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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<P style=\"TEXT-ALIGN: justify\">The&nbsp;European Parliament&nbsp;plays a crucial role in the EU\'s legislative process, but is little loved in many parts of the EU. Even if all MEPs became wise, hard-working and responsible, the Parliament would still find it hard to claim a&nbsp;proper democratic mandate. </p>', created = 1495551682, expire = 1495638082, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:b4af623b0cf4e1fb72ad1763f86de54f' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">In a study on Ukraine published in October, the CER gave President Viktor Yanukovich credit for passing difficult economic reforms but criticised his efforts to suppress political opposition. Since then, reforms have stalled while the concentration of power in the president\'s hands has continued unabated.</p>', created = 1495551682, expire = 1495638082, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:431c7087858c3a6c8e7259e537240500' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: SELECT data, created, headers, expire, serialized FROM cache_filter WHERE cid = '3:cb35fe3716d14aa7a4b653b3d04ac071' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 27.
  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Turkey\'s accession to the EU is heading for an impasse. The bulk of the membership talks are blocked. Unless there is progress over Cyprus or Nicolas Sarkozy starts welcoming Turkish membership – both unlikely prospects – the EU and Turkey will soon run out of policy chapters to negotiate. </p>', created = 1495551682, expire = 1495638082, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:cb35fe3716d14aa7a4b653b3d04ac071' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Time is running out to prevent the eurozone crisis from imperilling Europe\'s banking system and with it the integrity of the currency union. It is beholden on policy-makers to minimise the economic (and hence political costs) to the EU.</p>', created = 1495551682, expire = 1495638082, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:f6555b33fa7b6aa58e9defa53c4fcb0f' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Poland is shedding its \'new member-state\' image and is instead trying to join the exclusive club of big EU countries. It is a laudable and so far largely successful goal, but not one without risks.</p>', created = 1495551682, expire = 1495638082, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:b2ac9bf98abb9af7b2529bcbad1e009b' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">On November 21st Ireland accepted financial support totalling around €90 billion from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). There was an awful inevitability about this outcome.<!--break--> The leaders of Germany and France triggered the turmoil by raising the spectre of private holders of government bonds incurring losses once a \'permanent crisis resolution mechanism\' replaces the existing European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF). Borrowing costs for the struggling members of the eurozone jumped, and for good reason. Until then eurozone governments and the European Central Bank had ruled out debt restructuring (a polite term for default). By raising the prospect of default, the French and the Germans opened the way for increased market speculation. Such speculation will be hard to contain, not least because it will be fully justified: in the absence of action to address imbalances between member-states and with a treaty ruling out bail-outs, a fiscal union becomes essential. However, the political obstacles to such a union appear insurmountable.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Taken out of context there is merit to the Franco-German proposal. Investors should have been encouraged to differentiate more fully between the various members of the eurozone from the start. They were not, partly because default was officially impossible. Had the Franco-German crisis resolution mechanism formed part of a broader reform of the eurozone - including meaningful action to address private sector imbalances within the currency bloc - it might not have been so damaging. But it came shortly after it became apparent that eurozone reform will comprise of little more than a beefed-up Stability and Growth Pact. As such, the acknowledgement that default was possible was almost guaranteed to prompt a speculative attack on one of the weaker member-states.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">When such speculation duly took place, policy-makers made belated attempts to \'clarify\' their position. But their clarification - that existing bonds would not be affected, just those issued after 2013 when the new crisis resolution mechanism would replace the EFSF - was illogical. If the mechanism was implemented, struggling eurozone countries would in 2013 have to pay ruinously high borrowing costs because investors would be fearful of default. The EU would then have to choose between launching an open-ended bail-out of the countries in question - which the fiscally sound member-states would be likely to baulk at - or pushing ahead with a restructuring of their debts. The latter would, of course, leave the current holders of these countries\' debts nursing losses, which explains why investors have taken fright.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Once investors expect a default, there is a risk of such an event becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the perceived risk of holding governments\' bonds increases, yields on these bonds go up, exacerbating countries\' financing difficulties and leading, in turn, to a further round of speculation. This has huge ramifications for the future of the euro. The EFSF has adequate funds to support a bail-out of Portugal. But what would happen if the bond market were to turn its attention to Spain? Spain\'s debt position (both public and private) is not as grave as that of Ireland or Portugal, but it is far from clear that Spain\'s economy will recover quickly enough to make its debt burden sustainable.