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Re: New EC Thread

Post  Panda on Mon 20 May - 8:20

France has been ignoring its problems, now the chickens are coming home to
roost



It is too early to be sure that the UK economy is finally emerging from the
doldrums but the early signs look promising.









In France, government spending
accounts for 56pc of GDP, the highest in the eurozone. Photo: PA






By Roger Bootle

10:33PM BST 19 May 2013

56 Comments




By contrast, last week’s news from the eurozone was dire. Q1’s drop of 0.2pc
in GDP was the sixth successive quarterly contraction. It included the second
successive drop for France, thereby formally putting it in recession.


Throughout my career, I have been fascinated by France and especially by the
question of how, given its anti-business culture, it has managed to do so well.
I have never solved the riddle to my full satisfaction but I have concluded
that, when a country is on the wrong path, it may take a long time for this to
show up unambiguously in its economic performance.


Moreover, France has successfully bottled up its problems, thanks to a large
and powerful state and the practice of closet protectionism.


In France, government spending accounts for 56pc of GDP, the highest in the
eurozone. To an extent that would be unthinkable in most other countries.
Consumers, businesses and government operate a buy-French policy on just about
everything from wines to cars. The result is that the effects of a loss of
competitiveness can be disguised. But now the chickens are coming home to roost.



Since the euro was formed in 1999, German unit labour costs have risen by
only 10pc. At the peak, Greek, Irish and Spanish costs were up by 62pc, 53pc and
43pc respectively. But these countries have since managed to reduce their unit
costs so that the equivalent figures are now 41pc, 30pc and 28pc. Meanwhile,
French costs have continued to rise. They are now up by about 30pc since 1999,
putting France in the same position as Spain and Ireland.


What’s more, France’s share of world exports stands at about a half of what
it was when the euro was formed. And export prospects don’t look good, not least
because France is heavily dependent upon the weak peripheral economies, which
take about 20pc of her exports, compared with only 13pc of Germany’s.
Admittedly, the employment picture is not as bad as in Spain or Greece. But it
is still pretty terrible. The unemployment rate is 11pc, compared with 5.4pc in
Germany. Over the past two years, the UK has created more than 400,000 jobs,
while France has created fewer than 90,000.

None of this is surprising when you consider what French employers have to
put up with: the 35-hour week, “social charges” of about 50pc on top of wages,
employment protection legislation, which makes it almost impossible to sack
anybody, high levels of industrial action and punitive personal taxation. Every
non-French business person I know with operations in France says what a
nightmare it is to do business there.

The fiscal position also looks pretty serious. Its debt ratio is already on
course to hit 95pc of GDP this year. Admittedly, the fiscal deficit is only 4pc
of GDP, just about the same as Italy’s, but Italy’s deficit is more than
accounted for by interest payments. If France had to pay Italian interest rates
then its deficit would be 6pc of GDP.

Meanwhile, French banks are seriously weak, with large exposures to the
sovereign debts of the European periphery amounting to about 15pc of French GDP.


Yet all this need not be fatal. Only 14 years ago, Germany was described as
the sick man of Europe. But far-reaching reforms under Chancellor Schröder
restored it to health.

The trouble is that there is no sign of reforming zeal in France. Indeed, the
French government has moved in the opposite direction. It has even reduced the
retirement age just when other governments are increasing it. And France has a
tradition of ungovernability. Getting tough reform through is not just a matter
of difficult electoral politics but also of winning battles on the streets.
French governments have a habit of bottling out.

Despite the seriousness of this situation, the French establishment’s eye is
not on the ball. It thought that monetary union would unleash a wave of
prosperity. Some hope! It now seems to think that completing the monstrous
building that is the euro will somehow fix the dodgy foundations underneath. But
unless France acts boldly to reform its economy, and particularly its labour
market, then even the achievement of full fiscal and political union would still
leave its economy languishing.

As the performance of the Italian Mezzogiorno attests, just because you are
united with a prosperous region does not necessarily mean that you too will
prosper. Indeed, it may mean exactly the opposite.

So much for being part of the tough northern core. Increasingly, France looks
part of the soft southern underbelly. As the French position worsens, the
markets would do well to ponder the implications. When the next dollop of
bail-out money is required, will France be in a position to accept her share?
And if not, will Germany accept the necessary increase in hers?

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Re: New EC Thread

Post  Panda on Mon 20 May - 12:05

EU Leaders Struggling With Economic Growth to Turn to Tax Policy


By Patrick Donahue - May 19, 2013 11:00 PM GMT+0
European Union leaders struggling to find a consensus on how to overcome the debt crisis and revive economic growth will use a summit meeting this week to focus on fighting tax evasion and on the bloc’s energy policy.
The leaders of the 27-member bloc will meet in Brussels May 22 to agree on a plan governing how EU countries share tax data after finance ministers last week failed to reach a decision. They’ll also examine energy costs and investment, as the euro-area economy continues to be in a recession.





