Saturday, April 30, 2011

Germany and Austria Open Labor Markets on May 1 to EU Member States in the East Who Joined in 2004: Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Hungary, Slovenia

As reported by Markus Dettmer and Jan Puhl at the Spiegel Online, the seven-year moratorium on full integration of citizens of the EU Member States added in 2004 by the European Union ends on May 1, 2011. Actually, this applies to 8 of 10 added in 2004: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, of which Cyprus and Malta of course are not in Eastern Europe and were exempted from the moratorium.

For the last seven years, citizens of those EU states could not legally reside or work in Germany or Austria, because Germany wanted the moratorium to protect its own workers in a then down-turned economy.

The booming economy in Germany in particular has changed the market for labor dramatically since that time and Germany now, for example, is looking for new sources of labor, as reported in the Spiegel.

Much of the available skilled labor and many of the best IT experts and programmers from those EU Member States have been absorbed in the interim by countries such as Britain, Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands, so that no one expects a major exodus to Germany and Austria on the 1st of May, "May Day", (which fittingly, is a national holiday in Germany and Austria, indeed, Labor Day, a day traditionally reserved to hold demonstrations on behalf of worker's rights and among much of the citizenry a day on which to take a long walk in nature, or to raise a Maypole (German Maibaum) on village squares throughout the land as a symbol of the returning Spring. It is a day for feasting and celebration.)

Obviously, some specialists in other Western EU Member States will be able to accept better compensation packages in Germany and Austria, but the cost of living is also higher, so that an increase in salary does not necessarily mean an improvement in the quality of life or in purchasing power. Moreover, things in the Member States in the East have also improved in those seven years so that many skilled workers now have no great incentive to leave their own EU Member State just to work elsewhere in the European Union. Western EU industry has come to them in those seven years, rather than vice versa.

As the Spiegel writes:
""This hesitant attitude, based on fears of a possible negative effect on the German labor market, now turns out to have been a huge mistake," says Klaus Zimmermann, the head of the Bonn-based Institute for the Study of Labor. At a trade conference in Warsaw this week, Zimmermann said German companies shouldn't wait for the people of Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states to turn up, but should actively recruit them while there's still time."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Compulsory Statutory Default Retirement Age of 65 Being Phased Out in the United Kingdom between April and October 2011

EIROnline at writes that the UK Government confirms abolition of default retirement age.

The compulsory (statutory default) retirement age of 65 in the United Kingdom is being phased out between April and October of this year.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Europe, Law, Democracy and the Role of Linguistic Diversity in Legal Processes

Research and Markets at asks in Linguistic Diversity and European Democracy:
"What role does linguistic diversity play in European democratic and legal processes?"
Read the article here.

European Union Optional Contract Law Initiative to Facilitate Cross-Border Transactions: European Commission Welcomes EU Parliament Committee Support Vote

EUROPA - Press Releases - European Commission welcomes European Parliament committee vote in support of an optional European Contract Law
"The European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee approved a report today that favours the elaboration of an optional European Contract Law. This is in response to several options put forward by the European Commission for a more coherent approach to contract law (see IP/10/872). Such a measure could be chosen freely by consumers and businesses in their contractual relations. This optional instrument would be an alternative to the existing national contract laws and would be available in all languages. It could apply in cross-border contracts only, or in both cross-border and domestic contracts. It would have to guarantee a high level of consumer protection and legal certainty throughout the life cycle of a contract. In today’s vote, the Legal Affairs Committee adopted an own-initiative report by Diana Wallis.

Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner, said: 'It is good news for Europe's Single Market that the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee favours work towards an optional European Contract Law to facilitate cross-border transactions, notably for small- and medium-sized enterprises and consumers. The Commission will take the European Parliament's views strongly into account in its further preparation of the European Contract Law initiative. We plan a first initiative on European Contract Law for the Polish Presidency.'
Read the rest here.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Controversial Mosel Bridge in EU "Wine Country" Paused for Coalition Negotiations Between the Social Democratic Party and the Environmentalist Green Party

On March 3, 2011, prior to elections in the German Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz) we posted at LawPundit about the highly controversial 158-meter high and over 1-mile long bridge planned to be built over the Moselle (Mosel) River right through the center of one of the world's leading wine-producing regions -- see Winemakers Unite to Oppose the Building of an Ugly and Unnecessary Bridge over the Moselle River in Germany's Famed Mosel Wine Region. But is it TOO LATE?

We are glad to report that the fantastic result of that election is that the building of the monstrous planned Moselle bridge has been paused for post-election coalition negotiations, for the reason that a major aspect of the political platform of the Alliance '90/The Greens, who emerged from the elections as the political party of the hour, was strong opposition to the bridge.

To get some idea of the gigantic size of this bridge, 158 meters is the same height as the Telecommunications Tower, Torre de las Telecomunicacione viz. Torre Antel (Antel Tower) in Montevideo, Uruguay, the tallest building in the country!

Full resolution‎ (480 × 640 pixels, file size: 64 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) 
Torre de las Telecomunicaciones, Montevideo, Uruguay.
Foto realizada y subida por Federico Corral (aka Shant)

For the planned Mosel Bridge, just extend that height one mile horizonally and add 25,000 tons of steel over one of the most picturesque rural wine-producing areas in the world and you know that some misguided planners' delusions of grandeur have reached their limit.

Here, for comparison, from the German Wikipedia website (Hochmoselübergang) are "before" and "after" images of what the countryside looks like now and what it will look like if this monstrous bridge is built as planned. These gigantic pillars for the Mosel are essentially equivalent to putting a dozen skyscrapers in the middle of French Bordeaux. Would France ever even think of doing such a crazy thing?

The elections are now over and the German environmental party, Alliance '90/The Greens, surely in part also because of the tragic tsunami wave in Japan and the subsequent nuclear catastrophe which has followed, made huge gains in Baden-Wuerttemberg, ousting Chancellor Merkel's CDU party.

Merkel's ruling party was absolutely destroyed there by stupidly supporting the planned demolition in Stuttgart of the Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, a highly regarded cultural and architectural monument, in order to make way for a planned underground station. Police used water cannons to try to remove protestors, inciting even more opposition, and the ruling CDU party did not get the message that they were on the wrong side of the issue. They got what they deserved in the election -- they were ousted. As now written at Deutsche Welle:
"German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) has announced a work freeze on a contentious rail project centered on the southwestern city of Stuttgart following recent state elections."
Baden-Wuerttemberg with its capital Stuttgart is the 3rd largest State in Germany, and corporate headquarters for inter alia Daimler [Mercedes-Benz], Porsche, Robert Bosch, Carl Zeiss, and SAP -- the largest software firm in Europe. Faced with the spectre of the CDU getting thrown out of government in that corporate-oriented State for being -- clearly -- on the wrong side of an important environmental issue, warning signs have gone up for politicians all over Germany.

In the Rhineland-Palatinate, the Alliance '90/The Greens picked up substantial environmental votes, enough votes to go from being completely out of the government previously, to now having to be included in coalition negotiations with the Social Democratic Party (SPD). That SPD, just as the minority Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the Palatinate, has up-to-now supported the bridge for economic reasons. What economic reasons? The bridge is being financed 80% by federal financing and those Euros for the Palatinate constitute the blood money for the otherwise unnecessary bridge.

Thankfully, the German voters are paying attention. In the March 27, 2011 Rhineland-Palatinate elections, this time it was the SPD that lost its ruling majority in the State, gaining 10% fewer votes than in 2006 in the Palatinate. It is a strong political message when Germany's two largest political parties are getting beaten badly because of environmental issues.

By contrast, the Alliance '90/The Greens surged from 4.6% in 2006 in the Palatinate-- not even reaching the 5% government-participation threshold -- to achieving a triumphal 15.4% in 2011, putting them solidly in the government and reaching a voting level they are unlikely to lose anywhere in the near future.

The environmental ramifications of the Fukushima nuclear accidents will be with us for years. MORE environmental protection, rather than less, will be the hallmark of successful politicians.

For Palatinate Minister-President Kurt Beck and the SPD to stay in power and to continue to govern, something has to give in the coalition negotiations, and it is going to be the building of the totally unnecessary monstrous bridge over the Moselle River. That will have to go.

Representatives from the CDU have been quoted post-election as saying that the bridge will be built anyway because of ca. €330 million contracts that have been granted viz. planned for construction of the project.

We are not sure about that.

Those contracts are no hindrance to stopping the bridge.

There is of course no reason to cost people their jobs just because you end an unnecessary construction project. Those same construction firms can be put to work for the same money repairing the roads, bridges and highways that ALREADY EXIST and in part are in a dilapidated state of repair. There is plenty of work to be done.

Or, in a worst case scenario, one could maintain the road-building as planned, but replace the monstrous bridge with a normal "human-size" bridge as already found on the Mosel elsewhere and as suited to a wine-growing and tourist area.

Most people on the Mosel could probably live with that.

Roads and bridges over rivers are necessary in moderation -- but not the monstrous bridge planned for the Mosel. That is NOT necessary.

If the politicians in Berlin still want this monstrous bridge built as a job generator (Arbeitsbeschaffungsmaßnahme), we suggest they try to put it in the middle of Berlin on the Ku'damm (Kurfürstendamm) and see what happens. That would be no different than putting that same bridge here on the Mosel.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

EU Libel & Defamation Law: Google Rightly Loses Case in Italy for Libelous Search Suggestions Generated by Autocompletion Computer Algorithms

Sometimes we disagree with Italy, and sometimes we agree.

This time, WE AGREE as Google loses defamation case in Italy.

Google's autocompletion feature -- run by computer algorithms --
led to cases of libelous search suggestions, by computer.

Obviously, that is intolerable.
We are no friends of libel.

Italy is correct in saying that libel is libel, computer-written or otherwise.