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Since the EFSF is not big enough to finance a bail-out of Spain, eurozone governments would then have to turn to their electorates and win support for underwriting more debt. Leaving aside the tricky domestic politics of this, how many eurozone member-states would be strong enough to participate? For example, it is unlikely that Italy could participate in a major bail-out without investors looking askance at its own position. Italy is not confronted with the aftermath of a housing market crash, but the country has a very high level of public debt (around 115 per cent of GDP) and extremely poor growth prospects. Belgium is in a similar position. This means that the number of countries able to fund such a bail-out would be small, increasing the amount of debt that each would have to guarantee and hence their domestic difficulties in doing so. Investors are, of course, fully aware of this.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">There is nothing inevitable about the eurozone stumbling from crisis to crisis, but the EU will have to change track soon. First, rather than being replaced by a debt resolution mechanism, the EFSF needs to evolve into some kind of fiscal union. Without a permanent system to support member-states, it is hard to see how order can be restored to the bond markets. The eurozone\'s sovereign debt crisis is a political, not an economic, problem; taken as a whole the currency union’s debt position is manageable.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">&nbsp;Second, eurozone policy-makers need to acknowledge that the current strategy of forcing austerity and debt-deflation on the struggling peripheral member-states is self-defeating. If these countries were able to devalue it might work by boosting their trade competitiveness. Similarly, if serious action was taken to address trade imbalances within the currency union, the hard-hit member-states might have a chance of generating export-led growth. As it stands, however, a number of member-states are effectively insolvent and caught in a vicious circle. The collapse of economic growth has devastated tax revenues, while deflation threatens to push up the real value of their debts (as is already happening in Ireland). Third, the ECB should be loosening monetary policy and stepping up its strategy of bond purchases in an effort to save the currency union. In light of the risk of contagion to other member-states, including Spain, the ECB\'s very cautious strategy is much riskier than the potentially inflationary impact of such bond purchases.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">With a significant chunk of the eurozone economy stagnant and much of Germany\'s growth dependent on exports, the threat of a surge in inflation is imaginary. Sadly, none of these things is likely to happen. Domestic politics in a number of member-states, not least Germany, probably presents insurmountable obstacles to even a minimal fiscal union. Fiscal austerity is being stepped up in the hard-hit member-states, not scaled back. The next move in eurozone interest rates will be up, and the ECB is committed to winding-down its bond purchases. The eurozone cannot survive under these circumstances.</p>', created = 1495551682, expire = 1495638082, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:258ae358ef5d48ab4d101fc0d3277e42' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p style=\"text-align: justify;\"><strong>Will the euro break up?</strong></p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">The euro crisis is rooted in structural imbalances that even on an optimistic scenario will endure for years. Germany has a current account surplus and weak domestic demand, while Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain - after years of profligacy - suffer from current account deficits (Ireland excepted) and low growth. Nothing the EU is doing will close the gap in competitiveness between Germany and the problem countries, nor provide the demand that would allow the latter to grow their way out of trouble. These countries face a painful combination of public spending cuts, a suffocating debt burden and perhaps social unrest.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">The creation of a \'fiscal union\' - with cash transfers from prosperous countries to poor ones - could help to revive the eurozone. But neither Germany nor the other rich states want to write the cheques or transfer significant new powers to EU institutions. The financial markets have not yet focused on Italy, perhaps because its budget deficit is modest. But Italy\'s leaders are dangerously complacent. Like Greece, Portugal and Spain, Italy suffers from very high public debt, poor productivity, lost competitiveness and low growth. Yet while those countries have begun to embrace structural reform, Italy - whose size would make it very hard to bail-out - has not.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Yet despite all the difficulties, the euro is unlikely to crack. Many Anglo-Saxons under-estimate the strength of the political will that underpins it. EU leaders - even, ultimately, in Italy - will do whatever it takes to save the euro, short of setting up a fiscal union. They will sign up for bail-out after bail-out, persuade their parliaments to provide the money and swallow whatever losses may ensue from debt restructuring. The rich countries will not want to push any country out of the euro, lest market contagion grip another. Nor would a badly-indebted country be likely to want to leave: as soon as its leaders talked of withdrawal, money would shoot out and the economy would risk collapse.