Europe on demand

Angela Merkel and Aleksandar Vucic, meeting on September 7th. (C. PAP)

Demand is still strong in the Old Continent.

Serbia demands its membership in the EU. Immediately.

Farmers are demanding more money.

Refugees are demanding a safe place to live.

Serbia

Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister of Serbia, who paid a visit to Germany on September 7th, said he would like the country to back Serbia’s efforts to become a member of the European Union. In the meantime, Serbian officials are urging EU officials to open the formal subject-to-subject negotiations.
Serbians claim they have already fulfilled all the criteria of integration and their obligations to Brussels. Let us remember that Serbia submitted a membership application to the Council of the European Union (so that it could assess its ability to meet the Copenhagen criteria) on December 22nd 2009. So it’s been almost 6 years since Serbia is striving to join the EU.

On her official trip to Serbia in August this year, German chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed that the Copenhagen criteria were fulfilled by Serbia. She said the EU will open negotiations with the country, but it’s not clear when it is going to happen.

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Hungary

Maybe there is no permanent influence of no-shopping Sundays on the volume of food sales, but there is an impact on labour market. As we read in the report of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (KSH), companies hiring more than four employees laid off 276 workers from February to June, after the new law went into effect. And we don’t know what the real impact on temporary workers and others is.

Gfk Hungary estimated that the reduced income in the retail business also meant lower tax payments. That implies a loss of HUF 50-100bn to the state budget.

Moreover,  the purchasing power of Hungarians is very low. As we read in the Purchasing Power 2014/2015 Europe report of Gfk, Hungary has a purchasing power of EUR 4,949 per inhabitant/ per year, which places Hungary between Turkey and Montenegro. The other CEE countries have the following purchasing power:

  • Greece: EUR 9,905
  • Slovenia: EUR 9,860
  • Slovakia: EUR 7,537
  • Lithuania: EUR 7,395
  • Estonia: EUR 7,173
  • Czech Republic: EUR 7,002
  • Latvia: EUR 6,921
  • Poland: EUR 6,170
  • Croatia: EUR 5,231
  • Montenegro: EUR 4,617
  • Romania: EUR 3,748
  • Serbia: EUR 3,120
  • Bulgaria: EUR 3,097
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: EUR 2,851
  • Macedonia: EUR 2,816
  • Kosovo: EUR 2,697
  • Belarus: EUR 2,365
  • Albania: EUR 2,286
  • Ukraine: EUR 1,641
  • Moldova: EUR 1,322

 

The average of EU-28 is: EUR 15,423
(Source: napi.hu)

A very interesting text about the Hungarian leader, written by Bulgarian ex-deputy Prime Minister, Simeon Djankov. In the article Victor Orban uses migrant crisis to shore up his sagging popularity”, Djankov figures out what the real reasons of Orban’s anti-migrant crusade are. The Bulgarian ex-Minister of Finance writes, of course, about the need for “political manoeuvring” as the rising popularity of Jobbik is challenging Orban’s party, Fidesz. But the hidden causes? The first is that Orban can be finally heard in the EU, pointing at the weakness of the EU, after its leaders have been attacking him for five years for his authoritarian style. So now he is shouting very loudly. The second is the lack of success with Orban’s alliance with Putin’s Russia. Djankov mentions Orban’s misfired efforts to effectively start Gazprom’s South Stream Project and many more.

Hungary/Serbia

300 immigrants pushed through a cordon around a reception camp at Roszke, on the Hungarian-Serbian border at the beginning of the week. Police used pepper spray against them. Last weekend approx. 20,000 refugees got into Germany from Hungary by train and on foot…

On Wednesday September 9th the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is supposed to announce new proposals on how to distribute refugees among the EU member states. As Reuters reports, Germany would take on more than 40,000 refugees, France 30,000 and the remaining 160,000 refugees would be relocated from Italy, Greece and Hungary to other EU countries.

The total number of refugees amounts to hundreds of thousands. They have come from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

While the EU leaders are talking about quotas, Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary, opposes them, saying it is too early to talk about it.

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Bulgaria

immiA massive protest of European farmers took place in Brussels on September 7th. Farmers of Bulgaria, Italy, France, Belgium and other European countries jointly demonstrated over dairy and meat prices. The situation of European producers has worsened in recent months due to weak Chinese demand, the ban on exports to Russia, scrapping the milk quotas by the EU Commission and more. In response to the protest, the EC announced on Monday the introduction of an aid package to farmers that amounts to EUR 500m. The package is supposed to address the issues of a) cash-flow difficulties, b) stabilization of the markets, c) functioning of the supply chain.

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Countries would benefit from renewables

A joint report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and Nuclear Energy Agency on renewables, based on an analysis of more than 180 plants and data covering 22 countries.

The study shows several trends, the key trend being a significant decline in the cost of renewable generation (in recent years). Green energy and nuclear energy from plants installed after 2020 would be the most cost-efficient.

Latvia

Andris Vilcmeiers is the new CEO of “Maxima Latvija”, the company that operates the chain of well-known supermarkets. He replaced Jelena Kondrasova, who has been heading the company for 2 years. “Maxima Latvija”’s turnover in 2014 was EUR 674.35 m.

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