches in the country — for a mosque.

The UKIP’s South Thanet branch was reacting to a BBC news program’s decision to poll passersby outside the historic, 1902 edifice.

“The perfect place to hold vote in front of a mosque in London,” it tweeted.

Ironically, the segment, by BBC reporter Giles Dilnot, was asking bystanders outside the U.K.’s venerable Catholic cathedral whether or not they took the UKIP as a serious political force.

Once the party, which boasts two MPs in the U.K. House of Commons and 24 of the 73 British seats in the European Parliament, was made aware of its mistake, an apology was issued.

But that didn’t stop a campaign of mockery using the hashtag #ThingsThatAreNotMosques targeting UKIP’s divisive leader Nigel Farage.

TIME Retail

How Black Friday Invaded the U.K.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s U.K. Asda Supermarket Entices Shoppers With Black Friday Deals
Customers push loaded shopping carts through crowded aisles as they look for bargains during a Black Friday discount sale inside an Asda supermarket in Wembley, London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. Simon Dawson—Bloomberg / Getty Images

Black Friday, long an American tradition, is becoming a British one, too

Four years ago, Black Friday was considered a distinctly American tradition, as exotic to non-Americans as the running of the bulls to non-Spaniards. “It was never even on our radar,” says Elizabetta Camilleri, CEO of SalesGossip, a web service that tracks discounts at 1,400 fashion labels across Europe.

Three years ago, Camilleri’s team first spotted a handful of Black Friday sales cropping up in London. This year, they’re witnessing a veritable American invasion.

“We’re seeing promotions from 250 branded retailers,” says Camilleri. “It literally doubled over last year.” And the deals keep coming. “We’re getting all of these retailers phoning us, saying, ‘We’ve just realized we’re doing a big promotion next week. Can we get on your home page?'”

So nearly 400 years after the Mayflower made it to Plymouth, Black Friday has taken the return trip and officially landed in the Old World. Some 65% of U.K. retailers plan to hold Black Friday sales this year, according to a survey by Barclays. Giants such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s have jumped in with aggressive, half-off discounts, while high-end boutiques, such as the clothing store Duchamp London, have shaved off 25% for the holiday.

Black Friday’s British invasion might seem odd, given that the sales revolve around an American holiday. Indeed, American retailers have considered the day so essential to their business that in the midst of the Great Depression, they lobbied to give Thanksgiving Day a little nudge on the calendar to prolong the shopping season. So how did Black Friday make the leap across the pond?

Amazon takes credit for introducing the tradition to the U.K. in 2010, though inklings of Black Friday sales could be found along one of London’s main shopping thoroughfares — Oxford Circus — as far back as seven years ago. Dan Taylor, retail manager for Duchamp London, recalls seeing Oxford Street closed to traffic and pedestrians pouring in for an embryonic version of a Black Friday sale. “It was packaged as something quite different,” Taylor says, “as ‘Christmas Comes Early.'”

Black Friday has further seeped into the U.K.’s public consciousness through a blend of media events from across the pond, global trade and plain old competition. “Everyone knows that it happens,” says Taylor. “Everyone then expects it to happen.”

This year, the shopping day got a boost from unseasonably warm fall weather. Sales of autumn apparel slackened over previous years. With fall boots and jackets taking up valuable shelf space and winter merchandise rapidly approaching, retailers had to find a way to move product fast.

“Black Friday became this holy grail of, ‘It’s going to solve all of our problems,” says Camilleri, who warns that the sales could undercut profits in the U.K. After all, Britain has already conditioned shoppers for its own version of Black Friday: Boxing Day, which falls on December 26. If retailers bookend the shopping season with steep discounts, some say, shoppers may steer clear of stores in the intervening period.

Still, there are signs that Black Friday’s spread may end at Britain’s shoreline. Retailers in continental Europe have — so far — proven immune to its charms.

