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Do sanctions against Russia work?

The European Union is mulling its own Magnitsky Act — meaning more pressure on Russia. Time to ask what impact current US and EU sanctions have had on the creaking Russian economy so far. The Dutch government has held talks with EU member states aimed at establishing an EU sanctions regime against Russia based on human rights violations, which is known as an EU Magnitsky Act, adding to existing sanctions. "It appears to have momentum and is going forward," Bill Browder, who has campaigned for the legislation known as the Magnistky Act in the US, told DW. "If successful, this would have a devastating effect on Putin and his cronies because they keep a huge amount of their money and property in the EU." But will it? EU sanctions were established in March 2014 after Russia's encroachment in Ukraine and have been in force since. Reviewed every six month by the European Council, they are now in place until January 31, 2019, and include asset freezing, an import ban on items from the Crimea and Sevastopol and a ban on tourism to the same areas. The US State Department said two weeks ago Washington intended to impose a new round of sanctions on Russia. The US already slapped Russia with more sanctions in August following the March attack on ex-Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal in the UK. The intended effect is to exert pressure on the Russians and undermine President Vladimir Putin's ambitious foreign policy without damaging other global economies. Mixed effects Sanctions have knocked 6 percent off Russia's GDP since 2014, a Bloomberg report noted recently. The GDP of the "world's biggest energy exporter" is now 10 percent smaller than might have been expected at the end of 2013, before the Crimea crisis, it said. Lower oil prices have hit the economy, but sanctions are the "bigger culprit," the report said, adding that Russia's economy is over 10 percent smaller compared with what might have been expected at the end of 2013. Growth has been sluggish at 1-2 percent in the last two years. The International Monetary Fund recently predicted the Russian economy would grow by 1.7 percent in 2018 and 1.8 percent in 2019. Russia has done much to insulate itself from sanctions, but the government's forecasts of growth of over 3 percent by 2021 are in doubt. Western sanctions have played a key factor over the past four years, the study by Bloomberg Economics said. "Part of the gap is likely to reflect the enduring impact of sanctions both imposed and threatened over the last five years," Scott Johnson, an analyst at Bloomberg Economics, said. Inflation-targeting But the 6 percent gap is also due to other factors, such as the central bank's inflation-targeting strategy and the pessimism that has hit most emerging markets. ''In a short term, the impact of oil prices is much more important for Russia than any sanctions,'' said Sergey Khestanov, a professor at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) . Oil income makes up 40 percent of federal budget revenues and is trading at its highest level in more than four years. Russia has also been helped by the collapse in the ruble, which has boosted export revenues. Russian economy adjusts The Bank of Russia said this week it expected the impact of possible new US sanctions on Russia's economy would be smaller than it was in 2014-2015. "We are not willing to argue that all the negative effects [of possible new sanctions], which we may face, will affect us in a painless manner, and that it will not have any impact on the Russian economy," the director of the bank's Research and Forecasting Department, Alexander Morozov, said in a statement. "This is certainly not the case. But the effect cannot be overestimated since in most of the scenarios it will be much less than the one we observed in 2014-2015." Countereffects One side effect has been to induce the central bank to create reserves, making the Russian economy more stable after the Finance Ministry introduced a fiscal rule protecting the economy from fluctuations in oil prices. The other factor is of course political. Sanctions have so far failed to dislodge Putin or create much of a dent in his hold on power.

The European Union is mulling its own Magnitsky Act — meaning more pressure on Russia. Time to ask what impact current US and EU sanctions have had on the creaking Russian economy so far. The Dutch government has held talks with EU member states aimed at establishing an EU sanctions regime against Russia based on human rights violations, which is ... Read More »

