The European Union must prepare
for the possibility that negotiations with the United Kingdom won’t secure
a deal, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Wednesday.
“To put it mildly, progress in
the negotiations has been very limited,” Merkel told the German
Bundestag, adding: “I will continue to press for a good solution. But
we must and should prepare for the event that an agreement is not reached
Merkel, in her comments to the
Bundestag, welcomed an agreement by leaders on both sides during their
high-level meeting in June to intensify negotiations in July with the aim
of reaching an agreement this fall.
German officials have, however,
repeatedly emphasized that they believe the last realistic moment for both
sides to reach an agreement would be late October.
The Kremlin and
its supporters have won a controversial vote to amend the constitution and
reset Vladimir Putin’s term limits, potentially allowing him to rule as
president until 2036.
The ad-hoc vote,
which did not fulfil legal criteria to be a referendum, saw 77.93% of
voters endorse constitutional amendments, with 21.26% against the changes,
and 99.9% of the ballots counted. Turnout
was 64.99%, the election commission said.
The results will
allow the Kremlin to say that a vast majority of Russians back Putin’s
continued rule beyond 2024, the year that until now marked the end of his
fourth and final term as president. Ads for the vote barely mentioned that
it would reset term limits for Putin.
In a single up-or-down
vote, Russians also chose to support a package of amendments that include
pension and minimum wage boosts, a modest reorganisation of government, a
constitutional mention of “faith in God”, and a ban on gay marriage.
It is July, and
a V-shaped recovery is probably a fantasy. The post-pandemic economy is
likely to be anemic, not just in countries that have failed to manage the
pandemic (namely, the United States), but even in those that have
acquitted themselves well.
tells us that spending will fall, owing to households’ and firms’ weakened
balance sheets, a rash of bankruptcies that will destroy organizational
and informational capital, and strong precautionary behavior induced by
tells us that the virus acts like a tax on activities involving close
human contact. As such, it will continue to drive large changes in
consumption and production patterns, which in turn will bring about a
broader structural transformation.
public spending, particularly investments in the green transition, can be
timely, labor-intensive (helping to resolve the problem of soaring
unemployment), and highly stimulative – delivering far more bang for the
buck than, say, tax cuts.
The South Pole,
the most isolated part of the planet, is also one of the most rapidly
warming ones, scientists said Monday, with surface air temperatures rising
since the 1990s at a rate that is three times faster than the global
While the warming
could be the result of natural climate change alone, the researchers said,
it is likely that the effects of human-caused warming contributed to it.
Although parts of coastal Antarctica
are losing ice, which contributes to sea level rise, the pole is in no danger of
melting, as the year-round average temperature is still about minus-50
change resulting from emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse
gases has very likely played a role, the analysis showed that natural
climate variability could account for all of the extreme swing in
After a pitched and prolonged
battle among diplomats that stretched late into Friday night and through
the weekend, the Council of the EU on Tuesday agreed to recommend lifting
the bloc’s ban on travelers from 14 nations beginning Wednesday.
The highly controversial list
notably excluded the United States, where infections are still rising
uncontrolled, but added China as a 15th nation, literally with an
asterisk. Inbound travel will be permitted “subject to confirmation
of reciprocity,” reads the footnote.
Around 20 countries supported
the decision. Poland, Bulgaria, Austria and Portugal abstained in
frustration, and Denmark and Ireland opted out using exemptions under the
But the fierce fight also
showed how a decision ostensibly anchored in evidenced-based science was
in fact hijacked by an array of political sensitivities and financial
interests, notably in those countries heavily reliant on tourism.
broken out in Hong Kong during its first day under controversial national security laws imposed
by Beijing, and after China confirmed that
some suspects could be extradited to the mainland under the new rules.
On the 23rd
anniversary of the handover from Britain to China,
crowds defied a ban on protests and gathered on the streets of the busy
shopping district Causeway Bay, where there were large numbers of riot
Hong Kong police
made their first arrest since the law came into force. Police said on
Twitter that a man was arrested for holding a Hong Kong Independence flag in a protest, which it says violate the
The Beijing press
conference confirmed fears the newly established mainland office could
elect to have cases tried in the mainland. The lengthy briefing provided
few reassurances, except that the law would not be applied retrospectively.
As Israel slowly carved out parts of
the West Bank over the years, the Palestinian leadership cravenly chose
its political dominance and economic interests over holding the occupier
of its land accountable.
For many Palestinians, annexation is
not a new phenomenon: It has taken place informally in the West Bank for
decades through settlement construction and other land expropriations.
For decades, the state has
implemented the concept and its accompanying settlement movement. But
annexation will have important implications for an end to the
The two-state solution is now dead,
but what emerges in the short term will be far uglier: one state that
cements Jewish supremacy over Palestinians. It will not be the binational
state that many Palestinians envisioned but instead a codified form of apartheid.
