Across the Atlantic, in the United States, the aviation company, Boeing and many politicians are furious that the US Air Force has decided to order planes from its European rival, Airbus. At the end of February, the Air Force awarded a contract to a consortium run by the US company Northrop and the European EADS -- Airbus' parent company -- to produce a new fleet of air refuellers. While Boeing has enlisted congress in its fight against the deal, EADS is insisting the 25 billion euro contract is totally fair. Radio France International’s Sarah Elzas has this report.
Pity the poor, or soon to be poor, tax evaders in Germany. They’re either shaking in their boots or hiding behind their lawyers at the moment. This week, teams of auditors fanned out across the country in a blitzkrieg of suspected tax cheats. It’s the country's biggest tax fraud investigation ever. The names under scrutiny come from a CD containing a client-list of a bank in Liechtenstein. The tiny principality of Liechtenstein, between Switzerland and Austria, is a well-known tax haven. The whole affair reads a bit like a James Bond thriller – there's a mysterious informant, a spy agency, large amounts of cash paid for information, as well as some diplomatic mud-slinging thrown in for good measure. From Berlin, Kyle James reports on the men with a licence to audit.
Nokia, the Finnish mobile phone giant, plans to close down its huge factory in the German city of Bochum and move it to Romania. It’ll mean job losses and serious knock-on effects for the local German economy. But why is it moving? Nokia couldn't resist the temptation of producing their phones at a fifth of the current cost. 16 hundred kilometers east, everything from labour to electricity is a lot cheaper.
A few years ago, Sweden’s Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of the furniture chain, IKEA, was proclaimed the richest man in the world, surpassing Microsoft’s founder, Bill Gates. He’s not Sweden’s only rich man: Salvatore Grimaldi is the richest immigrant to Sweden. Grimaldi Industries is one of Europe’s top bicycle manufacturers. His story reads like one of those how-to-become a millionaire guides: move to a foreign country, buy companies and sell them off. And presto!
This week the European Union stepped up pressure on the military regime in Myanmar, which is called Burma by the democratic opposition. For a decade now the EU has imposed sanctions on Burma including a travel ban on leading politicians, a freeze on their assets and a trade ban with large state companies. Now, EU foreign ministers have ramped up sanctions to stop the import of Burmese wood products, timber, minerals and precious stones. But not petrol and gas, an important source of revenue. One of the main foreign companies doing business in the country is the French oil company Total.
Let’s first have a look at the business perspective. It's not easy for European businessmen to set up shop in China. They’re still prevented from running wholly owned foreign enterprises there because of trade barriers. But what about the other way around, Chinese businesses coming to Europe? Back in 2005, Fritz Schramma, the mayor of the German city of Cologne, launched a programme to encourage Chinese companies to settle in and around the city. It was called China Offensive. Deutsche Welle’s Monika Manke has been finding out how successful the initiative has been.
Some European leaders talk of a “strategic partnership” between China and the EU, yet some major stumbling blocks in what some describe as a marriage, if not, at least an engagement, are standing in the way. One of them is the Weapons Embargo, imposed by the EU after the massacre by the People’s Liberation Army of unarmed civilians, around Tiananmen Square in June 1989. It’s now 18 years later, and the embargo is still in place. I asked RFI’s Brussels’ correspondent if the embargo isn’t a bit outdated by now?
Europe may be united but its rail network is somewhat fragmented. But that may be about to change. The public transport world has been excited by the launch of Railteam – an alliance of Europe’s seven biggest train operators who have clubbed together to offer services they say will challenge low-cost airlines. They say they’re going to cut journey times in half and bring fares down too. But there’s some hard selling to do before many travellers are seduced by, or even know about, a railway alternative to flying.
Paris, this week has been the focus of the world's aerospace industry gathers for the bi-annual air show. Headlines were dominated by the heady competition for sales between Europe's Airline manufacturer, Airbus and its American rival Boeing. But behind the high-tech displays and glittering mock ups - Allegations that a British arms manufacturer made secret payments amounting to billion of US dollars in connection with lucrative arms deals cast a shadow of the event. Radio France International's Hannah Godfrey has the details
The video game "Resistance: Fall of Man", pitches players against aliens in a fictional post-war Europe. But when someone realised that one of the scenes plays out in a detailed representation of Manchester Cathedral, rather than interplanetary war, Sony invoked the collective wrath of the Church of England. Deutsche Welle's Lars Bevanger reports from Manchester.
Capitalism is a messy business but it seems to lend itself well to confident leadership. And gurus, as everyone in the corporate world knows, are a great way to inspire your employees to communicate better, be more open and happy, and therefore, be more productive. The giant Dutch bank ABN-AMRO has picked up on this idea and has tried to get its 20,000 employees to think more positively about work. They hired an American, mantra-spewing guru, but with a difference. He was an actor. And most of what he said on his month-long tour of the company, was improvised or made up, albeit with some wisdom mixed in. Almost no-one was in on the act. So what was it all for? The Dutch media's now picked up on the story and some are wondering what one of the world's largest banks is up to. Daniel Frankl is the actor in question's real name and he told Network Europe he was impressed that the bank was thinking outside the box.
For the first time Europeans might get some genuine free-market choice, when buying an international train ticket. Competition is being introduced in Europe's rail transport sector, after Wednesday's decision at the European Parliament to approve proposals to liberalize the market. But will there be genuine choice, and how do Europe's rail passengers feel about foreign trains rolling along home tracks?
Pan-European aeroplane manufactuers Airbus have started test flying their new A380 super jumbo from France this week. And Asia’s largest budget carrier said on Wednesday that it was considering ordering another 60 A 320 planes. But Airbus's staff and suppliers are worried about the future. The finished planes are being delivered up to two years late because of production problems. So now costs are being cut and maybe jobs too. This week French Prime minister Dominique de Villepin went to Toulouse, in southern France, promising he wouldn't let Airbus down. Radio France International's Nick Champeaux went with him.
Fear is now a market, and protecting a frightened corporate sector is a profit making activity. Companies are afraid of the unknown, that’s why they increasingly resort to risk assessment agencies. These are in charge of imagining worse case scenarios, they provide operational assistance and crisis management when a major incident emerges. They have hundreds of specialists all over the world, to collect information on the ground. Their staff often includes former members of intelligence services, in other words former spies.
Now, as the Soccer World Cup draws to an end in Germany, a new competition kicks off. For talented footballers who have won glory for their country now starts the courtship by rival soccer clubs eager to boost their ranks. And after the performances on the field, big business will also be flexing its own "corporate" muscle. Footballers with the right looks have historically found themselves swamped with lucrative offers for product endorsements and can quickly find themselves being the face of a new advertising campaign for soft drinks, training shoes or deodorants. So which stars of the 'The Beautiful Game' have potential for making money with their looks off the field? Ben Fajzullin has this alternative perspective on the World Cup from Berlin.
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