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Counting the Cost

Europe: Is it time to reform or to break up?

We take an in-depth look at where the European Union, its economy and the euro currency are headed.

Last updated: 03 May 2014 10:11
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In France, economic growth is disappearing, job losses are rising, and the government is introducing more austerity measures.

France aims to lower its budget deficit to the Europe-wide target of three percent next year - which is optimistic, given that the deficit currently stands at 4.3 percent.

Yet despite France's woes, some say the eurozone crisis is largely over: no one's talking about countries exiting the currency union, bailouts to indebted governments are being wound down, and even Greece - the poster child of European debt - has managed to return to the bond markets and record a budget surplus.

So has the European Union proven its ability to handle economic crises - or has it shown that fundamental reforms need to be made to the institution?

Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland reports from France on the country's economy. And we talk to Roger Bootle, economist and author of The Trouble with Europe.

Russia in recession? 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Russia is now in recession. The IMF cut the country's 2014 growth forecast from 1.3 percent to 0.2 percent, citing a loss of confidence caused by US and EU sanctions imposed because of Russia's role in the ongoing Ukraine crisis.

Russia's central bank said investors moved about $64bn out of the country between January and March, and the IMF now predicts the total figure for 2014 could reach $100bn. But despite the odds, some politicians say the crisis could spur Russia to seek new partners in fast-growing economies like China.

"It is positive for Russia, because until today Russia's whole potential has not been employed, with business focusing mainly on the West. I think that both Western and US businesses will experience more adverse effects of the imposed sanctions," said Tatiana Moskalkova, a deputy in the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament.

So is Russia's economy truly struggling, and will it be deeply affected by the Ukraine crisis? And what is next for the country? Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba examines the political reaction.

Armoured vehicles in Karachi 

Armoured vehicles are increasingly becoming a must-have for residents of Karachi, Pakistan. The city of 18 million people has a long history of violence, much of it associated with gangs linked to political parties.

But in recent years the Taliban has also grown in influence. Just last year, more than 2,000 people were killed in attacks in the city, and around 100 were abducted for ransom.

Karachi's killings and kidnappings show no signs of slowing, which is why those who can afford it are installing windows which can stop an AK-47 bullet and an internal framework that will survive a bomb attack.

Imtiaz Tyab reports on the phenomenon from Pakistan.

Watch each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630. Click here for more Counting the Cost.   

Follow Kamahl Santamaria @KamahlAJE and business editor Abid Ali @abidoliverali.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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