Daily Archives: January 18, 2007

Blogs are supposed to be engaging, whimsical, opinionated and should at least try to provide an entertaining angle on the great matters of the day. I am not sure, therefore, that it is a great idea to devote an entire posting to the bleak, bone-dry world of accounting and auditing, but I’ll give it a try all the same.

The bean-counters have, after all, attracted quite a lot of attention inside the European Commission recently. This has a lot to do with the somewhat surprising notion that accountants and auditors are a bit like those mountain gorillas in central Africa that have been dropping dead at an alarming rate in recent years. In other words, there are plenty of people who believe the profession is an endangered species that requires urgent protection.

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It may seem like clever domestic politics, but Ségolène Royal’s plan to re-run France’s referendum on the EU constitution looks like a disaster waiting to happen: both for France and Europe.

Ms Royal will win plaudits for her commitment to giving the French people their democratic voice, should she win the French presidential elections this spring. Nicolas Sarkozy, her rival, has already committed himself to trying to negotiate a "mini" version of the constitution and to ram it through the national assembly. Read more >>

Ralph Atkins in Frankfurt

Nordics are setting the pace in central bank transparency. That is clear from the announcement this week by Sweden’s Riksbank

that it will follow Norway’s example in publishing forecasts of its own interest rates.

Don’t yawn: this is state-of-the-art stuff in academic economics circles. Monetary policy these days is largely about influencing the economy through expectations.

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The last time Serbian and European leaders really got together, they seethed at each other. So why is the EU dusting off its plans to cuddle up to Belgrade? And why do I think it is a good idea?

I remember that last meeting in October, when, bunkered down in a conference centre in Luxembourg, Vojislav Kostunica, Serbia’s prime minister, proclaimed his country’s heartfelt desire to hang on to the province of Kosovo – whatever the wishes of the EU or US.

Olli Rehn, the EU’s enlargement Commissioner, said Serbia had done nowhere near enough to track down Gen Ratko Mladic, the man blamed for Europe’s worst massacre since the second world war – the killing of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.

The air was thick with recrimination. Rehn made clear that unless Serbia did much more on handing over Mladic, there was no chance that talks would resume on deepening Belgrade’s ties with Brussels,  negotiations supposed to open the way for Serbia to join the EU.

Now, however, Rehn is giving off much more positive signals, making clear that, if Serbia’s parliamentary elections on Sunday go well, the talks could pick up where they left off and make up for lost time.

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