U.K. - The home secretary, Amber Rudd, who will attend this morning’s emergency Cobra meeting, has added to the tributes to emergency services: This was a barbaric attack, deliberately targeting some of the most vulnerable in our society – young people and children out at a pop concert. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and victims who have been affected, and I know the whole country will share that view. I’d like to pay tribute to the emergency services who have worked throughout the night professionally and effectively; they have done an excellent job. Later on this morning I will be attending Cobra, chaired by the prime minister, to collect more information, to find out more, about this particular attack, and I can’t comment any more on that at the moment. The public should remain alert but not alarmed. If they have anything to report, they should approach the police. But I have two further things to add. The great city of Manchester has been affected by terrorism before. Its spirit was not bowed; its community continued. This time it has been a particular attack on the most vulnerable in our society. Its intention was to sow fear; its intention is to divide. But it will not succeed.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Sunday, May 21, 2017
German industrialists have warned that British hopes of their support in Brexit negotiations are misplaced and could backfire with dangerous consequences for international trade. Business leaders in Europe’s biggest economy are instead calling on Conservatives to rethink their commitment to leaving the single market, even though the party has doubled down on this promise in its election manifesto. David Davis and Boris Johnson have repeatedly cited likely pressure from German exporters, such as carmakers, as a reason for thinking they can persuade European negotiators to maintain free trade access after Britain leaves. But the theory is increasingly rejected by those whose support they need most – scepticism relayed most forcefully by Steffen Kampeter, the chief executive of the German employers’ federation, on a trip to the UK this week. “The top priority of European business is the integrity of the single market; the second priority is making good business with the UK. We will see if there is a conflict, but the message is: do not harm the single market by cherry-picking deals,” he told a conference of British business leaders in London this week. “It’s not the German carmakers that are directing the negotiations,” added Kampeter, who said he knew of no one who thought a trade deal within 18 months was possible and called for “rhetorical disarmament on all sides”.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
The European Commission reacted on Tuesday, after the deputies of the Commission for Industries and Services have passed a series of amendments to the Natural Gas Law, according to which the gas producers will be required to fully trade their output on the OPCOM, with the Romanian Commodities Exchange being left out in the cold. Currently, they have licenses for the trading of natural gas on two entities: the Romanian Commodities Exchange, private company, and the OPCOM, a branch of Transelectrica, in which the state owns 58.68%. The amendments made in the Commission for Industries would leave the BRM without a license. On Tuesday, the European Commission wrote to Iulian Iancu, the president of the Commission for Industries, that the proposal for the production of natural gas to be traded completely on the OPCOM is problematic. The commission thinks that moving trading to the OPCOM is not recommended, as the BRM is currently a more liquid market, and granting exclusive rights to the OPCOM raises competition issues. Also, the Commission considers that the trading of 100% of the natural gas output on an exchange can be excessive. A warning letter concerning the "severe consequences" of the amendments to the Law of natural gas was recently received by the president of the Chamber of Deputies Liviu Dragnea, from the PEGAS European natural gas platform. That letter also arrived, among other places, at the Ministry of Energy, the ANRE and the European Commission. It is debatable whether the amendments are compatible with the competition laws of the European Union, since they limit the ability of offering trading services, amid the obligation of using only one platform, according to PEGAS, which also says that there is a risk that the platform used by the operator would not reflect the requirements of the market. Furthermore, the measures proposed can raise an obstacle in the implementation of the EU package of energy, which would lead to an isolation of the Romanian gas market, says PEGAS, the trading platform of the German EEX Group, operated by Powernext, in France. PEGAS had 238 members and offers access to the trading of natural gas on contracts from Austria, Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic and Great Britain.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Emmanuel Macron is the fourth French president to have been in office during Angela Merkel’s 12-year tenure as German chancellor, and so it was with a faintly indulgent smile that she greeted the Europe Union’s new young pretender as he arrived in Berlin on Monday. The mismatch in experience was so apparently obvious that Mrs Merkel felt it necessary to say in advance that she would not behave like a “know-it-all” to the new occupant of the Elysee, but would listen carefully to his vision for France. Such protestations of modesty on Mrs Merkel's part are to be expected, but they cannot conceal the reality that if France wants to rekindle its post-war partnership with Germany, it needs to demonstrate it is committed to reforms.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Britain’s ambition to sign a quick Free Trade Agreement with the European Union after Brexit has received a significant boost after a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice handed expanded trade negotiation powers to Brussels.
The much-anticipated decision from the court in Luxembourg surprised experts by ruling that on key areas - including financial services and transport - the European Union does not need to seek ratification of a trade deal by the EU’s 38 national and local parliaments. Trade experts said the ECJ ruling could substantially reduce the risk of any future EU-UK free trade agreement getting bogged down in the EU national parliaments, opening the way for an FTA to be agreed by a qualified majority vote of EU member states.
Sunday, May 14, 2017
The chief executive of Goldman Sachs has warned that London’s financial centre will “stall” due to the turmoil of the Brexit process. Lloyd Blankfein, who runs the world’s second-largest investment bank, said a three-decade expansion that has turned London’s financial services sector into a world leader could grind to a halt. “It will stall, it might backtrack a bit, it just depends on a lot of things about which we are uncertain, and I know there isn’t certainty at the moment,” Blankfein said in an interview with the BBC. “I don’t think it will totally reverse.” Blankfein also said there would need to be an implementation period of at least a “couple of years” after the Brexit deal had been agreed in early 2019 to allow companies to adjust. “We are talking about the long-term stability of huge economies with hundreds of millions of people and livelihoods at stake, and huge gross domestic product,” he said. “So, if it takes a little while, I’d rather get it right than do things quickly.” If not enough time were factored in, banks such as Goldman would have to act “prematurely” and possibly move some of their operations and jobs.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
In a number of recent analyses, Patrick Artus, chief economist of investment bank Natixis, writes that France has all the premises for a high degree of unemployment, which includes high social security contributions, high employee protections, the low degree of workforce skills and the chronic budget deficit. "France's economic and social situation since the crisis that began in 2008, characterized through de-industrialization, high unemployment among youth, the low quality of new jobs and the erosion of purchasing power has led to the results of the current elections", Artus further writes, who expresses his skepticism over the ability to resolve these problems, regardless of who the new president will be. For the chief-economist of Natixis, "this perverse economic model has reached its limits and the structural adjustments have to begin". It is hard to believe, however, that Macron will be the "savior", when "his platform is typical for a bureaucrat, who offers a little something to everyone", according to Martin Armstrong. On the contrary, "a victory of Macron would sentence the EU to a complete collapse and a hard landing in 2018", is the verdict of the American analyst, because "Brussels will celebrate the end of populism and will continue down the same path, without reforms". The cynicism of another American, Bill Bonner, the author of the books "Empire of Debt" and "Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets" and former French resident in France for 18 years, is heading towards an aspect that more is closer to the daily concerns of the French. "It is not a matter of whether the voters will be robbed or not, the question is by whom", Bonner writes.