Enlarge image
EU Leaders Struggling With Economic Growth to Turn to Tax Policy



Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images
As receding borrowing costs wrested the single currency from the threat of collapse, the euro area’s economy extended a recession to a record sixth quarter. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have championed competing views on how to jump-start growth, including the scale of the bloc’s austerity measures.
As receding borrowing costs wrested the single currency from the threat of collapse, the euro area’s economy extended a recession to a record sixth quarter. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have championed competing views on how to jump-start growth, including the scale of the bloc’s austerity measures. Photographer: Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images




4:26 May 16 (Bloomberg) -- Janet Henry, London-based chief European economist at HSBC Holdings Plc, talks about the region's economies and debt crisis. The euro-area economy shrank more than economists forecast in the three months through March, extending a recession to a record sixth quarter and increasing pressure on the currency bloc’s leaders to spur growth. Henry speaks in Hong Kong with Susan Li on Bloomberg Television's "First Up." (Source: Bloomberg)




5:34 May 17 (Bloomberg) -- James Goundry, Europe analyst at IHS Global Insight, and Xavier Denis, an economist and strategist at Societe Generale Private Banking, discuss Francois Hollande's first year as French President. Denis, from Paris, and Goundry, from London, speak with Francine Lacqua and Guy Johnson on Bloomberg Television's "The Pulse." (Source: Bloomberg)




0:59 May 20 (Bloomberg) -- Jeremy Stretch, head of currency strategy at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, talks about the outlook for the euro and dollar. He spoke May 17 in London. (Source: Bloomberg)


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“In the current economic context we must mobilize all our policies in support of competitiveness, jobs and growth,” the group said in a May 17 draft of their conclusions.
As receding borrowing costs wrested the single currency from the threat of collapse, the euro area’s economy extended a recession to a record sixth quarter. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have championed competing views on how to jump-start growth, including the scale of the bloc’s austerity measures.
The euro fell 1.2 percent last week against the dollar, retreating to $1.2839 on May 17, as gross domestic product in the 17-nation bloc fell 0.2 percent in the first quarter, more than economists had forecast.
The agenda for this week will include stepping up the fight against tax evasion after finance ministers from Luxembourg and Austria last week blocked efforts to reach agreement on sharing tax data. The accord aims to set standards for how countries collect data on income residents earn in other nations.
“Priority will be given to efforts to extend the automatic exchange of information at the EU and global levels,” according to the draft.
Information Exchanges

The renewed rules will require member states to participate in information exchanges after a transition period. The original accord, passed in 2005, offered Austria and Luxembourg an exemption from automatic information exchange requirements. Those nations now have agreed to revise their policies.
Leaders will also call for attention to “the supply of affordable and sustainable energy” and its effect on EU economies. They will pledge to study energy prices, revisit state aid rules for energy investments and investigate ways to boost financing for energy-efficient projects, according to the draft.
The region’s economic slowdown has reached the euro area’s core, with the German economy expanding less than forecast in the three months through March, France slipping into a recession and Italian GDP contracting more than forecast. The European Central Bank cut its benchmark interest rate to a record low of 0.5 percent this month as its president, Mario Draghi, said the central bank is ready to act again if needed.
Debt Fight

This month’s summit will foreshadow a June meeting of leaders to tackle the bloc’s economy and the debt crisis. As Germany and France team up to work on a plan for youth unemployment, the two governments have struggled to resolve differences over the scale of debt-fighting polices.
Merkel and Hollande’s governments won’t issue a joint paper ahead of the June summit as they had previously done because the gap between the two remains too wide, Der Spiegel reported, without saying where it obtained the information.

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Re: New EC Thread

Post  Panda on Mon 20 May - 17:49

Portugal: ‘Most Portuguese want to renegotiate or end the troika deal’

20 May 2013
i



i, 20 May 2013
The Portuguese are not happy with the intervention of the troika in Portugal, according to a survey carried out by Eurosondagem for the European Institute, part of the Law Faculty at Lisbon University, and which will be released on May 20.
Almost half of Portuguese people feel the agreement between the government and the troika should not have been signed, compared to only 12 per cent who back the deal. A total of 82.5 per cent want to renegotiate or terminate the troika agreement.
President Aníbal Cavaco Silva will receive the members of the Council of State – the political body that advises the president – on May 20, for talks about the country’s likely condition once the troika has left Portugal, and for preparations ahead of the European Council meeting due to take place in June.
The movement Que se lixe a troika (Fuck the troika) called a protest today in front of the Presidential palace, to call for Cavaco Silva to "finally assume his position, respect the constitution and dismiss the government, which is ravaging Portuguese life."

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Re: New EC Thread

Post  Panda on Tue 21 May - 15:08

European Council: Casting shadows on energy policy

20 May 2013Le Figaro Paris


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Electricity pylons in Pulheim, western Germany
AFP
From a lack of investment to an underdeveloped renewable energy sector, plus competition from American coal: the domestic energy market faces a slew of obstacles. This is driving concerned European groups begin to put the EU under pressure.

