Can I protect my assets with a trust?

What is an offshore trust in Switzerland?

The information below describes what trust in Switzerland is and what its benefits are for the trustor and beneficiary. Analyzed the process of creating an international trust in Switzerland and lists the requirements that must be met in order for the activities of such a trust to be transparent.

The legal structure of the trust implies the need for a founder who transfers or allocates assets. The trustee must be an adult in his right mind and be responsible for managing the assets for the benefit of a person or group of persons referred to as beneficiaries. The guarantor supervises the work of the trust, ensuring its compliance with the trust declaration and satisfactory management of the trust.

An offshore trust is a trust in which assets are stored in another country, and the trust is created according to the laws of an offshore jurisdiction. The trustee manages the trust on behalf of the founder of trust management (who transfers the assets to the trust) for the benefit of the nominated beneficiaries.

What is the purpose of creating an offshore trust in Switzerland?

One of the main qualities of the Swiss trust is the possibility of effective tax planning.

Trusts in Switzerland have steadily increased their turnover since July 2007. Thanks to the constantly developing Swiss financial centers, while in neighboring countries there are high tax rates. The Hague Convention on Trusts was signed in 1985 and was enacted by the Federal Government of Switzerland on July 1, 2007. The Convention applies only to trusts that were established on a voluntary basis. It does not apply, for example, to wills. Offshore trusts in Switzerland have the advantage that they can be moved from one jurisdiction to another. This is achieved simply by replacing the trustee or by the law governing the activities of the trust. There is a general misconception that trusts are a complex organization, requiring a lot of time for their creation, and, moreover, intended for very rich people.

how to protect one’s assets? Trusts provide an immediate opportunity to effectively and profitably protect your assets and conduct tax planning. Switzerland’s reputation for anonymity is recognized in the business world and among offshore investors. Given the current security procedures, Switzerland is an attractive jurisdiction for creating offshore trusts.

A Swiss offshore trust is a form of a “transparent” organization, which after its creation will not keep instructions on the identity of the founder (as opposed to foundations). Offshore trusts in Switzerland must have a founder who places their assets in trust through a trustee for the benefit of the nominated beneficiary. All this is done under the condition that the instructions contained in the declaration of trust are executed exactly as the founder stated.

Trusts are used mainly by very rich people to protect their private wealth, plan their economic affairs and provide for children or future generations. With this in mind, an attractive feature of the Swiss trust is that potential heirs cannot sue the trust, and the assets of the trust cannot be seized. Many people want to secure their assets, and you, as the founder of the trust, can transfer any assets into it and legally declare that they are not your property. Switzerland was forced to recognize and actively contribute to the creation of trusts since there are many rich and very rich people who keep their assets in trusts.

Advantages of an offshore trust in Switzerland
Switzerland has a very favorable and generally accepted system of preferential taxation. Wealthy people are looking for a place where they can keep assets, which allows them to optimally carry out tax planning, extract the maximum of their assets and protect their wealth from the unstable financial situation in other jurisdictions.

In addition, in Switzerland:

– no hereditary duty

– there is no inheritance tax or the right to an obligatory share in the hereditary mass

– there is no currency control

– there are no reporting requirements for international Swiss trusts

– there are no taxes on wealth and gift

– a high level of asset protection and condition management is ensured

– optimized the economic situation of the founders of trusts.

Creating an offshore fund in Switzerland

Swiss funds are believed to be an alternative to trust. Funds are widely recognized as the preferred tool for protecting the assets of the elite and wealthy people, as they provide the most varied benefits of treating expensive assets.

What is a foundation in Switzerland?

Foundations in Switzerland are created if jurisdiction cannot recognize a particular trust (i.e., if this jurisdiction does not fall under common law jurisdictions), but the foundations are really very similar to trusts in their legal structure, since the funds also there are “founder”, “guarantor”, “beneficiary” and “council members”

A foundation acquires the quality of a legal entity immediately after its establishment, so the foundation becomes the owner of its property. Accordingly, the fund does not belong to anyone and is usually created in the interests of the company’s offshore clients. Funds can own many corporations and assets, can issue instructions for execution, as is done in trusts. There is no requirement for a trustee, participants or shareholders in the fund. Funds in Switzerland are classified according to the tax regime determined by the Federal Government for companies with 20-49% of shares or at least 2 million Swiss francs.

Funds can be used for different purposes, however, the main objectives are commercial, charitable or private interests. Funds are an excellent asset protection tool, and this is appreciated by businessmen of all levels. Moreover, funds can be created for a specific period.

Existing types of funds in Switzerland

Basically, funds are created of two types:

1) Municipal funds and

2) Corporate funds.

According to their types of funds are divided into 4 types:

– Public funds – created by families, groups of individuals, etc.

– Private funds – created by individuals

– State funds

– Mixed funds – are created by any of the above.

Purpose of offshore funds in Switzerland

– Protection of personal status and corporate property

– The Fund is recognized in jurisdictions with both civil and common law

– inheritance planning

– Tax planning of inherited assets

– Prevention of the right to an obligatory share in the hereditary mass

– Management by the corporation is carried out and controlled

– separation of voting and economic benefits

– Profit participation schemes for employees

– Pension Funds

– Art Collecting

– Charity groups of people

– Funds can be successfully used by organizations to create schemes for employee participation in profits, pension schemes, stock operations and insurance.

