by Nassos Stylianou and John Burn-Murdoch
Between May 22 and 25, some 400 million people will be eligible to vote in the European Parliament elections. But how many of them will actually turn up at the ballot box?
Following 2009 treaty changes, the European Parliament will for the first time have a more direct role in electing the president of the European Commission , the EU’s executive arm, giving May’s election added significance.
Despite the increasing influence of the European Parliament, the percentage of those voting to elect its members has fallen in every election, from 62 per cent in 1979’s inaugural direct elections through to 43 per cent in 2009.
At the last European elections five years ago, less than half of those eligible voted in 18 of the 27 member states. In six countries, the turnout was below 30 per cent. In one country, Slovakia, less than one in five of those eligible voted.
Turnout in Germany, France and Italy – founding members of the common market – has eroded by more than 20 percentage points since then. In the UK, turnout was already low at 32.3 per cent in 1979 and levels have remained consistently below 40 per cent ever since.
However, several of the newer member states such as Estonia, Latvia and Bulgaria recorded a surge in turnout in 2009.
by Andrew Jack
From trade embargoes to arms blockades, sanctions have long been an extension of conflict by non-military means. Since the start of the twenty-first century, there has been growing use of “targeted” sanctions that draw on intelligence to pinpoint individuals for travel bans or asset freezes. The United Nations, the European Union and the US have announced a wide series of measures, while other organisations including the African Union and individual countries have also issued them with varying degrees of success.
There is fierce debate about the effectiveness of sanctions, with at least two organisations seeking to assess their mixed impact. Our interactive graphic draws on the global analysis by the Peterson Institute for International Economics and the Targeted Sanctions Consortium, based in Switzerland. Read more
By Paul Hodges
Two remarkable global demographic developments have occurred since 1950. Yet only recently have their impact on companies and the economy begun to be properly understood.
Life expectancy has risen by 50 per cent since 1950 (red column) to average around 70 years today, due to advances in disease prevention and knowledge about healthier lifestyles.
Total fertility rates have halved over the same period (green shading). The average woman now has only 2.5 children, as increased life expectancy means large families are no longer so essential for economic survival. Read more
by Thomas Hale
Fears of an incipient housing bubble in London – and concerns about the UK property sector in general – are soaring as quickly as the prices themselves. But not all bubbles are created equal – especially when it comes to first-time buyers.
How might rising house prices affect first-time buyers? The graph below shows the average UK house price compared to how much of the average take-home pay first-time buyers spend on repayments.
The most striking thing about the graph is the way price correlates so strongly to the stretched nature of first-time buyer households until mid-2009, at which point the two lines start to move in opposite directions. Prices have begun to go up again, but first-time buyers have become consistently less stretched across the UK. Read more
(c) Getty Images
By Henry Foy
Ten things to know about the 48 hour London tube strike that began last night:
1. 3.4m people use the tube every day, according to Transport for London (TFL). Not today they didn’t.
2. The strike is all about jobs. Boris Johnson and TFL, which runs the Tube, wants to close all tube ticket offices by 2015, at a cost of 750 jobs.
3. TFL say the public support the plans. Eighty-two per cent of respondents to their survey backed the move to close ticket offices, it said. But the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, which is taking part in the strike, said a survey it commissioned found 65 per cent of tube users felt industrial action as a last resort was justified.
4. Forty-three stations, or 16 per cent of the total station network, were completely closed on Wednesday morning, TFL said. Read more
By Henry Mance
BSkyB and BT have both committed billions of pounds to sports rights over the past two years – as they seek to protect their positions as the UK’s biggest pay-TV provider and biggest broadband operator respectively.
So has either taken a lead?
The long view starts in July 2006, when Sky entered the broadband market.
It was slowly closing the gap on BT, adding about 400,000 more customers that its rival.
However, since the launch of BT Sport last summer, BT has added more broadband users than Sky – the first time in a half-year period since 2007. Read more
On Thursday Eric Schmidt gave a fascinating talk on technological innovation, in which he warned that broad range of jobs that once seemed beyond the reach of automation are in danger of being wiped out by technological advances.
I raised two questions to neither of which in my view did I receive a good answer. Read more
By Roger Blitz, Leisure Industries Correspondent
Should we praise European football clubs for creating an international labour market or criticise them for failing to nurture homegrown talent?
