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De Standaard - Belgium | 29/07/2015

Belgian farmers must produce more cleverly

After the farmer protests in France Belgian farmers are now also complaining about loss of income since the abolition of milk quotas. But new state protection against products from outside the EU is not the solution, warns the liberal daily De Standaard: "Part of the answer would be fairer pricing of transport costs [for non-EU products]. As long as these are too low farmers won't be able to earn enough to stay afloat in the long term. Because everyone is competing with everyone else. And environmental costs and investments in roads are now also pushed onto the tax payer. This is untenable. Furthermore, farmers will have to come up with something better than mass production. … It is size that makes them more vulnerable. Small-scale production, specialisation and quality is clearly the better option even if this is something the consumers need to be taught. Price cannot be the only criteria in our daily diet." (29/07/2015)

Äripäev - Estonia | 28/07/2015

Estonia fighting tax evasion at last

In Estonia a proposed reform that would allow tax inspectors to inspect businesses unannounced is currently under discussion. The business paper Äripäev defends the reform: "The tax office has to collect taxes and to do so in line with established law. If the existing laws are not working, then we have to start thinking about changing them. This is exactly what the ministry of finance has just done and actually this is sensible. Last year's new regulations regarding deducting VAT on company cars were also a sensible step. … The reason people are getting annoyed about the regulations on company cars as well as the current proposal is because it means there will be fewer possibilities in the future for exploiting legal grey areas." (28/07/2015)

El Mundo - Spain | 28/07/2015

Wobbling giant China threatens global economy

The Chinese share index SSE Shanghai Composite fell by 8.5 percent on Monday in the steepest one-day drop in eight years. If Europe is faltering simply because of Greece, a slump in China could have really dramatic consequences, fears the conservative daily El Mundo: "China is also a major investor in the bonds and property market in Spain, where it has been increasingly involved since the crisis. If China stopped buying and started selling instead, the capital markets could collapse. … And if instability in Greece, which makes up just 2 percent of the European GDP, can make the EU tremble, it's better not to even think about what a slump in China might unleash, potentially taking the US and Europe down with it. At the moment the giant is still advancing, even if its motor is making some worrying noises. Spellbound, the world watches on." (28/07/2015)

Hospodářské noviny - Czech Republic | 28/07/2015

Greek crisis: Fiscal union desirable but unrealistic

With the Greek crisis the calls for a fiscal union are growing louder. The liberal business paper Hospodářské noviny finds this a logical step but is uncertain about its feasibility: "A common currency zone cannot function effectively without stronger integration. The reason this pressure is being exerted on this issue now is because of Greece, the country that made it into the Eurozone through fraud and enhanced statistics. Its administration has not functioned properly for ages. None of the regulations that have been adopted under pressure will have the expected success either because they are nothing but the pointless raising of taxes in a country that for decades has been incapable of collecting taxes and where the shadow economy is almost as large as the legal one. In view of Greece's problems it is questionable whether a budget and a European ministry can be the solution. The idea that a European finance minister (from Germany or Finland, say) can legitimately exercise power in Greece is purely theoretical." (28/07/2015)

Lietuvos rytas - Lithuania | 25/07/2015

Lithuania must help its sailors

Five ships of the debt-ridden ship company Lietuvos jūrų laivininkystė, which is largely owned by the Lithuanian state, have been stuck in various foreign harbours for weeks now. Some of them are being retained for failing to pay harbour dues, others fear legal problems because their crews have not been paid for months. The liberal daily Lietuvos rytas blames the politicians: "The sailors' cries for help have been echoing since May. But obviously no institution has done anything, at least this is what the sailors are saying. People only started to show concern when the sailors' situation threatened to turn into a humanitarian disaster and the media increasingly raised the alarm. … But where were the politicians who are now making such a racket in the last decade? … The company has been sinking for some time. And the economic crisis which forced it to sell some of its ships only accelerated the downfall." (25/07/2015)

Aamulehti - Finland | 27/07/2015

Finland neglecting self-employed

Finland's Prime Minister Juha Sipilä recommended at the start of the month that Microsoft workers who had lost their jobs take a step towards self-employment. Social security payments for the self-employed need improving first, demands the liberal daily Aamulehti: "There are many risks associated with self-employment and many people fear taking such a step. … Only last week the broadcasting company Yle drew attention to the small payments made into pension funds by the self-employed and the tiny pensions they will receive. With proper planning employers could remedy this problem. … But for those who are just managing to scrape by, this is easier said than done. Numerous other problems such as social security when a company closes on the other hand are not so easily solved. … Vaunting only the advantages of self-employment doesn't make self-employment more attractive. … Instead something must be done about the social security problems." (27/07/2015)

Jornal de Negócios - Portugal | 22/07/2015

Portugal's debt mountain remains dangerous

In Portugal too, the gross domestic product has grown year on year. But because of its mountain of debt it remains one of the countries most at risk in the Eurozone, the liberal daily Jornal de Negócios points out: "If Greece's exit from the Eurozone is once again up for debate, then it's obvious that Portugal will be the next target for anyone seeking to capitalise on the country's failure. …. One can swallow the painkiller but the rotten tooth remains: namely the huge debts of the Portuguese economy and above all the state. From the IMF's perspective, Portugal's debts may not seem as unsustainable as those of Greece, but the country remains in the risk zone. … The new reality within the monetary union therefore shows how important it is to discuss the possibilities of debt relief." (22/07/2015)

De Telegraaf - Netherlands | 24/07/2015

French farmers are not competitive

For days French farmers have been blocking key traffic junctions and parts of the motorway network to protest against price cuts on their products. Right-wing daily De Telegraaf is unimpressed: "French farmers do not earn enough because they are not competitive enough. Dutch, German and East European farmers have invested heavily in recent years to modernise their operations. Now that most European subsidies have been phased out, they are able to stay afloat despite constant price cuts. The French government on the other hand is still propping up its farmers with generous handouts. … This gives French farmers an unfair advantage against their colleagues abroad. If Europe wants an honest and open economy, it has to fight the subsidisation of the French agricultural industry." (24/07/2015)

Financial Times - United Kingdom | 23/07/2015

Enjoy Ireland's upturn with caution

Politicians, activists and business representatives in Ireland last week debated how to spend 1.5 billion euros worth of tax yields. The liberal Financial Times recommends exercising caution as the country develops from crisis state into Europe's fastest growing economy: "Ireland has also been lucky. In the past year it has enjoyed a gentle boost from cheaper oil, lower borrowing rates and a blast of eurozone quantitative easing, as well as ongoing recovery in its major export markets, the UK and US economies. It is still a long way from being out of the woods. Public debt is well over 100 per cent of gross national product, and unemployment touching double-figures. Should some unforeseen blow knock Ireland off course, the Greek stand-off has warned of how little leniency there may be from its Eurozone partners." (23/07/2015)

La Vanguardia - Spain | 23/07/2015

Global crises boost Spain's tourism

Spain's tourist industry will have another record year, the conservative daily La Vanguardia comments, pinning the result on the global political and economic situation: "Firstly, the economic boom is boosting economic recovery in those countries that generate the most tourists for Spain, some of which, the UK and the US for instance, are benefiting from the devaluation of the euro that makes holidays much cheaper. Another important factor is that many tourists - particularly the Italians and French - are heading for Spanish destinations and giving countries in the eastern Mediterranean area a wide berth because of terrorist attacks and instability. And thirdly, it must be pointed out that low oil prices are cutting the cost of the main form of transport." (23/07/2015)

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