Monthly Archives: September 2014

How do European school textbooks tell the outbreak of WWI today?

On the year of the centenary of the outbreak of World War I we should ask ourselves to what extent history textbooks have to contribute to the civic duties of reconciliation and rejection of war rather than teach historical facts.

Image by Clapargé, CC license

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How sound economic analysis can lead to counter-intuitive results

Phedon Nicolaides, 14 September 2014


On 11 September 2014, the General Court, in case T‑425/11, Greece v Commission, sided with Greece and annulled Commission Decision 2011/716.[1] Greece had appealed against that Decision in which the Commission found that certain casinos had received aid that was incompatible with the internal market. Continue reading

Commissioners as Competitors – Competition and Policy Coherence in the Juncker’s Commission

by David Rinaldi – 12/09/2014

Spreading similar responsibilities across portfolios has been a clear strategy of President Juncker, we try to understand why that can be a good thing.  

4 Commissioners in Economic MattersPresident Juncker announced the portfolios of the new European Commission. As choosing the team of 28 commissioners is not in the hands of the Commission’s President, Mr Juncker could only express his creativity in the definition of the portfolios and in the allocation of the seats. We can conclude that he has been quite creative.

Despite the EurActiv leak, which already allowed to get a taste of the new set-up, the final allocation of portfolios left room for a certain fuss. In particular, Mr President has generated debate by breaking up certain portfolios – those dealing with economic and environmental matters for instance – and by merging others – climate change and energy for example.

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European banking regulation: treat the cause, not the symptoms

by Olivier Colin, 11 September 2014

Remember Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s turkey story? A butcher feeds a turkey on a day-to-day basis in order to eat it at Christmas. By repeating this behaviour, the butcher confirms to the turkey the statement that he will continue to feed it every day, as predicted by the previous days, bringing more confidence every day to that belief. But one knows however that the situation is not to last and one day, there will be a surprise for the turkey…

The famous author of the Black Swan tries to explain that lots of beliefs are built on past behaviour, without even reconsidering them as being wrong. The world of banking is full of statements, concepts and beliefs taken for granted. However, only few of them have been reconsidered after the crisis. In line with the past, a crisis period is always followed by increased regulatory constraints. Despite recent changes in European Regulation as a response to concerns raised by the banking crisis, the new regulatory framework introduced by Basel III and the Banking Union are unfortunately only part of the answer.


Excessive leverage ratio in banking has been highlighted as a crucial factor in the development of the crisis. While banks used to operate with high level of equity (near to 50%) in the 19th century, this percentage has consistently decreased to an average level of roughly 5%. Despite the well-known and recognized risk associated to excessive leverage, banks continue to operate with extremely high leverage level, sometimes even higher than before the crisis. It seems that nothing has been learned from the past.  Continue reading

The Battle for Brains: Why is EU the Loser?

by Petar Cimentarov, 9 September 2014

High-skilled migrants are a scarce resource for which countries worldwide should be fighting. Here is why. They contribute not only to the GDP of the host country, but also to its budget by paying high taxes on their generally high salaries. In addition, bright and skilled migrants are a tool for useful knowledge diffusion in society and for putting competitive pressure on the local workforce. Last but not least, immigration raises the level of innovation in receiving countries. In other words, the beneficial social welfare effects of high-skilled migration for the host country are numerous and undisputed. So, how is the EU performing in attracting high-skilled workforce?


Source: Opulentus, 2013

“We should take more account of what statistics tell us: 85% of unskilled labour goes to the EU and only 5% to the USA, whereas 55% of skilled labour goes to the USA and only 5% to the EU. We have to reverse these figures with a new vision, and that calls for new tools. And we are starting to have those new tools.” (Franco Frattini)

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