APEC summit sees China and US at odds over trade war

The Asia-Pacific summit has become the latest stage for the trade dispute between the US and China. Beijing called for consultations as Washington threatened more tariffs. The main protagonists in the US-China trade war set out their positions at the start of an Asia-Pacific summit in Papua New Guinea on Saturday. Ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on Saturday, Chinese President Xi Jinping was first to speak and said there would be no winners from a trade war or a new Cold War. Protectionist actions were shortsighted and doomed to fail, Xi said. "We should say no to protectionism and unilateralism," Xi said, in evident reference to President Donald Trump's "America First" policies. "Attempts to erect barriers and cut close economic ties work against the laws of economics and the trends of history," Xi said. "This is a shortsighted approach and it is doomed to failure." The Chinese leader said the world should "uphold the WTO-centered multilateral trading system, make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all." Xi's comments follow months of a trade dispute between the US and China, with each imposing tariffs on the other's goods. "History has shown that confrontation — whether in the form of a cold war, hot war or trade war — will produce no winners," he said. He also called for a resolution to the dispute through consultation, in a spirit of equality and mutual understanding. US VP Mike Pence defiant But when US Vice President Mike Pence addressed the assembly, he said Washington would not back down in its trade dispute with China and could double its tariffs unless Beijing agreed to its demands. "We have taken decisive action to address our imbalance with China," Pence declared. "We put tariffs on $250 billion (€218 billion) in Chinese goods, and we could more than double that number." "The United States, though, will not change course until China changes its ways," Pence stated. Pence also attacked China's global infrastructure "Belt and Road" initiative, calling many of the projects low quality and saying it left developing countries with debt they were unable to afford. Xi had defended the initiative: "It is not designed to serve any hidden geopolitical agenda, it is not targeted against anyone and it does not exclude anyone ... nor is it a trap as some people have labeled it," he said. "Mankind has once again reached a crossroads," Xi remarked. "Which direction should we choose? Cooperation or confrontation? Openness or closing doors. Win-win progress or a zero-sum game?" The assembled leaders were from Pacific Rim countries, which account for 60 percent of the world's economy.

The Asia-Pacific summit has become the latest stage for the trade dispute between the US and China. Beijing called for consultations as Washington threatened more tariffs. The main protagonists in the US-China trade war set out their positions at the start of an Asia-Pacific summit in Papua New Guinea on Saturday. Ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit ... Read More »

US sanctions on Iran raise concern in Turkey

Turkey has been exempt from oil sector sanctions imposed by Washington on the regime in Tehran. But Turkish businesses fear the possible consequences of a likely shift in Donald Trump's mood toward Turkey. The Trump administration announced sanctions against Iran earlier this week, with a strong focus on hitting the country's oil and petrochemical sectors especially hard. So far, however, Turkey and seven other nations have been spared the US president's wrath as they were allowed to continue importing Iranian oil. But the six-month exemption from the ban granted to Turkey seems only cold comfort for the country's companies and businesses, which have enjoyed booming trade with Tehran in recent years. They fear a massive slump in their business with the neighboring Mullah regime. Umer Kiler, head of the Committee for Turkish-Iranian Trade Relations within the Council for Foreign Trade (DEIK) considers the American sanctions as the "lesser evil." What worries Turkish business leaders more, he says, is the temporary nature of the exemptions to Turkey because they had hoped for complete sanctions relief. "Turkey is the country which stands to be the most affected by the sanctions. That is why we'd initially thought the US administration would adopt a more considerate approach," Kiler told DW. After the new sanctions regime has come into effect on Monday, all the Turkish trade official is now hoping for is a partial relief for some sectors of the economy. "What we are demanding is improvements for trade in the oil and gas sectors. No matter how long the sanctions will remain in place, it's impossible for us to completely shutter trade in those sectors because of our common border with Iran. The traders will always find a loophole." What gives Kiler hope in this respect is the recent rapprochement between Washington and Istanbul that he hopes will have a positive effect on Trump's willingness to exempt Turkey from the trade embargo for a longer period of time. Whipsaw trade Over the past three decades, trade between Turkey and Iran has seen ups and downs. From a meager $1 billion (€880 million) in 1996, goods exchanges grew significantly during the presidency of current Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with a peak reached in 2012 when $22 billion worth of goods and services were traded. However, bilateral trade has fallen substantially over the past five years, slumping from $21 billion to $10 billion in the period. While Tehran in the past exported primarily oil, Turkish cross-border shipments were mainly gold to pay for it. As a result, the trade balance between the two countries used to be skewed in Iran's favor up until 2016, when Turkey's exports grew to $5 billion overtaking $4.7 billion worth of imports from its neighbor for the first time ever. Volumes changed back in Iran's favor in 2017, with Istanbul suffering a trade deficit that year of $4 billion. While Iran has continued to ship primarily oil, Turkish exports now include a range of manufactured goods such as automobiles, machinery, textile and food products. The latest trend of falling bilateral trade was manifested in data released recently by the Council of Turkish Exporters (TIM), showing that cross-border shipments reached only a volume of $1.8 billion in the first nine months of 2018. The main reasons for the downturn given by the industry group was US pressure exerted on those countries doing business with Iran, and secondly, higher taxes on Turkish exports imposed by Tehran. Mixed picture Bulent Aymen, deputy chairman of the Union of Mediterranean Exporters (AKIB) says Iran is traditionally a major competitor of Turkey in a number of markets and sectors in the region. Nevertheless, a weakening Iranian economy will have "consequences for Turkish companies doing trade with Iran," he told DW. Other experts are not convinced of the negative scenarios for Turkey. Eyup Ersoy, Middle East expert at Bilkent University, says he thinks US sanctions are mainly targeted at Iran's energy and financial sectors and won't impede trade in goods. "Sectors outside oil will only be indirectly affected by the sanctions," he told DW. Ersoy is also convinced that a further thaw in US-Turkish relations will lead to more sanctions relief for Ankara, substantially benefitting the oil trade between the two countries. Nevertheless, he thinks that if Washington won't prolong the exemptions, Turkey will find ways to secure supply and limit the effects of an oil embargo. "For Turkey to find alternative solutions doesn't mean a lot of risk and higher costs," he told DW.