What assets can be in an offshore fund in Switzerland?

You can keep several types of assets in an offshore fund, since:

– Shares and securities of private and public corporations

– investment plans portfolios

– Property in the form of real estate and intellectual property

– Bank deposits

– Life insurance policies.

The advantages of creating a fund in Switzerland

Swiss funds entered into agreements on the avoidance of double taxation, which provides an almost zero rate of taxation of income of non-residents.

Geographically, Switzerland is located very well, occupying a strategic position, so it is convenient to create funds here. Switzerland is also known for its stable economy and powerful financial structures, which provides offshore foundations of funds with a high level of confidentiality when creating funds.

Other benefits of the foundation in Switzerland include:

– The efficient asset management system

– Structured management and state distribution system

– Reduced Inheritance Tax

– Payment of reasonable compensation for services rendered to the fund

– Non-taxable contributions to the fund

– The Fund may own many corporations and assets without limiting the nature of the assets.

– The Foundation can formulate strict instructions for execution, as is done with declarations of trusts.

Social protection: France’s champion of Europe

France spends a third of its GDP on social protection or 34.1%. Health and old age account for 80% of the benefits paid, 91% paid by public authorities and 9% by the private sector. DREES takes stock of it and compares it to that of our European neighbors.

The Directorate for Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (DREES) has just scrutinized the social protection accounts, which have given rise to an interesting international comparison, putting it back in its European context (1). At the same time, on the eve of the French Mutuality Congress in Montpellier, this report led to a comment by the President of the Republic on this “crazy cash” that the Hexagon is devoting to its social aid. Beyond any partisan spirit on the subject, the panorama presented by the DREES makes it possible to return to some figures that are important.

One-third of the national wealth

In 2016, the last year selected for the analysis, our country spent 759.1 billion euros on social spending, a third of our national wealth. Of this amount, 714.5 billion gave rise to benefits, the rest being composed of management fees, financial expenses and capital account uses. In the same year, social protection receipts amounted to 758.7 billion euros or 34% of GDP. On this set of expenditure, the two main risks, old-age survival (325.3 billion euros) and health (249.9 billion euros in 2016), represent respectively 46% and 35% of the total of this expenditure, ie 26% of GDP. 648.8 billion euros, ie 91% of the benefits are paid by the general government (including 515.9 billion by the Secu), the private sector providing 9% of its services, or 41.5 billion euros financial and non-financial corporations (of which $ 28.2 billion by mutual and provident societies) and $ 24.2 billion through non-profit institutions serving households (persons with disabilities, social assistance childhood, people experiencing exclusion). Of the resources of this social protection (758.7 billion), the main part comes from contributions (461.3 billion), to which are added the taxes and duties affected (184 billion), the public contributions (93.7 billion ) and various resources ($ 19.6 billion). Finally, the balance of accounts is gradually becoming the rule: from -11.6% in 2012, the balance of social protection accounts returned to -0.4% in 2016, proof that the situation has improved with the resumption of employment.

France in the lead

In terms of Europe, France ranks first in terms of social benefits in GDP, ahead of Denmark (31.1%), Finland (31.1%) and Belgium (29.1%). %), far ahead of Germany (27.9%) and far ahead of Romania (14.3%) which is at the bottom of the scale. The EU average of 15 is 28.3%. “Paying pensions alone accounts for 12.5% of GDP in the EU-28,” notes the DREES report. They make up the largest share of total benefits (46%). For its part, the risk of illness and health care is the second largest expense item. It represents on average 8.2% of GDP and 30% of total EU benefits to 28. Health is thus a major item in the social protection accounts: “in the EU15, in 2015, the risk of illness and health care contributes 37% to the total growth of social benefits, compared to 22% in 2010, “underlines in this register the direction of studies. The health-care risk is thus the second largest item of social protection expenditure in the European Union, with 8.2% of the GDP of the states concerned, compared with 9.1% for France.

Various evolution of the dependent remains

The report also underlines the low share of household expenses in health expenditure: with an average of 6.8% in the EU in 2015, they are lower than in Luxembourg (10.6%), (12.3%) or in Germany (12.5%) and much lower than Spain (24.2%), Portugal (27.7%) or Greece (35.5%). The global economic and stock market crisis of 2008 marked a turning point on this issue. “The reduction of the public effort after 2008 has resulted in greater financial participation by insured persons in the cost of health goods and services, an increase in user fees or other forms of participation (franchises), or even through a reduction in the coverage rate of the population, “says Drees. Paradoxically, countries where the share of direct financing of health expenditure by households was already among the lowest, such as Germany and France, experienced the largest declines in the rest between 2009 and 2015.

Loan companies in Europe, America and Asia discuss social credit and microcredit in Seville

Loan and social credit institutions from Europe, America and Asia debate since Wednesday in Seville on the situation of pledge and social credit and microcredits through conferences, lectures and roundtables at the XXX General Assembly of the Association International of pledge and social credit entities (Pignus), which is held at the headquarters of the Cajasol Foundation in Seville.

