Tag Archives: European Commission

EU threatens UK with astronomical £500BILLION Brexit DIVORCE BILL

THE EUROPEAN Parliament’s top Brexit negotiator has said Britain could face a £500billion (€600bn) Brexit divorce bill – ten times the figure initially expected.

Late last year it was widely reported Eurocrats were planning on slapping the UK with a £50billion (€60billion) exit bill as punishment for voting to abandon Brussels in the June referendum.

The EU defended the demand as it argued Britain had unpaid budget commitments, pension liabilities and loan guarantees to honour.

Continue reading EU threatens UK with astronomical £500BILLION Brexit DIVORCE BILL

Advertisements

Putin threatens to take Warsaw, Riga, Vilnius and Bucharest in two days

Putin threatens to take Warsaw, Riga, Vilnius and Bucharest in two days

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has stated that he can bring troops into Warsaw, Vilnius and a number of other capitals of the EU and the NATO countries.

This information is revealed in a short message of the EU foreign policy service, a German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung writes.

As stated by the newspaper, Putin had told so to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko.

In his turn, Poroshenko passed along the content of the conversation to the president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, “Evropejskaya Pravda” informs.

Putin: Russian army may enter Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Romania in few days

“If I had wanted, I would have brought troops within two days not only to Kyiv, but to Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw and Bucharest,” Putin told to Poroshenko.

Besides, as the German newspaper informs, Putin recommended the Ukrainian president “not to rely on the EU too much”, as if required, he can “influence and block passing a decision at the level of the European Council.”

24 European Banks Fail Finance Stress Tests says EBA

Euros

Lloyds Banking Group has “narrowly” passed a financial stress test ordered by European financial regulators to identify banks at risk of collapse in the event of an economic downturn.

Lloyds, one of four banks tested by the European Banking Association (EBA), nearly failed a benchmark set for banks to prove they are financially robust enough to withstand another banking crisis.

While Lloyds, the Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, and Barclays all passed the test, Lloyds only had a “capital under adverse scenario” of 6.2%, slightly above the benchmark set by the EBA of 5.5%.

The aim of the stress test is to make sure banks in Europe still have enough capital to continue lending to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), which rely on banks for credit, during another recession.

Across Europe 24 banks failed the stress test, based on a review of their finances up to the end of 2013. They include nine Italian banks, three Greek banks and three Cypriot banks. The worst affected was the Italian bank Monte dei Paschi, which had a capital shortfall of €2.1bn (£1.65bn, $2.6bn).

Ten banks have taken measures to bolster their balance sheets in the meantime. The remaining 14 banks in the eurozone have nine months to increase their capital buffers against losses, or risk being shut down.

Second health check

At the same time the European Central Bank (ECB) has conducted its own investigation into the financial health of Europe’s banks, with similar findings.

The ECB healthcheck – the findings of which were leaked by Bloomberg this week – found 13 of Europe’s 130 biggest banks failed the stress test after an in-depth review of their finances.

Collectively the 13 banks must increase their capital buffers against losses by €10bn.

The ECB said 25 banks in all were found to need stronger buffers, but that 12 have already made up their shortfall.

The remaining 13 now have two weeks to tell the ECB how they plan to increase their capital buffers.

The stress tests are an important step towards the ECB’s takeover as a central banking supervisor, under the Single Supervisory Mechanism scheme, on 4 November.

This move is aimed at weeding out financial problems within Europe’s largest banks before the ECB takes the role of central banking supervisor. The ECB is tasked with enforcing tough regulations on national banks, which governments may shy away from.

The European Commission said the tests had been “robust exercises, unprecedented in scale and among the most stringent worldwide”.

“Yet there is no room for complacency,” a statement said. “Rigorous and timely follow-up actions to the results of the exercises will be absolutely crucial.”

The Dirty Dozen: 12 people who ruined Greece

As negotiations inch along between the Syriza government and Greece’s international creditors, the blame for the nation’s looming financial collapse would seem to rest entirely on the shoulders of Prime Minister Alex Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. But not really: History provides ample evidence that a long line of leaders, from Winston Churchill to Constantine II, helped make Greece the economic basket case it is today.