Take your pick. According to the Swiss-based CIES Football Observatory, the proportion of players playing at clubs where they trained is at an all-time low of 21.2 per cent. Five years, ago, it was at 23.1 per cent.
Among the top five countries – England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France – the proportion is even lower, at 16.5 per cent. All charts are from the CIES’ latest report.
No surprise, therefore, that the percentage of expatriate players is at a record high of 36.8 per cent, as the transfer market continues to flourish. Many of them are Brazilians, with 471, though in 2009 there were 538 plying their trade in Europe.
The most likely place to find a club-trained player is Sweden, Slovakia and Finland. The least likely is Italy, Turkey and Russia. English clubs are producing only 13.6 per cent of club-trained players, Germany’s proportion is not much better and they are both well behind Spain and France. Read more
By Claer Barrett and Kiran Stacey
Last autumn, George Osborne came to the Commons to present his Autumn Statement against the backdrop of a stagnating economy and a recent credit downgrade. His speech was full of language about continuing with “Plan A” despite ongoing concern over whether it was working.
This year was very different. With massive increases in the OBR’s growth forecasts, this was in effect the chancellor’s victory speech: in his words “the plan is working”. But there were also plenty of warnings against voting for Labour instead.
Here’s a quick, fun, look at how the language has changed….
The Chancellor was keen to put a positive gloss on continuing austerity while the economy is picking up, promising to “fix the roof when the sun is shining”.
2013 = 2 mentions
2012 = 0 mentions
Armed with a rosy set of forecasts, the Chancellor was able to boast
confidently about his economic strategy: “The plan is working.”
2013 = 3 mentions
2012 = 0 mentions Read more
By Andrew Jack
The global sales of prescription medicines is starting to accelerate and will reach $1 trillion next year, according to new estimates from IMS.
The data shows slowed growth since the 2008 financial crisis, when the loss of lucrative patents on drugs pushed down prices for drug companies just as the economic slowdown imposed austerity measures by governments and squeezed incomes by individuals paying out of pocket for healthcare. Read more
By David Donald of the Center for Public Integrity and James Politi. Interactive graphic by Caroline Nevitt, Tom Pearson and Martin Stabe.
US sequestration impact per capita
Automatic US government spending cuts that took effect in March are threatening local economies across the country.
Counties that benefited from high levels of federal spending in recent years and weathered the recession better than the rest of the country could be especially hard-hit, an analysis of so-called “sequestration” by the Financial Times and the Center for Public Integrity has found.
Update, 3 October: The New Mexico county that is home to the Los Alamos National Laboratory, faces the greatest per-capita impact of any county in the United States, at more than $6,000 per person. Areas with military bases, such as Christian county, Kentucky, are also particularly hard hit. Across the 388 counties in the US that have one or more military installation, the sequestration impact per capita is $312. That is nearly twice as high as in the 2,727 counties without a military installation, where the sequestration impact per capita is $171.
Use the interactive graphic below to see how the impact is distributed around the United States and how your county fares.
by Alistair Hayes
Another round of Premier League football, another weekend of foreign domination.
Of the 29 goals scored in last week’s Premier League, 21 were scored by non-England-qualified players, providing plenty of ammunition for the many England fans who contend that domestic players are being prevented from reaching world class by a seemingly endless stream of foreigners.
But would a reduction of overseas talent in the Premier League – whose players hold 91 nationalities – allow more English players to rise to international class? Would it be the panacea most onlookers – from the man in the pub to the national manager Roy Hodgson – seem to think it would be? Or is it that they are simply not good enough to compete on the international stage? Read more
by Roger Blitz, FT leisure industries correspondent
Going on a cruise conjures images of luxury travel, affordable only for the rich and those suddenly wondering what to do with their retirement savings.
Yet the price of a cruise for UK passengers has been steadily coming down, as cruise liners fight hard to convince consumers that their trips are affordable and value for money. Read more
Guest post by Paul Hodges
Whilst the number of working women in the UK continues to rise, since 2009 their total earnings have been falling in real terms. With consumer spending contributing to roughly 60 per cent of the UK economy, this has important implications for the sustainability of the current recovery.
Nearly 14 million women are working today compared to nine million in 1971, whilst their participation rate in the workforce has increased from 59 per cent to 75 per cent today.
There has also been a sustained rise in women’s pay relative to men.