Turkey has been exempt from oil sector sanctions imposed by Washington on the regime in Tehran. But Turkish businesses fear the possible consequences of a likely shift in Donald Trump’s mood toward Turkey. The Trump administration announced sanctions against Iran earlier this week, with a strong focus on hitting the country’s oil and petrochemical sectors especially hard. So far, however, ... Read More »

Toyota in pole position as Warsaw kick-starts electric car road trip

Toyota has picked the region of Silesia in southern Poland as the site for a new car factory. As Europe turns its back on diesel cars, the rush is on for electric and hybrid cars and Poland wants to be in on the action. Toyota has started production of hybrid electric transaxles at its Walbrzych plant in the southwest of Poland. The launch of the production line a few days ago means the Japanese car giant for the first time manufactures this key component, used to link electric motors and combustion engines, outside Asia, and it's a new step for both the Japanese auto giant and the eastern European country. Production at Walbrzych comes as Toyota introduces its advanced hybrid technology and the Toyota New Global Architecture to its Polish manufacturing facilities. The new assembly line is part of an investment of over 4.5-billion zloty (€1.1 billion, $ 1.4 billion). Toyota said it aimed to keep production close to its sales markets in Europe. The transaxle will be fitted to the new Corolla Hybrid, built at Toyota's Burnaston factory in the UK, and the C-HR Hybrid, made in Turkey. "In 2000, with the premiere of the first hybrid model, we have paved the way to electrification of cars in Europe," Johan van Zyl, president of Toyota Motor Europe, told Business Insider Polska. Almost every second car leaving Toyota showrooms was already a hybrid car, van Zyl added. Toyota focused on Europe Toyota's operations in Poland started in 2002 with the production of gearboxes for the Yaris model in Walbrzych, mainly for customers from Turkey and the UK. In 2017, Toyota's two Polish factories, Walbrzych and Jelcz-Laskowice, merged and since then Toyota has been able to service its car assembly plants in the Czech Republic, the UK, France, Turkey, Russia, South Africa and Japan with parts produced at its Polish facilities. Toyota is seeing a significant increase in sales of its hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles in Europe. The share of hybrid vehicles among its total sales in October reached 45 percent, double the levels before Volkswagen's (VW's) "Dieselgate" scandal. Growth at the Japanese manufacturer has been driven by hybrids — led by the C-HR compact SUV and the RAV4 SUV — and it's targeting European sales of more than 1 million vehicles. Tighter rules The market for diesel-powered cars has weakened in the wake of VW's emissions-cheating scandal and tougher pollution regulations introduced by the European Union. By 2021, the fleet CO2 average emissions for automakers in Europe must drop to 95 grams per kilometer (g/km) from 118.1g/km today and companies that don't reach the target will be hit with fines. In 2016, Toyota's fleet average was 105.4g/km. "The more hybrids we sell, the better our chances" of reaching the target, Toyota Europe Chairman Didier Leroy said. Poland's new industrial revolution Polish automotive plants are no longer purely assembly plants, playing a role in the development of new technologies. A Warsaw-based think tank, Exact Systems, expects Poland to catch up with the most advanced automotive markets within five years, although this may be a tad too optimistic. But Polish manufacturing is making its mark in the electric bus market with companies such as Solaris, Ursus and Solbus. China's biggest producer of electric-vehicle batteries, LG Chem, has already built its largest European manufacturing site in Poland. Today, electric vehicles (EVs) account for just a small fraction of car sales in Poland — 1,068 new ones were registered last year, up from 569 in 2016 and out of 216,566 in the EU as a whole, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association. "We are extremely pleased that Toyota has decided to start production of a key hybrid drive component in Poland," Jan Wisniewski from the Polish Association of Alternative Fuels, PSPA, told DW. Other EV projects by foreign manufacturers include a factory in Wrzesnia, where German carmaker Volkswagen will build its electric e-Crafter model, and truck maker MAN its eTGE fully-electric van. In the region of Wroclaw, premium automaker Daimler is preparing to start a factory that will produce engines for, among others, Mercedes plug-in hybrids. US auto group Fiat Chrysler (FCA) is also reportedly considering starting production of a zero-emission version of Fiat 500 in the Polish town of Tychy. "The potential of Poland in the field of electromobility is very large and we hope that in the near future we will become one of the European leaders in this sector," Wisniewski said. Big plans Poland's Electromobility Development Plan, adopted by the government of prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki in 2017, plans for one