Could Luxembourg Be the Next European Financial Center?

With the UK making plans to leave the EU trade bloc, many European countries are vying for the chance to be the financial center of choice for the EU. Here, Luxembourg’s finance minister Pierre Gramegna discussed why his country is ready to take on this role.


Swedes Moving to Portugal

It’s always fascinating to see where people flock to for fun and relaxation. Swedish baby boomers and retirees are heading to Spain, where at the moment there are almost 100,000 permanent residents from Sweden. But beyond Spain, Swedes are setting their sights somewhere else surprising – and that’s Portugal.

The number of Swedes in Portugal has nearly tripled from 2011 to 2014 and there are now about 3500 residents from Sweden. Certainly, the desire to be in Portugal is partly due to the tax-free policy on retirement income for foreigners. During their economic recession, the Portugese government introduced this policy. It allows expat retirees who live in Portugal to collect their pensions without having to pay taxes for as long as five years – and then they can stay or move back to their home country.

The Swedish government is not thrilled with this plan, however. As Minister Magdalena Andersson said,

“I had a serious talk with my Portugese colleague about this issue yesterday evening. I described the anger towards this system among Swedes. It’s about Swedes taking out their retirement, often quite larges sums, completely tax-free [when living in Portugal].”

The Rediscovery Centre in Ireland: A Place Worth Seeing

The Rediscovery Centre in Dublin is the place to be. In addition to their many other items, they have a café being launched by Green Kitchen, the Walkinstown social enterprise that employs people who have learning disabilities. They also have an eco-shop that sells restored and reconditioned bikes, eco-fashion and more.

They have renewable technologies of every sort including their solar panels for water heating and electricity generation. Dr Sarah Miller, chief executive of the Rediscovery Centre, which moved into the repurposed building this month, explained that “Our target is to generate 95 per cent of our electricity on site and have a mini smart grid using all the renewable energy technologies.”

The €3.6 million project, which was funded by the EU Life+programme, the Government and Dublin City Council, took inspiration from many other such projects. Who do they hope to attract at the Rediscovery Centre? As Miller said,

“It’s a niche market of people interested in environmental issues, those who want to live more sustainably, and individuals who are building eco homes and looking for inspiration.”

Miller pointed out that in Ireland they are great at collecting and shipping materials elsewhere, but they don’t have a recycling infrastructure. As she said, “Our paper, plastics and textiles are all sent overseas. And there’s still a high level of contamination, in that over 30 per cent of recycled materials end up in landfill. That needs to improve for business opportunities to develop in this market.”

Eastern European News

Staples Selling Its European Stakes

Staples has announced that it will be selling a controlling stake in its European business to the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP. They will sell it for 50 million euros ($53.65 million). The European unit for Staples includes retail, contract and online businesses that are in 16 countries. They generate an annual sale of approximately 1.7 billion euros.

Staples plans to retain a 15% stake in the European business. This deal follows on the heels of Office Depot, which has also said that it is selling its European operations to Aurelius Group.

Staples expects to complete its European sale during the first quarter of its fiscal year beginning February 2017.

Read more details here.

Women Filling Freelance Jobs Across the EU

According to new research from IPSE, a body that represents self-employed people, women are taking over the freelance jobs across the EU. Today, there are 9.6 million independent professionals who work in the EU. This is 1.9 million more than in 2008 and out of this, freelancers account for almost 30% of all self-employed people. They make up a total of 4% of the EU workforce.

As Kelly Gilmour-Grassam, the founder of the copywriting business Making Your Content and IPSE Freelancer of the Year for 2015 said, “As home working becomes increasingly viable and the digital world makes starting a business ever easier, it’s no wonder more women are choosing to become freelancers.”