Seven Days in Europe

janineOn Monday the entire Ukraine government resigned. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov handed in his resignation following an election which raised concerns about democratic standards under the regime of President Viktor Yanukovych, and under Ukrainian law whenever the prime minister resigns, the whole government must follow suit. Azarov’s resignation has led to speculation that he will be replaced with someone more favourable to the IMF. The head of Ukraine’s central bank said:

“A new prime minister will (find it) easier to build rapport with the IMF as they will not be encumbered by previous statements about Ukraine’s lack of desire to implement the requisite measures to meet IMF conditionality.”

Later in the week Ukraine’s government bond rating was downgraded to B3, primarily due to a “downward revision of the country’s institutional strength”. Other concerns were the country’s poor record of data transparency, the economy’s weak outlook, and low foreign exchange reserves.

The EU looks set to agree on a budget for 2013, after MEPs tentatively accepted a proposal that reduced the Commission’s original demand for an additional €9 billion. Under the budget spending would increase from €129bn to €132.8bn. Some MEPs argued that refusing the proposal would result in increased spending anyway, as in the event that an annual budget cannot be agreed, payments automatically rise with inflation.

The Catholic diocese of Milan established an exorcism hotline to deal with the recent increase in demand for driving off demons and evil spirits. Monsignor Angelo Mascheroni, the diocese’s chief exorcist, said the curia had appointed twice as many exorcists to cope with the volume of calls. Mascheroni stressed that in most cases an actual exorcism was not required, and that it was important to offer the service to protect vulnerable people from charlatans requiring payment for exorcisms:

“Everyone should be listened to with calmness and no-one should be shocked by the words they hear because God is always stronger than the devil. But really diabolical phenomena are, at least in my experience, very rare.”

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