With Brexit entering a critical phase, the arrival of French President Emmanuel Macron in Britain tomorrow should give Theresa May a golden opportunity to begin work on building the new set of alliances Britain will need for life beyond the EU. Immigration issues are certain to dominate the agenda, as Mr Macron seeks to resolve the disruption caused by the hundreds of illegal migrants who have once again gathered in the Pas-de-Calais. The French president has caused a degree of consternation in some circles with his suggestion that Britain should do more to resolve the seemingly perennial Calais issue by agreeing to take more migrants, as well as contributing more to the costs of cross-border security enshrined in the Le Touquet accords. Such demands might appear presumptuous to committed Brexiteers, who take umbrage at the prospect of any foreign power telling the British government how...
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Friday, December 8, 2017
SPD members voted overwhelmingly to allow their party’s leadership to enter talks with the CDU. The vote means leaders can discuss options including a renewed “grand coalition”, an informal cooperation or a formal agreement to tolerate a conservative minority government by not voting down certain parliamentary motions. Attempts to build Germany’s next government have been at a standstill since last month’s collapse of coalition talks between the CDU, the Free Democrats and the Greens. Other European states have expressed their growing impatience with Germany’s political paralysis. Leaders including the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, have called on Schulz to break the deadlock. The SPD leader acknowledged those appeals on Thursday when he warned that “the continent cannot afford four more years of German European policy a la Schäuble”, referring to the austerity measures of the country’s conservative former finance minister. Schulz told delegates that he wanted EU member states to sign off on a “constitutional treaty” that committed the bloc to take steps towards a federal Europe – a proposal likely to be met with some resistance from Merkel and other EU leaders.
Saturday, December 2, 2017
ECB recommends dropping the guarantee of bank deposits. The Banking Recovery and Resolution Directive, which came into effect less than two years ago, explicitly states that the guaranteed deposits may not be frozen and may not be subject to suspension of payments. With the recommendation to drop the guarantee of bank deposits, the ECB has included the central banks and the Bank of International Settlements in the list of institutions whose accounts and transactions may not be frozen. But we shouldn't be overly worried, because the ECB has proved "generous". "During the transition period, depositors will have access to an adequate quota of their guaranteed deposits to cover the cost of living within five days from submitting the request", the proposal of the ECB shows. But who sets the cost of living and which is the "competent authority" that decides on the withdrawal of the funds? The national institutions for the guarantee of bank deposits have been created precisely to stop or at least to temper massive bank deposit withdrawals. The new proposal of the ECB directly undermines this institutional framework. "If the collapse of a bank looks imminent, a substantial number of guaranteed deposits may be subject to massive withdrawals, because customers want to ensure direct access to their own resources or no longer trust the guarantee scheme", the ECB document further states.The true stake is presented thereafter: "Such a scenario is very likely especially in the case of major banks, where the volume of guaranteed deposits is extremely high and can lead to the erosion of the trust in the guarantee scheme". In the opinion of the European Central Bank, "if the moratorium applied to deposits doesn't include the guaranteed ones as well, then that moratorium can alert the customers with guaranteed deposits that a bank is at imminent risk of collapse", and under these circumstances "the moratorium can prove counterproductive and can result in a deposit flight instead of preventing it". Such proposals aren't just simple prudential measures of authorities that want to show that they have learned the lessons of the crisis, but instead they represent, particularly in the case of the European Central Bank, a tacit acknowledgment of the fact that the monetary policy has failed.
