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I am afraid this is a catch-up, and is longer than normal. Trip going well in Australia so far. Hopefully can get up-to-date soon. Bear with me! Don
Daily Mail 11-Jul-16
Barnabus Fund 07-Jul-16
Last week we reported that President Vladimir Putin had until 20 July to decide whether to enact an anti-terror bill into law – which, despite protests from churches, includes many clauses that are strongly anti-Christian. In fact the bill, which is primarily aimed at anti-terrorist activities, was signed into law by President Putin on Sunday 3 July. Protestant Christians in Russia fear that the new law will be chiefly enforced as a weapon against them and not used against the Orthodox Church, which Mr Putin has favoured in the past.
The new law will require any sharing of the Christian faith – even a casual conversation – to have prior authorisation from the state. This includes something as basic as an emailed invitation for a friend to attend church. Even in a private home, worship and prayer will only be allowed if there are no unbelievers present. Churches will also be held accountable for the activities of their members. So if, for example, a church member mentions their faith in conversation with a work colleague, not only the church member but also the church itself could be punished, with individuals facing fines of up to 50,000 roubles (£580; USD770; €700). There are also restrictions on the extent to which churches can have contact with foreigners; for example, any non-Russian citizen attending a church service would be required to have a work visa or face a fine and expulsion from Russia.
Christianity Today 08-Jul-16
Update (July 8): This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a package of anti-terrorism laws that usher in tighter restrictions on missionary activity and evangelism.
Despite prayers and protests from religious leaders and human rights advocates, the Kremlin announced Putin’s approval yesterday. The amendments, including laws against sharing faith in homes, online, or anywhere but recognized church buildings, go into effect July 20.
Though opponents to the new measures hope to eventually appeal in court or elect legislators to amend them, they have begun to prepare their communities for life under the new rules, reported Forum 18 News Service, a Christian outlet reporting on the region.
Protestants and religious minorities small enough to gather in homes fear they will be most affected. Last month, “the local police officer came to a home where a group of Pentecostals meet each Sunday,” Konstantin Bendas, deputy bishop of the Pentecostal Union, told Forum 18. “With a contented expression he told them: ‘Now they’re adopting the law I’ll drive you all out of here.’ I reckon we should now fear such zealous enforcement.”
“There are potentially very wide-sweeping ramifications to this law,” Joel Griffith of the Slavic Gospel Association said in a Mission Network News report. “It just depends on, again, how it is going to be enforced, and that is a very huge question mark.”
Earlier reporting (June 29): Christians in Russia won’t be allowed to email their friends an invitation to church or to evangelize in their own homes if Russia’s newest set of surveillance and anti-terrorism laws are enacted.
The proposed laws, considered the country’s most restrictive measures in post-Soviet history, place broad limitations on missionary work, including preaching, teaching, and engaging in any activity designed to recruit people into a religious group.
To share their faith, citizens must secure a government permit through a registered religious organization, and they cannot evangelize anywhere besides churches and other religious sites. The restrictions even apply to activity in private residences and online.
This week, Russia’s Protestant minority—estimated around 1 percent of the population—prayed, fasted, and sent petitions to President Vladimir Putin, who will have to approve the measures before they become official.
“Most evangelicals—leaders from all seven denominations—have expressed concerns,” Sergey Rakhuba, president of Mission Eurasia and a former Moscow church-planter, told CT. “They’re calling on the global Christian community to pray that Putin can intervene and God can miraculously work in this process.”
Following a wave of Russian nationalist propaganda, the laws passed almost unanimously in the Duma, the upper house, on Friday and in the Federation Council, the lower house, today.
“If this legislation is approved, the religious situation in the country will grow considerably more complicated and many believers will find themselves in exile and subjected to reprisals because of our faith,” wrote Oleg Goncharov, spokesman for the Seventh-day Adventists’ Euro-Asia division, in an open letter.
Proposed by United Russia party lawmaker Irina Yarovaya, the law appears to target religious groups outside the Russian Orthodox church. Because it defines missionary activities as religious practices to spread a faith beyond its members, “if that is interpreted as the Moscow Patriarchate is likely to, it will mean the Orthodox Church can go after ethnic Russians but that no other church will be allowed to,” according to Frank Goble, an expert on religious and ethnic issues in the region.
Russian nationalist identity remains tied up with the Russian Orthodox church.
