Monday, 2 September 2013

Sodastream - Fizzing Up, Or Bubbling Over?

Establishing that the concept has been around for quite some time does not help answer the question that many investors have in mind about Sodastream: ‘Is this a fad, or could this be a disruptor of long established bottlers such as Coca Cola & Pepsi?’ A few retail investors-oriented research firms touting Sodastream stock seem inclined to believe that there is little in the way of an almost inevitable multi-year expansion.

Israeli-headquartered Sodastream International is a leading enterprise developing, manufacturing and selling home beverage carbonation systems worldwide. Its business model appeals very much to investors in that it resembles the razor/razor blades, which made the fortune of companies such as Gillette, whereby high-margin consumables are sold to repeat customers.

In Sodastream’s case, the carbonation system is sold in the USA at prices ranging from 69$-200$ depending on design and features, while refill CO2 canisters after first purchase can be swapped when emptied for new ones at around $15. The company’s turnover is further fuelled by the distribution of a great variety of syrups, many of them licensed by well-know brands, sold in bottles or mono-dose caps to dissolve in carbonated water.

The concept of a home made carbonated drink is know from a long time, as it originated with G. H. Gilbey, a gin distiller who came up with the first system in 1903. Although the first commercial systems were already marketed in the 1920s, the first home systems were sold only in the 1950s and became very popular in the 1970s and 1980s. 

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

‘Powerful Benefits’ In EU-US Trade Deal, Says Kennard

“Powerful benefits,” will be gained from the European Union’s Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the United States (TTIP), said William E. Kennard, United States Ambassador to the European Union. “It’s early. We’re still in the honeymoon period,” he said, adding: “There’s a large, tough hill to climb… we have to work out how to get this done.”

Speaking in the European Parliament at the invitation of the European Conservatives and Reformists political group, Ambassador Kennard said a trade agreement so broad and so ambitious had never been attempted by the USA and the EU. When negotiations are completed, the EU-US agreement will be the biggest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated. The European Commission assesses a direct addition of around 0.5% to the EU's annual economic output.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Strasbourg Seat "Insult to Taxpayer, Affront to Common Sense"

MEPs must be allowed to decide how the European Parliament should organise its own business. That's the message from a parliamentary hearing in Brussels organised by the EP's Constitutional Affairs Committee.

Ashley Fox MEP, a leading figure in Single Seat Campaign to scrap wasteful parliamentary sessions in Strasbourg, helped organise the hearing and is the co-author of a report for the committee on "The location of the seats of the EU institutons". Most importantly, the will of MEPs should be paramount in deciding the key question of where the Parliament holds its sessions, the hearing was told.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Tajani at 11th European Business Summit entitled "Unlocking Industrial Opportunities"

Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Industry and Entrepreneurship, participated in the 11th European Business Summit entitled "Unlocking Industrial Opportunities". This event was a joint initiative of the Federation of Enterprises of Belgium (FEB-VBO) and BusinessEurope. 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Catalan Bull Fight – Cutting Off Spanish Funds

There are no sacred cows, in Catalunya at least. Spanish MEPs from the Catalan region have called for the European Commission to ensure that funds are not directed from the Common Agriculture Policy to benefit bullfighting in Spain. MEPs Ana Miranda, Raúl Romeva and Ramón Tremosa were joined by Spanish MP Alfred Bosch, in voicing opposition to the use of more than €500m to prop up a traditional industry which they argue would otherwise be bankrupt.

Responding to the issue in March with a written parliamentary answer, Dacian Cioloş, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, stated: “…from the 2003 CAP reform, the support under Pillar I has been decoupled from production and therefore, by definition, is granted per eligible hectare to farmers holding payment entitlements. Consequently, as there is no link to production — let alone a link to the final destination of any bulls reared by the farmer — there can be no legal provision preventing support to be paid to breeders, whose bulls are sold on for bullfighting.”

A red rag to raging MEPs. 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Anti-Terror Political Oversight Needed - Sophie In’t Veld, MEP

“If we accept the principle that the mere request for secrecy by a third country to classify a document means it is secret, it is denying access to citizens, but also to MEPs, that is ridiculous. There is no political oversight. America would not tolerate that.” - Sophie In’t Veld, ALDE, Vice Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE)


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

In Death Do We Part? Finnish Activist Murdered In Mexico

It should have been different. Mexican, Betty Cariño and Finnish national Jyri Jaakkola were on their way to San Juan Copala, Mexico, with a humanitarian convoy. The ‘Triqui’ indigenous people, had declared their commune autonomous in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, the Triqui were enduring paramilitary assaults. Cariño and Jaakkola’s convoy was supporting the Triqui when it was itself attacked. Cariño, and Jaakkola died in a hail of paramilitary bullets.

The Mexican PRI government did nothing to arrest the offenders. Several months after the attack, an opposition alliance won federal state elections and took control of the government. The current Governor, Gabino Cue, now aims to solve the case.

A European Parliament Green Group delegation visited Mexico this month, led by Green MEPs Ska Keller and Satu Hassi, the Greens having maintained a strong interest in the murders. When the two human rights activists were killed in 2010, the case drew international attention, but to date, there has been no prosecution. The case is symptomatic, say Keller and Hassi, of the wider situation in Mexico; an increasing rate of violence, especially against women, journalists and political activists is accompanied by an alarmingly high impunity.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Progress On DAB '13 Sets Stage For Long-Term Budget

President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the President of the European Commission met in Brussels, Monday, to discuss budgetary matters. Agreement emerged on key points of the Draft Amending Budget 2013, which paves the way for negotiations to start on the Multiannual Financial Framework. 

