Insights

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Europe’s 2030 climate targets feeling the squeeze

Energy & Commodities

Last week saw the European Commission announce its proposals for new energy and climate change targets. The headlines were a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, and for 27% of European energy consumption to come from renewable sources by 2030. The targets were at the higher end of what was politically possible – a reflection of member states’…

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Germany and energy black and red but less green

Energy & Commodities

Last week’s German Coalition agreement produced an agenda which will trim some of the costs and moderate some of the ambition of the Energiewende. What it fails to do is address the fundamental problem that Germany is powered by a mixture of expensive low-carbon renewables and cheap carbon-intensive coal. This policymaking conservatism is the product of a debate on the…

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Solvency II and Europe's regulatory reach

Financial Services

On November 13, an important provisional agreement was reached in Brussels on the EU’s flagship regulation of insurance companies – Solvency II. As part of the package the EU appears to have reassessed the way it approached the question of regulating EU insurers operating in third countries – especially the US. A tough line on demanding regulatory ‘equivalence’ from…

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General Politics

The politics of the German surplus

General Politics

For investors in Europe the question of the Eurozone’s internal macroeconomic imbalances is central to the long term sustainability of the currency block. Last week, for the first time, the European Commission, formally triggered a review of Germany’s large current account surplus under one of the more obscure parts of the EU’s post-2011 economic governance arrangements…

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Slovenia: the Eurozone's next bailout?

Financial Services

Without attracting much wider attention, Slovenia has spent the last six months struggling to avoid following Cyprus into a Eurozone bailout. In particular, Ljubljana has been fighting a rear-guard action with its chronically damaged banking system. The numbers – including downgraded growth forecasts this week - increasingly suggest this is a fight it will struggle to win…

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Yangtze experiment the Shanghai Free Trade Zone

Trade & Manufacturing

The plans for the new Shanghai Free Trade Zone have been closely read since they were published by the Chinese authorities at the end of last week. Details about the Zone’s operation remain unclear in many respects, although it will potentially create an enclave on Chinese soil where the rules for foreign businesses will look dramatically different. The Zone will…

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General Politics

The shrinking German and Dutch centre-left

General Politics

This week the German centre left Social Democratic Party will open preliminary talks with Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU on the formation of a Grand Coalition government in which it would be the decidedly junior partner. Squeezed between a dominant centre right and a relatively resilient far left, the SDP has only two plausible ways to access government: moving…

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General Politics

EU-Ukraine: what Russia does next

General Politics

Last Wednesday Ukraine reached a major political milestone in its relations with the EU when the Ukrainian government gave the green light to the signing of an Association Agreement between the two in Vilnius in November this year. After ten years of hesitation, Ukraine is choosing between two distinct and probably incompatible economic and geo- political alignments…

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The 2013 German election

General Policy

 This report argues that:

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The Moscow election: too big to jail

General Policy

Later this week Moscow will go to the polls to choose a new mayor in an election for control of a city that is both the centre of the Russian political economy and not quite like anywhere else in Russian politics. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, appointed the current mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, and he released from jail his chief critic - charismatic lawyer and anti…

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Publicis/Omnicom: regulators and the global market for marketing

Energy & Commodities

Nothing raises anti-trust eyebrows like a mega merger, and the proposed Publicis/Omnicom combination last week is certainly that. The deal will have to be approved by competition regulators in Europe, the US and Asia. The companies themselves are confident of regulatory approval for the merger, and they are probably ultimately right. But in getting there they will be…

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European Banking Union one year on: a guide for non-bankers

Financial Services

July 2013 marks one year since European governments committed to the creation of a ‘banking union’ in the EU. In their own way each of the three steps taken by European leaders since June 2012 has suggested that there is little real distinction between banking union and political union in Europe. Confronted with the political reality of pooling exposure to each other’s…

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EU-China solar wars: the political limits of EU 'trade defence'

Energy & Commodities

This week EU officials have been in Beijing working out a negotiated settlement to the EU-China dispute over low-price solar panel exports to Europe. The case has seen the European Commission’s attempts to take a tougher line on Chinese subsidy practice, and enforce European ‘trade defence’ rules, collide with some very stark realities about the political limits on this…

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Russia in the WTO: one year on

Trade & Manufacturing

How is WTO membership seen in Russia one year on? To assess how both negative and positive attitudes have evolved in Russia after a year of WTO membership, Global Counsel conducted a series of in-depth interviews with the representatives of Russian and foreign businesses and professional services firms.

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Nabiullina's Bank of Russia

Financial Services

This week Elvira Nabiullina will formally become next governor of the Bank of Russia. Nabiullina is an interesting, and largely unexpected, candidate for the job. She is a low-key Putin loyalist who has also developed a reputation as a moderniser, a liberal and a private advocate of a Russian ‘normalisation strategy’ – piloting Russia into the WTO in 2012. She is likely…

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EU-US trade: inflated expectations

Trade & Manufacturing

The European Commission is set to commence the negotiation of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the US. The five year hiatus since the stalling of the WTO Doha Round of global trade negotiations, and the political need in a number of EU capitals - and Washington to a lesser extent - for a big strategic gesture has opened up the political space for a…

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Glencore and Marubeni Chinese merger policy in practice

Trade & Manufacturing

April was a month for both theory and practice in Chinese international merger clearance. After a long delay, Chinese authorities approved the mergers of Glencore and Xstrata and Gavilon and Marubeni. In both cases Beijing imposed strict conditions on the mergers. In the same week the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) also closed a public consultation on its new…

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The rise of transparency as regulation

Financial Services

Two big new EU legislative decisions this month have aligned the EU with the US in creating a strong new precedent for country by country tax and payments reporting requirements for multinational companies. Both epitomize the growing trend since 2008 of using various forms of transparency and disclosure as a regulatory tool. The co-opting of the market and the media into…

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