Loan and social credit institutions from Europe, America and Asia debate since Wednesday in Seville on the situation of pledge and social credit and microcredits through conferences, lectures and roundtables at the XXX General Assembly of the Association International of pledge and social credit entities (Pignus), which is held at the headquarters of the Cajasol Foundation in Seville.

As indicated Cajasol in a note, this Wednesday at the headquarters of the Cajasol Foundation in Seville has been inaugurated the XXX General Assembly of the International Association of pledge and social credit entities (Pignus) by the president of the International Association and president of Cajasol Foundation, Antonio Pulido, and Máximo Díaz-Cano, Secretary General of the Presidency of the Junta de Andalucía, who have premiered the Congress that will gather during the next days the main institutions that are part of the world association.

Díaz-Cano has highlighted in his speech that “figures such as credit and social loans are necessary to correct the financial exclusion of the most vulnerable groups to the real effects of the crisis” since “finances are necessary for the development and for economic growth, hence the importance of Microfinance for the fight against poverty, self-sustainable mechanisms that go beyond being assistance actions, “said the Secretary-General of the Presidency of the Junta de Andalucía.

Antonio Pulido, president of Pignus, at the inauguration, clarified “the commitment to strengthen and renew the structures of the International Association, the relations between its partners, the discovery of new realities and, ultimately, to update the discourse so that the activity they represent our entity, old and unique as few, still has a relevant role in economic and social terms, as well as relations with multilateral organizations between the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Andean Development Community and the European Investment Bank (EIB) ) “.

The working groups will discuss and expose, among others, the lectures and roundtables, ‘Pledge credit and microcredit in Spain after the economic crisis’, ‘The pledge activity in Spain’ by Inés García-Pintos de CECA. ‘MicroBank, a social, ethical and ecological bank’, the conference was given by José Francisco de Conrado of MicroBank La Caixa that will give way to the director of the Social Work of Ibercaja, Teresa Fernández Fortún that will explain ‘The new relationship between Social Work and Forestry of Piety ‘.

On the other hand, the Monte de Piedad Caja Madrid will open the debate on the contents of the first working session of the XXX Assembly by José Guirao of the Caja Madrid Foundation.

One of the novelties of this XXX International Encounter of Pignus presents Indonesia’s pledge credit institutions Perum Pegadaian, FederCrédito of El Salvador and the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) that will reveal the lines of work and development of the Indonesian and European entity in the current context.

Also, the panels ‘Prendario credit in Latin America I and II’ will be opened, in which they participate among others, Alejandro Iturra del Monte of Chile, Óscar Vivanco of Caja Metropolitana de Lima (Peru), Carlos Leiza of Banco Ciudad (Argentina) and Roberto Machuca from BIESS of Ecuador.

Also in the meeting will be exhibitions of new opportunities and jobs as the presentation of the ‘I International Course of Introduction to Pledge Credit’, created by Adolfo Meléndez Ielat-University of Alcalá that will announce the digital tool that is launched in this Congress for use and employment of social entities.

Also, this Thursday Maria Lahore, principal executive of the CAF Office in Europe, will unfold the present scenario under the conference ‘A historical descent in the interest of pledge loans’, as well as the Mexican evolution by Javier de la Calle del Nacional Monte de Piedad de México, the presentation report of the Salvadorans of FederCrédito and the planning of the work of the Dorotheum GmbH of Austria.

The closure will be borne by Antonio Pulido, president of the Association who will announce the final declaration of this XXX Pignus General Assembly with its reading and approval and where the next meeting will be announced for March 2014.

Spain will be the locomotive of growth in Europe

Spain has emerged from one of the biggest economic crises that are remembered. In 2008, the prick of the housing bubble and the slipstream of the international financial crisis caused a tremendous crack in our economy that took hundreds of thousands of jobs ahead. Its effects continue to be noticed today in thousands of homes. However, the good news is that the economic recovery is already underway and Spain will be the locomotive of growth in this new era.

Why will Spain be the locomotive of growth?

The Spanish Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which represents the total production of goods and services of our economy, sank precipitously during the years of crisis. However, today it has returned to positive values. In addition, the economic forecasts that the different agencies publish about our country point in only one direction: the economic growth will continue during the next years and, although it will go less, Spain will be the locomotive of growth of Europe.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been the last agency to make public its growth forecasts. In these notes that the Spanish GDP will grow by 2.6% in 2017 and a little less the following year, 2.1%, with ours being the advanced economy that will advance the most in these two years. The problem, however, will continue to be the high unemployment rate, which will end at 17.7% this year and 16.6% in 2018.

The Bank of Spain also recently published its economic forecasts for Spain. In his report estimates that GDP will grow by 2.7% in 2017, 2.3% in 2018 and 2.1% in 2019. In turn, the unemployment rate will be 16.7% this year, 15.4% in 2018 and 13.9% in 2019. As we can see, these are slightly more optimistic forecasts than those of the IMF.