“We’ve seen no sign of it happening in France or Spain,” says Camilleri. A strict regulatory environment prevents retailers in some EU nations from dropping prices outside of designated windows. But Camilleri notes a deeper instinct to resist. When she asked a German retailer if they might consider a Black Friday sale, the retailer simply replied, “We are not Americans.”

TIME europe

German Chancellor Says Russia’s Actions Are Unjustifiable

Chancellor Angela Merkel in the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Nov. 26, 2014.
Chancellor Angela Merkel in the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Nov. 26, 2014. Stefanie Loos—Reuters

Angela Merkel appears to be taking a tougher stance against Vladimir Putin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday suggested she is prepared for a drawn-out confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine crisis

“We need patience and staying power to overcome the crisis,” Merkel told German lawmakers in a speech to Berlin’s parliament. She added that economic sanctions on Russia “remain unavoidable” as long as government forces continue to battle pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Bloomberg reports.

Merkel continued that while the crisis may have been triggered by Russia’s concerns over the impact of Ukraine’s free trade agreement with the European Union, “none of this justifies or excuses Russia’s annexation of Crimea.”

Russia’s actions, she said, interrupt “the peaceful international order and breach international law.”

MORE: Russia wants a “100% guarantee” that Ukraine won’t join NATO

The German chancellor’s speech to parliament follows an address Merkel made in Australia Monday, during which more openly critical of Putin than in the past, suggesting her patience with Putin is running out after months of negotiations. Merkel and Putin met during the G20 conference, but that reportedly did not go well for either leader.


TIME europe

Pope Urges ‘Aged and Weary’ Europe to Accept Migrants and Reject Hunger

Pope Francis delivers his speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, on Nov. 25, 2014.
Pope Francis delivers his speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Nov. 25, 2014 Remy De La Mauviniere—AFP/Getty Images

The Pontiff uses address to the European Parliament to argue that migrants need "acceptance and assistance"

At many times in Europe’s turbulent history religious leaders have turned a blind eye to violence and discrimination. At other times faith itself has set the battleground. This awareness heightened both the strangeness and the poignancy of the Nov. 25 speech by Pope Francis to members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The Pontiff wasn’t the most obvious person to deliver hard truths to elected politicians about the rising threats to the democracies they serve, or, as head of the Catholic Church, to convey a blast against global corporations that undermine the democratic process by co-opting institutions, as he resonantly expressed it, to “the service of unseen empires.” Yet standing at the lectern at the center of the plenary chamber, peering through wire-rimmed reading glasses at his script, he did these things and more. The leader of a religion that has created its share of fractures made an eloquent plea for the European Union to rediscover its founding principles of “bridging divisions and fostering peace and fellowship.”

Many factors gave urgency to his words. Europe is grappling with soaring unemployment in the midst of global economic instability and the relentless problems of the euro zone. There is a war within its own borders while brutal conflicts on other continents affect the security of European nations and citizens. The interlocking challenges are compounded by voters’ dwindling trust in the political classes. In speaking to members of these classes, the Pope aimed, he said, “as a pastor to deliver a message of hope” to “a Europe that gives the impression of feeling aged and weary.” A glance around the chamber — built as a hemicycle to encourage members of the Parliament from different political groupings to see each other not as opponents but colleagues — reinforced just how timely that papal message was and the extent to which politicians have become, like the Catholic Church in its darker periods, part of the problem as well as its solution.

Pope Francis emphasized the centrality of human dignity and the equal value of every life. He did so to an assembly of 751 MEPs and other European officials that severely underrepresents the diversity of European populations — only 36.75% of lawmakers are women and only about 5% are from ethnic minorities — while substantially representing views that the Pope singled out for criticism. “One of the most common diseases in Europe, if you ask me, today is the loneliness of those who have no connection to others,” he said. This phenomenon could be observed among the isolated old and the alienated young, the poor and “in the lost gaze of the migrants who have come here in search of a better future.”

