Cities across the US were
convulsed by protests on Thursday night over the police killing of George Floyd, a
46-year old black man, as demonstrators stormed the police headquarters of
the officers involved in his death in Minneapolis and Trump threatened to
use violence to suppress the unrest.
As demonstrations against police
brutality against black Americans spread to other parts of the US
including New York, Denver, Chicago and Oakland, dozens of businesses were
burned and looted in the Midwestern city. Floyd died in police custody
after a white officer handcuffed him but then kneeled on his neck for
several minutes as Floyd pleaded that he “could not breathe”.
“These THUGS are dishonouring
the memory of George Floyd,” Mr. Trump wrote of the demonstrators, “and I won’t let that happen” adding, “any difficulty and we
will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Trump has previously avoided commenting
on incidents of police brutality against black people. Twitter hid Trump’s
post, saying that it violated their policies “regarding the
glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last
The Trump administration’s declaration on Wednesday that the United States no longer
considers Hong Kong autonomous from China, given Beijing’s
increasingly aggressive policies there, could pave the way for reprisals
from Washington and a potentially dramatic reshaping of Asia’s economic
The American position raises two major questions:
Will the Trump administration seek to hammer Hong Kong as a way to
pressure Beijing, and who will ultimately pay the price for such measures?
Bristling at what it sees as continued Chinese aggression, the
administration aimed to deter Beijing from undermining what had been Hong
Kong’s special status.
Hong Kong isn’t quite as important economically
to China as it was when the British handed over the former colony in 1997,
when it alone accounted for more than 16 percent of greater China’s GDP.
The number today is less than 3 percent. But it still plays a crucial role in giving Chinese banks
and companies access to financing in dollars, and enabling the inflow of
foreign investment to China.
Hong Kong, in other words, is potentially a soft
underbelly for a Chinese regime that desperately needs economic stability
to shore up its political support. Other experts believe that the United
States isn’t trying to use Hong Kong to open up a new front in the
showdown against Beijing; it is merely trying to preserve Hong Kong’s
independence and relative freedoms as best it can.
Renault plans to cut 14,600 jobs, shrink production and restructure
some of its French factories as the carmaker looks to slash €2bn in costs
amid falling demand. With profits almost wiped out last year and sales
slumping, Renault is trying to achieve more than €2bn in savings over the
next three years while cutting global production capacity from 4m vehicles
in 2019 to 3.3m by 2024.
Before his arrest on charges of financial misconduct in Japan,
former Renault chief Mr Ghosn had targeted selling more than 5m vehicles
by 2022. Now, as part of its turnaround plan, Renault said it was
launching discussions with unions to repurpose plants in France, some of
which could stop making cars altogether, and which would involve job cuts.
The group has not made final decisions about the future of six
sites in France, including at Flins and Dieppe, as it faces both political
and union opposition. The 14,600 planned job cuts across the group will be
“based on retraining, internal mobility and voluntary departures” and
include a reduction of 4,600 staff in France. Renault employs more than
Renault’s cost-cutting plan, which will cost roughly €1.2bn to
implement, will lean on a new strategy outlined by its alliance with
Nissan and Mitsubishi on Wednesday which will see the three groups carve
up responsibilities across the partnership. It will also put each company
in charge of specific markets: Europe and Russia for Renault; China, the
US and Japan for Nissan; and south-east Asia for Mitsubishi.
An executive at a major French cosmetics company
told me she’s been running a team of 70 and overseeing her kids’ schooling
while her husband, a nurse, works long hours treating coronavirus patients
in a Paris hospital. Another executive, at an energy company, has been
working full-time—as well as doing all the cooking and cleaning, and
making sure her kids take their online classes—because her husband doesn’t
pull his weight.
With women still the default caregivers for young
children and aging parents, a disproportionate number of women might stay
at home while men go back to work. The problem extends beyond France—a recent United Nations study warned
that COVID-19 risked reversing decades of progress concerning gender
equality in the workforce.
Governments play a huge role in shaping the labor
market, through enforcing labor laws, providing paid time off, and
requiring that workplaces offer parental leave. Yet policy makers must now
consider another issue that affects whether women are able to go back to
work: child care and reopening schools. The lack of attention given to the
links between child care and levels of female employment is partly due to
the fact that most decision makers in government and at the top levels of
business are men.