“The Russian Orthodox church is part of a bulwark of Russian nationalism stirred up by Vladimir Putin,” David Aikman, history professor and foreign affairs expert, told CT. “Everything that undermines that action is a real threat, whether that’s evangelical Protestant missionaries or anything else.”
Sergei Ryakhovsky, head of the Protestant Churches of Russia, and several other evangelical leaders called the law a violation of religious freedom and personal conscience in a letter to Putin posted on the Russian site Portal-Credo. The letter reads, in part:
The obligation on every believer to have a special permit to spread his or her beliefs, as well as hand out religious literature and material outside of places of worship and used structures is not only absurd and offensive, but also creates the basis for mass persecution of believers for violating these provisions.
Soviet history shows us how many people of different faiths have been persecuted for spreading the Word of God. This law brings us back to a shameful past.”
Stalin-era religious restrictions—including outlawing religious activity outside of Sunday services in registered churches and banning parents from teaching faith to their kids—remained on the books until the collapse of the Soviet Union, though the government enforced them only selectively.
Some have questioned whether the government could or would monitor religious activity in private Christian homes.
“I don’t think you can overestimate the Russian government’s willingess to exert control,” Aikman told CT. If history is any indication, the proposed regulations reveal a pattern of “creeping totalitarianism” in the country, he said.
The so-called Big Brother laws also introduce widespread surveillance of online activity, including requiring encrypted apps to give the government the power to decode them, and assigning stronger punishments for extremism and terrorism.
The proposal is an “attack on freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and the right to privacy that gives law enforcement unreasonably broad powers,” the humanitarian group Human Rights Watch told The Guardian.
If passed, the anti-evangelism law carries fines up to US $780 for an individual and $15,500 for an organization. Foreign visitors who violate the law face deportation.
Russia has already moved to contain foreign missionaries. The “foreign agent” law, adopted in 2012, requires groups from abroad to file detailed paperwork and be subject to government audits and raids. Since then, the NGO sector has shrunk by a third, according to government statistics.
“In Moscow, we shared an office with 24 organizations. Not a single foreign expatriate mission is there now,” Rakhuba previously told CT. “They could not re-register. Missionaries could not return to Russia because they could not renew their visas. It is next to impossible to get registration as a foreign organization today.”
While Russia’s evangelicals pray that the proposed regulations are amended or vetoed, they have gone underground before, and they’ll be willing to do it again, Rakhuba said.
“They say, ‘If it will come to it, it’s not going to stop us from worshiping and sharing our faith,’” he wrote. “The Great Commission isn’t just for a time of freedom.”
NATO-EGR-RU:160709:(16-JUN-16):Nato’s united front under threat after Greece signs arms deal with Russia
Daily Telegraph 09-Jul-16
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Senior Nato officials have raised concerns that attempts by Greece to forge a defence pact with Moscow could seriously undermine efforts to present a united front against further acts of Russian aggression.
Maintaining security in eastern Europe and former Soviet Union states is likely to dominate the Nato summit when leaders of the 28-member alliance meet in Warsaw on Saturday.
The summit is the first meeting of Western leaders since Britain’s Brexit vote in last month’s referendum, and Nato leaders are keen to demonstrate the vote does not signal divisions in Europe that could be exploited by the Kremlin.
But in what will be US President Barack Obama’s last Nato summit before he leaves the White House, Nato officials are raising concerns about deepening defence ties between Greece and Moscow which they fear could undermine attempts by Nato to present a united front against Russia.
Air display for Nato summit in Warsaw
Air forces conduct a fly-past to mark the opening of the Nato summit in Warsaw Credit: Czarek Sokolowski/AP
Nato’s concerns relate to last month’s announcement by Panos Kammenos, the Greek defence minister, when he unveiled a new partnership with Russia to manufacture Kalashnikov rifles.
The Greek government says the deal is vital to prevent the collapse of the country’s defence industry. But in order for the deal to go ahead Moscow is insisting that Greece must first persuade its Nato partners in Europe to lift the economic sanctions imposed after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Mr Kammenos, the leader of the Right-wing anti-austerity Independent Greeks party, is viewed with suspicion by many Nato leaders following a series of outspoken comments.
Last year he threatened to unleash “a wave of millions of economic migrants” and jihadists into Europe unless the EU backed down on austerity demands, and caused deep offence to Germany by claiming “Europe is governed by German neo-Nazis”.
