The European Commission reacted on Tuesday, after the deputies of the Commission for Industries and Services have passed a series of amendments to the Natural Gas Law, according to which the gas producers will be required to fully trade their output on the OPCOM, with the Romanian Commodities Exchange being left out in the cold. Currently, they have licenses for the trading of natural gas on two entities: the Romanian Commodities Exchange, private company, and the OPCOM, a branch of Transelectrica, in which the state owns 58.68%. The amendments made in the Commission for Industries would leave the BRM without a license. On Tuesday, the European Commission wrote to Iulian Iancu, the president of the Commission for Industries, that the proposal for the production of natural gas to be traded completely on the OPCOM is problematic. The commission thinks that moving trading to the OPCOM is not recommended, as the BRM is currently a more liquid market, and granting exclusive rights to the OPCOM raises competition issues. Also, the Commission considers that the trading of 100% of the natural gas output on an exchange can be excessive. A warning letter concerning the "severe consequences" of the amendments to the Law of natural gas was recently received by the president of the Chamber of Deputies Liviu Dragnea, from the PEGAS European natural gas platform. That letter also arrived, among other places, at the Ministry of Energy, the ANRE and the European Commission. It is debatable whether the amendments are compatible with the competition laws of the European Union, since they limit the ability of offering trading services, amid the obligation of using only one platform, according to PEGAS, which also says that there is a risk that the platform used by the operator would not reflect the requirements of the market. Furthermore, the measures proposed can raise an obstacle in the implementation of the EU package of energy, which would lead to an isolation of the Romanian gas market, says PEGAS, the trading platform of the German EEX Group, operated by Powernext, in France. PEGAS had 238 members and offers access to the trading of natural gas on contracts from Austria, Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic and Great Britain.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Saturday, March 19, 2016
This partly reflects the fact she has been around for ten years, longer than any other European leader. But there is another reason, which goes to the forgotten heart of the debate about the European Union. Who is boss? Who is in charge? Whose word counts? And how to deal with the obvious, the natural answer to those questions ever since the unification of Germany in 1871.
We don't talk about it, but it matters more than most of the froth and flotsam about this debate.
It is both right and proper that in this country the debate about EU membership is about our prosperity, security and without being too pompous, our destiny.
But in or out of the EU will not change the fact that the UK will continue to exist on the edge of a large continent with which we have long had a mingled history of occasional splendid isolation and equally irritated engagement.
Monday, January 18, 2016
The E.U. Commission has already written to the Polish government asking how its new media law will work with EU rules on media freedom. Schulz described the government’s actions as a “dangerous Putinisation of European politics”, while Oettinger suggested Poland should be put under rule of law supervision, legislation designed to deal with “systemic threats” to EU values. Responding to the criticism, Poland’s government summoned Germany’s ambassador for talks and warned Brussels not to interfere in its affairs on the basis of “biased and politically engaged” reports. The defence minister Antoni Macierewicz went further, saying Poland would not be lectured by Germany “on democracy and freedom”, while his colleague, justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro, wrote an open letter to Oettinger alluding to the Nazi occupation of Poland. “Such words, said by a German politician, cause the worst of connotations among Poles,” Ziobro wrote. “Also in me. I’m a grandson of a Polish officer, who during World War II fought in the underground National Army with ‘German supervision’.”
