Do reserved activities harm the UK economy?

first_img Jonathan Goldsmith is secretary general of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, which represents about one million European lawyers through its member bars and law societies. He blogs weekly for the Gazette on European affairs This week, from the same people who brought you economic ruin, we have more of the same. As I have said before, deregulation and liberalisation – those twin modern marvels which most agree to have been the motors of our current economic crisis – are still fixed in our rulers’ heads, as if everything will come right if we just keep on taking larger doses of the same medicine. The European Commission, through its Internal Market Directorate, published a long-awaited report on reserved activities, including in the field of legal services. This is one of those reports which they didn’t bother to tell the legal profession about in advance of, or even during, its commissioning (we found out about it by chance), and of course it was drawn up by consultants – the Centre for Strategy & Evaluation Services, established by former Ernst & Young staff, who offer services in ‘development of strategies, evaluation and impact assessment, corporate location’. This is truly a story of the modern world. The study did not cover the legal profession alone. The study’s aims were to look at professional qualifications in three sectors, construction, business services and tourism, across 13 member states, including the UK. They defined reserved activity as ‘any requirement reserving the exercise of a service activity to the holders of a specific professional qualification’. As for the reason for the study, you need not ask: economic efficiency, of course! Or, as they put it: ‘The reserve of activities to holders of a specific professional qualification has frequently been mentioned as a barrier to the effective functioning of the single market in the provision of cross-border services.’ There are interesting facts in the report. For instance, there are currently about 800 different regulated professions in the European Union that have been reserved to individual professionals or those holding specific qualifications. Numbers of regulated professions vary greatly, from a high of 55 in Germany to a low of 16 in Finland, the familiar liberal north of Europe. In fact, the usual north-south divide, a cliché of such studies, was found everywhere: there was strong recourse to exclusive reserved activities in southern countries – and also in the new member states – while northern countries had low numbers. Altogether, 481 reserved activities were identified. The greatest number of exclusive reserved activities was identified in… the legal services sector, followed by engineering, architecture and surveying. The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) is still considering its response to the study. My own preliminary comment would be to ask how much the commission paid for it. After all the months of researching, here are the two principal conclusions for legal services (my italics, and where ‘RA’ means reserved activities): First, ‘Possible relationships were identified in some EU countries between the presence of reserves of activities and variables such as enterprise size and the number of legal professionals… For example, Denmark, Slovenia and the Netherlands have a low level of market restrictiveness (ranked 1st, 3rd and 5th respectively in the RA Index), but there are in these countries a high number of legal professionals per capita.’ Second, ‘member states with a low level of market restrictiveness due to RAs, such as Finland and the UK tended to have a higher proportion of medium and large-sized legal services firms than mid-ranked countries on the RA index, such as Italy. However, other factors within legal services, such as rules on business and ownership structure and cultural factors will also influence average enterprise size and the extent of industry consolidation. Reserves of activities are only one factor among wider market entry and conduct barriers.’ And so we come to a conclusion: ‘Although the economic analysis provides some interesting results, based on the available data, it does not show that there is a clear impact of reserved activities on economic performance for the three sectors examined.’ It looks like we’re back where we started. Our political masters with their medicine spoons will have to find other consultants who specialise in corporate location to dig up reasons for deregulation and liberalisation of the legal services market. In the meanwhile, how much did it cost?last_img read more

Gothenburg terminal gets operator

first_imgSandahlsbolagen Sweden already operates terminals in Luleå, Umeå, Sundsvall and Jönköping.Construction of the intermodal terminal will take place in two phases. The first phase will be completed in December 2017, when operations are due to commence.The terminal will be fully operational by 2019-2020 and by that time, loading will take place using cranes instead of trucks and the entire terminal be electrified and controlled by signals.Meanwhile, the Port of Gothenburg will have just three forest product transhipment terminals nearby, following the closure of the Skaraslättens Transport terminal and the Green Cargo Gothenburg North terminal.In response, capacity at the three remaining terminals will be expanded to handle increased volumes.  www.portofgothenburg.comlast_img read more