Here are some of the guiltiest culprits:
Konstantis and Georgios Mavromichalis (died 1831)

Konstantinos_Mavromichalis copy

When Greek-born Ioannis Kapodistrias was appointed independent Greece’s first governor in 1827, little did he realize that the job would be tougher than his former post as Russia’s foreign minister. Accustomed to working on the diplomatic stage, Kapodistrias soon found that his vision of a modern Greek state was not shared by everyone, especially the provincial elites.In 1831, he was stabbed in the stomach and shot in the head as he made his way to church by Konstantis and Georgios Mavromichalis. The killing was revenge for Kapodistrias’s jailing of their respective father and brother, the warlord Petrobey Mavromichalis. His assassination plunged Greece into chaos, leading the European powers to impose a foreign king, the young Bavarian prince Otto, on the young country, giving it a first taste of German rule.

Winston Churchill (1874–1965)

Churchill

In 1944, Greece’s leftist partisan movement managed to see the backs of the German army after three and a half years of brutal wartime occupation. Unbeknownst of them, British prime minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had secretly divvied up eastern Europe and the Balkans on a piece of paper, placing Greece within Britain’s sphere of influence. While communist leaders also bear responsibility, Churchill’s determination to restore the unpopular Greek monarchy, as well as his determination to exclude former communist partisans from the new Greek army, pushed Greece further down its calamitous path to civil war.

Constantine II (1940–)

Previews - Winter Olympics Day -3

Since Greece became a parliamentary republic in 1974, its former king has had no role in political or public life, to almost universal relief. Assuming the throne at the age of 23, Constantine caused enough damage from 1964 to 1967. Soon, he found himself at loggerheads with the centrist government, led by George Papandreou, who eventually resigned. Constantine then sought to create amenable governments using centrist party defectors, which fuelled a constitutional crisis and political instability that ultimately led to the 1967 military coup.

Georgios Papadopoulos (1919–1999)

George Papadopoulos

The weak state of Greek democracy was dealt a major blow in 1967 when a group of mid-level army officers, led by Colonel Georgios Papadopoulos, staged a successful coup d’état. Seven years of dictatorship followed, during which Papadopoulos himself was deposed in a coup by hardliners. While Papadopoulos would later die in prison, his asinine medical metaphors—he often likened himself to a doctor trying to cure a sick patient (Greece)—were redeployed by advocates of taking a tough line on Greece when crisis struck in 2009.

Andreas Papandreou (1919–1996)

Andreas Papandreou

Greece’s longest serving prime minister since the restoration of democracy in 1974, Andreas Papandreou left an indelible mark on Greek politics and its economy. Over the course of his decade in office (1981–89, 1993–96), the Harvard-trained economist introduced long overdue social and progressive reforms and stacked the civil service with his socialist Pasok party supporters. While he elevated many Greeks to the middle class, that success came at the heavy cost of drastically increasing the budget deficit and public debt levels. As corruption scandals mounted in the late 1980s, Papandreou created a sideshow by ditching his wife in favor of his airhostess mistress.

Kostas Karamanlis (1956–)

Supporters Rally For Greek New Democracy Party

Like many Greek prime ministers, Kostas Karamanlis became leader of the county largely on the strength of his surname – his uncle was prime minister and president at various stages from 1955 to 1995 – and because he promised to  “re-establish” the state. But in his five year tenure (2004–2009), few reforms were enacted, and the government lost control of Greece’s public finances. Had Karamanlis spent less time in front of his Playstation, as is widely rumored, maybe things could have been better. The rocketing budget deficit and debt-to-GDP ratio, which were continuously revised upward during and after his rule, paved the way for the next government to ask for a bailout.

George Papandreou (1952–)

Merkel Holds Talks With Papandreou

Prime minister like his father and grandfather before him, George Papandreou was elected in October 2009 using the vote-catching slogan “there is money,” despite being aware of the county’s dire economic situation. Unable to manage the ensuing fiscal crisis, Papandreou requested a €110 billion bailout deal from European Union and International Monetary Fund six months later. To the disbelief of most Greeks, the oblivious former leader attempted a political comeback in the 2015 election, in which he campaigned on an anti-austerity programme.

Akis Tsoschatzopoulos (1939–)

ÔÓÏ×ÁÔÆÏÐÏÕËÏÓ Á ÅÎÅÔÁÓÔÉÊÇ ÂÏÕËÇ

Greece would be in a far worse place today had former interior minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos been successful in his bid to become prime minister in 1996. Luckily, he only came within six votes of replacing Andreas Papandreou as leader of the socialist Pasok party. In 2013, a court sentenced Tsochatzopoulos, now 75, to life imprisonment for pocketing €55 million in kickbacks from military procurements from 1996 to 2001, when he was defense minister. His wife, ex-wife, daughter, cousin, and business associates were all implicated in the scandal, most of whom were also jailed.