million electric cars on the road by 2025. The Prime Minister said that electric cars are to account for 10 percent of cars in the public administration by 2020, rising later to 50 percent. To support the increase in electric cars, the government wants to build 6,000 charging stations by the end of 2020, plus 400 fast-charging stations. Warsaw wants to make electric mobility an "integral part of Poland's economic development, combining scientific research, entrepreneurship and state support." Already home to electric bus manufacturing plants and a big EV battery plant, Poland is aiming to become the motor for electrifying transport in Europe. "We are really pioneers," said Marta Gajecka, head of energy advisers to the President of the Republic of Poland. "Electrifying transport has the potential to enable cheaper and more reliable access to mobility. Electromobility forms a central component of the EU's ambition to decarbonize its economy in line with the Paris Agreement," she recently told the European energy industry weekly, The Energy Post. An increase in EVs in Poland is urgently needed to improve air quality, especially in the capital Warsaw, where road transport is the main source of air pollution. Poland is also almost entirely dependent on imported oil, most of which comes from Russia (76 percent in 2017, down from 96 percent in 2012), to meet transport demand. A shift to more electric vehicles on its roads would help lower that burden. The emergence of a new industry in Poland could also have a wider economic impact. According to a report by Cambridge Econometrics and the Warsaw-based Electric Vehicles Promotion Foundation, the electrification of transport in Poland could create 50,800 jobs and boost the economy by 0.3 percent by 2030.

Toyota has picked the region of Silesia in southern Poland as the site for a new car factory. As Europe turns its back on diesel cars, the rush is on for electric and hybrid cars and Poland wants to be in on the action. Toyota has started production of hybrid electric transaxles at its Walbrzych plant in the southwest of ... Read More »

SWIFT could slow Trump’s Iran sanctions

The US sanctions policy on Iran has run into an obstacle at the center of the global financial system. The SWIFT payment system is caught in the geopolitical crosshairs as the EU aims to continue trade with Tehran. The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is connected to over 10,000 banks and every second major cross-border transfer goes through its messages. It carries an average of approximately 26 million financial messages each day. Based in Belgium, SWIFT claims political neutrality, but has bowed to US influence in the past, blocking transactions to Cuba and Iran. In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the US Treasury Department used SWIFT data to gain insight into terrorist financing and protect its citizens and their data. US sanctions As the Trump administration reimposes sanctions on Iran, Western companies and banks face a choice: if they do business with Iran, they could lose access to the US market. The next wave of US sanctions targets financial messaging, so SWIFT is under pressure from Washington to disconnect from Iran. US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo announced that only eight jurisdictions would be spared from the sanctions, allowing them to keep importing oil from Iran and paying for the shipment through the SWIFT system. The European Union and its 28 member states were not among them, Pompeo said in a conference call. US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that the Trump administration would make clear to SWIFT officials that they were expected to disconnect all Iranian financial institutions that would be blacklisted by the US as sanctions take effect on Monday. He declined to name the targeted institutions. Meanwhile, the European Union is moving ahead with an alternative "special purpose vehicle" to facilitate transactions with Iran for the bloc's businesses. The EU announced that it would be "symbolically" ready when US oil sanctions take effect on November 4, but its system will not be operational until next year. How did SWIFT come about? The SWIFT is a global member-owned cooperative. It was founded in 1973 by a group of 239 banks from 15 countries which formed a co-operative utility to develop a secure electronic messaging service and common standards to facilitate cross-border payments. Its board is made up of 25 of the world's largest banks, including representatives from two US banks — Citigroup's Yawar Shah and J.P Morgan's Emma Loftus. Prior to SWIFT, Telex was the only available means of message confirmation for international funds transfer. Telex was hampered by low speed, security concerns, and a free message format. In other words, Telex did not have a unified system of codes like SWIFT to name banks and describe transactions. Although there are other message services like Fedwire, Ripple, and CHIPS, SWIFT continues to retain its dominant position in the market. Its success is attributed to how it continually adds new message codes to transmit different financial transactions.

