The government will deliver a text to the Constitutional Court (TC) with arguments in defence of proportionality and fairness of the austerity measures presented in the 2013 budget. The budget has been referred to the TC by President Aníbal Cavaco Silva and the opposition parties last week. Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho will ensure that these are "exceptional" and necessary solutions in a time of "emergency," the economic daily writes.

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Passos invokes national emergency to defend the budget in court

Outgoing Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi’s Nationalist Party and the Labour party, led by Joseph Muscat, have launched their campaigns for early general elections scheduled for March 9. The elections were announced following President George Abela’s dissolution of parliament — a decision that was expected in the wake of the loss of the government’s majority in a vote on the budget in December.

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Parties fire first shots

Bank employees in Spain are to endure a new wave of job cuts, bringing to 40,000, the number of redundancies in the sector caused by the crisis. The layoffs are the result of three factors: banks complying with European bailout conditions, internal restructuring, and the strategic mergers of nationalised banks, such as Bankia, that will eliminate 6,000 jobs by 2016.

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Final stage of banking adjustment

Angry workers invaded the carmaker’s offices in the wake of a ballot in which 54 per cent of them voted to go back to work. The return to work was management’s precondition for negotiations on the company’s redundancy plan, and terms for early retirement and severance pay. The 2013 closure of the Ford plant at Genk (Flanders), which was announced last October, could result in the loss of 10,000 jobs.

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Ford workers angry at return to work

The Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, has stepped down from his post as chairman of the board of directors charged with supervising the construction of a new airport in the capital. The project, which has already resulted in a number of scandals, has been beset by additional delays and will not be ready to open in 2013. The daily wonders about the coalition which controls the city, and its chances for survival in the face of widespread criticism.

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Resignation on credit

Close to 2,000 demonstrators carrying sweeping brushes gathered outside the town hall in Maribor, the country’s second largest city, to demand the resignation of the municipal council, which has been accused of corruption, and to protest against awarding a severance payment equivalent to three months of salary to former mayor Franc Kangler, who was forced to resign in December. The demonstration followed a call from the Facebook collective “Franc Kangler must resign from his post as Mayor of Maribor”, which has organised several protests against Kangler in recent weeks.

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Kangler has three salaries

According to customs authorities in Sweden and Norway, approximately 90 per cent of cannabis seized in both countries is routed via Denmark. There appears to have been a sharp increase in drug trafficking in the region. For example, Sweden has estimated that it seized up to 1.2 tonnes of cannabis in 2012 — double the amount seized in the country in 2010 and 2011 combined.

Denmark is cannabis hub for the North