Driving real impact in the insurance sector

Driving real impact in the insurance sector

ICON Ups RCI Insurance’s Claims Management System  Efficiency By Over 30% “For a major international insurance company like RCI Insurance that provides insurance solutions to over 2.5 million customers across seven European countries, delivering a claims management solution that truly delivers efficiency was a must. What we developed was a platform that resulted in an over 30% increase in productivity and a significant reduction in time to handle claims,” says CHRISTINE FALZON, Chief Sales Officer at ICON. The digital transformation continues to reshape the current and future state of many industries and the insurance industry is no exception. This is…
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How an acquisition reshaped Malta’s TV landscape connecting people to the TV content they love  

How an acquisition reshaped Malta’s TV landscape connecting people to the TV content they love  

GO’s 15 Year Investment in TV Technology and Content  by Mandy Calleja, Head of Corporate Communications, GO plc Fifteen years ago, was the start of GO’s remarkable adventure with its television offering when it acquired Multiplus back in 2007, a start-up company that had started operations following the liberalisation of the pay TV sector in 2001. This acquisition was interesting for GO because Multiplus was the first start-up offering Digital Terrestrial Television (DTTV) – a cost-effective, viable and competitive TV alternative. This bold move was the steppingstone toward a journey that would turn GO into the leader and largest investor…
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Ewropej: Ukraine is Europe, Roberta Metsola

Ewropej: Ukraine is Europe, Roberta Metsola

by Denise Grech Europe will continue to stand with Ukraine, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said, as she addressed MEPs in Strasbourg.  Speaking before Verkhovna Rada chairman Ruslan Stefanchouk, Metsola said that what Ukraine has had to endure was unthinkable a few months ago. “However, your people have inspired the world. Your courage, your determination and your defiance in the name of liberty will be spoken about for generations to come,” she said.  “Europeans opened their borders, their homes and their hearts to 6 million Ukrainians forced to flee their homeland. We have sent military, financial, political and humanitarian support.…
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Facilitating Malta’s Twin Transition 

Facilitating Malta’s Twin Transition 

by Prof. Josef Bonnici, Chairman Malta Development Bank Throughout the centuries crises have spurred innovation and creativity. Innovation has been important in keeping many people’s lives and livelihoods safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Meal and grocery delivery services have become more common, in-person meetings have been replaced by video conferencing, and in certain cases health care visits have been replaced by virtual consultations. However, economies are not yet out of the woods, with entrepreneurs facing multi-directional challenges including supply chain disruptions, an inflationary spiral, war on Europe’s borders, and a challenging human resource market. This disruption is accompanying and accelerating…
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Phygital…What Is That?

Phygital…What Is That?

by Sandro Debono PhD, Museology, Art History and Curatorial Practice Let’s go straight to the point. Linguistically, the word phygital is a combination of the words “physical” and “digital” to signify the ever-growing experiential cross-referencing and amalgamation of these two worlds. In other words, the term refers to the ways and means how these two realms — physical and digital — have melted into each other and hence increasingly difficult to inhabit them separately. The term is not new. It has been coined way back in 2013 by Momentum, an Australian branding and marketing company, but has gained traction in…
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Over A Coffee With Gerald Grech

Over A Coffee With Gerald Grech

by James Vella Clark GERALD GRECH is a senior lecturer at the University of Malta’s Junior College where he has been lecturing Marketing for the past 22 years. But Gerald also happens to be an accomplished Maltese runner having represented Malta at the Youth Olympics, the University Games, Small Nations Games, and the European Team Championships. Today he is also President of Libertas Malta Athletics Club. After achieving a series of prestigious results, Gerald underwent an Achilles tendon surgery in 2017 followed by nine months of intensive rehab before starting to run again. “I believe that my stoic approach to…
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Ewropej: European Parliament calls for EU Treaties revision so that EU is no longer ‘held hostage’ 

Ewropej: European Parliament calls for EU Treaties revision so that EU is no longer ‘held hostage’ 

by Denise Grech The European Parliament has formally called on member states to agree to a Convention on revising the EU Treaties so the EU is no longer held hostage by a single government when it comes to decisive action through veto votes.  Faced with the Covid pandemic and more recently with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the serious limitations in the EU’s capacity to act quickly and effectively became clearer to the public eye. To overcome any shortcomings, the Parliament is proposing a resolution that triggers Article 48 and suggests specific Treaty changes like removing unanimity on issues like sanctions,…
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Queen Elizabeth And The 70-Year Reign

