- Decarbonisation of the energy system is technically and economically feasible. All decarbonisation scenarios allow achieving the emission reduction target and can be less costly than current policies in the long-run.
- Energy Efficiency and renewable energy are critical. Irrespective of the particular energy mix chosen, higher energy efficiency and important rising shares of renewables are necessary to meet the CO2 targets in 2050. The scenarios also show that electricity will play a greater role than now. Gas, oil, coal and nuclear also figure in all scenarios in different proportions, allowing Member States to keep flexible options in their energy mix provided a well connected internal market is achieved quickly.
- Early Investments cost less. Investment decisions for the necessary infrastructure up to 2030 must be taken now, as infrastructure built 30-40 years ago needs to be replaced. Acting immediately can avoid more costly changes in twenty years. The EU's energy evolution requires anyway modernisation and much more flexible infrastructure such as cross border interconnections, "intelligent" electricity grids and modern low-carbon technologies to produce, transmit and store energy.
- Contain the increase of prices. The investments made now will pave the way for the best prices in the future. Electricity prices are bound to raise until 2030, but can fall thereafter thanks to lower cost of supply, saving policies and improved technologies. The costs will be outweighed by the high level of sustainable investment brought into the European economy, the related local jobs, and the decreased import dependency. All scenarios get to decarbonisation with no major differences in terms of overall costs or security of supply implications.
- Economies of scale are needed. A European approach will result in lower costs and secure supply compared to national parallel schemes. This includes a common energy market which should be completed by 2014.
- step up the search for exemptions or lighter requirements for micro-enterprises in existing and new EU legislation;
- strengthen the processes by which micro-enterprises and other SMEs are consulted when reviewing existing EU regulation and preparing new EU laws.
- produce annual scoreboards to evaluate the real benefits for businesses and to ensure a continuing focus on their needs and interests .
Credit rating agencies (CRAs) are major players in today's financial markets, with rating actions having a direct impact on the actions of investors, borrowers, issuers and governments. For example, a corporate downgrade can have consequences on the capital a bank must hold and a downgrade of sovereign debt makes a country's borrowing more expensive. Despite the adoption of European legislation on credit rating agencies in 2009 and 2010, recent developments in the context of the euro debt crisis have shown our
existing regulatory framework is not good enough. So, today the Commission has put forward proposals to toughen that framework further and deal with outstanding weaknesses.
Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier said: "Ratings have a direct impact on the markets and the wider economy and thus on the prosperity of European citizens. They are not just simple opinions. And rating agencies have made serious mistakes in the past. I have also been surprised by the timings of some sovereign ratings – for example ratings
announced in the middle of negotiations on an international aid programme for a country. We can't let ratings increase market volatility further. My first objective is to reduce the over-reliance on ratings, while at the same time improving the quality of the rating process. Credit rating agencies should follow stricter rules, be more transparent about their ratings and be held accountable for their mistakes. I also want to see increased competition in this sector."
Four main goals of the proposed draft Directive and draft Regulation
1. To ensure that financial institutions do not blindly rely only on credit ratings for their investments.
Ratings currently have a quasi-institutional role. We need to reduce our reliance on them. Our proposals in July 2011 on the Capital Requirements Directive IV reduce the number of references to external ratings and require financial institutions to do their own due diligence. Today, we are making similar changes with regard to rules relating to fund managers, in a complementary draft directive. And this will be completed by changes to rules on insurance next year. A general obligation for investors to do their own assessment is also included in today's proposal.
In addition, more and better information underlying the ratings would need to be disclosed by CRAs and by the rated entities themselves, so that professional investors will be better informed in order to make their own judgments. For example, CRAs would have to communicate their ratings to the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), which would make sure that all available ratings on the market for a debt instrument are published under a European Rating Index (EURIX), freely available to investors.
At the same time, credit rating agencies will have to consult issuers and investors on any intended changes to their rating methodologies. Such changes would have to be communicated to ESMA which would check that applicable rules on form and due process have been respected.
2. More transparent and more frequent sovereign debt ratings.
Member States would be rated more frequently (every six months rather than 12 months) and investors and Member States would be informed of the underlying facts and assumptions on each rating. To avoid market disruption, sovereign ratings should only be published after the close of business and at least one hour before the opening of trading venues in the EU. The possible suspension of sovereign ratings is a complex issue which we believe merits further consideration.
3. More diversity and stricter independence of credit rating agencies to eliminate conflicts of interest.
Issuers would have to rotate every three years between the agencies that rate them. In addition, two ratings from two different rating agencies would be required for complex structured finance instruments and a big shareholder of a credit rating agency should not simultaneously be a big shareholder in another credit rating agency.
4. To make CRAs more accountable for the ratings they provide.
A CRA should be liable in case it infringes, intentionally or with gross negligence, the CRA Regulation, thereby causing damage to an investor having relied on the rating that followed such infringement. Such investors should bring their civil liability claims before national courts. The burden of proof would rest on the credit rating agency.
The EU Regulation on Credit Rating Agencies (CRA), (in force since December 2010), was part of Europe's response to the commitments made by the G20 at the November 2008 Washington summit. This Regulation was amended in May 2011, to adapt the Regulation to the creation of ESMA.
The existing CRA Regulations focus on registration, conduct of business and supervision of CRAs:
(1) registration: in order to be registered, a CRA must fulfill a number of obligations on the conduct of its business (see (2)) intended to ensure the independence and integrity of the rating process and to enhance the quality of the ratings issued. The European
Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) is entrusted since July 2011 with the responsibility for registering CRAs in the EU; 28 CRAs (of which some belong to the same group) are now registered with ESMA.
(2) conduct of business: the existing Regulation requires CRAs to avoid conflicts of interests (for example, a rating analyst employed by a CRA should not rate an entity in which he/she has an ownership interest), to ensure the quality of ratings (for example, requiring the ongoing monitoring of credit ratings) and rating methodologies (which must be, inter alia, rigorous and systematic) and a high level of transparency (for example, every year, CRAs should publish a Transparency Report).
(3) supervision: since July 2011, ESMA exercises exclusive supervisory powers over credit rating agencies registered in the EU and has comprehensive investigative powers including the possibility to demand any document or data, to summon and hear persons, to conduct on-site inspections and to impose administrative sanctions, fines and periodic penalty payments. This centralises and simplifies the supervision of CRAs at European
level. Centralised supervision ensures a single point of contact for registered CRAs, significant efficiency gains due to a shorter and less complicated registration and supervisory process and a more consistent application of the rules for CRAs. CRAs are at present the only financial institutions which are directly supervised by a European supervisory authority.
EU rules would apply to ratings of public entities within the EU but also outside the EU provided that the sovereign ratings are issued by a CRA registered in the EU.
The proposals now pass to the European Parliament and the Council (Member States) for negotiation and adoption.
Source: Website EU CommissionLees verder
The European Commission adopted proposals for the new Health for Growth and Consumer Programmes. The two programmes aim to foster a Europe of healthy, active, informed and empowered citizens, who can contribute to economic growth. These new programmes will run from 2014-2020 with a budget of € 197 million for the Consumer Programme. Focus will be on fewer concrete actions that offer clear EU added-value. The Consumer Programme will support EU consumer policy in the years to come. Its objective is to place consumers at the centre of the Single Market and empower them to participate actively in the market and make it work for them, particularly by:
- Enhancing product safety through effective market surveillance;
- Improving consumers' information, education and awareness of their rights;
- Consolidating consumer rights and strengthening effective redress, especially through alternative dispute resolution;
- Strengthening enforcement of rights cross-border.
- Monitoring and enforcing safety through EU-wide systems such as RAPEX, the EU rapid alert system for dangerous consumer products
- Information and education initiatives to make consumers, particularly young consumers, aware of their rights. This includes also the continuing development of the evidence base for better policy making at both EU and national level on consumer issues, with, for example, the Consumer Markets Scoreboard which maps out the markets that fail consumers in Europe;
- Delivering legislation aimed at enhancing consumer rights, for example the Consumer Credit Directive which ensures that consumers across Europe enjoy a common set of core rights, including the right to receive clear and comparable information before committing themselves financially; and Redress, where good preparatory work has been done, particularly, on Alternative Dispute Resolution.
- Enforcement action through "Sweeps" operations, which are co-ordinated by the European Commission and carried out simultaneously by national consumer enforcement authorities to see where consumer rights are being compromised or denied;
The demand for residential properties in Austria does not appear to be diminishing. There are several reasons for investment in properties in Austria. Mainly the fear of a higher inflation and the fear of a struggling Euro are the forces behind the high demand for properties. „People say that they have saving accounts between EUR 100.000 and 500.000 and want to know what kind of property they will get for their money“, says Andreas Wollein from the board of the Austria real estate association OVI describing the situation in his home country.
Prices expected to climb
The prices are expected to climb to an even higher level on the basis of the decreasing offer on the residential market. The minor production of new areas will enforce this trend in light of a growing population in most of the austrian agglomorations, with Vienna at the head, as well as the rise of one-person-household.
Increasing real estate prices create needs for political greed referring to additional tax revenue. This has been articulated in the latest political postulation for a housing taxation. The Övi, however, protests vehemently against additional real estate taxation whatsoever.
Real estate market Vienna – above-average increase of prices for sought after objects in locations in demand
Opposed by a high number of demands is the shortage of supply, which has made the prices for newly built owner-occupied flats not only in Vienna to climb upwards over the past 2 years. You can observe an above-average rise in prices up tp 20% for sought after objects in popular locations. „Something that could have been bought for 2.500€/sqm 2 years ago, nowadays would cost 3.000€/sqm“, Andreas Wollein comments on the current price development. Even in less demanded locations it is almost impossible to find objects for under 2.000€/sqm.
A league of its own
In good locations (excluding the 1. district) purchasing prices between 3.500€ - 5.000€/sqm are realised. Attic conversions even cost 3.500€ - 5.500€/sqm at an average depending on the location. Meanwhile even on the used real property market amazing prices are reached; in moderate locations between 2.000€ - 3.000€/sqm, in good locations even 4.500€/sqm are possible. The 1. district in turn is a league of its own: here the purchasing prices can climb up to 8.000€ - 16.000€/sqm.
The Austrian Real Estate Association OVD has published its latest market outlook for the year 2012. Find the outlook for Austria under the following link:
Market Outlook 2012 of OVI
Picture: www.fotolia.deLees verder