European Parliament President Martin Schulz stated: "This was a crucial meeting on budgetary matters and good progress was made. The European Parliament wants to ensure that the EU's bills for 2013 can be paid. European citizens benefiting from programmes ranging from Erasmus to the European Social Fund must know that the necessary funds will still be available at the end of the year. Key negotiations can now be opened on the long-term EU budget, but I underline nothing is agreed until everything is agreed." 


Rehn's Spring Forecast Predicts 'Slow Recovery'

Delivering the European Commission's spring economic forecast, Olli Rehn, Commission Vice-President for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro said: "In view of the protracted recession, we must do whatever it takes to overcome the unemployment crisis in Europe. The EU’s policy mix is focused on sustainable growth and job creation. Fiscal consolidation is continuing, but its pace is slowing down. In parallel, structural reforms must be intensified to unlock growth in Europe."

Rehn reported that following the recession that marked 2012, the EU economy is expected to stabilise in the first half of 2013. GDP growth is projected to turn positive gradually in the second half of the year before gaining some traction in 2014. As domestic demand is still constrained by a number of impediments that are typical of the aftermath of deep financial crises, external demand is set to be the main growth driver this year.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

"Tymoshenko... selective justice by Ukraine," Says Brok

Reacting to today's ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Julia Tymoshenko vs. Ukraine, the Chairman of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Elmar Brok MEP, said: "The ruling by the European Court of Human Rights confirms the trial against Ms Tymoshenko was politically-motivated. Ms Tymoshenko must be freed immediately."

"The ruling illustrates the selective and politically-motivated justice in Ukraine. The European Court of Human Rights found that Ms Tymoshenko's pre-trial detention had been arbitrary. Ukraine is still miles away from fulfilling European standards.


Thursday, 25 April 2013

Damanaki Launches Online Fisheries Intelligence Tool

Commissioner Maria Damanaki has launched the new European Market Observatory for Fishery and Aquaculture Products (EUMOFA) at the European Seafood Exposition. The Observatory is an EU-wide interactive web-tool offering up-to-date data on volume, value and price of fisheries and aquaculture products throughout the supply chain, from when they land to port to when they are displayed on supermarket shelves.

“If you want to know market trends and market drivers for wild or farmed seafood products, the Market Observatory is the tool for you," said Commissioner Damanaki. She continued: "what counts today is value, not volume, of production. With this modern tool we empower economic actors through accurate, real-time market information”.

Polio Eradication, Barroso Pledges EU Assistance

Speaking at the Global Vaccine Summit, Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, said: "In the future, as in the past, the European Union will be a key ally in the global effort for immunisation... A significant part of EU aid – over one fifth - goes to social sectors. This means that half a billion a year goes to health initiatives, because that is where it makes a real difference for our partners."

Barroso added: "The impressive results that have been achieved over the years in polio eradication are an excellent example for the comprehensive division of labour between us and our partners. Government efforts, public and private donors have all made this possible, with the European Union contributing substantially. Broader policies to address the broader social issues that impact health are indispensable to make specific immunisation campaigns effective and sustainable."

"No Time To Waste In EU-US Trade Talks" Says Schaake

Dutch Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (D66/ALDE) and the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament have supported commencement of negotiations between the EU and the US for a trade and investment treaty (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Schaake said: "The preparatory work is done; the contours of the treaty are appearing. Now the real work will start. Although the agreement can be a good opportunity for increasing jobs and economic growth, negotiations will be challenging. If we succeed, European manufacturers, service providers and investors will be able to do business with the US, and vice-versa, on new markets in and less complicated ways."

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Kroes On Media Convergence Internet-TV, TV-Internet

Millions of Europeans catch up with their favourite TV series on a smartphone on the way to work, watch online content on their living room TV, or put their own user-generated content online. There are more than 40.4 million "connected TVs" in Europe, and they could be in the majority of EU households by 2016.

Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President said: "Connected TV is the next big thing in the creative and digital worlds. Convergence between sectors means people can enjoy a wider choice of great content - but it also creates disruptions and challenges. We need a converged and EU-wide debate to help deal with these changes. To help business flourish, nurture creativity and protect our values".

These changes are sweeping away traditional boundaries between consumers, broadcast media and the internet. The Commission wants to explore what this convergence of technology and content could mean for Europe's economic growth and innovation, cultural diversity, and consumers, especially those that may need protection, such as children.

EURODAC Fingerprint System Targets Asylum Seekers

“Law enforcement access to the fingerprints stored in EURODAC on a ‘hit or not’ basis in cases of serious crime or terrorism is a major step forward in speeding up the fight against crime”, explained Monica Macovei MEP after the adoption of her Report on the establishment of EURODAC, a database for the comparison of fingerprints of asylum seekers.

“Safeguards for protecting individual rights are there; EURODAC can be accessed only as a last resort”, she added. The Report was adopted by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs which also adopted the Report on the minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing international protection.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

EU Cyber Security Strategy, Not Quite A Double-Click

The EU Cyber Security Strategy, launched in Brussels today, has not delighted everyones' inbox. Viewed as lacking ambition, and as being merely an assessment rather than a forward looking strategy, the new Cyber Strategy won't be unfriended, but it isn't going to make it onto MEP's 'favourites' lists.

The Strategy has been criticised as an assessment of a variety of crimes involving the internet which fails to address questions of a strategic nature. It has also been slated for lacking a clear vision in the global context of defence and digital freedoms.

"Vagueness leaves room for undesired consequences" says Marietje Schaake, Dutch Member of European Parliament (ALDE/D66), and rapporteur for the recently adopted first Digital Freedom Strategy in EU foreign policy. "I welcome the Commission's initiative as a first step in starting a debate, but we can not lose time in addressing the most difficult questions ...READ MORE

by Brian Maguire, Brussels, 07 February, 2013 12:35 PM GMT+0100