Queen Elizabeth And The 70-Year Reign

by Tonio Galea Among all the chaos in the world, for these last 70 years there has been one constant, one beacon of stability...Britain’s Queen Elizabeth. Elizabeth, who was born April 21, 1926, but whose birthday is marked nationally on the second Saturday of June, broke the former record reign for a British monarch — set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria — in 2015. She was crowned in the aftermath of World War II, outlived nine prime ministers, and saw the Iron Curtain rise and fall before witnessing Britain’s exit from the European Union. Only three other monarchs have reigned…
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A Fresh Look At The Past

A Fresh Look At The Past

by Dr Charlene Vella The Renaissance period centred on a cultural movement known as Humanism, a human-centred perspective, and, even in the portrayal of the divine, a natural appearance of holy figures was desired. While many Renaissance sculptures survive without any polychromy, they were originally painted and gilded in their entirety or in part, rendering them extremely realistic. A Renaissance sculpture representing the Madonna and Child in the church of St Mary of Jesus or Santa Maria di Gesù (Ta’ Ġieżu) in Rabat, Malta, is a much-venerated object. It is an objets d’art that even Grand Master Philippe Villiers de…
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Over a coffee with Abigail Mamo

Over a coffee with Abigail Mamo

by James Vella Clark CDpro Interviews ABIGAIL MAMO, CEO of the SME CHAMBER on how businesses fought the war on Covid and how they are now facing the challenge of a raging war on our doorstep. She also opens up on her personal experience over the past months: “We must work very hard to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on others for our own survival.” What would you classify as the main challenges for today’s businesses in Malta? I would say businesses are facing some of the most challenging times ever experienced. The most difficult challenges are the ones…
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EWROPEJ: Europe needs to be strategically autonomous – Metsola 

EWROPEJ: Europe needs to be strategically autonomous – Metsola 

by Keith Zahra The Russian invasion of Ukraine has strengthened Europe’s need to be “strategically autonomous”, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola told CD Pro in an exclusive interview in Strasbourg.  Metsola also called on Europe to cut off its dependence on Russian energy, a key source of financing for the same invasion.  This autonomy would include “defence capabilities” and “a proper defence Union”, Metsola said, referring to the reality highlighted by events in Afghanistan last year, which show that Europe can no longer depend solely on US support.  Recent US governments have tended to disengage from large-scale military operations in…
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EWROPEJ: Climate change, Russia, Inflation – The trilemma of EU Energy Policy  

EWROPEJ: Climate change, Russia, Inflation – The trilemma of EU Energy Policy  

Exclusive Interview with Ms Maria da Graça Carvalho MEP by Keith Zahra  The ushering of the war in Ukraine has accentuated a triple conundrum for European governments - the unenviable feat of seeking to balance the three diverse objectives of fighting climate change, keeping energy costs affordable and reducing external dependencies.  We agree to phase out our dependence on Russian gas, oil and coal”, EU leaders promised in a declaration at a meeting in Versailles a few days after the invasion of Ukraine.  Yet, getting there is a long, winding road ahead.  Rising energy costs were already putting significant pressure on…
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The long and winding road between Russia and Ukraine

The long and winding road between Russia and Ukraine

by Tonio Galea Russia and the Ukraine have a long and turbulent history deeply seated in the region’s past...the Communist past. A past that some argue was simply swept under the carpet with the end of the Cold War but in all reality was and still is, festering. A past, that like many other regional disputes, is deeply subject to conflicting interpretations of history. The problem that Ukraine faced was that it was divided between two powers: The Russian Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire. And, very early on, the Russian Empire recognised the threat to the unity of the empire posed…
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The Bigger Picture

The Bigger Picture

by Mark Aquilina | Founder, NOUV “We all know what challenges businesses are facing. But more importantly, besides addressing these challenges, we need to look at the bigger picture by addressing the country’s most pressing priorities,” says Mark Aquilina, Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of NOUV. After two years which saw businesses the world over united in their struggle against a global pandemic which no one ever saw coming, many of the same businesses are now being compelled to live with the aftermath of that pandemic which is the disruption occurring in the supply chain.  “This must be coupled with…
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Malta’s Next Chapter: The SME’s View

Malta’s Next Chapter: The SME’s View

by Abigail Mamo | CEO, SME Chamber Malta needs to reposition itself. Malta’s priorities as a country require a reality check to mitigate the harsh circumstances our country has started to experience. Malta is said to be a miracle economy. Smart decisions and entrepreneurial spirit have kept Malta afloat very well. Malta is however a country which is very exposed. When push comes to shove, we have seen that the common goal is side lined and protectionist measures are adopted to reserve resources. The national takes priority over the Union principle.  This works well for many countries who can be…
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Malta’s Next Chapter

Malta’s Next Chapter

by Lawrence Zammit | Director, MISCO Consulting “Malta at the crossroads” might be considered as a political cliché mentioned by some politicians in the past weeks. Yet, these past two years were witness to events that in some way or other altered the way of life of those who call the Maltese islands home. Following the unprecedented events brought about by the pandemic and the war in South East Europe, Malta is faced with challenges that necessitate tangible actions on several fronts, including the preservation of our environment, the use of digital technologies to enhance our competitiveness, the upskilling and…
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The Perfect Logistics Storm 

The Perfect Logistics Storm 

by Franco Azzopardi, CEO, Express Trailers 2021 was meant to be the year of recovery as the world economy recaptures momentum thanks to improved vaccination rates and lower hospitalisations related to Covid-19 across the globe. Yet, 2021 seemed determined to not want to be undone by its predecessor.  While the virus originating from Wuhan could easily assume the image of the fictional monster ruining 2020, the situation is much more complex this time round. Retail outlets, restaurants and other service providers are finding themselves having to grapple with rising transport and logistics-related costs sometimes reaching up to 800%.  As often…
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In a world of technology, it’s all about humans 

In a world of technology, it’s all about humans 

by Jesmond Saliba Twelve months ago, the world was waiting in trepidation the turn of the year with a probably illogical expectation that 2021 would signal a fresh start to our lives and livelihoods. Fast forward one year, and here we are once again reading reports of increasing infections and deaths, as Western European nations consider new social restrictions and increasing lockdowns to limit the stem of coronavirus cases.  As vaccination drives progressed and restrictions were lifted, growth around the European continent was strong, a 2.2% increase in the third quarter, with employment also rising 0.9% in the euro area.…
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Malta’s road ahead for de-listing 

Malta’s road ahead for de-listing 

by Alfred Zammit, Deputy Director, Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit Financial crime has long posed a deep-rooted challenge for international financial jurisdictions; however, it has become much more complex in recent years with the rise of technology. Online and often complex financial transactions and products and cryptocurrencies have opened new opportunities for criminals.  International institutions have rushed to adapt to these developments, with a wave of regulations being developed over the past decade. In recent years, international standards have also been revised in line with the risk-based approach to strengthen the requirements for higher risk situations, allowing countries to take a…
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What broke the global supply chain? 

What broke the global supply chain? 

by Marcel Mizzi, Vice President (Finance & Admin), Malta Chamber of SMEs A study into the increase in the cost of shipping  During the last decade the cost of shipping was, on average, the lowest ever. Competition was fierce and carriers were losing money. Furthermore, wafer thin margins left little capital that could be invested into digitalization that could render carriers more cost effective. Problems with the international supply chain did not start with COVID-19.  In the US, President Trump’s introduction of sanctions and tariffs against China led to companies on both sides rushing to stock up on their inventories…
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Ewropej: The Fit for 55 package will not be enough if the transition does not incorporate a social dimension 

Ewropej: The Fit for 55 package will not be enough if the transition does not incorporate a social dimension 

The ‘Fit for 55’ package will not be enough if the transition to a greater European economy does not incorporate a social dimension, Member of the European Parliament Josianne Cutajar said.  The “Fit for 55” package proposes an unprecedented set of ambitious objectives and plans to be implemented by 2030. A key component is the significant revision and strengthening of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) targets and carbon pricing signals in line with the proposed 2030 ambitions.  She noted that there is strong consensus of the public in favour of the achieving climate neutrality. An overwhelming majority of 78…
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Supply chains can easily break – here’s how they can be made more resilient to prevent shortages 