Safety directive responds to Lac-Mégantic fireball tragedy

first_imgCANADA: An emergency directive setting new rules for handling dangerous goods by rail was issued by Transport Canada on July 23. This followed the runaway of an unattended train carrying crude oil in the early hours of July 6, leading to a derailment in the town of Lac-Mégantic, Québec, 240 km east of Montréal. Several buildings in the town centre were destroyed by the resulting fire, which is believed to have killed up to 50 people.Transport Canada said that ‘although the cause of the accident remains unknown at this time’, it was taking steps to ‘further enhance existing safe railway operations and the security of railway transportation’. The emergency directive stipulates that at least ‘two qualified persons’ should operate trains of ‘one or more loaded tank cars transporting dangerous goods’, and these should not be left unattended on a main track. Steps must also be taken to prevent unauthorised entry to locomotive cabs, and the reverser control handles must be removed from any unattended locomotives to prevent them from being moved. Further instructions address the setting of both hand and air brakes. Noting that ‘the majority of railways maintain a culture of safety and security, as shown by the notable decline in derailments and train accidents over the past few years’, Transport Canada has been working closely with the industry, including CN, CP and the Railway Association of Canada, ‘to promote the continued safety of Canada’s rail system’. Meanwhile, Transport Canada inspectors are working in co-operation with the Transportation Safety Board investigation into the runaway, with a view to ‘determining whether there has been non-compliance with regulatory requirements. If these regulations were not followed, the department will not hesitate to take action.’ The train comprising 72 tank cars and a buffer wagon hauled by five GE diesel locomotives was en route from North Dakota to a refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. It was being operated by the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, a Rail World subsidiary created in 2003 which runs the former Canadian Pacific main line east of Montréal. The train had been left standing on a 1% gradient at Nantes, about 16 km northwest of Lac-Mégantic, whilst the driver was taking a rest break. Leaving trains unattended with the locomotives idling is accepted practice in both Canada and the USA, but other than the Quebec, North Shore & Labrador, MM&A is the only railway in Canada authorised to operate with one-person crews. According to industry sources, the brakes had been set on all five locomotives, and four had been shut down, leaving one idling. During the night, a Nantes resident alerted the local fire department to a fire on the idling lead unit. After the blaze had been extinguished, the responders are reported to have shut down the locomotive. With the air compressor no longer working, the locomotives’ brakes are thought to have bled off, and the handbrakes were not able to hold the train. The runaway is understood to have reached almost 100 km/h before derailing on a sharp curve restricted to 15 km/h.last_img read more

Amtrak orders long-distance Chargers

first_imgUSA: National passenger operator Amtrak has ordered 75 SC-44 Charger locomotives from Siemens Mobility to start the renewal of its long-distance motive power fleet.Under the $744m contract announced on December 21, the locomotives are to be assembled at the Siemens plant in Sacramento, for delivery between mid-2021 and the end of 2024. The first locos are expected to enter service from the second half of 2021. Siemens will also provide technical support and supply spare parts for 20 years.The operator had called tenders in June for up to 75 locomotives to ‘replace and supplement’ its ageing GE-built P42s on long-distance trains throughout the national network, including the Washington DC – Sandford Auto Train, the California Zephyr and Empire Builder services from Chicago to Oakland and Seattle, and the Seattle – Los Angeles Coast Starlight. According to Amtrak, the initial locomotives will be used principally on long-distance services, with options to purchase more for use on shorter state-supported routes of less than 1 200 km. They will be funded from the railway’s own resources and will be compliant with Buy America requirements.Drawing on the Siemens Vectron range and the ACS-64 electric locomotives for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, the 200 km/h Charger has proved to be the most popular North American passenger diesel locomotive for inter-city applications. Powered by a 16-cylinder Cummins QSK95 engine rated at 4 400 hp, the PTC-equipped locomotives meet the latest FRA crashworthiness standards including Crash Energy Management.There are now more than 70 Chargers in operation in various states, running an estimated 5 million train-km per year. The original build ordered in 2014 by Illinois DoT on behalf of a consortium of states for state-supported Amtrak services included options for up to 225 extra locos, of which various batches have been drawn down by the states and commuter operators. This package included provision for Amtrak to order up to 150 long-distance variants with larger fuel tanks.‘We’re confident that the new locomotives will assist Amtrak in its mission to provide safe, world-class, environmentally-responsible technology’, said Siemens Mobility CEO Sabrina Soussan. ‘The Chargers will provide enhanced passenger experience, greater availability and increased sustainability over the course of their life cycle, improving Amtrak’s long-distance services and operating efficiencies.’Read more about the Siemens Charger in the October 2018 issue of Railway Gazette International magazine, available to subscribers in our digital archive.last_img read more

