Hungary aims to reduce bureaucracy
What’s the real condition of the Czech’s nuclear plants?
Croatian gas terminal may lose strategic status
Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza published an interview with Norbert Röttgen, the leader of German parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. Mr Röttgen, a Christian Democrat, commented the project of developing Nord Stream 2. Also “The Economist” writes about it. Röttgen commented Sigmar Gabriel’s vision according to which “Nord Stream2 is a commercial, not geopolitical matter”.
Sigmar Gabriel, the German Minister of Economy (and the leader of German Social Democrats), announced a deal between Russia and Germany on Nord Stream2 construction last autumn. Röttgen’s opinion confirms the division within German officials on the issue. He said in Gazeta Wyborcza that “this investment [Nord Stream2] is harmful and is against EU tasks and goals. The gas pipeline will boost the dependency on Russia. The question of gas supplies is the question of security. That’s why I think the Minister of Economy Sigmar Gabriel is wrong claiming Nord Stream2 is a commercial matter. It is a political matter. And it is reasonably that it’s a subject of a doubt in Poland. The German government should reconsider it”.
The Economists adds “Nord Stream 2 has few friends outside Russia and the German Social Democrats. Poland, Slovakia and the Baltic countries are aghast at what they see as a sinister pact to boost German business at the expense of their energy security. Russia could junk its pipelines that run through Poland and Ukraine, leaving them gas-strapped and at the mercy of powerful (and historically unfriendly) neighbors. The European Commission sees it similarly”. Röttgen says that Germany’s interests to have energy independence from Russia or solidarity with the EU would be better served by opposing Nord Stream 2.
After announcing layoffs of 15 per cent of state-employed staff, the Hungarian Cabinet Chief János Lázár’s explains the reduction of the bureaucracy is a step to boost the country’s competitiveness. Budapest Business Journal reports on Mr. Lázár’s TV interview in which the politician revealed the public sector accounted for some 20 per cent of all jobs in Hungary (at the same time the ratio was 13 per cent in Slovakia, and 10 per cent in Austria or Germany). Making the country more competitive require cuts. Now the state administration will be “simpler and more transparent, and based on ministries and local government offices that can provide fast, efficient and cheap operations”. Lázár added that the government team was evaluating its agencies and staffing requirements. Also the funds saved through layoffs will be partially spend on raising the salaries of the retained employees.
Radio Praha reports that “the Czech Republic’s dominant electricity company and nuclear power plant operator ČEZ has been plagued by flawed safety checks at both of its nuclear power plants. It now turns out that the flawed checks continued for around a decade”. ČEZ managing director Daniel Beneš said in the TV interview the flawed safety checks affected ČEZ’s main reactors Dukovany and (more modern) Temelín. As Beneš revealed, the flawed safety checks have been going on for around a decade.
He said: “I do not think it was slackness, it was a very sophisticated and deliberate fraud. If nearly all of the workers at this firm took part in a deliberate fraud, it is not slackness but a criminal act and that is how it must be treated.” He pointed out that it’s not the reason to doubt the competence of the company contracted to carry out the safety checks, because it had been authorized by the state to carry out such specialized work. As Radio Praha reports, both ČEZ and the State Office for Nuclear Safety (the state nuclear watchdog) have already filed criminal proceedings.
“Balkan Insight” reports that the construction of a gas terminal in northern Croatia could be removed by the Ministry of Economy from the official list of planned strategic projects. The liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal was planned to be constructed on the northern island of Krk. The works on the concept began in 2010 when the state energy companies founded another state owned company – LNG Croatia. The project was designated as strategic by the previous government in July 2015. The tender for potential investors was launched by the state-owned LNG Croatia the same month. Earlier, in October 2014, the EU backed the project offering EUR4.9m towards a feasibility study for the project.
The new economy minister Tomislav Panenic wants to remove it from the list of strategic investment projects. The “Balkan Insight” points out the President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic has emphasized the importance of the LNG terminal project during her visit to Poland in late January. She said to the Polish President Andrzej Duda: “The construction of the LNG terminal on Krk, hopefully in the near future, and the connection towards the Baltic and Poland – I think it would contribute a lot to energy efficiency and security”.
What’s up in indexes?
BUX (of Budapest) decreased from 23637.22 index points Friday, February 5th to 23262.32 index points Monday, February 8th. It dropped by 1.59 per cent d/d and by 2.75 per cent from year-end.
BET (of Bucharest Stock Exchange) dropped by 0.20 per cent Monday, February 8th. It closed at 6226.00 index points. The day before it closed at 6238.58 index points. From year-end it dropped by 11.11 per cent.
PX (of Prague) decreased from 904.79 index points Friday, February 5th to 872.53 index points Monday, February 8th. So it dropped by 3.57 per cent d/d and by 8.76 per cent from year-end.
WIG20 (of Warsaw) decreased from 1790.87 index points Friday, February 5th to 1769.71 index points Monday, February 8th. So it dropped by 1.18 per cent d/d and by 4.81 per cent from year-end.
OMXT (of Tallinn) dropped by 0.12 per cent – decreasing from 891.09 index points Friday to 889.99 index points Monday, February 8th. From year-end it dropped by 1.00 per cent.
OMXR (of Riga) increased from 615.54 index points Friday to 621.15 index points Monday, February 8th. It’s up 0.91 per cent d/d and up 4.51 per cent from year-end.
OMXV (of Vilnius) lost 0.05 per cent – decreasing from 486.91 index points Friday, February 5th. To 486.65 index points Monday, February 8th. From year-end it’s up 0.14 per cent.
SAX (of Bratislava) lost 1.74 per cent – decreasing from 310.99 index points Friday, February 5th to 305.59 index points Monday, February 8th. From year-end the index grew by 4.53 per cent.
SOFIX (of Sofia) decreased from 450.07 index points Friday, February 5th to 447.85 index points Monday, February 8th. So it dropped by 0.49 per cent d/d and by 2.83 per cent from year-end.
UX (of Kyiv) lost 0.04 per cent d/d and 8.62 per cent from year-end. It decreased from 626.97 index points Friday, February 5th to 626.75 index points Monday, February 8th.
CROBEX (of Zagreb Stock Exchange) was up 0.06 per cent Monday, February 8th. It closed at 1604.42 index points. The day before it closed at 1603.52 index points. From year-end it dropped by 5.04 per cent.