Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition! I already did.
It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The state of the business in Europe, summer 2015

My comments are after the news excerpts. Enjoy!
Standard & Poor’s lowers outlook on the EU to negative Standard & Poor's has changed the outlook for the European Union from stable to negative after the bloc's support for Greece and following Britain's decision to vote on leaving the EU, S&P reported Monday (3 August).
The decision means the US ratings agency could lower its grade of the European Union -- now at AA+ -- in the next two years. (04 Aug 2015) - And from the Russian sanctions? And from the stupid rescue packages and austerity obsession not working? Of course, those will be missing in the final report. But the lives they destroyed all over the continent cannot be deleted. And sooner or later, they will come to haunt them. Like on elections time? PODEMOS! 

IMF says Western sanctions could cut 9% off Russia's GDP -  Sanctions linked to the Ukraine crisis could end up costing Russia 9% of its gross domestic product, the International Monetary Fund said on Monday. The Fund estimated the immediate effect of sanctions and counter-sanctions had been to wipe between 1 and 1.5%  off GDP, rising to 9% over the next few years. These model-driven results were subject to significant uncertainty, it cautioned.
The IMF also forecast "weak" economic growth of around 1.5% annually in the medium term. Russia's economy was growing around 7% a year before the 2008 global financial crisis. (04 Aug 2015) - But this was the idea, right?

 Russia prepares to seize Western assets -
The Russian government has approved a draft bill that would allow it to seize foreign state assets, without warning. The move is seen as a tit-for-tat gesture, following Western court cases involving Russian firms.
According to the new draft bill, Russia will be able to seize foreign state assets from countries which infringe on Russia's jurisdictional immunity, according to the Russian press.
The bill comes after several European countries seized Russian state assets in mid-June, following lawsuits from former Yukos shareholders. - So basically, under international law, any country can decide to seize up couple of billions, because another country is no longer in its Friends list. Right? Because this is what the EU did with Russian money. Well, in this case, I guess Russia can do the same. I mean they will surely find a legal basis for this, just like the EU did. Because big corporations always have dirty secrets. So nice, the trade war is now an asset war. If only they invested all this energy into fighting with hunger on the world. 

EU extends aid to farmers hit by Russian food ban - The European Commission has announced it will extend support measures for the dairy and fruit and vegetable sectors hit by Russia’s ban on food imports from Europe, which has been in place for a year.
Russia announced the extension of its ban on Western food imports for six months starting in early August, saying it could add new products to the list. The move came in retaliation for extended European sanctions against Moscow in the Ukraine conflict.
The Russian ban covers imports of fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, milk and dairy.
Brussels described the Russian ban as “unjustified and illegal”. (30 Jul  2015) - Yes, Brussels! The Russian ban is unjustified and illegal. And profoundly not fair. Because when the EU imposes sanctions and bans, it's for the greater good and justice and you know, glory to the democracy. When Russia impose reciprocal sanctions, they are just evil! Grow up guys! Do you think people are idiots and they cannot connect the dots? Those farmers etc. had decent trade with Russia which you robbed! So yup, give our taxpayers money, to producers who were trading with Russia and paying taxes and creating richness, to compensate them for the idiotic sanctions you imposed from which we are all losing even more money. Make sense.

UK suspends ban on pesticides linked to serious harm in bees  -
Farmers will be able to use blacklisted pesticides linked to serious harm in bees after the UK government temporarily lifted an EU ban.
Bees and other pollinators are essential for many crops but are in decline due to pesticides, loss of habitat and disease. Over 500,000 people signed a petition opposing the suspension of the ban. Two neonicotinoid pesticides can now be used for 120 days on about 5% of England’s oil seed rape crop. Products from chemical giants Bayer and Syngenta will be deployed to ward off the cabbage stem flea beetle. (23 Jul 2015) - Bayer and Syngenta, YAY! Didn't they have some GMOs newly approved by the EC? Oh, well.

Trade should trump health concerns in hormone disruptor debate, US tells EU -
The European Union published its public consultation on hormone disrupters on Friday 24 July. Europe’s trading partners fear the economic impact of tighter regulation, Journal de l'environnement reports. (29 Jul 2015) - Of course, trade is above human health, what were you thinking people when you wanted hormone disruptors controlled. Come on! Think of the markets.