Supply chains can easily break – here’s how they can be made more resilient to prevent shortages 

by Tom Stacey & Ying Xie, The Conversation via Reuters Connect Supply chains are essential to everyday life, bringing materials to factories, food to your plate, and fuel to your car.  The links in those chains – the manufacturers, logistics companies, warehouses and retailers – combine to form dynamic systems driven by customer demand. But a small, unpredictable change in demand can have major ramifications, as seen with the recent queues and rising tempers at petrol stations in the UK.  This is because modern supply chains are not designed to cope with large levels of uncertainly around time, supply or…
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HGV driver shortage: remote-controlled lorries could prevent future logistical nightmares 

HGV driver shortage: remote-controlled lorries could prevent future logistical nightmares 

by Siraj Ahmed Shaikh & Giedra Sabaliauskaite, The Conversation via Reuters Connect The current HGV driver shortage is the latest chapter in the UK’s supply chain jitters, disrupting wholesale food delivery, cancelling bin collections and leading to the panic buying of fuel. While there is a good chance the country will overcome this temporary problem, the driver shortage is calling into question the long-term viability of logistical transportation on the roads.  One intuitive long-term solution to future HGV driver shortages is to take the driver out of the driver’s seat altogether. Self-driving car technology, which can also be applied to…
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Truck driver shortage won’t be solved by quick fix visas – here are three ways forward 

Truck driver shortage won’t be solved by quick fix visas – here are three ways forward 

by Temidayo Akenroye, The Conversation via Reuters Connect  The current shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers in the UK is hitting consumers hard, leading to distribution problems in food, fuel and groceries. Long queues have been seen at petrol stations across the UK and service stations are rationing fuel for customers.  The supply-chain problem has also triggered empty shelves in some major supermarkets. With a shortfall of over 100,000 HGV drivers, logistics operators are struggling to meet supermarket demand, and facing increased costs for hiring additional truck drivers to reduce delays. Meanwhile, Morrisons, the UK’s fourth-largest supermarket chain, has…
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Conference on the Future of Europe’s Second Plenary reaches conclusion 

Conference on the Future of Europe’s Second Plenary reaches conclusion 

by Keith Zahra On Saturday, 23 October, the second Conference Plenary meeting of the Conference on the Future of Europe took place in the European Parliament in Strasbourg to discuss contributions brought forward by citizens.  The 80 representatives of the European Citizens’ Panels took their seats as Members of the Plenary and discussions focused on citizens’ contributions from the European Citizens’ Panels, the national panels and events, the European Youth Event, and the second interim report from the Multilingual Digital Platform.  Vice-President Dubravka Šuica stated: “This is a historic moment where, for the first time, citizens deliberate on a par…
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Commission approves €1bn package for Afghanistan 

Commission approves €1bn package for Afghanistan 

by Keith Zahra President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen has announced a support package worth around €1 billion for the Afghan people and neighbouring countries, addressing the urgent needs in the country and the region.  The announcement follows the discussion of the EU Ministers for development to have a calibrated approach to give direct support to the Afghan population in order to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe without legitimising the Taliban interim government.  The Afghan support package combines EU humanitarian aid with the delivery of targeted support on basic needs in direct benefit of the Afghan people and…
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Supervisory authorities submit report on Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation 

Supervisory authorities submit report on Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation 

by Keith Zahra The three European Supervisory Authorities (EBA, EIOPA and ESMA – ESAs) have delivered to the European Commission (EC) their Final Report with draft Regulatory Technical Standards regarding disclosures under the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) as amended by the Regulation on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment (Taxonomy Regulation).  The disclosures relate to financial products that make sustainable investments contributing to environmental objectives. The draft RTS aim to provide disclosures to end investors regarding the investments of financial products in environmentally sustainable economic activities, providing them with comparable information to make informed investment choices;…
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EU leaders address energy price spike 

EU leaders address energy price spike 

by Keith Zahra The European Council invited the Commission to study the functioning of the gas and electricity markets, as well as the EU ETS market with the help of the European Securities Markets Authority (ESMA).  Subsequently, the Commission will assess whether certain trading behaviours require further regulatory action. EU leaders also invited the member states and the Commission to urgently make the best use of the toolbox to provide short-term relief to the most vulnerable consumers and companies, taking into account the diversity and specificity of the situations of the member states.  Member States agreed that other measures will…
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Ewropej: Unnecessary taxes on energy generation must be eliminated, MEP says 

