The two will meet to discuss a tense political situation after Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right People of Freedom (PDL) party issued a threat on Wednesday to pull out of the country’s fragile coalition government. (Read More: Italy crisis rages as Berlusconi ‘crunch time’ nears ) Wolf Piccoli, managing director at Teneo Intelligence, told CNBC Friday that the situation is very volatile but did not expect any fresh elections to be called. “(It’s) crunch time for Berlusconi,” he said. “He knows over the next three or four weeks that it is basically the last phase of his political battle.” U.S. stocks were sharply lower Friday, with major averages poised to finish lower for the week, following the latest consumer sentiment report and as mounting concerns of a potential government shutdown weighed on markets. Congress must reach an agreement on the budget before October 1, next Tuesday, to prevent a government shutdown that could result in federal employees taking unpaid temporary leave and a delay in the payment of military personnel. Reuters reported on Wednesday that Senior Republican Jeff Sessions said there will be no shutdown or government default. House speaker John Boehner said a Republican proposal is coming that will tie federal government spending cuts to a U.S. debt limit increase. (Read More: Brawl in US Congressshould the world care? ) On the data front, the European Commission released figures on Friday showing that euro zone confidence picked up in September. An economic sentiment index, that gauges both businesses and consumers, rose to 96.9 in September from 95.3 in August, reaching its best level for two years. Nationwide released its house price index for the U.K.
Europe’s global role
A link has been sent to your friend’s email address. Join the Nation’s Conversation To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs This story is part of Microsoft Amazon, Apple face more international taxes in Europe Carol Kopp, Minyanville 12:33 p.m. EDT September 27, 2013 A picture shows an Ipad with an “Amazon” logo. (Photo: Lionel Bonaventure, AFP/Getty Images) SHARE 9 CONNECT 23 TWEET COMMENTEMAILMORE It’s no day at the plage operating a giant, successful, multinational American company, once you’ve run up against some very un-American notions about tax policy from abroad. Such as the “data tax” on Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, about to be proposed by France for adoption by the European Union. Apparently, France would like to impose a data transmission tax on those companies — and only those companies — because they are the dominant platforms for Internet usage in Europe just as they are in the US, but they are “non-European,” that is, American. Their dominance therefore prevents European competitors from emerging from obscurity. (How taxing the most popular sites will make other sites more popular with consumers is not clear.) A French member of the European Parliament tells the Wall Street Journal that a data tax should be imposed because the European nations have become “just the puppets of financiers and multinationals.” Or, as Forbes puts it in a now-classic headline: “Gibbering Nonsense From France About Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon.” The tax plan is just one piece of a proposal that would establish a new Internet regulatory agency within the European Union. In part, the agency would be empowered to impose other rules aimed at leveling the playing field for European competitors, such as forcing the American companies to enable portability among devices for digital purchases. French Technology Minister Fleur Pellerin told the Wall Street Journal that the absence of such regulations is effectively “blocking innovation from all of the other actors,” and making it difficult for European companies to emerge. The call for regulation gets real impetus from another issue that has entangled US technology companies in Europe: data privacy. The issue gained a great deal of heat after revelations of the US government’s continuing collection of private data on a massive scale, and with the cooperation of some of its biggest technology companies. The proposals are expected to be presented in late October at a summit of European leaders.
I stand guilty too, having written extensively about the need for stronger EU engagement with Asia, that Europeans must be more ambitious in their outreach to the rest of the world and the role Europe can play in ensuring better global governance. I havenat changed my mind: Europe has much to offer. Europeas single market attracts goods, investments and people from everywhere. European technology helps the world tackle climate change, urbanisation and other 21st-century challenges, European design excites fashionistas the world over and tourists flock to European cities to enjoy good food, drink and visit exquisite monuments. Europeas asoft powera resonates when it comes to peace-making and reconciliation, trade, aid and the promotion of democracy and the rule of law. And yet. With no army, navy or air force at its command, the EU continues to feel ainferiora on the international stage. Europeas military powers a Britain and France a may still have an appetite for armed interventions but most of the other 26 certainly donat. Significantly, Germany, Europeas most powerful economy and an industrial machine thatas the envy of the planet, has made clear that it is not interested in taking on global responsibilities by responding to international crisis. Newspapers talk about Germany as a reluctant giant, pointing out that foreign policy was not a major issue in the recent elections and that a as one reporter put it a the country seems content to lurk in the shadows. Merkel is fond of saying that Europe must become more competitive as China and other powers rise. aThe world doesnat sleep,a she said recently.