The film about agriculture vividly demonstrates why the problems of farmers in the euro zone are often of their own making. The EU pays enormous sums so that farmers can produce a lot and cheaply. According to this logic, however, only large companies are funded. The bigger, the more support. This resulted in a dramatic imbalance. In France, one small farmer commits suicide every day. In the meantime, Europe’s largest agricultural operation has sprung up on the Romanian island of Braila. Supported by countless millions from Brussels, grain is produced here, which is also exported from the EU.
But this turbo agriculture is not sustainable. It destroys soils through nitrate pollution, causes the climate to tip over and, on top of that, threatens health. “This series,” according to the opening credits of each of the six episodes, “shows people who are determined to work on solutions.” The film about agriculture takes a look at the Smart Farming project. High-tech is supposed to make organic farming more sustainable: Is it enough to feed 500 million Europeans?According to Catherine Tubb, a pioneer in the cultivation of proteins in test tubes, in the near future laboratory meat will be something like a jack of all trades. The researcher predicts that the production of synthetic steaks will soon become significantly cheaper. Conventional agriculture must therefore be prepared for disruptive changes. Cows, which are known to have a poor carbon footprint, would become “redundant by 2035,” Catherine predicts. Meanwhile, the camera accompanies her to the butcher’s, where she treats herself to a juicy steak that didn’t come from the laboratory. The episode about Europe’s sleepy digitization is particularly revealing. A hot topic. Because only four percent of the world’s relevant IT companies come from the EU. Europe, it seems, is a digital developing country. The only outlier: Spotify. Unfortunately, the success story of the Swedish audio streaming platform is only touched upon.
The look at the energy industry, with which the series starts, illuminates the most urgent construction site in the EU. The war in Ukraine made it painfully clear that Europe’s “thirst for energy” had made it dependent on an autocratic state. Unfortunately, the political path leading to this dependency on Russia is only hinted at. This is a blind spot. Finally, the documentary emphasizes, “Energy is always political.” The focus is on ways to replace fossil fuels in power generation with renewable energy. The story of a Romanian ex-miner is emblematic of this turning point. By changing his job, he escaped the darkness of a coal mine. As a maintenance technician, he now enjoys the view from a 120-meter-high wind turbine – also into the decarbonized future.
“Europe. Continent in transition” is an ambitious high-gloss docuseries. Spectacular aerial photographs, sophisticated 3D map animations and a staccato of statistics illustrate the complex global interdependence between energy production, transport, agriculture and the impact on nature. However, when it comes to the basic issue, the threat of climate change, the six-part series also shows a lack of clarity. Since the view is limited to economic and ecological processes between Helsinki and Napoli, Poland and Portugal, the irritating impression arises again and again that Europe has to stop climate change all by itself. In the end, what is most convincing is the breathtaking thematic arc, which shows what a gigantic construction site Europe is at the moment.