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">But might Germany itself quit? Many German citizens think the euro a burden and dislike the idea of their country bailing out profligate southerners. But Germany\'s business and political elites know the economy does very well out of the euro. German exporters have a captive market of uncompetitive countries that cannot devalue and that buy their goods. German leaders have failed to explain the benefits of the euro to the people and need to do so. But though Germany is more assertive of its interests than it used to be, it remains broadly pro-EU. Its post-war identity as a country committed to European integration is incompatible with the idea of leaving the euro and thereby wrecking the EU.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\"><strong>Will Germany continue to lead the EU?</strong></p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">The crisis has made Germany the EU\'s undisputed leader. That is not surprising, given that it provides the biggest share of all bail-outs, and its relative economic success. Other countries - including France - now measure the credibility of their economic policies by watching how much more their bonds cost than those of Germany. Chancellor Merkel said she wanted a treaty change to set up a crisis resolution mechanism, and that the mechanism should make private investors take a hit. France\'s President Sarkozy - like most EU leaders - opposed both ideas but then bowed to German pressure.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">French leaders tend to think German economic policies make the eurozone\'s problems worse. So why does Sarkozy follow Merkel? The French worry that the growing economic divergence between Germany and its less successful partners could make it reluctant to work through the EU. Sarkozy seems to think that the best way to maintain some influence over Germany is to support its euro policies.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Merkel will probably get her treaty change. The 27 governments will follow a \'simplified procedure\' that can only be used for an amendment that does not grant the EU new powers. They plan to ratify by parliamentary votes and to avoid referendums (though in some countries the courts may be asked to rule on whether a referendum is required). Vaclav Klaus, the Czech president, could repeat the games he played with the Lisbon treaty, delaying its ratification. But if all goes smoothly, the amendment will be ratified before the existing bail-out fund expires in 2013, just before the next German general election.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">The smaller countries - and the Commission - have so far gone along with the deals struck by Berlin and Paris, albeit reluctantly. But France and Germany will need to treat them with more sensitivity if they want to avoid a rebellion. Slovakia, for example, has already refused to join the Greek bail-out. Germany will keep leading. But if the EU\'s Berlin-led strategy for curing the euro\'s ills is seen to fail, the Germans will meet resistance.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\"><strong>Are there any rays of light in this dark picture?</strong></p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">&nbsp;In five years\' time the problem countries are likely to be better managed than today, thanks to market pressure. The German medicine of belt-tightening and large doses of structural reform may foster investor confidence, spurring productivity rises and even some growth. Meanwhile Germany may evolve. Its leaders do not like being told that they should rebalance the economy. But plenty of influential Germans - including those in positions of power - know that their country needs to boost investment and consumption, and become less export-dependent. Furthermore, Merkel has agreed to new EU procedures that will allow the Commission to monitor imbalances in the eurozone, and recommend policy changes.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">The German government may embrace reforms that would help rebalancing - such as increasing competition in services, the number of women in the workforce, and shopping hours. And there are tentative signs of domestic demand growing. Lower unemployment is pushing up wages, which are expected to rise by 3 per cent in 2011. The Council of Economic Advisers predicts that domestic demand will drive most growth in 2011 - because of weakening export performance and a (very modest) 1.6 per cent rise of consumer demand. The sooner the German economy rebalances, the better for the southern countries, and the euro.</p>', created = 1495551682, expire = 1495638082, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:09a28f82e06f457ee62340065c456884' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<P style=\"TEXT-ALIGN: justify\">Britain is showing an unprecedented interest in closer defence co-operation with its European partners. The coalition government in London should be commended for initiating bilateral deals and projects amongst a limited number of EU countries. <!--break-->But in so doing, it has also sought to undermine EU defence efforts. This is a mistake. As Britain explores options for closer collaboration with its European partners, it should also exploit the opportunities offered by existing EU defence initiatives and institutions.