Shell acquires British Gas to become leading liquefied natural gas producer

Royal Dutch Shell has concluded acquisition talks with liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer British Gas (BG), the UK’s third-largest energy company, increasing its annual gas output above the combined output of its nearest competitors, Chevron and ExxonMobil. The GBP47 billion purchase will give Shell access to lucrative projects in Australia and Tanzania, while the biggest windfall will come from BG’s Brazil operations, whose output is expected to quadruple in the next five years. After the deal, estimates indicate that Shell will sell up to 50 million tons of LNG annually by 2020, slightly less than the annual domestic consumption of Ukraine and Poland combined.

An LNG tanker docks at a terminal.  Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
An LNG tanker docks at a terminal. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Revamped sex education program aims to raise Danish birth rates

In an effort to breathe new life into a rapidly-aging population, Danish sex educators are adopting a new approach that will promote sex and parenthood. Instead of teaching teenagers how to avoid pregnancy, educators will discuss pregnancy in a more favorable manner, perhaps even teaching students “how to get pregnant.” In a country where birth rates have been unsustainably low since the 1970s, the program aims to overcome a perceived aversion to parenthood that has been exacerbated by high unemployment and economic uncertainty.

Which EU countries accept the most refugees from the Syrian conflict?

Germany and Sweden have taken a leading role in the resettlement of refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict. Out of more than 217,000 refugees that have found new homes in Europe since the conflict began in 2011, more than 110,000 now live in Germany and Sweden. Four more EU members host a combined forty thousand refugees, while most of the remaining EU member states have only accepted several dozen to a few thousand refugees.

In comparison, the United States has admitted only 352 refugees as of mid-December 2014, but it is in the process of vetting and admitting roughly ten thousand more refugees over the next two years, according to the US State Department and a report by Amnesty International. It is important to note that the US can not necessarily admit Syrian refugees on the same scale as Germany or Sweden; US law caps the admission of refugees globally at seventy thousand per year.

The EU has been criticized for being ineffective at handling the refugee crisis, specifically regarding the fact that only a select few nations are admitting refugees in sufficient numbers.


At S&D TTIP panel, interest groups warn of trade deal risks

By Jared Angle

BRUSSELS — American and European trade officials met with interest group representatives to discuss potential outcomes of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in a panel discussion at the European Parliament on Nov. 18.

Hosted by the EP’s centre-left Socialists and Democrats bloc and the International Trade committee, the panel brought Deputy US Trade Representative Michael Punke and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström together with experts from European and American consumer protection and labor rights groups.

Journalists and panelists at the Nov. 18 discussion on TTIP.
Journalists and panelists at the Nov. 18 discussion on TTIP.

Projected tariff reductions under TTIP will allow companies to pass savings onto consumers and will allow new companies to begin exporting to international markets, according to Malmström.

“We will deliver a TTIP that is good for consumers; not bad, not ugly,” Malmström said.

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US-EU trade agreement could benefit small, medium companies

By Jared Angle

WASHINGTON — The upcoming Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will provide a boost for small and mid-sized companies (SMEs) in the United States and Europe, according to business leaders and industry analysts in a panel discussion on Nov. 14.

The event, hosted by the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based international relations think tank, coincides with the release of a report examining the agreement’s effect on SMEs.

The report, written by Garrett Workman of the Atlantic Council’s Global Business and Economics Program, identifies major export challenges for SMEs and proposes policy changes that would encourage American and European SMEs to begin exporting products or increase the volume of their existing exports.

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Europarl defection causes EFDD political group disintegration

By Jared Angle

BRUSSELS — Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD), the eurosceptic political group led by UK Independence Party MEP Nigel Farage, dissolved Thursday following the defection of a key Latvian MEP.

MEP Iveta Grigule, a member of the Latvian Farmers Union party, left her position in the group Thursday morning, according to EU news website EurActiv and sources in Parliament (EP).

EU flags fly at the Berlaymont, the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels. Photo by Jared Angle.

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