About 25,000 Nissan workers
in Barcelona have their livelihoods on the line. It’s a scene that could
play out in car towns around the world as the coronavirus crisis
accelerates a structural shift in the overcrowded, fast-changing auto industry.
Car sales are
plunging, and a recovery is expected to be long and slow. The prospects
for traditional vehicles are particularly gloomy. Major economies,
accounting for 13% of global car deliveries, have committed to phase out
diesel and gasoline engines.
An 87% decline in
battery prices in the past decade and a green push by the European Union
will drive electric car sales up in Europe from just over half a million
last year to 2 million in 2025, Bloomberg NEF predicts.
If nothing changes, Spain’s
600,000 auto workers will be left out of the green jobs revolution. The
region’s electric-car supply chain is concentrated in northern Europe and
Asia, where the batteries are developed.
COVID-19 pandemic is “not even close to being over”, the WHO warned Monday,
as the global death toll passed half a million and cases surged in Latin
America and the US.
In another grim milestone, the
number of infections recorded worldwide topped 10 million, while
some authorities reimposed lockdown measures that have crippled the
The virus emerged at least six
months ago in China, where the WHO will send a team next week in the
search for its origin, Tedros said. COVID-19 is still rampaging
across the US, which has recorded more than 125,000 deaths and 2.5 million
In a reminder of the constant
threat of newly-emerged pathogens, researchers in Chinese universities and
the country’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced they had
discovered a novel swine flu that was capable of triggering another
Beijing has passed
a sweeping national security law for Hong
Kong that critics fear will crush political freedoms and pave the way for
China to cement its control over the semi-autonomous territory.
Less than 40 days
after Chinese lawmakers first proposed imposing an anti-sedition law on Hong Kong, the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, on
Tuesday approved the measure, according officials and multiple media
criminalising secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign
forces, deals a devastating blow to Hong Kong’s autonomy as promised under
the “one country, two systems” framework.
According to a
summary released previously by Chinese state media, the law will see
Beijing set up a national security agency in Hong Kong to “guide” the
territory’s implementation of the law.
On June 22nd thousands of
Palestinians held a protest in Jericho against a possible Israeli
annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank. They were joined,
unusually, by diplomats from across the globe: Britain and Russia, Jordan
The United Nations envoy, Nickolay
Mladenov, made a speech. After months of public warnings and quiet
pressure, the world’s collective diplomatic clout perched on plastic
chairs beneath the beating summer sun.
On July 1st Israel’s cabinet can
start to discuss annexation. The date is less a deadline than a
starting-point laid down in the coalition agreement signed in April by
Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, and his governing partners.
Israel could decide to annex a
large swathe of territory or annex nothing at all, or—as seems likely—do
something betwixt the two. If it does anything, it will happen over
devastating consequences for the continent’s most vulnerable people, the
pandemic is also whittling away at one of Africa’s signature achievements:
the growth of its middle class.
For the last
decade, Africa’s middle class has been pivotal to the educational,
political and economic development across the continent. New business
owners and entrepreneurs have created jobs that, in turn, gave others a
leg up as well.
tech-savvy families and young people with money to spare have fed the
demand for consumer goods, called for democratic reforms, expanded the
talent pool at all levels of society, and pushed for high-quality schools
and health care.
About 170 million
out of Africa’s 1.3 billion people are now classified as middle class. But
about eight million of them could be thrust into poverty because of the
coronavirus and its economic fallout, according to World Data Lab, a
intelligence officers and Special Operations forces in Afghanistan alerted
their superiors as early as January to a suspected Russian plot to pay
bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan.
They believed at
least one U.S. troop death was the result of the bounties, two of the
officials said. Interrogations of captured militants and criminals
played a central role in making the intelligence community confident in
The details added
to the picture of the classified intelligence assessment, which The New
York Times reported Friday has been under
discussion inside the Trump administration since at least March.
While Russia has
at times cooperated with the United States and appeared interested in
Afghan stability, it often seems to work at crosscurrents with its own
national interest if the result is damage to American national interests.
Greens had their best electoral night, emerging as the new disruptors of
French politics. They conquered some of France’s biggest cities, breaking
decades-long holds of Socialist and conservative incumbents.
La République en Marche (LREM)
took a thrashing, having failed to put down local roots after growing out
of a movement formed to propel Macron to the presidency. In many
places, its alliances with other parties flopped.
Turnout was historically low at
41 percent, with multiple factors discouraging voters such as the
coronavirus pandemic, the unusual three months lapse between the first and
second round of the elections due to the virus, and the good weather.
mayor Anne Hidalgo won reelection at a canter in the
capital, claiming more than 48 percent of the vote — some 15
points ahead of her nearest challenger, the conservative Rachida Dati and
far ahead of Macron’s former Health Minister Agnès Buzyn.