A little before the IMF and the Bank of Spain, the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE) published its Quarterly Report on the Spanish economy, in which it indicated that Spain would grow 2.5% this year and 2.3% in 2018. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate will fall to 17.5% in 2017 and to 15.8% on average in 2018.

Important is also the forecasts of the prestigious Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which coincide with the CEOE in that the GDP growth rate will be 2.5% in 2017 and 2.2% per year next, a tenth worse. Unemployment will be reduced to 17.5% this year and up to 16.1% next year.

BBVA also recently published its economic estimates in its Situation Spain report. These are the most optimistic among those published to date. He points out that we will grow 3% in 2017 and 2.7% in 2018. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate will continue to fall and will stand at 15.6% by the end of 2018.

How long will Spain continue to grow?

In general, very similar forecasts and they all go in the same direction: economic growth will continue over the next few years but will go down. Let’s not forget that in 2016 we grew at a rate of 3.2%. Although we are the locomotive of growth in Europe, our political leaders can not relax and must continue with the path of reforms that allow our economy to continue growing and reducing its huge unemployment rate.

How Much Do European Banks Stand to Lose?

The Greek government, especially, has provided social welfare benefits that it cannot afford. It has paid for them by borrowing money. Those who made the loans have now realized that they cannot be repaid…unless German and French taxpayers pay them back.
Why would northern European taxpayers be willing to pay back those who lent the funds to provide Greeks with general social welfare benefits? It is because it is their own banks that made many of those loans. The worry is that if the banks lose too much money on bad loans to Greece (and Portugal and Spain,) they will be unable to make loans to French and German households and firms. The result will be a return of the economy to recession.
What is the exposure of Euro area banks to these losses?
Daniel Gros and Thomas Mayer provide the following table:
Table 1: Exposure of euro area banks to the government as % of capital and reserves, 2009

Loans Securities Total
Central government 12 64 76
General government 52 77 129

What this means is that if all the European Union governments refused to pay any of their national debts, on the whole, the European banks would be insolvent. On the other hand, if they had just 29 percent more capital and reserves, they could take that massive loss.
More importantly, they point out that the public debs of Greece, Portugal, and Spain make up only a small portion of total European public debt.
Fortunately, the public debt of the three countries most at risk (Greece, Portugal and Spain) amounts to only about 14% of all public debt in the Eurozone.
While it is possible that European banks hold a larger proportion of debt of the countries most at risk, these figures suggest that the European banking system could withstand a substantial write-down of Greek debt. Let the Greeks default.
Because of the nature of capital regulation, any bank losses create the possibility of reduced lending–especially to business. Government regulation requires that when banks make loans to the business they have more capital than when they instead hold “cash” or government bonds. If a bank suffers a loss, it has less capital. If the regulators press the bank to return to the amount required by regulation, then the simplest way is to reduce new loans to business, and either leave repaid funds on balance with the central bank, or else purchase government bonds (presumably from Germany, France, or the U.S.) This change in the bank’s asset portfolio provides no additional capital for the bank, but by shifting to what the regulators consider less risky assets, the amount of capital required is reduced. The unfortunate side effect is that lending to business can be sharply reduced.
I think the solution is to suspend the capital requirements. The reason to have capital is to form a cushion against loss. When losses occur, capital and capital ratios should fall. As banks profit from their remaining good loans, they can and should gradually rebuild their capital and capital ratios.
The notion that governments should bail out those owing money to banks in order to prevent adverse consequences due to the operation of capital requirements is insane. Only slightly less insane is the prospect of the government bailing out banks so that capital regulations don’t cause a contraction in lending to sound borrowers.

Bulgaria and Europe. The European Development of Bulgaria after the Liberation

The beginning of 2018 and the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is a good time to look at the establishment and development of the political, economic and cultural ties between Bulgaria and the countries of Western and Central Europe.

In the coming months, we will tell you about the Bulgarian-European relations from the Bulgarian Revival to the present day. We will look into the life of the Bulgarians conducting the cultural exchange and their role in the building of the modern Bulgarian state. Together, we will reflect on the frequent reversals in the diplomatic orientation of Bulgaria and finding the right way for our country to the happiness, economic prosperity and spiritual development of its citizens.

Lovers of history are famous for the role of Khan Tervel in the rescue of Constantinople by the Arabs in the early VIII century. Almost 1,300 years ago, the Bulgarian ruler arrived at a critical moment from the Arab siege of help to the Byzantine Emperor. The victory of the Bulgarians, together with Carl Martel’s success in the Battle of Poitiers against the Omajid caliphate, 14 years later, prevented the Arab invasion of Europe and helped develop the medieval Christian civilization.

The Byzantine Empire is the most authoritative state in Early Middle-Eastern Europe, the heir of the Roman Empire.

