Category Archives: Euro

(CNBC) ECB in panic mode? Experts warn it’ll take more than a central bank to help Europe recover

(CNBC)

  • The Frankfurt-based institution surprised markets with a renewed dovish tone.
  • ECB President Mario Draghi said that interest rates would remain at record lows at least until December.

Silvia Amaro@Silvia_AmaroPublished 8 Hours AgoCNBC.com

ECB's Draghi: Near term growth weaker than expected

ECB’s Draghi: Near term growth weaker than expected  9:08 AM ET Thu, 7 March 2019 | 02:30

New monetary stimulus from the European Central Bank (ECB) will do “little” to boost the region’s sluggish economy and tackle its biggest risks, analysts told CNBC.

“(The ECB’s) announcements have some flavor of panic as the ECB’s base case scenario still foresees a gradual recovery and the 2020 and 2021 forecasts were hardly revised downwards,” Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING Germany, said in a note Thursday.

The Frankfurt-based institution surprised markets with a renewed dovish tone. ECB President Mario Draghi said that interest rates would remain at record lows at least until December. Growth forecasts for the euro zone were slashed for this year and new loans to euro zone banks were announced.

“The measures as such are not such a big surprise but the timing of the announcement is,” Brzeski added. “(The announcements) are also a bit of a gamble as they will do very little to tackle the biggest risks for the euro zone economy, which according to the ECB stem from external sources.”

Draghi even acknowledged this fact in a press conference following the ECB’s formal rate decision on Thursday. “We are aware that our decisions (new stimulus) certainly increase the resilience of the euro zone economy, but actually can they address these factors that are weighing on the euro zone economy in the rest of the world? They cannot,” Draghi told reporters, adding that protectionism and geopolitics were among those outside risks.

“I wonder if the ECB will ever increase rates in this economic cycle.”-Christoph Schon, Executive director at Axioma

The euro zone economy saw its lowest pace of growth in four years during the final three months of 2018, data showed in January. More recently, manufacturing data have shown a slowdown in activity. This comes amid concerns over global growth, tariffs between the U.S and China, and weakness in emerging markets.

“With few domestic catalysts for a turnaround, it may take a rebound in demand from the emerging world to improve prospects for the (euro zone) region,” Tilmann Galler, a global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, said in a note Tuesday.

The ECB slashed its growth forecast for 2019 to 1.1 percent from an earlier forecast of 1.7 percent made in December. The bank also lowered its inflation forecasts for 2019. Annual inflation is set to hit 1.2 percent this year, when December forecasts had pointed to a headline inflation target of 1.6 percent. The ECB’s inflation target is “close but below 2 percent.”

“I wonder if the ECB will ever increase rates in this economic cycle,” Christoph Schon, executive director at Axioma, told CNBC Friday, given the prolonged moribund state of the economy.

(Reuters) Global stocks stuck in worst run of the year ahead of ECB

(Reuters) LONDON (Reuters) – World stocks were stuck in their worst run of the year and bonds were on the rise on Thursday, as investors waited for confirmation that the European Central Bank will start shoveling cheap cash at the euro zone again.FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen outside the entrance of the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain. Aug 23, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

The ECB was holding its second meeting of the year, and with the euro almost motionless and stocks suffering from the same growth nerves that will see the central bank chop its in-house forecasts later, markets were poised.

European shares retreated further from five-month highs as MSCI’s 47-country world share index also dropped for a fourth straight session to set its longest losing streak since December’s rout.

Italy’s government bonds rallied to a 7-month high while its banks, which used the biggest share of the previous round of cheap central bank loans, rose 0.1 percent but remained below the highs hit in the previous session.

A return to what was once its flagship crisis-fighting tool would be a wrenching change of direction for the ECB just months after it wound down its 2.6 trillion euro QE program,

But Head of investments at UK fund manager Hermes, Eoin Murray, said he wondered how much impact such measures, or even more U.S. Fed stimulus, would have, considering the potency has tended to wane with every new round in recent years.

“I just don’t think it will have the power to get the economy to the point of takeoff,” Murray said.

Europe’s subdued mood came after Asia and Wall Street had also both stumbled overnight.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged 0.3 percent lower on Thursday, yet hovering not far from its five-month high marked last week, and was up 10 percent year-to-date.

Japan’s Nikkei average fell 0.7 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.7 percent and Chinese blue-chips snapped a four-day winning streak as the boost from new stimulus plans there ran into the sand.

Wall Street’s main indexes had fallen for a third straight session, with the S&P 500 posting its biggest one-day decline in a month, as investors sought reasons to buy after a near 20 percent rally since the start the year.

“For some time, markets had been pricing in good news, namely that the talks between the U.S. and China will likely go well,” said Tatsushi Maeno, senior strategist at Okasan Asset Management. “Now markets are having a pause.”

Adding to concerns about the talks was data that showed the U.S. goods trade deficit surged to a record high in 2018 as strong domestic demand pulled in imports, despite the Trump administration’s “America First” policies aimed at shrinking the gap.

Other U.S. data out on Wednesday suggested some slowing in the labor market, though the pace of job gains remains more than enough to drive the unemployment rate down.

The ADP National Employment Report showed private payrolls increased by 183,000 in February after surging 300,000 in January. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast private payrolls advancing 189,000 in February.

The government’s more comprehensive “non-farm” payrolls employment report for February is scheduled for release on Friday.

Stocks sink for a 3rd day

(graphic: Impact of TLTRO on Italian and Spanish banks link: tmsnrt.rs/2VH5AZw).

TIME TO TLRTO?

In the currency market, the euro traded at $1.1304, hovering near a two-week low ahead of the ECB and its expected news on its cheap long-term loans for banks, known more formally as Targeted Long-Term Refinancing Operations (TLTROs).

The dollar was little changed at 111.74 yen, moving away from Tuesday’s 2-1/2-month peak of 112.135, while the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six of its peers, barely moved at 96.887.

The Canadian and Australian dollar sank to two-month lows on Wednesday as traders scaled back holdings on expectations policy-makers would leave interest rates alone in the foreseeable future or even lower them to counter their softening economies.

Adding to the Aussie’s woes on Thursday was data showing local retailers suffered another bleak month in January, in a sign overall economic momentum was slowing. The Aussie dollar last changed hands at $0.7042, up 0.1 percent on the day.

Brexit uncertainty kept the pound below an eight-month high hit last week as investors waited for some clarity to emerge out of negotiations between Britain and the European Union.

Diplomats said talks in Brussels on Tuesday led by British Prime Minister Theresa May’s chief lawyer, Geoffrey Cox, failed to find common ground, with three weeks to go before Britain’s scheduled departure on March 29.

“Markets are getting conflicting signals from lawmakers in Britain and the negative news flow from Brussels on the negotiation process, and that is keeping the pound in a tight range,” said Nikolay Markov, a senior economist at Pictet Asset Management.