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Finland and Russia. Well Finland is the only EU member nation to border Russia and not be a NATO member. I suspect they are wary of Russia but have a greater understanding of Russia's somewhat justified paranoia and anger with broken ' influence space' NATO invasions since the 1990's. They seek the old USSR relationship probably which worked well for Finland. Your last sentence captures this. BTW by many polls the most pro-EU Nordic - not members yet (and they were in the list with Denmark, UK and Ireland in the 1960's - is Norway. Following April's elections, Juha Sipila, the prime minister, Timo Soini, the eurosceptic foreign minister and Alexander Stubb, the finance minister, have pledged to create more jobs, to get the economy moving and avoid a "lost decade" from a lack of reforms. Finland is out on its own compared to the other Nordic countries in joining the Euro. Norway isn't even in the EU, Sweden has done well keeping the Krona and Denmark has kept their Krona but ties it to the Euro, a tie that could easily be broken if the proverbial hits the fan. Finland is looking rather isolated. Of course the Baltic states are in the Euro but they have all paid a heavy price for membership. Would I be right in thinking that Finland is being hurt by Russian retaliatory sanctions rather more than other countries? Whilst they must have an historical healthy fear of Russia, I would imagine they are far more scared about the West restarting the Cold war in extreme earnest because of western interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
A fortnight ago, about 130 business leaders, who between them employ 50,000 people in Scotland, wrote an open letter in the Scotsman newspaper saying No Thanks to separation. The group, led by the chief executive of engineering giant Weir, Keith Cochrane, said the “business case” for Scottish independence had not been made.
Kingfisher boss Cheshire does not believe Scotland will be able to keep the pound, which would mean repricing 35,00 products, with the cost being passed on to customers. He called on other business leaders to come out and make similar points, saying “It’s now or never.”
Jean-Bernard Levy, the head of France’s Thales – Britain’s second-largest defence contractor – said a yes vote would force the company to reconsider its facilities on both sides of the border.
BP boss Bob Dudley, said he does not want to see Scotland “drifting away” from the UK, because independence would almost certainly mean higher costs for his business.
HSBC chairman Douglas Flint has warned that uncertainty over Scotland’s currency could prompt capital flight from the country and leave it in a “parlous” financial state.
Weir, one of Scotland’s biggest companies, said independence will “guarantee” higher costs for business but produce few and uncertain benefits, after commissioning a report on the economics.
Standard Life, one of the main pillars of Scotland’s finance industry, has set up English subsidiaries as a part of “contingency” planning that could see it quit Scotland.
Royal Bank of Scotland, Scotland’s biggest bank, has tried not to raise the temperature despite harbouring concerns over the risks to its credit rating and business.
Lloyds Banking Group has warned of a “material impact” on its costs and borrowing, implying a knock-on impact for businesses and customers for the owner of Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland.
Alliance Trust, a pensions and savings firm based in Dundee, has been registering companies in England.
Former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King, was accused of scaremongering by the Scottish National party when he warned that independence could mean higher food prices north of the border. Asda and Morrisons have also warned consumers would face higher prices, reflecting the higher transport costs for some remote areas.
Friday, July 11, 2014
George Magnus, the distinguished former chief economist of UBS, has written an interesting piece for the FT today on China's property sector. He argues that the financial markets haven't recognised the scale of the problems in the sector.
While it's generally understood that prices falling after years of chronic oversupply, Magnus fears that the links between residential and commercial property and China's shadow banking sector could destabilise China's financial system.
Here's a flavour: The Chinese property sector is in a recession. Market optimists insist it is going through an “adjustment” similar to previous property downturns.A more sober view, however, is that because of unprecedented overbuilding, and leverage nurtured by the eruption of shadow banking, this downturn is both more serious and systemic. China is probably in the first stage of a denouement of the property- and construction investment-led growth model of the past 15 years. Financial markets are having trouble pricing the implications.Property accounts for about 25% of capital investment, and roughly 13% of gross domestic product. Incorporating associated industries, such as steel, cement, and construction machinery and materials, would raise the investment share of GDP to about 16 per cent.If this leading edge of China’s growth model saw a fall in investment growth from 20 per cent to 10 per cent, economic growth would slide by roughly 2 per cent, taking into account secondary effects. The stream of downward revisions to economic growth is not over yet....
Thursday, December 26, 2013
The Eurozone was doomed from the start. The sooner it is disbanded the better. The EU itself should be reformed, with trade agreements being the main objective. No more idiotic EU rules and regulations. No more open borders, just a common market.
Rarely has the "economic gulf" that separates the English-speaking world and continental Europe looked quite as wide as it does today. While much of the eurozone remains mired in an economic funk, Britain and America are recovering fast, with rising demand and near record levels of private-sector job creation.