Saturday, October 7, 2017
Spain’s constitutional court has moved to stop the Catalan government making a unilateral declaration of independence by suspending the regional parliament session in which the results of Sunday’s referendum were due to be discussed. On Thursday, the court upheld a challenge by Catalonia’s Socialist party – which opposes secession from Spain – ruling that allowing the Catalan parliament to meet on Monday and potentially declare independence would violate the rights of the party’s MPs. Catalonia's political turmoil prompting firms to consider relocating . Banks Sabadell and Caixa among first to respond amid fears about access to rest of Spain and EU if independence is declared The court warned that any session carried out in defiance of its ban would be “null”, and added that the parliament’s leaders could face criminal action if they ignored the court order. Carme Forcadell, president of the Catalan parliament, said Monday’s session had not yet been formally convened, but that the court’s decision to suspend it “harms freedom of expression and the right of initiative of members of this parliament and shows once more how the courts are being used to solve political problems.” The Catalan government is understood to be meeting to discuss its response to the latest move by the court. It has previously ignored the constitutional court’s rulings, not least its order to suspend the referendum itself. In a television address on Wednesday evening, the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, repeated his calls for mediation and dialogue with the Spanish government, but said the results of the vote would be put before parliament. “On Sunday we had a referendum under the most difficult circumstances and set an example of who we are,” he said. “Peace and accord is part of who we are. We have to apply the results of the referendum. We have to present the results of the referendum to parliament.”
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Gerhard Schröder defied critics on Wednesday night, insisting that joining the board of Russian energy giant Rosneft was entirely up to him.
"I will do this. This is about my life and I decide – not the German press," he said in his usual candid manner. He was speaking at an election campaign event for the Social Democrats (SPD) in the northern town of Rotenburg on the Wümme. He added that he could not see a problem and that "I'm not going to allow anyone to make it into one."Schröder, who was German chancellor from 1998 to 2005, was harshly criticized for his decision by the media, but also – among others - by his successor Angela Merkel as well as Martin Schulz from his own SPD party. Rosneft has been subject to EU sanctions due to Russia's unlawful annexation of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula. Schröder, however, stressed that getting involved with the world's biggest oil company was in Germany's interest. "I stand by what I've said before – that it's not wise to isolate our big neighbor Russia both politically and economically," he said adding that his critics were apparently interested in a new Cold War with Russia. He said he was "fed up" with the criticism of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, saying that compared to US President Donald Trump, Putin was "highly rational" and that "demonizing Russia" would get us nowhere.He emphasized that Rosneft was an international company and not "the extended arm of the Russian government." Russia owns just over 50 percent of Rosneft. The former German chancellor is known for his connection to Russia – he once dubbed Russian President Vladimir Putin a "flawless Democrat." After he lost to Merkel in the 2005 election, he joined the Nordstream pipeline consortium, which is controlled by Russia's Gazprom. He has since switched to join an extension of the original pipeline, known as Nordstream 2. Schröder is due to be formally elected to Rosneft's supervisory board on September 29. It is not clear yet whether he will lead the board or just become a member.
Friday, August 25, 2017
The square, one block from Rome’s main train station, was strewn with mattresses, overturned rubbish bins and broken plastic chairs. Hung on the building was a sheet made into a banner saying: “We are refugees, not terrorists,” in Italian. A small fire burned on the pavement and a sheet hanging from a first-floor window was set alight by squatters inside. Witnesses who arrived at the square after the clearance operation described a scene of carnage. “When I arrived at about 9am trash was scattered all over. About 50 people were still in the square, which had been partially closed down to traffic in the meantime. They were sad, frustrated and with no idea where to go,” said Francesco Conte, founder of TerminiTv, an online channel based in Rome’s Termini train station. About 100 people had occupied the square since Saturday, when most of about 800 squatters were evicted from an adjacent office building they had occupied for about five years.Police said the refugees had refused to accept lodging offered by the city and that the operation was also necessitated by the risk presented by the presence of cooking gas canisters and other flammable materials in the square, which is surrounded by apartment buildings. Most of the squatters were Eritreans and Ethiopians who had been granted asylum. Many have been in the country for up to a decade. They ran the building as a self-regulating commune that outsiders were not permitted to enter. The refugees have previously complained that the accommodation offered to them elsewhere is not of a permanent nature, and that moving would result in the community they have established being split up. The area around the square is full of shops owned by the refugees’ compatriots.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
President Donald Trump finally condemned the “evil” of “racist violence” in Charlottesville on Monday, two days after a white supremacist rally in the Virginia town that left three people dead. After mounting criticism at his failure to speak out against white supremacist groups, Mr Trump addressed the nation from the White House and warned those behind Saturday’s riots that they will be held criminally responsible. And, after widespread cross-party anger at his initial response – in which he condemned violence “on many sides” – the president on Monday delivered a more measured response, in which he called out neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. “To anyone who acted criminally at this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable.” He described the rally on Saturday as an “egregious display of hatred and violence” which, he said, “has no place in America.” He continued: “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans “We are a nation founded on the premise that all are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our creator, we are equal under the law, and we are equal under our Constitution. "Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America. ” Mr Trump paid tribute to Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old who died when James Fields rammed his car into a group of anti-hate protesters. He also commended the two Virginia state troopers killed when their helicopter crashed on Saturday. “These three fallen Americans embody the goodness and decency of our nation. “In times such as these, America has always shown its true character.”Reading from a teleprompter, the president's remarks were seen as a belated condemnation of the white supremacists who politicians across the mainstream US political spectrum held responsible for the mayhem in Charlottesville.