Among commodities, oil edged up amid ongoing OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against exporters Venezuela and Iran, although prices were prevented from rising further by record U.S. crude output and rising commercial fuel inventories.

U.S. crude futures rose 0.1 percent to $56.29 per barrel, moving closer to its 3-1/2-month high of $57.88 touched Friday, while international benchmark Brent futures gained 0.3 percent to $66.20 per barrel.

(EUobserver) Italy poses risk to eurozone, says EU

(EUobserver)

The European Commission on Wednesday said Italy’s excessive economic imbalances poses a risk to the countries inside the eurozone. “Italy is experiencing excessive imbalances. High government debt and protracted weak productivity dynamics imply risks with cross-border relevance, in a context of still high level of non-performing loans and high unemployment,” said the EU executive.

(JN) Timmermans: “Portugal é um exemplo para a Europa”

(JN) O candidato dos socialistas europeus a presidente da Comissão Europeia, o ainda comissário holandês Frans Timmermans, apontou Portugal como um exemplo na Europa, ao falar na Convenção Europeia do PS, que se realizou este sábado em Vila Nova de Gaia.  

“António Costa e o seu governo mostram todos os dias que podem ter um país na Europa mais social”, afirmou, para sublinhar que a recuperação da austeridade não foi feita “à custa dos filhos e netos, nem colocando mais um fardo sobre as costas”.

Segundo Timmermans, que é vice-presidente da Comissão Europeia, “Portugal mostra ao resto da Europa como se pode ser responsável com o dinheiro dos contribuintes”, entre outras coisas criando mais empregos e aumentando o salário mínimo. “António e o seu governo mostraram o caminho”, disse.

Qualificando o primeiro-ministro português como um “líder patriota, aberto ao resto do mundo e que diz ao seu povo que seja aberto, optimista, respeite as diferenças e seja simpático para com os refugiados que não têm para onde ir”, o “spitzenkandidat” (cabeça de lista) socialista apelou a que chegou a altura de “fazer alguma coisa” pela Europa.

“É tempo de pôr fim ao ódio e ao incitamento à violência, de pôr fim à diferença de vencimentos entre homens e mulheres (…), de fazer as grandes multinacionais pagar impostos como todos, de nos comprometermos com uma economia sustentada”, declarou o holandês, que salientou a necessidade de “criar um mundo com mais justiça” e uma estratégia europeia para África, a fim de ajudar este continente agora.

Neste elencar de necessidades, Timmermans referiu ainda que é preciso arranjar casas para os jovens, “que estão desesperados em encontrar uma em todas as grandes cidades europeias”, bem como de dizer “não” a uma nova corrida aos armamentos e às políticas de exclusão, nacionalismo e ódio.

Evocando o que disse o Presidente francês num vídeo apresentado aos participantes da Convenção – que “estas eleições são sobre a alma da Europa” – Timmermans destacou ainda que Portugal tem uma forte mensagem para dizer à Europa, nomeadamente como se pode recuperar de uma terrível crise económica e recuperar o optimismo.

“Estou orgulhoso de estar aqui, de ser um socialista e do que o Partido Socialista conseguiu nestes últimos anos”, concluiu o candidato dos socialistas europeus, que considerou o PS motivo de “inspiração pessoal”.

(CNBC) The EU could collapse in the same way the Soviet Union did, George Soros warns

(CNBC)

  • Billionaire investor and liberal political activist George Soros said Europe needs to recognize its enemies, both internal and external.
  • Europe “is sleepwalking into oblivion and the people of Europe need to wake up before it is too late.”
  • He said the European Union could experience the same fate as the Soviet Union which collapsed in 1991.
George Soros

OLIVIER HOSLET | AFP | Getty ImagesGeorge Soros

Billionaire investor and liberal political activist George Soros has issued a call for Europe to “please wake up” and recognize “the magnitude of the threat” it faces from what he said were its enemies, both internal and external.

Europe “is sleepwalking into oblivion,” the legendary investor warned in an opinion piece published by Project Syndicate on Monday, “and the people of Europe need to wake up before it is too late.”

“If they don’t, the European Union will go the way of the Soviet Union in 1991,” he said, alluding to the dramatic dissolution of the USSR and the fall of Communism in 1991.

The European Union (EU) is experiencing a “revolutionary moment” and the eventual outcome is “highly uncertain,” Hungarian-American investor Soros added.

Worse still, Soros believed that neither Europe’s leaders nor ordinary citizens appreciated this fact.

The current leadership is reminiscent of the politburo (the principal policy-making committee in the Soviet Union) when the union collapsed, Soros said, “continuing to issue ukazes (orders) as if they were still relevant.”

European Parliament elections in May 2019 were the next inflection point for the bloc. Anti-establishment, euroskeptic parties are expected to perform well.

“Unfortunately, anti-European forces will enjoy a competitive advantage in the balloting. There are several reasons for this, including the outdated party system that prevails in most European countries, the practical impossibility of treaty change, and the lack of legal tools for disciplining member states that violate the principles on which the European Union was founded,” he said.

Fatal mistakes

Soros’ commentary comes at a time of uncertainty and instability in Europe amid a rise in populism and anti-establishment sentiment.

Brexit in the U.K., widespread civil unrest in France, an influential right-wing party in government in Italy and political flux in Germany, a country that has witnessed its own rebirth of far-right politics, is shaking the bloc’s foundations. In addition, anti-migrant policies and anti-democratic actions in eastern Europe have put countries like Hungary and Poland on a path towards potential disciplinary action with the rest of the EU.

Soros explored the political situation in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel (who’s serving her last term in office) is seeing her own Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party pressured in office not only by its coalition partners, the Christian Social Union (CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD) but by the far-right “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) that has gained voters with its euroskeptic, anti-immigration pledges.

“As it is, the current ruling coalition cannot be as robustly pro-European as it would be without the AfD threatening its right flank,” Soros noted. On Brexit, he said the public was becoming increasingly aware of the “dire consequences” of the U.K.’s departure from the EU but noted now that “the situation is so complicated that most Britons just want to get it over with, although it will be the defining event for the country for decades to come.”

When it comes to Italy, Soros said Europe had made a “fatal mistake” in 2017, during the migration crisis, when it enforced the Dublin Agreement which meant that migrants arriving on European shores had to claim asylum in the first country of entry. Italy struggling to cope with the number of migrants arriving drove the electorate “into the arms of the anti-European League party and Five Star Movement in 2018,” Soros noted.

To counter anti-European forces, both within and without the bloc, Soros said Europe needed to recognize its enemies and then “awaken the sleeping pro-European majority and mobilize it to defend the values on which the EU was founded.”

“Otherwise, the dream of a united Europe could become the nightmare of the twenty-first century.”

