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Investing in local resources for Europe’s strategic autonomy



Today’s (14 January) Forum Europe Debate, co-hosted by MEPs García del Blanco (S&D), Eva Maydell (EPP), Alexandra Geese and Anna Cavazzini (Greens/EFA), discussed the practical, technical and political questions that will determine the future of tech and data in Europe.

Huawei Chief Representative to the EU Institutions Abraham Liu outlined the company’s contribution to this objective today during the online debate “Europe in the digital age: global partnerships to foster European leadership”, organized by Forum Europe.

Abraham Liu, Huawei Chief Representative to the EU Institutions

Huawei Chief Representative to the EU Institutions Abraham Liu

"We can boost Europe’s digital sovereignty by helping it develop and protect strategic resources – but openness and common standards will be key to getting there," says Huawei's Abraham Liu. "How can one unlock digital sovereignty for Europe? By safeguarding the leadership role enabling it to set global standards through openness and innovation, and by investing in the assets that protect its strategic interests. "

“Huawei contributes to EU digital sovereignty in three important ways: by acting as a major investor in and partner to European industry; by helping to ensure that data and innovation stay in Europe; and by contributing to an open and secure European digital ecosystem,” Mr Liu stressed during the event. “We want European citizens to have the best technology, the best privacy and the best security, without having to rely on trust or being hampered by lack of choice or cost.”

Mr Liu highlighted the important role for Europe in creating a regulatory framework enabling security based on common standards and facts rather than just trust: “I firmly believe that Europe should set the rules. It should also remain open so every multinational company, like ours, can follow these rules,” he said.

Huawei has been investing heavily in European industrial production, with future priorities including investment in building facilities for 5G production and advanced technical research facilities in cybersecurity and transparency. Over the next five years, the company has committed to investing €100 million in the development of a robust AI ecosystem in Europe, partnering to connect industry leaders with at least 200,000 developers.


How to get a house valued without an estate agent



So, you’ve decided to sell your home. Before you put your property on the market, one of the most important things to do is decide on a realistic asking price. To do this, the current market value of your home will need to be determined so that you don’t undervalue your home or have it on the market for longer than it needs to be with an unrealistic price tag.

You may wish to use a local high street agent to complete all aspects of the sale of your home, including the valuation. Whilst it can certainly be reassuring to hand over the reins to an industry expert, particularly if this is your first property sale, doing so will also come at a significant cost. Indeed, estate agent fees are generally the most expensive aspect of moving home and can cost anywhere in the region of 0.75-3% of your total property price. 

You will also need to factor in the cost of solicitor fees, stamp duty, energy performance certificate and removals, not to mention any redecorating, remortgaging and extra costs such as the additional fees for selling a buy-to-let property or second home. If you do not factor in all of the costs which your sale will incur you many leave yourself without enough money to purchase your next property or free up necessary capital. Since the average cost of selling a property in the UK is a not unsignificant 2% of the total property price, it is important to make the process as cost effective as possible.

When it comes to valuing your property, some local estate agents will offer this service free of charge. However, always check the fine print as arranging a valuation with a high street agent could mean you are obliged to market your property with them should you choose to proceed with a sale within a certain timeframe of the valuation date. Unless you have signed a no sale, no fee contract it can also cost you money if an agent is then unsuccessful in selling your property.

Alternatively, you can undertake the valuation yourself by researching the local housing market and the recent sold prices of properties which are of a similar type and location to your own. Local planning authority websites will also provide further information on any renovations and extension work undertaken for a given property. However, this will likely only give you a rough estimate in terms of an asking price to place on your own property since no two properties (or prospective buyers and their budgets) are entirely the same.

For a more comprehensive valuation of your property, there are now a number of free of charge online valuation tools available. However, it is very tricky to sell your home completely independently unless you already have a buyer lined up, since your ability to reach prospective buyers will be very limited for a private sale. This is because the main online property portals like Zoopla, Rightmove and On the Market do not list properties for individual vendors.

If you are keen to put in more effort for a higher financial reward, an alternative option is to use an online or hybrid agent. An online only agent offers fees from as little as £99 for selling your property (with some even undertaking the sale free of charge and recouping their costs through optional extras) but you will still need to undertake a lot of the leg work yourself and your property valuation will generally be based on online data only rather than a physical appraisal.

A hybrid agent is the middle ground between an online and high street estate agent. They offer a fixed fee for the sale of your property in the region of £999-£1999 so you know exactly how much the sale will cost you from the get-go and can budget accordingly. There are also pay now or pay later and no sale, no fee options available and services such as property photographs, creation of listings, hosted viewings and support with buyer negotiations so you are not doing all of the legwork for the sale. Most importantly, they will also undertake in person valuations via a dedicated and knowledgeable local agent to ensure an accurate asking price for your property.