Sunday, August 6, 2017
The precursor to the EU was set up in 1958, as the continent’s leaders vowed to make another war between them all but impossible. The euro came in 1999, when a group of 11 countries jettisoned marks, francs and lire and turned control of interest rates over to a new central bank. The common currency’s scale provided exchange-rate stability and better access to world markets. It did not, however, impose uniform financial discipline; to avoid surrendering national sovereignty, politicians largely sidestepped a unified approach to bank regulation and government spending. To the extent that there were rules, they were flouted. The events that brought the euro to its knees came during the global rout in 2009, when Greece came clean and said its budget deficit was twice as wide as forecast. Investors started dumping assets of the most indebted nations and borrowing costs soared. The shared euro made it impossible to devalue individual currencies of weaker economies, limiting options for recovery. Politicians lurched through bailouts for Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus plus a rescue of banks in Spain. The panic fueled fears of a breakup as fragile banks and their holdings of government bonds exposed the common currency’s vulnerabilities. The firestorm abated in July 2012, when European Central Bank President Mario Draghi pledged to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro.
Friday, July 14, 2017
PARIS - President Donald Trump acknowledged that France and the US had “occasional disagreements” but said that would not disrupt a friendship that dates back to the American Revolution. Macron acknowledged sharp differences with Trump over climate change. But he said he and the US president were able to discuss how best to combat “a global threat with enemies who are trying to destabilise us”, with a focus on counter-terrorism. President Trump said that his recent meeting with Putin had led to a ceasefire in a part of southern Syria, and said that he was working on “a second ceasefire in a very rough part of Syria”. He suggested that other parties would become involved in the deal, saying “and all of a sudden you will have no bullets fired in Syria”. As Trump began his 24-hour tour of Paris, the two leaders’ body language was under close scrutiny. Macron chose to move on from the aggressive handshake he offered the US leader at their initial meeting in May, instead styling himself as Trump’s new “straight-talking” best friend on the international stage. the invitation to the US president to attend this year’s Bastille Day celebrations was in the pipeline long before both Macron and Trump’s election because 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the entry by the US into the first world war.
Sunday, July 9, 2017
Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany (pop. 1.7 million), a major hub situated on the River Elbe, nestled between the states of Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony. Although a major port, it lies 130km inland from the North Sea.
Why? As an outward-looking city, Hamburg is an ideal location, says Angela Merkel. It has maintained trading links around the world for centuries, and today is home to the headquarters of industrial heavyweights Airbus and Unilever, among others. It can also boast at being ranked 18th among world cities for its livability.
Famous for? A city of bridges (around 2,500), Hamburg boasts what was once the world’s tallest building, the 122-metre Church of St Nicholas. Bombed heavily by Allied forces in WW2, the city recovered to become once again an economic and cultural powerhouse, where the Beatles served their apprenticeship, and where museums and opera go hand in hand with sport and radical politics. And there’s the Reeperbahn.
Security? Some 20,000 officers have been drafted in from around Germany and beyond to address the twin challenges of potential terror attack and political protest. Temporary courtrooms and cells have been built alongside a mass holding facility for as many as 400 detainees at a time - at a cost of €750,000. A planned mass protest camp in the city’s main park has been banned.
