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La Croix - France | 01/10/2014

Mountain of debt leaves France with no choice

France's national debt rose above the 2023 billion euro mark in the second quarter of this year, according to figures put out on Tuesday by the statistics institute Insee. The Catholic daily La Croix calls on the government to push ahead with its austerity programme: "In ten years France's mountain of debt has doubled in size, under both conservative and left-wing governments. Short-sighted decisions have been the order of the day. Today no one can shirk their responsibility by blaming the other side. The current government must not shy away from the planned cuts. It must weigh up where they are necessary and must not punish sectors that show promise, as these will have a long-term impact and make the country more dynamic. ... As for the people, they must think seriously about whether they can make the sacrifices being demanded of them now if it means securing a better future for their children." (01/10/2014)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland | 01/10/2014

Apple deal highlights companies' insolence

The European Commission is launching an investigation into whether Ireland gave Apple illegal state aid in the form of tax relief. The Tages-Anzeiger praises the move: "Ireland was on the brink of bankruptcy and had to be saved with a lot of money from the EU member states. At the same time the government in Dublin renounced tax revenues over five years to keep Apple in the country. The tax deals of the Irish with Apple, those of the Dutch with Starbucks and the Luxemburgers with Amazon have nothing to do with healthy competition. It's a competition of every one against everyone else. Big companies can afford to pitch individual states against each other. In the end the state's coffers are left empty. Ordinary taxpayers or small and medium-sized companies pay the price. Only gradually are the states beginning to realise that the tax spiral can't be allowed to go down any further." (01/10/2014)

NRC Handelsblad - Netherlands | 30/09/2014

Paris preventing reforms at Air France

After two weeks and hundreds of cancelled flights, the longest strike at France's biggest airline Air France came to an end when the company dropped plans to expand its budget subsidiary Transavia. The liberal daily NRC Handelsblad criticises the government in Paris for opposing an independent mediator: "The intervention by the French government is simply alarming. ... It demonstrates France's inability to reform and adjust to changes in the global economy. The crisis in the Eurozone, where clear signs of growth are still lacking after six years, can to a large extent be put down to an inability to implement structural reforms on the labour and retail markets. The fact that France is the least able to do this and has now even prevented a reform through active government intervention is truly worrying." (30/09/2014) - Ireland | 29/09/2014

Property prices leaving Irish homeless

Real estate prices in Dublin rose by 25.1 percent in the past twelve months, according to the Irish Central Statistics Office. To avoid social problems the government should swiftly adopt counter-measures, columnist Kevin Byrne writes on the online news portal "In many areas property is simply unaffordable, again. ... The main driver of these damaging increases in property (and rental) costs is a lack of supply of accommodation where people most need it, which is where most economic activity is - the greater Dublin area - where there is a growing population but minimal building activity since the crash. If that isn't addressed, expect to see more and more homelessness (including of those in employment) and a generation largely locked out of any prospect of owning their own home." (29/09/2014)

El Mundo - Spain | 29/09/2014

Watch out for Alibaba-Amazon bubble

Share prices for the Chinese Internet giant Alibaba have skyrocketed since the company's IPO on September 19. The conservative daily El Mundo warns of another technology bubble about to burst: "Since its first day on the market, Alibaba's shares have risen by 38 percent. This figure seems ridiculous compared to the real web monster: Amazon. Its stock market value is 532 times as high as its net profit. These figures prompt us to think about the heights the stock market fever for new technologies is reaching. The market refuses to call this a bubble and several analysts explain that the phenomenon does not pose a serious risk to the economy as a whole. One of the top dogs at Lehman Brothers said the same just a year before the company went broke, and everyone knows what happened then. ... Before causing the markets to correct themselves perhaps it's time for investors to take note of this bubble and behave accordingly." (29/09/2014)