The situation is far worse in Italy. Traditional
gender roles and a lack of state child-care support weigh on Europe’s
fourth-largest economy, and will hinder its economic recovery. Barely half of Italian women work
with a legal employment contract, one of the lowest levels in Europe,
compared with 68 percent in France and 80 percent in Sweden.
has the broad power to quash unrest in Hong Kong, as the country’s
legislature on Thursday nearly unanimously approved a plan to suppress
subversion, secession, terrorism and seemingly any acts that might
threaten national security in the semiautonomous city.
Early signals from
Chinese authorities point to a crackdown once the law takes effect, which
is expected by September. Activist groups could be banned. Courts
could impose long jail sentences for national security violations. China’s
feared security agencies could operate openly in the city.
Even Hong Kong’s
chief executive this week appeared to hint that certain civil liberties
might not be an enduring feature of Hong Kong life. “We are a very free
society, so for the time being, people have the freedom to say whatever
they want to say,” said the chief executive, Carrie Lam, noting, “Rights and
freedoms are not absolute.”
administration signaled Wednesday that it was likely to end some or all of
the U.S. government’s special trade and economic relations with Hong Kong
because of China’s move. The State Department no longer considers Hong Kong to have
significant autonomy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, a
condition for maintaining the trade status.
Brussels faces a critical few
weeks for corralling member states to fall in behind an unprecedented
boost to EU spending, betting that its proposal for € 750bn of borrowing
will unblock talks on the bloc’s next budget. But while a number of
capitals indicated that they saw the commission proposal as a workable
basis for negotiations, there is a widespread recognition that prodigious
hurdles remain in the way of a consensus.
Ms von der Leyen’s plan fuses
the recovery fund with the EU’s next seven-year budget, which she has said
should total € 1.1tn. National leaders have been trying and failing to
agree on the spending pot for two years, but Brussels has argued that it
is the only sound and available way to pump money into crisis-hit regions.
The budget, or multiannual financial framework (MFF), needs to be ready
for the end of this year, when the EU’s existing spending plans expire.
Among the traps lying in wait
for governments as they resume negotiations are the size of the recovery
fund, the share of money set to be distributed in the form of grants as
opposed to loans, the conditions attached to handouts for member states,
the formulas governing how the money is allocated between countries, and
the vexed question of how the EU will repay its debts.
Even if they do compromise on
some mixture of grants and loans, northern states will want to see tougher
reform conditions imposed on states that receive EU funding than those
proposed by the commission. Countries that do not receive a budget rebate
will fight richer countries’ attempts to preserve the refunds.
Europe has so
far been hit the hardest of any continent by covid-19. Gaps between
neighbours can be striking: Spain’s excess mortality per person is more
than triple that in Portugal, and France’s quadruple that in Germany.
Economically, too, the impact is uneven. As forecasts of the pandemic’s
economic damage emerge, central and eastern Europe look especially
Eastern Europeans did well in part
because they knew they were vulnerable: fearing that the pandemic could
quickly overwhelm their creaky health-care systems, they locked down hard
and fast and contained the virus quickly.
Yet the economic pain may be worse
in much of the east than in the west. Eastern European countries
are vulnerable for three reasons. First, their economies are
export-dependent, leaving them at the mercy of demand in other countries.
A second reason is that eastern
European governments have less capacity to finance rescue packages. They
cannot run large deficits because investors are wary of lending to them. Finally,
many countries in the east rely heavily on one of the industries hardest
hit by the pandemic: tourism. In Croatia, for
example, it generates 25% of GDP.
The European Union proposed
making its climate-neutrality strategy a key pillar of a 750 billion-euro ($824 billion) recovery plan in a bid to boost economic
growth and create new jobs.
stimulus program – along with a revised budget for the next seven years –
aims to accelerate the transition to clean transport, increase energy
savings and boost the production of renewable energy. The blueprint
also promises more funds to help the regions most affected by the
The package, the
world’s greenest stimulus plan to mitigate the economic effects of the
coronavirus crisis, needs to be approved by the bloc’s 27 member states in
difficult negotiations that may take months.
Recovery efforts by
individual European governments have so far had a mixed record when it
comes to climate. Among the few financial details unveiled on
Wednesday was a 30 billion-euro boost for the Just Transition Fund, which
will now have 40 billion euros at its disposal to help the most affected
regions alleviate the impact of transitioning toward eliminating
information to refute the inaccuracies in President Trump’s tweets for the
first time on Tuesday, after years of pressure over its inaction on his
false and threatening posts. The social media company added links
late Tuesday to two of Mr. Trump’s tweets in which he had posted about
mail-in ballots and falsely claimed that they would cause the November
presidential election to be “rigged.”
The links — which
were in blue lettering at the bottom of the posts and punctuated by an
exclamation mark — urged people to “get the facts” about voting by mail.
Clicking on the links led to a CNN story that said Mr. Trump’s claims were
unsubstantiated and to a list of bullet points that Twitter had compiled
rebutting the inaccuracies.
The warning labels
were a minor addition to Mr. Trump’s tweets, but they represented a big
shift in how Twitter deals with the president. For years,
the San Francisco company has faced criticism over Mr. Trump’s posts on
his most favored social media platform, which he has used to bully, cajole
and spread falsehoods.
But Twitter has
repeatedly said that the president’s messages did not violate its terms of
service and that while Mr. Trump may have skirted the line of what was accepted
under its rules, he never crossed it. That changed Tuesday after a
fierce backlash over tweets that Mr. Trump had posted about Lori
Klausutis, a young woman who died in 2001 from complications of an
undiagnosed heart condition while working for Joe Scarborough.
A paradigm shift
is taking place in relations between the European Union and China. The
COVID-19 crisis has triggered a new debate within Europe about the need
for greater supply-chain “diversification,” and thus for a managed
disengagement from China. That will not be easy, and it won’t happen
quickly. But, clearly, Europe has abandoned its previous ambition for a
more closely integrated bilateral economic relationship with China.
have altered Europe’s strategic calculus. The first is a long-term
change within China. The EU’s previous China policy was based on the
so-called convergence wager, which held that China would gradually become
a more responsible global citizen if it was welcomed into international
global markets and institutions. nstead, the opposite has happened.
Under President Xi Jinping, China has
become more authoritarian.
United States has increasingly adopted a more hawkish view of China,
particularly since US President Donald Trump entered the White House. Well
before the pandemic, a broader “decoupling” of the US and Chinese
economies seemed to be underway. This change came rather abruptly, and was
a shock to Europeans, who suddenly had to worry about becoming roadkill in
a Sino-American game of chicken.
But the third
(and most surprising) development has been China’s behavior during the
pandemic. After the 2008 global financial crisis, China seemed to rise to
the occasion as a responsible global power, participating in coordinated
stimulus efforts and even buying up euros and investing in cash-strapped
economies. Not this time. China has been using the cover of the
COVID-19 crisis to pursue politically controversial economic deals, such
as a Chinese-financed Belgrade-Budapest railway plan.
Berlin and their frugal foes have all made their opening bids. Now it’s
Brussels’ turn. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will on
Wednesday present a two-pronged plan to revive Europe’s economy —
consisting of an updated blueprint for the EU’s long-term budget and a new
pot of money known as the Recovery Instrument.
der Leyen’s task is to come up with a proposal that could form the basis
of a compromise acceptable to the EU’s 27 member countries and the
European Parliament, which must all agree on the budget for it to pass.
National parliaments will likely also have to sign off on raising money
for the recovery fund — a potentially treacherous path.
biggest battle in the weeks ahead will be over whether recovery funding will
involve the Commission raising money on the markets that would be
distributed as primarily loans or grants to member countries. One key
question is how the EU would pay for extra spending and ultimately repay
der Leyen began her term with the aim of making the EU more of a global
player — a goal that requires money. The unveiling of the new
proposal is likely to reignite one of the most contentious debates in the
budget negotiation: whether some wealthier member countries should get a
discount on their contributions.
At a factory near
Germany’s border with the Czech Republic, Volkswagen AG’s ambitious
strategy to become the global leader in electric vehicles is
coming up against the reality of manufacturing during a pandemic.
The Zwickau assembly lines, which produce the soon-to-be released ID.3
electric hatchback, are the centerpiece of a plan by the world’s biggest
automaker to spend 33 billion euros ($36 billion) by 2024 developing and building EVs.
But Covid-19 is putting
VW’s and other automakers’ electric ambitions at risk. The economic crisis
triggered by the pandemic has pushed the auto industry, among others, to
near-collapse, emptying showrooms and shutting factories. As job losses
mount, big-ticket purchases are firmly out of reach. Also, the
plunge in oil prices is making gasoline-powered vehicles more attractive.
governments are less able to offer subsidies to promote new technologies.
Even before the crisis, automakers had to contend with an extended
downturn in China, the world’s biggest auto market, where about half of
all passenger EVs are sold. Total auto sales in China declined the past
two years amid a slowing economy, escalating trade tensions, and stricter
The global market
contraction raises the prospect of casualties. French finance minister
Bruno Le Maire has warned that Renault SA, an early adopter of electric
cars with models like the Zoe, could “disappear” without state
aid. Even Toyota Motor Corp., a hybrid pioneer when it first introduced
the Prius hatchback in 1997, is under pressure.
al-Kadhimi, Iraq’s new prime minister as of May 12, has already announced
a bold intention. In a short government manifesto he submitted to the
Iraqi Parliament, Kadhimi emphasized his plans to “impose the state’s
prestige” by bringing armed groups under government control.
militias such as Kataib Hezbollah, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, and Kataib Sayyid
al-Shuhada, among others, operate outside the jurisdiction of the Iraqi
state. They are part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella
military organization that is nominally under Iraqi command but that in
fact plays an integral part in projecting Iranian power throughout the
who became prime minister in October 2018, increased the PMF’s budget by 20 percent in 2019 and enabled
the Iranian-backed militias to expand their presence in strategic regions,
including along the Iraqi-Syrian border, across which they
have moved almost freely.
indicated that he has plans to end this state of affairs. Recent
developments in Iraq and in the wider region suggest that the new prime
minister has a much better chance than his predecessors did of curbing the
militias’ influence and consequently, that of Iran.
Rising tensions with
China and the race to repatriate supply chains in the wake of the COVID-19
pandemic have given fresh impetus to U.S. efforts to launch a renaissance
in rare earths, the critical minerals at the heart of high technology,
clean energy, and especially high-end U.S. defense platforms.
But it’s not going well, despite a
slew of new bills and government initiatives aimed at rebuilding a
soup-to-nuts rare-earth supply chain in the United States that would,
after decades of growing reliance on China and other foreign suppliers,
restore U.S. self-reliance in a vital sector.
The problem is that, despite years of
steadily increasing efforts under the Trump administration, the United
States has yet to figure out how to redress the fundamental
vulnerabilities in its critical materials supply chain, and America still
seems years away from developing the full gamut of rare-earth mining,
processing, and refining capabilities it needs if it seeks to wean itself off
The U.S. Defense Department,
meanwhile, is trying to throw money at the problem, putting rare earths at
the center of the annual defense acquisition bill three years in a row,
with plans this year to massively increase existing
Pentagon funding for
rare-earth projects. The drive to decouple from China has been thrown into overdrive by the
European electricity groups have issued a joint call urging the European
Commission to prioritise renewable hydrogen in its upcoming pandemic
recovery plan. The “choose renewable hydrogen” campaign is supported by 10
companies and associations: Akuo Energy, BayWa r.e., EDP, Enel, Iberdrola,
MHI Vestas, SolarPower Europe, Ørsted, Vestas and WindEurope.
“Hydrogen produced via electrolysis
powered by 100% renewable electricity has zero greenhouse gas emissions”
and should be Europe’s top priority when supporting a clean hydrogen
supply chain, the alliance says in a letter to the Commission. Wind and solar power have become the
cheapest source of electricity and are expected to play a major role in
decarbonising the economy.
But some industrial sectors like
steel, chemicals or heavy-duty transport are too expensive or difficult to
electrify. “In these sectors renewable hydrogen will play a key
role and can be the most cost-effective and sustainable solution for
decarbonisation,” the coalition says in the letter, dated 22 May.
“Investment in renewable hydrogen
has a great potential in terms of jobs and growth creation,” because of
existing plans to expand renewable electricity capacity. “When
produced by grid connected renewables it offers a real form of sector
coupling between the power sector and the other economic sectors,” the
responsible for 36% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. There are
now more companies doing sustainable construction and renovations than there were when Cubina started out, he says,
and architects, builders and contractors are aware of the importance of
energy efficient buildings and the use of recycled and sustainable
materials. But the changes still
haven’t gone deep enough.
tough emissions regulation and mass production mean that by later
this year some electric vehicles will cost the same as combustion models.
Few investors were willing to touch the sector until recently, says Javier
Guerra, a Madrid-based managing partner at private equity firm Satif Group.