Frédéric de Monicault | Patrick Saint-Paul | Fabrice Nodé-LangloisEnergy policy is high on the official agenda of the May 22 European Summit. All the more reason to make your voice heard. That is the strategy adopted by all the energy firms from the Old Continent who, for once, will make their demands to the Commission as a group.
Their message is clear: the stability of energy supplies to Europe is in danger. They are calling on Brussels to help. The causes of this crisis are many and include a dramatic fall in investments in major infrastructure projects, the absence of a precise legal framework and the quite relative weight of a common energy policy. "In short, a blatant lack of visibility at a time when industry giants, in order to manoeuvre efficiently, need a certain number of signals that they are not seeing today," stresses a source who knows the sector well.
These firms face even greater stress due to a series of recurring problems. Their stock price falls to a low level and their debt ratio rises to levels unacceptable to investors which forces them to sell off massive amounts of assets and, as a result, their industrial assets are severely strained. Several production plants must be closed or are mothballed because they are insufficiently profitable.
The latter often concerns combined cycle natural gas plants, victims of the rise in shale gas in North America. Not only is gas four times cheaper on the other side of the Atlantic than in Europe, but, drawing on this new resource, the United States can now export massive quantities of coal. This is used to supply European electricity production plants at a more competitive price than the gas used in the combined gas plants, which have been obliged to stop operating.
Power paradox

"As a result, and this is a fine paradox, a country such as Germany has never powered as many coal-fired plants while financing, at a high level, its renewable energy sector," says a manager in a European firm. This does not mean that the rapid development of "green" energy is generally supported. Thermal plants (gas or coal-fired) are indispensable to compensate for the intermittent nature of energy supplied by photovoltaic cells or wind power. Yet, in Germany, the production of renewables has reached such a level that investing in thermal plants, which are indispensable but expensive to build, is no longer profitable. This dilemma is troubling all electric and gas companies.
In the message sent this week to the Commission, in writing and verbally, the firms will call for close monitoring of the financing of energy policies. The aim is to ensure that the system of subsidies to renewable energies does not distort competition from one country to the next. Sector giants also hope that the carbon market, especially carbon-emission quotas, will be clarified, less costly and more efficient. They also hope that investment will be encouraged in the production facilities needed to meet peaks in demand.
On the side-lines of the major issues, and this is not the least of the problems, each country is pushing for its own projects to be adopted. In Germany, developing networks aimed at linking the north and East of the country, where the wind and solar power, is produced to the south and the west, where the most energy-consuming industries are located, is vital to the success of the country's energy transition. The country decided to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by 2022 and to increase the share of renewables to 40 per cent.
Shale gas is key

According to the Federal government's plan, 4,000km of power lines must be optimised and 1,700 kilometres of electricity "highways" must be built by 2022. Berlin wants its European neighbours to share the cost of developing the networks to supply renewable energy throughout the continent.
Furthermore, Germany is moving favourably towards exploiting shale gas in order to ensure the stability of supplies and of energy prices. German Chancellor Angela Merkel should be satisfied to note that, in its draft conclusions to Wednesday's summit, the European Commission mentions, for the first time, the possibility of "more systematic" recourse to "native" energy sources – a Brussels code word for shale gas.
Although the draft nowhere mentions that the potential of shale gas must be explored by member states – a taboo notion in France – it is a foot in Brussels' door. And it could be enough to add a new bone of contention to the already complex issue of energy development.

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Re: New EC Thread

Post  Panda on Wed 22 May - 16:32

Merkel tops powerful women list – again



Angela Merkel named Forbes World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list for third
year, beating Melinda Gates and Michelle Obama.


/







Forbes: The rise of the female super geek









.
































Last edited by Panda on Wed 22 May - 16:53; edited 1 time in total

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Re: New EC Thread

Post  Panda on Wed 22 May - 16:48

unemployment: The ‘lost generation’ left by the wayside

22 May 2013Der Spiegel Hamburg


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“We want more education,” “Youth unemployment 40 percent”: students demonstrate against education cuts in Portugal, February 2013.
AFP
With nearly one in four young Europeans out of work, jobs must be one of the Union’s top priorities. But member states, especially those in the south, seem incapable of making the reforms that would set them in the right direction. Excerpts.

Fiona Ehlers | Markus Dettmer | Sven Böll | Cornelia Schmergal | Manfred Ertel | Helene ZuberStylia Kampani did everything right, and she still doesn’t know what the future holds for her. The 23-year-old studied international relations in her native Greece and spent a year at the University of Bremen in northern Germany. She completed an internship at the foreign ministry in Athens and worked for the Greek Embassy in Berlin. Now she is doing an unpaid internship with the prestigious Athens daily newspaper Kathimerini. And what happens after that? “Good question”, says Kampani. “I don’t know.”
“None of my friends believes that we have a future or will be able to live a normal life,” says Kampani. “That wasn't quite the case four years ago.”
Four years ago -- that was before the euro crisis began. Since then, the Greek government has approved a series of austerity programs, which have been especially hard on young people. The unemployment rate among Greeks under 25 has been above 50 per cent for months. The situation is similarly dramatic in Spain, Portugal and Italy. According to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office, the rate of unemployment among young adults in the EU has climbed to 23.5 percent. A lost generation is taking shape in Europe. And European governments seem clueless when they hear the things people like Athenian university graduate Alexandros are saying: “We don't want to leave Greece, but the constant uncertainty makes us tired and depressed.”
Instead of launching effective education and training programs to prepare Southern European youth for a professional life after the crisis, the Continent’s political elites preferred to wage old ideological battles. There were growing calls for traditional economic stimulus programs at the European Commission in Brussels. The governments of debt-ridden countries paid more attention to the status quo of their primarily older voters. Meanwhile, the creditor nations in the north were opposed to anything that could cost money.
In this way, Europe wasted valuable time, at least until governments were shaken early this month by news of a very worrisome record: Unemployment among 15- to 24-year-olds has climbed above 60 per cent in Greece.
Suddenly Europe is scrambling to address the problem. Youth unemployment will top the agenda of a summit of European leaders in June. And Italy’s new prime minister, Enrico Letta, is demanding that the fight against youth unemployment become an “obsession” for the EU.
Big Promises, Scant Results