The capital of Constantinople is the richest city on the continent with a population of more than half a million people. Byzantine diplomacy best exploited the achievements of Byzantine culture and art in order to preserve the dominant political position of the Empire despite the great migration of the peoples and its consequences. Quite naturally, the successors of Khan Tervel fall into the Byzantine orbit of influence – political and cultural, and consequently the acceptance of Christianity as a state religion by Prince Boris I

Over the following centuries, the balance of power in Europe has changed and the West has begun to play an ever greater economic, cultural and spiritual role to reach the 13th century when Constantinople was conquered by the crusaders of the IV Crusade, and the Bulgarian King Kaloyan confesses the spiritual championship of the Roman pope. The Ottoman invasion and the subjugation of the medieval Balkan states have for a long time devoted the region of Southeast Europe to the development of the rest of the continent. The population of the Balkans does not see the achievements of the Great Geographical Discoveries, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

After the initial shock from the foreign conquest, the Bulgarians gradually renewed their contacts with the nearby European Christian states – Russia and the Habsburg Empire, mainly with the help of the trade union of the Bulgarian Catholics. In the 19th century, a number of Bulgarians succeeded in touching the achievements of European civilization thanks to the modernization of the Ottoman Empire and the opportunity to study in Western universities. Returning to their native lands, they give a boost to the Bulgarian revival, which leads to the growing role of the Bulgarians in the Empire.

The process of inclusion deepened after the founding of the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia.

Gradually, despite the reluctance of the Great Powers, Bulgarians became a factor in European international relations. Building a modern state with working institutions is a tough process, but thanks to highly educated and conscientious actors of several generations, Bulgaria has been able to significantly catch up with its economic, cultural and political backwardness. The penetration of Western capital and economic thought contribute to the gradual build-up of a stable economy, and the construction of modern railway lines allows for an increase in cultural exchange. The presence of foreign diplomats and investors in the Bulgarian capital diversifies social life and introduces the latest fashion trends on the native soil. The young Bulgarian intelligentsia maintains constant contacts with the European and succeeds in becoming part of it. The lack of traditions is compensated by labor and respect for knowledge and art.

The two major military conflicts that tear Europe through the twentieth century, followed by the Cold War, set new artificial boundaries in the communication and interaction between Bulgarian and European culture. Bulgaria seems to be moving away from Western Europe, despite the development of communication technologies. The political changes in Eastern Europe since the late 1980s and the collapse of the Soviet Union have led to a re-orientation of the country in the West. The country’s main strategic objective is the membership in the European Union. Bulgarians are increasingly beginning to travel, work and study in Western Europe, and in 2007 the country is recognized as an equal member of the European Union. And at the beginning of this year, it took over the chairmanship of one of its main bodies.

The Presidency of the Council of the European Union marks a new moment in Bulgaria’s political development and its foreign policy capabilities.

On the one hand, it is a chance for the country to show that it again feels and acts as an equal and indivisible part of Europe, and on the other – to consolidate its position as a constructive leader on the Balkan Peninsula. To take advantage of these opportunities, we must well know our history and role in the development of the Balkans and Europe.

Health in Europe: health systems with hybrid characteristics

Three types of organization of the health care system coexist in the European Union. DREES analyzes in detail the characteristics of private health insurance markets in 6 EU countries.

Europe sees different health insurance systems cohabiting, summarized in three main categories: the national health system (this is the case of the United Kingdom, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Ireland, from Norway or Portugal), a system based on compulsory insurance cover (France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Poland, Austria and Belgium), called the “Bismarckian” system, and finally a system of compulsory health insurance managed by private insurers in a competitive situation (Switzerland, the Netherlands).

These three systems also have different modes of financing (by tax for the first, based on contributions or social contributions for the second and finally insured by insurance premiums for the last). “European systems often have hybrid characteristics between these different theoretical models”, explains in this register the last study of the DREES devoted to the place of private insurance in six European countries. In Germany, for example, about 10% of the population opted for private health care coverage. This private coverage would thus finance 4.5% of the “expenditure on care expenses”. In the Netherlands, where the management of health insurance has been entrusted to private insurers since 2006 and competed with one another, this share has risen to 81.5%. In Switzerland, it stands at 46.7%. In Spain, civil servants can leave the national health system and be covered by an insurance system. The share of private insurers stands at 4%. Despite these differences, “a common trend seems to be binding on all of these European systems,” notes the study. “That of a sickness cover tending towards the universality”.

“In all countries, compulsory basic coverage leaves co-payments to the insured, which aims to make them aware of the cost of care and encourage them to consume reasonably,” adds DREES. These co-payments may result in user fees, excess fees, flat-rate contributions or deductibles. “In practice, these different types of co-payments can be combined, modulated (depending on income or compliance with the care path for example), or capped, thus giving rise to a wide variety of situations. ”

Remains with variable charges

In the six countries studied, an optional health insurance offer, offered by private insurers, has grown outside the basic coverage. It is structured and positioned in addition to the basic health coverage, sometimes considered insufficient. It will be defined as extra “when it aims to cover benefits left outside the basket of low care. It is qualified as “complementary” when it is intended to cover all or part of the co-payments left to the patient’s expense.