Ewropej: Unnecessary taxes on energy generation must be eliminated, MEP says 

MEP Cyrus Engerer has called for the European Union to work towards joint procurement of gas supplies for all its Member States.  Direct and indirect unnecessary taxes on energy generation must be eliminated and the European Union must work to become self-sustainable in energy production, he added.  He was speaking as Europe was experiencing its biggest hikes in the price of energy production in its history.  Ahead of a European Council summit to discuss the increase in energy prices, BusinessEurope called on European politicians to acknowledge that the current increase in energy prices has serious implications on households and businesses. …
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The current situation regarding transport, logistics and rising costs 

The current situation regarding transport, logistics and rising costs 

by The Malta Chamber The long-term economic fallout of the Covid-19 Pandemic has been characterised by the manner with which the global logistical supply chain has buckled under the sheer weight of the resurgent demand.  The resulting surge in freight activity coupled with pandemic related infrastructural constraints has created costly bottlenecks in the global supply chain. It has become apparent that these inflationary pressures are attributable to momentous increases in the cost of renting and acquiring shipping containers due to lessened container ship traffic – this has decreased container availability and also increased expenses related to port congestions and logistical…
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The age of Merkel 

The age of Merkel 

In her last 12 months as Chancellor, Angela Merkel registered record approval ratings in five countries outside of Germany. A major study by Pew Research Center in October 2020 found that a median of three-fourths of the populations in 14 countries across the world trusted the four-term leader on world affairs.  A powerful advocate for international cooperation, Merkel emerged as the de facto EU leader and a formidable force in the G7. As President of the European Council in 2007, she was a driving force behind the Treaty of Lisbon which strengthened the European Parliament and introduced new checks and…
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All eyes on Scholz 

All eyes on Scholz 

On a desolate night for the CDU after the German elections, a comforting Armin Laschet told party supporters that he had won a national mandate to resist a left-leaning government. For all the ebullience of the centre-right Leader, it was his political rival Olaf Scholz who triumphantly claimed the greatest prize.  As the SPD candidate for Chancellor, Scholz led the Social Democratic Party to a tight victory, netting just under 26 per cent of the vote and besting the CDU/CSU by less than 800,000 votes nationwide. The result was a dramatic 180-degree from the 2017 election, when the SPD registered…
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A Kleine coalition 

A Kleine coalition 

Since the 1960s, German politics has been dominated by the centre-left and centre-right parties, turning the Grand Coalition into an institution of the federal political landscape.  Three of the four governments led by Angela Merkel in the last 16 years were Große Koalition arrangements, and the SPD and CDU/ CSU still managed to pull just shy of 50 per cent of the total votes between them in the September 26 Federal Elections. Nevertheless, it is the third-placed Greens and fourth-placed Free Democrats that may form the coalition that drives the Bundesregierung this time round.  A GroKo government is still a…
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The Merkel effect 

The Merkel effect 

A week is a long time in politics, and Angela Merkel has had over 1,600 of them mostly sitting in arguably the hottest seat in Europe. The four-term Chancellor enjoyed a quick and steady rise in the 1990s, but her star only continued to soar in the decades following.  The unassuming leader largely stayed out of the public eye but went all-in whenever a crisis loomed, a lesson for the fair-weather, Instagram-ready decisionmakers that crowd the political arena. Many were fearing that the Merkel mystique had started to deflate as she headed into the final leg of her career, but…
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The world of a different Germany 

The world of a different Germany 

It is often said that Germany is too big for Europe but not big enough for the world. In her 16 years at the top, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel has amassed sufficient political capital to punch above her weight on the international stage with minimal exertion.  She held power tête-à-têtes with leaders from George W. Bush to Vladimir Putin to Xi Jinping. She was honoured at summits and global forums and the narrower the circle of leaders became, the more she stood out, often looking like the grown-up in the room.  With her exit, Germany lost a great deal of…
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Biden has lost a key battle against the super-rich 

Biden has lost a key battle against the super-rich 

by Gina Chon via Reuters Breakingviews Joe Biden has lost an important battle against the so-called 1%. The U.S. president repeatedly pledged that the super-rich and corporations would pay their fair share in taxes under his leadership. They’ll almost certainly pay more – just not enough to live up to his original promise.  One of Biden’s pre-election rallying cries was to erase the different tax treatment of investment and regular income. That would remove an advantage private equity firms enjoy over “carried interest” – the profit from their investing activities – and help fund a $3.5 trillion spending bonanza on…
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Credit markets will withstand Evergrande shocks 