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How cashbacks have become a powerful marketing tool



Of all the different types of customer bonuses or incentives available, a cashback is possibly the most attractive. We all love to get money back when we spend, which is why this technique has become a powerful tool for companies that want to attract and retain customers.

Banking with a Cashback

One of the earliest cashback schemes came from Discover Financial Service, a part of Morgan Stanley. Starting in 1986, they gave their cardholders a sum of money at the end of the year, based on the overall charges that were applied throughout the year.

There are now many credit cards, from numerous banks, that provide cashback to their users. American Express has some of the highest cashback rates, at up to 5% if you spend up to £10,000 in a year. Others like Sainsbury's Bank and Tesco let you collect points that can be turned into cash or other rewards.

You will also see special rewards-style bank accounts on offer, with a monthly cashback. These include Barclays Blue Rewards, Santander 123 Lite, and TSB Spend & Save Plus. In these cases, the cashback is typically based on the monthly bills paid or other activities carried out on the account.

Retail offers with cashbacks

Another great idea is to get money back as you shop. This is something that can be done on sites like Quidco and TopCashback. They each work with thousands of retailers, with Quidco giving up to 160% cashback and TopCashback giving you as much as 165%.

These sites work by passing on part of the commission that retailers give them for sending you to them, so, in theory, everyone wins. You can also get cashbacks directly from retailers. Among the brands that have realised the potential of offering rewards are H&M and New Look.  

Travel, games and other leisure activities  

No matter how you like to spend your free time, there are probably ways of getting a cashback as you do it. If you love to travel, then you could look at those cashback sites in the last point. You will find cashback offers are available from the likes of Expedia, Travelodge, and British Airways.

Another example comes with online casinos, where you can pick up a no-deposit bonus UK 2020 with £10+ free cash and new bonuses for slots on certain sites. This lets you try the games at Pink Casino, Monster Casino, or other sites without using any of your own funds to get started.

Among the other companies you will find on cashback sites are Ticketmaster, GameStop, and Netflix. As you can see, there is something to suit every taste and lifestyle, so you should look to take advantage of the deals that are of most interest to you.

The surge of cashback offers in recent years is proof of how effective these deals are, for the businesses that offer them as well as for the clients that use them. Before spending any money, you should take a look to see who could give you the best cashback right now.  

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'Cruella' sequel is in the making at Disney



After a successful $48.5 million global take in just under two weeks, Emma Stone has been confirmed for the sequel's line up.

Emma Stone has been commended on her strategic performance that she displayed in the Disney Cruella adaption. The director of the movie franchise Craig Gillespie has expressed how eager he is to return alongside screenwriter Tony McNamara for the sequel. It is believed that upon the sequels return, Stone will be playing a centralised role around the character we are used to seeing from the One Hundred and One Dalmatians. The Cruella de Vil adaptations will follow that of the Disney cartoons, meaning we can very well expect to see the cartoon story adapted into film.

Other announcements for this weekend, is the new series of betting offers today that have been made available to readers of this article. Should you find yourself intrigued, you know what to do.

Cruella the movie debuted on the 28th May within theatres all around the world. Disney fans could also get hold of the title from home, under the Disney+ streaming service that is available, however an early access purchase was needed that equates to $30. While the movie has made some impressive takes in just under two weeks, it's the story line and 1970s punk aesthetic that has really got everyone impressed. 

Jenny Beavan is the academy awards costume designer that takes the limelight for incredible creation and bringing to life the genre and age of fashion here. It has been confirmed by Variety, that the costumes designed by Jenny were in fact sold after production for a collaboration with Rag and Bone. While it is often usual that huge franchises do not give credit to the designers once the clothes have been sold off after filming, it is yet to be confirmed should this affect the academy award winner’s future with the sequel. Sure, filming huge movies such as these provide huge exposure to the talent, but it can also mean to ‘sign your life and rights away on that dotted line’, as Beaven said in conversation with press.

Aside from the internal drama on set, the film has been received very well from all angles of the media. With a 97% audience score on huge film review platforms, the cinema scores for opening weekend rank it as the most popular of all remakes from Disney based cartoons. Film critics and audiences that have yet to see this movie will of course go in with a bias of the beaming success that the movie has had thus far. 

Cruella will join the long list of movie adaptations that have made huge success and grossed large amounts of money in their opening weekend. Examples of such movies include Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. It is believed that titles such as Peter Pan and Wendy, Pinocchio and The Little Mermaid are in the works next. For the latest updates on their release ensure you keep up to date with lifestyle news releases.

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