France wants EU expansion freeze amid Balkans war warning

French President Emmanuel Macron laid it on the line for the European Parliament when he stated: “I don’t want a Balkans that turns toward Turkey or Russia, but I don’t want a Europe that, functioning with difficulty at 28 and tomorrow as 27, would decide that we can continue to gallop off, to be tomorrow 30 or 32, with the same rules.” (Reuters)
Updated 18 April 2018
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France wants EU expansion freeze amid Balkans war warning

  • Accession to the 28-nation EU has been a powerful driver of political and democratic reform in countries like Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro — which recently joined NATO — Serbia and its former territory of Kosovo.
  • EU and Balkans leaders will meet in Bulgaria on May 17, but no country in the region is likely to be invited to join, even though some are involved in membership negotiations.

Brussels: French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday ruled out any expansion of the European Union until the bloc is reformed, as a top EU official warned that the volatile Balkans could face a return to war if countries in the region have no hope of joining.
The Balkans spiraled into conflict in the 1990s as former Yugoslavia broke apart, but ethnic and nationalist tensions continue to simmer more than 20 years on.
EU member states must agree unanimously for any country to become a member. Accession to the 28-nation EU has been a powerful driver of political and democratic reform in countries like Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro — which recently joined NATO — Serbia and its former territory of Kosovo.
But with Britain set to become the first country to leave the bloc next year, Macron told EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, France that “I will only support an enlargement when there is first a deepening and a reform of our Europe.”
“I don’t want a Balkans that turns toward Turkey or Russia, but I don’t want a Europe that, functioning with difficulty at 28 and tomorrow as 27, would decide that we can continue to gallop off, to be tomorrow 30 or 32, with the same rules,” he said.
But European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, whose institution recommends whether countries should be allowed in, insisted that Europe’s door must remain open.
“If we remove from these countries, in this extremely complicated region, I should say tragically, a European perspective, we are going to live what we already went through in the 1990s,” Juncker said. “I don’t want a return to war in the Western Balkans.”
When he took over at the European Commission four years ago, Juncker vowed that there would be no EU enlargement during his term.
EU and Balkans leaders will meet in Bulgaria on May 17, but no country in the region is likely to be invited to join, even though some are involved in membership negotiations.
Turkey is also a candidate for membership and has been promised fast-track accession negotiations in exchange for ensuring that tens of thousands of migrants — many of them Syrian refugees — don’t enter Europe from its territory. However, the talks are at a virtual standstill.
Countries like France, Germany and Austria would prefer some kind of “privileged partnership” with Turkey to letting it join.


Mobily quarterly loss down by 49%

Updated 28 min 29 sec ago
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Mobily quarterly loss down by 49%

Saudi telecom provider Mobily decreased its quarterly losses in Q1 2018 by 49 percent to SR93 million ($24.84 million) compared with SR182 million in Q4 2017. This was mainly due to a growth of revenues driven by a better mix of products mainly from data, the increase of efficiency in managing operational expenses, the impact of implementing IFRS 9 and 15, and the reversal of certain provisions that are no longer required, according to the company.

Revenues improved for the second consecutive quarter reaching SR2,833 million in Q1 2018 compared with SR2,827 million in Q4 2017, a slight increase of 0.2 percent, despite the following:

l The impact on sales at the beginning of the year due to the implementation of the value-added tax (VAT). 

l The reduction in interconnection rates by 45 percent.

l The seasonality of handset sales, and its increase in Q4 2017.

l The seasonal decrease related to the number of days in Q1. 

Without the decrease of the interconnection rates, revenues would have grown by 2 percent.

Mobily’s gross profit increased in Q1 2018 by 6.6 percent to SR1,663 million compared with SR1,560 million in Q4 2017. This increase is mainly due to the reduction in interconnection rates during Q1 2018 compared with those of Q4 2017 and the reduction in equipment costs in Q1 2018 compared with Q4 2017.

Mobily managed to grow its revenues for the second consecutive quarter. Q1 2018 revenues slightly decreased by one percent (SR33 million) to SR2,833 million compared with SR2,865 million in Q1 2017. Mobily achieved a stable level in revenues despite the general economic and regulatory changes, including the impact on sales in the beginning of the year due to the implementation of VAT, and the reduction in interconnection rates by 45 percent.

Without the decrease of the interconnection rates, the revenues would have grown by one percent year over year.

The gross profit stabilized at SR1,663 million in Q1 2018 compared to SR1,665 million in Q1 2017 with a slight decrease by 0.12 percent, despite the slight decrease in revenues.