The US sanctions policy on Iran has run into an obstacle at the center of the global financial system. The SWIFT payment system is caught in the geopolitical crosshairs as the EU aims to continue trade with Tehran. The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is connected to over 10,000 banks and every second major cross-border transfer goes through ... Read More »

eBay sues Amazon for allegedly poaching its sellers

Amazon is accused of a "systematic and coordinated" scheme to lure eBay's sellers since 2015. In the lawsuit, eBay claims that Amazon representatives targeted their sellers in the US and around the world. Online retailer eBay filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against its competitor Amazon, accusing the Seattle-based giant of using eBay's own messaging system to steal sellers. eBay described Amazon's scheme as an "orchestrated, coordinated, worldwide campaign" to "illegally lure eBay sellers." While both eBay and Amazon's revenue is boosted by independent sellers, the group has become a greater part of Amazon's recent growth. In 2017, more than half the items sold on Amazon came from third-party sellers. In eBay's lawsuit, Amazon representatives are accused of creating eBay accounts and then messaging sellers to persuade them to take their goods to Amazon.com instead. eBay argues that the move violated its user agreement. The plaintiff claimed that Amazon's "abuse" was systematic and had the sole purpose of harming Ebay. Amazon representatives allegedly attempted to evade detection using code words and abbreviations, by spelling out their email addresses and also asking eBay sellers to speak with them over the phone. When referencing their firm, Amazon representatives would allegedly write AMZ, A.M.Z.N or a-m-a-z-o-n, in order to make it harder for eBay to find them through keyword searches. According to the lawsuit, the poaching operation was not only carried out by Amazon employees in the US, but also in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Australia and Singapore. eBay says that Amazon has been luring and stealing its sellers since 2015. The online auction platform is demanding a desist order, damages and penalties from Amazon.  

Amazon is accused of a “systematic and coordinated” scheme to lure eBay’s sellers since 2015. In the lawsuit, eBay claims that Amazon representatives targeted their sellers in the US and around the world. Online retailer eBay filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against its competitor Amazon, accusing the Seattle-based giant of using eBay’s own messaging system to steal sellers. eBay described ... Read More »

German exports boosted by eurozone upswing

German shipments abroad have picked up considerably, fresh figures from the National Statistics Office have shown. Companies profited from an uptick in economic activity in the eurozone and elsewhere. Not enough pallets "Full order books and a high level of business confidence point to favorable cyclical developments in the months ahead," the German Economics Ministry said in a statement. A large number of companies are already in the process of enlarging their production capacities. "Four out of 10 industrial firms are putting more money aside for new machinery," said Sophia Krietenbrink from the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce. Recent reports in the German media have highlighted the current shortage of pallets for the transport of goods nationally and across borders as a sign of a booming economy. The reports stated that many companies had had to delay the shipment of their goods due to the shortfall. Statistics agency Destatis reported Tuesday that German exports in November increased by 4.1 percent month on month, by far exceeding analysts' expectations. "It was the strongest surge in three years," the office said in a statement. All in all, German companies exported goods worth €116.5 billion ($139 billion). Shipments to fellow eurozone countries experienced the biggest increase (+9.1 percent), with exports to the larger European Union rising by 8 percent and those to the rest of the world up 8.4 percent in November. Not enough pallets "Full order books and a high level of business confidence point to favorable cyclical developments in the months ahead," the German Economics Ministry said in a statement. A large number of companies are already in the process of enlarging their production capacities. "Four out of 10 industrial firms are putting more money aside for new machinery," said Sophia Krietenbrink from the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce. Recent reports in the German media have highlighted the current shortage of pallets for the transport of goods nationally and across borders as a sign of a booming economy. The reports stated that many companies had had to delay the shipment of their goods due to the shortfall.