As if the last, crisis-ridden three years haven’t already given Europe’s policy elite enough to think about, this juxtaposition in fortunes must surely have awoken them to the truth: monetary union isn’t working. Unfortunately, the reality is that euroland continues to stumble blindly from one botched response to another, neither able to reconfigure the single currency in a more sustainable form nor enact the sort of measures that might give it a credible future. This week’s blueprint for a banking union is only the latest example. Even in Brussels, they struggled to call it a job well done; this was meant to be the most significant leap forward for European integration since the launch of the euro itself, but in the event it was just another messy compromise.
Overly complicated and chronically underfunded, it fails some of the most basic tests for any credible banking union. Decisions on whether to wind up failing banks remain subject to national veto; more crucially still, there is no agreement on collective responsibility for the costs. At some stage in the future, these things are meant to fall into place, but Europe really doesn’t have the luxury of time. Even major economies such as France, Italy and Spain are right on the edge of social and political fracture. The euro offers no plausible path back to growth, yet they cannot or will not give up on it.
Not that these failings should be cause for triumph in Britain and America. Europe’s tragedy is Britain’s misfortune, forcing the UK artificially to support demand via the palliative of extreme forms of monetary stimulus to avoid the same fate. This can work for a while, but eventually Britain needs to rebalance its economy away from consumption to trade and investment.
European leaders tend to console themselves with the thought that the UK’s economic recovery is therefore just a conjuring trick, which cannot last. Even so, they can no longer ignore the contrast. Their own forced march to ever closer union seems to have resulted only in policy paralysis and economic ruin. By pursuing their own solutions outside the madhouse of eurozone integration, Britain and America seem to have kickstarted growth. Europe needs monetary stimulus but thanks to a dysfunctional single currency cannot have it; it needs labour market reform, but outside Germany and its satellites, is unwilling to enact it; and it needs burden-sharing, but its nations are still too fiscally sovereign to contemplate it. European leaders naively seem to assume that recovery is just around the corner. The truth is that they have made themselves hostage to the storm even as America and Britain navigate their way out...It was always going to be the case that a feeble currency union could only work with political union. That is why if the Euro is to survive, the Eurozone must become a single country. This new country will include all the current Eurozone Members. Whatever name they chose to call it, in reality, it will ruled by Germany. The plan seems to be working...It was always going to be the case that a feeble currency union could only work with political union. That is why if the Euro is to survive, the Eurozone must become a single country. This new country will include all the current Eurozone Members. Whatever name they chose to call it, in reality, it will ruled by Germany. The plan seems to be working...
Thursday, December 19, 2013
The German government has recently signaled willingness to compromise on the issue of which body would be responsible for deciding if a bank needs to be liquidated. Initially, a newly created committee with representatives of national authorities would assume this responsibility, but the formal decision could then be left to an EU body like the European Commission. In disputed cases, the European Council, the powerful body that includes the leaders of the 28 member states, would be brought in to arbitrate.
Berlin has also agreed in principle to calls for a liquidation fund for failing financial institutions that would have a capacity of €55 billion ($76 billion) within 10 years. But the EU member states are supposed to agree among themselves on how these funds can actually be used, with greater voting weight being given to more populous countries. This idea hasn't gone over well with some governments, because they fear that Berlin, working together with a few small countries, would be able to block decisions. In addition, the money in the fund would not be available for use until it is transformed into an official EU instrument in 10 years' time.
Under the "liability cascade" plan being promoted by Schäuble, however, bank shareholders will be required to pay part of the costs for liquidating a bank starting in January 2016. Owners and creditors would first be required to cover any liquidation costs before any taxpayer money could be brought in. Berlin has had success so far in negotiations on this point. The German government had wanted to introduce this rule as early as 2015. But other member states like Italy pleaded for it to start at the earliest in 2018. They fear the move to start in 2015 might frighten investors.
