ECONOMY

In Brief

Headline inflation rises more than expected to 2 percent Greece’s headline consumer price inflation jumped to a higher-than-expected 2 percent annual pace in November, as favorable base effects from oil waned and transport costs rose. Economists polled by Reuters were expecting inflation to pick up to 1.6 percent year-on-year. Consumer inflation was up 0.5 percent month-on-month. The index in November 2008 was up 2.9 percent year-on-year. Consumer prices in the 16-nation eurozone rose 0.6 percent year-on-year in November. (Reuters) Bulgaria’s central bank chief hits out at ECB over euro SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s central bank Governor Ivan Iskrov yesterday criticized the European Central Bank and the eurozone member states for their growing reluctance to let new European member states adopt the euro. Iskrov said that many of the former communist countries were willing to adopt the single currency quickly after they joined the European Union in 2004 and 2007 but the old member states as well as the ECB imposed restrictions on their path to the euro. «Unfortunately, there is some fatigue in the old member states, some concentration on internal issues and less and less willingness to open the door to new members,» Iskrov told an economic forum. «After the big enlargement… many of the old member states, as well as the ECB, started interpreting the Maastricht [eurozone entry] criteria very restrictively,» he said. «We are now in a position of shooting at a moving target.» Bulgaria’s center-right government, which won July general elections, wants to adopt the single currency by 2013 and has said it will apply for the pre-euro ERM-2 waiting room next year. But analysts and diplomats say Sofia’s bid was likely to meet resistance in Western Europe where the mood was against letting more countries join the eurozone in a time of crisis, and Bulgaria itself had to heal its ailing economy first. Serbian sale Serbia is not planning to sell a majority stake in RTB Bor, its sole copper mining and smelting complex, Economy Minister Mladjan Dinkic said. «The privatization will be considered only if a respectable mining company becomes interested,» Dinkic told reporters yesterday in Belgrade. In May, Serbia canceled the sale of a 40 percent stake in RTB Bor to Austria’s A-Tec Industries AG. Previous proposals to sell the mine to A-Tec and Romania’s Cuprom were also abandoned. In its 2010 draft budget, the government allocated a guarantee of 135 million euros ($200 million) for the construction of a new copper smelter in the eastern town of Bor. (Bloomberg) Energy capital The European Union chose Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana as the headquarters of an energy agency that will help spur competition in the EU electricity and natural gas markets, highlighting growing Eastern demand for such rewards. Ljubljana defeated Romania’s capital Bucharest and Slovakia’s capital Bratislava in the contest to be the seat of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators. The organization will oversee national authorities and transmission system operators, advise EU regulators on market regulation and decide on cross-border issues. «The agency will complement and coordinate the work of national regulatory authorities,» the Swedish government, current holder of the 27-nation EU’s rotating presidency, said. (Bloomberg)