Saturday, July 8, 2017
The IMF – historically the world’s foremost cheerleader of austerity – admitted that it was based on a false prospectus: these policies do more harm than good. Simon Wren-Lewis of Oxford University said that the issue was not whether attempts to reduce the deficit had damaged the economy, but “how much GDP has been lost as a result”. Amartya Sen said that while austerity “deepened Europe’s economic problems, it did not help in the aimed objective of reducing the ratio of debt to GDP to any significant extent”. Richard Portes at London Business School says that even the UK’s sluggish growth under the Conservatives is down to the “semi-covert” backing away from George Osborne’s initially brutal plans, which would have done even more harm. Paul Krugman wrote that in the post-crisis economy “the government does everyone a service by running deficits and giving frustrated savers a chance to put their money to work … deficit spending that expands the economy is, if anything, likely to lead to higher private investment than would otherwise materialise”. All this has led Joseph Stiglitz to remark that it’s “remarkable there are still governments, including here in the UK, that still believe in austerity”.
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Britain has continued to outrank other European countries as a technology investment hub despite last year’s Brexit vote. Research from London & Partners, an arm of the mayor’s office designed to promote the city, said £2.4bn of venture capital funding had been put into British technology companies since last year’s referendum. This was more than double the VC investment in Germany and three times what it was in France.
In London, which accounts for the majority of venture-led tech funding in the UK, funding rose to £1.8bn across 544 deals, against £775m for Berlin and £557m for Paris.
The figures appear to defy predictions made before the referendum that funding would dry up in the event of a Leave vote and that start-ups would flee for the continent. The technology industry, which employs a disproportionate number of EU nationals, had campaigned heavily against Brexit, but has since focused on boosting the number of specialist tech workers who are granted visas since the vote. London & Partners, which collated data from deal tracker Pitchbook, said the first half of 2017 had seen a record £1.1bn of venture capital funding into London start-ups. For the UK as a whole it was £1.4bn, the third biggest on record.
Tuesday, July 4, 2017
The European Central Bank has greenlit the liquidation of Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza, after they have repeatedly violated the "they have repeatedly violated the capitalization requirements", according to a press release sent on Friday to the European institution. The ECB showed that the two European banks "are at risk of collapsing", and the Single Resolution Board (SRB) said that "the conditions for the resolution of the two banks have not been met", and "banks will be liquidated according to the Italian bankruptcy procedures". The situation of Veneto and of Banca Popolare di Vicenza has been watched closely by the ECB since 2014, when significant capital deficits were uncovered. The italian government will pay to Intesa Sanpaolo 5.2 billion Euros in order to acquire the good assets of Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza, Reuters announced, Sunday night, after the authorities in Rome have spent their entire weekend drafting an emergency ordinance concerning the procedure for the liquidation of the two banks.
Friday, June 2, 2017
Today, in Romania, all the significant transactions are calculated in Euros, even though some of them are paid in lei. And "homo economicus" is in every man; all they need is the freedom to make decisions. In the end, the entire economy can be reduced to four words: people respond to incentives! Let's remember the skill of currency dealers on the black market, I the first years of transition, when the currency exchanges were not yet fully liberalized. In order to take their profit, they would keep their dollars in packs, depending on the exchange rate they got them at. I don't think that Romanians will have "cultural shocks" if they were to only operate in Euros, given that the vegetables traders in markets watch the exchange rate to see whether or not they should raise their prices for carrots, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. Of course, we are living on the outskirts of the East, where there is no rush. The president of the European Commission, who recently visited our country, when listening to the questions of some politicians, about how Romania didn't want a two-speed Europe, gave us an answer that is worth thinking on: the current treaties of the European Union stipulate the possibility of a 2-speed Europe and it is up to every member state on where it wants to find itself. The trends in the European Union indicate a desire of the member states in the Eurozone to move faster towards integration (there is talk of a common budget of the Eurozone and even of a parliament of the Eurozone...). Member states from outside the Eurozone can not oppose those trends. Romania will have the presidency of the European Union, in the first half of 2019, but unfortunately, Romania's weight in the decision making process for the decisions that concern the Eurozone will be low, because we are not yet part of it. I wish that this once at least, the intention of drawing up a plan of action for the move to the Euro, as well as the switch of this plan to be taken seriously by every politician and institution of the state that are concerned. Let's not forget that Romania, when it was accepted in the European Union, made the commitment to take all the necessary steps to carry out the conditions needed for the adoption of the Euro! (Source bursa.ro)