Duda, allied with Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, had
received 45.2% of the vote, according to results based on 87.2% of the
total number of polling districts, with second place going to the liberal
mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski, with 28.9%.
The results mean Duda and Trzaskowski will go head to head in a
second round on 12 July, in a vote that will determine Poland’s political
future. Polls before Sunday’s vote suggested a runoff between the two
candidates would be too close to call.
Independent candidate Szymon Hołownia was in third place, while the
far-right nationalist Krzysztof Bosak was in fourth. PiS has put Poland on a collision course with Brussels over
democratic backsliding and rule of law issues.
Turnout was estimated at 63%, well up from the 49% turnout in the
last presidential elections in 2015, in a sign of how the polarisation of
the last five years has mobilised voters on both sides of the divide.
Micheál Martin, a veteran of
the party blamed for Ireland’s financial crash and 2010 bailout, has taken
over as prime minister as Dublin faces a fresh economic crisis.
In December 2022 he will have
to hand back the office of taoiseach to his predecessor Leo Varadkar — the
hefty price for a historic deal between rival parties that have dominated
Irish politics for nearly a century without ever ruling together.
He leads a three-way coalition
between his centrist Fianna Fáil, Mr Varadkar’s centre-right Fine Gael and
the Greens. It follows a February election in which Sinn Féin
nationalists, long on the fringes, won the popular vote.
Installed 140 days after the
election, the new coalition was a long time coming. Talks were delayed by
coronavirus as the lockdown led to record joblessness, a far cry from
rapid pre-election growth.
Three candidates have made
pitches to lead the eurogroup of finance ministers following the announced
departure of Portugal’s Mário Centeno, as the currency bloc’s economies
reel from the coronavirus crisis.
Ms Calviño made her case on
Twitter, saying she would work for a “strong and prosperous euro area to
the benefit of all European citizens”. Olaf Scholz, Germany’s Social
Democratic finance minister, is among her supporters.
Mr Donohoe is also a supporter
of the borrowing effort, but he pitched Dublin as a “bridge builder” in
the bloc. His party is aligned with centre-right European People’s party
(EPP), which should tee up support from over half a dozen EPP finance
In a letter to fellow
ministers, Mr Gramegna sought to portray himself as a consensus builder on
fiscal policy, pledging to strike the right balance between responsible
budget policy and supporting the economy.
The European Union is ratcheting up
its rhetoric against Beijing’s heavy-handed approach to the economy and
human rights, with many officials describing what they once saw hopefully
as a partnership as more of a rivalry.
For years, much as the United States
did in the past, Europe has sought to nudge China to make reforms in how
it trades and does business but has nothing to show for it. Now, European
officials openly talk of China as a rival that needs to start making
Last week, the EU unveiled a new
scheme meant to fight back against China’s use of state subsidies to its
firms. This fall, a long-planned investment screening mechanism meant to
shield key European firms and industries from predatory acquisitions will
finally be implemented.
Both, while nominally directed at all
non-EU countries, aim squarely at China. The key to the future
EU-China relationship could come from what happens in the U.S. election in
The coronavirus pandemic
has tightened its grip on much of Africa, where reported cases have more
than tripled over the last month,
jeopardizing overstretched medical teams as the need for care soars.
African health officials and
medical professionals are raising concerns about cracks in a crucial
armor: Infections among health-care workers have shot up 203
percent since May, following a spike in community transmission and a drop
in access to protective gear.
Travel and export restrictions have
cut off a key flow of medical supplies, health officials said, further
exposing doctors and nurses. Africa carries a disproportionately
small fraction of the world’s caseload, though testing remains limited in
But with infections on the rise,
health leaders say medical staffs are up against growing obstacles to fend
off worst-case scenarios — particularly in West Africa. Funds are often tight.
cleanly, leaving only water behind. That’s made it an
attractive alternative fuel source—not just for governments looking to
satisfy climate mandates, but also for oil companies trying to ensure
their continued relevance.
Oil-and-gas majors have
spent tens of millions of dollars on pilot projects. Now in the face of
record-low oil prices, frozen international travel, and growing
shareholder unease over greenhouse gas emissions, investing in hydrogen
has taken on a new urgency.
Hydrogen also burns
very hot, making it useful for high-polluting heavy industries such as
cement- and steel-making. These sectors have long relied on coal, and
established renewables such as wind and solar can’t deliver the necessary
could potentially become a huge new market that oil companies could
dominate quickly thanks to their existing expertise in transporting and
selling gas. But major obstacles remain before hydrogen can fully
replace fossil fuels in any sector.