(P-S) The European Commission’s Taxing New Idea – Otmar Issing

(P-S) The European Commission is proposing that EU tax policies be subjected to qualified-majority voting just when the balance of power in the bloc is about to shift decidedly to the southern member states. That would set the stage for a rebellion among northern members, which will have effectively lost fiscal sovereignty.

FRANKFURT – Under the Treaty of Lisbon, in effect since 2009, the European Union became a more agile and effective operator, because EU policies across a range of issues were now to be decided by qualified-majority voting instead of unanimity.
But as recent efforts to allocate refugees within the EU show, in some cases, particularly where fundamental issues of national sovereignty are involved, outvoted member states are unprepared or unwilling to implement collective decisions. Nonetheless, the European Commission is now wading into yet another domain where fundamental issues of sovereignty are at stake.

For many years, some EU member states have refused to cooperate fully in the fight against tax evasion and avoidance. And because EU tax policies still require unanimity, each country has a veto. It seems only natural, therefore, that the EU would want to introduce qualified-majority voting here, too. Under a new proposal from Pierre Moscovici, the EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation, and Customs, if 55% of member states representing at least 65% of the EU population were to vote in favor of a new tax policy, it would pass.

At first glance, the situation certainly does seem to merit a strengthening of the EU’s hand on tax matters, so that it can finally correct a glaring shortcoming. Yet once qualified-majority voting has been introduced as a means of reining in tax evasion and avoidance, it will also determine all future tax policies.

This is not merely an assumption. The Commission’s stated objective is to apply qualified-majority voting to all tax-policy initiatives that are “necessary for the Single Market and for fair and competitive taxation.” Such a vague formulation opens the door to all manner of interventions.

As a further justification of his proposal, Moscovici also points to the potential to secure additional EU revenues through new financial-transaction and digital taxes – both of which his proposal explicitly mentions as possible policy options. It remains to be seen whether these special taxes will meet their proponents’ expectations. But even if they fail, previous experience suggests that the Commission will nonetheless use the new voting rule to secure ever-higher tax revenues “for Europe” through whatever means available.
As it happens, the United Kingdom’s impending departure from the bloc will dramatically alter the conditions for achieving a qualified majority on tax matters. The UK is among the northern member states that, together, account for 39% of the EU population and tend to resist protectionist measures, tax increases, and transfers to highly indebted countries. By comparison, the Mediterranean countries that generally favor transfers and taxes currently account for 38% of the EU population.

This is as it should be. Under the Treaty of Lisbon, the conditions for a qualified majority have been balanced in such a way as to give both the “North” and the “South” a blocking minority of (at least) 35% of the EU population. As long as the northern member states were aligned, they could prevent any initiatives that were against their interests. After Brexit, however, the North’s share of the population will fall to 30%, while the South’s share will rise to 43%. In other words, the North will no longer have a veto. Making matters worse, following the upcoming election in May, a similar southward shift is also imminent in the European Parliament, which would also gain a greater say in tax-policy questions if the Commission’s proposals are enacted.

The Commission’s proposal should be seen for what it is: an attempt to undermine the fiscal competence of sovereign states through a seemingly harmless back door. With the upcoming rebalancing of power within the EU clear for all to see, one need not be a prophet to predict higher taxes in the future. Even if the northern member states’ national parliaments are uniformly opposed to tax increases, they will have no way to block them. And, sooner or later, the backlash against this loss of sovereignty and wholesale soaking of the northern EU countries will be directed against the EU itself.

In light of these ramifications, the Commission’s proposal to subject tax policies to qualified-majority voting not only runs counter to the already-fraught efforts to achieve an “ever closer union,” but also jeopardizes the successful integration that has occurred to date. Apparently, the Commission has learned very little from the bruising Brexit debate of the past two and a half years. With its latest tone-deaf initiative, it continues to add grist to the Euroskeptics’ mill.

(BI) It’s official: Italy’s economy has slipped into recession

(BI)

  • Output in Europe’s fourth largest economy contracted 0.2% in the fourth quarter, on the heels of a 0.1% drop in the quarter before that.
  • This means Italy is officially in recession, which is defined as two successive quarters of economic contraction.
  • Istat cited a “decrease of value added in agriculture, forestry and fishing as well as in industry and a substantial stability in services.”
  • It’s not just Italy. Industrial production throughout the whole of the eurozone slumped into the end of 2018.

It’s official: Italy is in a recession.

Output in Europe’s fourth largest economy contracted 0.2% in the fourth quarter, on the heels of a 0.1% drop in the quarter before that, statistics agency Istat saidon Thursday. (A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth.)

While the decline was bigger than expected, analysts were expecting a recession after a slew of data showed how the fundamentals of the Italian economy continue to struggle.Read more: We now have conclusive proof that Europe is in an economic slump, and that two of its biggest economies are careering towards recession

Istat cited a “decrease of value added in agriculture, forestry and fishing as well as in industry and a substantial stability in services. From the demand side, there is a negative contribution by the domestic component (gross of change in inventories) and a positive one by the net export component.”

Manufacturing was a warning sign

Italy’s manufacturing sector has bombed out in recent months, with both survey and official data showing a continued contraction at the end of 2018.

Andrew Harker, an associate director at IHS Markit, which compiles PMI, said on January 2 that the manufacturing slump was a “worrying end to the year for Italian manufacturers, with firms continuing to struggle to secure new business.”

“This is in marked contrast to the start of 2018, when the sector was experiencing strong growth,” he added. “With business confidence at a six-year low, there appears little sense of optimism that the current soft patch will come to an end in the near future.”

While the budget crisis that gripped Italy in the second half of 2018 seems to finally have a solution, the country’s government is volatile and highly euroskeptic, so the country is teetering on the edge of yet another political crisis.

And it’s not just Italy.

Industrial production throughout the whole of the eurozone slumped into the end of 2018, signalling that the single currency area’s economy is still growing, but doing so at a glacial pace. Eurostat, the EU’s statistical authority said in early January that industrial production fell by 1.7% between October and November last year.

(BBG) Portugal, Ireland Bond Sales Show Conviction on ECB Rate Outlook

(BBG)

In one fell swoop, Portugal and Ireland completed a quarter of their refinancing for the year.

The two nations sold 4 billion euros ($4.6 billion) of bonds each via syndication Wednesday, compared with Portugal’s 15.4 billion euro target for 2019 and Ireland’s goal of between 14 and 18 billion euros. That follows banks underwriting around 21 percent of Belgium’s target issuance Tuesday.

Orders for Ireland’s 10-year syndication were above 18 billion euros, while those on Portugal’s were above 24 billion euros, according to people familiar with the matter. That’s despite European nations offering more than 30 billion euros in debt this week alone.

The robust demand for the bonds shows conviction among investors that the European Central Bank isn’t going to be able to raise borrowing costs against a backdrop of slowing economic growth and recession fears in the U.S. Their skepticism is also reflected in the yield on German bunds, which touched the lowest level in more than two years last week.

“The New Year has unleashed pent-up demand for sovereign and agency paper on the primary market, and we think this is set to continue,” said Ciaran O’Hagan, head of European rates strategy at Societe Generale SA. “The drive lower in yields has forced buyers out into the market.”

(ECO) E o melhor ministro das Finanças da Europa é… The Banker elege Mário Centeno

(ECO)

O português foi eleito entre os pares europeus pela The Banker. A nível global, o ministro das Finanças do ano foi Sri Mulyani Indrawati, da Indonésia.

Mário Centeno foi eleito o melhor ministro das Finanças da Europa em 2018, pela publicação The Banker, que pertence ao grupo do Financial Times. Após ter completado um ano na presidência do EurogrupoCenteno recebeu o prémio, que celebra os responsáveis políticos que “melhor conseguiram estimular o crescimento e estabilizar a economia”.

“O ministro das Finanças português Mário Centeno pode olhar para os primeiros 12 meses como presidente do Eurogrupo com merecida satisfação“, escreve a publicação. “Maratonas de negociação entre os ministros das Finanças no início de dezembro terminaram com as mais significativas reformas do bloco da moeda única desde a crise da dívida soberana. Foram alcançados acordos em dezenas de tópicos com base na prevenção e gestão de futuras crises financeiras”.

A publicação considera que Centeno foi uma escolha inusitada para um dos cargos com mais prestígio da Zona Euro já que é o primeiro presidente do Eurogrupo vindo do sul da Europa e de um país que foi resgatado durante a crise financeira, mas elogia o percurso do português. Para 2019, vê como principais desafios o Sistema Europeu para a Garantia de Depósitos e o Orçamento da Zona Euro.PIB cresce 2,2%? Costa vence eleições? 19 questões para 2019 Ler Mais

A par do sucesso com as negociações no Eurogrupo, a The Banker aponta ainda para a recuperação económica de Portugal, com o desemprego a cair abaixo de 7% (do pico de 17% em 2013) e as estimativas da OCDE a projetarem um crescimento do produto interno bruto (PIB) de 2% tanto em 2019 como em 2020. O défice orçamental deverá passar a excedente em 2020 (na visão da OCDE) e o rácio de dívida face ao PIB continuar a diminuir nos próximos anos.

Número dois de um Governo que lidera o país, desde 2015, em acordo informal com os partidos da esquerda, Centeno restruturou e recapitalizou ainda quatro dos cinco maiores bancos portugueses. A publicação acrescenta que o salário mínimo e as pensões aumentaram, enquanto os impostos às empresas e aos baixos rendimentos caíram.

Além de Centeno, houve outros eleitos noutras regiões pela The Banker. O melhor ministro das Finanças em 2018 a nível global é da região Ásia-Pacífico: Sri Mulyani Indrawati, da Indonésia. No continente americano, foi galardoado o chileno Felipe Larrain. Em África, o escolhido foi o egípcio Mohamed Maait, enquanto, no Médio Oriente, foi o israelita Moshe Kahlon.

(BBG) Italy Strikes Budget Deal With EU, Dodging Sanctions Process

(BBG

By Nikos Chrysoloras and Viktoria Dendrinou19 de dezembro de 2018, 10:59 WET Updated on 19 de dezembro de 2018, 12:08 WET

  •  Italian markets rallied on news of the agreement with the EU
  •  The bloc won’t launch a so-called excessive deficit procedure

European Commissioner Dombrovskis: We Found Solution for 2019 Italy BudgetEuropean Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis discusses Italy’s budget and the country’s deal with the EU.LISTEN TO ARTICLE 2:43SHARE THIS ARTICLE Share Tweet Post EmailIn this articleFTSEMIBFTSE MIB INDEX18,941.90EUR+297.05+1.59%

The European Commission decided against launching a disciplinary procedure against Italy over its budget after the country’s populist government pledged to rein in its spending. Italian assets rallied.

Following a meeting of its top officials, the commission, the EU’s executive arm, concluded that concessions by Italy on its budget meant the country didn’t warrant a triggering of the so-called excessive deficit procedure that could eventually lead to financial penalties.

“Intensive negotiations over the last few weeks have resulted in a solution for 2019,” Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday. “Let’s be clear, the solution is not ideal but it avoids opening the excessive deficit procedure at this stage and it corrects the situation of serious non-compliance.”

Italian 10-year bond yields fell as much as 18 basis points to 2.75 percent, the lowest level in over three months while the FTSE MIB index of shares rallied as much as 1.8 percent with banking stocks leading gains.

The decision comes after weeks of negotiations between Italian and EU officials and caps a months-long tussle with Brussels that roiled markets. It also marks a climbdown for the country’s firebrand populist leaders, who rose to power with expensive election promises including a lower retirement age and more welfare benefits.

Brussels and Rome met each other half way for the compromise to be reached, as Italian populists held off on their most ambitious spending plans, while the Commission turned a blind eye on Italy’s failure to comply with the obligation to lower its structural deficit next year — which excludes one-off expenditures and the effects of the economic cycle.

Budget Concessions 

As part of the deal, Italy cut its deficit target for next year to 2.04 percent of gross domestic product and shaved about 4 billion euros ($4.6 billion) off its spending plans. Rome’s initial plan for a deficit of 2.4 percent was rejected by officials in Brussels because it was in breach of the EU’s budget rules, while analysis by the commission last month suggested that the deficit would actually be close to 3 percent.

While far from what the EU had hoped, the deal is a relief for EU officials, who had fretted for months over the possible impact a prolonged budget standoff could have on the country’s finances and the euro-area economy.

“The composition of the announced measures and the budget overall still raise concern,” Dombrovskis said, adding that Italy urgently needed to restore confidence in its economy and put its debt on a downward path.

Discussions were further complicated by measures taken by the French government to calm the Yellow Vest protests, which will likely push the country’s budget deficit over EU limit next year. The move by France gave rise to complaints from Rome that Paris gets special treatment when it comes to its budget.

(EUobserver) ECB to reinvest €2.5tn from eurozone stimulus

(EUobserver) The Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) decided on Thursday how to reinvest €2.5tn it has pumped into the economy since 2015 in the wake of the financial crisis in order to help interest and inflation rates go up again. The purchases, known as quantitative easing (QE), cease at the end of December 2018, but redemptions will continue to be reinvested in the public and corporate sectors.

(JN) Centeno ao quadrado – Nuno Melo

(JNO presidente do Eurogrupo, Mário Centeno, pediu a Portugal medidas adicionais para cumprimento do Pacto de Estabilidade, que o secretário de Estado das Finanças, Ricardo Mourinho Félix, recusou, dizendo que o Governo entende que “as medidas que estão no Orçamento do Estado para 2019 são suficientes para atingir esses objetivos”.