And there's one additional play to safety: Germany continues to oppose using the European Stability Mechanism, the permanent euro-zone rescue fund, as a backstop for fledgling banks. Other countries have suggested employing the fund's billions of euros as part of a future banking union resolution mechanism.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Public confidence in the European Union has fallen to historically low levels in the six biggest EU countries, raising fundamental questions about its democratic legitimacy more than three years into the union's worst ever crisis, new data shows.
After financial, currency and debt crises, wrenching budget and spending cuts, rich nations' bailouts of the poor, and surrenders of sovereign powers over policymaking to international technocrats, Euroscepticism is soaring to a degree that is likely to feed populist anti-EU politics and frustrate European leaders' efforts to arrest the collapse in support for their project.
Figures from Eurobarometer, the EU's polling organisation, analysed by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), a thinktank, show a vertiginous decline in trust in the EU in countries such as Spain, Germany and Italy that are historically very pro-European.
The six countries surveyed – Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Spain, and Poland – are the EU's biggest, jointly making up more than two out of three EU citizens or around 350 million of the EU's 500 million population.
The findings, published exclusively in the Guardian in Britain and in collaboration with other leading newspapers in the other five countries, represent a nightmare for Europe's leaders, whether in the wealthy north or in the bailout-battered south, suggesting a much bigger crisis of political and democratic legitimacy.
"The damage is so deep that it does not matter whether you come from a creditor, debtor country, euro would-be member or the UK: everybody is worse off," said José Ignacio Torreblanca, head of the ECFR's Madrid office. "Citizens now think that their national democracy is being subverted by the way the euro crisis is conducted."
EU leaders are aware of the problem, utterly at odds over what to do about it, and have yet to come up with any coherent policy proposals addressing the mismatch between the pooling of economic and fiscal powers and the democratic mandate deemed necessary to underpin such radical policy shifts.
José Manuel Barroso, the European commission president, said on Tuesdaythis week the European "dream" was under threat from a "resurgence of populism and nationalism" across the EU. "At a time when so many Europeans are faced with unemployment, uncertainty and growing inequality, a sort of 'European fatigue' has set in, coupled with a lack of understanding. Who does what, who decides what, who controls whom and what? And where are we heading to?"
The most dramatic fall in faith in the EU has occurred in Spain, where the banking and housing market collapse, eurozone bailout and runaway unemployment have combined to produce 72% "tending not to trust" the EU, with only 20% "tending to trust".
The data compares trust and mistrust in the EU at the end of last year with levels in 2007, before the financial crisis, to reveal a precipitate fall in support for the EU of the kind that is common in Britain but is much more rarely seen on the continent.
In Spain, trust in the EU fell from 65% to 20% over the five-year period while mistrust soared to 72% from 23%.
In five of the six countries, including Britain, mistrust prevailed over trust by sizeable margins, whereas in 2007 – with the exception of the UK – the opposite was the case.
Five years ago, 56% of Germans "tended to trust" the EU, whereas 59% now "tend to mistrust". In France, mistrust has risen from 41% to 56%. In Italy, where public confidence in Europe has traditionally been higher than in the national political class, mistrust of the EU has almost doubled from 28% to 53%.
Even in Poland, which enthusiastically joined the EU less than a decade ago and is the single biggest beneficiary from the transfers of tens of billions of euros from Brussels, support has plummeted from 68% to 48%, although it remains the sole country surveyed where more people trust than mistrust the union.
In Britain, where Eurobarometer regularly finds majority Euroscepticism, the mistrust grew from 49% to 69%, the highest level with the exception of the extraordinary turnaround in Spain.
A separate, more detailed study published this week on the impact of the currency and debt crisis and the austerity policies that have followed also found steep falls across the EU in faith in democracy and national political elites.
The study for the Cabinet Office by the European Social Survey, linking university researchers across the EU, found that soaring unemployment, anxiety and insecurity had eroded faith in politics.
"Overall levels of political trust and satisfaction with democracy [declined] across much of Europe, but this varied markedly between countries. It was significant in Britain, Belgium, Denmark and Finland, particularly notable in France, Ireland, Slovenia and Spain, and reached truly alarming proportions in the case of Greece," it said.
