World Bank warns recession ‘hard to avoid’
The World Bank has warned that the hopes of averting recession for all countries will fade the longer the war in Ukraine continues. World Bank president David Malpass said for many countries “recession will be hard to avoid”. Underlining that the global economy was entering ‘a period of protracted growth weakness and high inflation’, Malpass said world growth slows down and the risks of stagflation increase amid the damage caused by Covid and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. After a increase of 5.7% in 2021, world GDP is expected to grow by 2.9% this year, definitely less than the 4.1% expected in January. The sharp downgrade for the world’s economy is also based on the potential return of “stagflation” – a toxic mix of high inflation and sluggish growth unseen for more than four decades. “For many countries, the recession will be difficult to avoid,” notes Malpass. Ayhan Kose, director of the Prospects Group at the World Bank, said geopolitical tension, combined with interest rates rising and Covid-19 disruptions, could create a “perfect storm”.
€300 billion EU budget for 2023, €103.5 billion for recovery
The European Commission has proposed a common annual budget of €185.6 billion for 2023, in addition to grants of €113.9 billion from NextGenerationEu. The budget is designed to respond to the recovery needs of member states and its partners around the world, while additional proposals to finance the needs arising from the war in Ukraine will be presented later in the year based on a more precise assessment. Of the grants from NextGenerationEu, €103.5 billion will support economic recovery after the pandemic and address the challenges posed by war. Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the European Parliament and the member states must be sure that the money is spent ‘in line with our rules and values’.
Agreement in the EU on ‘women on boards’ directive
Agreement has been reached between the European Parliament, the Council and EU Commission on the new ‘women on boards’ directive on gender balance. The directive, which establishes women’s shares in the board of directors of European companies, aims to introduce transparent recruitment procedures in EU companies so that at least 40% of top executive posts are filled by women. To date, only 30.6% of the board members of the EU’s largest publicly-traded companies are women, with significant differences between member states ranging from 45.3% in France to 8.5% in Cyprus.
EU to require single charger for all smartphones
EU member states and parliament have agreed the text of a law imposing a standard charger for smartphones and tablets sold in the bloc. The agreement, which was jointly announced by Maltese MEP Alex Agius Saliba and Internal Market EU Commissioner Thierry Breton on Tuesday, means Apple will need to drop its proprietary charging port from its devices, including iPhones, if it is to sell them within the EU. For most portable devices the requirement for charging via a USB Type-C port will come into effect from late 2024. The EU believes a standard cable for all devices will cut back on electronic waste.
US CEOs earn 670 times an employee
The wage gap between CEOs of US companies and their employees shot up in 2021, according to a study by the Institute for Policy Studies, which states a CEO earns on average 670 times more than a his employee, up from 640 times in 2020. The study finds that the compensation of a CEO is on average $10.6 million while that of a worker is $23,968. The study comes as the chorus of voices in the US grows for the formation of unions in companies such as Amazon and Starbucks.
Swedish government survives no-confidence vote
Sweden’s government survived a no-confidence vote on Tuesday with the help of a lawmaker whose demands for support for Kurds in Northern Syria could complicate its attempts to join NATO. Turkey is blocking both Sweden and Finland’s hopes of quick accession to the NATO military alliance, arguing both countries harbour people linked to Kurdish groups it deems terrorists. Independent member of parliament Amineh Kakabaveh, who is of Iranian-Kurdish descent, abstained from voting on the motion brought by the centre-right opposition against Justice Minister Morgan Johansson over rising gang crime. Without Kakabaveh’s vote, the no-confidence motion won the support of only 174 members of parliament, one short of the 175 needed to pass. On Tuesday in parliament, Kakabaveh criticized Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan for opposing Sweden’s candidacy to NATO, saying: “It is in this chamber that Swedish laws are decided, not in Ankara.”
My troops will fight to achieve ‘deoccupation’ – Zelensky
Ukraine President Zelensky has said his country would fight to recover all territory occupied by Russian forces, as his troops struggled to hold their ground in bloody street-to-street fighting in the city of Sievierodonetsk. “We have already lost too many people to simply cede our territory,” Mr Zelensky said. “We have to achieve a full deoccupation of our entire territory.” As he spoke, Ukrainian troops in the ruins of Sievierodonetsk were trying to cling to gains Kyiv said its forces had made in a surprise counter-offensive that shifted momentum there last week. The governor of the Luhansk region said the defenders were finding it hard to repel the Russian attacks.
‘I hate those who are against Russia’ – Medvedev
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev wrote on Telegram, those who are against Russia are ‘bastards and wimps’ and that he would ‘do everything to make them disappear’. The present vice president of the Russian Security Council said critis of Russia were ‘bastards and clumsy. They want our death, that of Russia.’
Duma votes Russia’s exit from the European Court of Human Rights
The Russian parliament has voted in favour of Moscow’s exit from the European Court of Human Rights after more than 20 years as a member of the Council of Europe. The Duma has approved two drafts – one of Russia withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the court and the second marking March 16 as a time limit, beyond which date no decision taken by the court against Russia would be implemented.
Moscow’s chief rabbi flees to Hungary
The chief rabbi of Moscow, Pinchas Goldschmidt, fled Russia after being subjected to pressure to support the invasion of Ukraine. This was announced by Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt, a journalist in the United States and daughter-in-law of the Jewish religious authority.
Ex-US teacher pleads guilty to leading IS women’s brigade
A former US schoolteacher who became a high-ranking Islamic State official and organised an all-female IS military battalion, pleaded guilty Tuesday to supporting a foreign terrorist group. Allison Fluke-Ekren, 42, was charged with supporting a foreign terrorist organisation – a charge which brings up to 20 years in prison. She will be sentenced on October 25.
Horsemeat traffickers go on trial
Eighteen people went on trial in France on Tuesday accused of running a Europe-wide giant horsemeat trading network involving produce not cleared for human consumption. Horsemeat – typically cheaper than beef – has long been part of culinary habits across European countries, including France, but its production and distribution are strictly regulated. The case coming to trial in the southern port city of Marseille is the biggest horsemeat scandal since 2013, when millions of ready meals were withdrawn from stores across Europe after they were found to contain horsemeat instead of only beef as indicated on the label. Standing trial are French, Belgian and Dutch nationals charged with violating EU sanitary rules governing the horsemeat trade, and with forging official documents between 2010 and 2015.They are also accused of duping the owners of ageing horses into believing that their beloved animals would live out their days in the countryside when in reality they were taken straight to the slaughterhouse.