Spain Unlikely To Prolong Europe Bank Aid Programme

Yet five years after the United States demanded its big banks take on new capital to reassure investors, Europe is still struggling to impose order on its financial system, having given emergency aid to five countries. Finance ministers from the 17-nation currency area meeting in Luxembourg will tackle the issue of plugging holes expected to be revealed by the European Central Bank’s health checks next year. The president of the European Central Bank underscored the need for action in Washington at the meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. “The effectiveness of this exercise will depend on the availability of necessary arrangements for recapitalising banks … including through the provision of a public backstop,” Mario Draghi said on Friday. “These arrangements must be in place before we conclude our assessment,” he said. But the ministers’ talks face an additional hindrance because Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, is not expected to attend the two-day Luxembourg meeting. Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, in talks to form a new government. During the region’s debt turmoil, the European Union conducted two bank stress tests, considered flops for blunders such as giving a clean bill of health to Irish banks months before they pushed the country to the brink of bankruptcy. The ECB’s new checks are seen as the last chance to come clean for the euro zone as the bloc tries to set up a single banking framework, known as banking union. The debate opens amid ebbing political enthusiasm for banking union – originally planned as a three-stage process involving ECB bank supervision, alongside an agency to shut failing banks and a system of deposit guarantees. It would be the boldest step in European integration since the crisis.

Europe’s Air Pollution Spurred By Growing Use Of Wood Fires And Diesel Cars, Watchdog Group Says

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir LUXEMBOURG | Tue Oct 15, 2013 9:46am EDT LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) – Spain will probably bring an end to the programme of international aid for its banks on schedule this year, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos told a news conference in Luxembourg on Tuesday. Madrid turned to Europe last year for 41 billion euros ($56 billion) to help the weakest of its banks, which have been crippled by the collapse of its real estate market and resulting mass of failed loans to developers and houseowners. With the economic fortunes of Europe’s debt-ridden southern half showing signs of improving, a senior official in Brussels told Reuters last week that Spain was unlikely to seek more financial aid for the banks when the current programme runs out. “The central scenario, and the most probable one, is that on November 15 (it will be decided that) Spain’s banking programme will come to a close,” de Guindos told reporters at a meeting of European Union finance ministers. The European Central Bank and the European Commission, which backed the rescue, last month said in a review of Spanish banking reforms that the sector remained comfortably solvent, and praised its turnaround. They stressed, however, that Spain’s weak economy – set to emerge from a two-year recession by the end of the year – and a fall-off in lending still posed a risk. Like their European peers, Spanish banks also face a European review of their balance sheets early next year before the ECB takes over as supervisor. Some believe their restructured or refinanced loans could come under particular scrutiny, and that they could be told to put more cash aside to counter potential losses on these, banking sources in Madrid have said. Any capital gap that that process leaves is likely to be manageable, though smaller banks that are owned by the state are unlikely to be able to turn to the market like some of their peers. The Spanish government currently estimates that lenders will have to put aside an extra 5 billion euros in provisions to counter such losses, a source at the Economy Ministry said. “The general perception is that in Europe the banking system has not been as thoroughly cleaned up as in the United States … which is among the elements holding back economic growth in Europe,” de Guindos told the news conference, in reference to the European review of banks’ books. (Reporting by Robin Emmott and Martin Santa in Luxembourg, Sonya Dowsett, Jose Elias Rodriguez and Jesus Aguado in Madrid; Writing by Sarah White; editing by Patrick Graham) Tweet this

EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said it should be realistic for the European Union to achieve WHO guidelines by 2050 at the latest and debate was ongoing on what kind of interim targets the Commission would propose. “My main objective is to put the EU on a clear pathway towards achieving WHO guidelines,” he said at a presentation of the EEA report. “It’s a roadmap for how we can live longer, live healthier and protect our fragile ecosystems better.” PROGRESS SO FAR In the last decade, tighter European regulations on power stations and other sources of pollution have seen a 50 percent cut in emissions of sulphur dioxide, which causes acid rain, while carbon monoxide emissions have fallen by a third. By contrast, the amount of harmful particles and ozone in the air has fallen only slightly. Combined with WHO findings that lower concentrations of air pollution can be more harmful than previously thought, pressure is building on the European Union to do more. “Air pollution is causing damage to human health and ecosystems. Large parts of the population do not live in a healthy environment, according to current standards,” said Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the Copenhagen-based EEA. The tighter proposed limits on PM could pose problems for EU governments, many of which have struggled to meet the existing limits in force since 2010, resulting in up to a third of Europeans being exposed to dangerous levels of PM pollution. In its report, the EEA said PM pollution – particularly in urban areas – posed the greatest risk to human health because it can pass directly from the lungs into the bloodstream. Although struggling to meet the limits, cities in Europe – along with the Americas – enjoy relatively low average PM pollution levels compared with those in southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa, WHO data showed. Ground-level ozone pollution – formed indirectly by a combination of sunlight and mixtures of other pollutants in the atmosphere – inflicts huge damage on EU crop production, particularly in Mediterranean countries such as Italy, France and Spain. It has been estimated that ozone pollution resulted in production losses of 27 million tonnes of grain in Europe in 2000. The increasing number of diesel vehicles on Europe’s roads, particularly newer models, are a major source of nitrogen dioxide, one of the main precursor pollutants that form ozone, the report says. That is because while modern diesel exhaust after-treatment systems reduce fine particle and other emissions, they increase direct nitrogen dioxide emissions. (Additional reporting by Barbara Lewis; editing by Tom Pfeiffer) Loading Slideshow Top 10 Most Polluting Countries In the following slides, find the top 10 countries with the greatest carbon dioxide emissions in 2011.