These are strong words coming out of Europe’s capitals today, but they have not been followed by any action to date.
For instance, in February, the European Council voted to set aside an additional €6bn to fight youth unemployment by 2020, tying the package to a highly symbolic job guarantee. But because member states are still arguing over how the money should be spent, the package can’t begin earlier than 2014.
A recent Franco-German effort remains equally nebulous. Berlin and Paris want to encourage employers in Southern Europe to hire and train young people by providing them with loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The concept is supposed to be unveiled at the end of May. German labour minister Ursula von der Leyen is its strongest advocate.
In contrast, German efforts to combat the crisis have been limited to recruiting skilled workers from Greece, Spain and Portugal. But now politicians are realising that high unemployment in Athens and Madrid is a threat to democracy and could be the kiss of death for the eurozone. Perhaps it takes reaching a certain age to recognize the problem. “We need a program to eliminate youth unemployment in Southern Europe. [European Commission President José Manuel] Barroso has failed to do so,” says former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, now 94. “This is a scandal beyond compare.”
Economists also argue that it’s about time Europe did something about the problem. “The long-term prospects of young people in the crisis-ridden countries are extremely grim. This increases the risk of radicalisation of an entire generation,” warns Joachim Möller, director of Germany’s Institute of Employment Research, a labour market think tank.
The Franco-German proposal to help Southern European employers is a case in point. Under the plan, the €6bn from the EU youth assistance program would be distributed to companies through the EIB and thus would multiply, as if by magic. In the end, speculate the plan’s proponents, 10 times as much money could be brought into circulation, putting an end to the credit crunch facing many Southern European small businesses.
As it is, there are doubts over the usefulness of broad injections of cash. The first measures coming from Brussels were ineffective and came to nothing. Last year, the European Commission promised the crisis-stricken countries that they could use unspent money from structural funds to implement projects to provide jobs to unemployed youth. Some €16bn had been applied for by the beginning of this year, funds intended to benefit 780,000 young people. But the experiences are sobering, and concrete successes are few and far between.
An Alternative Solution?

According to a draft of a position paper the German cabinet intends to discuss in June, Germany wants to support the crisis-stricken countries in “incorporating elements of dual vocational education and training into their respective systems”. The government intends to set up a new “Central Office for International Educational Cooperation” at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, which could send advisors to the crisis-stricken countries when needed. Ten new positions have already been approved for the new office.
The key to combating youth unemployment is to reform the divided labour market. But as an internal report by the German government shows, the crisis-stricken countries have hardly made any progress on this front. According to the report, Portugal potentially has “additional efficiency reserves in its school system”, while Greece is showing only a few signs of progress, such as a plan to “assist young unemployed women”.
The problems associated with a divided labour market are especially striking in Italy, where older workers with employment contracts that are practically non-terminable hold onto jobs, making them inaccessible to younger workers. The words on a demonstrator’s T-shirt in Naples summed up the mood among young people: “I don't want to die of uncertainty.”
In Athens, young university graduate Stylia Kampani is now thinking of starting over. She is considering moving to Germany. And this time, she adds, she might stay there.
On the web


  • Original article on Spiegel Online en
Related


  • Youth unemployment: ‘Unemployed of Europe, unite’

    Presseurop

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Re: New EC Thread

Post  Panda on Sat 25 May - 13:09

Cyprus: Money launderers still not hung to dry

21 May 2013
Presseurop EUobserver.com




High risks of money laundering, errors in bank records, missing identity checks and obscure customer records are all rampant in Cyprus’s banking sector, according to a leaked EU report that could trouble the conditions of the country’s €2bn taxpayer-funded bailout package.
At the request of eurozone finance ministers, EU monitoring body Moneyval and US accountancy firm Deloitte investigated the activities of six Cypriot banks and their biggest clients and drew up the report in April.
A leaked version of the report’s summary, published over the weekend by Cypriot website Stockwatch, shows 58 per cent of one bank’s clients pose a “high risk” of money laundering and almost a third of all bank depositors’ records contain errors.
Other findings suggest that file information on 27 per cent of depositors and 11 per cent of borrowers displayed “inaccurate information on the customer and beneficial owner”, that identities of customers were unclear in up to 75 per cent of international business cases, and that proper ID checks on “complex” structures were carried out in only 9 per cent of all cases.
EUObserver questions whether Cypriot banks are effectively monitoring their own clients, since the banks
launched just four internal probes on potential money laundering [...] between 2008 and 2012. They reported zero ‘suspicious transactions’ to Cypriot authorities in 2008 to 2010, one in 2011 and ‘a few’ in 2012. But Deloitte identified 29 of them in the last 12 months alone.
The site says the report “gives the lie to Cypriot diplomats and politicians who have been telling media in recent months the island adheres to international standards” and also suggests a potential problem for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who vowed to clean up Cyprus as German MPs approved the EU bailout package.
EUObserver quotes an unnamed diplomat looking ahead to September’s elections: “If German people saw the report, they might say: ‘I would not give my money to such a country.’”