About 25% of all
natural gas burned in Europe is used to heat homes. Clean alternatives
exist, but technologies such as electric heat pumps are much more
expensive and not always viable in dense cities. Although both
biogas and natural gas release carbon dioxide when burned, biogas is a
lower-carbon alternative when it’s derived from farm waste or energy
crops, which have absorbed carbon while growing.
Hydrogen burns at
very high temperatures and produces only water as a byproduct, making it a
possible zero-carbon solution to high-emitting industries such as
steel-making, heavy transport, and chemicals manufacturing, none of which
can operate on solar or wind alone.
Bank deposits are surging
across Europe as people respond to the economic and social upheaval of the
coronavirus pandemic by saving more, fuelling fears among economists that
consumers will not come to the rescue of the continent’s shrinking
French savers put aside nearly
€20bn in March, well above the long-run average monthly change in bank
deposits of €3.8bn. Separate figures from the Banque de France show that
by mid-May, the total had risen to more than €60bn since the country’s
lockdown began — indicating that the growth of savings accelerated as the
Italian savers put aside
€16.8bn in March, the ECB data show, compared with a long-run monthly
average of €3.4bn, while Spanish households saved €10.1bn, up from an
average of €2.3bn. UK household bank deposits jumped by £13.1bn in March,
a record monthly rise, according to the BoE.
Bank deposits in Germany fell
sharply, but this was a sign that households had withdrawn cash. Germans
tend to prefer to hold their savings in cash during a crisis and a similar
phenomenon occurred at the height of the 2008 financial crisis. The German
central bank reported that cash in circulation rose by €39.7bn between
late January and early May.
Tensions between India and China are
not new. The two countries—which share the world’s longest unmarked
border—fought a full-fledged war in 1962 and have since engaged in several
small skirmishes. Not since 1975 has a bullet been fired across their shared
Recent events, however, suggest that
escalations are highly possible. Both sides have substantial—and
growing—military deployments along a mostly disputed border. And for more
than a decade, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been testing India’s
military readiness and political resolve along several strategic
The most recent clashes took place
earlier this month. On May 5, Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed near the
Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh. Soldiers from both sides came to blows
and threw stones at each other mostly in efforts to induce
the Indian troops to move back from the areas they were patrolling.
In 1988, India’s gross domestic
product was $297 billion compared with China’s $312 billion that year,
while India’s defense
spending, at $10.6 billion, was also close to
the Chinese allocation of $11.4 billion. At $13.6 trillion in 2018,
China’s GDP is now more than five times India’s $2.7 trillion. Similarly,
China spent $261.1 billion on defense expenditure in 2019, almost four
times India’s total of $71.1 billion.
away another layer of Hong Kong’s autonomy was not a
rash impulse. It was a deliberate act, months in the making. It took into
account the risks of international umbrage and reached the reasonable
assumption that there would not be a significant geopolitical price to
by the pandemic’s devastating toll, China has taken a series of
aggressive actions in recent weeks to flex its economic,
diplomatic and military muscle across the region. China’s Coast Guard
rammed and sank a fishing boat in disputed waters off Vietnam, and its
an offshore oil rig operated by Malaysia.
inauguration of Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, and pointedly
dropped the word peaceful from its annual call for unification with the
island democracy. Chinese troops squared off again last week with India’s
along their contentious border in the Himalayas.
Mr. Xi’s move
against Hong Kong has nonviolent echoes of President Vladimir V. Putin’s
forceful seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, which was a violation of
international law and of Russia’s previous diplomatic
commitments. The annexation made Mr. Putin an international pariah for a
while, but Russia still remains firmly in control of Crimea.
European Commission’s proposal on the next seven-year budget and the
accompanying recovery fund will this Wednesday (27 May) launch one of the
most difficult negotiations in the EU history, as member states disagree
over the size, the goals and conditions, and primarily whether to give
grants or loans.
The proposal made by the ‘Frugal
Four’ (Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Sweden) over the weekend, and
seen by EURACTIV, showed how divided national governments remain on how to
finance the recovery from the coronavirus crisis. Despite the
Franco-German attempt to narrow the differences, Northern and Southern
countries are still far apart on issues including the size, the shape, the
scope and the conditionality of the ‘great stimulus’ to overcome the
deepest recession in the EU history.
Size. The consensus is around putting
together a €1.5 trillion stimulus. Instrument. The big debate is whether to use grants that
member states won’t have to repay, or loans that will further fuel
national debt of already ailing economies. Conditionality. As money always comes with conditions
in the EU, the question is how strict the requirements will be to access
the new financial instrument.
Scope. The discussion on how to use the
recovery funds will be highly complex as Eastern countries will only add
to the north-south division. They have been less affected by the pandemic
and do not want to divert funds from big envelopes, such as Cohesion, to
finance the recovery. EU
institutions and member states agree that Digital and Green agendas should
be the priority of the stimulus.
leaders on Friday made a show of strength to confront defiance in Hong
Kong and the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus outbreak, even as
they acknowledged that both had dealt a blow to the ruling Communist
On Hong Kong, the
leadership struck a hard line at the annual meeting of China’s
legislature, unveiling a plan to impose sweeping new security laws that
would place the territory more firmly under Beijing’s thumb and crack down
on antigovernment protests. But the move is likely to incite more unrest
and outrage in the semiautonomous territory as well as criticism from
On the economy,
the premier, addressing the opening of the National People’s Congress,
declared that the government had achieved a “decisive victory” against the
coronavirus outbreak and that the country has shown great resilience. But
in a break with tradition, China abandoned setting an annual growth target
for 2020, recognizing the difficulties in restarting its economy amid a
Keqiang, who is second-ranked in the Communist Party hierarchy behind Mr.
Xi, made his speech to nearly 3,000 congress delegates who wore masks as they
sat in neat rows in the ornate Great Hall of the People. He pledged to
help blunt the impact of the slowdown with goals to limit inflation and
For more than a
decade, Ahmad Hussein would spend the last few days of Ramadan assembling
arrays of sweets in his shop in south Beirut, preparing for the bonanza to
follow. Eid al-Fitr, the three-day celebration that capped the
monthlong fast, was an annual highlight as customers splurged on sugary
treats and shiny new clothes.
But not this year.
With Lebanon facing an unprecedented economic collapse,
much of what Amhad and nearby shopkeepers are selling in one of Beirut’s
poorest neighbourhoods is beyond their own means. Here and across
the country, prices have at least doubled over the past two months,
leaving basic goods outside the reach of more than half the population.
currency continues to crumble against the dollar, which is still being
used to pay for imports. In a country that produces next to nothing, that
means nearly all food, and much of what else is needed to keep societies
afloat. The unravelling has revealed a stark reality: that
Lebanon’s relative prosperity was built on a financial illusion.
appealed for foreign aid, and the prime minister, Hassan Diab, has
acknowledged that Lebanon is on the brink of an “unimaginable food crisis”. The
crisis is likely to devastate already impoverished communities, exert
escalating pressure on middle classes and widen a disparity between an affluent
elite and the rest.
Washington announced on Thursday (21 May) it
would withdraw from the 35-nation Open Skies Treaty, allowing unarmed
surveillance flights over signatory states, the Trump administration’s
latest move to pull the country out of yet another major global landmark
accord, signed in 1992 and in force since 2002, allows its signatories to
conduct short-notice unarmed surveillance flights to gather information on
each other’s military forces and installations, thereby contributing to
inspections of conventional arms control and strategic offensive weapons
and reducing the risk of conflict.
idea is that the more rival militaries know about each other, the less the
chance of conflict between them. Russia and the US, the world’s two
biggest nuclear powers, have used it to keep an eye on each other’s
activities, but in recent years senior US officials and global
non-proliferation experts have warned US President Trump may pull
Washington out of the pact.
The US “cannot remain in arms control agreements that are
violated by the other side, and that are actively being used not to
support but rather to undermine international peace and security,” US
Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said in a statement on Thursday. Pompeo
cited Russian restrictions on flights and claimed Moscow has used the
treaty as “a tool to facilitate military coercion.”
Climate experts have feared Europe’s
climate goals could get drowned out in the cacophony of panicked calls
amid the coronavirus pandemic for rekindling conventional industries.
When Merkel and Macron proposed that the EU disperse a total of €500
billion ($545 billion) in recovery money, Macron explicitly
underscored that the rescue program would buttress the European Green Deal.
But the decisive battles are still to
be fought, and Europe’s traditional economic forces are not backing down
quietly. The economic fallout in Europe is vast—as many as 59 million jobs
could be lost and trillions of dollars in revenue and taxes. There’s
a broad consensus that economic stimulus of historic proportions will be
required to fight recession and put devastated economies back on their
Less certain is to what degree the
stimulus and recovery will take climate policy into account. Though
the post-financial-crisis measures lifted many European countries out of
recession, they did very little to accelerate the transition to more sustainable,
climate-friendly economies. In many ways, they did the opposite, rewarding
polluting industries that only caused Europe’s carbon footprint to swell.