Greek oligarchs

Luxury expediton motor yatch "Luna" in Bodrum

With legacies extending back decades in cases, Greece’s oligarchs have emerged relatively unscathed from the Greek crisis and continue to control vast wealth, which is largely inherited but also derives from continued interests in shipping, communications, banking, construction and public works. This coterie of powerful Greek businessmen used political connections with former conservative and socialist governments to win contracts and restrict the Greek market. They also own and exert editorial control over most, if not all, of the privately-held media companies, in a country where public broadcasting remains largely under state control. The new Syriza-led government has promised to rein in the oligarchs, but some things are easier said than done.

Petros Kostopoulos (1954–)

Petros Kostopoulos

Businessman and flamboyant publisher Petros Kostopoulos gained fame during the media boom years in the 1990s. He introduced a series of highly popular lifestyle magazines to Athens that sought to break taboos and emulate urban fashions from more affluent western countries. The underlying message in his publications and editorials was one of unbridled consumerism. Cue the multiple credit cards, Cayenne Porsches, skiing holidays, extravagant home loans, and private swimming pools. All these status symbols became more attainable after Greece, one of the poorest countries in the European Union, adopted the euro in 2001, which gave its banks easier access to cheap money.

Nikos Michaloliakos (1957–)

Four MPs From The Far-Right Golden Dawn Party In Court

Relatively unknown until a few years ago, Nikos Michaloliakos and his neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party have capitalized on the Greek crisis to propel them to seats in the Greek and European parliaments. Appearing immune from the police or the justice system, Golden Dawn gangs patrolled inner-city streets, intimidating and sometimes beating migrants and political opponents. Only after a Golden Dawn supporter fatally stabbed the anti-fascist singer Pavlos Fyssas in 2013 did the state react by jailing Michaloliakos and several other Golden Dawn leaders, who will soon go on trial on charges of forming and running a criminal organization.

Troika

A protester shouts slogans during a rally against the government's decision to ask for an economic aid package in Athens

The troika – made up of the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund – bears a fair share of the blame for Greece’s current state. The troika’s programs are based on over-optimistic growth projections, which have led to a number of revisions to Greece’s debt sustainability. Fiscal austerity has imposed a huge social cost upon the Greek people, pushing people out of work and into poverty, and leaving hundreds of thousands without access to public healthcare.

Hungary’s Orban: Migrant crisis is German, not European problem

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban insisted Thursday the migrant crisis was a German problem, not a European one as he defended his government’s handling of thousands of refugees flooding into his country.

“The problem is not a European problem, the problem is a German problem,” Orban told a press conference with European Parliament President Martin Schulz in Brussels.

“Nobody wants to stay in Hungary, neither in Slovakia, nor Poland, nor Estonia. All want to go to Germany. Our job is just to register them.”

Orban’s comments came as hundreds of refugees and migrants stormed a train at Budapest’s reopened main international railway station, which has become a flashpoint for people trying to head to western Europe via Hungary.

“We have clear cut regulations at the European level. German Chancellor (Angela Merkel) … said yesterday that nobody could leave Hungary without being registered,” he added.

“If the German chancellor insists that we register them, we will, it is a must.”

Orban has taken a consistently hard line on the migrant crisis engulfing Europe, refusing to accept an EU plan for compulsory quotas for asylum seekers and building a razor wire fence along the border with Serbia in a bid to halt the influx.

Syrian refugees and migrants walk along a railway line as they try to cross from Serbia into Hungary...

Syrian refugees and migrants walk along a railway line as they try to cross from Serbia into Hungary near Horgos, on September 1, 2015

The fence has done little to stem the flow and Hungary remains a key arrival point for tens of thousands of migrants entering the European Union, with some 50,000 arriving in the country in August alone.

Orban was due to hold talks with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and with EU president Donald Tusk, who warned earlier Thursday that divisions between EU member states threatened to scupper efforts to find a common response.

Schulz also warned that the 28 member states had to act as one.

“The European idea is of solidarity; what we see at the moment is egoism and to my mind, this is a real threat to the EU,” he said.

Hungary erects border fence to plug migrant flow

Hungarian Defence Force prepared to begin border fence construction Photo: Gergely BOTÁR/Prime Minister’s Office

In a dry clearing of woodland in southern Hungary, there is the drone of wood-chippers and rumble of earth movers. Dozens of men are clearing the ground for what Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, believes will be a solution to the country’s worsening migration crisis: a 175km steel and barbed wire fence along its flank with Serbia.

