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Politis - Cyprus | 01/09/2014

Europe's economy robust thanks to prostitution

The European System of Accounts which includes illegal activities in the calculation of a country's gross domestic product came into effect on Monday. This allows European economies to present themselves as even more successful, the liberal daily Politis comments, not without a touch of irony: "Wonderful Europe! You can only admire the way it manages its economic indicators. Prostitutes, pimps, drug bosses, smugglers - all of them are used to demonstrate that the economic terrorism of Ms Merkel, Mr Juncker, Mr Barroso and Mr Hollande delivers results. Even Nobel laureates have explained that Berlin's austerity policy is ruining countries. Banks and international profiteers are driving the people of Europe crazy, who can no longer defend themselves. Some are getting rich at the expense of others. And the only thing that matters for Europe is that it conveys a positive image of itself." (01/09/2014)

Les Echos - France | 02/09/2014

Low interest rates don't help France

France issued government bonds with three and six month maturities to the tune of around eight billion euros for a negative interest rate on Monday. Good news that should however be treated with caution, the liberal business paper Les Echos writes: "It would be wrong to be content with these interest rates that have for all intents and purposes reached zero. First of all because we don't know how to take advantage of them. Investors have been indulgent with France for almost three years now. But we haven't been able to take advantage of that good will to accelerate reforms, bring competitiveness up to scratch or make wise public investments. And that at a time when some of our European neighbours like Spain and Ireland have reacted to the pressure from the markets and got themselves back in shape. And secondly, because we don't know how to interpret such low rates. All too often we take such extremely weak interest rates for a blank cheque from investors, whereas in reality they're above all a reflection of profoundly dysfunctional markets." (02/09/2014)

Večernji List - Croatia | 01/09/2014

Croatia's conservatives must come to power

Croatia's GDP has decreased for the second quarter in a row, dropping by 0.8 percent in the second quarter of 2014. The social-liberal governing coalition must be voted out in the elections in 2015 and the national-conservative HDZ party must turn its attention to the economy, the conservative daily Večernji List demands: "Despite all its [corruption] scandals, the HDZ is the strongest party in the country and there is no longer any doubt that it will win the next elections. The only question is whether the HDZ and its partners will attain just a simple parliamentary majority or whether they can get a two-thirds majority like [Prime Minister] Orbán in Hungary. ... Yes, it's important to finally settle scores with Tito and communism. But all that won't put the food on the table or secure the future of coming generations if we don't save the economy. Either the HDZ succeeds in doing this or we'll part ways with it forever." (01/09/2014)

Dienas Bizness - Latvia | 29/08/2014

Latvians worried about their chocolate

The oldest and biggest Latvian chocolate manufacturer was bought out on tuesday by the Norwegian conglomerate Orkla. The business paper Dienas bizness shares concerns about the long-established company's fate: "The fact that the best-loved Latvian chocolate brand is now in foreign hands is quite hard to swallow for many people. ... They wonder whether as part of a large conglomerate this Latvian chocolate will lose its flavour in the tough world of capitalism. The experts' exhortations that the Latvians only stand to gain from the deal is no consolation. Since the oldest brewery in the country, Aldaris, passed into Carlsberg's hands a substantial part of the production has been relocated to Estonia and Lithuania." (29/08/2014)

Le Figaro - France | 29/08/2014

French should finally work more hours

France's new Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said in an interview on Thursday that companies may be exempted from enforcing France's 35-hour week, in cooperation with the unions. It should be scrapped entirely, the conservative daily Le Figaro argues: "The idea behind reducing the number of working hours was to create jobs and improve the quality of life. Fifteen years later we know better: France is in the grips of mass unemployment and the situation has never been worse. Like our culture, the 35-hour week is seen as a French particularity that must be protected at all cost. This is completely crazy. If France wants to regain its place in the global competition it has no choice but to break with this taboo that increases both labour costs and deficits. The countries where unemployment is the lowest are those where people work the longest on average. Activity creates jobs." (29/08/2014)