German shipments abroad have picked up considerably, fresh figures from the National Statistics Office have shown. Companies profited from an uptick in economic activity in the eurozone and elsewhere. Not enough pallets “Full order books and a high level of business confidence point to favorable cyclical developments in the months ahead,” the German Economics Ministry said in a statement. A ... Read More »

Ryanair pilots vote for industrial action

It has been a difficult few months for Ryanair. First the airline had to cancel thousands of flights and now it is facing the threat of strikes after some of its pilots across Europe voted to take action. Ryanair pilots in Germany have joined counterparts from Ireland, Italy and Portugal in voting to take some form of industrial action in the near future. Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), the German pilots union that represents some Ryanair pilots based in Germany, announced the decision on Tuesday, although it is not yet clear when industrial action would take place or indeed, precisely what form it will take. The news comes alongside confirmation from the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) that its Ryanair staff members will strike on Wednesday, December 20. Read more: Berlin airport plans "soft launch" without main terminal building In a statement, the VC union said: "This is intended to enforce collective bargaining to regulate fair working and remuneration conditions for Ryanair pilots." VC president Ilja Schulz said: "We want to agree contracts with Ryanair. We see no other way". Any plans to strike would not take effect during the December 23-26 Christmas holiday period, the union added. Ryanair responded with a strongly worded statement, saying it had not been notified of any impending industrial action and also calling into question the motives of the VC union, with which it says it will not engage. "Ryanair has received no notification of any industrial action by its German pilots so we suspect this is more PR activity by the Lufthansa pilots group VC," it said. "If any such action takes place, Ryanair will deal with it head on, but we will not deal with or recognise the Lufthansa pilots union VC, regardless of what action — if any — takes place." Trouble at home base Unlike in Germany, specific strike action has now been confirmed in Ryanair's Irish base. IALPA voted on Monday to take some form of industrial action and now an umbrella trade union in Ireland has confirmed the planned December 20 strike, which will be staged mostly by directly-employed Ryanair captains based in Dublin. Read more: Up in the air? Ryanair’s growing pains Pilots in Italy and Portugal also voted for similar action over the past week and following the confirmation of the Dublin strike, it remains to be seen what specific strike action will be put in place by Ryanair pilots based in other countries. Ryanair responded by saying that the 24-hour strike action "has the support of less than 28 per cent of Ryanair’s over 300 Dublin pilots" but it did not specify what percentage of Ryanair captains — without whom, planes cannot fly — support the action. "While some disruption may occur, Ryanair believes this will largely be confined to a small group of pilots who are working their notice and will shortly leave Ryanair, so they don’t care how much upset they cause colleagues or customers," the airline said in a statement. Flying through the storm It has been a chaotic few months for the Irish airline. A mass of flight cancellations announced in September caused travel chaos for hundreds of thousands of passengers and pointed towards serious underlying industrial relations issues within the airline. Ryanair has steadfastly refused to engage with unions over the years, but relations between the airline and its staff — particularly pilots — have become increasingly strained. Rostering issues, combined with what is believed to have been a significant shortage of available pilots, is believed to have the main cause of the mass cancellations. Read more: Unfair competition: the battle between high-spreed rail and low-cost airlines Since then, an increasing number of Ryanair pilots have been seeking collective bargaining power rights. So far, Ryanair has refused to engage in any collective union negotiations, but the growing possibility of strikes — something the airline has studiously avoided in its 33-year history — may force its hand. It is almost one year since Ryanair pilots based in Germany formed a "company council" as part of the Vereinigung Cockpit union to represent their interests in Germany. As well as that, the recently formed European Employee Representative Council (EERC) is seeking to represent Ryanair pilots based across Europe but mirroring its policy towards unions, Ryanair has so refused to engage with it.

