Photographer: Geraldine Hope Ghelli/Bloomberg

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Here are today’s top stories for Europe.

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No declaration. Catalan president Carles Puigdemont proposed suspending the results of the recent independence referendum to hold further talks with Spain in an evening speech in Barcelona. The government’s determination to break from Spain in a unilateral declaration of independence risked international isolation, the threat of economic meltdown, and an ironclad backlash from Madrid, which said it had deployed police ready to arrest Puigdemont. He said he’d rather go to jail than remain Spanish— Andy Reinhardt

A question of integrity. Manufacturers around the world were rocked by the revelation that Japan’s Kobe Steel falsified data about the strength and durability of some aluminum and copper products used in planes, trains and potentially a space rocket. Customers from Toyota to Boeing are scrambling to determine where the sub-standard metal products were used and to determine the cost of replacement, which analysts estimate could run into the millions of dollars.

Boom times. Sweden’s economic boom is running into a familiar problem: a lack of skilled workers. Though a record inflow of migrants has lifted the country’s population above 10 million, 12 of 15 job sectors are experiencing labor shortages. The number of unfilled vacancies rose to 78,000 in August, up 9 percent from a year earlier and 41 percent from two years ago. And growth isn’t slowing, with the government set to unveil stimulus and tax cut policies ahead of next year’s elections.

HelloFresh is aiming for an IPO this month.
Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg

Real food. Two European companies in the burgeoning business of fresh food are planning initial public offerings, underlining consumers’ quest for healthier diets as demand for packaged and processed foods wanes. HelloFresh, an unprofitable meal-kit startup controlled by Rocket Internet, plans to sell as much as €300 million ($353 million) of stock in Frankfurt. Bakkavor Group, which provides fresh prepared foods to grocers, plans to raise about £100 million ($132 million) in a separate listing in London.

Brexit traffic. Every day, up to 10,000 trucks rumble through the Port of Dover, just across the English Channel from France. They haul Scotch whisky and Welsh lamb to the continent and bring back French cheese, German car parts and other European goods. Traffic through the Dover facility is worth £122 billion ($165 billion) annually—almost a fifth of the U.K.’s total. But Brexit could clog this crucial artery and others like it: Even a two-minute increase in truck clearing time could lead to 17-mile-long (27-kilometer-long) traffic jams.

Getting stronger. The global race to exploit the potential of the strongest known material, a substance called graphene, intensified as two British manufacturers unveiled competing plans to raise funds to bring their products to market. Applied Graphene Materials raised about £9 million ($12 million) from a placement of shares with existing investors, while Haydale Graphene Industries is looking for £6 million, the U.K.-based companies said Tuesday.

Smoke in the water. Fancy a smoky taste in your risotto? Chef Heston Blumenthal did, so he put an ingredients business in Wales to work creating smoked water. The Anglesey Sea Salt Co. sends filtered tap water for 10 days through loops of oak chips and oak dust. The result is a caramel-colored liquid with the aroma of burning wood that chefs love as a flavor agent. A 100 ml (3.5 oz.) bottle of Oak Smoked Water costs £4.10.

A bottle of Oak Smoked Water
Source: Halen Môn

Compiled by Andy Reinhardt and Leila Taha

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