Lost in EUrope - Belgium | 28/08/2014

Only Merkel sets the tone in Europe

The new head of the Eurogroup is also to be chosen at the EU summit on Saturday. The fact that Angela Merkel has spoken out in favour of Luis de Guindos points to a new Berlin-Madrid axis, writes Eric Bonse on his blog Lost in Europe: "At the same time as the French government is falling apart because a minister dared to criticise Merkel, the chancellor is giving Paris a kick in the behind. ... The fact that the public debt exploded and unemployment reached disastrous proportions under De Guindo plays no role whatsoever. All that counts is that Madrid obediently followed Berlin's requirements. ... Apparently a new axis is emerging. For a while it looked as if Paris and Rome, arm in arm with the SPD in Berlin, could put an end to the EU's policy of austerity. There was even a meeting between Montebourg and SPD leader Gabriel that got a lot of attention in the media. But with Monteboug's dismissal all that is history. Since criticism of Merkel started to be deemed lèse-majesté even in Paris, and punished as such, it's once again clear just who sets the tone in Europe." (28/08/2014)

The Independent - United Kingdom | 27/08/2014

France needs a dose of Thatcherism

Three prominent representatives of the left wing of France's Socialist party have been left without seats in the cabinet following the reshuffle. Now Paris must implement reforms without further delay, the left-liberal daily The Independent urges: "Hollande and his new team need some radically different policies if they are to succeed. ... As Sarkozy could at least recognise, France, like much of the rest of the eurozone, desperately needs to free up her labour market; to shrink the size of the state; to relieve business of burdensome regulation; and to scrap her chauvinistic industrial policy, which deters foreign investment. A dose, in other words, of Anglo-Saxon Thatcherism as well as the 'German' austerity is required - alien notions feared and loathed across France." (27/08/2014)

Eleftherotypia - Greece | 26/08/2014

Greek debt reduction costly for environment

The Greek government wants to sell a lagoon that forms part of a protected wetland area in the northern Greek community of Kalochori and use the money to pay off debts. Unacceptable, the left-liberal daily Eleftherotypia comments: "There have even been proposals to use the location as a logistics centre. ... Why is the state privatisation fund, which has decided to sell the whole region, being allowed to act without any restraints? ... The government argues that all it is doing is selling Greek public assets. But in so doing it is exceeding all limits and acting as if it is entitled to do so. This decision endangers not only rare bird and mammal species in the region, it also means the government has completely lost touch with society and is defying common sense. If it sells off wetlands, forests and beaches today, what will it sell tomorrow?" (26/08/2014)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands | 26/08/2014

Draghi's call can curb recession

ECB President Mario Draghi has spoken out in favour of increased lending, government stimulus programmes and a shift away from austerity. That makes perfect sense, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant comments: "The old accusation that the Southern European countries ignore budget regulations and the Northern European countries are then forced to foot the bill is no longer valid. ... The governments of Spain, Greece, Italy and even France have taken important steps. However this is not the time to sit back and relax - particularly for the French government. ... Nevertheless Draghi's call is not unwise. The European recession continues unabated, unemployment is high and consumer confidence low. ... Now's the time for Germany to give the European economy an extra boost with a new investment agenda." (26/08/2014)

Trouw - Netherlands | 25/08/2014

Putin not the only cause of farmers' plight

The Russian embargo has caused fruit and vegetable prices to plunge in the Netherlands. But this is not the only problem the farmers face, the Christian social daily Trouw writes: "Now the tomatoes are on the shelves for dumping prices. This will help the farmers suffering from the effects of the Russian boycott, the supermarkets claim. But the growers themselves are less than thrilled about these prices. ... And the agricultural organisation the LTO is quite right to demand fairer prices. But who will pay them?  Consumers think twice about every cent they spend. The upshot is intermittent price wars between the supermarkets in the battle for consumers. Fair prices for Dutch producers, fair trade in one's own country: none of the big supermarkets sees the benefit of this. But the consumers should demand it more loudly." (25/08/2014)

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