Category Archives: Europe

Chart of the day II: EU asylum seekers increase


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From Eurostat, which reports:

During the second quarter of 2016 (from April to June 2016), 305,700 first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU), up by 6% compared with the first quarter of 2016 (when 287,100 first-time applicants were registered).

With nearly 90,500 first-time applicants between April and June 2016, Syrians remained the main citizenship of people seeking international protection in the EU Member States, ahead of Afghans (50,300 first time applicants) and Iraqis (34,300).

These quarterly data on asylum in the EU come from a report issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

They represent the three main citizenships of first-time asylum applicants in the EU Member States over the second quarter 2016, accounting for almost 60% of all first time applicants.

Six in ten applied for asylum in Germany

During the second quarter 2016, the highest number of first-time applicants was registered in Germany (with almost 187,000 first time applicants, or 61% of total first time applicants in the EU Member States), followed by Italy (27,000, or 9%), France (17,800, or 6%), Hungary (14,900, or 5%) and Greece (12,000, or 4%).

Among those Member States with high numbers of asylum seekers, numbers of first time applicants in the second quarter 2016 more than doubled compared with the previous quarter in Greece (+132 %) as well as in Hungary (+118%), and rose notably in Poland (+65%) and Spain (+37%). In contrast, decreases were recorded in particular in the Nordic Member States — Denmark (-59%), Finland (-53%) and Sweden (-42%) — as well as in the Netherlands (-47%), Belgium (-44%) and Austria (-22%).

Map of the day: Far-Right populism in Europe


From Business Insider, a map of countries where far-Right populist parties have made significant gains in the last two years:

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And from RT, a report on another major gain for Germany’s most prominent anti-immigrant populist party:

Anti-migrant AfD makes Berlin breakthrough, as Merkel’s CDU slumps

Program notes:

Germany’s anti-Islamization and Eurosceptic AfD entered its tenth state assembly, as voters deserted the mainstream parties in the nation’s capital. But a left-leaning coalition is likely to take control of the city.

From Deutsche Welle, Germany’s prime minister reacts to the Berlin vote:

In her first news conference after her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) recorded its worst-ever showing in a Berlin election, Merkel took partial responsibility for that defeat while again blaming opposition to her refugee policies on communication shortcomings.

“I’m the party chairwoman, and I’m not going to duck responsibility,” Merkel told reporters. “If one of the reasons for the CDU’s poor showing is that the direction, goal and conviction behind our refugee policy haven’t been explained well enough, I’ll endeavor to rectify that.”

Merkel admitted that some Germans may have objected to her declaration, “We’ll get it done,” when faced with hundreds of thousands of refugees and said it wasn’t meant to imply that it would be easy to deal with the influx. She also said Germany lacked sufficient practice integrating immigrants.

“It can’t be done quickly, among other things because we didn’t do everything correctly in past years,” Merkel said. “We weren’t exactly world champions in integration, and we waited too long before we addressed the refugee issue. We have to get better — I do as well.”

Merkel said Germany had placed too much faith in agreements to share refugees among European nations.

Monsanto buys Bayer; Big Agra consolidates


In a move that should chill the hearts of farmers across the globe, the two leading manufacturers of pesticides and herbicides, as well as dozens of GMO crops, are merging, with German-based Bayer taking over the U.S. giant Monsanto.

The takeover is the largest corporate consolidation of the year, and is certain to face critical scrutiny from governments and NGOs.

From Deutsche Welle:

After four months of public negotiations, US seed and weedkiller maker Monsanto agreed on Wednesday to be bought by German drug and farm chemical company Bayer.

The $128-a-share deal, up from Bayer’s previous offer of $127.50 a share, has emerged as the signature deal in a consolidation race that has roiled the agribusiness sector in recent years, due to shifting weather patterns, intense competition in grain exports and a souring global farm economy.

“Bayer’s competitors are merging, so not doing this deal would mean having a competitive disadvantage,” said fund manager Markus Manns of Union Investment, one of Bayer’s top 12 investors.

Grain prices are hovering near their lowest levels in years amid a global supply glut, and farm incomes have plunged.

“The combination with Monsanto represents the kind of revolutionary approach to agriculture that will be needed to sustainably feed the world,” Bayer chief executive Werner Baumann told investors in a conference call.

As Brad Plummer notes in a critical commentary for Vox:

That would put the new firm in a commanding position vis-à-vis our food supply. Which is why European Union regulators and the US Department of Justice are likely to scrutinize this deal more closely than usual, to make sure it doesn’t create an all-consuming monopoly that can crank up prices on farmers and shoppers. The deal comes amid a blurry rush of agribusiness consolidation in recent months, with ChemChina-Syngenta and DuPont-Dow Chemical forming their own multibillion-dollar Voltrons.

Some onlookers are fretting that the reduced competition could shrivel up innovation, leading to slower improvements in crop yields. Others worry that these new agricultural giants may have outsize political power. “They’ll have more ability to lobby governments,” says Phil Howard of Michigan State University, who studies consolidation in the food industry. “They’ll have a lot more power to shape policies that benefit themselves at the expense of consumers and farmers.”

It’s a big story, and not just because Monsanto is such a famous (or infamous, if you prefer) brand. The consolidation of the world’s seed, chemical, and fertilizer industries over the past two decades has been astonishing, with potentially large ripple effects for farms and food systems all over the globe.

Back in 1994, the world’s four biggest seed companies controlled just 21 percent of the market. But in the years since, as crop biotechology advanced, companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, Bayer, and Dupont went on a feeding frenzy, buying up smaller companies and their patents. Today, the top four seed companies and top four agrochemical firms command more than half their respective markets.

The merged corporate giant will exercise even more control of the political and regulatory processes of nations across the globe, something that should worry all of us.

Chart of the day: The Brexit delivers a pounding


From the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the Bexit’s disastrous hit on the British currency compared to the U.S. dollar:

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Map of the day: European population density


The latest numbers mapped by Eurostat:

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Headline of the day: Groß Bruder is watching


From Deutsche Welle:

Germany to pour cash into mass surveillance

Germany’s intelligence agencies are planning a massive increase in their budgets next year, according to a new report. The BND is hoping the cash injection will help it become more independent from the NSA.

Chart of the day: European Union’s economic clout


From a new report from Eurostat:

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