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
U.K. - The home secretary, Amber Rudd, who will attend this morning’s emergency Cobra meeting, has added to the tributes to emergency services: This was a barbaric attack, deliberately targeting some of the most vulnerable in our society – young people and children out at a pop concert. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and victims who have been affected, and I know the whole country will share that view. I’d like to pay tribute to the emergency services who have worked throughout the night professionally and effectively; they have done an excellent job. Later on this morning I will be attending Cobra, chaired by the prime minister, to collect more information, to find out more, about this particular attack, and I can’t comment any more on that at the moment. The public should remain alert but not alarmed. If they have anything to report, they should approach the police. But I have two further things to add. The great city of Manchester has been affected by terrorism before. Its spirit was not bowed; its community continued. This time it has been a particular attack on the most vulnerable in our society. Its intention was to sow fear; its intention is to divide. But it will not succeed.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
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.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Emmanuel Macron is the fourth French president to have been in office during Angela Merkel’s 12-year tenure as German chancellor, and so it was with a faintly indulgent smile that she greeted the Europe Union’s new young pretender as he arrived in Berlin on Monday. The mismatch in experience was so apparently obvious that Mrs Merkel felt it necessary to say in advance that she would not behave like a “know-it-all” to the new occupant of the Elysee, but would listen carefully to his vision for France. Such protestations of modesty on Mrs Merkel's part are to be expected, but they cannot conceal the reality that if France wants to rekindle its post-war partnership with Germany, it needs to demonstrate it is committed to reforms.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Britain’s ambition to sign a quick Free Trade Agreement with the European Union after Brexit has received a significant boost after a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice handed expanded trade negotiation powers to Brussels.
The much-anticipated decision from the court in Luxembourg surprised experts by ruling that on key areas - including financial services and transport - the European Union does not need to seek ratification of a trade deal by the EU’s 38 national and local parliaments. Trade experts said the ECJ ruling could substantially reduce the risk of any future EU-UK free trade agreement getting bogged down in the EU national parliaments, opening the way for an FTA to be agreed by a qualified majority vote of EU member states.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
In a number of recent analyses, Patrick Artus, chief economist of investment bank Natixis, writes that France has all the premises for a high degree of unemployment, which includes high social security contributions, high employee protections, the low degree of workforce skills and the chronic budget deficit. "France's economic and social situation since the crisis that began in 2008, characterized through de-industrialization, high unemployment among youth, the low quality of new jobs and the erosion of purchasing power has led to the results of the current elections", Artus further writes, who expresses his skepticism over the ability to resolve these problems, regardless of who the new president will be. For the chief-economist of Natixis, "this perverse economic model has reached its limits and the structural adjustments have to begin". It is hard to believe, however, that Macron will be the "savior", when "his platform is typical for a bureaucrat, who offers a little something to everyone", according to Martin Armstrong. On the contrary, "a victory of Macron would sentence the EU to a complete collapse and a hard landing in 2018", is the verdict of the American analyst, because "Brussels will celebrate the end of populism and will continue down the same path, without reforms". The cynicism of another American, Bill Bonner, the author of the books "Empire of Debt" and "Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets" and former French resident in France for 18 years, is heading towards an aspect that more is closer to the daily concerns of the French. "It is not a matter of whether the voters will be robbed or not, the question is by whom", Bonner writes.
Friday, March 31, 2017
European leaders will formally reject British demands to hold trade talks at the same time as negotiating the terms of the UK’s "divorce" from the EU, leaving both sides heading for an early stand-off in the Brexit talks.
The hardline EU response will be outlined in draft negotiating guidelines that will be distributed by the European Council to the remaining 27 member states at a closed-door meeting in Brussels.
Theresa May’s request that the terms of the future UK-EU partnership be negotiated “alongside” the terms of the divorce – rejected by the German chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday - was shot down again on Thursday, this time by the outgoing French president, Francois Hollande.