Poland, an EU member since 2004, is the birthplace of the Solidarity movement, which helped bring down Soviet-style communism in the late 1980s. It was also the site of some of the 20th century's greatest tragedies.
Home to 38.5 million people, Poland sits in the near heart of Europe, bordered by Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and the Russian enclave Kaliningrad. The prime location and large amount of land (more than 300,000 square kilometers) Poland enjoys have enticed more than one of the country's neighbors to attempt to take it over. Poland survived the 1939-45 Nazi occupation, however, and endured over four decades of Soviet dominance to emerge as one of the EU's shining stars in Central Europe.
Will the far right profit from snap elections in Austria - State election boost for Angela Merkel - Two Turks on hunger strike to save their jobs – Concerns over the Polish constitution - Is liberal democracy under threat in the Czech Republic? - The rent crisis in Madrid pushing people out of their homes - Intellectual gardens are enjoying a renaissance in France – Nightingales over Berlin
Polish President Andrzej Duda has caused by announcing that a referendum on possible changes to the country’s Constitution would be held next year. Critics describe Duda’s proposal as deliberately vague, and therefore dangerous, because he didn’t specify what 's wrong with the existing Constitution which was adopted in the ‘90s. Julian Berner files this report from Warsaw.
A new law in Poland allows landowners to cut old trees to make way for housing or industrial construction. An uncontrolled logging spree has resulted, even in protected areas. Critics are accusing controversial environment minister Jan Szyszko of favoring the interests of the logging industry over those of the environment.
Poland's nationalist government has been trying to patch things up with France after an angry exchange of remarks between Emmanual Macron who was then France’s presidential hopeful and the Polish foreign minister. Macron was very critical of violations of democratic principles in Poland, including mounting government control over the judiciary, public administration and public media.
On today's programme: Emmanuel Macron's victory in France heralds a new era. But what does it mean for the future of the EU and for Brexit negotiations? - The fate of those displaced by war in eastern Ukraine – Concern over media freedoms in Slovakia - The American entrepreneur helping the homeless in Barcelona - And a few belly laughs in Berlin.