But it is Greece’s deepening defence ties with Moscow that are causing most concern for Nato officials.
One said: “It is essential that Nato leaders present a united front against Russia at the Warsaw summit if we are to deter further acts of Russian aggression in Europe.
“But the fact that a strategically important Nato country like Greece is trying to build its own relationship with Moscow could seriously undermine the alliance’s ability to present a united front to deter further acts of Russian aggression.”
Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has made no secret of his satisfaction at Britain’s decision to leave the EU, which he hopes will lead to further divisions in Europe that will allow him to increase Russian influence over former Soviet countries in eastern Europe.
Mr Kammenos, whose party joined forces with the Left-wing Syriza party of prime minister Alexis Tsipras to form a coalition government, was the only Western politician to attend the 4th Moscow International Security Conference held in April, when he claimed the EU’s sanctions had “been a disaster both for Russia and the EU”.
Egypt’s foreign minister visited Israel on July 10, offering Cairo’s help to revive peace talks in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Reuters reported. The Egyptian foreign minister traveled to Jerusalem for two meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He called for confidence-building measures that could lead to renewed peace negotiations that collapsed in 2014. In May, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also urged both sides to make peace, offering Israel the prospect of warmer ties if it were achieved. The visit is Egypt’s attempt to strengthen ties between two countries, particularly after the recent thawing of ties between Israel and Turkey. Cairo is wary of Ankara’s support for the Islamist party the Muslim Brotherhood, its increasing influence with Palestinian groups that have traditionally looked to Egypt for mediation with Israel, and the dialogue on a subsea pipeline from Israel to Turkey that competes with Egypt’s Zohr natural gas field discovery.
Schadenfreude over Brexit in European capitals may be premature
The fortnight after the U.K.’s anti-European Union vote has been a poor advertisement for Britain’s crisis management prowess. European central bankers are displaying schadenfreude about the sharp fall in sterling and chaotic state of U.K. politics.
The view in Frankfurt, home of the European Central Bank, is that the referendum aftermath, including a retreat from the front line by Prime Minister David Cameron and his two former principal rivals for the job, is a powerful antidote to other European parties considering similar plebiscites.
However, other Europeans should be careful not to gloat.
The quicker-than-expected resolution of doubt about the next leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister — it will be Theresa May, the home secretary, after Andrea Leadsom, the other candidate, pulled out today — shows how the clock can speed up, potentially in Britain’s favor. In a few years, the U.K. may be pleased that it got its referendum in early.
Yes, Britain faces uncertainty as it redefines its economic and political future.
Yes, the performance of Leave campaigners chronically unprepared for an unexpected victory has been abject.
Yes, George Osborne, Britain’s pro-EU chancellor of the exchequer (finance minister), has predictably reneged on his ill-advised pre-referendum announcement of a contractionary post-Brexit budget — a threat (correctly) labelled as “absurd” last week by Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England.
One of the few bright spots is that Boris Johnson, the pro-Brexit former mayor of London, has displayed so much ineptitude that even the Conservative Party may think twice in future about proposing him for high office.
Yet, compared with the tests awaiting the rest of the EU over the next 15 months — from the repercussions over Italy’s go-it-alone bank rescue plan to electoral tussles in Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, France and Germany — Britain’s travails may turn out to be relatively harmless.
Much depends on how smoothly May begins formulating strategy and starting exit negotiations. If the U.K. has a reasonably solid government relatively soon, we could witness a rerun of the aftermath of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in September 2008. The euro showed resilience in the months afterwards, while sterling plunged — only for the positions to be reversed later on as the full impact of the eurozone’s peripheral members’ debt crisis hit home.
Sterling’s trade-weighted index has fallen by around 11% since the Jun. 23 vote, but is still only marginally below levels three years ago that the Bank of England regarded as appropriate at the time. Between May 2013 and May 2016, sterling’s real (inflation-adjusted) index rose 7%, against a fall of 4% for the euro GBPEUR, -0.0417% , and rises of 16% for the dollar GBPUSD, -0.0529% , 8% for the renminbi GBPCNY, -0.0147% 3% for the yen GBPJPY, -0.07% .
The pound’s fall, although made more dramatic by the EU vote, has hence been in large part a correction to a previous overvaluation. The question now is when the dollar BUXX, -0.01% start to fall again, although this will probably be delayed until some time after a new U.S. president takes office.