The financial crisis "not only eroded the objective economic conditions of many citizens, but also created widespread anxiety about a country's future even among those who did not experience hardship directly".
Faced with this erosion of political support and the battering traditional politics is taking from populist newcomers such as Beppe Grillo's Five Star movement in Italy, policymakers appear at a loss.
On Monday, Barroso said the austerity policies being applied, mainly under pressure from Berlin, had reached the "limits of political and social acceptance" and were "unsustainable" in their current form. On Tuesday, though, the commission in Brussels sought to row back on his remarks.
Within the eurozone, the key response to the crisis, apart from bailouts, has been to embark on a systematic surrender of budgetary and fiscal powers from national governments and parliaments to Brussels, as well as having countries being bailed out overseen by a "troika" of technocrats and economists from the commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. These are "federalising" steps in a long process of eurozone integration that might see it transformed from a currency into a political union.
"The EU has hit home and is here to stay as a watchdog of budgets, labour markets, pensions etc. This is unprecedented, and risky," said Torreblanca. "Unless it is fixed, it will feed the vicious circle between anti-EU populism and technocracy which we are currently seeing operating."
Barroso argued strongly in two speeches this week that federalism was the only answer to Europe's crisis of finances and of confidence. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, brushing off widespread fears of a new German "hegemony" in Europe and the eurozone, also said that governments had to give up much more power to Brussels.
"We still haven't found the answer to the question of whether we're actually now prepared to unite on common economic parameters inside the single currency area," she said in a Berlin debate with the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk. "If we want to have a common currency, a common Europe, we have to be ready to give up our hard-won habits … That means we have to be prepared to accept that in the end Europe has the final word in certain things. Otherwise we can't keep on building this Europe … To an extent, we have to jump over our own shadows. I'm ready for that."
But Tusk delivered an unusually stark warning that German prescriptions could bring increasing nationalism and populism across the EU in a backlash that was already well under way.
"We can't escape this dilemma: how do you get a new model of sovereignty so that limited national sovereignty in the EU is not dominated by the biggest countries like Germany, for example," he said pointedly. "Under the surface, this fear will be everywhere: in Warsaw, in Athens, in Stockholm. It will be everywhere without exception."
Aart de Geus, head of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German thinktank, also warned that the drive to surrender more key national powers to Brussels would backfire. "Public support for the EU has been falling since 2007. So it is risky to go for federalism as it can cause a backlash and unleash greater populism."
Friday, October 25, 2013
Forecasters warned on Thursday that the most powerful storm in several years would batter the south coast on Monday, but have now expanded the alert as far north as the east and West Midlands.
Winds are expected to reach up to 80mph in mainland areas, while in Cornwall and along the south coast they could at times be even stronger.
The Met Office have issued this prediction for the storm (MET OFFICE)
Forecasters have claimed the storm, which is still forming over the Atlantic, could be of similar strength to the great storm of 1987 and the Burns Day Storm in 1990. Met Office senior forecaster Helen Chivers warned that winds could get up to 90mph and said the storm could be exceptional: "This is not a storm you see every winter.
"The storm of 1987 is one, and the Burns day storm in January 1990 is another."
Some gusts are likely to top 12 on the Beaufort Scale, a level of force which is equivalent to a hurricane, but winds will not stay consistently at this speed as they would in a real tropical storm.
The "amber alert" issued by the Met Office says the weather system is expected to arrive in the early hours of Monday and last until up to 9pm, with heavy rain also expected in western and central areas.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Negociators Thursday plunged into difficult budget talks to avoid a repeat crisis within months, and quickly agreed to lower their sights from the sort of grand bargain that has eluded the two parties for three years.
After approval late Wednesday of the agreement ending the standoff, the deal-making mantle shifted overnight from the leaders of the Senate to the Budget Committee leaders, Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, and Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, two less senior lawmakers who nonetheless could make very effective salespeople since they command loyal followings in their parties. The political pressure lifted as well, for now. But the need for a bipartisan breakthrough, even a modest one, was amplified by the economic costs wrought by the 16-day shutdown and near-default on government obligations.