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Re: New EC Thread

Post  Panda on Sat 25 May - 15:35

Youth unemployment: The ‘lost generation’ left by the wayside


22 mai 2013Der Spiegel Hambourg


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“We want more education,” “Youth unemployment 40 percent”: students demonstrate against education cuts in Portugal, February 2013.
AFP
With nearly one in four young Europeans out of work, jobs must be one of the Union’s top priorities. But member states, especially those in the south, seem incapable of making the reforms that would set them in the right direction. Extraits.

Fiona Ehlers | Markus Dettmer | Sven Böll | Cornelia Schmergal | Manfred Ertel | Helene ZuberStylia Kampani did everything right, and she still doesn’t know what the future holds for her. The 23-year-old studied international relations in her native Greece and spent a year at the University of Bremen in northern Germany. She completed an internship at the foreign ministry in Athens and worked for the Greek Embassy in Berlin. Now she is doing an unpaid internship with the prestigious Athens daily newspaper Kathimerini. And what happens after that? “Good question”, says Kampani. “I don’t know.”
“None of my friends believes that we have a future or will be able to live a normal life,” says Kampani. “That wasn't quite the case four years ago.”
Four years ago -- that was before the euro crisis began. Since then, the Greek government has approved a series of austerity programs, which have been especially hard on young people. The unemployment rate among Greeks under 25 has been above 50 per cent for months. The situation is similarly dramatic in Spain, Portugal and Italy. According to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office, the rate of unemployment among young adults in the EU has climbed to 23.5 percent. A lost generation is taking shape in Europe. And European governments seem clueless when they hear the things people like Athenian university graduate Alexandros are saying: “We don't want to leave Greece, but the constant uncertainty makes us tired and depressed.”
Instead of launching effective education and training programs to prepare Southern European youth for a professional life after the crisis, the Continent’s political elites preferred to wage old ideological battles. There were growing calls for traditional economic stimulus programs at the European Commission in Brussels. The governments of debt-ridden countries paid more attention to the status quo of their primarily older voters. Meanwhile, the creditor nations in the north were opposed to anything that could cost money.
In this way, Europe wasted valuable time, at least until governments were shaken early this month by news of a very worrisome record: Unemployment among 15- to 24-year-olds has climbed above 60 per cent in Greece.
Suddenly Europe is scrambling to address the problem. Youth unemployment will top the agenda of a summit of European leaders in June. And Italy’s new prime minister, Enrico Letta, is demanding that the fight against youth unemployment become an “obsession” for the EU.
Big promises, scant results

These are strong words coming out of Europe’s capitals today, but they have not been followed by any action to date.
For instance, in February, the European Council voted to set aside an additional €6bn to fight youth unemployment by 2020, tying the package to a highly symbolic job guarantee. But because member states are still arguing over how the money should be spent, the package can’t begin earlier than 2014.
A recent Franco-German effort remains equally nebulous. Berlin and Paris want to encourage employers in Southern Europe to hire and train young people by providing them with loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The concept is supposed to be unveiled at the end of May. German labour minister Ursula von der Leyen is its strongest advocate.
In contrast, German efforts to combat the crisis have been limited to recruiting skilled workers from Greece, Spain and Portugal. But now politicians are realising that high unemployment in Athens and Madrid is a threat to democracy and could be the kiss of death for the eurozone. Perhaps it takes reaching a certain age to recognize the problem. “We need a program to eliminate youth unemployment in Southern Europe. [European Commission President José Manuel] Barroso has failed to do so,” says former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, now 94. “This is a scandal beyond compare.”
Economists also argue that it’s about time Europe did something about the problem. “The long-term prospects of young people in the crisis-ridden countries are extremely grim. This increases the risk of radicalisation of an entire generation,” warns Joachim Möller, director of Germany’s Institute of Employment Research, a labour market think tank.
The Franco-German proposal to help Southern European employers is a case in point. Under the plan, the €6bn from the EU youth assistance program would be distributed to companies through the EIB and thus would multiply, as if by magic. In the end, speculate the plan’s proponents, 10 times as much money could be brought into circulation, putting an end to the credit crunch facing many Southern European small businesses.
As it is, there are doubts over the usefulness of broad injections of cash. The first measures coming from Brussels were ineffective and came to nothing. Last year, the European Commission promised the crisis-stricken countries that they could use unspent money from structural funds to implement projects to provide jobs to unemployed youth. Some €16bn had been applied for by the beginning of this year, funds intended to benefit 780,000 young people. But the experiences are sobering, and concrete successes are few and far between.
An alternative solution?