Qatar offers visa free entry to citizens of Guyana, The Bahamas

first_imgAccording to a statement from the Ministry of Interior, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) and Qatar Airways, citizens of the countries named wishing to visit Qatar will no longer need to apply or pay for a visa. Instead, a multi-entry waiver will be issued free-of-charge at the port of entry, upon presentation of a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months and a confirmed onward or return ticket. Guyana falls into the 30 days category, while The Bahamas falls into the 180 day category. Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said the announcement, places the State of Qatar as the most open country in the region. “This is a momentous occasion for Qatar, making the number of nationalities eligible to enter our country without a visa the highest in region, which is something that we are very proud of”, he added. The government of Qatar has announced visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries, including Guyana and The Bahamas, effective immediately. This waiver would allow eligible visitors to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization by completing an online application at least 48 hours prior to travel. According to officials in Qatar, they are also considering further enhancements to the country’s visa policy. This include waiving visa requirements for holders of a residence permit or a valid visa from the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates), United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the Schengen countries.center_img Plans to further enhance visa policy Depending on the nationality of the visitor, the waiver will either be valid for 180 days or 30 days. The country has denied the claims, but some of the neighboring countries have closed off their airports to Qatar. The visa free travel arrangement comes at a time when Qatar is trying to improve its tourism numbers. Qatar finds itself facing sanctions from its neighbor over its alleged ties to suspected funding of the terrorist group, ISIS. Electronic Travel Authorization last_img read more

Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Promises “Short” Election…

first_imgPrime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who has promised that general elections will be held later this year, is also indicating that the campaign will be a short one as his Unity Labour Party (ULP) seeks an unprecedented fifth consecutive term in office.And, as he did in 2015, when the ULP defeated the New Democratic Party (NDP) by an 8-7 margin, Prime Minister Gonsalves has told supporters to prepare for the short campaign.Gonsalves told the ULP virtual campaign rally that following the release of the campaign song “Ring De Bell,” party supporters have been clamouring for him to “to declare the election date and to romp home in victory five-in-a-row”He said that in response to the call, he has been telling supporters to get “on your marks.“I will shortly advise our comrades, our supporters, the labour family, to get set. And when I give that advice I will request of you to await patiently, soberly and wisely for the bell-ringing injunction to go to the polls,” Gonsalves said.“Please do not hurry me yet. I am asking something instead of the Labour family: be fully prepared; be fully prepared. As the son of a farmer, as a man who raised cattle and goat myself, as a man who represents a farming community, it ain’t long rope that does heng cattle; is a short rope. And the short rope would appear not too long from now.”However, Gonsalves, said that before he gets ready “with the short rope to heng the metaphoric NDP cattle, I am asking the labour family to be fully prepared”.The general election is constitutionally due by March next year, but Gonsalves has said on numerous occasions that the polls will be held this year.“Now that you are on your marks, I don’t want to hear any grumbling about this or that. If in the family of Labour there are issues to be dealt with, and there are always issues to be dealt with. Let us get over the democratic imperative of the election.“We have a fine record, a splendid record; we act in your interest always. You have trusted us, and you can continue to trust us. So I don’t want to hear any grumbling,” Gonsalves said.“I want you, everyone in the labour family, young and old, and those in between, to put your shoulder to the wheel and let us deliver a historic licking to these backward people who comprise the leadership of the New Democratic Party.“Instead of expressing frustration about this or that I want you to do instead, count our blessing, count your blessings because they are many, because the Labour blessings have touched every single household in this country.“The labour sunshine has been on every household, labour and NDP and no P. I want us to count our blessing, country your blessings one by one and see what labour, under God’s guidance, has done for you, for all of us, for our nation,” Gonsalves said.CMClast_img read more

