Politico – David M. Herszenhorn and Maïa de la Baume / Von der Leyen challenges EU capitals to step up
- Brussels is stepping up to tackle the big crises, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen declared Wednesday in her first State of the European Union speech, and she pointedly challenged EU capitals and international powers to do the same.
- She tried to reassure citizens that Brussels now has a firm grip on the crisis, citing a historic budget-and-recovery package. And she proclaimed the Commission’s intent to seize the moment “to build the world we want to live in”.
- This will be done by stepping up action on climate change and digital innovation, fighting racism and discrimination, ensuring decent minimum wages, and expanding the power of the EU’s public health agencies.
- She highlighted the initially haphazard response to the pandemic from national capitals, and called them out for years of foot-dragging in areas like foreign policy. She demanded EU national leaders set aside the unanimity requirement for foreign-policy decisions.
- Euractiv – Jorge Valero / Von der Leyen outlines path towards ‘new vitality’ in post-corona world
Financial Times – Daniel Dombey and Martin Arnold / Diverging fortunes for Europe’s two-speed economy
- In normal times Gran Vía in the heart of Madrid is Spain’s shop window to the world, but now the 100-year-old boulevard bears testimony to the economic pain of coronavirus — and a growing divergence at the heart of the eurozone.
- Before the pandemic, Spain had been growing faster than the eurozone average, while Germany was on the brink of recession as longstanding weaknesses held back growth. But as coronavirus spread across Europe in the first half of this year, Spain’s economy contracted by 22 per cent, almost twice Germany’s fall of 12 per cent.
- One reason for Spain’s underperformance is the virulence with which the pandemic hit in March and April, and the speed with which infections rose again a few months later. Spain’s lockdown was tougher than Germany’s and the Spanish economy was particularly exposed because of its reliance on tourism.
- Spain is also afflicted by structural problems such as a dysfunctional labour market — youth unemployment is over 40 per cent — and a high proportion of small companies lacking deep enough pockets to withstand the crisis.
- Foreign Policy – Morten Soendergaard Larsen / COVID-19 has crushed everybody’s economy—except for South Korea’s
Bloomberg – Joe Mayes / Biden warns of Brexit impact on chances of U.K.-U.S. trade deal
- Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said a U.K.-U.S. trade agreement depends on the continued respect for the Northern Ireland peace process, a warning to Boris Johnson as he moves to break international law over Brexit and the province.
- “We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit,” Biden said on Twitter. “Any trade deal between the U.S. and U.K. must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”
- Biden’s intervention shows how Johnson’s proposal to unilaterally override the Brexit divorce treaty signed with the EU is having international repercussions, and making a transatlantic free-trade agreement politically more tricky.
- Biden shared a strongly-worded letter signed by four senior members of Congress, which urged Johnson to “abandon any and all legally questionable and unfair efforts” to breach its agreement with the EU.
- Financial Times – Michael Pooler and Thomas Hale / Coronavirus and globalisation: the surprising resilience of container shipping
The New York Times – Henry Fountain and John Schwartz / Hurricane Sally’s fierce rain shows how climate change raises storm risks
- As hurricanes go, Sally was not especially powerful. Rated a Category 2 storm when it struck the Gulf Coast on Wednesday, it was soon downgraded. But climate change likely made it more dangerous by slowing it down and feeding it more moisture.
- Sally was crawling at about 3 miles per hour when its eye made landfall early Wednesday near Gulf Shores, Ala., and was “inching its way inland” later in the day, the National Hurricane Center said.
- The slow movement, or stalling, of the storm led to staggering rain totals, with more than two feet in some areas by midmorning Wednesday and widespread flooding.
- Climate change has also led to wetter storms, Dr. Wood said, because warmer air holds more moisture. Between the slowing speeds and increasing moisture, with storms like Sally “there’s a combination effect,” she said.
- Wired – Adam Federman / The Trump team has a plan to not fight climate change
- Foreign Policy – Caroline de Gruyter / The Dutch don’t love Europe—and never did