European automakers set to win lion’s share of TTIP gains -
Mutual recognition of auto regulations across the Atlantic could bring over €18 billion per year for the European Union and the United States economies, with the EU set to reap up to 90% of the total gains, according to a new study.
Greater regulatory harmonisation under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is expected to raise EU-US auto trade by at least 20%, according to a study by the Petersen Institute of International Economics, a US-based think tank. (30 Jul 2015) - Just in case you wonder what the EC is so resolved to make TTIP happen even though it will hurt almost all industries in the EU. Well, because the automakers will make big money. And my guess is that the same goes for others industries like chemistry, pharmacy, biotechnology,weapons. Conveniently, they are all based in Germany (and maybe France). Even more conveniently, the absolute lack of transparency or pubic discussion on the TTIP clauses is strongly backed by Germany. I wonder why. Oh, maybe because Germany will be the big (and probably the only) winner out of TTIP. All the other industries and countries will suffer huge losses, because of lowered standards and cheaper production in the USA. But hey, they already suffer them because of the sanctions war with Russia. I guess this is why they are perfectly capable of suffering some more. This time because of the TTIP and the USA.

Brussels denies Varoufakis' claims that troika controlled Greek tax agency -
The European Commission on Tuesday (28 July) sharply denied claims by Greece's ex-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis that creditors overseeing Greece's bailout also controlled the country's tax agency.
Varoufakis made the claim in a leaked conference call with London investors, during which he said he had been secretly building a parallel money system that involved hacking into his ministry's computers because they were controlled by the creditors.
"On what Mr Varoufakis has been saying, the allegations that the troika was controlling the secretariat general of public revenues are false and unfounded," Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told a news briefing, referring to the creditor "troika" of the Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
"The secretariat general of public revenue is a quasi-independent entity, responsible for tax administration that is formally part of the ministry of finance," she said.
"The Commission and IMF only provide technical assistance to the tax administration but certainly do not control (the agency)," she added.
- Now it's hard for me not to comment here. So, why would a minister need to hack a system belonging to his own institutions and country then? Just for the fun of it? I doubt. So I'd rather believe mr. Varoufakis when he says the system is being controlled by the Troika. 
And btw, "technical assistance" is a very wide term. People who provide technical assistance, usually have remote control over the system. Which means that they monitor it constantly and can intervene if needed. So technically, this means "THEY CONTROL IT"!
And some oldies:
EU puts Georgia, Moldova on fast track to association -- Having learned the bitter lesson of procrastinating with Ukraine, which has put its EU association agreement (AA) on ice, EU leaders decided today (20 December) to put Georgia and Moldova on a fast track to sign theirs by August 2014. ( 20 Dec 2013) - So what happened with their fast track association? It's August 2015 now! I guess the same as what happened with Ukraine's association and EU membership. Not happening in the near future, right Mr. Tusk?

Norway backpedals on EU single market compliance pledge -
Though Norway promised in November it would live up to its obligations under the EU single market, the Liberal Party which supports the Norwegian government has changed its mind and said it would forge ahead with punitive taxes on imported EU goods. (15 Jan 2014) - It's hard to blame them...

Germany extends disputed renewable energy subsidies to industry - The value of exemptions to green energy charges Germany grants heavy industry will rise to €5.1 billion in 2014 from last year's 4 billion euros, even though the exemptions are subject to an anti-competition probe by the European Union. Germany's Federal Office of Economics and Export Control announced the 2014 figures on Tuesday. Due to the probe no exemptions will be paid in 2015.
Around 2,000 German heavy energy users such as BASF and ThyssenKrupp have been exempt from a surcharge ordinary consumers have to pay, but face the possibility of having to pay back discounts should the EU rule they were unfair (13 Feb 2014) - Try doing this if you're not Germany or if the companies are not BASF or ThyssenKrupp! And watch the EU sanctions pour down on you. But I guess if you're Germany, you can do whatever you want.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Industrial espionage, GMO and russian gas

Europe is a complicated place. Go figure why a foreign intelligence service would spy a company where its own country has a share (Airbus) in favor of its direct foreign competition (Boing etc)

Also, go figure how a fine of $2.5 billion would compensate a crime which affected transactions for trillions, which affected probably the lives of million people. But it works for European banks and the US bank authorities. Also, go figure why in Europe the fines are only for millions. Obviously we profited from those crimes. Only I don't think we did. Europe was torn by the bank crisis and still cannot recover. Yet, no bank was found guilty. So obviously someone did profit after all. Right?

Then we have the gas fiasco. So. South Stream was cancelled by Russia, because Bulgaria was pressured by the EU and USA to stall the project to no end, BECAUSE IT DIDN'T OBEY THE THIRD ENERGY PACKAGE. And yet, they give the competing Trans-Adriatic pipeline an EXEMPTION from the SAME PACKAGE?! Is it only me or I smell a trade war? Oh well, I guess Europe is smart enough to choose who to be in a war with. Only considering the Airbus case, it has a good tradition in treason of national interests. Oh well. And yeah, the funnies thing (for some) is that Bulgaria is the only really f*cked country in the whole story. Because it lost its participation in the project and prospect for any kind of cheap gas. Btw, Bulgaria is still the poorest country in the EU. But then who cares...