According to a draft of a position paper the German cabinet intends to discuss in June, Germany wants to support the crisis-stricken countries in “incorporating elements of dual vocational education and training into their respective systems”. The government intends to set up a new “Central Office for International Educational Cooperation” at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, which could send advisors to the crisis-stricken countries when needed. Ten new positions have already been approved for the new office.
The key to combating youth unemployment is to reform the divided labour market. But as an internal report by the German government shows, the crisis-stricken countries have hardly made any progress on this front. According to the report, Portugal potentially has “additional efficiency reserves in its school system”, while Greece is showing only a few signs of progress, such as a plan to “assist young unemployed women”.
The problems associated with a divided labour market are especially striking in Italy, where older workers with employment contracts that are practically non-terminable hold onto jobs, making them inaccessible to younger workers. The words on a demonstrator’s T-shirt in Naples summed up the mood among young people: “I don't want to die of uncertainty.”
In Athens, young university graduate Stylia Kampani is now thinking of starting over. She is considering moving to Germany. And this time, she adds, she might stay there.

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Re: New EC Thread

Post  Badboy on Sat 25 May - 17:24

GREEK TOURISM TRADE DOING BETTER WITH EXPECTED 17 MILLION TOURISTS.
FERRIES FROM ATHENS TO SANTORINI PACKED FULL.

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Re: New EC Thread

Post  Panda on Sat 25 May - 18:20

Badboy wrote:GREEK TOURISM TRADE DOING BETTER WITH EXPECTED 17 MILLION TOURISTS.
FERRIES FROM ATHENS TO SANTORINI PACKED FULL.

I hope so Badboy, the weather is not very good anywhere in Europe at the moment. 17 million, are you sure that's right?

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Re: New EC Thread

Post  Badboy on Sat 25 May - 20:32

Panda wrote:
Badboy wrote:GREEK TOURISM TRADE DOING BETTER WITH EXPECTED 17 MILLION TOURISTS.
FERRIES FROM ATHENS TO SANTORINI PACKED FULL.

I hope so Badboy, the weather is not very good anywhere in Europe at the moment. 17 million, are you sure that's right?
YES,THAT HOW MANY THEY ARE HOPING WILL VISIT THIS YEAR,THE DEMONSTRATIONS ETC SCARED OFF TOURISTS,BUT WITH THE CALM,HOPEFULLY MORE VISITORSTHIS YEAR.

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Re: New EC Thread

Post  Panda on Sun 26 May - 9:33

Another trillion euros

24 May 2013
Presseurop



It was the poor relation on the agenda for the May 22 European Council meeting, and not without reason: whereas tax evasion and avoidance, which topped the bill for the summit, costs Europe close to €1trn per year, the expense incurred by the Old Continent’s dependence on imported fossil fuels amounts to “just” €388bn per year.
In spite of all of this, the 27 member states throughly discussed the issue of energy supplies. Faced with an economy that is barely growing, they are hoping that cutting energy bills will put an end to the decline, and restore the competitiveness of Europe’s companies. Fascinated by the example of the United States, whose recovery has been boosted by cheap energy, notably sourced from shale oil and gas, and terrified by rises in electricity prices, they have set their sites on a threefold target: one which will guarantee reasonable prices for customers, cut the bill for imports, and ensure sustained domestic production. And, of course, all of this will be achieved without compromising commitments on the reduction of CO2 emissions.
In their bid to achieve this miracle, member states will not only have to look beyond their national interests — and energy is one field where Europe’s 27 member states always prioritise national interests — but also undertake massive investment in “green” energy, thermal energy plants and infrastructure for routing raw materials and electricity. According to Herman Van Rompuy, all of this will require “no less than €1trn by 2020”. A trillion euros… Well, well, well.
At the same time, as the President of the European Council pointed out at the press conference following the summit, that European countries “could also develop safe and sustainable ways to tap other resources – conventional and unconventional.” And yes, “this includes shale gas, which could become part of the energy mix for some member states.” Some, like the United Kingdom and Romania, have not waited for the European Council to embark on the exploration of the enormous reserves of unconventional hydrocarbons, whose use remains controversial because of their long-term impact on the environment, which could be tapped by Europe. And that is precisely what industry is demanding.
However, before turning their backs on the ambition to play a pioneering role in the post-oil world, which, after all, was prompted by a lack of indigenous resources, if they want to offer companies a real advantage in terms of energy, member states could cut taxes on power bills: In the United States, there are no taxes on electricity for industry, while EU companies are obliged to pay an average of one centime per kilowatt-hour

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Re: New EC Thread

Post  Panda on Wed 29 May - 8:10

Italy furious as British block ban on plastic bags


The Italian government has criticised Britain for blocking in Brussels a law
banning supermarket plastic bags.









Studies showed that 73 percent
of the human waste settling on the sea bed off the Italian coast was plastic
bags. Photo:
EPA





By Tom Kington,
Rome

9:42AM BST 28 May 2013




Italy introduced the ban on shops supplying the bags in 2011 as studies
showed that 73 percent of the human waste settling on the sea bed off the
Italian coast was plastic bags.


The country's supermarket chains now sell biodegradable plastic bags, or
thicker plastic bags designed to be reused.


Italy will only be able to impose fines on violators when the law is approved
by the European Union, and many small shops and markets are still handing out
non-biodegradable bags.