Credit markets will withstand Evergrande shocks 

by Neil Unmack via Reuters Breakingviews Is China Evergrande another Lehman Brothers moment? Not at all, according to the $40 trillion global corporate debt market. International credit investors have good reasons to be so nonchalant about the potential ripple effects of problems at the Chinese property behemoth with a $300 billion debt pile.  Granted, Evergrande’s slow-motion crash has had some impact. As the group’s 2025 dollar bonds have collapsed to trade at a mere 30% of face value, the riskier end of China’s debt market has suffered. The average yield on dollar bonds issued by junk-rated Chinese companies has doubled…
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UK trucker shortage tows inflation in its wake 

UK trucker shortage tows inflation in its wake 

by Ed Cropley via Reuters Breakingviews One way to stop a run on a bank is to drive a lorry-load of cash up to the front door and unload it in full public view. When the panic is caused by a shortage of drivers, as is the case at Britain’s petrol stations, that solution is not available. Handing out temporary visas to foreign hauliers or drafting in the army minimises the short-term disruption. The only long-term solution – sharply higher wages for truckers – puts further fire under inflation.  The supply problems that prompted British drivers to rush to fill…
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Ewropej: Freedom of expression ‘crucial in the EU’, Casa says 

Ewropej: Freedom of expression ‘crucial in the EU’, Casa says 

Member of the European Parliament David Casa has promised to work to ensure freedom of expression in Malta and the European Parliament.  In view of the recent fake websites as part of the disinformation campaign, MEP Casa will continue working on measures which address disinformation as well as SLAPP lawsuits against journalists,” a spokesman for the MEP said.  Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) are a form of retaliatory lawsuit intended to deter freedom of expression on matters of public interest. The European Convention on Human Rights establishes a positive obligation to safeguard the freedom of pluralist media and to…
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Ewropej: Polluters must bear the cost of their environmental footprint, Cyrus Engerer says 

Ewropej: Polluters must bear the cost of their environmental footprint, Cyrus Engerer says 

Polluters must bear the cost of their environmental footprint, Member of the European Parliament Cyrus Engerer said.  He added that this was a European Union principle. The European Court of Auditors questioned the degree to which polluters were being held accountable in different Member States. This would lead to tax-paying citizens footing the bill for irresponsible organisations.  “On behalf of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, I was tasked with leading the discussions between the Committee on the Environment and the Committee on Budgetary Control and come up with proposals for a way forward to enhance and strengthen…
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Where is Afghanistan?

Where is Afghanistan?

Google searches for Afghanistan exploded by ten times in August as foreign affairs made a rare foray into mainstream news across the globe.  The Taliban stunned the world with its rapid takeover of the South Asian country, the second time in 25 years. The intelligence community was aware of the risks but expected the US-trained and equipped Afghan forces to hold down the Taliban for at least 18 months. Instead, the army capitulated without a fight and the Islamist group captured Kabul in less than three months.  The turn of events left the US and its allies to coordinate a…
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A break from tourism

A break from tourism

by Jesmond Saliba In just one year, global tourism dropped by 70 per cent, sending figures back to what they were 30 years ago.  One of the first actions by governments the world over, when the coronavirus shifted its epicentre from China to Italy, was to seal off their borders to prevent Covid-19 imports.  Clearly, enough roaming had taken place in the eight weeks between the first reported cluster in Wuhan and the first official case in Lombardy that an immediate travel ban could not stop the virus from surging in every part on the planet. Admittedly, the virus may…
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A place for the community

A place for the community

by Dr. Julian Zarb A fifth of the world’s population travelled for tourism purposes in 2019. That year, the United Nations World Trade Organisation estimated a record total international expenditure of $1.4 trillion in the sector.  Global tourism has been on an impressive upward trend for decades until the Covid-19 pandemic interrupted the flow in one fell swoop. Last year, all regions around the world registered negative growth in tourism activities, falling sharply by a combined 63.5 per cent. The viral wave washed away established operators and put industries such as airlines and hotels on the brink. The knock-on effects…
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Travelling with Covid-19

