According to a study by the Bertelsmann foundation, if the rate of child poverty in a country lies above the rate of poverty among the elderly, this is an indicator of inter-generational injustice. It also indicates a higher consumption of living resources at the expense of the next generation. Both indicators, along with the national debt per child, were investigated by the foundation in 29 OECD countries.
On May 8, 2013, the European Commission proposed a draft directive that is to enable every EU citizen to make cashless payments, by setting up a bank account. According to a current study, within the Member States of the EU around 58 million residents above 15 years of age do not have their own bank account, in spite of the fact that cashless payments are continually increasing in significance.
By Melissa Weaver and Julie Song, Brooks Pierce
The 2010 enactment of the Affordable Care Act ("ACA" or the "Act") ushered in an enormous social reform effort aimed at improving the nation's health care system through a series of mandates, premium subsidies, and taxes. Although the full impact of the Act will not be known for years to come, its intended goals were to expand health insurance coverage and to reduce costs. After much discussion and debate, as well as legal challenges all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, implementation of the ACA is upon us. As a result, employers must comply with the Act's myriad requirements, the most significant of which become effective on January 1, 2014. Regulatory guidance is pouring forth, and it is not too early for employers to determine how the rules of the Act apply to their businesses. In fact, employers with calendar-year plans may want to take action as soon as next month.
With the Schengen Accord, the free movement of persons was won as a major, visible accomplishment for citizens as border controls between the member states were eliminated. Now the standardised exchange of information at the external borders of the Schengen contract territory is intended to compensate for the possible loss of security due to the elimination of internal borders. This will be accomplished with the Schengen Information System (SIS), which is now being implemented in its second generation.
The average wage costs between the EU states differ by a factor of ten. Bringing up the rear in terms of labour costs per hour are Bulgaria at EUR 3.70, Romania at EUR 4.40, Lithuania at EUR 5.80 and Latvia at EUR 6.00. The leader is Sweden with an average hourly wage of EUR 39.00. These figures for last year were presented on 10 April 2013 by Eurostat, the EU statistical office. Accordingly the statistical average wage in the European Union is EUR 23.40 per working hour and EUR 28.00 in the 17 states of the Eurozone.
The EU Commission presented its proposal to combat dumping and government-subsidised imports on 10 April 2013. Plans are in place to modernise the system to protect against unfair trade practices of foreign companies, which has remained largely unchanged since 1995. The proposals merely require the consent of the European Parliament and Council.
By Urban B. Eberle and Eduard Werder, Bank Alpinum
Is the boom in the luxury goods sector coming to an end? Investors were stunned by the subdued forecasts for the current year issued by consumer goods groups including LVMH and Richemont. The weakening of momentum in China, in particular, is raising a few concerns. Is it time to beat a retreat from the luxury goods sector?
The EU Commission has determined that the 20.8 million small to midsize enterprises (SMEs) in the European Union employ two-thirds of the workforce and are responsible for 85 percent of new jobs that are created. Yet EU legislative acts often place a burden on them in particular. On 20 March 2013, the EU Commission took a first step to provide relief for SMEs by lowering fees for chemicals.
On 12 March 2013 the European Commission in Brussels agreed on a draft mandate for negotiations with the USA about the planned transatlantic free trade agreement. Now the EU member states have to approve the draft in the European Council. Then the negotiations can begin. EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht explained the subsequent schedule: "I am very pleased that the European Commission has already prepared a draft mandate for future negotiations, just one month after the EU and the USA announced the decision to pursue this revolutionary trade agreement. I hope that the approval of the member states is going to follow quickly, so that working with the United States can begin even before the summer break."
Eleven EU Member States have asked the European Commission to introduce a financial transaction tax (FTT) within the framework referred to as enhanced cooperation. The Commission gave the green light on February 14, 2013, since all legal requirements for the project were met. The eleven participating countries expect tax income of 30 to 35 billion euros per year. In addition, the financial transaction tax should ensure a fairer contribution by the financial sector to the national budgets.
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