More than 80,000 migrants have crossed this stretch of land into Hungary — and the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone — so far this year, placing the country on the route of a trail that begins as far away as the fields of Kunduz in Afghanistan and the bombed-out streets of Aleppo in Syria.

But Hungary’s Balkan borderlands are now set to become the choke point for what has become Europe’s most heavily travelled migration route. Many expect the €20m fence — which should be finished by November — to trap thousands in neighbouring countries such as Serbia and Macedonia, where migrants say they face police violence and extortion.

The fence has attracted criticism from migrant rights groups, the UN’s refugee agency and the European Commission. Serbia’s government, which was not notified of the plans in advance, reacted with alarm to the decision to seal the border but has pledged to boost border security co-operation.

“I am not sure whether the fence between Serbia and Hungary will help that country protect itself against mass influx of asylum seekers,” said Nebojsa Stefanovic, Serbia’s minister of the interior. “However, we cannot interfere with decisions of neighbouring countries that are within their exclusive competence.”

Mr Orban, who has linked unmanaged immigration to terrorism, insists border security is a national obligation. But since the plan to build the fence was announced, the numbers detected crossing the border have only increased, sometimes reaching more than 1,500 a day.

Even though the vast majority of those have left to try to reach Germany and other more prosperous countries, daily arrivals are straining Hungary.

The surge has become especially noticeable outside train and bus stations in towns such as Szeged in the country’s south, where city authorities have set up a makeshift help centre complete with fresh water taps, stocks of sandwiches and power sockets for migrants to charge their phones.

But not all are so welcoming. Anti-immigrant vigilantes have begun patrols along the border, in search of migrants who have escaped the attention of border police who use heat-seeking cameras, dogs and sometimes helicopters to monitor the area.

Hungary border fence map Migration
Local police say many of the migrants they round up are reported by local residents and farmers.

Just a few kilometres away, on the other side of the planned fence, dozens of Afghan migrants appear at an abandoned brick factory near the town of Subotica to receive food from Pastor Tibor Varga, who runs the Eastern European Mission, a Christian charity.

“I don’t know what will happen with this fence; I don’t think it will help Hungary stop the situation. It may mean more people being trapped here in Serbia and I don’t know how that will end,” says Pastor Varga.

One of the men at the factory, which migrants call “the jungle”, is Muhammed Bilal, a network engineer, who says he left Kunduz in Afghanistan because of violent attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis.

Mr Bilal and his friend Tlha Jan from Jalalabad have travelled for more than a month in the hope of reaching Germany. Mr Jan says Bulgarian police stole his phone and $500 in cash before breaking his ribs and beating his feet with hammers. His toes are black and swollen.

“Now our journey has gotten more dangerous,” says Mr Bilal. “This morning, a person told us the Hungarian government plans to make a fence along the border. But that takes time; we will get across in the next few days.” he adds.

Hungarian ministers say the country has less than 3,000 residential places for asylum seekers, while the number arriving this year alone is more than 20 times that figure.

Very few applications for asylum are completed as most abscond to continue their journey. Lawmakers in Budapest last week approved measures that could see asylum applicants pushed back to neighbouring countries such as Serbia.

But Amnesty International has warned that illegal migrants deported from Hungary face multiple human rights violations in Balkan countries.

Although the new rules and the planned fence have yet to stem the flow of migrants, observers say the government’s rhetoric has hardened the public’s attitude towards migrants.

A recent poll commissioned by conservative magazine Heti Válasz, showed 63 per cent of respondents believe immigration poses a threat to Hungary’s security.

Opinion polls also indicate another trend: since Mr Orban announced the planned border fence, support levels for his governing Fidesz party have risen at the expense of the radical rightwing Jobbik party, ending an eight-month trend of declining approval ratings.

Hungary challenged on nuclear choice with Russia

Artist's impression of how the new reactors at the Paks nuclear plant would look like
An artist’s impression shows what the new reactors at the Paks nuclear plant would look like

Environmentalists in Hungary are hoping the European Commission will scupper a €12.5bn (£9bn) Hungarian-Russian deal to build two new 1,200 megawatt (MW) reactors at the Paks nuclear power station on the River Danube.

The expansion, they argue, will produce expensive energy, far beyond market prices, plunge Hungary into debt, and deepen dependence on Russia.

Viktor Orban’s Fidesz government insists the reactors are necessary to cover growing energy demand, and will actually increase the country’s energy independence.