Roseau Valley Basketball League opens

first_img2012 MVP, Fitzgerald Daniel receiving his award from Parliamentary representative Dr Colin Mc IntyreThe Roseau Valley Basketball League officially opened on Saturday, 21st September at the Trafalgar Basketball Court. Allan Toussaint and Francis Denis were presented with awards were given out to persons who contributed towards the development of the community over the years. Five men, who were the 1st responders in assisting to resuscitate the late Dravid Johnston who died at a river in Trafalgar; Roy Charles, John Rolle, Merv Xavier, Kent Daniel & Earnest Nelson were also awarded.2012 Basketball league champions, Elvis Welding Services Road StarsThe 2012 Basketball league champions, Elvis Welding Services Road Stars were presented with their championship trophy while Fitzgerald Daniel received the award as M.V.P of the 2012 season. Out of the 13 teams participating this year, 10 were present for the ball-o-rama. After a round of 10 minutes, running time per match, the two finalists were the Lily Valley Sharks from Trafalgar & the Elijah Law Chambers Thunderers from Grand Bay. The Sharks eventually defeated the Thunderers by a final score of 22-21, and were crowned the 2013-2014 Roseau Valley Basketball League Champions. As part of the opening, there were addresses from the vice president of the basketball committee, Fitzgerald Daniel, Fast Cash representative Kennitta Dorival, sponsor Ronald Charles, Village Council chairperson – Rosemund Roberts, and Parliamentary representative for the Roseau Valley, Dr. Collin Mc’ Intyre. The first set of games will be played at the Trafalgar Basketball Court on Wednesday between Spartan United Ballerz and Police Sports Club from 7:30 p.m. and on Thursday from 7:30 p.m. between Elvis Welding Services Green Hornets and Morne Prosper Lightning Shockerz.By: Edgar George Sharing is caring! 56 Views   no discussions Share NewsSports Roseau Valley Basketball League opens by: – September 23, 2013center_img Share Share Tweetlast_img read more

Dominica receives high rating from CCCU

first_img 344 Views   no discussions Tweet Share Share LocalNews Dominica receives high rating from CCCU by: Dominica Vibes News – March 19, 2015center_img Share Sharing is caring! Officials of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU) at Thursday’s press conferenceThe credit union movement in Dominica has been given a high rating by the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU). President of the CCCU, Aaron Moses told a press conference to commence the first of its co-quarterly meeting in Dominica on Thursday 19 March 2015, Dominica is leading the way in the Credit Unions around the world. Records show that Dominica has one of the highest Credit Union penetration rates in the world. “Our movement throughout the Caribbean during the last decade has been archiving in excess of five percent continuous growth to the extent where our membership base is 2.2 million where our penetration levels vary from island to island”. “Many of you would have already heard that Dominica has one of the highest credit union penetration rates in the world and this is remarkable and we want to take this opportunity to congratulate the Dominican movement on the fantastic job they have been doing,” Moses said. Meanwhile, manager of the Dominica Co-operative Societies League Limited (DCSL) Aaron Dalrymple said the union continues to perform well despite global challenges. Dominica has a membership of close to 68,000.“We have committed volunteers who had been serving for 30- 40 years in the credit union, volunteers who have given their time freely for the advancement of the movement, so because of this we are really strong in terms of penetration”.“Our growth in that regard is nine percent and this is tremendous our membership continues to increase and we are now nearing 68,000,” Dalrymple said.last_img read more

