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Blanket criticism of austerity policy misses the positive effect it has on market confidence, EU economic affairs commissioner has said in the face of negative statements by the International Monetary Fund. Referring to a report out last week in which IMF economists said the growth-dampening effects of spending cuts had been underestimated, Olli Rehn at a think-tank event in Brussels on Friday (11 January) said “one cannot draw, on the basis of this study, strong policy conclusions.“ (EUobserver.com)

Credit rating agency Moody‘s has downgraded Cyprus‘s rating by three notches to junk status as negotiations continue on an EU bailout. It cited ongoing Cypriot government support for ailing local banks as the main reason for the downgrade to Caa3 on Thursday (10 January). (EUobserver.com)

In the EU27, 53% of enterprises from industry and services reported innovation activity between 2008 and 2010. Among the EU27 Member States, the highest proportions of enterprises with innovation activity were recorded in Germany (79% of enterprises), Luxembourg (68%), Belgium (61%), Portugal, Sweden and Ireland (all 60%), and the lowest in Bulgaria (27%), Poland (28%), Latvia (30%), Romania and Hungary (both 31%).

Former Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman is set to face Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg in a run-off in the Czech Republic‘s presidential election. (BBC.CO.UK)

Finland is moving to impose more austerity measures in a bid to rein in spending. The cuts could range between €500 million to €1 billion. Government negotiations on the final figure will start in March. (EUOBSERVER.COM)

Ireland is holding itself up as an example of hope for other ailing eurozone countries, saying it is on track to come out of its EU-International-Monetary-Fund bailout programme later this year, but that it wants a debt deal first. (EUOBSERVER.COM)

Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Paris over plans to give gay couples in France the right to marry and adopt children. Three big marches converged on the Champs de Mars, a large park next to the Eiffel Tower.France‘s Socialist government is planning to change the law this year. (BBC.CO.UK)

The Greek parliament has approved a series of unpopular tax rises aimed at boosting revenue in line with Athens‘ commitments to international creditors. The measures, approved overnight, introduce a new top tax rate of 42% for Greeks earning more than 42,000 euros a year. (BBC.CO.UK)

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, who is under pressure to resign over allegations he violated financial disclosure rules, has put European Council President Herman Van Rompuy in an embarrassing situation by publishing a statement saying the European leader had given Janša his “personal support“. (EURACTIV.COM)

In the second half of 2012 a total of 280,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation. This means that the overall quantity of counterfeits withdrawn from circulation in 2012 was 12.4% lower compared with the figures for 2011. At the same time, there was an increase of 11.6% as regards the quantity recovered in the second half of 2012 compared with the previous six months. When compared with the number of genuine euro banknotes in circulation (on average 14.9 billion during the second half of 2012), the proportion of counterfeits remains very low.

Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, unveiled the Europa series €5 banknote. The unveiling was the highlight of the opening of the “New Face of the Euro“ exhibition, which is being held at the Archaeological Museum in Frankfurt am Main from 11 January to 10 March 2013.

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