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Wednesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - September 10, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Sep 10, 2014 - 12:02 PM
THE highly anticipated new U2 album is being offered as a free download to the almost half billion Apple iTunes users around the world - but the band is still getting paid.
The band's latest studio album Songs Of Innocence was released yesterday - just after the band had performed a new song as part of the finale of Apple's product announcement event in California.
It will be released physically by Island Records on 13th October, 2014.
But, until then, it will be available to up to 500m customers in 119 in what Apple CEO Tim Cook described as 'the largest album release of all time'
Phil Hogan will have little to complain about as he receives his pay packet over the coming five years.
The salary of €250,000 per year is subject to the more gentle EU civil servants' rates of tax. That salary is topped up by a 15pc "residence allowance" worth €37,500 per year. There is a "representational allowance" worth €7,300 per year. Neither payment is taxed.
EU taxes go from 8pc to 45pc and there is also a 7pc recession or "solidarity levy". The Commissioner's tax bill will be about €100,000 per year. But that is mitigated by €45,000 in those tax-free payments.
So, keep it simple and think €200,000 per year take-home pay, or - give or take - about €4,000 per week.
FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan travelled to three countries yesterday, meeting key European figures as part of the Government's quest for early repayment of IMF bailout loans.
Mr Noonan held talks with Klaus Regling, head of Europe's bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), as well as Dutch Finance Minister and Eurogroup chair Jeroen Dijsselbloem.
Discussions were also held with Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank (ECB), in Frankfurt.
Mr Noonan said the meetings were positive and that the high level officials involved "recognise the merits of Ireland pursuing measures that reduce our debt service burden."
Tánaiste Joan Burton declared that the budget next month would bring a close to the years of ever-increasing austerity as she spoke about the need for for an overhaul of the universal social charge (USC).
Although the Coalition is confident it can introduce modest income tax cuts next year, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was quick to dismiss a suggestions from Minister for Health Leo Varadkar that workers could expect to benefit by €5-€10 per week. Mr Varadkar also said that he did not think workers would favour income tax measures at the expense of health services.
His public reference to the financial difficulties in the health service yesterday drew a stern response at a high level in the Coalition.
Ireland’s commissioner-designate Phil Hogan is widely expected to be named as the EU’s next agriculture commissioner today when Jean-Claude Juncker unveils the new European Commission.
A spokeswoman for Mr Juncker yesterday could not confirm that the allocation of portfolios would be announced today, but a decision may be made about lunchtime in Brussels. “At this stage I cannot confirm any timing,” the spokeswoman said, adding that the European Commission president-designate was working “day and night” to determine the final composition of his commission and the distribution of the portfolios.
Sources in Brussels suggested some of the more high-profile commissionerships, such as economic affairs and competition, were still up for grabs. The nine women nominated by their member states as commissioners are expected to land at least some of the more senior roles, while the new commission line-up includes three former prime ministers who are eyeing senior positions.
Martin Wolf: In the second quarter of this year, real domestic demand in the euro zone was 5 per cent lower than in the first quarter of 2008. The euro zone’s unemployment rate has risen by just under five percentage points since 2008. In the year to July 2014, consumer price inflation in the euro zone was 0.4 per cent. From these telling facts one can conclude three simple things: the euro zone is in a depression; lack of demand has played a crucial role; and the European Central Bank has failed to deliver on its own price-stability target.
This is not just sad. It is dangerous. It is folly to assume continued stability if economic performance does not improve.
There are big gaps in keeping account of what happens the EU’s €140bn a year budget and it is time the auditing system was overhauled and extended, according to a report from the European Court of Auditors.
The study and review was headed up by the Irish member of the court, Kevin Cardiff, and will be followed by a second study into the risks of budget financial mismanagement.
Mr Cardiff, who was secretary general of the Department of Finance before taking up his current post, said that the revelations from the banking crisis showed a lack of oversight and control in the financial sector and prompted the landscape review of EU accountability and public audit arrangements.
Euro Topics: A Dutch commission on Tuesday presented its preliminary report on the crash of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. While refraining from naming a definite cause, the investigators suggest the plane was shot down. Commentators explain the report's diplomatic tone with the desire not to jeopardise the fragile ceasefire, but are convinced that the separatists - and their backers in Moscow - are to blame.
A report from between the fronts: In view of the many questions that the Dutch investigators' document leaves unanswered the term "preliminary report" takes on a whole new meaning, the liberal-conservative German daily Der Tagespiegel comments: "It's also a preliminary mapping out of the zone between the fronts, perhaps written more diplomatically than would normally be the case, so as not to jeopardise what both sides are calling a 'ceasefire'. Despite the fact that this truce has not been properly observed, it's still the best news we've had from the region for some time. With this in mind, now is really not the time for tougher language - and even less so for pointing fingers. Unless, that is, we have irrefutable proof. But this will have to be found sooner or later, and both sides must do all they can to uncover it."
Report leaves no doubt about plane's downing: The preliminary report makes no mention of missiles but it leaves no doubts about the cause of the crash, the liberal Swiss daily Corriere del Ticino comments: "The Dutch Safety Board has toned down the content of its official explanation with diplomacy. Yet it contains explosive material. Because there can be no doubt about the true meaning of the carefully chosen words. They use different expressions to say the same thing all technical experts call the 'signature of missiles' during investigations. ... But diplomacy requires that the sensitive issue of the exact nature of the 'flying objects' be handled with kid gloves. Only further metallographic laboratory tests by independent experts will clarify this question."
Tusk: era of a great leader draws to a close: Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk handed in his resignation on Tuesday, as he will take take office as EU Council President on December 1. The left-liberal news portal Polityka Online praises Tusk as a great prime minister who cleared many hurdles in his seven years in office: "This marks the end of an era. That of the great party leader who hasn't lost a vote since 2007. He ruled the country at a time when events of historic proportions rocked our country. These include the global financial crisis from which Poland emerged as the only country that did not suffer a recession. And they also include the Smolensk disaster, which not only claimed the lives of many members of our political elite but also posed huge challenges in terms of constitutional law. Then there were two major floods, and now the situation to the east, about which no one knows where it is heading or when it will end."
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