</p>\n<P style=\"TEXT-ALIGN: justify\">Like many of its European neighbours, the UK is cutting defence spending because of the economic crisis. The defence budget - already too small for what the government had committed to buy - is set to shrink by 8 per cent over the next four years. The coalition government is seeking to minimise the impact on the armed forces by reinforcing defence co-operation with selected allies. In November, Prime Minister David Cameron and President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a number of Franco-British initiatives, including the shared use of aircraft carriers and collaborative research for their nuclear deterrents. The same month, Britain launched a forum consisting of 11 North European countries - the Nordic and Baltic states plus Germany and Poland - designed to explore options for closer military collaboration.</p>\n<P style=\"TEXT-ALIGN: justify\">But according to government insiders, the Ministry of Defence is deliberately keeping EU defence efforts in a state of \'malign neglect\'. Over the last decade, the member-states have developed a series of EU initiatives to improve European military capabilities through closer co-operation. Britain\'s Conservative defence secretary, Liam Fox, argues that EU-wide defence initiatives are a waste of effort and money because most of the 27 spend little on defence and are unwilling or unable to send soldiers into harm\'s way. Fox also considers that EU defence policy lacks democratic accountability: since the Lisbon treaty entered into force, Catherine Ashton, the EU\'s High Representative, has combined the jobs of EU commissioner for foreign affairs and external representative of the EU member-states. For Fox this \'double hatting\' gives the supranational Commission an undesirable foothold in defence policy - not least because Ashton also heads the European Defence Agency (the EDA, a body which helps member-states develop defence capabilities collaboratively).</p>\n<P style=\"TEXT-ALIGN: justify\">The Conservatives are right to draw attention to the wide differences in size, sophistication and strategy of the armed forces of the various EU countries. It makes sense for those countries with more ambitious defence policies to work together in smaller groups. The UK is likely to find most affinities with France, the only European country with a similarly large defence budget and a tradition of expeditionary warfare. It is also true that overall progress has been limited since Britain and France launched EU defence co-operation in 1998, in the hope of incentivising European countries to spend their defence budgets more efficiently.</p>\n<P style=\"TEXT-ALIGN: justify\">Nevertheless EU efforts have led to some real improvements. Sweden, for example, took advantage of the EU battle group initiative - in which member-states agreed to put troops on standby for urgent EU military deployments - to develop its expeditionary forces. Several EU countries decided to lease jointly Russian aircraft in order to improve the availability of strategic airlift for EU (and NATO) operations. EU military deployments are maintaining stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and combating piracy off the coast of Somalia.</p>\n<P style=\"TEXT-ALIGN: justify\">The European Defence Agency has helped several member-states upgrade their helicopters so that they can take part in operations in Afghanistan. The Agency is also undertaking several large research programmes, including on unmanned aerial vehicles, from which the UK, and British industry, may gain. And since most EU defence ministries are represented in the EDA, the Agency is a useful forum for exploring opportunities to save costs on bilateral and multilateral projects, or at the least for co-ordinating defence cuts. Britain\'s Conservative leaders should not let their wariness over the role of a supranational institution in EU defence policy blind them to the synergies that the EDA and other initiatives could facilitate. All significant decisions regarding defence matters continue to rest firmly with the member-states. Recently the US government - worried about the continued deterioration of European armed forces - has become more supportive of EU defence co-operation. The Obama administration encourages any initiative that could minimise the damage from defence budget cuts.</p>\n<P style=\"TEXT-ALIGN: justify\">The British government should adopt the same attitude. The EU has only made modest contributions to improving European military capabilities. But at a time of renewed cut-backs in defence spending across Europe, Britain and its partners cannot afford to neglect a key framework available for exploring joint cost-saving projects.</p>', created = 1495551682, expire = 1495638082, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:f287257051fc2ce8f6adb1d863e6cb4d' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<P style=\"TEXT-ALIGN: justify\">The German plan for a eurozone insolvency procedure has spooked the markets and drawn political fire. </p>', created = 1495551682, expire = 1495638082, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:42f612dc425b0603d88befad7223840a' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">There is an awful inevitability about the latest instalment of the eurozone crisis, which looks highly likely to culminate in Ireland being forced to seek a bailout from the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF).</p>', created = 1495551682, expire = 1495638082, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:afe7f281e0905d877a3671faa3bead19' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p id=\"yui_3_7_2_1_1357477427311_12428\" class=\"yiv903558805MsoNormal\">The EU would have more influence in China if its governments were more willing to work together and if it focused on a few key objectives.</p>', created = 1495551682, expire = 1495638082, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:0b4a8a8d11942938621ed73857eb5485' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.

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