Significa que o presidente do Eurogrupo Mário Centeno entende que o ministro Finanças Mário Centeno não fez o suficiente para salvaguarda das regras do Pacto de Estabilidade, enquanto o secretário de Estado Ricardo Mourinho Félix se solidariza com o ministro das Finanças e afronta o presidente do Eurogrupo, negando as medidas que este pede.

Pelo caminho, o presidente do Eurogrupo Mário Centeno recordará que quando Alexis Tsipras e o libertário comunista Yanis Varoufakis venceram as eleições na Grécia em janeiro de 2015, o então apenas líder do PS na oposição António Costa, proclamou que a vitória do Syriza era “um sinal de mudança que dava força para seguir a mesma linha”. Esta linha, leia-se, era aquela que afrontava os mercados com frases fortes – “o Sol voltou à Grécia”, “a Grécia não mais se curvará à vontade dos credores” -, em paralelo com a doutrina “gaste-se, peça-se mais e depois logo se verá”, com que Pedro Nuno Santos ameaçava em 2011 que “ou os senhores (alemães e franceses) se põem finos ou nós não pagamos a dívida” e se o fizermos “as pernas dos banqueiros alemães até tremem”.

Como é sabido, neste universo político de faz de conta, Alexis Tsipras acabou curvadinho à vontade dos credores e António Costa, que é primeiro-ministro tendo perdido eleições, faz por cá exatamente o contrário do que apregoava em campanha, a par de Pedro Nuno Santos no cargo de secretário de Estado dos Assuntos Parlamentares, do Governo que trouxe a Portugal a maior carga fiscal dos últimos 22 anos.

Convicções assim maleáveis, ajudam a perceber que em agosto, Mário Centeno tenha saudado em vídeo o fim do “austeritário” programa de assistência à Grécia, que trouxe “crescimento”, “modernização da economia” e “novos empregos”, para náusea de Yanis Varoufakis, que viu nas palavras uma “máquina de propaganda da Coreia do Norte” e de João Galamba, que achou o vídeo “lamentável”, mas mesmo assim ascendeu (mistério insondável) a secretário de Estado.

Lembremo-nos agora do preço dos combustíveis, das greves de bombeiros, médicos, enfermeiros, guardas prisionais, professores e juízes, das tragédias com incêndios e derrocadas em Borba, dos furtos em Tancos, do colapso do Estado na saúde, educação e transportes e avaliem-se as sondagens. Tudo muito estranho.

Deputado europeu

(ECO) Centeno pede medidas adicionais a Portugal para cumprir as regras do euro

(ECOO presidente do Eurogrupo, Mário Centeno, pede ao ministro das Finanças português, Mário Centeno, medidas adicionais para cumprir o Pacto de Estabilidade.

“O Eurogrupo convida todos os Estado membros a ponderar, de forma atempada, as medidas adicionais necessárias para lidar com os riscos identificados pela Comissão e para garantir que os seus Orçamentos cumprem com as regras do Pacto de Estabilidade e Crescimento”. A frase consta do comunicado que o Eurogrupo emitiu na avaliação dos Orçamentos dos vários países membros. Portugal está entre os ‘alunos’ a quem é dado o recado.

O Eurogrupo sublinha que, de acordo com a avaliação da Comissão, há cinco países em risco de não cumprirem o Pacto de Estabilidade e Crescimento em 2019: Portugal, Bélgica, França e Eslovénia, de acordo com o braço preventivo do Pacto, e Espanha, “avaliada no pressuposto de uma correção atempada e duradoura do défice excessivo”, diz o comunicado do Eurogrupo.

Bélgica, França, Portugal e Espanha também são apontados porque não vão cumprir com a meta de redução da dívida em 2019. A Comissão já tinha sugerido que Portugal usasse os “ganhos extraordinários” com o Banco de Portugal e a Caixa Geral de Depósitos para reduzir a dívida pública. O executivo comunitário lamentou que “ganhos extraordinários resultantes de despesas mais baixas com juros e de dividendos que se esperam mais elevados do BdP e da CGD não parecem estar a ser usados para acelerar a redução do rácio da dívida pública no PIB”.

Esses ganhos, apontava a Comissão, parecem antes estar a ser utilizados “para compensar reduções nas receitas fiscais e aumentos da despesa primária”, razão pela qual o Governo é “convidado” a aplicá-los na redução da dívida pública, cujas metas Bruxelas duvida que Portugal alcance.

No seu parecer sobre a proposta do Orçamento do Estado para 2019, Bruxelas dizia que o Orçamento de Portugal acarretava um “risco de incumprimento do Pacto de Estabilidade e Crescimento” e alertava para os “desvios significativos” na trajetória de ajustamento. Na carta que Bruxelas enviou a Portugal a 19 de outubro já eram elencados os vários riscos que as contas do Executivo português apresentam: o crescimento nominal da despesa líquida primária é de 3,4% no Orçamento do Estado, “o que excede o crescimento máximo recomendado de 0,7%” e o ajustamento estrutural do saldo orçamental previsto no Orçamento é de 0,3%, que, depois de recalculado de acordo com a metodologia comummente acordada, baixa para 0,2%. “Este esforço está abaixo dos 0,6% do PIB requeridos pelas recomendações do Conselho de 13 de julho de 2018″.

Mário Centeno na conferência de imprensa desta segunda-feira onde foram pedidas medidas adicionais para os países incumpridores. EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

O Eurogrupo sublinha o facto de a zona euro estar a entrar no seu sexto ano consecutivo de crescimento, mas “o crescimento já atingiu o pico e os riscos de abrandamento aumentaram”, alerta o comunicado final do encontro que se arrastou pela noite dentro para concluir um acordo sobre a reforma da zona euro. “As atuais condições económicas apelam à necessidade urgente de reconstruir as almofadas orçamentais, nomeadamente em Estados membros que não cumprem os objetivos de médio prazo“, defende o Eurogrupo, que sublinha o facto de o ritmo lento de redução da dívida em muitos países “continua a ser uma preocupação e deve ser resolvida em definitivo”. Assim a adotar de uma política orçamental expansionista ou o ajustamento orçamental limitado em alguns Estados membros, em 2019, “é preocupante”, conclui o Eurogrupo que apela aos países para agirem nesse sentido.

(CNBC) EU begins disciplinary procedures against Italy after rejecting its controversial budget plans

(CNBC)

  • The European Commission is moving closer to sanctioning Italy for its 2019 draft budget proposal.
  • Italy wants to increase welfare spending and to roll back on some reforms and taxes.
European Affairs Commissioner, Pierre Moscovici speaks during a joint press conference with Italy's Minister of Economy and Finances following their meeting at the Economy Ministry on October 18, 2018 in Rome, Italy. 

Stefano Montesi – Corbis | Corbis News | Getty Images
European Affairs Commissioner, Pierre Moscovici speaks during a joint press conference with Italy’s Minister of Economy and Finances following their meeting at the Economy Ministry on October 18, 2018 in Rome, Italy.

