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Deutschlandfunk - Germany | 28/06/2015

ECB losing all credibility

By extending the emergency loans for Greece even though the Eurogroup's bailout programme expires on Tuesday, the ECB has said goodbye to its role as protector of monetary stability, the public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk writes: "It has shown what has become its true face: that of a political institution. ... After the euro finance ministers said no to the multi-billion euro bailout programme, these loans lack any legitimacy. Because a state bankruptcy and the collapse of the Greek banks must now be expected. In sweeping aside such reservations, the ECB not only risks complaints of unconstitutionality for overstepping its mandate, it also casts doubts on its own credibility. ... Ultimately the Greek government could see the ECB's open monetary floodgates as a good reason to go on gambling. In that case the ECB will have done a disservice both to any prospect of rescuing Greece and to the stabilisation of the euro system." (28/06/2015)

El País - Spain | 26/06/2015

Spain overcomes crisis only thanks to low wages

Wages in Spain also dropped in 2013, as a comprehensive report by the INE statistics agency shows. Because income is distributed less equally the country's tentative recovery is built on sand, the centre-left daily El País believes: "Far more important than the slight reduction in gross annual wages (by 0.1 percent to 22,700 euros per year) is the increase in short-term employment. While the average wage for fixed employment has increased slightly (by 56 euros to 24,333 euros per year), the average annual pay for short-term jobs has dropped by 460 euros to just 15,500 euros. … This trend reflects precisely but partially how Spain has managed to get out of the recession: thanks to a generalised and unequal lowering of wages. This trend cannot provide a stable basis for prosperity to rise to levels comparable to those in 2007 in the medium term." (26/06/2015)

Le Monde - France | 26/06/2015

Taxi drivers to blame for rise of rival Uber

Around 3,000 taxi drivers protested across France on Thursday at what they see as unfair competition from the ridesharing service UberPop, blocking access to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and other routes. The liberal daily Le Monde doesn't sympathise with the taxi drivers: "With their opposition to progress and archaic methods, they only have themselves to blame for the situation. Everyone has first-hand experience of the often poor quality of their services, regardless of whether the issue at hand is their attitude, payment by credit card or flat rates for trips to and from airports - which they reject. Instead of insisting on their own privileges, the taxis should have modernised long ago. And it's because they didn't that they're now fighting to survive." (26/06/2015)

La Libre Belgique - Belgium | 26/06/2015

Buyouts of Belgian companies continues apace

The Dutch supermarket chain Ahold and its Belgian competitor Delhaize announced their merger on Wednesday. The resulting company will be the forth-largest retail chain in Europe, whereby Ahold, with 33 billion euros in turnover, is by far the strongest of the two. Belgian companies must up their efficiency if they want to survive, the liberal daily La Libre Belgique warns: "Should we get upset about the sale of one of the (last) jewels of Belgian business, whose name is now added to an already long list? Perhaps, but what's happened today to Delhaize illustrates once again the difficulties that 'made in Belgium' capitalism has keeping its best companies in the country. ... The sale of Delhaize was written in the stars. The chain's low profitability in a sector marked by intense price competition has clearly demonstrated the limits of its economic model. The fragmentation of the family's shareholder ownership did the rest." (26/06/2015)

Diário de Notícias - Portugal | 23/06/2015

Portugal must create better jobs

It's not enough for Portugal's government to have made it more difficult to claim unemployment benefits, it must also intervene on the labour market, the centre-left daily Diário de Notícias admonishes: "Only around half of the unemployed in Portugal actually receive unemployment benefits at present. … The new regulations are harsh but their purpose is clear: to divide the cake as well as possible among those who don't have jobs - and at the same time to reduce the duration of benefits payments so that people are encouraged to seek a job and their own income. But incentives for employers to recruit skilled workers must also be created, and precarious working conditions improved. Otherwise you're sending people into a dead-end situation." (23/06/2015)