The euro’s post-Jun. 23 rise against sterling (weakening the euro bloc’s competitiveness against its most important trading partner) and a decline in European growth prospects are bad news for European economies. European central bankers are starting to talk of an extension of the ECB’s quantitative easing beyond the previous cutoff point of March 2017 (and even a further increase in monthly bond-buying despite the difficulty of accomplishing present purchase quotas).
If this is necessary, then the ECB’s QE, highly unpopular in the Netherlands and Germany, will become an even more virulent topic in both countries’ parliamentary elections next year.
For the U.K., one comforting aspect is the strength of foreign investor demand for sterling assets, including government bonds, at now much cheaper levels. The U.K. can still draw on plentiful “kindness of strangers,” the quaint term Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, used in January to describe foreigners’ propensity to fund the U.K.’s large current account deficit.
I am indebted to Patrick Honohan, former governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, for pointing out that the phrase stems from the parting lines of tragic heroine Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’s “A Streetcar named Desire.” Honohan opines: “Let’s hope the sad and chaotic life story of Blanche is not mirrored in the future of the U.K. economy.”
When she utters those words, Blanche is being guided to a mental hospital by a kindly doctor. There must be hope that Britain’s outlook is slightly healthier.
German Foreign Policy 11-Jul-16
NATO wound up its summit in Warsaw, Saturday, with a decision to bolster its arms buildup. The measures decided by the Western war alliance are particularly aimed at Russia. Four battalion-sized NATO-“Battle Groups” will be deployed in Poland and the Baltic countries – one under German command. NATO will also support Ukraine’s armed forces and reinforce its presence on the Black Sea. The war alliance pursues its propaganda of Cold-War style alleged threat scenarios. With allusion to the “Fulda Gap,” NATO identifies today a “Suwalki Gap” between northeastern Poland and southern Lithuania as an alleged gateway for Russian troops to Kaliningrad through Belarus, against which, NATO would be “helpless.” Statistics show that the “helpless” NATO invests thirteen times more than Russia in its military. While the EU is enhancing its cooperation with the western war alliance, the US is heating up the next major conflict – with China – through its deployment of a missile defense system in Asia.
The deployment of western troops at the Russian border constitutes the central element of the arms buildup decided at Warsaw’s NATO summit. Battalion-sized NATO “Battle Groups”  will be deployed in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Germany being the “framework nation,” the Bundeswehr will command the battle group in Lithuania. Berlin and NATO claim that this decision is still not in violation of the NATO-Russia Founding Act from 1997, which stipulates that no “substantial combat forces” be stationed permanently in the new NATO-member countries. However, during the NATO summit, Poland’s Defense Minister, Witold Waszczykowski, pointed out that in fact a much larger number of NATO-servicemen could be present, for example in Poland. Waszczykowski recalled that the USA plans to regularly dispatch a brigade to Poland from Germany for military exercises. There will also be the personnel for the NATO missile defense and the combat support brigade for the Multinational Corps Northeast, with leading Bundeswehr participation. According to Waszczykowski, more than 10,000 NATO servicemen will be stationed in Poland.
During its Warsaw summit, NATO also agreed on other measures, which are clearly directed at Russia – in spite of some of its declarations to the contrary. NATO declared partial readiness of its new missile defense system and officially took command handed over by the United States. A radar system in Turkey and a missile interception site in Romania are operational and four warships docked in Spain can also be used for the missile defense system. Its central command has been installed at NATO’s Allied Air Command Headquarters in Ramstein, Germany. NATO will help Ukraine to modernize its armed forces and to achieve interoperability with NATO. Both measures are aimed at Russia. The war alliance expressed its explicit appreciation of “Ukraine’s significant contributions to Allied operations and the NATO Response Force.” NATO also seeks to “strengthen its air and maritime presence” in the Black Sea region. Romania will establish a fully operational “multinational brigade” in which Bulgaria will participate. To prevent Russia from undertaking counter measures in response to this NATO aggression, NATO has announced a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council for Wednesday. If NATO succeeds in forestalling Moscow’s reaction, its arms buildup offensive would be successful without disadvantages.