The European Union announced it will look to sanction Italy with a fine after the country refused to submit a budget proposal that squares with its rules.

Italy’s populist and partly right-wing coalition wants to increase the country’s deficit to 2.4 percent of annual economic output in 2019, as it looks to make good on pre-election spending pledges. A previous Italian government had submitted a 2019 budget which would have recorded a deficit of just 0.8 percent.

In a statement, the European Commission — the EU’s legislative arm — said: “With regret, that today we confirm our assessment that Italy’s draft budget plan is in particularly serious non-compliance with the Council recommendation of 13 July.”

The Commission said that as Italy’s spending for 2019 didn’t comply, commissioners would now open a “debt-based Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP).” The European Union member states now have two weeks to decide if they agree that an EDP against Italy is warranted. If so, the Commission will prepare a document that asks Italy how it will remedy its budget plan to abide with the EU rules. Should Rome ignore that, then officials in Brussels could sanction Italy with fines.

Speaking to CNBC’s Silvia Amaro on Wednesday, Vice President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, said it was the EU position that Italy’s budget plan would risk more austerity for Italians in the future.

“Instead of that fiscal stimulus that the government is hoping for, (we expect) there is a further slowdown of the economy,” he said before adding he was open to more discussions with Rome, but the Italian government now needed to take action.

“You cannot cure high levels of debt with more debt, it is a vulnerability that needs to be addressed,” he said.

What’s an ‘Excessive Deficit Procedure’?

Although it has the power to sanction governments whose budgets don’t comply with the EU’s fiscal rules, the European Commission has stopped short of issuing fines to other member states before. The rules states that deficits should not exceed 3 percent of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and public debt must not exceed 60 percent of GDP — a far cry for many European countries.

Although Italy’s draft budget envisages a deficit within the 3 percent limit, increasing the deficit from a previously lower target has angered the Commission because European member states are meant to work toward adhering to the rules, not deviating from them.

Now, the European Commission will recommend to the European Council (EU heads of state) that an “Excessive Deficit Procedure” (EDP) is launched against Italy. Basically, “the EDP requires the country in question to provide a plan of the corrective action and policies it will follow, as well as deadlines for their achievement,” the European Commission states, adding: “Euro area countries that do not follow up on the recommendations may be fined.”

Standoff between Rome and Brussels expected to continue

Standoff between Rome and Brussels expected to continue  

Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said earlier Wednesday that the 2.4 percent deficit target was not negotiable, but other aspects of the proposal could be discussed.

Italy’s public debt pile is 131 percent of its GDP, and at 2.3 trillion euros ($2.6 trillion) is the second largest in the euro zone.

Following the announcement in Brussels, stocks listed on Italian markets held onto their morning gains while yields on 10-year Italian debt dipped to near session lows. Yield on bonds move inversely to prices.

(CNBC) ECB’s Draghi hints at a possible dip in inflation

(CNBC)

  • “If firms start to become more uncertain about the growth and inflation outlook, the squeeze on margins could prove more persistent” Draghi said at a banking conference in Frankfurt Friday.
  • “This would affect the speed with which underlying inflation picks up and therefore the inflation path that we expect to see in the quarters ahead.”
Patience and persistence in our monetary policy are still needed, says ECB’s Draghi

Patience and persistence in our monetary policy are still needed, says ECB’s Draghi  

Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank (ECB), hinted at the possibility of inflation not rising as quickly as expected due to euro zone firms dealing with a slew of uncertainties.

“If firms start to become more uncertain about the growth and inflation outlook, the squeeze on margins could prove more persistent,” Draghi said at a banking conference in Frankfurt Friday.

“This would affect the speed with which underlying inflation picks up and therefore the inflation path that we expect to see in the quarters ahead.”

Draghi’s speech was generally positive about the region and he reiterated that the central bank’s massive crisis-era bond-buying scheme is still due to be wound down at the end of this year. He said there was no reason why the current expansion in the euro area — which is now in its fifth year — should abruptly come to an end, adding that the economic cycle was resilient.

German bond yields rose on Friday on the back of these comments. The country’s 10-year bond yield rose to session highs at 0.376 percent, extending earlier rises, according to Reuters.

Global uncertainties

However, the lingering doubt Draghi hinted at was how cooperates could unwind recent pay rises due to uncertainties on growth. This would then have an knock-on effect for the central bank’s own inflation forecasts which could potentially alter its future policy actions or the guidance its gives to the markets on these actions.

“The nature of this forward guidance is contingent on economic developments and therefore acts as an automatic stabilizer. If financial or liquidity conditions should tighten unduly or if the inflation outlook should deteriorate, our reaction function is well defined. This should in turn be reflected in an adjustment in the expected path of future interest rates,” Draghi stated.

The ECB is due to start raising ultra-low interest rates at the end of summer 2019 but many market watchers have doubts about the exact timing of the first hike and the bank itself has always said it well remain dependent on incoming data.

Earlier on in his speech he mentioned issues with global trade, name checking protectionism in particular. He also mentioned the temporary effects of weather, sickness and industrial action affecting output in a number of countries. More recently there was disruption for car production due to the introduction of new vehicle emissions standards, the Italian economist added. Euro zone growth has stalled slightly in recent quarters and German gross domestic product (GDP) was surprisingly weak in the third quarter.

All countries should respect the rules of the economic union, says ECB’s Draghi

All countries should respect the rules of the economic union, says ECB’s Draghi  

He added that at its last meeting in October, the ECB’s Governing Council noted that “uncertainties surrounding the medium-term outlook have increased.”

“When the latest round of projections is available at our next meeting in December, we will be better placed to make a full assessment of the risks to growth and inflation,” he said.

Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING Germany, said in a research note that the ECB president had opened the door for a long period of low interest rates.

“Draghi slightly changed the well-known ECB communication. While there is still a strong determination to end the net-QE (quantitative easing) purchases by the end of the year, Draghi opened the door for changes to the forward guidance in the course of 2019,” he said.

(ECO) Cumprir o Programa que apresentamos – Mário Centeno

(ECO) O país tem de ter consciência plena de que, no futuro, terá que continuar a adotar medidas com vista ao controlo da evolução das contas públicas.

Portugal está a percorrer um caminho de credibilização das suas finanças públicas. Muitos se questionam se esta situação é duradoura e sustentável. No essencial são os mesmos que questionavam, em 2015 e 2016, se havia alternativa ao caminho de austeridade recessiva e de emigração em que o país se encontrava mergulhado.

Hoje, juntam-se vozes questionando o presente, no que denominam como excesso de zelo na condução da política orçamental. Sendo um avanço, embora um pequeno salto mortal, esquecem-se que governar é decidir, talvez porque quando foram Governo não decidiram. E não implementaram as medidas necessárias à promoção do potencial de crescimento da economia portuguesa.

