Russia says it fears its market could be flooded by competitive EU goods entering Ukraine free of import duties and being re-exported across the long border with Russia. But Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, in a speech to the conference, dismissed the threat of illegal transit of EU goods into Russia as a “hypothetical” one that would not happen in practice. “We are convinced that the signing (of the agreements with the EU) does not hold any risks (for Russia),” he said, adding that he would give personal assurances of this to Russia and its trade allies in the Moscow-led Customs Union. He also expressed frustration at Russia’s refusal to cut the price of the gas it sells to Ukraine and said Kiev may have to reduce further the volume of its gas imports. Ukraine’s pro-Europe drive has already drawn threats of counter-measures from Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as pressure on Kiev to join the Customs Union. Speaking after Azarov on Saturday, Sergei Glazyev, an aide to Putin, returned to the attack, saying that Russia might be obliged to impose duties on any goods arriving from Ukrainian territory, at a huge financial cost to Ukraine. Saying 40 percent of Ukrainians had doubts over the agreements with the EU, Glazyev, who has made hawkish comments before about Ukraine’s pro-Europe policy, urged the Kiev government to ballot its people. “Let us … ask the Ukrainian people what choice they prefer,” he said. TYMOSHENKO RELEASE Azarov had sharp words for Russia over its refusal to cut the price of its gas, which hangs heavy on Ukraine’s cash-strapped economy. Ukraine pays what it sees as an exorbitant $400 per thousand cubic meters under a 2009 contract, which Russia has refused to redraw. In a bid to break away from reliance on Russia, Ukraine hopes to find alternative energy sources through shale gas exploration and imports from other sources.
Now, its export-led economy drives the 17-nation eurozone, with Chancellor Angela Merkel — battling for third term in this weekend’s federal elections — a central figure during Europe’s crisis. Merkel’s popularity remains high in Germany, and her party, the Christian Democratic Union, is expected to gain the most votes. Merkel’s leadership during the crisis saw her named as the world’s most powerful woman by Forbes three years in a row. Efforts to combat the crisis included the implementation of bailout funds, closer fiscal cooperation and austerity measures. When asked if Germany is taking over Europe, Monti replied that the continent’s largest economy would have more dominance if it had retained the deutsche mark “because they would then become the only relevant monetary policy power in Europe.” Countries that went too far too rapidly, had bubbles Jean-Claude Trichet As it is, Germany remains shackled to the weaker countries in the euro, many of which continue to struggle with spiralling unemployment, high national debts and growing political instability. Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and Ireland have received over 400 billion euros ($534 billion) in bailout packages from the euro-area’s rescue funds. Last year European finance ministers approved a 39.5 billion euro ($51.6 billion) lifeline for Spain’s banks, struggling after the property bubble went bust. Yet Spain and Greece still have unemployment above 27%. Portugal and Ireland are also struggling with chronic unemployment. Anti-austerity protesters in the worst-hit nations have held demonstrations against government cuts and the lack of jobs, with many turning violent. DIY giant sees growth And Eurostat’s 2013 growth forecasts for eurozone nations show a growing chasm between the region’s prosperous north and its struggling south. Former mining company masters reinvention READ MORE: German Finance Minister, on the campaign trail Coffee giant eyes global expansion Germany is expected to post 0.4% growth this year while all the Mediterranean countries’ economies are likely to contract. The imbalance had created a system “where the creditor nations rule and impose their conditions and the others are subservient to that,” Paul de Grauwe, a professor at the London School of Economics, told CNN. “At some point, these countries will not continue to accept this recipe.” The common currency’s future Public opinion continues to support the political push to integrate the eurozone, Almunia said. Discontent shown by the region’s constituents is “with the way the European institutions tried to solve the problems,” he said.
Europe fractures even as it shakes off recession
That perception was borne out by panelists and attendees at last weeks Structure:Europe event and other reports that show cloud adoption growing despite PRISM-generated concerns over data privacy, which have yet to be sorted out. Last week, Viviane Reding, VP of the European Commission and the EUs Commissioner for Justice, called for a single data privacy law to cover the entire European Union. Currently, some European countries Germany and Switzerland, for example have more iron-clad data sovereignty rules than others. According to a statement outlining the proposal , the proposed regulation is: [T]he Unions response to fear of surveillance. By adopting the Data Protection Regulation, the Union will equip it itself with a set of rules fit for the 21st century. Rules that will empower the very people whose data fuels the digital economy. Rules that will ensure the digital economys growth can be sustained. The value of E.U. citizens data in aggregate was 315 billion ($426 billion) in 2011 and could hit the I 1 trillion ($1.35 billion) annually in 2020, provided that trust issues that have arisen can be addressed, according to the European Union. A whopping 92 percent of Europeans worry about mobile apps collecting their data without their consent and 89 percent say they want to know when the data on their smartphone is being shared with third parties. If you think cloud tech sales are healthy now, just wait The market for foundational cloud technologies from basic virtualization to top-of-the-stack security will be booming over the next few years, according to new research from the 451 groups Market Monitor service (password required) but Louis Columbus has a good summary here on Forbes.com. The total market for cloud enabling technologies or CETwill grow at a brisk 21 percent compound annual growth rate of 21 percent to 22.6 billion in 2016 from $10.6B in 2012. All of our Structure:Europe cloud coverage is here and check out last weeks Structure Show featuring New Relic founder Lew Sweet Lew Cirnes tips for startups. More cloud news from the interwebs: