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Carlsberg ramps up pressure on PM over alcohol price plan – Telegraph

Plans for a 45p-per-unit minimum price were set out last month and have the support of the Prime Minister. They would mean beer could not be sold for less than 90p a can while wine would cost at least £4.20 a bottle.

The Sunday Telegraph reveals today that political pressure is growing on the Prime Minister from Cabinet colleagues to abandon the policy.

Carlsberg chief executive Jorgen Buhl Rasmussen said he is strongly against the idea, which follows a proposal for a 50p-per-unit alcohol pricing floor in Scotland that is now being tested in the European courts. “They’re the only two in Europe where we see this happening,” Mr Buhl Rasmussen said in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph.

“We’re a little surprised about the UK proposal because the proposal in Scotland has been taken to court in the EU as to whether it would be in line with the free market principles.

“It could take between six and 18 months before there’s a decision so we didn’t really expect England to come out with a proposal at this time.

“But we were also surprised because we have so much evidence across Europe that price does not change or reduce abuse. What changes and reduces abuse would be education and information.

via Carlsberg ramps up pressure on PM over alcohol price plan – Telegraph.

BBC News – Technology dominates the Los Angeles motor show

With its hillside pool, soft designer furniture and chillout music pumping from the speakers, the party in the Beverly Hills mansion is full of promise.

But the evening is not about rubbing shoulders with Hollywood celebrities.

Instead, the guest of honour is a car – one that has been designed to capture the mood of the moment.

“Our idea is to combine premium with sustainability,” says Benoit Jacob, head of design for BMW Group‘s new sub-brand “i”.

“We call it ‘next premium’. We believe that for premium in the future, sustainability will be vital.”

It is a message that resonates with Californians, who are already eager buyers of green technology, accounting for a third of all plug-in electric car sales and a quarter of petrol-electric hybrids.

“California is committed to sustainable mobility,” agrees Mr Jacob. “And so are we.”

Technology show

Californians buy about one in 10 cars sold in the US, so when automotive industry executives take in the view from Beverly Hills, what they see is a vast market for their products.

But the Golden State offers golden opportunities well beyond its borders. Consumers here are technology savvy, hungry for constant change, ready to push boundaries and widely seen as trend-setters by consumers across America, perhaps even the world.

via BBC News – Technology dominates the Los Angeles motor show.

New baby booms won’t avert dependency dilemma | Reuters

Baby on tiptoesReuters – With so many fretting about the rapid ageing of European societies and the rising burden of old-age dependency, it’s easy to overlook the mini baby booms in many countries.

Often apocalytic headlines on the greying of major economies and the “pensions timebomb” sit oddly with a growing body of data and reports of rising births and recovering fertility rates in many European economies, notably Britain.

Only this week, the inside pages of many UK newspapers dropped the little nugget that England this year is set to record the highest number of births in 40 years.According to data released by the Royal College of Midwives, more than 700,000 babies are likely to be born in 2012 if first-quarter trends persist – more than in any year since 1971.

And these numbers are no isolated blip. There’s been a welter of statistical and anecdotal evidence from Britain and elsewhere in Europe in recent years that shows a significant upturn in birth rates since the turn of the millennium.

A study released late last year by the RAND Europe think-tank showed that after two decades of year-on-year declines the total fertility rate for the European Union as a whole has stabilised in the 21st century, with all but four EU countries recording increases between 2000 and 2008.

National pictures vary of course and there’s only a modest increase in Germany and the Netherlands. But Britain has more than reversed declines of the prior 20 years and pushed back close to “replacement rates” of 2.1 births on average per woman – the threshold where population stands still.

via New baby booms won’t avert dependency dilemma | Reuters.

EU Shelves Women Board Quotas Plan – WSJ.com

English: European Commissioner Viviane RedingBRUSSELS—A plan to set mandatory quotas for the percentage of women on Europe’s company boards was scotched Tuesday—at least for now—when the European Union’s executive body split over the proposal.

The initiative—pushed by Commission Vice President Viviane Reding—is among the most far-reaching proposals yet taken in a major economy to ensure better gender balance among company executives. But her plan ran into heavy opposition among other colleagues who forced a watering down of the proposal.

The centerpiece of Ms. Reding’s plan was an effort to oblige company boards to allocate 40% of their seats to women by 2020 or face EU fines. Ms. Reding cited figures this month showing that 86.5% of EU board members are men while fewer than 3% of company chairpersons are female.

According to two people familiar with the two-hour debate on the proposals, Ms. Reding’s plan had raised concerns among the Commission’s legal services and was opposed by a number of female commissioners. One said that had they voted on the proposal on Tuesday, Ms. Reding “would have lost badly.”

According to the officials, Ms. Reding presented a compromise right at the end of the meeting which drops the legal obligation of the EU to enforce the 40% target. However the compromise proposal came too late to win immediate backing from commissioners. The people said Ms. Reding had earlier said she wasn’t prepared to present a Plan B.

via EU Shelves Women Board Quotas Plan – WSJ.com.

US plan to sell ‘chateau’ wine in EU angers France – Telegraph

“What is at stake is the respect for tradition and quality,” Laurent Gapenne of Chateau de Laville and president of the Federation des Grand Vins de Bordeaux told the Associated Press.

For American vintners it is a question of selling more wine in their top export market, unshackled by historic language or restrictive terms in the world of 21st century globalization.

“People use words in different ways,” WineAmerica chief operation officer Cary Greene told the AP, arguing there should be no ban on US bottles carrying the word “chateau“.

The French, on the other hand, argue that hundreds of years of craft are at stake. They’re worried that the cachet a mention of “chateau” or “clos” – which shows the origin of the wine – carries is diluted if other winemakers started to stick it on their bottles in Europe.

On Tuesday, EU experts from the different member states will investigate whether that should be permitted, with a decision imminent.

“I cannot understand that they would yield on this,” Gapenne said, setting high stakes for the latest skirmish in a trans-Atlantic wine war that has seen the US growing from upstart to an increasingly confident competitor on world markets.

US founding father Thomas Jefferson was enamored with French wines and the French held dominance over world wine traffic until well after Second World War. Then came the 1976 “Judgment of Paris”, when, to French astonishment, California won a major blind taste test over French wines. To this day, that event is considered the “tasting that changed the wine world”.

via US plan to sell ‘chateau’ wine in EU angers France – Telegraph.

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