Opinion

Paul Taylor

Analysis: Europe ponders free trade or fair trade

Paul Taylor
Apr 2, 2012 05:52 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Europe has opened a can of worms by trying to reconcile free trade with fair trade.

Under pressure from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the European Commission adopted proposals on March 21 that could shut foreign companies out of bidding for public contracts in the European Union unless their home countries provide similar access to European firms.

The EU executive, which has historically promoted free trade and opposed protectionism, insists the measure is intended as a crowbar to open lucrative government contracts in countries such as Japan, the United States and China, not to close EU markets.

Public procurement worldwide, ranging from building roads and railways to supplying software and running data networks, is worth some 1 trillion euros a year, and Europe’s market is far more open than those of competitors, the Commission says.

Japan allows foreign bidders on less than 3 percent of public contracts, and the United States is only slightly more open. EU officials are irked by more “Buy American” provisions creeping into recent U.S. legislation.

Europe’s reform drive risks running out of steam

Paul Taylor
Mar 29, 2012 08:59 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – European leaders are caught between former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s injunction “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste” and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker’s admission that “We all know what to do. We just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.”

Signs of reform fatigue are growing in euro zone countries as bond market pressure for a radical budget and economic overhaul has eased slightly. While several governments have pushed through changes in pension, employment and welfare systems that would have been unthinkable before the currency area’s debt crisis, the reform push is losing momentum in the face of political resistance.

Italy’s unelected prime minister, Mario Monti, made a veiled threat to quit this week for the first time in an attempt to force through a shake-up of labour laws intended to make it easier for companies to fire workers. Monti warned Italians that his team of reforming technocrats might not stay in office until a 2013 election if trade unions and politicians picked his plan apart.

Analysis: Europe’s reform drive risks running out of steam

Paul Taylor
Mar 28, 2012 15:05 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – European leaders are caught between former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s injunction “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste” and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker’s admission that “We all know what to do. We just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.”

Signs of reform fatigue are growing in euro zone countries as bond market pressure for a radical budget and economic overhaul has eased slightly. While several governments have pushed through changes in pension, employment and welfare systems that would have been unthinkable before the currency area’s debt crisis, the reform push is losing momentum in the face of political resistance.

Italy’s unelected prime minister, Mario Monti, made a veiled threat to quit this week for the first time in an attempt to force through a shake-up of labour laws intended to make it easier for companies to fire workers. Monti warned Italians that his team of reforming technocrats might not stay in office until a 2013 election if trade unions and politicians picked his plan apart.

Shootings upend French election, Sarkozy gains

Paul Taylor
Mar 22, 2012 17:55 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – The shootings of French soldiers and Jewish schoolchildren by a home-grown Islamist gunman killed by police have upended France’s election campaign and resurrected conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy’s prospects.

The first opinion poll to be taken since Mohamed Merah, 23, committed his third and deadliest attack at a Jewish school in Toulouse on Monday showed Sarkozy surging past Socialist challenger Francois Hollande in the April 22 first round.

Hollande leads by eight points in voting intentions for the May 6 runoff, but the gap has narrowed and the Toulouse killings have thrust the issues of security and integration of immigrants to the top of the political agenda.

Killings may be campaign boost for France’s Sarkozy

Paul Taylor
Mar 20, 2012 18:39 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – A string of apparently racist murders in France could be a political windfall for conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, showcasing his leadership a month before a presidential election he seemed on course to lose.

Sarkozy’s response to the shootings of Jewish schoolchildren and soldiers of Muslim immigrant origin has enabled him to recapture the moral high ground, lead the nation in mourning and don his favorite uniform as France’s first policeman.

The president rushed to the scene, suspended campaigning, ordered a nationwide police hunt, attended memorial ceremonies, called a minute’s silence in schools around the country, and brought together Jewish and Muslim leaders at his office.

Sarkozy, Hollande snipe at EU to woo voters

Paul Taylor
Mar 19, 2012 06:54 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – To a visitor from Mars, France’s presidential election must seem a bizarre contest between candidates waging largely artificial battles with Europe before an electorate of economic illiterates.

President Nicolas Sarkozy boasts of having saved the euro and turned the corner in the currency area’s sovereign debt crisis (with a little help from German Chancellor Angela Merkel) despite losing France’s top-grade credit rating.

Sarkozy won plaudits for his activist handling of France’s European Union presidency in 2008 when he led the EU’s response to the global financial crisis and mediated an end to a brief war between Russia and Georgia.

Analysis: Sarkozy, Hollande snipe at EU to woo voters

Paul Taylor
Mar 19, 2012 06:53 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – To a visitor from Mars, France’s presidential election must seem a bizarre contest between candidates waging largely artificial battles with Europe before an electorate of economic illiterates.

President Nicolas Sarkozy boasts of having saved the euro and turned the corner in the currency area’s sovereign debt crisis (with a little help from German Chancellor Angela Merkel) despite losing France’s top-grade credit rating.

Sarkozy won plaudits for his activist handling of France’s European Union presidency in 2008 when he led the EU’s response to the global financial crisis and mediated an end to a brief war between Russia and Georgia.

In France presidential battle lines drawn on austerity

Paul Taylor
Mar 16, 2012 12:22 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s main presidential candidates have drawn clear battle lines over austerity, Europe and Germany as opinion polls show the gap between them narrowing five weeks before the first round of voting.

Socialist challenger Francois Hollande, whose wide poll lead over conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy has shrunk in the last week, raised the stakes in a television appearance on Thursday after winning public support from German and Spanish opposition leaders for his stance.

Hollande said that if elected he would not submit a German-inspired European treaty enforcing strict budget discipline for ratification unless it were “completed” by a growth component.

Ireland seeks promissory note deal by year end

Paul Taylor
Mar 15, 2012 18:15 UTC

PARIS, March 15 (Reuters) – Ireland is seeking a
significant reduction in the 17 billion euros ($22 billion) of
interest it would have to pay on a promissory note issued to
bail out its failed banks, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said
on Thursday.

On a visit to Paris, Noonan said Dublin was negotiating with
the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the
International Monetary Fund to replace the promissory note with
another instrument, lengthen the maturity and “keep the interest
rate quite low”.

He said he hoped for a deal by the end of this year.

The previous Irish government issued the note to Anglo Irish
Bank and home lender Irish Nationwide, now merged and known as
the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, to help them access
emergency funds from the Irish central bank – part of the ECB’s
Eurosystem – to repay private bondholders.

Out of intensive care, Europe risks chronic illness

Paul Taylor
Mar 5, 2012 09:01 UTC

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The euro zone is out of the emergency ward, but it may face a chronic debilitating illness rather than a rapid convalescence.

The challenges confronting Europe now are to avoid complacency, rekindle economic growth while cutting debt and prevent national politics pulling the currency area apart.

Last week’s European Union summit was the first in two years that was not totally dominated by fire-fighting in the currency bloc’s sovereign debt crisis. The relief was audible.

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