The optional supplemental insurance covers 96% of French people in 2014, compared with only 23% of Germans. Because across the Rhine, basic compulsory coverage is indeed wider than in France (87.5% against 78.0%) where user fees are higher. In the Netherlands, supplementary insurance covers 85% of the population. National health systems offer private insurance openings to 16% of the population in Spain and 11% in the United Kingdom.
In total, the share of expenditure on care expenses covered by optional private insurance remains the highest in France, at 13.4% in 2014, compared to 7.8% in the Netherlands or Switzerland and 1.5% in % in Germany. “Of the six countries, it is in the Netherlands and France that the dependent remains the weakest, since it amounts respectively to 7.9% and 8.6% of the expenditure on care costs” , concludes the DREES study, “while it is slightly higher in Germany and the United Kingdom (respectively 11.0% and 12.4%). Spain and Switzerland, on the other hand, have the highest remaining charges, accounting respectively for 26.7% and 28.4% of the expenditure on care costs.

How Ljubljana became a European Green Capital

If you are among the growing number of people who are currently looking to visit the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, the European Green Capital, you are most likely to find out that the strongest urban traffic noise in the old city center is due to bells of bikes. These are the main vehicles in the cobblestone streets around the central Peshen Square. It is hard to imagine that only eight years ago these streets were filled with cars and city buses.

In less than a decade, most of the city’s central area is free of cars, with the exception of early delivery trucks or electric vehicles for tourists who are the size of golf carts and transporting shoppers to small shops, cafes and boutique hotels across the old center and the banks of the river.

The new trafficking regime, which has already achieved a 58% reduction in harmful carbon emissions, is just one of the completed components of the city’s 2007 Sustainable Development Plan. This is one of the reasons Ljubljana, a city with 280,000 inhabitants, elected by the European Commission as the European Green Capital 2016 – the seventh consecutive city to be honored after Stockholm received the first such title in 2010.

“The prize is of paramount importance for Ljubljana, as it puts us on the European and world map of sustainable cities,” says Nica Pirat of Visit Ljubljana (City Tourism Bureau) stressing that the city is the first and only one in Central and Southeastern Europe to receive this honor.

What is the European Green Capital?

What does it mean for a city to be awarded the European Green Capital title and why is Ljubljana this year? The prize, initiated by a city association in 2006, is an effort on the part of the Commission to recognize, mark and promote the best practices of cities that are firmly committed not only to improving their urban conditions, transform into sustainable areas that meet the ambitious demands for a better quality of life.

More than two-thirds of the 508 million citizens of the 28 EU Member States live in cities, which underlines the importance of the Green Capital initiative. The recipients of this title can be a source of inspiration and an example of other cities on the continent and the world. In the past, these examples came from bigger and more established cities like Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Bristol. All of the ancestors are located in Western Europe, while Ljubljana does not redirect the spotlight to what relatively smaller cities in Central and Eastern Europe can do in a short period of time if there are a political will and an ambitious yet feasible vision.

The European Green Capital title aims to encourage cities to focus on sustainable urban planning that meets the real needs of local communities.

“As urban areas expand, demand for housing, the need for energy, water and transport is growing,” said Karamanu Vela, at the ceremony in Brussels last month when Bristol officially surrendered Ljubljana’s title. “Environmental thinking often begins with thoughts about what citizens really want.”

But Vela added, “These solutions work only if they are part of a wider commitment that ensures that the quality of life is not compromised. They must be part of the efforts to build smarter transport networks, to ensure better air quality and green areas to be well planned. That’s exactly Ljubljana’s holistic approach that impressed the jury. ”

Why Ljubljana?

A panel of 12 experts assesses candidate cities in a dozen key areas, ranging from how they act to mitigate and adapt to climate change, how they make efforts to improve air quality and how they manage water and waste. The development of sustainable transport networks, the creation of new green areas and the revitalization of abandoned areas are also important aspects of evaluation. The jury noted the Ljubljana speed transformation in several of these areas.

A closer look at three of these areas – mobility, the construction and use of green spaces, waste management – provide a good starting point from which we can explore the path Ljubljana has made to the title.

How Ljubljana became a European Green Capital


European cities feel the weight of cars very differently to American cars because many of them have not been designed for cars. European cities are older, with narrow streets. The only sustainable solution is to eliminate cars from the equation. That’s exactly what Ljubljana did in 2007 when it shut down most of the old center (except early morning supplies) for motorized traffic. This is not about pedestrian shopping areas of several blocks that you can find in many other cities; Ljubljana has closed cars for nearly 100,000 square meters. As a result, the compact city center, from a territory of cars and buses, has become one for pedestrians and cyclists.

The newest major change is the conversion of part of Slovenska Cesta, the main road to the city center, in a car-free area. This idea took some time to become accustomed, but citizens got used to it faster than even the fiercest critics of change had imagined.

“One of my most proud moments as an architect and designer was when I saw that the community here in Ljubljana is ripe for the moment when part of our main boulevard and road artery is already shared by pedestrians, cyclists and buses without stop signs or traffic lights, “says Janez Kozel, architect, lecturer, and deputy mayor, while the 63 newly planted trees around the road now attract bees and butterflies.

Over the last decade, 9 bridges over the river in Ljubljana have been constructed or renovated.

One of the emblems of the capital, most of which are for pedestrians and bicycles. One immediate result was that the derelict and abandoned riparian alleys “came to life” instantly, increasing business and commerce in neighborhoods that were almost forgotten. Another great benefit of the new bridges, some planned over a hundred years ago, is that the city has become much more pedestrian.

