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The Irish Times - Ireland | 20/01/2016

Consumers shouldn't rejoice at low oil prices

The surplus of oil on global markets could last at least until the middle of 2016, the International Energy Agency announced on Tuesday. The resulting drop in oil prices puts climate targets at risk, the centre-left daily The Irish Times warns: "The current glut in oil supply, although welcome to consumers, is not unqualified good news. Low oil prices have made it harder to reduce carbon emissions at the time when global leaders have committed themselves to that goal. Energy conservation measures and the development of cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels have become less financially compelling options. Nevertheless, the financial benefits of cheaper oil should be seen by consumers as a temporary windfall gain rather than a permanent change." (20/01/2016)

Savon Sanomat - Finland | 20/01/2016

EU stabs Kiev in the back with Nord Stream 2

A row has broken out over the plans for the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2, which is to run from Russia to Germany and supply the same amount of gas again as Nord Stream 1. Polish President Andrzej Duda had recently criticised the pipeline, calling it a political project. The liberal daily Savon Sanomat agrees: "Looking back, both Nord Stream 1 and the planned Nord Stream 2 pipelines have become huge political projects. With the addition of two new pipelines stretching across 1,200 kilometres their transport capacity will increase to such an extent that Russia will be able to stop transporting gas via Ukraine. The EU countries can justly be accused of not taking their support for Ukraine and for the economic sanctions against Russia seriously. The EU can't prevent a private project, it argues. But should it be able to? Perhaps yes." (20/01/2016)

Wirtschaftsblatt - Austria | 19/01/2016

EU should issue refugee bonds

The budgets of those countries that are bearing the brunt of the burden in the refugee crisis are suffering, the liberal Business paper Wirtschaftsblatt stresses, proposing the introduction of "refugee peace bonds" as a solution: "The flood of refugees can hardly be controlled with money alone, but without money it will be even harder. In view of the lack of solidarity with countries like Germany or Austria what we need is a solution for the EU. ... It should simply borrow money from private investors who in any event are looking around desperately for somewhere to place their money. For 30 years the ESM bailout fund would currently only have to offer 1.6 percent interest per annum. But this burden would only be carried by countries that don't take in refugees. Of course the US could also participate - but on a no-interest basis and without refunds." (19/01/2016)

Rzeczpospolita - Poland | 19/01/2016

Warsaw to blame for poor rating

The Polish government has accused the US rating agency Standard & Poor's of downgrading Poland for exclusively political reasons without taking into account the country's for the most part positive economic development. Economist Jan Czekaj disagrees in a commentary for the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita: "The political risk and the risks that stem from a political system are among the most important factors for rating agencies in assessing an investment location. The fact that S&P has taken Poland's political situation into consideration isn't an accident, but rather corresponds to the norm. ... If we want to be treated sympathetically in the future we simply have to make our country's politics more confidence inspiring. We have to spend less time stressing that events in Poland are being deliberately misrepresented or misinterpreted." (19/01/2016)

Äripäev - Estonia | 18/01/2016

Shale oil industry needs to be made resilient

The Estonian oil shale processing company VKG announced the dismissal of 500 employees on Friday, saying that the measure was the result of the low oil prices. The business daily Äripäev proposes coupling the raw materials tax the oil shale sector pays to oil prices in a bid to help the flailing industry: "With this step the state would make it possible for the companies to save money in difficult times without the state having to dispense with tax revenues when oil prices go up once more. If you look at Estonia's gross national product VKG makes a significant contribution, not to mention the important role the company plays in the Ida-Virumaa region. So there has to be a solution both at the state and local level. At a time when the rest of the world is switching to renewable energy sources Estonia must start thinking about how the shale oil industry can be developed in a way that makes it profitable but also environmentally friendly." (18/01/2016)

Newsweek Polska - Poland | 18/01/2016

S&P downgrade bad news for Poland

US rating agency Standard & Poor's lowered Poland's credit rating on Friday saying that the government's recent reforms had weakened the independence of state institutions. The liberal Newsweek magazine warns Warsaw not to downplay the significance of the downgrade: "[Standard & Poor's] was the first agency to downgrade the US [in 2011]. And to this day it has kept that rating. And the Fed as well as others simply laughed back then. Like our Finance Ministry now, they claimed it was a mistake. But after a certain amount of time the other agencies are likely to follow suit. The lower credit rating of the US is still having a major impact on its economy. Denying reality doesn't help. Poland has lost the trust of the capital markets for the first time since democracy was reintroduced." (18/01/2016)

Der Standard - Austria | 15/01/2016

Disastrous crisis management at VW

The attempts of Volkswagen boss Matthias Müller to repair the company's tarnished image with a trip to the US have completely backfired, the centre-left daily Der Standard comments: "On several occasions the authorities and customers have been presented with half-baked new proposals that were all rejected. Clearly no one has coached Müller on how to come across as likeable and in control in public while negotiating effectively in the background. When the scandal first broke VW could still have hoped for an expensive but relatively mild solution to the crisis. But under its current management the future of what was once Germany's flagship company is gloomier than ever." (15/01/2016)

L'Echo - Belgium | 15/01/2016

EU is ideal territory for car lobby

Shares in all carmakers took a plunge on Thursday following rumours of manipulated emissions at French carmaker Renault. Trust in the automotive industry is still at a low, the business daily L'Echo concludes and calls for politicians and carmakers to redouble their efforts here: "In Europe, a compromise that was already decided in October will allow cars to continue emitting emissions. … Two times more azote oxide than the authorized limits. So we find ourselves in what is almost a dream situation for the lobbyists. Either the text is blocked and the new tests that are supposed to reduce the gaps between the laboratory tests and the real traffic conditions will be rejected once again. Or the text is passed and they will have the right to continue to emit twice as much azote oxide as foreseen. A surreal situation, which distances the people even more from the carmakers and the confidence they could accord to them." (15/01/2016)

Trends-Tendances - Belgium | 13/01/2016

VW chief prefers incompetence to dishonesty

Asked on Monday in an interview with the US radio station NPR whether Volkswagen's behaviour in the emissions scandal was morally correct, the company's new boss Matthias Müller reacted with incomprehension. Rightly so, the business magazine Trends-Tendances approves: "In Europe we've seen the same sort of defence in the banking sector where former CEOs prefer to come across as incompetent if it means avoiding being charged with embezzlement. … You can be shocked by his response, or you can remember that VW has a Sword of Damocles hanging over its head in the United States. While some are talking about a 20 billion dollar fine, others are citing figures as high as 50 billion. Bearing in mind the amounts at stake, it's clear that the new boss's defence strategy will focus on misunderstandings, and certainly not on deliberate lies. Which explains his contortions when facing the American media. Admit guilt, yes. But admit that one has lied, no." (13/01/2016)

Večernji list - Croatia | 13/01/2016

Croatia must spend money it gets from EU

Croatia called up a mere 59 percent of the EU funding earmarked for it in its financial framework for 2007 to 2013, meaning that the newest member brought up the rear in this respect. In view of the disastrous state of the Croatian economy this is unacceptable, the conservative daily Večernji list rails: "One of the reasons for this poor performance is that the previous governments didn't focus on EU funding but preferred to waste all their efforts on pointless ideological conflicts. … And in the coming years things will only get worse when, with a budget of 1.5 billion euros per year, even more money is at our disposal. There's plenty of money available, but there's no one who can spend it. It takes big projects to extract money from Brussels' coffers. But Croatia has too few projects and those that it has launched are only being implemented very slowly." (13/01/2016)

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