German consumer confidence dropped for the first time since September last year, indicating that higher energy and particularly fuel prices are increasingly making German consumers anxious. Today's GfK indicator dropped to 5.9, from 6.0. Looking at the March details shows that consumers are still optimistic about the economic outlook but have lowered their income expectations and willingness to buy.
by Carsten Brzeski, Senior Economist, ING Belgium
Tuesday, 27 March 2012
Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Full Article, The Telegraph
Thursday, 15 March 2012
Tuesday, 13 March 2012
Friday, 9 March 2012
Upscale Swiss hospitality firm, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, is on track to become the world’s most Green Globe certified hotel group. All 21 Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts in Europe have achieved Green Globe certification. This latest eco-achievement puts the upscale Swiss hospitality company on target to become the most certified Green Globe hotel company in the world.
Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts uses the framework for Strategic Sustainable Development, a proven science based model helping businesses to better understand and integrate sustainability in its strategy and operations. The framework was initiated by the Swedish born international NGO, The Natural Step; it contains logical guidelines to identify current challenges, future possibilities and smart step-wise approaches to move towards sustainability and to capitalize on a more refined way of sustainability driven markets.
Thursday, 8 March 2012
Thursday's ECB meeting left interest rates unchanged. According to ECB president Draghi rate changes were not even discussed. While there was not much news from the ECB on the sovereign debt crisis and Greek PSI, the ECB's brought back some gentle anti-inflation rhetorics. It looks as if the ECB has lost this its sense of fear.
The macro-economic assessment changed quite significantly compared with the February meeting; very cautious language has been replaced by a moderately cautious language. Words like "tentative" and "high uncertainty" disappeared from the ECB's introductory statement. The recent improvement of confidence indicators seems to have comforted the ECB, while at the same time still stressing downside risks. Article by Carsten Brzeski, Senior Economist, ING Belgium
Tuesday, 6 March 2012
Friday, 2 March 2012
Strengthened fiscal discipline and convergence in the euro area as twenty-five European leaders today signed the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance aimed at strengthening fiscal discipline and introducing stricter surveillance within the euro area, in particular by establishing a "balanced budget rule". The content of the treaty had been endorsed at the last European Council meeting in January.
The main elements of the so-called fiscal compact include a requirement for national budgets to be in balance or in surplus, a criterion that would be met if the annual structural government deficit does not exceed 0.5% of GDP at market prices. This balanced budget rule must be incorporated into the member states' national legal systems, preferably at constitutional level, within one year after the entry into force of the treaty. In the event of deviation from this rule, an automatic correction mechanism will be triggered. It will be defined by each member state on the basis of principles proposed by the European Commission.
The EU Court of Justice will be able to verify national transposition of the balanced budget rule. Its decision is binding, and can be followed up with a penalty of up to 0.1% of GDP, payable to the European Stability Mechanism in the case of euro area member states.
The treaty signed today also reinforces fiscal rules for the euro area by incorporating a commitment on the part of the contracting parties whose currency is the euro to adopt Council decisions in the framework of the excessive deficit procedure unless opposed by a qualified majority
The European Council yesterday agreed to grant Serbia the status of candidate country, following a recommendation by the General Affairs Council on 28 February.
It endorsed the Council's conclusions, which confirmed that Serbia has continued to show credible commitment and achieved further progress in the implementation of agreements reached in the dialogue with Kosovo, including on integrated border management. The Council noted that an agreement has been reached on inclusive regional cooperation, and that Serbia has actively cooperated to enable the EU's EULEX and the UN's KFOR missions to execute their mandates. Serbia applied for EU membership in December 2009. The Commission delivered an opinion in October 2011.
Thursday, 1 March 2012
The EU and Turkey will gain from closer ties, given their mutual dependence, Turkey's economic potential and its role as a strategic player in the region, said the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, in a resolution adopted by a large majority on Thursday. However, it calls on Turkey to settle the Cyprus, Armenia and Kurdish issues and for progress with judicial reform and the protection of civil liberties.
MEPs support the fresh, new dynamic approach adopted by the Commission and aimed at moving Turkey closer to meeting the conditions for EU accession; an issue likely to polarise popular opinion across the EU.
European Parliament President, Martin Schultz, today underlined the critical need to underpin the accession process with an unwavering rule of law. Criticising the seemingly arbitrary approach taken with Romania and Bulgaria in implementing the Schengen agreement, Schultz, speaking at the European Council Summit, said if countries reach the thresholds required for accession, they should be allowed to progress unimpeded. He also used the Summit platform to emphasise the need for opposition to racism, in particular, opposition to the Dutch anti-immigration PVV's website.
Joining the dots, Europe has a migraine headache just waiting for the light of day. The choice, when the moment arrives, will be the accession of an increasingly Islamic Turkey to the European Union by compulsion of the rule of law; or the exclusion of Turkey from full EU membership for fear of popular revolt and a disengagement by more radical regions from the European project.
Schultz was repeatedly asked about the belligerence of the Hungarian government and its budgetary conundrum. Striking a conciliatory note, Schultz emphasised the need to think very carefully about the overall impact of withdrawing EU funds from Hungary as a means to force compliance with a new fiscal direction.
Migraine is usually preceded by the sight of small flashing white dots. Schultz will soon be reaching for political Nurofen as economic imperatives collide with cultural identity - Europe needs better trade relations with Turkey and its neighbours, but many Europeans see only as far as their back yard and the risk of yet more immigrants climbing over the fence; and if Europe cannot cajole a hardline Hungary, what prospect does it have to Westernise an East-looking Turkey?