“Unity doesn’t mean uniformity,” the guest speaker told an audience overwhelmingly composed of middle-aged white men in suits. “In point of fact all real unity draws from the diversities that make it up.” To that audience he set out a list of priorities. It was, he ventured, “intolerable that people are dying each day of hunger while tons of food are thrown away each day from our tables.” He won a round of applause with a call “to promote policies that create employment but above all it is time to restore dignity to work by restoring proper working conditions.” He also highlighted Europe’s failure to achieve “a united response to the question of migration. We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast graveyard. The boats landing daily on Europe’s shores are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance.”

Listening to him were members of mainstream parties who have contributed to that failure and representatives of fringe parties — now achieving such electoral success that they may not for much longer remain on the fringes — who are arguing for the dissolution of the European Union and the turning away of migrants. It seems unlikely that members of the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP), or France’s hard-right National Front party will have been swayed by his words any more than Ian Paisley, at the time the apparently implacable voice of Northern Irish Protestant loyalism, could be persuaded to give a fair hearing to Pope John Paul II’s 1988 speech to the European Parliament, the last such address by a Pontiff to the body until Francis took the floor.

Eventually, however, Paisley did learn to stop bellowing and to prize peace above division, at least to some extent. European history is full of such encouraging examples alongside its gloomier lessons. Pope Francis reminded Europe of its capacity for good. In so doing, he continues to reassert the capacity of his office to do the same.

TIME European Union

Is It a Bird? Is It a Plane? No, It’s Captain Euro

But is he in time to save the European Union and the world?

You might think there were enough cartoon characters in politics already. Apparently not. Enter Captain Euro, flexing his pectorals and multilingual skills as he battles to save the European Union.

The self-styled leader of Europe, the Captain sees himself as the first point of contact for any U.S. President seeking to speak to Europe.

But the Captain isn’t a superhero. He’s just drawn that way (though he and his team of ardent Europhiles in matching blue and gold outfits might also be mistaken for the flight crew on a European no-frills airline.)

The son of Brand EU, an initiative that tries to do exactly what the name suggests, itself the brainchild of a think tank called Gold Mercury, the Captain first strode to the rescue of Europe in 1995 but fell into obscurity until desperate times and rising euroskepsis—boosted, of course, by the flailings of the Captain’s namesake currency—necessitated his recall. So since Nov. 18 he’s been back in action, deploying his sole special power: the power of persuasion.”Together we are one of the world’s strongest powers. Separately, we amount to far less in this newly globalized world, where size is everything,” says Nicolas de Santis, President of Gold Mercury and thus the Captain’s real daddy. “Armed with this knowledge, Captain Euro will continue on his heroic mission to promote the values of a united EU which we all share: peace, solidarity and sustainability.”

To the Captain and his creator, the baddies are evil-minded euroskeptics dressed in UKIP purple who threaten that vision. Their leader is called Dr D Vider (see what they did there?).

And this is where our hero gets a little confused and confusing. His backstory is puzzling. Called Adam Andros, he’s not a David standing up to goliath globalized corporations. We are told he inherited his own giant corporation, Sustania. An avatar of vested interests, he seeks to rally to his cause some of the real-life leaders than some Europeans might see as part of the problem rather than the cure.

In real-life Jean-Claude Juncker, who has just embarked on a five-year term as President of the European Commission, already faces a motion of censure in the European Parliament after allegations that during his previous incarnations as Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Luxembourg, he helped global corporations to minimize their European tax payments. In a Captain Euro strip, Juncker is a unifying figure working to persuade Prime Minister David Cameron to keep Britain in the E.U..

The coalition of anti-Europe, anti-immigration parties seeking to censure Juncker includes a fair sprinkling of cartoonish characters, but they are successfully positioning themselves as the good guys to a broadening swathe of European voters. If Captain Euro really wants to counteract the misinformation such parties spread, he’ll need to recognize the parts of their message that resonate. The time is ripe for a hero who is pro-Europe but not identified with the European elite. Before Captain Euro can redraw the continent’s fracturing politics, he may have to redraw himself.

All cartoons courtesy of Nicolas de Santis/ Gold Mercury International.

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