Edith Rigler has sent
me her regular view from Europe, and I decided to add my own item to the list today. This is because I spotted a very
interesting article by Wolfgang Munchau in Der Spiegel that blames Chancellor
Helmut Kohl for all our European ailments and issues.
Here are the essentials
of Wolfgang’s column:
On the thirtieth anniversary
of the Helmut Kohl’s appointment as German Chancellor, everyone has been saying
how great were his achievements.
were not great.
If anything, he is the
person responsible for the mess that Europe lives with today.
His ‘big idea’ was to reunite East and West Germany
when the Soviet Empire fell.
and should have let East Germany go away but he insisted in German unity and
that this was essential to European unity.
It turns out to be quite the opposite, as It planted the seeds of today’s
By transferring the capital
of Germany to Berlin, West German politicians became immersed in a political culture
that is closer to Moscow than to Brussels, Paris or London.
A different mindset came into play, and Germany
no longer saw itself as part of the EU, but as an independent power on a par
with Russia, the USA and China.
stayed as a Federal Republic, we would have continued to feel ourselves as an equal
partner and would now be acting like the Netherlands: critical, but constructive. We would have handled the euro crisis deftly
and fiscal union would already be the reality, the Greek debt written off and
confidence back in the system but, after
the vast expense of reunification, Germany just has not been able to
contemplate the sacrifice that these actions would entail.
Kohl dreamed of complete European unity but instead,
thanks to his misguided actions, he may now live to see its destruction.
Meanwhile, here's …
Things worth reading: the European View (15)
Debit cards continue to win market share from
credit cards –Capgemini/RBS/Efma, October 10th,
The 2012 World Payments Report has just been
released. Its key findings are:
- Debit cards continue to win market share from credit cards;
- Brazil is now the second-highest ranking country by payment volumes
after the US;
- Payment volumes continue to be resilient, showing growth of 7.1% in
- In 2010, payment volumes grew fastest in developing countries
- Regulation can be both an obstacle and a driver to innovation.
What drives innovation? A new report provides
some answers – Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems,
In order to obtain an
overview of payments innovation globally, the Committee on Payment and
Settlement Systems (CPSS), recently published the report ‘Innovations in Retail
Payments'. Some of the key findings of the report are:
- Technological developments necessary, but
- Regulation is not just a European issue
- Cooperation and standardisation are key factors for successful
Review of the Payment Services Directive (PSD)
is under way – European Commission, October 1st,
The Commission is
currently reviewing the impact of the PSD on the internal market with a view to
proposing a revision. Specifically, the Commission is reviewing whether
- additional currencies outside the EEA should be included in the
- provisions which are currently categorized as “exceptions” should
- electronic money institutions (EMIs) and payment institutions (PIs)
should be merged into one category of payment services provider (PSP),
- new players in the payments market should have access to bank
- non-banks should have access to payment and settlement systems
The Commission has
thus published an issues paper in which it invites feedback from stakeholders
in the market by the end of November.
The social costs
of retail payments in the EU amounts to €45 billion, nearly 1% of the combined
GDP of 13 European countries – European Central Bank, October 2012
How much does it cost
to make a payment? A new report released by the European Central Bank (ECB) analyses the social and private costs of
making retail payments in 13 European countries and discovers that they are
substantial, amounting to around €45 billion, or almost 1% of their combined
GDP. If extrapolated to cover the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU),
these costs would be around €130 billion.
Responses to consultation on shadow banking
have now been published –European Commission, October
In March 2012 the
European Commission issued a consultation paper on “shadow banking”. The 140
responses by public authorities, associations and individual contributors have
now been published and can be viewed on the Commission website.
Recommendations on reforming the structure of
the EU banking sector have been published – European Commission,
The so-called Liikanen
Group (named after Erkki Liikanen, Governor of the Bank of Finland) has been
charged to present recommendations re. reforming the EU banking sector. The
Group recommends actions in the five following areas:
- Mandatory separation of proprietary
trading and other high-risk trading activities,
- Possible additional separation of
activities conditional on the recovery and resolution plan,
- Possible amendments to the use of bail-in
instruments as a resolution tool,Document6
- A review of capital requirements on
trading assets and real estate related loans, and
- A strengthening of the governance and
control of banks.
Twenty years of European Single Market – European
Commission, October 2012
2012 marks the
twentieth anniversary of the EU. Here are some facts and figures:
- Originally there were just 12 Member
States; currently there are 27
European Union Member States. In 2013, Croatia will join the Single
- The Single Market was initially open
to 345 million people in 1992. It can now be accessed by over 500 million people.
- The EU has 495 million inhabitants and has thus the world’s 3rd largest population after China and India. By
surface area, France is the biggest EU country and Malta the smallest.
- The EU has the largest GDP of any economy in the world.
- At a global level the EU is the second largest region, behind
Asia, by number of Internet users, with more than 380 million users – 73%
of all EU households are connected to the internet.