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ECONOMY

De Morgen - Belgium | 28/05/2015

Cuts a disaster for Belgium's air safety

A power failure at the Belgian air safety company Belgocontrol paralysed air traffic in the country for hours on Wednesday. Flight safety is in danger in Belgium, the centre-left daily De Morgen warns: "It's only normal for the unions to immediately point to the spending cuts of recent years. And it's also normal for the top management to reject any such correlations. But CEO Johan Decuyper also said recently: 'Recruitment and investment are low at the moment, a situation which is hardly tenable in the long term. To guarantee safety we must invest more in personnel and technology.' These words now sound very bitter. Absolutely no correlation has been established between yesterday's empty airspace and the cuts at Belgocontrol. But the blackout at least reminds us that it would be very unwise to make too many cuts in the area of air traffic safety." (28/05/2015)

Corriere del Ticino - Switzerland | 27/05/2015

Switzerland taking tax transparency too far

The Swiss Federal Tax Administration has published the personal data of dozens of alleged tax evaders online. It did so to let the people in question know that Switzerland may pass on their data to foreign tax authorities. The liberal daily Corriere del Ticino is harshly critical of this move: "The Swiss Tax Administration claims that by publishing this information it is defending the citizens' right to appeal against investigations. But it seems hardly imaginable that there aren't other ways to guarantee this right that would better protect the right to privacy. This act is another major setback for all those who still believe the private sphere can't be violated beyond a certain point. And unfortunately this is just another phase in Switzerland's in many respects premature and uncoordinated surrender of banking secrecy." (27/05/2015)

Trends - Belgium | 26/05/2015

Botox economy only hides the crisis

In an interview with the French magazine L'Expansion at the end of April, economist Daniel Cohen warned against believing that the euro crisis was over. For Cohen, none of the Eurozone's fundamental problems have been solved. A complete indictment of Europe's governments, the business magazine Trends believes: "As Daniel Cohen reminds us, a true end to a crisis translates into a drop in unemployment and renewed investment. In Europe we have neither one nor the other. What we do have is a recovery without more jobs, while in the US it's a recovery without pay! This is definitely not a glorious result for the governments that have spent the last seven years fighting this mother of all crises! The bottom line is that we've slid into a sort of botox economy: the wrinkles are hidden, but not the age. In other words, the crisis is still with us!" (26/05/2015)

Večernji List - Croatia | 26/05/2015

Croatia needs help spending money

The EU plans to set up a task force led by the Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu to help Croatia access the full amount of EU funding at its disposal. It's embarassing, but Croatia clearly needs help here, the conservative daily Večernji List observes: "What looks like a rap on the knuckles for the worst pupil is in fact just a detention. And it's good that at least someone's there to help us. Now we must make up for lost opportunities. To this end the task force has come with a clear and simple message: give us something, some project that's at least been prepared a little so that we can spend the money reserved for you in the European budget. Because as things stand now we've all got egg on our face. ... Croatia simply doesn't have enough projects prepared to the stage at which work on them could start tomorrow. The EU has put the money on the table but we're completely unprepared." (26/05/2015)

Kymen Sanomat - Finland | 22/05/2015

Dangerous gap between poor and rich

According to a current OECD study, the gap between rich and poor in the West is wider than it has been in three decades. This could endanger social cohesion and political stability, the daily Kymen Sanomat believes: "This trend has taken economists by surprise: income differences are generally considered a driving force behind economic growth. ... But in truth economic growth has been weak - non-existent, even - for a long time, while at the same time the income gap is widening. ... In the past large income disparities have been the cause of revolutions. Theoretically such things could still happen today in developed countries. True, revolutions are relatively unlikely in the prosperous West. But with time the growing inequality will undermine political stability." (22/05/2015)

Cinco Días - Spain | 21/05/2015

Spain must continue to bolster export boom

Spanish companies exported more than 23 billion euros in goods in the month of March. The country's foreign trade deficit decreased by 15 percent in the first quarter of 2015. Although the euro's low exchange rate is opening up new markets for Spanish goods in other parts of the world the stability of the Eurozone is still essential if this positive trend is to continue, the centre-left business daily Cinco Días points out: "Without doubt Europe continues to be Spain's main export market, and a healthy Eurozone is fundamental for Spain to maintain the current growth rate in its export trade. To achieve this goal we depend to some extent on external factors, such as the implementation of structural reforms that fuel growth in certain Eurozone countries - for instance France - that are reluctant to reform their economy and prepare it for the future. But there are also internal factors, for example an economic policy that supports and facilitates the task of selling goods beyond our borders." (21/05/2015)

Jornal de Negócios - Portugal | 20/05/2015

Angola's oil crisis also bad news for Portugal

The plunge in oil prices on the global market has caused a sharp drop in Angola's revenues. The crisis in Africa's second-largest oil-producing country is affecting tens of thousands of Portuguese who live there. The liberal business daily Jornal de Negócios calls for the government in Lisbon to react: "Angola is experiencing a crisis that is curtailing investments and consumption in the country. … This situation is also affecting around ten thousand Portuguese companies in Angola that are seeing their sales decrease and suffering from a lack of liquidity. There are fears that roughly 200,000 Portuguese migrants will have to return home. … Our minister for economic affairs says that there are several ways to solve the problem, but he hasn't specified what they are. He said that concrete measures would probably be taken some time in the summer. But swift action is called for here." (20/05/2015)

Eesti Rahvusringhääling - Estonia | 21/05/2015

Higher petrol prices will hurt Estonia

The Estonian government will raise the tax on petrol starting 2016 to finance additional welfare spending. Not a good idea, EER, the website of the Estonian public radio broadcaster believes: "As a consequence of the tax hike, jobs, and by extension taxpayers, will disappear from rural areas. The revenues of local authorities will drop and budget deficits will grow, which will then have to be balanced by the treasury. No doubt the net result will not be as expected. But in any event the move will have negative repercussions on regional politics, and lower the quality of life in the countryside. You don't have to have be clairvoyant or commission expensive studies to foresee such logical consequences. Past experience and population statistics are all it takes." (21/05/2015)

Mladá fronta Dnes - Czech Republic | 20/05/2015

Czechs deserve higher minimum wage

The Czech Republic's trade unions plan to demand pay rises of up to five percent once more in 2016. Their umbrella organisation criticised the monthly minimum wage of 330 euros in particular as far too low in Prague on Tuesday. The liberal daily Mladá fronta Dnes backs the unions: "Businesses are loudly protesting against an increase in the minimum wage and pay in general. They say this would lower their competitiveness. This stance is understandable. No one wants to pay more than they have to. If we had German wage levels, many of our current investors wouldn't be here anymore. Every investor's main goal is to make a profit, and they pay only as much as employees can be recruited for. But there is clearly scope for raising pay here. And not just the minimum wage, which is the fifth-lowest in the EU. Even in Slovakia where wages were always lower than in the Czech Republic in the past, the minimum wage is higher now." (20/05/2015)

Financial Times - United Kingdom | 19/05/2015

Berlin must push through labour unity law

The German train drivers extended their labour dispute to passenger traffic today, Wednesday. But that shouldn't stop the government from pushing its draft law on limiting companies' labour representation to the biggest union through parliament on Friday, the liberal business paper Financial Times urges: "The government is right to seek to strengthen this system, especially in sectors such as air and rail transport, where recent strikes have caused disruption to millions of travellers on a scale wholly disproportionate to the grievances motivating the unrest. ... Once it becomes law, critics will submit a challenge to the nation's constitutional court. The government, though, is on firm ground in wanting to promote a system of usually harmonious industrial relations that has served German business and labour well for many decades." (19/05/2015)


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