Andrzej Duda began his speech
in Brzeg, a small town in southwestern Poland, with a historical anecdote that
led him to what he described as a worse modern-day threat to the country:
Polls suggest that he will win
the first round of the voting with around 42 per cent of the vote on
Sunday, or 10 points more than his nearest rival, the liberal opposition
mayor of Warsaw, Rafal Trzaskowski.
But this margin would evaporate
in a run-off, held on July 12 if no one wins more than 50 per cent in the
first round. The stakes are high. Analysts say that the deep polarisation
of Polish society means the race is likely to go down to the wire.
Were Mr Duda to lose, the
opposition, armed with the presidency’s veto powers, would be able to
provide a check on the ruling party and its measures — including a
bitterly contested judicial reform — that have set Warsaw at odds with
In March of this year, the Trump
administration successfully engineered the collapse of a friendly
government in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. Rather than a covert CIA
operation, the administration and the U.S. Embassy mounted overt pressure.
Within weeks of suspending
development assistance and threatening to withdraw U.S. troops from the
NATO peacekeeping force, the government of reformist Prime Minister Albin
Kurti was gone.
While Washington was busy pressuring
Kosovo, Moscow and Beijing were doing the opposite in Serbia: providing
critical pandemic support as the coronavirus began sweeping across the
Grenell’s vision is to create
“momentum” from “economic normalization,” paving the way for a political
settlement. Expanded trade with Kosovo—however desirable and
laudable—is unlikely to ever become of decisive importance for Serbia.
China is approving plans for
new coal power plant capacity at the fastest rate since 2015, in a sign
that pressure to stimulate the economy is undermining a transition towards
cleaner energy sources.
China is already the world’s
biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and pollution levels there have
quickly rebounded after lockdown. China’s energy policy will be crucial to
determining the success of the Paris climate agreement.
China pledged to reach a peak
of carbon emissions by 2030 as part of the Paris Agreement. In 2016, the
government suspended construction of hundreds of coal plants. But many of
the projects were restarted as economic growth slowed.
Concerns are growing that the
world’s two largest polluters, China and the US, will both fail to curb
their emissions with the Trump administration preparing to withdraw
formally from the Paris pact in November.
A national plan
for insulating the UK’s draughty homes is needed. This would create
thousands of new green jobs. Low-carbon heating must become the dominant
form of new heating installation by the early 2030s.
The CCC says its
research suggests the switch to electric cars could be managed by 2032.
Oil prices stand at historic lows, making this a good time to raise fuel
hitting consumers. The net zero economy will require
a net zero workforce.
Tree planting and restoring peatlands, wetlands and other
natural carbon sinks could generate “shovel-ready” projects. Working
from home vastly reduces transport
emissions, so more employers should be
encouraged to make the changes permanent.
is needed to help people continue to cycle and walk to work. Kickstarting
research and innovation in low-carbon technologies will be vital. Housebuilders
and homeowners also need to adapt the UK’s housing to hotter summers.
The Trump administration’s
march to reshape federal environmental protection has gathered pace during
the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in lighter regulation of America’s air
President Donald Trump has
ordered officials to find ways to speed up construction of highway or
pipeline projects that could circumvent environmental reviews.
The EPA this spring also has
published rules on air, water and fuel that scrap the work of the Obama
administration. Last Thursday, it abandoned oversight of perchlorate in
drinking water, dropping its stance on a chemical that can harm infants’
The two-pronged effort includes
temporary measures aimed at fostering economic activity as well as
permanent rule changes that are being pushed through in time to prevent
Democrats from using a little-known legislative tool to overturn them.
countries rushing to revive their economies and reopen their borders after
months of coronavirus restrictions are prepared to block Americans from
entering because the United States has failed to control the scourge.
which would lump American visitors in with Russians and Brazilians as
unwelcome, is a stinging blow to American prestige in the world and a
repudiation of President Trump’s handling of the virus in the United States.
American tourists visit Europe every summer. Business travel is common,
given the huge economic ties between the United States and the E.U.
It is highly unlikely an exception would be made for the United States.
The forging of a
common list of outsiders who can enter the bloc is part of an effort by
the European Union to fully reopen internal borders among its 27 member
are being urged to restart shuttle diplomacy with Iran after
the US presidential election in November or risk Tehran hardliners gaining
still wider control of Iran’s many layers of government and its economy.
But the deal
limiting Iran’s nuclear programme, signed in 2015, is hanging by a thread
after the UN nuclear watchdog the IAEA declared for the first time that Iran was not
cooperating with its inspectors at two key nuclear sites.
debating whether the political trends in Iran have already flowed so
strongly in favour of those opposed to engagement with the west that the
option of a revived deal has been lost for the foreseeable future.
an Iranian specialist at the European council on foreign relations, claims in a report that the path of engagement is not yet closed.
She warns that it will close without an imminent western economic offer.