O país tem de ter consciência plena de que, no futuro, terá que continuar a adotar medidas com vista ao controlo da evolução das contas públicas. Uma economia não funciona em piloto automático. É por isso que estamos obrigados a acautelar o futuro. Esse é o mais claro mandato que os portugueses nos deram. O futuro assegura-se através de medidas que fazem com que o crescimento da despesa seja ponderado, e não como em períodos passados de euforia despesista com ou sem correspondência do lado da receita.

O futuro assegura-se através de medidas que fazem com que o crescimento da despesa seja ponderado, e não como em períodos passados de euforia despesista com ou sem correspondência do lado da receita.

Se olharmos para a experiência deste século, vemos a razão de termos entrado em défice excessivo: entre 2002 e 2011 o peso da despesa corrente primária no PIB cresceu 6,7 pontos percentuais, 4,1 pontos percentuais nos primeiros quatro anos e 2,5 pontos percentuais nos últimos seis. Esta situação não se pode repetir. Como já dissemos muitas vezes: não podemos voltar para trás.

Atingimos nos últimos três anos saldos primários compatíveis, finalmente, com a mera normalidade na condução da política orçamental. Hoje temos a margem necessária para deixar funcionar os “estabilizadores automáticos”, sem colocar em causa os limites do défice e da dívida com que Portugal deve conviver para garantir um futuro estável.

Hoje podemos dizer que estamos no décimo oitavo trimestre consecutivo de crescimento da economia portuguesa. Este padrão de crescimento é marcado por uma forte dinâmica do mercado de trabalho. Temos a maior redução do desemprego deste século, com o desemprego dos portugueses entre os 35 e os 55 anos a situar-se em 5%, um terço do que se observou em 2013. Mais de três quartos do emprego criado na legislatura corresponde a emprego estável, não são contratos a prazo. E os salários crescem de forma responsável. Portugal converge em termos reais com a área do euro.

Por isso, é tão importante falar em normalidade para os valores do défice. O valor projetado para 2019 é historicamente baixo, mas é normal na Europa. E é compatível com a sustentabilidade das contas públicas e com a qualidade do serviço público.

O traço distintivo desta legislatura é o de que a trajetória das finanças públicas portuguesas que foi apresentada em 2015 foi inteiramente cumprida.

Esta trajetória permite poupar centenas de milhões de euros em juros, que de outra forma seriam suportados pelos portugueses e redundariam em sacrifícios para os serviços públicos.

Esta poupança em juros permite-nos investir mais (e não menos) nos portugueses e nos serviços públicos. Aqueles que não o querem ver são os mesmos que disseram que os portugueses não conseguiriam cumprir os seus compromissos e que aplaudiram a chegada de quem viria – diziam – colocar o país em ordem.

As metas alcançadas permitem, pela primeira vez, perante um futuro abrandamento da economia europeia, evitar que entremos novamente em défices excessivos. Isso implicaria aumentos de impostos, cortes de despesas sociais e congelamentos de pensões e salários.

As metas alcançadas permitem, pela primeira vez, perante um futuro abrandamento da economia europeia, evitar que entremos novamente em défices excessivos.

Esta evolução mostra que as políticas seguidas são sustentáveis. Nem o Governo teria mandato para colocar de novo o financiamento da economia em risco.

Faz, ainda, com que os portugueses possam enfrentar o futuro com estabilidade e confiança, na melhoria dos seus rendimentos.

A sociedade portuguesa merece, de todos, que cumpramos este compromisso. Um compromisso traduzido em mais professores, mais médicos e enfermeiros. Em contratos mais estáveis. Em pensões que não estão congeladas e prestações que combatem a pobreza e a exclusão. Num alívio fiscal colossal, superior a 1.000 milhões de euros, sobre os nossos salários. Num equilíbrio virtuoso entre receitas e despesas que nos permite, em inteira normalidade, reforçar as despesas sociais e reduzir as despesas financeiras.

A discussão em torno das opções económicas, financeiras e orçamentais deve ser aberta na procura das melhores soluções. Isso reforça o capital social do país. Mas o equilíbrio das opções deve estar sempre presente. Não podemos apenas considerar um lado da balança, seja aprovar aumentos de despesa ou reduções de receita. Ao elegermos essas medidas temos que promover o equilíbrio responsável que nos trouxe até aqui.

(Reuters) Portugal debt chief says difficult to see near-term Italian ratings downgrade

(Reuters) Italy’s credit rating is unlikely to be downgraded in the near term because the country still has a primary surplus and is less exposed to external shocks than other countries, the head of Portugal’s debt agency said on Tuesday.

“I find it difficult to see Italy downgraded in the near future,” Christina Casalinho, chief executive officer at the Portuguese government debt agency said at a conference in Brussels.

She added that Portugal had a more diverse investor base, helping to limit contagion from Italian market volatility.

(BBG) Macron Says the Euro Is Not Yet an Alternative to U.S. Dollar

(BBG) French President Emmanuel Macron said that the euro is not “a clear alternative” to the dollar thanks to the U.S. currency’s international “strengths.”

“Until now, we fail to make the euro as strong as the dollar,” Macron, speaking English, said in an interview with CNN broadcast on Sunday. “We made a great job during the past years but it’s not yet sufficient.”

For the French president, European corporations and entities are too dependent upon the U.S. currency. “This is an issue of sovereignty for me. So that’s why I want us to work very closely with our financial institutions, at the European levels and with all the partners, in order to build a capacity to be less dependent from the dollar,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean to be opponents — but I think for the stability of the global order, you’ll need a strong currency like (the) dollar, but you need some alternatives. Euro has to be one of these alternatives, which means we have to better enhance our financial structures and the financing of our players at the euro-zone level,” Macron said.

Macron said the Chinese currency was a de facto alternative to the greenback, “not at the global level but for a certain region.”

(OBS) Alexander Stubb: “Europa deve uma desculpa e um agradecimento a Portugal”

(OBS) A Europa deve uma desculpa a Portugal pelas “tremendas medidas” de austeridade que foram impostas durante a crise, afirmou Alexander Stubb, pré-candidato à presidência da Comissão Europeia.

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT HANDOUT/EPA

A Europa deve uma desculpa e um agradecimento a Portugal pelas “tremendas medidas” de austeridade que foram impostas durante a crise, afirmou Alexander Stubb, pré-candidato do Partido Popular Europeu (centro-direita) à presidência da Comissão Europeia.

“Penso que, de muitas formas, a Europa deve uma desculpa e um agradecimento a Portugal, no sentido de que as medidas de austeridade que o governo de centro-direita tomou em plena crise foram tremendas”, disse Stubb numa entrevista à agência Lusa em Lisboa.

Mas para o ex-primeiro-ministro (2014-2015) e ex-ministro das Finanças (2015-2016) finlandês, considerado um “falcão da austeridade”, não havia alternativa: “Tivesse eu de fazer o mesmo na Finlândia, como primeiro-ministro ou ministro das Finanças, tinha de avançar. É assim”.