However the approval was suspended earlier this month when Britain objected,
claiming that since the bags are not outlawed by the EU, they cannot be banned
by a member state.


“While we are determined to tackle the blight caused by discarded carrier
bags, the proposed Italian scheme is illegal under EU packaging laws,” said a
spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.



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Andrea Orlando, Italy's environment minister, criticsed the position.

“The bags are a serious problem, above all at sea, and it is astounding that
Britain, which is serious about the environment and has a seafaring tradition
going back centuries, does not want to defend the seas from plastic pollution
which suffocates and kills many marine animals,” Mr Orlando told The Daily
Telegraph
.

“Brussels should adopt the Italian law for the whole of Europe,” he added.


David Newman, a Rome-based Briton and waste expert who heads the Italian
Composting Association, called the British position “astonishing”.

“The UK is the only country to lodge this objection which appears to be a
knee-jerk, free trade response with no regard for environmental concerns,” he
said. “The UK has been called to order on this at home yet it is opposing it in
Brussels – it’s paradoxical.”

Italy consumed one quarter of all Europe’s single-use plastic shopping bags
before the 2011 ban, but has made the switch smoothly. “There is 8,000 km of
coastline in Italy and there were plastic bags on every beach – Italians were
fed up,” said Marco Versari, the president of the Italian Bioplastics
Association.

Mr Newman said the ban also meant fewer Italians were using the old bags to
wrap organic waste, making recycling more efficient. “That is crucial for Italy
which recycles five million tonnes of organic waste a year, much more than the
UK because Italians cook more at home,” he said.

“Italy decided against taxing bags, like Ireland, and is the forerunner in
banning them,” he said. “The world is watching this huge shift and Italy could
be the tipping point.”

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Re: New EC Thread

Post  Panda on Wed 29 May - 8:38

EU to Deliver Verdict on Slovenia’s Plan to Avert Bailout


By Boris Cerni - May 28, 2013 11:00 PM GMT+0100



The European Commission is set to deliver its verdict on Slovenia’s plan to avoid being the euro area’s sixth bailout victim with a $1.2 billion bank recapitalization program and a record state-asset sale plan.
The European Union’s executive arm will say today in Brussels whether Slovenia is taking the right steps to dodge financial assistance or needs to do more to stay afloat on its own. The former Yugoslav republic already tested investor confidence with a $3.5 billion debt sale on May 2 to cover the budget, repay debt and fund banks.
“Recent bond auctions bought the government time to push on with its reform agenda and has probably removed the immediate threat of bailout,” James Howat, a euro-region economist at Capital Economics in London, said in an e-mail. “But there is still a lot of uncertainty.”
Slovenia is struggling to fix a banking industry crippled by Europe’s slump and an economy in its second recession since 2009. The government of Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek sent its economic overhaul program to Brussels on May 9 to reassure its EU partners Slovenia won’t need outside aid.
The yield on the government’s dollar bonds maturing in 2022 rose to 5.54 percent yesterday, the highest in four weeks, after climbing to a record 6.38 percent on March 27, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Rating Cuts

Slovenia’s effort to reassure investors has been hobbled by reductions in its credit rating. Moody’s Investors Service lowered its grade to Ba1 on April 30 and Fitch Ratings cut its score to BBB+ on May 17. Standard & Poor’s has maintained an A-rating with a stable outlook since Feb. 12, when it dropped the level from A.
As the EU has deliberated on its options, Ljubljana’s parliament passed a May 24 amendment that adds a debt limit to the constitution and limits the scope for referendums that in the past prevented political leaders from carrying out overhauls like pension changes.
A day earlier, legislators approved changes to insolvency legislation designed to accelerate corporate restructuring and aid the ailing banking industry.
“Slovenia partly did some political tasks to avoid a bailout,” Jaromir Sindel, an economist at Citigroup Inc. inPrague, said in a note to clients yesterday. Still, the country will probably “remain deeply monitored,” he said.
Under the government’s overhaul program, a newly created bank asset-management company would take over 3.34 billion euros ($4.3 billion) of bad loans from Slovenian banks at a value of 1.1 billion euros.
Non-Performing Loans

State-controlled Nova Ljubljanska Banka d.d, the country’s biggest bank, will transfer about 1.3 billion euros of non-performing loans starting next month, Chief Executive Officer Janko Medja said on May 21.
A direct capital increase for banks would swell the budget gap to 7.9 percent of gross domestic product, premier Bratusek said in Brussels on May 22. The debt-to-GDP ratio will surge above 70 percent next year before settling at 55 percent, according to Finance Minister Uros Cufer.
The government’s forecast that the economy will return to growth by next year “looks very optimistic,” Howat of Capital Economics said.
The export-driven economy, which shrank an annual 2.3 percent last year, is set for two more years of contraction before recovering in 2015, the commission said in a May 3 forecast. GDP will shrink 2 percent in 2014 and 0.1 percent next year, it said.
Slovenia is preparing to sell state-company stakes beginning in September, including phone company Telekom Slovenije d.d., Nova Kreditna Banka Maribor d.d. and 13 other companies in the first wave of sales to take place along with a bank recapitalization, tax increases and spending cuts, Cufer said in a May 16 interview.
The government may later consider selling insurer Zavarovalnica Triglav d.d and its stake in energy company Petrol Group d.d., he said.