And finally, the GMO fiasco. So basically, the countries will be able to ban GMOs, but only on random grounds - they cannot refer to science and ecology. Ok, fair enough. Only, nobody, even Germany, dares to do the same on imports. And only, nobody will monitor the situation in small countries like Bulgaria, because of course, Bulgaria cannot launch a legal action against Monstanto or BASF for extortion and illegal distribution of seeds in a country with a GMO ban. And without the backing of EU-wide ban on GMO, it becomes quite easy to grow and sell GMOs against the will of the people of the country. How's this about democracy? Wait, does anyone still believe in it?
Enjoy!

Airbus to press charges on NSA/BND spying claims

Airbus said on Thursday that it had formally requested information from the government in Berlin about how the US and German foreign intelligence services, the NSA and the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst), spied on the aviation giant. Airbus told several news outfits that, following media reports suggesting Airbus was the target of industrial espionage, the company would be pressing charges against "persons unknown".

Deutsche Bank fined record $2.5 bln over Libor rate rigging

On Thursday (23 April), Deutsche Bank agreed with US and British authorities to pay a record $2.5 billion in fines, over manipulated benchmark interest rates it used to price contracts in Europe, and around the world. 
American authorities fined Deutsche Bank $2.12 billion and UK watchdogs imposed a $340 million penalty for its role in a scam that ran from around 2003 to 2011 to fix rates such as the Libor to benefit their trading positions. The benchmark rates are used to price hundreds of trillions of dollars of financial transactions by banks and companies worldwide.

Gazprom buys South Stream shares from Eni, EDF and Wintershall

Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom has bought the shares of its European partner companies in the South Stream gas pipeline company, namely Eni, EDF and Wintershall, for approximately $1 billion, thus becoming sole owner of the defunct pipeline.
Although the financial situation of Gazprom is not good, it is believed that by making these payments, Russia preserves good relations with Eni’s subsidiary Saipem, who has a licence to lay pipes under the Black Sea for South Stream (see background).

TAP pipeline secures exemption from Third Energy Package

The Trans-Adriatic pipeline (TAP), representing the European section of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) which will bring gas from Azerbaijan, has obtained an extension of the validity period of the project’s exemption from third party access to its pipe.

UN cancer agency issues warning about five pesticides

The UN's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said Friday (20 March) that three pesticides were "probably" carcinogenic and two others, which have already been outlawed or restricted, were "possibly" so.
IARC classified the herbicide glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup – and the insecticides malathion and diazinon as "probably carcinogenic" on the basis of "limited evidence" of cancer among humans.
The insecticides tetrachlorvinphos and parathion were classified as "possibly carcinogenic" in the light of "convincing evidence" from lab animals, the IARC said in a statement.

 

EU proposal on GMO food criticised by Greenpeace, industry

The European Commission's proposed new rules on the approval of food derived from genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), published on Wednesday (22 April), have immediately attracted criticism from both environment NGOs and the agribusiness sector.
For the first time, the proposal formally allows EU countries to opt-out from the Europe-wide approval system.
Only one GM crop is currently grown in Europe, Monsanto's maize MON810, in Spain and Portugal.
But the new proposal attracted criticism by Greenpeace, which said the proposed reform would still allow the Commission to authorise the import of GMOs, even when a majority of national governments, the European Parliament and the public oppose them.

US trade negotiator 'very disappointed' at European GM food ban

US Trade Representative Michael Froman expressed disappointment on Wednesday (22 April) that the European Commission has decided to let member states have 'opt-outs' on imports of genetically-modified food and feed.
Froman, who is America's chief negotiator in the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks between the US and the EU, said the Commission's new proposals will allow member states to ignore science-based evidence and environmental facts.

Germany sceptical of national import ban on GM foods

Despite overwhelming public disapproval of genetically modified crops, the Merkel government is reluctant to prohibit imports of GM soy and corn. Meanwhile, the German government is decidedly against cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and is currently in the process of developing a national ban on cultivation. But Berlin has been more reserved on the issue of also imposing a national import ban on GM products, as proposed by the European Commission. 
US companies like Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Dupont make billions in revenues on GM seed sold worldwide. In Europe, BASF, Syngenta and Bayer Cropscience are among the leading GMO manufacturers.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Europe vs. Russia round N

As the media war between Europe and Russia continues to grow, I was tempted to post some recent news which might make you reconsider what we're being told.

