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Les Echos - France | 21/08/2014

TTIP is France's big chance

France has taken a very sceptical view of the free trade agreement (TTIP) between the EU and the US for months. In June Paris even threatened to use its veto if the cultural sector wasn't excluded from the negotiations. Hervé Guyader, president of the French Committee for International Business Law, views the TTIP as a significant chance for the French economy. "Globalisation is still looked down upon in France. ... People fear it will undermine our identity as well as our economic and social rights. But why do they assume that the agreement will lower our standards? Even if the US is known for its less than strict regulation of certain products, one shouldn't exaggerate or draw parallels with the situation in certain developing countries, for example. Let's not forget that the US of all countries bans imports of many French food products for hygienic reasons. Why not see the agreement as a chance to promote the marketing of our products and implement concrete quality standards?" (21/08/2014)

Gość Niedzielny - Poland | 21/08/2014

Tax laws encourage illicit work in Poland

The number of illicit workers in Poland topped the one million mark for the first time last year. According to the latest data from the national statistics agency they generated 14 percent of the country's total economic output. Given the complexity of Polish tax laws no one should be surprised at these figures, the nationalist religious portal Gość Niedzielny writes, blaming the government: "This figure will rise further because not much has changed so far. If someone is legally employed and misinterprets the complicated tax laws, he pays a hefty fine. To make matters worse, the state interprets the regulations only to its own advantage. ... So people prefer to work illegally because working legally simply isn't worthwhile. They want to work for themselves and their families and not drown in bureaucracy. If we don't simplify the tax laws, getting illicit work under control will remain nothing but a dream." (21/08/2014)

ABC - Spain | 20/08/2014

Investors trust Spain's recovery

Spain accrued around 4.5 billion euros at good conditions on the primary market on Tuesday. Investors' trust in Spanish government bonds remains strong despite the shaky recovery in the Eurozone, the conservative daily ABC notes with relief: "The low interest rates and high demand for Spanish bonds are further indications of Spain's solvency. ... The investors' confidence in Spain is due to the correction of the structural problems that accumulated during the real estate boom, the reform of the financial system, enhanced competitiveness and the reduction in the deficit. But the improved economic outlook compared to other Eurozone countries is also helping. ... However even thought the interest rates are at next to nothing at present, the sovereign debt must be reduced without delay because it poses the biggest risk to recovery." (20/08/2014)

Äripäev - Estonia | 19/08/2014

Bring Russians and Ukrainians to Estonia

Estonia's working population is steadily decreasing according to the country's statistics office. The business paper Äripäev suggests now is the time to try and attract good brains from Russia and Ukraine: "The recruitment and integration of talents from the East could be more effective than setting up a Russian-language television channel, because it would be a signal to the world. If and when these talented people return home one day, they will hopefully take with them a picture of Estonia as a friendly and attractive land of possibilities. What could be a better advertisement for our country and at the same time a guarantee of security? ... On the other hand, it would also be a signal on the home front: if a place can be found for successful Russians and Ukrainians in our society, it would give new impetus to integration here in Estonia." (19/08/2014)

Wprost Online - Poland | 19/08/2014

Poles are world champion taxpayers

Poles spend an average of 286 hours a year filling out tax forms, according to a recent study. The conservative news portal Wprost calls for a sweeping tax reform: "The taxes here are absolutely absurd. The VAT on healthy mineral water or green tea is 23 percent. Yet instant soups, crisps and salty snacks come under the reduced rate of eight percent. The system is repressive. The [annual] tax allowance of 3,091 złoty [740 euros] hasn't changed in six years, apart from an 'astronomical' rise of two złoty in 2009. Even in Tanzania it's twice as high. ... But instead of tackling this pathological state of affairs, [Finance] Minister Szczurek only digs deeper into our pockets. Now he even wants to introduce a tax on fibre optics." (19/08/2014)

Lietuvos rytas - Lithuania | 19/08/2014

Lithuanian firms exploiting conversion to euro

Representatives of Lithuanian business associations signed a "Memorandum of Good Business Practice" on Monday in which they pledged not to use the conversion to the euro on January 1 as an opportunity to raise prices. This document is a farce, the liberal daily Lietuvos rytas comments: "After signing the document the signatories immediately started self-advertising through diverse channels, showing how much they care about their customers. They can talk, after all they've already had plenty of time to raise their prices before the conversion. ... For the most part these price rises were put down to a supposed rise in energy costs and wages. ... The crazy thing about all this is that companies that haven't yet signed the memorandum can still do so until the end of the year. So they can put up their prices now and then boast about how fair they are later." (19/08/2014)

15min - Lithuania | 18/08/2014

Lithuania's dairy firms have themselves to blame

The Lithuanian government should not provide unconditional help to dairy producers hit by the Russian sanctions, the portal 15min believes, arguing that they were the ones that risked doing business with Russia: "Up to now Moscow has stopped importing Lithuanian milk products at least twice a year. But neither the government nor society have learned a thing from this. And nothing has changed with the latest Russian sanctions. As soon as the going gets tough we're supposed to rush in and save the biggest milk-processing businesses. But why has no politician asked the gentlemen from the dairy companies: Did you ask the government for its advice before you started doing business in Putin's high-risk market? And have you ever shown any interest in what the taxpayers have to say?" (18/08/2014)

Courrier de l'Ouest - France | 16/08/2014

France retreats into its shell

The French economy stagnated again in the second quarter of 2014. But instead of protesting the French seem increasingly resigned to this fate, the regional daily Courrier de l'Ouest laments: "There's every reason to be outraged at the current impasse: the extreme isolation of the president, the government's inability to change the trend or implement reforms. Meanwhile there's nothing but the same old complaints from business and the same old conservatism from the social partners... France, the proud home of the rooster, has become the land of the snail. Slow, resigned, withdrawn, weather-dependent. But also patient. They say molluscs proliferate most in places that have long been isolated. That's what we're like. Will our snail-like condition allow us to crawl out of our shell one day? To find the way out of the moral crisis that has left us more paralysed than all our European neighbours?" (16/08/2014)

RTE News - Ireland | 15/08/2014

Portugal repeating bank bailout mistakes

With its bailout for the failing Banco Espírito Santo the Portuguese government is repeating the mistakes of the past, columnist David Murphy criticises on the blog of Irish broadcaster RTE: "So the taxpayer has been put on the line for a rescue of bank with questionable lending and the senior bondholders will be fully repaid. All of this is happening under the watchful eye of the Troika which continues to have Portugal under surveillance after its exit from the bailout in May. The only good news that this type of rescue will be banned by the EU after 2016. That is if the new rules are obeyed." (15/08/2014)

Keskisuomalainen - Finland | 15/08/2014

Russian overflight ban a danger for Finnair

Russia is considering banning Western airline companies from using trans-Siberian routes in response to the EU's sanctions. This would be a disaster for the struggling Finnish airline Finnair, the liberal daily Keskisuomalainen writes: "Finnair would be one of the biggest losers if Russia banned flights over Siberia. The airline flies over Russian territory to Asia more than a hundred times a week. An overflight ban would seriously undermine Finnair's competitiveness on Asian routes. Fuel costs amounted to almost 29 percent of total revenues last year. Personnel costs, which have been so widely discussed recently, lie at around 16 percent. The airline is currently trying to agree with the pilots on cuts totalling 17 million euros, or roughly 0.7 percent of turnover. Flying around Siberia would strip Finnair of its time advantage. The trip would take longer and above all send fuel costs spiralling." (15/08/2014)

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