Dust-Sized Wireless Sensors Could Act as a Fitbit for Organs Inside the Body

first_imgMaharbiz and Carmena conceived of the idea of neural dust about five years ago, but attempts to power an implantable device and read out the data using radio waves were disappointing. Radio attenuates very quickly with distance in tissue, so communicating with devices deep in the body would be difficult without using potentially damaging high-intensity radiation. Marharbiz hit on the idea of ultrasound, and in 2013 published a paper with Carmena, Seo and their colleagues describing how such a system might work. “Our first study demonstrated that the fundamental physics of ultrasound allowed for very, very small implants that could record and communicate neural data,” said Maharbiz. He and his students have now created that system.Ultrasound is much more efficient when you are targeting devices that are on the millimeter scale or smaller and that are embedded deep in the body. You can get a lot of power into it and a lot more efficient transfer of energy and communication when using ultrasound as opposed to electromagnetic waves, which has been the go-to method for wirelessly transmitting power to miniature implants.Once you have a reliable, minimally invasive neural pickup in your body, the technology could become the driver for a whole gamut of applications, things that today don’t even exist.Other co-authors of the Neuron paper are graduate student Konlin Shen, undergraduate Utkarsh Singhal and UC Berkeley professors Elad Alon and Jan Rabaey. The work was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense. “The beauty is that now, the sensors are small enough to have a good application in the peripheral nervous system, for bladder control or appetite suppression, for example,“ Carmena said. “The technology is not really there yet to get to the 50-micron target size, which we would need for the brain and central nervous system. Once it’s clinically proven, however, neural dust will just replace wire electrodes. This time, once you close up the brain, you’re done.”The team is working now to miniaturize the device further, find more biocompatible materials and improve the surface transceiver that sends and receives the ultrasounds, ideally using beam-steering technology to focus the sounds waves on individual motes. They are now building little backpacks for rats to hold the ultrasound transceiver that will record data from implanted motes. They’re also working to expand the motes’ ability to detect non-electrical signals, such as oxygen or hormone levels.“The vision is to implant these neural dust motes anywhere in the body, and have a patch over the implanted site send ultrasonic waves to wake up and receive necessary information from the motes for the desired therapy you want. Eventually you would use multiple implants and one patch that would ping each implant individually, or all simultaneously” – said Dongjin Seo, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer sciences.Ultrasound vs Radio Engineers at UC Berkeley have built the first dust-sized, wireless sensors that can be implanted in the body. This brings us closer to the day when a Fitbit-like device could monitor internal nerves, muscles or organs in real time. Because these batteryless sensors could also be used to stimulate nerves and muscles, the technology also opens the door to “electroceuticals” to treat disorders such as epilepsy or to stimulate the immune system or tamp down inflammation.The so-called neural dust, which the team implanted in the muscles and peripheral nerves of rats, is unique in that ultrasound is used both to power and read out the measurements. Ultrasound technology is already well-developed for hospital use, and ultrasound vibrations can penetrate nearly anywhere in the body, unlike radio waves.Michel Maharbiz, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences and one of the study’s two main authors said – “The long-term prospects for neural dust lie not only within nerves and the brain, but are much broader. Having access to in-body telemetry has never been possible because there has been no way to put something super tiny deep inside the body. With this technology they can implant/place tiny sensors next to a nerve or organ, your GI tract or a muscle, and read out the data.The sensors, which they have already shrunk to a 1 millimeter cube – about the size of a large grain of sand – contain a piezoelectric crystal that converts ultrasound vibrations from outside the body into electricity to power a tiny, on-board transistor that is in contact with a nerve or muscle fiber. A voltage spike in the fiber alters the circuit and the vibration of the crystal, which changes the echo detected by the ultrasound receiver, typically the same device that generates the vibrations. The slight change, called backscatter, allows them to determine the voltage.Michel Maharbiz, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, Jose Carmena and and their colleagues reported their findings in the August 3 issue of the journal Neuron.Motes sprinkled thoughout the bodyIn their experiment, they powered up the passive sensors every 100 microseconds with six 540-nanosecond ultrasound pulses, which gave them a continual, real-time readout. They coated the first-generation motes – 3 millimeters long, 1 millimeter high and 4/5 millimeter thick – with surgical-grade epoxy, but they are currently building motes from biocompatible thin films which would potentially last in the body without degradation for a decade or more.According to the researchers – While the experiments so far have involved the peripheral nervous system and muscles, the neural dust motes could work equally well in the central nervous system and brain to control prosthetics. Today’s implantable electrodes degrade within 1 to 2 years, and all connect to wires that pass through holes in the skull. Wireless sensors – dozens to a hundred – could be sealed in, avoiding infection and unwanted movement of the electrodes.“The original goal of the neural dust project was to imagine the next generation of brain-machine interfaces, and to make it a viable clinical technology. If a paraplegic wants to control a computer or a robotic arm, you would just implant this electrode in the brain and it would last essentially a lifetime” – said neuroscience graduate student Ryan Neely.In a paper published online in 2013, the researchers estimated that they could shrink the sensors down to a cube 50 microns on a side – about 2 thousandths of an inch, or half the width of a human hair. At that size, the motes could nestle up to just a few nerve axons and continually record their electrical activity.last_img read more