“The key now is a budget that cuts out the things that we don’t need, closes corporate tax loopholes that don’t help create jobs, and frees up resources for the things that do help us grow — like education and infrastructure and research,” President Obama said Thursday from the White House, setting ambitious goals for Congress even as his own role in the bargaining was unclear.
The question of what a new House-Senate budget conference can deliver by its Dec. 13 deadline — in time for Congress to act by Jan. 15 on funding to keep the government open — remained the subject of deep skepticism, well earned by past failures at reaching so-called grand bargains for deficit reduction and spending investments in the past three years.
With the scope of the talks narrowed for now, on the table are ideas left over from past, failed bargaining: possible reductions in other programs — like farm subsidies, federal pensions, the Postal Service and unemployment insurance — and relatively minimal tax loophole closings, possibly as little as $55 billion.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
France's government is embroiled in a row over the repatriation of a Kosovo Roma schoolgirl, who was removed from her school bus.
The 15-year-old, Leonarda Dibrani, was expelled along with her parents and five siblings after they lost their battle for asylum in France.
When the order was enacted, she was on a school field trip and was removed in view of the other children.
Leonarda told French radio she was being denied education in Kosovo.
She said she wanted to return to France to finish school.
The government is conducting an inquiry into how the case was handled.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told parliament that if a mistake had been made, the family could return to France to have its situation reassessed in respect of French "laws, practices and values".
His Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, defended the expulsion. Last month he declared Roma people incompatible with the French way of life.
Mr Valls is voted France's favourite politician in opinion polls but he has been strongly criticised by human rights campaigners and figures within his own party for his strident comments.
Critics accuse President Francois Hollande's administration of following the hard line on the Roma taken by his conservative predecessor as president, Nicolas Sarkozy.
The new row has deepened the rift within the ruling left on how to tackle the issue, the BBC's Christian Fraser reports from Paris.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
I'm glad foreign media is picking up on this disgraceful story as the local media has been muzzled by its executives who are in bed with Gabriel Resources and the criminal Government run by Victor Ponta. Make no mistake The President is no stranger to this issue , nor are the former communists running the country. In fact now any Romanian should realize that the country is dismantled piece by piece by these criminals.
This project is a scandal and its handling by Romanian officials stinks to high heaven of corruption and bribery. There's even the prime minister, Victor Ponta who is exhibiting signs of multiple personality disorder, being both for and against the project as the wind blows. I guess the only advantage to the Romanian taxpayer is that they get two faces for the price of one.
Back to this issue, I would like to urge everybody who reads this article to spread awareness of the situation. Romanian corrupt officials and Gabriel Resources are banking on misinformation and apathy to put this project in motion, so the best way to help is to inform everybody you know of what is going on.
Besides the loss of natural beauty, one must keep in mind that pollution is very difficult to contain and that any industrial accident at this godforsaken mine will be affecting other countries and eco-systems and have far reaching consequences in Europe. After all, this project is expected to leave behind a 250,000 ton cyanide lake, on the site of the razed mountains, which incidentally will also be flooding 30 km of Roman archaelogical ruins.
Please, help us stop this outrage. Why don't they do a long term study of alternative mining, say using corn starch or something, like an alternative to 130,000 tons of cyanide in any case? These 4 mountains, and other areas in the Apuseni mountains not mentioned in the press are supposedly the largest gold and silver reserves ON THE PLANET, and not only. There is also supposedly a wealth of precious and native metals useful in defense and communication industries that the Romanian state reputedly has no right to according to the contract. These special metals are a lot more valuable than the gold. So ... why all the hurry to destroy these mountains in the worlds biggest pool of cyanide? This project needs to be thought out a lot more carefully, and should be controlled in it's entirety as a nationalised, Romanian state enterprise, not a greedy foreign corporation with no experience in mining. As it stands the whole project stinks, so it should be canned, if not for all the reasons mentioned above, then at the very least for the intention of creating the worlds largest standing pool of CYANIDE!