Der Standard - Austria | 29/09/2014

EU Commission surprisingly attentive

EU Trade Commissioner-designate Cecilia Malmström has spoken out in favour of a change of course in the negotiations on the TTIP free trade agreement with the US. The left-liberal daily Der Standard welcomes this: "The controversial investor-state dispute settlement clause that would have given investors quick and discreet access to jurisdiction is to be scrapped. With this decision the newly emerging EU Commission is taking a surprisingly big step towards its citizens. The criticism that such dispute settlement clauses would make powerful multinationals even more powerful had recently taken on massive proportions. The secrecy surrounding the TTIP (we still don't know precisely which points are being negotiated) did the rest. The course the negotiations on the not quite as important EU agreement with Canada, Ceta, have taken is also unworthy of modern democracies. And Friday's conclusion of the negotiations in Ottawa is basically an affront. Calls for further negotiations immediately ensued." (29/09/2014)

Karjalainen - Finland | 26/09/2014

Less Russian tobacco good for Finland

The Finnish Health Ministry wants to limit imports of tobacco products from non-EU countries. This would mainly affect private purchases in Russia. As is already the case with alcoholic beverages, duty-free imports of such products would only be possible after having spent a minimum of 20 hours in Russia. The liberal daily Karjalainen welcomes the plan: "There are no reasonable arguments against tightening the regulations. ... On the contrary, strengthening the law would support the Health Ministry's goal of making Finland a smoke-free country, it would help retail trade in eastern Finland, suppress the shadow economy and even increase fire safety if fewer cigarettes are smoked that don't go out on their own. Duty-free tobacco imports also encourage people to take private trips to fill up their cars. New restrictions would make that less appealing. The temptation to get cheap petrol and tobacco is understandable. But at the same time every euro spent in Russia comes at the expense of businesspeople in eastern Finland." (26/09/2014)

Les Echos - France | 26/09/2014

EU fighting Google out of nervousness

The EU Commission has threatened to take a harsher stance in the ongoing antitrust dispute with Google. The US Internet giant must improve its proposals in the conflict over more equitable search results, Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia said on Tuesday. The lawsuit deals with accusations by other media companies that the Google search engine puts them at a disadvantage. The liberal daily Les Echos explains the growing political pressure: "It's not at all banal to say finally that this matter is part of a larger movement among European institutions and member states adopting a harsher attitude to US web companies that are making large profits at the expense of local companies. At a time when growth in the Eurozone has slowed and mass unemployment is rising, the lawsuits we are seeing in increasing numbers expose the growing nervousness of countries that have not managed to innovate and are having difficulties finding their place in the digital economy." (26/09/2014)

Revista 22 - Romania | 26/09/2014

Chişinău doesn't want European gas

Almost a month after its inauguration the gas pipeline between Romania and the Republic of Moldova still has not gone into operation. Chişinău has no interest in being connected to the European gas network, the conservative weekly paper Revista 22 believes: "On top of the pressure from Russia, the situation can also be explained with reference to the interests those in government in Chişinău - regardless of where they stand politically - are pursuing in their negotiations with Moscow. Their main priority is to maintain the status quo. They want Gazprom to provide gas at a lower price than is usual in Europe. Or they want to delay payment of their debts [roughly 500 million euros] for gas already received. ... Whether the geopolitical conflict with Russia can be won depends on how much more Bucharest and Chişinău invest in the gas pipeline project." (26/09/2014)

De Telegraaf - Netherlands | 25/09/2014

France pampers spoilt Air France pilots

After ten days of strike Air France announced on Wednesday that it was shelving plans to expand its budget subsidiary Transavia, but further strikes are still planned up to Friday. The conservative daily De Telegraaf is incensed: "The pilots refuse to accept pay cuts meant to help the subsidiary Transavia compete against the rapidly growing budget airlines Ryanair and Easyjet. Without the slightest scruple the spoilt pilots saddle the company with 20 million euros in costs for each day and damage the reputation of its partner KLM in the process. ... And to top it all, Air France is actually bowing to the demands of the strikers. This is above all symptomatic of a France still dominated by left-wing trade unions. A country that is getting deeper and deeper into debt and refuses to understand that its labour market needs radical reform to remain competitive." (25/09/2014)

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