NXP, Mastercard, and Xiaomi Introduce Contactless Mobile Payments in Europe

first_imgNXP Semiconductors, Mastercard, and Xiaomi announced that they are bringing more convenient and secure contactless experiences to Russia as the first phase of a European-wide roll-out with NXP’s mobile wallet solution. Powering mobile payments for Xiaomi’s Mi Smart Band 4 NFC wearable devices, NXP’s mWallet 2GO supports an accelerated roll-out across Europe by addressing OEMs’ needs for easy, yet secure and scalable, wallet implementations. It also addresses user demands to quickly enable payment devices by digitizing their bank cards and experience smooth NFC transactions at the Point-of-Sale.The collaboration builds on the companies’ successful history in driving tap-to-ride mobile transit experiences in Beijing, Guangxi, Shenzhen, and other several major Chinese cities with some of the world’s busiest metro stations and public bus lines. The Xiaomi Mi Band 4 offers the industry’s best price-to-performance ratio for fully-active, NFC, and SE-based and EMVCo-certified payment devices.Xiaomi and NXP are working together to promote the use of innovative mobile payments in China since 2012. With NXP’s mWallet 2GO mobile payment solution in Xiaomi fitness bands, users can simply add their bank cards to the Mi Fit app on Android and iOS mobile devices. Mi Pay also features NXP’s embedded secure element (eSE) technology so purchasers, payment card issuers, and Xiaomi wearable users can benefit from a high level of security to secure payment transactions.The solution includes a mWallet 2GO wallet software developer kit (SDK), mWallet 2GO wallet server (application management server) integrated with Mastercard® Digital Enablement Service (MDES) and similar tokenization platforms; Secure Element Management Service (SEMS), NFC and Secure Element (SE) module, NFC middleware, SE JavaCard™ operating system and SE applets. NXP’s NFC+SE modules in mWallet 2GO offer high protection against fraud.NXP’s Secure Service 2GO Platform is the breeding ground for multiple secure services to grow on. mWallet 2GO and MIFARE 2GO demonstrate the company’s commitment to think beyond silicon solutions, moving to fully integrated services and platforms as a business model. Launched in February 2018, MIFARE 2GO manages digitized MIFARE-based transit credentials onto IoT devices.Here are Some of the Highlights of the Collaboration:NXP’s cloud platform mWallet 2GO and secure NFC chips power contactless payment capabilities for Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 4 NFC devices.The Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 4 offers the industry’s best price-to-performance ratio for fully-active, SE-based, and EMVCo-certified payment devices.NXP’s mWallet 2GO is designed to ease development, reduce cost, and accelerate time to market for OEMs to add mobile payment capability to any wearable and mobile device; it allows consumers to quickly activate Mi Pay on their Xiaomi device and enable fast and truly contactless transactions.NXP is the first in the industry to offer the full scope of mobile wallet development with mWallet 2GO. As the worldwide impact of COVID-19 leads to an increase of contact-free transactions at a rapid pace, NXP’s leading hardware technology, software, and ecosystem integration bring convenient and secure contactless payments to Xiaomi and other mobile devices.last_img read more