Le Quotidien - Luxembourg | 24/06/2015

Debt repayment by Athens a pipe dream

Athens and its creditors are under great pressure ahead of the next meeting of Eurozone finance ministers today in view of the prospect of Greece defaulting. The liberal daily Le Quotidien sees no option but a debt write-down: "The European leaders are hesitating and have delayed tackling the core of the problem: Greek debt. ... Despite the austerity imposed by the creditors Greek debt has never stopped rising over the last few years, reaching 180 percent of GDP today. And it's difficult to imagine that new tax hikes will change that. It's time to admit that this debt will never be paid off. Short of turning Greece into a third-world country, there is no choice but to reduce its debt burden." (24/06/2015)

The Washington Post - U.S. | 24/06/2015

Global perspectives: EU forcing Athens to commit economic suicide

Greece's government and its creditors will meet again today, Thursday, to find a solution to the debt conflict. But Europe is depriving Greece of any chance of economic recovery with its demands, the liberal daily The Washington Post criticises: "Spending cuts don't seem to be as bad for the economy as tax hikes, so that's what Europe wants Greece to do. On the one hand, this is sound economic advice. But on the other, it might be impossibly hard for the Greeks to accept. In the eyes of the Greeks, it's as though Europe is telling them to kill their own economy - and then disapproving of the way they'll do it. ... Many feel its debt should have been written down in 2010, but it wasn't because it was 'bailed out' to the extent that it was given money to then give to French and German banks. The longer Europe demands this new debt be paid back, the longer Greece's depression will go on." (24/06/2015)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland | 24/06/2015

EU commuters a burden on Swiss border regions

Commuters from EU countries have become a real burden for Switzerland, the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger warns, pointing to a recent study on freedom of movement between the EU and Switzerland: "One in four employees in Ticino is now a commuter. For the most part they are the ones who account for the growth in employment - and they earn on average around 12 percent less than Swiss citizens and foreigners living in Switzerland. This pay gap has more than doubled since 2000. Added to that, salaries have risen more slowly in Ticino and the region around Lake Geneva than in the rest of Switzerland. At the same time the unemployment rate in the regions with the highest proportion of commuters has risen faster than average. Particularly as the report refers to data from before the end of the policy of capping the Swiss franc against the euro. The strong franc makes the border regions particularly vulnerable." (24/06/2015)

Kauppalehti - Finland | 22/06/2015

Nuclear plant in Finland a major coup for Russia

The Finnish-Russian energy consortium Fennovoima must submit the building application for the planned nuclear power plant in Pyhäjoki by the end of June. Finland wants 60 percent of shareholders to come from the EU, which is currently not the case. The biggest single shareholder is the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom. For its part the Finnish company Fortum is ready to come on board in exchange for a hydropower station in Russia. Despite all the difficulties the project is not yet off the cards, the business paper Kauppalehti believes: "If Fortum doesn't get the hydro plant it's after, the Fennovoima project will face considerable difficulties. That would involve Russia breaking its promise, but it has every reason to make sure that doesn't happen. Because Finland is traditionally Russia's window to the West. In addition if Fennovoima built the plant it would be a feather in Rosatom's cap. The Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority Stuk is known for its stringency. If this plant fulfils its requirements, similar facilities could be built anywhere in the world." (22/06/2015)

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland | 22/06/2015

Economising on bank IT endangers customer data

Hackers published sensitive data on 500 customers of the Polish Plusbank on the Internet last week. The liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza argues that Polish banks have made cutbacks in the wrong areas: "Unfortunately after the financial crisis in 2008 our banks slashed IT expenditures. Many central systems - without which a bank can't function - are now ten to 15 years old. ... The acquisition of such ready-made solutions that control all key functions of a bank costs anything from ten to well over 100 million złoty [2 to 25 million euros], depending on the size of the bank. Even the biggest banks have postponed such acquisitions for years. Because they fear these high costs will reflect poorly on their financial statements." (22/06/2015)

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