Category Archives: ECONOMY

Hammond: clarity on customs is top priority

“Britain is leaving the political institutions of the EU; but it is not leaving Europe, and British prosperity is, and always will be, closely bound to European prosperity,” – said  Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, addressing the European Business Summit in Brussels (24/05/2018) – “So Europe’s success – and the success of the Euro as a currency – is very strongly in Britain’s interest, and we will not do anything which jeopardises that success”.

“Our economy is recognisably a European-style economy with high levels of consumer and worker protection, a highly developed social welfare system and strong environmental standard, and it is the clear wish of the British people, regularly demonstrated, to keep it that way as we build a new deep and special partnership with the European Union” – Hammond continued.

“We have made significant progress since Article 50 was triggered, just over a year ago both in our own internal debate about what Brexit should mean, and in our negotiation with the EU”.

“I know that for business getting clarity on our future customs relationship is a top priority, and so it should be a top priority for European governments too” – Hammond underlined.

European Business Summit is an organization creating  and supporting networking and debating events in Brussels, including  the annual European Business Summit #EBS2018, with a principal goal to bring business and politics together and stimulate debate on the most challenging European issues of the moment. The latest event took place in d’Egmont Palace, Brussels on 23-24 May 2018.

EU-Mexico duty-free – winners and losers

“Free Trade Agreements with Canada, Mercosur, Mexico, Singapore …When there are no more countries available the Commission will sell the left over rights for European tariffs to “other planets” (those that @JunckerEU met after the Brexit …)” – say critics of the  EU-Mexico Trade deal.

The European Union and Mexico reached an agreement on Saturday (21/04/2018) on a new free trade deal, celebrated by both parties in the face of increased protectionism from the United States under President Donald Trump.

In 2016 the EU was Mexico’s second-biggest export market after the US. The EU’s key imports from Mexico are fuels and mining products, office and telecommunication equipment, transport equipment, and other machinery.

  • The EU was Mexico’s third-largest source of imports in 2016, after the US and China. Key EU exports to Mexico include other machinery, transport equipment, chemical products, and fuels and mining products.
  • In terms of services EU imports from Mexico are dominated by travel services, and transport services. EU services exports to Mexico consist mainly of transport services, and telecommunications, computer and information services.

A number of French Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) as Florian Philippot  assessed the Trade deal as a blow to the interests of the EU, and French economy and agricultural sector: “And it continues ! The workers will have more to swallow. It should be noted that #Mexique negotiated its commercial agreements as a powerful, while France, it is deprived of this crucial competence (to protect) its national interests. #Frexit #AccordUEMexiqude”

Crimea: Siemens gas turbines delivery penalties

The EU has added 3 Russian nationals and 3 companies “involved in the transfer of gas turbines to Crimea to the list of persons subject to restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence” – says the statement.

“The EU has not recognised the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation”, the statement continues. As part of its non-recognition policy, the Council has prohibited the supply of key equipment for infrastructure projects in Crimea and Sevastopol in important sectors, including gas turbines in the energy sector.

“Establishing an independent power supply for Crimea and Sevastopol supports their separation from Ukraine, and undermines the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. Gas turbines are a substantial element in the development of new power plants” – the statement underlines.

The 3 persons have been added to the sanctions list for their responsibility in supplying Crimea with gas turbines from Russia. The turbines were originally sold by Siemens for use in the territory of the Russian Federation. The subsequent transfer of the turbines to Crimea was in breach of contractual provisions covering the original sale by Siemens. The companies placed under sanctions are the contracting party which purchased gas turbines and is responsible for the transfer, the current owner of the gas turbines, and a company specialising in control and communication systems for power plants, including in Sevastopol and Simferopol.

These sanctions consist of an asset freeze and a travel ban which will now apply to a total of 153 persons and 40 entities. The measures were introduced in March 2014 and were last extended in March 2017 until 15 September 2017.

The legal acts, including the names of the persons and the statements of reasons for listing them, are available in the EU Official Journal of 4 August 2017. The Council adopted these legal acts by written procedure.

Greece awaiting debt relif

Debt relief for Greece will be looked into at the next Eurogroup meeting on 22 May, according to Jeroen Dijsselbloem. The president of the informal body of the eurozone’s finance ministers made the announcement during a plenary debate in Parliament on 27 April. He also apologised to MEPs about recent remarks that proved controversial.

Dijsselbloem attended a plenary debate on the second review of the economic adjustment programme for the country. The Eurogroup president said debt relief was a possibility: “Last year we gave that commitment to come back to this issue of [debt] sustainability for Greece because that’s the only way they will come back on a sustainable path and a sustainable economic future.”

Economics commissioner Pierre Moscovici, who also took part in the debate, added:  “The Commission will continue to support efforts to make Greek debt more sustainable. We believe it’s necessary and possible.”

