TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is being tipped as a frontrunner to take
over as EU chief when the powerful position comes up next year.
He is being linked with two top positions in the European Union in an analysis
of the contenders by an influential Brussels-based opinion-shaper.
The Taoiseach is viewed as a frontrunner for the powerful post of European
Council president, as he is seen as "capable but not a big name with an ego".
The European Council president chairs the meetings of EU leaders where all the
major decisions are made.
The post is up for grabs in December 2014.
And Mr Kenny has an outside shot for European Commission president, the head of
the EU cabinet, which becomes available next June.
HEALTH insurers have launched a string of special offers in a bid
to capture customers as thousands of people are about to renew their policies.
The firms are offering half-price cover for children, discounts for adults and
lower prices for those who buy policies online.
Insurers are also reacting to the fact that most people's private medical
insurance cover comes up for renewal between now and the end of the year.
It comes as the insurers are due to launch new stripped-down polices to lure
young families back into the market.
Last month, Aviva became the first to launch "no-frills" cover.
MOBILE phone calls are more expensive here than in most other
countries in Europe.
New research has found that it costs five times more to make a call on a mobile
in Ireland than it does in the cheapest country in the European Union.
Callers in this country are being hit with average charges of 10c a minute. This
is dramatically more than is being paid by people living in Lithuania.
People in Lithuania pay on average less than two cent a minute to make domestic
calls on their mobile phones.
The overall average in the EU is around 9c, according to new EU research.
Now vice president of the European Commission Neelie Kroes has warned mobile
operators that new measures will be brought in to help create more equal charges
across the continent.
IRISH government bonds are still vulnerable to a Greek-style
restructuring, Capital Economics warned yesterday.
The country still hasn't fully regained the competitiveness lost inside the euro
region and remains vulnerable to swings in the global economy, said Jonathan
Loynes, chief European economist at Capital Economics. Debt levels, the housing
market and a fragile banking sector may also hamper economic growth, Mr Loynes
added in a note to investors.
"Worries about its economic outlook or contagion effects from other troubled
peripheral economies could yet re-ignite market pressures and force the Irish
Government to turn again to outside help," Mr Loynes said. "There is even a risk
that Ireland will ultimately need to undergo a Greek-style debt restructuring,
perhaps putting its future inside the currency union in jeopardy."
Retailer Marks & Spencer is to close four stores in the Republic
with the loss of 180 jobs.
The stores that will close are M&S Mullingar, Co Westmeath; M&S Tallaght, Dublin
24; M&S Simply Food, Dun Laoghaire and M&S Simply Food Naas, Co Kildare.
Marks & Spencer is the latest high-profile franchise to curtail its presence
here on the back of a fall-off in retail.
The company said the move to close the stores followed a strategic review of its
On the upside, the company announced plans for a new flagship store in Limerick
which would open by 2016, creating up to 250 new jobs.
Head of M&S Ireland Jonathan Glenister said M&S remained fully committed to its
The US government has filed two civil lawsuits against Bank of
America that accuse the bank of investor fraud in its sale of $850 million of
residential mortgage-backed securities.
The lawsuits are the latest legal headache for the second-largest US bank, which
has already agreed to pay in excess of $45 billion to settle disputes stemming
from the 2008 financial crisis.
While most of the cases Bank of America has already confronted pertain to its
acquisitions of brokerage Merrill Lynch and home lender Countrywide, the
lawsuits filed pertain to mortgages the government said were originated,
securitized and sold by Bank of America’s legacy businesses.
The residential mortgage-backed securities at issue, known as RMBS, were of a
higher credit quality than subprime mortgage bonds and date to about January
2008, the government said, months after many Wall Street banks first reported
billions of dollars in write-downs on their holdings of subprime mortgage
Martin Wolfe of the FT says growth of output per head determines
living standards. Innovation determines the growth of output per head. But what
Conventional economics offers abstract models; conventional wisdom insists the
answer lies with private entrepreneurship. In her brilliant book, The
Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs Private Sector Myths, Mariana
Mazzucato, a Sussex university professor of economics who specialises in science
and technology, argues that the former is useless and the latter incomplete.
Yes, innovation depends on bold entrepreneurship. But the entity that takes the
boldest risks and achieves the biggest breakthroughs is not the private sector;
it is the much-maligned state.
WHEN Sports Direct revealed last month that its store staff were
to share £135 million in bonuses after a record year, the sportswear retailer
was hailed as a model employer.
At last, ordinary workers were being allowed a taste of banker-style bonuses,
with life-changing sums being paid out to those who served behind the counter. A
shop assistant on £20,000 a year was in line for shares worth £70,000, with
those on higher salaries receiving even more.
The headlines and editorials were unstinting in their praise; trebles all round
for the Sports Direct spinmeisters.
Selective information is a dangerous game, however, and within weeks Sports
Direct has gone from hero to zero with the revelation that 90 per cent of its
staff – 20,000 part-time workers – are ineligible for the bonuses because they
are employed on “zero hours” contracts.
The IMF’s executive board is split on the need for
German chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to do more to boost the economy
while it united in criticising the country’s trade surplus.
“Most directors supported the current policy
stance for this year, although some saw scope for a more proactive stimulus,
given the significant risks to the outlook,” the IMF said.
Germany should “sustain reform momentum to raise the economy’s growth potential
and promote a more balanced economy”.