Travelling with Covid-19

The International Air Transport Association declared 2020 as the worst-ever year for aviation globally. Operators are estimated to have lost $85 billion collectively, registering an unprecedented net profit margin of 20 per cent in the negative.  The pandemic felled some of the most popular airline companies worldwide: Flybe in the UK, Miami Air in the US, AirAsia in Japan, and OneAirlines in Chile are but a few examples. Others were in freefall and had to be pulled back by governments, big investors, or acquired by competitors. Virgin Australia was sold to Bain Capital, Kenya Airways secured a multi-million state bailout,…
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Ewropej: Member states may not always fully respect fundamental rights in migration, MEP says

Ewropej: Member states may not always fully respect fundamental rights in migration, MEP says

“There is some good reason to believe that Member States might not fully respect fundamental rights when it comes to migrants, Member of the European Parliament Birgit Sippel said.  The German MEP is rapporteur in the European Parliament on the Migration and Asylum Pact Regulation on the ‘screening’ of migrants at the EU’s external borders who will have to pass through security checks for five days before being redirected to an asylum or return procedure.  Sippel said that there should be monitoring that was not only organised by the Member States and their authorities, but if they had the support…
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Ewropej: The EU still feels far away and complicated

Ewropej: The EU still feels far away and complicated

The EU still feels far away and complicated for citizens, companies, and even for political parties and government sometimes, MEP Abir Al-Sahlani said.  The Renew MEP said that she wishes to point the many ways in which the EU has an impact on everyday life by showing people that their views matter.  She was speaking ahead of the conference on the Future of Europe, a citizen-led series of debates and discussions that will enable people from across Europe to share their ideas.  Al-Sahlani said she will focus on the rule of law, fundamental rights and migration.  “From the start our…
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Pfizer makes good on Covid M&A capacity

Pfizer makes good on Covid M&A capacity

by Jennifer Saba via Reuters Breakingviews Pfizer is taking its Covid-19 vaccine cash bounty and putting it to use. The U.S. drugmaker, valued at $273 billion at Friday’s market close, on Monday agreed to buy Trillium Therapeutics for $2.3 billion.  At $18.50 per share, the price represents a more than 200% premium to Trillium’s stock price. That may seem lofty, even by the biotechnology sector’s standards, but Pfizer had already bought a $25 million stake last year and Trillium’s stock was down nearly 60% so far in 2021.  It’s also part of Pfizer’s broader strategy to develop its portfolio, even…
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Xiaomi is primed to scale Mount Microchip

Xiaomi is primed to scale Mount Microchip

by Sharon Lam & Robyn Mak via Reuters Breakingviews Xiaomi’s wiring is nearly ready to include microchips. The $82 billion Chinese company shipped 53 million smartphones in the second quarter, overtaking Apple to become the world’s second-largest producer. With greater heft and official support from Beijing, boss Lei Jun should be closer to fulfilling his microchip dreams.  Financial results released on Wednesday underscore how quickly the company has capitalised on the woes of rival Huawei, which has been crippled by U.S. sanctions. Xiaomi, by contrast, is booming. Revenue from the handset division surged 87% in the three months ending June…
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Maersk’s green ships have first-mover disadvantage

Maersk’s green ships have first-mover disadvantage

by Ed Cropely via Reuters Breakingviews  A.P. Moller-Maersk’s laudable environmental haste could land the Danish shipping giant with a first-mover disadvantage. The $53 billion firm is splurging $1.4 billion on eight container vessels powered by “carbon-neutral” methanol. Customers like Amazon. com may well absorb the elevated costs, yet rivals who hold off could sail away with cheaper and greener halos.  Chief Executive Soren Skou’s initiative is undeniably brave – the eight ships in question cost up to 15% more than normal ones, and methanol is at least twice the price of the gloopy bunker oil currently moving the world’s shipping…
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The world’s Olympian moment

The world’s Olympian moment

In July 2011, Japan announced its bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games. Ten years later, the sporting events should have been a proud memory for the city of Tokyo; instead, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the plans, and the city will host a shrunken version of the Games. Country delegations have been reduced to essential representatives and the number of volunteers was kept to a bare minimum. Athletes are required to test daily for the virus, and many will leave the Olympic village within 48 hours of the end of their competitions. The traditional street parties have long been taken…
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Going for universal gold

Going for universal gold

by Jesmond Saliba The world looked a different place when sports events were suddenly banned at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ironically, though, the fight against the virus became a global sporting competition in its own right.  Laboratories and pharmaceutical companies were dropped into a race to develop vaccines, countries challenged for the top spot in the active case rankings, communities applauded and cheered medical professionals on in their attempt to beat back infections.  Sporting contests are so ingrained into civilisations that the return of legendary competitions this year such as the Six Nations, America’s Cup, the French Open,…
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New tracks for sport

