Tag Archives: EU

The Economist, weekly digest, 12th-18th March

EU SPLITTING INTO EUROZONE AND NON EURO
Is the EU splitting into two tiers i.e. euro zone and non euro zone members? The euro zone members are to have their own meeting following the upcoming EU summit. The euro zone members are in general less economically liberal than the non euro zone members (driven by France). In particular, there are greater calls for more economic integration between the euro-zone members (e..g a common rate for corporation tax and more fiscal harmonisation). There is likely to be spill over into general EU matters which will further disenfranchise the UK, to the point of perhaps having to drop out of the union.

COTE D’IVOIRE – DON’T DO A KENYA/ZIMBABWE COMPROMISE
As Libya has dominated headlines, the post presidential election  stalemate in the Ivory Coast continues as the losing president refuses to refurnish power. Civil war has consequently broken out leaving many Ivorians destitute. The AU should resist its tendency to allow bad losers to stay on by endorsing governments of BOGUS NATIONAL UNITY (read Kenya and Zimbabwe). Such governments are often unable to govern and sets a bad example.

INEQUALITY GROWING IN THE UK BUT SHRINKING IN GERMANY
The Watford Gap (valley) is the unofficial boundary between the north and the south. Inequality has rocketed in the UK over the last 20 years, such that a quarter of the UK now has a per capita GDP of lower than municipal Shanghai. The parts of UK in question are typically the northern rural areas. Investment in education is seen as the means to best address this, however, this is unlikely in face of the looming public spending cuts. Note that in the equivalent period, the inequality between the most affluent and poorest parts of Germany has dramatically fallen as more investment went to the reunified East.

UK PENSION REFORM – MULTIPLE ATTACKS
George Osborne’s 3 pronged attack on public sector workers: 1) 2 year pay freeze, 2) large scale redundancies; and 3) less pension benefits. Public sector workers are to now contribute more to receive a smaller pension after retiring later. This is to help address the massive (£1 trillion) unfunded UK public sector pension liability that has accrued due to commonplace defined benefit (i.e. final salary) schemes.

HEATHROW BEHIND IN BATTLE FOR EUROPE’S PREMIER HUB AIRPORT
London Mayor Boris Johnson is calling for more airport capacity in London. He proposes the government should either invest in a new airport in the Thames Estuary or increase capacity at Gatwick or Stansted. This is in response to Heathrow already operating at overcapacity (after plans to expand it were voted down by parliament due on environmental  and noise pollution grounds) despite serving fewer destinations than Paris’s Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt (serving 185, 200 and 300 respectively). So the fight continues for the crown of pre-eminent European hub. It is also seen as BJ taking aim at George Osbrone, his likely rival for the future leadership of his party.

UK FOREIGN POLICY BLUNDERS
– The UK tried to engage with the Libyan rebel Council by sending diplomatic representation into Libya under SAS cover. The team arrived unannounced in the dark and were subsequently were rounded up by the alarmed rebels.
– The UK was slow in its attempts to evacuate Britons stranded in Libya (mostly oil workers).
– The Foreign Office developed a strategy of sending ambassadors and  other high ranking officials (read Prince Andrew) to drum up business for Business abroad. It recently emerged that Prince Andrew has links to a convicted sex offender in America.

WE NEED A VIRTUAL CENSUS
Has been conducted every 10 years since 1801 (bar 1941 due to WW2). It’s suggested that the current formal paper based  complete and submit regimen should be replaced by a VIRTUAL CENSUS that feeds into information from existing computerised databases of public records (e.g. tax records), which has already been pioneered in Scandinavia. This is likely to to be cheaper, more current (as data increasingly expires more quickly) and likely to identify fewer Jedi knights.

BURLESCONI LIVES
Despite facing ongoing charges, his position is looking more secure thanks to the backing of coalition partners, the Northern League.

US MANUFACTURING REBOUNDING
Rebounding following the post recession huge slump as orders pick up from abroad. Each additional percentage point of another country’s growth boosts its imports from America by three percentage points.

CHINA SPENDING MORE ON INTERNAL SECURITY
Annual announcement of the revised 5 year budget included the announcement of double digit growth in national security spending. The growth, however, in addressing internal security threats was greater than that of external threats. Also it was announced that school children should receive an hour of physical exercise in school every day.

SUBWAY OVERTAKES MACCY D’S
Subway officially overtakes Macdonalds in number of worldwide branches (33 thousand to 32 thousand).

PC MARKET UNDER A TRIPLE THREAT
HP and Dell, the world’s two foremost PC manufacturers are coming under attack by three major computing trends:
1) The rise of the Tablet (notably the Apple iPad) has resulted in downgraded future growth projections for the PC.
2) Cloud computing is now encouraging businesses to store information in the Cloud (with say Amazon or Rackspace) rather than servers from HP or Dell. (In turn Amazon will need servers to host the cloud data but can drive a hard bargain because of their size).
3) Vertical integration means that consumers now expect an “all-in-one solution” from their IT systems provider. This has resulted in computer companies coming into HP/Dell’s turn (e.g. Oracle buying Sun Microsystems).

CLOTHING RETAIL – KEEPING PACE WITH CHANGING FASHIONS
Zara (SP) vs. H&M (SWE). Zara are the logistics experts in managing to get new clothing styles into their stores within weeks, whilst the same takes H&M months. H&M makes 65% of its wares in lower-cost Asian countries.

HOW MUCH OIL IS SLOSHING AROUND?
The US has a reserve of 727m barrels, Japan:320b and Europe as a total has 420b. The US consumes 20m barrels a day, thus its reserves could support it for about a month. Global world output is about 85m b/d , and less than half of this is opec. World consumption is also about 85m b/d.

Can’t rely on those Ukranians

Introducing the Nordstream pipeline. It will allow Germany to directly tap Russian oil. Currently on the EU agenda.

Scraps 200608

Election monitors plead: “save Zimbabwe”!:“We thought it was going to be an election not war”

Gaza: Cease fire OK, but now please lift sanctions!“Under the sanctions, we’ll continue to suffer – I have to use cooking oil as fuel in my tractor.”

Sarko: Irish vote keeps Turkey and Croatia out of EU:”Without the Treaty of Lisbon there won’t be any enlargement”

Treaty issue shelved till October…:”Barroso {} pressing for the two-day summit to focus on other issues such as fuel and food prices”

Rape now recognised by the UN as a war crime:“speakers identified the former Yugoslavia, Sudan’s Darfur region, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Liberia as regions where deliberate sexual violence had occurred on a mass scale”

“Although I am devastated beyond words at the death of my beautiful wife Sarah, I am so incredibly proud of her”

Watch out you bankers!:“Operation Malicious Mortgage” underway…

Aussies clamp down on Ramsay: “Senator Bernardi claimed that one episode had contained “the f-word” 80 times in 40 minutes;”And I’m not referring to fondue,””

No more beef between S.Korea and the US:New deal: “US beef older than 30 months will not be put on our dinner tables as long as people don’t want it”

Britain Clamping Down on ‘Illegals’…
…And so is Sierra Leon


The Negative Calorie Diet(SCIENCE CENTER)
:Featuring “no guilt snacks”

And finally…

Belfast set to rebuild the Titanic:

An EU Constitution?

blair.jpg

Parliament is set to vote on whether Britain should have a referendum on the new EU Treaty next week. It appears that it is very likely that the government will win the vote and press ahead with ratifying the treaty. This is notwithstanding the fact that popular sentiment towards the new EU Treaty is reported to be overwhelmingly negative.

The main criticism of the EU Treaty is that it relays too much of Britain’s sovereign power over to the EU. Surely this is something that the government themselves are already quite wary of bearing in mind that they were TAMED by the EU.

Yes, in the rolling Blair years of huge Labour majorities in the Commons, a fragmented Tory party in opposition and a parliamentary system of inadequate ‘checks and balances’, it was the EU that kept a lid on Blair’s ‘draconian’ ambitions.

If Blair had had his way, it would have been possible for the state to nab people off the street and indefinitely lock them up under suspicion of ‘terrorism’ – judge, jury, executioner all rolled into one? Incompatibility with EU legislation meant that the state now is limited as to how long they can detain a suspected terrorist without submitting any evidence.

So it might be fair to assume that the government is not necessarily a sucker for the EU as it might appear (after all it deferred on adopting the Euro and it led us to an unpopular war in Iraq against the EU will). By curtailing the nation’s power, it is effectively curtailing its own power, and that isn’t a decision that it is likely to take lightly.

The government have been playing dEfence for far too long on this point amidst the Opposition’s calls for a referendum. The Torys have done well to level the debate in terms of the Government’s own integrity rather than on the merits of the treaty itself. Even though the government may avoid the referendum, let’s finally move to a discussion on why they felt Britain needed to sign up to this treaty.