It has been a difficult few months for Ryanair. First the airline had to cancel thousands of flights and now it is facing the threat of strikes after some of its pilots across Europe voted to take action. Ryanair pilots in Germany have joined counterparts from Ireland, Italy and Portugal in voting to take some form of industrial action in ... Read More »

Britain must avoid ‘fatal’ hard Brexit, European business leaders warn

برطانیہ کے یورپی یونین سے اخراج کے نگران وزیر ڈیوڈ ڈیوس نے کہا ہے کہ لندن میں ملکی حکومت برٹش پارلیمان کو یہ موقع دے گی کہ وہ بریگزٹ کے حتمی معاہدے پر ووٹنگ کر سکے۔ انہوں نے پیر کی شام پارلیمنٹ سے خطاب میں کہا کہ عوامی نمائندوں کو یہ موقع ملے گا کہ وہ بریگزٹ کے حتمی معاہدے پر بحث کرتے ہوئے اس کا تنقیدی جائزہ لے سکیں اور اس پر رائے شماری بھی ہو سکے۔ لندن حکومت کا یہ اقدام حکمران قدامت پسند پارٹی کے بریگزٹ کے حوالے سے باغی ارکان کو بظاہر کچھ رعایت دینے کی کوشش ہے۔

Theresa May has met European business leaders, who warned that a ‘no deal Brexit’ would be catastrophic. Fifteen business groups were in London to seek reassurance over the future of UK-EU trade. A hard Brexit would be “fatal” for industry, a group of leading European business representatives have warned Theresa May during talks in London on Monday. They urged the ... Read More »

Germany’s EU bill to rise by 16 percent post-Brexit: report

Germany will need to pay an extra €3.8 billion into the EU's coffers once Britain leaves the bloc. A new report, which is likely to rile German taxpayers, suggests France and Italy will face much lower budget hikes. Germany is being threatened with significantly higher contributions to the European Union's budget when Britain completes its departure from the bloc in 2019. The Funke-Mediengruppe newspapers on Friday cited a report by the European Parliament, suggesting that the Berlin government would suddenly be on the hook for an extra €3.8 billion ($4.2 billion), a rise of 16 percent. In 2016, Germany's net contribution — minus EU monies returned to fund projects in the country — amounted to €15.6 billion. By comparison, France would face an additional €1.2 billion per annum bill on top of its €5-6-billion net contribution, and Italy would pay an extra €1 billion. "Brexit does not just increase the financial burden for the EU-27, but also changes the distribution of that burden," the newspaper group cited the report as saying. Read more: 50 London banks in talks for post-Brexit move Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden currently benefit from reduced payments due to Britain's EU membership, it said. Britain is currently the second largest net contributor to the EU after Germany; its departure is expected to leave a €10.2-billion hole in the EU's finances. EU austerity needed? The EU study says discussions are underway about whether cuts should be made to the EU budget or whether new revenue sources can be opened up, including taxes. The budget gap revelations come as British negotiators meet with their EU counterparts in Brussels for the sixth round on Brexit talks, in an attempt to settle the country's financial obligations to the bloc. The EU has set a figure of €60 billion, while British officials have, to date, offered just €23 billion. On Thursday, the Financial Times cited an anonymous EU diplomat as saying that the UK government had been given a three week deadline to improve its offer. At stake is Britain's future trade deal with the EU, which Brussels has refused to discuss until the financial settlement has been finalized. Meanwhile, Germany's largest industry group BDI said on Friday that it would be impossible to reach a comprehensive deal on future economic relations between the EU and Britain within the two-year deadline. In doing so, it added its voice to growing calls for a transitional arrangement where Britain remains in the EU's single market and customs union for a longer period. Read more: Brexit: Why people are increasingly talking about the 'Norway model' The group last month told German firms in the UK to prepare for the possibility of a so-called hard Brexit, where Britain quits the bloc without a trade deal. BDI Managing Director Joachim Lang is due to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May in London on Monday. Despite talking up the possibilities of a transitional arrangement in recent months, Britain on Friday said it planned to enshrine its EU leaving date, March 29, 2019 into the Brexit law, which is currently being studied by parliament.

Germany will need to pay an extra €3.8 billion into the EU’s coffers once Britain leaves the bloc. A new report, which is likely to rile German taxpayers, suggests France and Italy will face much lower budget hikes. Germany is being threatened with significantly higher contributions to the European Union’s budget when Britain completes its departure from the bloc in ... Read More »

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