Mostly situated on a plain, Ljubljana is the perfect city for cycling. It has a network of 220 km of maintained bicycle routes that are actively supported by the Bicike (LJ) – the city’s wheel-sharing system. The number of network users has grown to 70,000 people – a quarter of the city’s population.

The cost of the service is only € 3 per year and is included in the city map of Ljubljana, which is used for free transportation, libraries and more. Travels less than 60 minutes are free, the second hour is € 1, the third € 2, the fourth and every next hour is € 4. Since the stations are located between 300 and 500 meters apart, you will not have to use a wheel for more than an hour, and this makes the Ljubljana transport system one of the cheapest in the world.

Visitors to the city can register online with a credit card. Those who travel daily have access to five buffer car parks on the city’s main thoroughfares, where they can change the car by bike or city bus and the ticket is included in the parking fee. All this leads to the next goal, which is to evenly distribute citywide mobility in three ways by 2020: one-third of private vehicles, one-third of public transport and one-third of non-motorized vehicles, mostly bicycles.

Waste Management

How a city handles its waste is a key component of its sustainable development; here Ljubljana can serve as an impressive example. Last year, nearly two-thirds (65%) of the collected waste was split, a ten-fold increase over the past ten years. This is the highest rate for a European capital city that has even exceeded EU recycling targets by ten percent by 2020 (for example, the degree of recycling of waste in the US is about 34% according to its Environmental Protection Agency.)

In many Ljubljana districts, waste is collected from door to door, and in the central part mainly in underground collection points. There are glass, paper and plastic packages that are accessible to everyone. Biological waste containers are available through maps that collect data on the amount of waste per household, and on this basis also the waste charges.

Ljubljana is the first European capital city to adopt the Zero Waste Strategy by 2025.

Green Spaces

Green areas are vital – they are the lungs of the community. Ljubljana has an enormous 542 square feet of public green spaces of a citizen. This abundance is mainly due to the Tivoli, Roznik and Siesian Regional Park parks extending to the west of the city center.

About 46% of the total area of the city is covered with natural forests, which account for 70% of all green spaces. Separately, between 2009 and 2015, a number of deserted areas were utilized and transformed into parks. There the progress of Ljubljana is most visible outside the city center.

Vision and action plan

Jankovic, the three-year Mayor of Ljubljana, first elected in 2006, is well worth mentioning. Jankovic, the former Mercator CEO, a large retail chain in the Balkans, is the author of the vision for 2025 – a plan to revive the city and identify the direction of sustainable development.

“When we started in 2006, we did not know anything about the European Green Capital, but we knew it was important to be green,” Jankovic said at a ceremony in the European Commission. “I was sure then that we were on the right track. ” Its administrations have completed over 1,600 projects, some of which were planned several decades ago or centuries as bridges.

Ljubljana won the second European Mobility Week 2013 award, was included in the global top 100 for sustainable destinations in 2014 and won the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Destination Award in 2015.

Jankovic and his team rely on the recognition of the European Green Capital to expand their efforts to develop tourism and open doors that were previously closed. As the ultimate effect of the title, they picture the opportunity to rebrand the city as an important green global destination.

Local and global rebranding

A major component of this rebranding is the change in attitudes at the local level among citizens who are so close to change and often take for granted. This is already happening, Deputy Mayor Tisa Ficco said. “People not only begin to understand that Ljubljana is a green capital, but the pride of this fact is spreading,” Fitzko said at a ceremony in Brussels. “People who are proud of their city are motivated to take steps for a better Ljubljana and greener Ljubljana, contributing to a better quality of life in our city and that is actually our ultimate goal. ”

“Our way of thinking has changed,” Fitzko said. “We always think green, we associate everything we do green with culture, sport, everything.”

For a city like Ljubljana, which is still quite “new” and largely unknown on the international stage, the title brings with it an opportunity to shape the identity of the world podium. According to some indications, this is already happening. Over the last decade, the influx of tourists has increased by about 10-12% each year. In 2015, Ljubljana has grown by 18% of tourists because of its selection as a European Green Capital, which helps the city to enter influential tourist destinations. Reducing car areas means cleaner air, new green areas around the city, absorbing space around the river, more cultural events and a healthier lifestyle.

The value of the prize is that it serves as inspiration and creates a new way of thinking about what the attitude to urban spaces should be. It helps with investments that allow citizens to use their water and energy more efficiently, for example. This can stimulate a city, not only in building civic self-confidence but also through new economic activities.

Given the political and economic realities in this part of Europe, what Ljubljana has achieved in a relatively short period of time has to be noted, acknowledged, taught and multiplied. Changes have gone far beyond cosmetics and, most importantly, have helped to imply the importance of sustainable development in most segments of society.

Europe: no preferential treatment on a French deficit

Emmanuel Macron’s emergency measures will lead to a breach of the European rule of 3% deficit.

France and Italy, same price? Two days after the announcement of Emmanuel Macron in response to the crisis of yellow vests, the European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici said that France would not benefit from preferential treatment in case of slippage of its deficit. “There is no double standard, the rules are the same for everyone,” said Pierre Moscovici on the sidelines of a conference organized by the Financial Times in Frankfurt.