Ukraine says Daimler-Kamaz deal contradicts the spirit of EU sanctions

EXCLUSIVE: Ukraine has officially complained to the European Commission that a joint venture by Germany’s Daimler and Russia’s Kamaz, a producer of trucks, but also of a large variety of military vehicles, contradicts the spirit of EU sanctions against Russia, EurActiv has learned.
On 24 February, the Commission announced it has approved the creation of a joint venture by Daimler AG, of Germany, and Kamaz OJSC, of Russia. But in fact Kamaz is a firm primarily dealing with military equipment.
The Commission doesn’t find that the merger contradicts the the sanctions adopted by the EU vis-a-vis Russia, in the context of the annexation of Crimea and the Ukraine crisis.
These restrictive measures include an embargo on the import and export of arms and related material from/to Russia, covering all items on the EU common military list.
My comment: So basically, France had to give up its Mistral deal, risking billion of euro if the case go to arbitrage, but the European Commission has absolutely no problem in approving a merger with obviously military background if one of the companies happen to be Germany. Oh, well.

EU moves to improve Energy Union interconnections

The European Union yesterday (4 March) took a step to reduce its energy dependence, especially on Russia, seeking instead to improve connections between renewable energy giants Spain and Portugal, and the rest of Europe.
My comment: Because in principle, Spain and Portugal are extremely Russia-dependent. Or because the cost of transfer of electricity to Eastern and Central Europe, which depend mostly on Russia, will be less than the prices asked by Russia. Well, it won't be lower, if you don't get the sarcasm. But then, why not spending couple of billions on interconnecting Western Europe and Germany, so that next time the EU and Russia decide to break relations, only Eastern Europe will stay on the cold. Yay!

Russia can use Trans-Adriatic pipeline, Commission confirms

A Commission official confirmed yesterday (5 March) that Gazprom can use the Trans-Adriatic pipeline (TAP) to move gas, if the Russian export monopoly builds the “Turkish Stream” pipeline and brings gas to Greece.
The Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) refers to the three pipelines, including TAP, which will bring Azeri gas to the EU. The South Caucasus Pipeline Extension from Shah Deniz via Azerbaijan and Georgia, the TANAP pipeline via Turkey, the TAP pipeline starting from Greece and taking the gas further across Albania and an offshore section in the Adriatic to Italy. The first gas is expected to flow via SGC in 2019-2020. A branch is expected to take Azeri gas from Greece to Bulgaria and further north.
My comment:  This is particularly interesting news, confirming that the only looser of the South Stream fiasco will be...Bulgaria. But of course, dick measuring is more important than solidarity for the EC. In any case, Russia will get access to TAP and the Europeans will be happy to use the bad Russian gas. Btw, Bulgaria happens to be the poorest nation in the EU and the death of the South Stream mega project basically means getting even poorer. Just saying, in case you didn't get the solidarity comment.

Russia imposes ban on Polish cheese

Russia has introduced an embargo on all Polish cheeses, basing it on just one type of cheese, the ‘Happy Cow’ brand. Euractiv Poland reports.
Rospotrebnadzor, the Russian agency for protecting customers’ rights, published a communiqué on Monday (23 February) stating that the import of cheeses and “cheese-like” products from Poland has been banned since Friday, 20 February.
According to the agency, the cheese “Wesoła Krówka” has violated the rules of the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in regards to cheese production and safety.

And the related:

Brussels plans help for pork sector hit by Russian ban

Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan pledged on Sunday to take steps to support pork prices in an effort to help the industry, as it reels from a Russian import ban The announcement was immediately welcomed by French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll, who along with several European counterparts had been calling for such measures for a number of months to counter the impact of the Russian embargo. EU pork meat exports to Russia were worth about 1 billion euros in 2013.
French farmer groups estimated that the Russian ban on EU pork products cost producers in France around 500 million euros last year due to the cumulative effective of lost exports and the drag on prices within the EU.
My comment: So basically, the useless sanctions imposed by the EC on Russia only bring misery to recession-hit Europe, taking away valuable markets from the European farmers, with the goal of... well nobody knows what is the goal of the sancitons anyway. They say that it should secure peace in Ukraine, but then, the past week was marked by peace, withdrawing of heavy weapons by both parts and generally normalization of the situation (at least compared to previous weeks and months). And yet, we read: David Cameron: Britain could take Russia sanctions to 'whole different level'. Really? Why? Because if it is peace we're after, we're not supposed to punish and threaten it, right?! But then, nobody believes that the goal is peace. From the kind of schizophrenic behavior of the EC with respect to Russia you can clearly see that nobody cares about the poor people of Ukraine and the misery and the death the war brought to them. The only thing they care is about money. And power.
 

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