Greece is currently in the middle of its third bailout programme since the financial crisis. On 2 May, Greece reached a preliminary technical agreement with its creditors, which means the country is set to have the next tranche of funding approved in time for its next debt repayments of €6 billion in July.

Greece’s primary budget surplus, an important indicator of the country’s public finances, increased to 3.9% last year, beating all the creditors’ targets, according to data from Eltat , the national statistics service.

During the debate in plenary Roberto Gualtieri, an Italian member of the S&D group, said the news about the primary surplus for 2016 showed that the Greek economy was at a turning point and urged the next Eurogroup meeting to formally conclude the current review and address debt relief.

Ska Keller, the German chairs of the Greens/EFA group,  said that now that Athens had delivered, it was time for the Eurogroup to do its part and give Greece its debt relief.

Two Greek MEPs – ECR member Notis Marias GUE/NGL member Dimitrios Papadimoulis – both highlighted the current devastating state of the Greek economy with Marias calling it a “social cemetery”.

Apart from the economic situation in Greece, MEPs addressed recent controversial statements by Dijsselbloem  in an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in which he was quoted as saying about southern European countries: “You cannot spend all the money on drinks and women and then ask for help.”

“I really regret the comments you made recently on southern countries because the social distress that many of our citizens are suffering deserves more than that,” – Françoise Grossetête, a French member of the EPP group, said.

“Many members of the Parliament have been very critical about my remarks, and of course I fully accept that. The choice of words has been unfortunate and people have been offended and I regret that,” – Dijsselbloem replied.

Schaeuble: EU needs flexible speeds

It is not realistic to take further steps towards European Union integration at this point and after Britain’s vote to leave the bloc its remaining members must be ready to form ‘coalitions of the willing’, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said.

“Given the current situation, it is not realistic to think that we can take further steps towards deepening European integration at the moment,” he said on Thursday on the sidelines of International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington.

“We need to respond to urgent questions in a way that is visibly European, and we need to find European solutions to acute problems,” he added, “We need flexible speeds, variable groupings of countries, ‘coalitions of the willing’, whatever you want to call it in a particular situation.”

Juncker calls Tsipras to speed up reforms pace

“I have read the letter of the Prime Minister with great attention”.

“I can sympathise with the European spirit and with the plea for a return to normality after so many efforts by the Greek people. For me, there is no doubt that the EU social acquis applies to Greece as to any other EU Member State,” – says Statement by President Juncker on Prime Minister Tsipras’ letter on the occasion of the Social Summit.

“This is why I went on record with Prime Minister Tsipras already in May 2015 to state my support for fair and effective collective bargaining systems. This is why the Commission conducted a social impact assessment of the new programme before it was finalised in August 2015. And this is why, when it comes to labour market reforms, we pushed for a group of independent experts to make recommendations in the light of European and international best practices.”

“These experts issued their report last autumn and we stand behind their recommendations. Some of them are straightforward when it comes to applying the law. Others are more open when it comes to practical arrangements or ways of working. This is because, as the report rightly recalls, and we all know it, there is no “one-size-fit-all” in the social acquis or in the economic textbook when it comes to organising collective bargaining. Let me add that there is no place for ideology either.”

“From experience, and I have experts around the table, what matters most is not how the system is conceived on paper, but what the social partners make of it, through their ability to engage jointly, autonomously and together with public authorities.”

“These issues are part of the discussion on the second review of the programme for Greece and I agree that it is in everyone’s interest to conclude it rapidly. We are not far away: significant progress has been made over the last weeks and again over the last days until late last night.”

“I believe we should reach a deal which respects the commitments made on all sides at the start of the programme: the commitments of the Greek authorities not to reverse reforms agreed in the past to preserve competitiveness. The commitment of the creditors to give Greece the desired and necessary room for manœuvre to build its own future. All this in respect of the social acquis, of which we are a guardian.”

“I think all actors should work responsibly towards achieving a staff level agreement as quickly as possible. The next rendez-vous point should be at the Eurogroup on 7th April. Ideally, we should be in a position to present a staff level agreement by then and we will continue to support you to that end.”

“I invite everyone to pursue their work in this spirit.”

 

Sturgeon for second referendum for Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon demanded a new independence referendum in late 2018 or early 2019, once the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union have become clearer.

A vote that could tear apart the United Kingdom just months before Brexit would become a negative factor in the two-year process of leaving the EU after more than four decades.

“If Scotland is to have a real choice – when the terms of Brexit are known but before it is too late to choose our own course – then that choice must be offered between the autumn of next year, 2018, and the spring of 2019,”- Sturgeon said to reporters.

The intention cause a wave  of irony from the internauts:

« Older Entries