“It is out of the question to have a privileged treatment for some and overly harsh for others, even if [the rules] are quite subtle and complex, I agree,” continued Pierre Moscovici, while Italy, in the thick of the budget with Brussels, fears unequal treatment. “I refuse to imagine that we pretend nothing in front of the requests ‘billionaires’ coming from a Macron in obvious difficulty and that we take the pockets of the Italians”, indeed warned this Wednesday the vice – Italian Prime Minister Matteo Salvini.

3.4% deficit

Tuesday, the Minister of Public Accounts Gérald Darmanin has quantified the Senate to 10 billion euros the cost of emergency measures and recognized that the budget deficit will reach 3.4% next year if saving measures are not taken. However, the European rule limits the public deficit of a country to 3% of its GDP. Barely a year after leaving the procedure for the excessive deficit, France would be close to the limit of 3.5% which would force the automatic reopening of a new procedure.

Pierre Moscovici reiterated that the rules of the European Stability Pact in some cases allowed budget slippages. A “temporary, limited and exceptional” deviation from the 3% limit is “conceivable”, the EU commissioner reaffirmed, as long as this excess does not last two consecutive years and does not exceed 3.5% over one year. “The European Commission understands that in the face of social movements and very strong demands to reduce the territorial or social divide, a government may have to take action,” he conceded.

130% debt

Italy’s budget proposal for 2019, which nevertheless provides for a deficit of 2.4%, was rejected by Brussels because of the weight of the public debt. The sources consulted by AFP recall that France does not have the same debt as Italy: a little less than 100% against more than 130%.

Italy, heading to the right

  • Italy refuses to change its budget
  • In Rome, the bells will soon ring the tocsin
  • VIDEO. The incident between Moscovici and an Italian MP

A new “working meeting” is scheduled for Wednesday between the head of the Italian government, Giuseppe Conte, and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. As for the French budget, the European Commission gives itself until the spring to analyze it, said Tuesday the spokesperson of the European executive. “The final budget” of France “will be analyzed in the spring when we publish our economic forecasts,” said Margaritis Schinas at a press point in Strasbourg.

Europe’s future: Open Innovation, Open Science, Open to the World

The Tour d’Europe meeting in the EU presidency country, Bulgaria, was organised by an independent Think Tank in Sofia.

The meeting took place on 29 January 2018 at Structure Gallery and gathered a broad range of actors from policy advisers and former Bulgarian ministers, scientists in the recognized Academies of Science and top universities, as well as innovative start-ups and young entrepreneurs active in the new digital economy. The RISE high-level expert group and authors of the RISE book were represented by Daria Tataj, Luc Soete, Mary Ritter, Julio Celis, Dainius Pavalkis, Ivo Slaus, and Marzenna Wareza.

Key messages:

  • Openness has boundary conditions.

Openness has both a digital and a physical context. The ‘scientific capital’ in Europe should be open and accessible for digital start-ups across Europe. However, when openness builds on an asymmetric context, it can aggravate brain-drain and decline of R&I systems. Therefore, openness must be balanced by a local agenda, including links to cultural diversity and absorptive capacity. It is not about global or local; it is about a smart combination of both.

  • Reconcile history and future.

Many R&I systems in Eastern Europe have undergone dramatic transformations. Comparative strengths shape future opportunities in accumulated R&I. In the early days of the digital revolution, Bulgaria was the Silicon Valley of Eastern Europe. The science system in Bulgaria still retains a scientific specialization in physics, mechatronics, advanced computing, and artificial intelligence. This R&I profile opens up for synergies with the growing digital service economy, where the young generation in Bulgaria – and in other Eastern European countries – is increasingly successful and competitive. However, a reconciliation of past and future strengths requires trust-building and new forms of collaboration between the established scientific community and the new and young digital platform economy.

  • Diffuse knowledge and technologies.

First, create the regulatory and financial framework conditions for universities opening up for closer science-business collaboration; this also implies actions at EU level to modify State Aid rules. Second, understand the motivations of researchers and create incentives. European funding can combine different incentives: curiosity-, challenge- and entrepreneurial incentives. Third, reinforce cooperation networks across Europe; common European missions, where different countries and regions can bring their value added, could help in framing this diffusion, training, and networking.

  • Build trust to bridge science and society.

Citizens must be involved in the R&I process as lead-users, co-creators, and crowd-funders. However, citizens’ involvement also entails a danger of capturing the policy agenda. Researchers should explain and society should have a strong voice in priority setting. We should mobilize a combination of existing communication channels: social innovation communities in cities and local communities, universities as platforms for evidence-based public discussion, direct discussions with experts from different sectors – and from abroad -, and organized use of social media. The smart specialization strategy was an excellent example of striking a balance between top-down direction setting and bottom-up openness to people, businesses and municipalities.

  • Simplify programmes and project management.

Focus European funding on results, not on the process. Abolish the reporting obligation for time-sheets and focus the monitoring on the achievements of the project and its contribution to overall programme objectives. A more simple administration may also speed up the grant award process, which would make the programme more attractive for start-ups and innovative firms, for whom speed is crucial.