A DIW report on
post-pandemic green stimulus efforts argues that the recovery packages
must include clearly defined climate targets. The French government’s aid
to Air France commits the airline to
slashing its carbon emissions for domestic flights by 50 percent by 2025.
This time around, it seems, Europe’s recovery funds will be used to
transform the economy, not reinforce bad habits.
Rising tensions between the United
States and China brought fresh mudslinging Wednesday as a sharp dispute
over responsibility for the coronavirus pandemic
spills into new forums such as Taiwan.
In the span of several hours, the
feud swung from Taipei to Beijing to the Internet, where an animated “credibility test”
on Chinese state TV’s Twitter feed mocked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
President Trump then lashed out at China for a “worldwide
killing” from covid-19 — part of messages that could become talking
points in the presidential election campaign.
The White House salvos have sought
to keep a focus on China’s early response to the virus and what Trump has
called a “China-centric” deference at the World Health
Organization. China, in turn, has portrayed itself as a good global
citizen willing to work with the United Nations and other countries to defeat
But the longer-range Trump strategy
appeared aimed at deflecting attention from the U.S. handling of the
pandemic — including the sometimes conflicting messages from the Trump
administration and health experts and a reported covid-19 death toll that
is the highest in the world.
While the Italian economy is
expected to regain ground in the second half of the year, its recent
history of failing to recover from recessions sets a grim precedent. This
week as small businesses across Italy reopened after nearly two months of
lockdown, Franco Magliocchetti, a 32-year-old restaurateur in Rome, spent
most of his day sat glancing at rows of empty tables.
Mr Magliocchetti and his
business partner, Fabio Trovato, are crossing their fingers that the
lifting of restrictions will see the country bounce back from what is
forecast to be the sharpest recession in its modern history. Business is so
slow that they do not know how much longer they will be able to stay open
unless it improves.
As the lockdown eased he and Mr
Trovato introduced a takeaway “aperitivo” and vacuum-sealed meals,
but they are still struggling. On a normal weekend the restaurant would
make around €10,000. Last week they failed to make €2,500. Out of twelve
employees, eight remain on temporary leave.
Unlike other eurozone
countries, Italy’s economy has never recovered from the last crisis, with
gross domestic product below where it was in real terms in 2008 even
before the coronavirus pandemic began. Italy’s GDP per capita adjusted for
price changes remains lower than it was in 2000. While Italy has
languished, Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands have all grown by
proved apathetic to President Mahmoud Abbas’ declaration Tuesday that the
Palestine Liberation Organization saw itself released from its commitments
to the United States and Israel – he has made announcements like that
his statement during a live broadcast of a Palestinian leadership meeting.
Some of the officials present complained that Abbas’
position had not been discussed at the
meeting or explained to the participants.
A Fatah official
told Haaretz it’s not clear “if all contact and coordination with Israel
really stops now and we give back the keys, or if it was a declaration of
the official Palestinian position and there hasn’t yet been a decision to
bury the agreements.”
Meanwhile, the Palestinians, too, are continuing their battle against the
coronavirus. Before Tuesday’s meeting, Prime
Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced that from Friday, the eve of Eid
al-Fitr, a lockdown would be imposed on Palestinian cities, and all stores
would be closed except for bakeries and pharmacies until after the holiday.
The European Union
is seeking to reduce the environmental footprint of its farming and food
production industry, forging ahead with its ambitious Green Deal agenda to
make the bloc climate-neutral by the middle of the century.
The “Farm to Fork”
strategy maps out the ways for the region to halve the use of pesticides
and antibiotics, boost organic farming, promote plant-based proteins and
make every link of the food system more sustainable. A separate plan on
biodiversity lays out steps to restore ecosystems and cut pollution.
The EU wants to make
environmental cleanup one of the pillars of an economic plan to recover
from the coronavirus crisis. “This is the concrete translation of
what we had announced in the Green Deal,” said Frans Timmermans.
is one of the biggest challenges in the fight against climate change, with
food systems responsible for as much as 30% of global greenhouse-gas
emissions and a contributor to the loss of biodiversity. At the same time,
extreme weather events linked to rising temperatures undermine farming and