The government also defends its decision to make the contracts for the new reactors secret for 30 years.

The existing four reactors at Paks generate 1,900 MW and cover 40% of Hungary’s electricity needs.

Mr Orban based his 2014 election victory on promises to keep utility prices low.

Months earlier he struck a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin that saw Russia agree to loan Hungary around 80% of the estimated construction cost of the new reactors at Paks. Hungary will pay Russia back from the electricity generated.

By the time Hungary has to start paying for this next generation of reactors, in 2025, Mr Orban should be in comfortable retirement.

Nevertheless, the decision to sign a deal with Russia took even his own Fidesz party by surprise.

Built by the Soviet Union in the 1980s, the working life of the four existing reactors at Paks will run out between 2032 and 2037.

That means that no new decision on replacing them would actually be necessary until 2020 at the earliest.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) listens to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban before a joint news conference in Budapest in February 2015
Russian President Vladimir Putin met Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest in February

Experts are also concerned that the overlap period, when old and new reactors are operating, will overstrain the Hungarian grid, and drive renewable and conventional energy producers from a market distorted by what they see as the overproduction of nuclear energy.

“Hungary is denying itself the opportunity to take into consideration at least six years’ scientific development” by opting for nuclear expansion now, the Universities Student Committee established to debate the Paks expansion has just concluded.

Map of Paks in Hungary

The falling cost of renewable energy sources could make the cost solar energy comparable with that from nuclear and fossil fuels very soon, opponents of Paks expansion believe.

“Hungary’s energy needs can be supplied in 2030 without the ‘Paks2’ reactors,” says Zsuzsanna Koritar of Energieaklub, a Budapest-based think tank.

“Nonsense,” counters Attila Aszodi, the nuclear ‘tsar’ appointed by the Orban government, who says the expansion decision is both sensible and timely.

Attila Aszodi
Attila Aszodi rejects claims that the decision to expand the power station was made largely in secret

Hungary’s electricity demands can be expected to grow by 1% each year, he says. And 7,300 MW of the current 9,000 MW capacity of the country’s 18 power stations will need replacing by 2030.

Meanwhile his own figures suggest that electricity from Paks would be 10 to 15% cheaper than solar.

Repaying Russia

Balazs Felsmann of the Corvinus University Research Centre says electricity prices would need to triple on the European market to make the new reactors economically feasible.

Greenpeace protest banner in central Budapest (30 January 2014)
Protests were held in Budapest in the lead-up to the parliamentary vote over the Paks nuclear plant

And there are concerns that the project deadline might slip, meaning Hungary would have to start paying interest on the €10bn loan to Russia from 2025, while the project is still a building site.

Mr Aszodi says there are agreements in place to stop this happening, and he rejects claims that the decision to expand the power station was made largely in secret.

“The expansion of Paks was debated and agreed in the Hungarian parliament many times,” he says.

His opponents hope the European Commission will rule that Hungary’s 20% share of the construction costs will be judged to be a direct subsidy, which is illegal under competition rules.

A decision is expected in October.

Advertisements
UNLIMBITED TREE SERVICE, INC.

Unlimbited Tree Service was started with one goal in mind: To enhance the beauty and value of residential and commercial properties while ensuring the safety of their occupants. With Unlimbited, you know that you're getting the very best.

chicblanc

Fashion blog by Parisa

Beaches RVs

Beaches RVs offers a range of quality Campervans, Caravans etc.

Texas Native Threads

Uniquely Texas, Simply you.

Histoires de photos

Photographe spécialisé argentique Nord

sanseilife

Food . Culture . Community . Japanese . Sansei

Mission: Loved

Prayer, Worship and Missions ministry of Dylan Raines

Janine Nissa

Fashion - Travel - Lifestyle

SKYLARITY

Mindfulness, Spontaneity and Authenticity

Salt of Portugal

all that is glorious about Portugal

Paris1972-Versailles2003

Travel and my anecdotes

This Veggie Life

A Vegetarian | Nature Blog

Gardening 4 Gains

Sowing the seeds of today's dreams so tomorrow they are harvested as realities

MovieBabble

The Casual Way to Discuss Movies

Game Cosmos Press

Reports from the video gaming worlds with vivid photographs and TLDR's

erikleo

All things creative

MovieBabble

The Casual Way to Discuss Movies

amandeepmittal.wordpress.com/

Reviews | Interviews | Giveaways | Recommendations | "I'm Mad About Books"

%d bloggers like this: