Ritter der Kokosnuss

“Riders of the Coconuts,” the calqued German title of the film
“Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
Rider is the German word for a knight.

In German, the British writers’ Romanized French soldiers hurl slightly retailored insults at Romanized British soldiers from the (Scottish) castle ramparts:

“I don’t feel like talking with you any longer. You karstified English
fresh-beer-drinker! I fart on you, pig priests! If it were up to me, you would never enter the European Community!” Ha HA!

The film’s medieval class conflict comedy is complicated by verbs conjugated in a You form that no longer exists in English:

Michael Palin: Come (all you folks) here and see the violence on which the system is based! Help! Help! I’m being subdued!

Graham Chapman: Blöder Bauer! [Stupid farmer/peasant!]

Michael Palin: Hooo, now he shows his true character, did you (all) hear that? He’s a proper exploiter. Did you (all) see how he suppressed me? Did you see it?

(RITT ah   dare   COCO snoose.)

Europäische Abwicklungsfond für marode Banken

European winding-down fund for rotten banks.

After years of discussions, European finance ministers have agreed on some corner points for how they’re going to deal with busted banks: an F.D.I.C.-type fund to settle up bad banks and close them out. The fund is to be created over the course of the next few years and stocked with an initial 55 billion euros provided by the banks themselves, as is the case for F.D.R.’s F.D.I.C. in the U.S.A. The new bank-funded fund is intended to help keep mismanaged banks from shifting their risks onto taxpayers again.

Update on 12 Dec 2013: ZDF Brussels correspondent Udo van Kampen explained the order of who will be called on to bail out troubled banks in the entire E.U.: first Eigentümer (“owners” = bank stockholders?), then Gläubiger (“creditors” = people who have bought the bank’s debt-based bonds?), then accountholders with >100,000 euros deposited at the bank, then taxpayers.

The bank-funded bad-bank fund will not be fully available until 2023, Mr. van Kampen said, and “The new liability rules for banks are now going to go into effect in 2016, two years earlier than planned.”

An economist pundit summed up the steps the E.U. has taken to prevent another huge financial collapse like the one that started on 15 Sep 2008: “We have a common European financial authority, now we have a bank settlement fund and we have creditor liability [Gläubigerbeteiligung, creditors having a stake]: that should help us avoid a similar crisis in the future,” said Carsten Brzeski, describing progress toward establishing the three “pillars” planned for the E.U.’s banking union in 2012 and 2013.

(Oy roe PAY ish ah   OB vick loongs fɔ̃   fir   mah ROAD ah   BONK en.)

Null Null Sieben

The 007 license plate of the car that dropped off Chancellor Merkel at the E.U. summit on 24 Oct 2013 in Brussels, where the hot unofficial topic was outrage at revelations about U.S. spying on the German chancellor’s cell phone and in previously-unknown but huge volumes in France. Possibly also Italy, including the Vatican. And now Spain.

“Spying on your friends is not okay.” —Angela Merkel (C.D.U.)

“That would represent an entirely new quality, and cast a new light on all statements made by the N.S.A. in the past few months.” —Ronald Pofalla (C.D.U.), who as Kanzleramtschef, the chancellor’s chief of staff, is responsible for coordinating and monitoring Germany’s intelligence agencies. He had declared the scandal over last summer in response to assurances from the U.S.A.

“We will not allow ourselves to be treated like that by the Americans. The trust has been harmed. I think a few things have to happen now before this trust can be restored.” —Hans-Peter Friedrich (C.S.U.), interior minister

“The Americans are not fully aware of the situation. And then you’re told things like, ‘but everyone spies on everybody.’ And that’s where you have to say loudly and clearly: that is not okay. Friends are not allowed to eavesdrop on friends. And how would people react in America—this is what we’re saying on our visit here, how we’re describing it—if the Bundesnachrichtendienst were to spy on the U.S. president.” —Elmar Brok (C.D.U.), chair of the European Parliament committee for Foreign Affairs, currently visiting Washington D.C. to complain

“The chancellor’s cell phone is important, but the private and business communications of normal burghers is just as important. We will stand up for the protection of the basic rights of German citizens[…]” —Thomas Oppermann (S.P.D.), chair of the Bundestag’s Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium intelligence committee that is tasked with but not always successful at monitoring and controlling Germany’s intelligence agencies. Mr. Oppermann may be hoping to become the new Justice Minister, replacing Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (F.D.P.).

“What sort of terrorists are they trying to find in the chancellor’s cell phone? This is a really absurd indication that the reasons they’ve told us so far absolutely cannot be true.” —Christian Ströbele (Green Party), member of the Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium intelligence committee

“It’s good that the clarification of the facts appears to be starting, now, and that at least a healthy distrust vis-à-vis the American intelligence services also appears to be arising, now.”  —Steffen Bockhahn (Leftists), member of the Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium

“The German government now mistrusts all claims and assurances made by the U.S. government in the entire N.S.A. affair. Now that we know they bugged the chancellor’s cell phone, the U.S. government can no longer sustain its claim from last summer that it did not injure Germany’s interests. It did, and representatives of all parties agree on this, utterly deceive Germany.” —Ulrich Deppendorf, ARD studio head and news editor-in-chief

“I think we should be honest that we have the capacity to obtain information that we didn’t have before. What we need now is the appropriate legislation that ensures we are not seeking or not using the capacity that we have.” —Fredrik Reinfeldt (centrist Moderate Party), Prime Minister of Sweden. (Approximate quote; his original English was drowned out by the German translation.)

“So we have to think about what we need. What data protection agreements do we need, what transparency do we need. We stand between the United States of America and Europe, before shared challenges […]” —Angela Merkel (C.D.U.)

“When I walk into a negotiation and must fear that the other side, a friendly democracy, already knows from espionage what I want to say in that negotiation, that’s no longer eye-to-eye.” —Martin Schulz (S.P.D.), president of the European Parliament

007, might be funny if the matter weren’t so serious. […] But this isn’t just about the chancellor’s cell phone. The much bigger concern is industrial espionage, which could cost European companies billions.” –ARD correspondent Rolf-Dieter Krause

In a wonderful interview given in German on the evening of Oct. 24, E.U. commissioner Viviane Reding said she’d heard that England’s government did not want European data protection but Poland, Italy and France had joined together to fight for it. Also: “Both of us, both the Americans and the Europeans, need this Transatlantic Trade Agreement. But to be able to negotiate an agreement, you need trust. I think this trust is no longer quite as present. That’s why the first thing that must be done is to restore that trust. And then, so that Europe can speak with a single voice, for that you need strong data protection that is Europe-wide. And that has to be the basis from which we can then move into negotiations with the Americans.”

“The whole time, Frau Merkel acted as if the affair was unimportant, as if it wouldn’t impact anyone in a big way. But then when it affects her, she gets upset? When all German burghers were affected, when it was about protecting burghers’ basic rights, she didn’t do anything then.” —Anton Hofreiter (new Green party co-chair)

“It is strange: umpteen million communications from Germans alone are recorded every month by British and U.S. intelligence agencies. With these extraordinary claims from the documents supplied by the ex-N.S.A. man Edward Snowden the snooping story exploded into public view last summer, but left the German government, and one must say most Germans as well, rather strangely unmoved. Then last night a single cell phone was added to the mix—OK, it was the chancellor’s—and suddenly all hell broke loose.” —Claus Kleber, moderator at ZDF heute journal

The new Bundestag scheduled an extraordinary meeting or special session [Sondersitzung] to discuss the N.S.A. spying affair in mid-November. All political parties also agree a parliamentary inquiry [Untersuchungsausschuss] is “unavoidable.” Many parties would like to invite Edward Snowden to testify before the committee, after which he can apply for asylum in Germany.

Update on 28 Oct 2013: On Thursday, Brazil and Germany will introduce a draft United Nations resolution against N.S.A. spying. FAZ.net reported that a large majority was predicted to approve it, and that though United Nations General Assembly resolutions tend to be nonbinding, unlike Security Council resolutions, the fact that Brazil and Germany are behind this and that so many of the 193 member states support it give it extra significance. Brazilian reporter Sonia Bridi from TV Globo said Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s government wants the world to make international regulations for internet access and international telecommunications such that no individual state can ever again have access to the world’s key communications hubs or nodes.

Update on 26 Nov 2013: The United Nations Human Rights Committee approved Germany and Brazil’s U.N. resolution against data spying. It will be sent on to the U.N. General Assembly, where the nonbinding resolution is considered certain to pass in December 2013.

“Today, for the first time, a resolution in the United Nations expressly specified that human rights have to be protected online just as much as they must be protected offline.” –Peter Wittig, permanent representative to the U.N. for Germany since 2009

(Newel   newel   ZEEB en.)

Bankendaten-Transfer ausgesetzt

Stopped the transfer of banking data.

On 23 Oct 2013 members of the European Parliament parties the Social Democrats, Greens, Leftists and (libertarianesque) Liberals voted 280 to 254 to stop providing bank transfer data to the U.S. under the S.W.I.F.T. agreement until more is done to fix the U.S.’s disrespect for data protection worldwide. Bank transfers have replaced checking in Europe, and the E.U. had originally, reluctantly, agreed to let the U.S. access bank transfer data in order to help fight terrorism.

Only four E.U. countries, including Five Eyes member Britain, and the German C.D.U./C.S.U. M.E.P.’s remained in favor of the status quo (this was before revelations that the U.S. had bugged the cell phone of Chancellor Merkel (C.D.U.)!). France was leading the protest, especially after articles in Le Monde that week about the vast extent of N.S.A. spying in France, slurfing tens of millions of French phone calls in just one 30-day period. The angry M.E.P.’s wanted the U.S. to, among other things, be honest and precise about what its organizations have been doing. An anonymous committee member was quoted in Spiegel.de as saying they know now that the U.S. does not change anything until after you stand up and say no to them.

The European Parliament decision to stop providing S.W.I.F.T. transfers data still must be approved by 2/3 of the 28 member states. The coalition of proponents doesn’t quite have those numbers yet, but lately U.S. intelligence agencies tend to help their opponents by delivering new outrages rather than, say, providing honest and precise information about what they, the myriad private contractor intelligence companies the U.S. hires, and their public and private partners around the world, have been doing.

Some goals, from the press release for the nonbinding solution:

“Parliament stresses that any data-sharing agreement with the US must be based on a consistent legal data protection framework, offering legally-binding standards on purpose limitation, data minimisation, information, access, correction, erasure and redress.”

Update on 27 Nov 2013: E.U. interior commissioner Cecilia Malmström (Swedish Liberal People’s Party, conservative-liberal, liberal with the non-U.S.A meaning of libertarianesque) announced that the commission was negating the E.U. parliament’s decisions to stop sharing E.U. air passenger data and S.W.I.F.T. bank transfer data with the U.S.A. “to fight terrorism” because, she said they said, there was no evidence the U.S. had violated the agreements. And, the E.U. Commission was also not going to change the toothless self-policing “Safe Harbor” data protection agreement: justice commissioner Viviane Reding has given the U.S. a 13-point data protection homework assignment to implement by summer 2014, after which the E.U. will re-examine torpedoing “Safe Harbor.”

(BONK en dot en   TRONZ fair   OW! z’gez ets t.)

Anti-F.I.S.A.-Klausel

Anti-Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act clause.

E.U. justice commissioner Viviane Reding has had trouble passing her data protection reform. Years of debates, thousands of amendment proposals, successful lobbying by U.S. companies and successful pressure from U.S. governments. But now everyone’s mad.

On 21 Oct 2013 the European Parliament passed data protection reforms. They updated 18-year-old rules that were obsolete and also loose enough to let the lawscape vary from country to country, enabling internet companies such as Facebook to shop for Member States with laxer data protection laws such as Ireland.

The so-called “anti-F.I.S.A. clause,” which regulates sharing of E.U. burgher data with so-called third-party countries, had actually been politely deleted in response to pressure from the U.S. government and lobbying from large U.S. companies, according to a June 2013 Spiegel.de article. Because everyone’s mad, the responsible “Libe” civil liberties committee put the anti-F.I.S.A. clause back into the proposed reform and it has now been passed by the European Parliament.

Spiegel.de summarized the key points:

  • Sanctions for violating European data protection rules have been “drastically” raised, to up to 5% of a company’s annual worldwide gross. Earlier this year Frau Reding had had to accept a compromise of a 2% maximum fine, but no more!
  • “Privacy by design,” which means, Spiegel.de wrote, “Companies must design their [websites] to be as [data-frugal] as possible, with the most data-protection-friendly default settings. They must also give their users the option of using their services anonymously and pseudonymously.”
  • “Explicit consent” by users to processing and sharing of their data. The explicit consent cannot be given in small print such as an end-user license agreement. Standardized easily recognized symbols must be included in the request for consent. Companies will not be allowed to create a user profile of users who forbid them to create one.
  • More guardians. Companies dealing with data from more than 5000 people will have to hire a data protection officer.
  • A European Union data protection council will be created to watch over these rights and abuses. To submit a complaint, burghers will only have to contact their country’s data protection office and will be able to submit complaints in their own language. The national data protection offices will escalate and forward.
  • The Libe committee was unable to get a majority vote in favor of the “right to be forgotten” this time, settling instead on a “deletion right” under which E.U. burghers will be able to force companies to tell them what data they have collected on them and then to delete it. The companies will not be responsible for ensuring that data do not appear anywhere else in the internet however, which is what a “right to be forgotten” would have meant. Spiegel.de said German data protection law is stronger here.

It’s not over yet. The European Parliament must now agree on a final version of the reform with all 28 countries in the E.U. Council and in the E.U. Commission. If the reform is not done and dusted before European Parliament elections in April 2014, it may be delayed for ridiculous lengths of time again.

(Auntie   FIE zah   cl OW! zell.)

Unionsrecht

“Union law” in Germany apparently means European Union law and not the rules of the conservative Christian Democratic union consisting of the national-level C.D.U. + the Bavarian state C.S.U. This distinction became clear during a television news discussion about the legality of C.S.U. head Horst Seehofer’s strange and very unsettling* campaign promise to create a toll for foreigners driving on Bavarian roads. Mr. Seehofer’s political party, which has ruled Bavaria since 1946, claimed they did a survey that found 88% of Bavarians disliked foreigners enough to support the C.S.U.’s proposed toll or “Ausländer-Maut.” C.S.U. proponents also said the country of Austria introduced a similar foreigners fee and why wasn’t that illegal but their state-level proposal is.

The Bavarian state election (for the Landestag, state parliament) was Sunday, 15 Sep 2013, one week before Germany’s Bundestag election.

During the campaign—mercifully short by U.S. standards—the C.S.U. party promised Bavarian voters it would refuse to join a German federal government coalition after the 22 Sep 2013 federal election if their federal partners said they couldn’t tax foreigners. But it’s hard to believe the C.S.U. could afford to exit that coalition. Bavaria is said to have the best schools in Germany, so it’s hard to believe Bavarian voters would believe the C.S.U. when they promised to exit that coalition, either. The threat didn’t work on Chancellor Merkel (C.D.U.), on the surface at least. During what was apparently the only formal evening debate between the two largest parties’ candidates, she said on national television that the C.S.U.’s proposed foreigner-specific state road toll was not going to happen.

But the whole point appears to have been to talk about taxing foreigners in Bavarian beer tents, because Horst Seehofer persisted in doing that even after Angela Merkel’s quiet and very public “no.” Mr. Seehofer’s challenger, Munich mayor Christian Ude (S.P.D.), called it “eine bewusste Irreführung der Bevölkerung,” a deliberate confusion or leading-into-crazy-country of the people.

* Not only do proposals like this sound like they could grow racism, but as we now know since the Snowden trove revelations there are several ways the new toll could be used to spy on foreigners.

(Oo n YO nz wrecked.)

Wirtschaftsspionage

“Economic espionage,” industrial espionage. June 2013 reports that Germany was the N.S.A.’s most-spied-on country in the E.U. created German misgivings that financial advantages might be being sought.

The Guardian.co.uk’s “heat map” for the NSA’s “Boundless Informant” surveillance system indicated only countries like Iran, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt and India were being monitored more than Germany.

This fear was not alleviated by Süddeutsche Zeitung and Norddeutsche Rundfunk reporting on 02 Aug 2013 describing Snowden-trove British General Communications Headquarters docs from 2009. It listed U.K. telecoms that “assisted” G.C.H.Q. (with each company’s code name): Verizon Business (“Dacron”), British Telecommunications (“Remedy”), Vodafone Cable (“Gerontic”), Global Crossing (“Pinnage”), Level 3 (“Little”), Viatel (“Vitreous”) and Interoute (“Streetcar”); some of these telecom companies even developed software to help spy on their customers and were paid for that by G.C.H.Q. “For the good of the British economy” was a reason given in a G.C.H.Q. PowerPoint presentation for why these telecoms were selling their customers’ communications.

Update on 19 Jan 2014: ZDF heute journal reported the listening post atop the U.S. embassy in Berlin was indeed used for economic espionage: they were interested in the Chancellor’s opinions about the euro currency, for example.

In 2003, the company Ferrostaal, headquartered in Essen, was competing with a U.S. company for a contract to deliver radio monitoring equipment to Nigeria. The U.S. embassy in Berlin supplied Ferrostaal’s U.S. competitor with data from Ferrostaal’s secret bid, according to an embassy cable found in the Wikileaks trove. Details ZDF showed in a copy of the cable included the German company’s offered price (24 million euros) and financing (“5.1 to 7.0 percent for possibly 5 years”). The U.S. company won the contract.

(VEE at shofts ess pee own OJ.)

Sicherer-Hafen-Abkommen

“Safe Harbor accord.”

After years of discussion, on 19 Jul 2013 E.U. ministers reached an agreement on reforming their outdated data protection principles at their Lithuania meeting, agreeing inter alia that any companies wishing to do business with one of the E.U.’s 500 million citizens will have to obey the E.U.’s privacy regulations or pay fines of “up to 2% of world income,” said justice commissioner Viviane Reding.

She called into question the E.U. and U.S.A.’s current pre-millennial “Safe Harbor” personal data transfer agreement, which companies join voluntarily and in which they verify their own compliance. About a thousand companies joined the agreement, including companies that shared customers’ personal data with the N.S.A. Commissioner Reding said the U.S.A.’s Patriot Act had annulled the Safe Harbor agreement anyway. “I have already told the parliament that if [the Safe Harbor agreement] is in fact what I think it is, namely a loophole, then we’re done with it.” She is counting on German and French support for the new data protection reforms.

Update on 27 Nov 2013: E.U. interior commissioner Cecilia Malmström (Swedish Liberal People’s Party, conservative-liberal, liberal with the non-U.S.A meaning of libertarianesque) announced the E.U. Commission was not going to change the toothless self-policing “Safe Harbor” data protection agreement for now. E.U. justice commissioner Viviane Reding (Luxemburger Christian Social People’s Party and European People’s Party, center and center-right) has given the U.S. a 13-point data protection homework assignment to implement by summer 2014, after which the Commission will re-examine torpedoing “Safe Harbor.”

(ZICHH ah ah   HAW fen   OB come en.)

Parallelität

“Parallelism.” A rep from Angela Merkel’s CDU party said starting Monday, July 8, negotiations with the USA would run in parallel for both a free trade zone encompassing the EU and USA and for a data protection agreement.

(Pah rah lell ee TATE.)

Kaskade von Haftung

“Cascade of responsibility.” New package of banking rules agreed by the European finance ministers on 27 Jun 2013 defining an order of responsibility for saving failed banks: first the banks’ shareholders will pay/lose money. Next, people who loaned the banks money to make loans will pay. Then, owners of large accounts >100,000 euros will pay. Last, the taxpayers will pay. Savings accounts <100,000 euros at failed banks are guaranteed to be refunded, if need be by taxpayers.

CNN.com reported that a hierarchy was also defined among large depositors, with big businesses being asked to pay before small and medium-sized businesses.

Details the day after the announcement: Under the new rules, being called a “bail-in regime,” when a bank is unable to meet its financial obligations, 8% of its debt will be paid by the bank’s shareholders, creditors/bondholders and large depositors. The next 5% will be paid by country bank funds (that will have to be set up). If that’s still not enough, the country will have to decide what to do.

The Guardian.co.uk reported that the second layer, country bank funds, responsible for rescuing 5% of failed banks must “come from a resolution fund which has to be built up over 10 years and cover 0.8% of the insured deposits in any given country.” The UK got excused from having to create or at least fund that fund because they said they wanted to collect a “bank levy” instead, for what sounds like an FDIC-type scheme in which banks (help) pay for failed banks. CNN.com reported that the resolution funds would also contain mandatory bank contributions, however.

(Coss CAW deh   fon   HAWF toong.)

Steuersparmodelle für Grossunternehmen angehen

“Having a go at tax savings models for large companies,” what the EU is doing now that US firms have started testifying before Congress about still-legal systems of international tax loopholes partially revealed by the “Offshore Leaks” data trove.

From the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s description of some results from the 22 May 2013 EU summit in Brussels:

“At their meeting Wednesday the 27 leaders also talked for the first time about actions to be taken against tax savings models for large companies. With an eye on corporations like Apple, Amazon or Google, which avoid taxes on a large scale, British leader David Cameron said it is time to close the loopholes. He said one has to be sure that companies are really paying taxes. France’s president François Hollande demanded action against the ‘corporations’ tax tricks.’ Irish premier Enda Kenny was put under pressure because for years Apple has been using Irish subsidiaries to save billions of euros. Kenny said there aren’t any exception rules for international corporations. Ireland’s rules for taxing companies are ‘transparent and clear.’ The EU commission now plans to submit proposals for closing corporate tax loopholes by the end of 2013.”

(SHTOY ah SHPAH mode elle ah   foor   GROSS oont ah NAME en   ON gay hen.)

Saatgutrichtlinie

“Seeds guideline.” The European Commission voted on 06 May 2013 to accept draft proposals for new regulations for harvested agricultural products that are going to be used as seed. The new rule requires seeds to be registered and tested before they are sold, perhaps including for genetic modifications and the virulent E. coli O104:H4 strain that turned out to be in salad sprouts seed in 2011.

(ZOTT goot RICHHT lean ee ya.)

Neue Auflagen für inländische und ausländische Banken

“New requirements for domestic and for foreign banks.” A week after the EU passed a new package of bank reforms on 16 Apr 2013 intended to force European banks to operate on a more stable basis, an EU commissioner sent a letter to the USA’s Federal Reserve criticizing the Fed’s intention to impose similar terms not just on US banks within the US but on foreign banks in the US as well.

The key points in the Fed’s proposal would be to require large foreign banks to create North American holding companies for their activities there and to meet the standards US banks must fulfill for capital reserves and liquidity buffers in order to make the banks less vulnerable to failure. The Fed said in addition that the new rules were intended to mitigate risk from foreign banks’ recent tendencies in the USA to bet more strongly in capital markets, on short-term capital. The proposed provisos would apply for “large” foreign banks in the US, defined as having >$50 billion internationally and >$10 billion in the USA. Such as Barclays and the embroiled-in-scandal Deutsche Bank, “both of which have attempted to use modifications under corporate law to avoid stricter constraints in America” and both of which have received large bailouts from US taxpayers despite being foreign, the F.A.Z. pointed out.

This seems like a smart initiative taken by the US government and apparently before other governments such as the EU’s. There are dystopian science fiction novels about future earths in which only domestic banks are regulated and foreign banks go a-raiding abroad until they don’t much resemble banks any more.

(NOY ah   OW! f log en   foor   in LEND ish en   oond   ow! SLEND ish en   BONK en.)

Gießkannenprinzip

“Watering can principle,” in which subventions are distributed evenly throughout a group without regard to individual needs or priorities, a principle some European arms exporters say they won’t follow if allowed to resume exporting weapons to Syrian rebels. They say they will only give guns to good guys. The UK and France don’t want to renew the EU’s embargo on Syrian arms shipments, which is about to expire.

Update on 27 May 2013: Because the member states could not reach a unanimous decision, the EU embargo on sending more weapons to Syrian rebels will expire. The UK indicated they were only proposing voting against renewal of the embargo because they want to increase pressure on the Assad family (which is currently fighting to the death, of all its members, unless they agree to a better solution at the upcoming peace talks in Switzerland). We shall see whether France and the UK now indeed export more weapons to that corner of the world.

(GEESE Cannes en prints EEP.)

Finanztransaktionssteuer auf Wertpapiergeschäfte

“Financial transaction tax on securities transactions.” The responsible EU commission has submitted a draft proposal for a tax of 0.1% on transactions in stocks, loans, shares in investment and money market funds and derivatives in the EU, to be collected from large investors such as banks. Financial products for small investors are not going to be subject to the FTT. Some or all of the estimated >30 billion euros resulting from the tax will be used to bail out the large institutions paying the tax if new crashes occur in future, taking taxpayers off the hook for these institutions’ miscalculation of risks. The FTT will have to be approved unanimously by all EU countries before it can go into effect in Europe as scheduled on 1 Jan 2014.

Update on 12 Nov 2013: Apparently another English name would be a “Tobin tax,” named after Nobel economics laureate James Tobin. It’s a penalty he proposed decades ago on “short-term financial round-trip excursions” in order to “dissuade speculators.”

(Fee NONTS trons awk tsee OWNS shtoy er   ow! f   VAIR t pop EAR geh CHEF teh.)

Fischereireform

“Fisheries reform”; the EU passed a reformatory Common Fisheries Policy this week with a very solid majority. The Greens celebrated. Details still need to be worked out with individual countries’ governments, but the policy is intended to help combat overfishing and will, e.g., make it illegal for vessels to dump part of their catch back into the ocean in order to meet fishing quotas or because the caught fish have low market value. It is also supposed to stop overfishing in developing countries.

(Fisher EYE rrreform.)

Tag des sicheren Internets

“Safer Internet Day,” 5 February. The 2013 theme was “Connect with Respect.” This is sponsored by the European Union’s Safer Internet Program.

(TOCHH   dess   ZICHH er en  INternets.)

Mutmacher, Muntermacher

Someone who gives you courage, someone who makes you cheerful. From uplifting 10 Dec 2012 reporting on the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the European Union.

(MOOT machh er,   MOONT er machh er.)

Gemeinsame Bankenaufsicht

Common bank supervisory authority. At this week’s summit to define a road map for structural economic reforms of the European Union, EU heads of state did agree on how to make the ECB a supervisory authority for European banks. Goals included ensuring similar bank monitoring quality across Europe and enabling more rapid identification of national banks that are starting to slide into trouble. Starting in 2014, the ECB will monitor only banks that are particularly large (balance sheet >30 billion euros or >20% of their country’s economic output but in any case each country’s three largest banks) and/or internationally active; currently this would cover the ~150 most important banks in Europe and ~30 banks in Germany. In justified cases, the ECB will be able to audit additional bank types, such as banks that have received financial assistance, and after the first indications of financial crisis the ECB should be able to intervene with all banks. The new authority will be mandatory for Eurozone members, with voluntary participation for other members.

Germany had objected that giving the ECB authority over all European banks (~6000) would leave German taxpayers on the hook for banks in other countries. France had wanted to give the ECB authority over all European banks in order, they said, to get the new system up and running more rapidly. As it is, more French banks than German banks will be subjected to the new ECB monitoring (President Hollande said 95% of French banks and 82% of German banks will probably be covered by the new authority). The new system is intended to cut links between national banks and sovereign debt, capping the tendency for some governments to issue too much debt and for their national banks to buy too much of it. They’re still discussing how to avoid conflicts between the ECB’s monitoring and financial policy roles. To separate the two functions within the same institution, it has now been agreed that a board will be created that does not include people involved with the financial policy side. When the ECB’s governing council, the highest financial policy board at the ECB, disagrees with the ECB’s bank monitoring decisions, an “arbitration mechanism” will be applied. Experts say much remains to be clarified.

The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) should be up and running in 2013. It will be able to send capital directly to troubled banks, with the prerequisite that it first unanimously asks the ECB to take over running them, and the ECB agrees to do so.

Update on 12 Sep 2013: The E.U. parliament approved the creation of a central Bankenaufsicht, being variously translated as a central bank oversight, a banking union, a single bank supervisor or single supervisory mechanism, that is intended to increase the world’s economic stability by being separate from national governments and national bank associations. It is to be at the European Central Bank but to be kept strictly separate there from other E.C.B. business, somehow, and now planned to be up and running by Fall 2014.

Update on 15 Oct 2013: The E.U., in the form of the Member States’ finance ministers, agreed on the basic structure of the Bankenaufsicht, to be indeed located at the European Central Bank. It will have oversight over ~130 large European banks. Startup is scheduled for ~November 2014. Tagesschau.de added that the Bankenaufsicht is the first of three planned “pillars” of the E.U.’s banking union [Bankenunion]. The other two pillars, “a mechanism for winding down rotten banks [marode Banken] and a uniform deposit insurance [Einlagenversicherung],” have still to be defined.

A stress test is scheduled next month for Europe’s 130 largest banks, because people remain concerned that some large banks might have managed to keep some risk mismanagement hidden in their books, even at this late date. Only after banks have passed the upcoming stress test, however strict it turns out to be, will they be allowed into the protection or at least under the umbrella of the new Bankenaufsicht.

Tagesschau.de’s Rolf-Dieter Krause commented about the upcoming E.U. stress test, “After rather doubtful exercises of this type in the past, this time they say they are *really* going to test the banks.”

(Geh MINE zom eh   BONK en ow! ff zicked.)

“Man muss dafür nicht genial sein. Facebook bietet einfach zuviele Angriffspunkte. Und irgendeiner muss es ja machen.”

“You don’t have to be a genius to do this. Facebook offers simply too many points vulnerable to attack. And someone’s got to do it.”

Words from Viennese law student Max Schrems, who with “Europe vs. Facebook,” a group of about a dozen people, is working to get Facebook into better compliance with European data protection laws. After the Irish authorities declined to follow up on complaints Schrems filed, the group is now crowdfunding a lawsuit against the European authorities responsible for regulating the social networking company. They can’t sue the company itself, only its European regulators; but this lawsuit could be appealed all the way to the European Court of Justice. The group estimates the lawsuit will cost about 300,000 euros, of which they’ve collected 20,000 euros since the campaign started last week. Schrems’s legal activism uses 1200 pages of information collected by fb about him and his network of friends, including all his deleted posts, that he received from fb two years ago. He was inspired to request his data from the company after hearing an “absurd” presentation by one of its employees during a study abroad semester in Silicon Valley.

Zentrales Waffenregister

Central weapons register. Gun owners in Germany currently have to register their guns at several hundred (~550) small separate offices that don’t coordinate with one another. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) says the government has scheduled the creation of a central gun registry in Germany, which police will be able to use to check weapon ownership starting in early 2013. The central registry is being created in response to an EU guideline that would have allowed two more years for implementation.

Update on 15 Nov 2013: Research by Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Norddeutsche Rundfunk has discovered that development of the Waffenregister (and development of a central registry of personal I.D.’s, Personalausweisregister), were two of ~100 jobs the German government outsourced in the past five years to a German subsidiary of Computer Sciences Corporation (C.S.C.), a U.S. company very firmly entwined with the U.S. intelligence sector whose software probably can’t be trusted. C.S.C. helped develop surveillance software for the N.S.A. and was, Süddeutsche.de reported, involved via another subsidiary in the C.I.A.’s Verschleppung of the German citizen Khaled el-Masri in 2004.

Süddeutsche.de said C.S.C. helped test the Bundestrojaner malware of the Bundeskriminalamt and support the introduction of electronic files into the German courts. It helped with the introduction of a nationwide “electronic passport” and Germany’s recent “secure email” project known as De-Mail.

“The company is part of the American shadow army of private companies that work cheaply/favorably [günstig] and invisibly for the military and secret services. The company belonged to a consortium, for example, that was awarded the N.S.A.’s so-called Trailblazer Project, which was said to include development of the recently disclosed Prism program. Some of these problematic involvements have been known for years, yet supposedly not within the Ministry of the Interior, which signed the framework contracts with C.S.C.”

Interior Ministry spokespeople said the ministry had no “own knowledge” of these entanglements but that the framework contracts “usually” included clauses forbidding transmission of confidential data to third parties.

(Tsen TRALL ess   VOFF en reh GIST er.)

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