Former Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi gives a press conference at the foreign press association on February 13, 2018 in Rome

Italians will vote on a controversial constitutional reform that may determine the fate of Matteo Renzi’s government. Yet neither Italy’s membership of the EU and the common currency, nor its financial stability are at stake.

On 4 December 2016, Italians will vote on a constitutional reform proposed by the current government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. If accepted, the reform will change the institutional setup of the country. Most significantly, it would end Italy’s ‘perfect bicameralism’, in which the two legislative houses have nearly identical powers.

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As inflation in the Eurozone decelerates to a more manageable rate of 2.4% in March 2023, the European Central Bank (ECB) considers easing its stringent monetary policies, introduced to combat the peak levels seen at the end of 2022. This shift arrives amidst a declining trend in energy prices and the effective tightening of monetary policy.

Olli Rehn, Governor of the Bank of Finland, hinted at a potential easing of monetary restrictions by mid-2024, contingent on the continued deceleration of inflation rates.

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A giant poster announcing the upcoming European elections, stucks on the facade of the European Parliament building, in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Parliament elections are planned to be held from June 6 to 9, 2024. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

A report released by leading economists from France, Germany, and Italy has launched a critical analysis of the European Union's current approach to research and development, suggesting that the EU is significantly trailing in the global innovation race. According to the study, the lack of presence among the world's top tech companies and startups signifies a dire need for a strategic pivot towards more cutting-edge and disruptive innovation projects.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) and President of Finland Alexander Stubb (L) signing bilateral documents during their meeting in Kyiv on April 3rd, 2024, amid the Russian invasion in Ukraine. Photo by HANDOUT / UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP / LEHTIKUVA

In a significant move underscoring Finland’s unwavering support for Ukraine amidst ongoing conflict, Finnish President Alexander Stubb embarked on a landmark visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 3, 2024. The visit, marked by key discussions and agreements, symbolizes a deepened commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and stability in the face of Russian aggression.

During this visit, President Stubb, alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, inked a pivotal 10-year agreement aimed at bolstering security cooperation and offering sustained support to Ukraine.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during the Third Summit for Democracy in Seoul on March 18, 2024. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

"Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried." Winston Churchill said after the British people voted him out of his position as Prime Minister within months of winning the Second World War. Britain, in its colonial years, and later the United States have used democracy, or the lack of it, as an alibi to enforce their interests around the globe. Countries have been attacked and millions killed "to bring democracy to the people," and undemocratic and corrupt allies have been called democracies that need to be protected.

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A group of attendants pose for pictures in front of the Great Hall of the People during the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing on March 5, 2024. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

Recent comments by political figures and leaders in the US, and EU have focused on military expenditure, fear-mongering and preparing their nations for a hard time in expense for security. Russia and often China have been mentioned as threats to the Western society. 

However, China’s military expenditure as a percentage of its GDP has been consistently at or below 2 percent since 2000, reflecting a relatively stable defence spending strategy in relation to its economic size. This proportion showcases China's approach to balancing its defence needs with its broader economic goals.

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Migrants attempt to cross the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, on February 29, 2024. US President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump both visited the US-Mexico border in Texas today, in Brownsville and Eagle Pass, respectively. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

The year 2023 emerged as the deadliest year for migrants globally, with at least 8,565 lives lost across various migration routes, marking a significant and somber milestone. This alarming figure, as reported by the International Organization for Migration's (IOM) Missing Migrants Project, indicates a 20 percent increase in deaths compared to the previous year, underlining a critical call for action to safeguard migrant lives.

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Displaced Palestinians gather for food in Rafah, on the southern Gaza Strip on February 28, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. Photo: AFP / LEHTIKUVA

In a recent visit to Gaza, Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, reported dire conditions for the civilian population caught amidst ongoing conflict. Egeland's observations reveal a grim reality of destruction, desperation, and growing famine threats as millions find themselves trapped, facing a continuous cycle of violence and starvation.

Egeland highlighted the acute food crisis, noting the visible malnourishment among Gaza's children, forced to scavenge for food amidst the rubble.

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This picture taken during a media tour organised by the Israeli army on February 8, 2024, shows Israeli soldiers inside a compound of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip, amid ongoing fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

In a powerful plea for compassion and humanity, more than a hundred Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have rallied together, advocating for the uninterrupted financial support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This appeal, underscored by the critical situation in Gaza, emphasizes the dire consequences that funding cuts would have on innocent civilians trapped in the throes of conflict.

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A picture taken from a position in southern Israel on the border with the Gaza Strip on February 15, 2024, shows Israeli soldiers holding up a national flag as they move along the border, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

The International Court of Justice commenced hearings today, February 19th, to deliberate on the legal ramifications of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories. Amnesty International has called for an immediate cessation of Israel's "brutal occupation" of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, which has persisted since 1967.

The process, initiated by a UN General Assembly resolution in December 2022, seeks an advisory opinion from the court on the legality of Israel's policies and practices in the occupied Palestinian territories and their effects on other states and the UN itself.

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