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Swiss Vote On Migration; Rugby; Microsoft; Uneasy Stock Markets

  • October 23rd, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

swiss-vote-231007-bbc.jpgEuropeans began the week thinking about migration in Switzerland; anxiety on the Bourse; possible software changes; and life after the Rugby World Cup.

OUT, BLACK SHEEP!

Trouble over immigration emerged once more, this time in national elections in Switzerland (21.10.07), where the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) capitalised on migration anxieties to secure its position as the leading political bloc.

The right-wing party’s “foreigners overboard” call, to deport foreign residents who committed crimes in Switzerland, resonated with voters worried that 20% of the permanent population is now non-Swiss.

Migration support groups deplored the party’s campaign posters showing white sheep evicting a black one from Switzerland (picture).

It was already the largest party but it increased its total of seats in the federal parliament, the National Council, from 55 to 62, achieving 29% overall – an historic high.

The left of centre Social Democratic party lost nine seats, remaining in second place with 43.

The four leading parties are expected to share out the ministries in a continuing “consensus coalition”.

RUGBY CHRONICLE

Wrapping up the 2007 Rugby Union World Cup Rugby:

South Africa defeated England in Sunday’s final (20.10.07) at Paris St Denis, 15-6.

No tries were scored; the day belonged to the South African goal-kicker Percy Montgomery, who achieved 111 points overall for the World Cup tournament; his opposite number for England Johnny Wilkinson, not so fortunate on the day, actually topped the scorers’ chart with 249.

Thabo Mbeke, the President, was on hand to congratulate the national team and find himself chaired around the ground on the players’ shoulders – scenes redolent of South Africa’s first World Cup win, when the new President, Nelson Mandela, made the presentation; (Johannesburg 1995, 15-12 against New Zealand).

MICROSOFT WRAPS IT UP

The Microsoft computer company has come into compliance with anti-trust rulings of the European Commission, ending a drawn-out process of court hearings and fraught negotiations in which it was fined EU497-million (A$790-million; dcerates.com, 23.10.07).

The Commission announced (22.10.07) the company had agreed to provide interoperability codes to competitors so they could make products compatible with Microsoft operating systems.

In particular its bid to tie the Windows Media Player exclusively to the Windows PC system was abandoned.

Text of the EC announcement:

The European Commission has ensured that Microsoft will now take the necessary steps to comply with its obligations under the Commission’s 2004 Decision regarding work group server operating systems, including the making available to ‘open source’ software developers of the interoperability information that Microsoft is obliged to disclose. Microsoft has finally agreed to three substantial changes to bring them into compliance with the decision. First, ‘open source’ software developers will be able to access and use the interoperability information. Second, the royalties payable for this information will be reduced to a nominal one-off payment of €10 000. Third, the royalties for a worldwide licence including patents will be reduced from 5.95% to 0.4% – less than 7% of the royalty originally claimed. In these agreements between third party developers and Microsoft, Microsoft will guarantee the completeness and accuracy of the information provided. The agreements will be enforceable before the High Court in London, and will provide for effective remedies, including damages, for third party developers in the event that Microsoft breaches those agreements. Effective private enforcement will therefore complement the Commission’s public enforcement powers …

ANXIOUS MARKETS

Prices fell on European stock exchanges at the start of the week (22.10.07), following the sharp falls on Wall Street on Friday – anniversary of the 1987 “Black Friday” stock market shock.

As American prices made a substantial recovery the London Financial Times index (FTSE) was down 1.2% for the day, the Dax in Germany down by 1.2%, and.the Cac in France by 1.4%.

The falls were linked to continuing uncertainty about the credit exposure of American companies amid signs of a slowing-down of the economy – and memories of panic selling during the credit squeeze experienced last August.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last week (17.10.07) had revised downward its world economic growth projection for 2008, from 5.2% to 4.8%, linking that to disturbances on stock markets.

Reference:

BBC, “Record poll win for Swiss Right”, 22.10.07. www.bbc.com/ (23.10.07)

Rugby World Cup — Fixtures, Statistics, 21.10.07, www.rugbyworldcup.com (23.10.07)

EUAustralia Online, “Court Confirms Microsoft Must Share”, 18.9.7

EC, “Antitrust: Commission ensures compliance”, Brussels, IP/07/1567, 22.10.07.

Paul McDougall, “EU Win Over Microsoft Gives Ball To Linux — Can It Run With It?”, InformationWeek, 22.10.07. www.informationweek.,com, (23.10.07)

BBC, “Economic woes leave stocks mixed”, 22.10.07. www.bbc.com/ (23.10.07)

EUAustralia Online, “Another Rocky Week On the Bourses” (11.8.07); “Bourses Update” (18.8.07); “Stockmarkets: ‘Meltdown Avoided'” (26.8.07); “More Normal” (4.9.07).

Le FMI revoit à la baisse les prévisions de croissance pour 2008, Le Monde 17.10.07, (The IMF revises downwards its growth forecasts for 2008).

Picture: SVP poster Switzerland, BBC

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