O Governo de coligação PSD-CDS, “fez um ótimo trabalho numa situação difícil”, mostrando “muita coragem”, mas “desde que o governo mudou”, Stubb diz que “não tem visto muita ação”.

“Se olharmos para o desenvolvimento económico português, gostava de ver um desempenho melhor. Penso que é a 20.ª economia com crescimento mais lento na Europa neste momento”, considerou Stubb, que é atualmente vice-presidente do Banco Europeu de Investimento.

Quanto ao futuro da União Económica e Monetária (UEM), Alexander Stubb assegurou que, enquanto “pró-europeu ávido”, é e sempre foi “a favor de mais integração” e de “aprofundar o euro”.

“Em relação ao euro, penso que demos passos enormes durante a crise, a legislação [de coordenação orçamental] ‘two pack’ e ‘six pack’, o mecanismo de estabilidade europeu e, obviamente, o embrião da união bancária. No final, quero ver uma união bancária plena, incluindo a garantia de depósitos e provavelmente uma mutualização da dívida”, assegurou.

“Mas isso não vai acontecer de um dia para o outro. As condições têm de estar lá [e] estamos a alguns anos disso”, advertiu.

Para Stubb, desenvolvimentos com o orçamento que Itália apresentou para 2019, que prevê “o agravamento anual da dívida em 40 mil milhões de euros durante três anos”, “não ajudam”, porque “aqueles que querem abrandar o curso nesta matéria, vão apontar o dedo à Itália”.

“Não sei qual é o Orçamento de Portugal, o da Finlândia é de cerca de 55 mil milhões, e se a Itália está a assumir 40 mil milhões por ano de mais dívida para aplicar uma política fiscal estúpida, não vai fazer avançar a causa da união bancária ou outros objetivos”, frisou.

Vice-presidente do Banco Europeu de Investimentos, Stubb sublinhou que esta instituição “é um exemplo de um banco completamente mutualizado”.

“Partilhamos dívida e funciona. Mas partilhamos dívida com base nas condições do mercado, não com base em decisões políticas, e é provavelmente isto que tem de ser tido em consideração”, afirmou.

Alexander Stubb, que disputa a designação como ‘Spitzenkandidat’ do Partido Popular Europeu (PPE, centro-direita) com o alemão Manfred Weber, da CSU, foi entrevistado à margem da iniciativa Escola Europa, organizada pelo Partido Social-Democrata (PSD) de Portugal e pelo Partido Popular (PP) de Espanha com o apoio daquele grupo político europeu.

Após as eleições europeias, em maio próximo, cabe ao Conselho Europeu, compostos pelos chefes de Estado e de Governo dos membros da UE, designar um candidato à presidência da Comissão, o qual se submete depois a votação no Parlamento Europeu.

O Tratado de Lisboa determina que o resultado das eleições europeias seja tido em conta na escolha do presidente da Comissão, mas o Conselho não é legalmente obrigado a fazê-lo.

A escolha de candidatos pelos grupos políticos, os chamados “Spitzenkandidat” ocorreu pela primeira vez nas eleições europeias de 2014, em que Jean-Claude Juncker, candidato pelo PPE, sucedeu a José Manuel Durão Barroso.

(EurActiv) ‘No thanks!’ to EU and Nato, Iceland PM says

(EurActiv)

  • Katrin Jakobsdottir became Iceland’s first Green prime minister on 30 November 2017 (Photo: Seppo Samuli/norden.org)

Eurozone failures mean Iceland should stay out of the EU, its prime minister told EUobserver.

She would also quit Nato if she had her say.

  • During the Second World War US troops kept Iceland free from German occupation (Photo: EUobserver)

“I don’t think we should enter the EU right now. I don’t think there is any reason to apply,” Katrin Jakobsdottir said in an interview with this website, as Iceland’s new government prepared to celebrate its first anniversary in power.

“Personally, I’m critical towards the economic policies of the EU – the creation of the eurozone without any real centralised policies on taxes or fiscal policies,” she said.

“The European Central Bank has become really powerful without being very democratic. The economic policies of the EU have been really distant from people in the eurozone and they’ve created divisions that need not be there,” she added.

Iceland applied to join the EU in 2009, but abandoned the process in 2015.

It has remained a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Economic Area (EEA), two free-trade clubs, instead.

The North Atlantic country, with a tiny population of just 340,000 people, is also a member of Nato, the world’s largest military alliance.

The issue of EU membership remained divisive, Jakobsdottir said.

“It was controversial then [in 2009] and still is,” she said after recent polls, which indicated that 60 percent of Icelanders wanted to stay out of Europe, while 40 percent wanted to go in.

Free trade with the EU had been unequivocally good for Iceland, the eurosceptic prime minister said, however.

“Iceland’s position within the EEA has proved beneficial to us,” Jakobsdottir said.

“When we look at our economy, our social structure and our policy-making, I think that we’ve done pretty well without being members of the EU,” the prime minister said.

“You can check all the indices of the world: We’re not doing too badly on economic performance, social indicators, or gender equality for that matter, where we’re ahead of all other Nordic countries,” she added.

War games

The 42-year old Jakobsdottir, a former academic, became the second-ever woman to lead Iceland last year.

Her party, the Left-Green Movement, formed a coalition with the liberal Progressive and Independence parties to take power.

The government supports Nato membership, but the prime minister said she favoured “diplomatic and political” solutions to modern security challenges.

“My party’s position is that we are against Iceland’s membership of Nato. However, we’re the only party in Iceland’s parliament that holds that position,” she said.

“We – as the Left-Green party – recognise that there is a strong majority in Iceland in support of our Nato membership, but we don’t favour the idea of a permanent military presence here in Iceland,” she added.

US troops kept Iceland free from German occupation in World War II.

Iceland also became a founding member of Nato in 1949, but the US quit its permanent base there in 2006.

Jakobsdottir spoke amid mass-scale Nato war-games – Trident Juncture – which began last week and which saw three Canadian and two British frigates as well as a US amphibious assault ship, the USS Iwo Jima, and 7,000 American soldiers come to Reykjavik.

The operation’s focus is to defend Norway from a “fictitious aggressor” – Nato’s veiled term for Russia.

But the straits between Greenland, Iceland, and the UK have received increased attention after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and began a military build-up in the Baltic and Arctic regions.

US P-8 Poseidon aircraft, which hunt for Russian submarines, have also become frequent visitors at Iceland’s Keflavik airport in recent years.

Diplomatic solutions

Jakobsdottir said she was “critical of any increased militarisation of the North Atlantic.”

Her government would “stick to the security policy [Nato membership] that we’ve agreed upon”, she said.

But “we [her party] favour more peaceful solutions and we don’t think that increased militarisation is a solution,” she added.

“We need to strengthen diplomatic and political relations. We will not give up that position even if there is trouble around us,” she said.