New tracks for sport

by Kevin Azzopardi KEVIN AZZOPARDI  Half a century ago, sport was generally considered a leisure activity pursued mainly for socialisation and recreation. Things have changed drastically since then, and virtually all disciplines today are moving rapidly towards professionalisation. Perhaps this fundamental transition is best illustrated in the transformation of the Olympic Games: originally, only amateur athletes were allowed to participate in events, but from 1986 onwards, the International Olympic Committee began opening the games to professional athletes too.  This change can also be observed at the level of community sport. The importance of sport to both individuals and societies has…
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The state of play

The state of play

Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau actively promoted ice hockey as the country’s national sport in the 1970s and 1980s. His emphasis was more than a simple acknowledgement of a popular form of entertainment as the staunch federalist leader sought to forge a political identity uniting the relatively young nation.  Various states have historically instrumentalised sports disciplines to build a sense of collective identity that supports the idea of the nation. From rugby in Wales to archery in Mongolia to Rodeo in Chile, sports activities are steeped in symbolism that narrates the fundamental characteristics that a country sees in itself.  Sports…
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Oil producers do themselves a favour

Oil producers do themselves a favour

by George Hay via Reuters Breakingviews Saudi Arabia has wised up. The de facto leader of the 13-strong Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, plus 10 allies including Russia who collectively constitute “OPEC+”, agreed on Sunday to end output cuts in late 2022 instead of next April.  The quid pro quo for a deal that will help them to navigate the uncertain course of the pandemic: Riyadh reluctantly allowed an increase in Abu Dhabi’s production.  This makes Saudi look a bit weak. But the kingdom and Russia will also be allowed to pump more, while Abu Dhabi didn’t get as…
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EU report shows positive developments in Member States

EU report shows positive developments in Member States

by Keith Zahra The European Commission has published the second EU-wide Report on the Rule of Law. The 2021 report looks at the new developments since last September, deepening the assessment of issues identified in the previous report and considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Despite notable improvements, concerns remain and in certain Member States these have increased, for instance when it comes to the independence of the judiciary and the situation in the media. The report also underlines the strong resilience of national systems during the Covid-19 pandemic. This pandemic also illustrated the importance of the ability to…
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Ewropej: We can overcome the challenges our country faces together

Ewropej: We can overcome the challenges our country faces together

“There was a lot on my agenda during the past week as Parliament held the Plenary Session in Strasbourg,” MEP David Casa told this journal.  Speaking ahead a meeting of the Bureau’s Working Party on Information and Communication Policy, the Maltese MEP said he was looking forward to discuss the way forward for a number of EP initiatives such as Ekoskola, post the Covid-19 pandemic just before the Parliament’s lifts for the official summer break.  “Every Plenary Session’s agenda is full of meetings in relation to my role as a Member of the Bureau, with various decisions taken at a…
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Commission seeks public feedback on websites and apps

Commission seeks public feedback on websites and apps

by Keith Zahra The EU has launched a public consultation on the review of the Web Accessibility Directive. Since 23 June 2021, all public sector websites and mobile apps in the EU have the legal obligation to be accessible to people with disabilities.  The consultation will gather feedback from citizens, especially those with disabilities, but also from businesses, online platforms, academics, public administrations, and all other interested parties. The online consultation will be itself accessible to screen readers, translated in all EU official languages, and available in a shorter easy-to-read version for people with cognitive disabilities.  The results of the…
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UBS’s Ralph Hamers is a CEO in search of a problem

UBS’s Ralph Hamers is a CEO in search of a problem

by Liam Proud via Reuters Breakingviews New bank chief executives often inherit messes. Credit Suisse’s Thomas Gottstein took over after a spying scandal, while Citigroup’s Jane Fraser and HSBC’s, Noel Quinn are pruning their global sprawls in search of a higher valuation. The new broom at Switzerland’s UBS, Ralph Hamers, has no glaring problems to fix, which may explain why his strategy looks a little underwhelming.  Second-quarter results on Tuesday demonstrated a rare European bank that’s purring. Revenue rose by 21 per cent to $9 billion, helping the Zurich-based lender to a 15.4 per cent annualised return on tangible equity.…
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