Why Europe should take the lead on trade

The Economist - Europe - Čt, 09/12/2019 - 14:59

“THIS IS DEEPLY offensive,” declares Cecilia Malmstrom, gesticulating around her orchid-lined office in the European Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters. “We have colleagues here whose parents fought together [with the Americans] on the Normandy coast and we are a threat to national security?” The EU’s trade commissioner is referring to Donald Trump’s imposition of tariffs on European steel and aluminium, which he preposterously claims is necessary for national-security reasons. The EU has retaliated with its own tariffs on bourbon, Harley Davidson motorbikes and other iconic American goods.

This tit-for-tat does not come easily to Ms Malmstrom, a pro-trade Swedish liberal. When she took office in 2014 the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO’s) Doha round of multilateral tariff reductions was stagnant and European city squares thronged with protests against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a mooted trade deal with America. Since then the drawbridge-up tendency has surged: first in Europe, with wins for nationalists and Britain’s vote for Brexit, and then in America with the election of Mr Trump.

Ms Malmstrom has been one of the stars of the current commission, which will leave office at the end of October. TTIP may have vanished from the agenda—its prospects looked poor even before Mr Trump’s...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Why so many non-religious Europeans pay church taxes

The Economist - Europe - Čt, 09/12/2019 - 14:59

IN THE Old Testament, priests are told to take a tenth of every believer’s crops as a tax to support the faith. In these latter days, they can outsource the job to the state. In many European countries, “church taxes”—levied on all registered members of religious organisations by governments—still exist.

The governments of ten countries across Europe administer membership fees on behalf of religious organisations. In two of these, Spain and Portugal, believers can opt to pay a portion of their income tax to their religion of choice. Six others run opt-out systems, whereby registered members of certain Christian churches (and, in some cases, other religious groups) are required to pay tax. In most of these, apostasy is the only way to get out of paying. Some states in Germany require even more arduous methods of disassociation—in addition to leaving the church, you must also file a notarised deregistration form with the local government, which demands a fee.

In Italy and Iceland churches get a cut of income tax, so it is hard for taxpayers to avoid bankrolling them. But not impossible. Italians can ask for their share to go to the state, to spend on humanitarian aid. Icelanders, meanwhile, have found a cunning way to get refunds. Their tithes are distributed to each religious group according to the size of its flock. A...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

A dire scarcity of drugs is worsening, in part, because they are so cheap

Economist - International - Čt, 09/12/2019 - 14:59

FOR MOST people, a good belly laugh is a wonderful thing. For Rachel Rothwell, it can literally cause her to crumple to the floor. She suffers from cataplexy, a condition whereby strong emotions, such as joy or anger, paralyse the muscles, prompting complete physical collapse. For the past nine years, a medication called clomipramine has alleviated her symptoms. So effective was the medication she almost forgot she suffered from the disease at all.

In April, however, the drug vanished from the shelves of the pharmacies in Calne, in southern England, where she lives. Initially she was able to get her hands on supplies in towns nearby, but within a month it was nowhere to be found. Ms Rothwell’s doctor prescribed a different medicine, but it took months to calculate the correct dose for her. In the meantime, her symptoms returned.

Clomipramine is on Britain’s official list of drugs to be stockpiled by pharmaceutical firms in preparation for Brexit, the country’s looming departure from the European Union. For some reason, not everyone is confident that Brexit will go smoothly. So some Britons with chronic illnesses are hoarding drugs on which they depend. Yet the scarcity of clomipramine has little to do with Brexit. The drug has been in short supply around the world as a result of manufacturing problems at Teva and Mylan...

Kategorie: Souhrn, Svět

The new top jobs in Europe

The Economist - Europe - Čt, 09/12/2019 - 10:33

EMMANUEL MACRON is having a good summer. In July, at his urging, leaders of the European Union’s member states picked Ursula von der Leyen, then the German defence minister, to be president of the European Commission. In a package deal Christine Lagarde, the French head of the IMF, was chosen to lead the European Central Bank; Charles Michel, the Belgian prime minister and a Macron ally, got the European Council presidency; and Josep Borrell, Spain’s Francophone foreign minister, will be the EU’s next high representative for foreign affairs. Having narrowly won her confirmation vote in the European Parliament, on September 10th Mrs von der Leyen presented her proposed line-up of commissioners at the Berlaymont building in Brussels. It was another good day for the French president.

Under Mrs von der Leyen’s proposal—the European Parliament will begin confirmation hearings later this month and must endorse the new commission as a group before it can take office on November 1st—the next commission will be more hierarchical than the last. Directly below her will be a team of three silo-busting “executive vice-presidents” in charge of the three broad areas which, Mrs von der Leyen has indicated, will be her priorities. Margrethe Vestager will lead on making Europe “fit for the digital age” and stay on as competition commissioner—in which...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Klepání na bránu nové recese

Ekonom - iHned - St, 09/11/2019 - 22:00
Kategorie: ČR, Souhrn

Události týdne: Top 5

Ekonom - iHned - St, 09/11/2019 - 22:00
Kategorie: ČR, Souhrn

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