EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 27/05/2020

The New York Times – Kate Conger / Twitter refutes inaccuracies in Trump’s tweets for first time

  • Twitter added 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.
  • Financial Times – Hannah Murphy and Kiran Stacey / Twitter puts fact-check label on Trump tweets for first time

Project Syndicate – Mark Leonard / The end of Europe’s Chinese dream

  • 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.
  • Three factors 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.
  • Second, the 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.
  • Foreign Policy – Edward Alden / No, the pandemic will not bring jobs back from China

Politico – Lili Bayer / 5 things to watch in Brussels’ crisis recovery blueprint

  • Paris, 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.
  • Von 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.
  • The 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 borrowed funds.
  • Von 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.
  • The Guardian – Editorial board / The Guardian view on Europe and Covid-19: time for true solidarity

Bloomberg – Christoph Rauwald and Bruce Einhorn / Costly electric vehicles confront a harsh coronavirus reality

  • 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.
  • Some cash-strapped 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 emission regulations.
  • 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.
  • Euractiv – Sam Morgan / Macron demands carmakers turn to ‘Made in France’ for €8bn virus aid

Today’s lesson:

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

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