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Re: New EC Thread

Post  Panda on Thu 30 May - 18:02

Germany: The frontiers of immigration policy

30 May 2013Die Zeit Hamburg


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Refugees welcome in the EU
Rainer Hachfeld
Italy is accused of having offered money to migrants from Africa to encourage them to move on to Germany. A scandal? No, writes Die Zeit: just the consequence of a policy that shuts its eyes to the drama of refugees and dumps the responsibility onto other countries.

Lenz JacobsenNow the Italians are the bad guys too, for allegedly pressing €500 into the hands of a few Libyan refugees and sending them on to Germany. Now homeless in Hamburg, a group of the stragglers is living rough on the streets and confounding the city authorities. Where should they live now? In tents? In the crowded emergency shelters? Who is going to pay for that? And, most importantly: how to get rid of the problem in a hurry? Because the only option, of course, “is to send them back (to Italy)," as the [Hamburg] senator for social and family welfare issues Detlef Scheele hastened to assure the public.
We should, in reality, be grateful to the wicked Italians and the poor Libyans for coming to Hamburg. It’s a reality shock that we’ve earned, because the German refugee policy – or better said, the almost total absence of a genuine refugee policy – is a disgrace.
Not only Hamburg, but all of Germany makes it much too easy for itself. So comfortably far are we from the humanitarian dramas of this world, so calming are the many borders that shield us from them, that we can stare at them in shuddering astonishment from afar or just ignore them completely. The half-drowned North Africans on the Italian beaches, the starved Afghans on the Greek-Turkish border, the hundreds of thousands if not millions of Syrian refugees from the Syrian civil war in Turkey, in the Lebanon, in Jordan: terrible fates, for sure! But the main thing is that they do not catch us up in them.
Unlucky coastline countries

Germany and the other countries in the geographical centre of Europe have barricaded themselves behind the so-called third-country regulation for decades already. It’s a legally correct but morally reprehensible and perfidious structure. Under it, refugees that reach such a safe third country – which means all the member states of the EU and many of its neighbouring countries – may proceed no further. Germany need accept no asylum applications from such people, because they have already reached safety. In practice, this means that the countries that happen to have the misfortune of bordering a crisis area or a sea that desperate refugees try to steer across are left to cope with the problem by themselves.
The Libyans and all the others do not come to Italy simply because they find the country so wonderful. They land there because it is, quite simply, the easiest European country to get to. Europe is their goal. And that is why all of Europe must look after them.
According to EU documents, a fair sharing of the burden is the goal; in reality, most countries are looking to slip out from under the load. The European refugee policy is a betrayal of Europe’s own ideals. Of shared responsibility and a humanitarian mission, there is nothing to be seen in it. The authorities in Brussels, notably the border agency Frontex, work especially hard to push the refugees even further away and expand the boundaries of Fortress Europe outwards. They pay to put up border fences and build detention centres in Turkey, to solve the problem before it reaches the member states themselves.
Hand-picked from refugee camps

And what is Europe – in particular Germany – doing in the face of the huge refugee crisis in Syria? As good as nothing. Minister of the Interior Hans-Peter Friedrich refused for one-and-a-half years to take in any Syrians and it was only after the tireless protests of the Federal government's Human Rights Commissioner that, in the spring, he allowed 5,000 refugees into the country – but in June at the earliest, and also actually only orphans or those with relatives in Germany, preferably Christians. The lucky few are now being hand-picked from Syrian refugee camps. Hundreds of thousands will stay behind.
A macabre, shameful failure

Of course, suddenly inviting all the refugees of the world to Hamburg would solve nothing. There is a balance, though, between a total opening of the border and the current walling-off.
The third-country rule, incidentally, goes back to the so-called German asylum compromise of 1992, which human rights activists still criticise today. At the time those negotiations were going on, asylum-seeker hostels in Germany were being burned down. Foreigners were dying from German xenophobia, and the politicians were discouraging the country from taking in refugees.
This has been a macabre, shameful failure right up to now. It is time to correct it.

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Re: New EC Thread

Post  Panda on Thu 30 May - 23:20

Portugal received €9m per day for 25 years’

30 May 2013
Presseurop Diário de Notícias



Diário de Notícias, 30 May 2013
Between Portugal’s entry into the European Union in 1986, and 2011, the country has received approximately €81bn in EU funding, according to a study released today.
The EU funds in turn led to overall internal and external investment topping €156bn – twice the troika’s bailout to Portugal. This investment, explains Diário de Notícias, has also aggravated the country's debt.
But the paper also recognises that EU money has developed the country and lists some of the major investments, such as –
the 9,468 kilometers of new road; 2,353 kilometers of rail lines; the Vasco da Gama Bridge; five new football stadiums; construction of nine hospitals, 662 schools and 248 wastewater treatment centres; vocational training for more than 1 million young people, and the introduction of a User Card for National Health Service.

-------

http://missingmadeleine.forumotion.net/viewtopic.forum?t=24443

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Re: New EC Thread

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