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Friday, November 21, 2008

Europe and the business, 10, 2008

In today's edition:
  1. EU leaders back support for car industry
  2. SMEs call on EU leaders to guarantee their deposits
  3. Study: Europeans 'becoming more mobile'
This is going to be commentless post, because it covers things I find well, not so crucial to me (0r in the case of the 1st article, kind of infuriating).
But they are important for the over all progress of Europe, that's why they are here and they are very short so I urge you to read it. Just for your information and mine.
And notice the 3d article, how mobility affects women. Very very upsetting information.

EU leaders back support for car industry

17 October 2008

Meeting in Brussels on 15-16 October, the 27 European leaders gave their support to a France-inspired plan to support Europe's ailing automobile industry and instructed the Commission to come up with proposals to support all European industries before the year's end.

Competing with the US

The idea has been burgeoning in Europe since the US last month announced the adoption of a $25 billion package of low-cost loans to help Detroit-based carmakers General Motors, Ford and Chrysler to finance plant modernisation.

European carmakers had immediately insisted that a similar scheme be set up in Europe, a call that appears not to have fallen on deaf ears.

Indeed, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who currently chairs the European Council, told journalists after the summit that EU leaders had agreed to ask the Commission to look into the possibility and that, based on this, France would put forward initiatives before the end of the year.

It is unclear as yet as to what form the measures will take. European car manufacturers are asking for a low-interest loans package of €40 billion, combined with incentives to scrap vehicles over eight years old so as to accelerate fleet renewal.

State aid all around for industry?

Speaking at the Paris auto show last week, Sarkozy had already expressed openness towards the idea of loosening EU state aid rules to allow governments to better support car manufacturers – and other industries – in undertaking the technological shift to a low-carbon economy.

But Commission spokesman Johannes Laitenberger told EurActiv that state aid would be "one aspect and by no means the main aspect" of the support package, which would go beyond the car sector and cover other European industries too.

Indeed, according to the summit conclusions, the European Council wants to "decide in December 2008 on appropriate responses to the challenge of applying [the EU's climate and energy] package in a rigorously established cost-effective manner to all sectors of the European economy and all member states, having regard to each member state's specific situation.”

Energy-intensive industries in Europe have been warning for months that EU plans to tighten its carbon 'belt' will put European factories out of business as companies are forced to evacuate their operations and jobs – as well as their emissions – to third countries with cheaper labour and less restrictive environmental legislation.

The current economic deterioration caused by the financial crisis and the threat of recession has given new weight to such concerns.

"If we managed to bring a coordinated response to the financial crisis in Europe, shouldn't we also bring a coordinated response to the economic crisis in Europe?," asked Sarkozy.

But it remains to be seen whether his proposals will gather support from traditionally more liberal-minded countries, such as the UK and the Netherlands. source

SMEs call on EU leaders to guarantee their deposits

15 October 2008

Small businesses are urging European leaders to include small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the financial rescue plan to be debated at their summit today (15 October), asking for additional loans and similar deposit guarantees to those governments have promised to private households.

Due to the current financial crisis, SMEs are finding it increasingly difficult to finance "not only riskier investments but also their basic day-to-day operations," said Georg Toifl, president of UEAPME, the organisation representing European SMEs, ahead of today's EU summit (15 October).

Key measures to ease the pressure would include more flexible handling of the European Investment Bank's (EIB) budget for SMEs as well as the provision of sufficient liquidity by the European Central Bank (ECB), Toifl said.

In this context, he welcomed the action plans drafted by the G4 (Europe's four largest economies), the ECB and the Eurogroup, and was particularly supportive of the EIB's pledge to increase loans for small businesses to €7.5 billion per year.

"Keeping capital flowing" is key to SMEs' survival, the Commission vice president in charge of enterprise, Günter Verheugen, said at an event in the European Parliament yesterday (14 October). He defended the Commission's bail-out measures to national banks, which he described as "the central nervous system" of the economy.

A majority of businesses have already postponed or have even been forced to cancel their investment plans due to the "gloomy" financial outlook, which is likely to worsen in 2009, Verheugen warned.

Amid such an environment, SMEs not only stressed the need for ongoing access to finance, but also to secure existing capital. Toifl thus called upon EU leaders to apply guarantees for deposits of up to €50,000 not only to private households, but also to SMEs (EurActiv 08/10/08). source

Study: Europeans 'becoming more mobile'

20 October 2008

The number of Europeans commuting long hours to work or even working abroad has risen in recent years, according to a study presented on Friday (17 October). For some, being mobile even appears to be the only way of avoiding unemployment and social decline.

Almost one in two working Europeans has experience of job-related mobility. But it would mostly seem that this is a result of necessity, as the majority (53%) are reluctant to become mobile or are only willing to do so within very strict limits. The results come from the first representative study on job mobility presented by the Green MEP Sepp Kusstatscher. For this study, the researchers interviewed 7,220 people aged 25 to 54 in Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Spain and Switzerland.

Among those EU citizens that are mobile, 41% are long-distance commuters and spend at least two hours each day on their way to and back from work, according to the report. Another 29% spend at least 60 nights a year away from home due to business trips, such as weekend commuters or seasonal workers.

Only a minority (14%) actually moved for their job and even less (4%) took a job in a EU member state outside their home country. However, figures are considerably higher than prior to the accession of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, when only around 1.5% of EU citizens worked and lived abroad.

Businesses struggling with a lack of high-skilled labour have repeatedly called on EU governments to encourage more mobility, but some member states, including Germany and Austria, still restrict the free movement of labour from countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 (EurActiv 18/07/08).

Nevertheless, the study appears to signal that high-skilled workers are now largely benefiting from open borders. By contrast, older and less educated people in particular remain strongly opposed even to relocating within their home country, the report shows.

As a general rule, commuting to a distant workplace poses less of problem to many Europeans, the report shows.

But for one in four commuters, mobility is also "the last chance to secure their livelihood," said Professor Anna Giza-Polesczuk, one of the authors of the study.

For women, the need to be mobile poses another constraint. Unlike mobile men, they tend to remain childless and even partnerless, the report argues, calling on politicians and businesses to develop new strategies to encourage mobility and at the same time minimise its "negative consequences".

The report also calls on employers to take on their share of the costs of increased mobility, allowing their workers more flexibility regarding their working hours, by working more from home, for example. source

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