Europe’s largest economy will expand 0.3% this year, depressed by sluggish
exports and “uncertainty” weighing on corporate investments, the IMF said in a
report on its so-called Article IV consultations with Germany.
At 1.4%, growth will reach potential again next year, it said, after predicting
growth of 1.3% in July.
Pressure on Merkel, who is seeking a third term in Sept 22 elections, to boost
spending at home to foster recovery in cash-strapped eurozone countries has been
growing. A year ago, the IMF did “not see the immediate need to have a
contingency plan for a fiscal stimulus”.
The market for industrial- and
manufacturing-appropriate property is expected to show a significant recovery
this year, particularly in Dublin, following the second consecutive quarter of a
decline in vacancy rates.
According to leading property agent Savills, the
second three months of 2013 marked only the fourth quarter in which the vacancy
rate for industrial units in Dublin has fallen since 2008, something which the
company believes signals a marked upturn in the fortunes of this area of the
A Savills spokesperson added that the last three months have seen the highest
proportion of sales transactions since 2008, a sign that prospective buyers
believe now is the right time to buy.
“The fundamentals of the industrial sector are beginning to improve, as the
vacancy rate falls in the second quarter, take-up levels exceed 50,000sq m for
two consecutive quarters and the number of sales increases to 41% of the total
number of transactions,” said Savills Ireland’s industrial sector director,
Presseurop: The northernmost border post in the
EU, the village of Nuorgam is the crossing point for workers that commute
between Finland and Norway. However, the region, which is in the heart of
Lapland, has to some extent been forgotten by the rest of Finland.
Hufvudstadsbladet, the Finnish daily
says: Every day, Jocke Pikkarainen leaves his home in Nuorgam [Finland] to
travel 25 kilometres north to his job in Tana Bru [in Norway], where he dons a
red uniform and spends his days dealing with outpatients. Jocke Pikkarainen is
from Kimito [southern Finland] and a former student in Turku. Having worked as
an ambulance driver, last August he and his girlfriend decided to move as far
away as he could without emigrating, to work on the northern bank of the river
Tana, which marks the border between Finland and Norway. Both he and his
girlfriend, who is currently on maternity leave, found work in the medical
centre in Tana Bru.
Euro Topics: In the mass trial against the
Turkish Ergenekon network, most of the 275 accused received prison sentences on
Monday after being found guilty of preparing a coup. Punishment was meted out
to the guilty and innocent indiscriminately, commentators criticise, accusing
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of trying to intimidate his opponents.
The Turkish musician and author Zülfü Livaneli, who was once himself a
political prisoner and lived in exile in the 1970s, describes the Ergenekon
trial as highly unjust in the conservative Turkish daily Vatan: "A terrible
shadow hovers over this decision, because innocent authors, generals and
politicians were judged on the basis of testimony by secret witnesses whose
accusations could not be proved. If they had only punished the butchers we'd
have applauded until our hands bled. But that's not how it was. ... Justice was
not served, because as well as the guilty, innocent people were also punished.
Now all hopes rest with the judges of the appeal court. I hope that justice will
be done there."
The left-liberal German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung sees correlations between the
Ergenekon trial and the Gezi protests: "A ban on torture, freedom of expression,
the scrapping of the death penalty, the recognition of Kurdish culture, limiting
the power of the military, a new course in foreign policy - all this was on the
agenda of Erdoğan's AKP. … 'After Gezi', the head of government claims, Turkey
suddenly has many new enemies. And once again the enemies are in the country.
They are predominantly young, well educated and until now for the most part
apolitical, and they long for all the freedoms Erdoğan himself once promised
them. Now these young people are being declared 'terrorists' by the
government. … So we see the standards slipping: those who equate the terror of
the 'deep state' on which a Turkish court in Silivri pronounced sentence on
Monday with the predominantly harmless demonstrators don't feel strong, but
A dispute between Spain and the UK over fishing grounds off the coast of the
British overseas territory of Gibraltar has escalated in the last few days.
Spanish authorities upped the controls at border crossings between Gibraltar and
Spain, forcing people to queue up for hours, in a retaliatory measure after
Gibraltar boats started dumping of blocks of concrete into the sea, which was
interpreted by Spain as a bid to block Spanish fishing boats. The
left-liberal Spanish daily El País sees Spain's bullying tactics as
counterproductive: "Spain must defend its interests, but without endangering
its good relations with Britain, which are as important to it right now as
regaining sovereignty over Gibraltar. And to make progress on the path to this
goal we must also forge good relations with the 29,000 inhabitants of the
British colony. Because as the debate on this problem at the United Nations has
shown, in the end any decision must be approved by its inhabitants."
Around 3,000 philosophers from all over the world arrived in Athens on Sunday
for the 23rd World Congress of Philosophy. The left-liberal Greek daily
Efimerida ton Syntakton complains that philosophers are too silent in times of
crisis: "That's the most convincing proof of the academic entrenchment of
philosophy and the distortion it is subjected to in a system that serves the
interests of pragmatism, utilitarianism and ultimately cynicism. ... After
adjusting for so long to the needs of a lucrative model of research and
teaching, philosophy has morphed into an autistic, self-serving discipline.
It's no coincidence that the social stereotype of the philosopher is that of
someone who lives in his own world. More a drop-out than a militant intellectual
who asks questions in the name of society and stands up to the powers that be."
Check out our
, at a low annual charge of €25.