Seven Days in Europe

Greece’s two main parties are set for heavy losses in Sunday’s elections, with anti-bail-out groups on the extreme left and right to enter parliament for the first time. Public anger at austerity measures could translate into a new Parliament unable to form a ruling coalition. expect the ruling centre-right New Democracy and the centre-left Pasok parties to come in first and second, but it is unclear whether they will hold enough seats to govern alone. Some eight smaller, anti-bail-out parties ranging from neo-Nazi Golden Dawn to Marxist-Leninist Laos, are to make it into the Parliament for the first time since democracy was restored in the 1970s.

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has urged eurozone leaders to come up with a 10-year target for the common currency, saying they should accept more transfer of powers if they truly want a fiscal union. At the monthly meeting of eurozone’s central bank governing council on Thursday Draghi explained what he meant last week when he said a “growth compact” is needed along with the deficit-cutting measures taken by most governments. There was more grim news for the eurozone on Wednesday as new figures showed that the unemployment rate reached 10.9 percent in March. The highest jobless rate was recorded in Spain – currently battling for a sharp reduction in its budget deficit – at 24.1 percent, followed by Greece (21.7 percent in January) and Portugal (15.3%). The figures are likely to fuel the current debate about whether policies to date have exacerbated the crisis by focussing too much on debt reduction through austerity measures.

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Seven Days In Europe

Welcome to “Seven Days in Europe”. Each week EUtopia law will summarise the week’s happenings in Europe and highlight selected stories from the press.

The eurozone may be on the brink of collapse, and the EU struggling to find a united position on Palestine’s upcoming UN bid, but the EU policy that was apparently of most concern to the UK press last week was the upcoming ban on 60W incandescent light bulbs. An EU-wide ban on the manufacturing and importing of the bulbs came into force on 1 September. In response to the ban shop owners are stockpiling old bulbs in anticipation of demand. One shopkeeper interviewed by the BBC took issue with the new policy being ‘forced’ upon the UK ‘like a dictatorship’. Euromove posted a robust response to this, arguing that ‘the strategic decision was enacted in a regulation drafted by the European Commission with the formal involvement of stakeholders such as consumer and environmental NGOs, approved by a committee of experts nominated by the member states, and then approved by the European Parliament. It is hard to think of a process less like that of a dictatorship.’

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