The “Suwalki Gap”
Leading German media are accompanying NATO’s arms buildup with elements of propaganda revived straight from the tool chests of the cold war. Today, they have begun to propagate the notion of a “Suwalki Gap,” a region of northeast Poland and Southern Lithuania where an alleged Russian assault is expected. The term “Suwalki Gap” alludes to the cold war’s “Fulda Gap,” which up to 1989 had been considered the alleged gateway for the Warsaw Treaty nations’ troops into Germany. NATO is spreading the word that “there is a threat of Russia provoking a regional conventional conflict,” where Russian units attack via Belarus through the “Suwalki Gap” to Kaliningrad. This would “separate the Baltic from the rest of NATO, returning these countries to Moscow’s orbit.” NATO would have to stand by “watching helplessly” from the sidelines, because it has “no strong forces in the region,” it is claimed. Moreover, “the Baltic could hardly be retaken after [Russian, editor’s note] conquest.”
The Helpless NATO
The absurdity of the assertion that NATO is “helpless,” has been graphically debunked in exhibits published in the German media – this is also a replica of corresponding illustrations from the cold war period – comparing NATO’s and Russia’s arms budgets and weapons. According to these illustrations, in 2015, poor “helpless” NATO had spent around US $861 billion on its arms buildup – just about thirteen times Russia’s military budget (US $66 billion). NATO nations – without the USA – are spending nearly the same amount per capita on their armed forces (US $440) vs. Russia’s US $470, while the USA, alone, spends US $1,870 per capita on its military. 800,000 Russian soldiers are up against 3.41 Million NATO soldiers, 750 Russian fighter jets and 1,400 ground combat aircraft are up against NATO’s 4,000 fighter jets and 4,600 ground combat aircraft. In a warfare situation, a single Russian aircraft carrier would have to take on 27 NATO aircraft carrier, 100 Russian frigates, destroyers or corvettes would confront 260 of the corresponding NATO warships, 60 Russian submarines would be confronting 154 NATO subs. Only in the domain of multiple rocket launchers (MRLs) and self-propelled guns (SPGs) would Russia hold a slight advantage over the western alliance. However, in modern warfare, the military advantage these weapons represent can be regarded as of subordinate significance.
Germany’s Global Role
That the EU would cooperate more closely with NATO was not among the least the decisions taken at the Warsaw summit. This would be the case, above all, in areas where the EU is either significantly weaker than the USA, or where it wishes support. The former case applies to the domain of cyberwarfare and intelligence activities to be expanded, while the latter applies to the EU warding off migrants, wherein the military alliance will lend support. It also stipulates that the EU’s arms industry should be further bolstered and can possibly expect new orders from the United States. This reinforcement of cooperation was taken after German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had announced that Germany has become a “central player” on the world stage and takes on a “global role,” while the USA has “stumbled” and “the illusion of a unipolar world” faded. Steinmeier, together with his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, additionally call for an excessive EU arms buildup permitting the European confederation to become an “independent” and “global” actor – also “independent” of the USA.
The Next Major Conflict
While the EU and NATO are intensifying cooperation, the United States is heating up the next major conflict. As was announced late last week, Washington will be stationing the Thaad missile defense system in South Korea, allegedly aimed at stopping North Korean missiles. In reality, however, this sophisticated radar technology permits the USA to spy on China from South Korean territory. The missile defense system also weakens China’s retaliatory capabilities and thereby Chinese defenses. With this, Washington is heating up the major conflict with China, which has been growing more critical all along.
[Footnotes to articles in German removed]
 Joint statement of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at the level of Heads of State and Government. 9 July 2016, Warsaw, Poland.  See The European War Union.
UK-EU-EFR:160712:(16-JUN-16):France: Minister Says Brexit Means Eurozone Should Integrate More Deeply
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said July 12 that the United Kingdom’s move to leave the European Union means eurozone countries should integrate even more deeply than before, AP reported. Doing so will lead to greater global stability, Sapin added. His comments came as British prime minister-in-waiting Theresa May prepares to take over for David Cameron, who will be stepping down July 13. May, who will have to navigate the country’s transition from the bloc despite not having supported it in the lead-up to the vote, is reportedly putting together her Cabinet now. To encourage party unity, it is expected to include ministers who supported both sides of the Brexit debate.
Media Line MidEast Daily News 13-Jul-16
Following an agreement between Israel and Turkey to reestablish ties, and to allow Turkey to deliver aid to the 1.8 million Palestinians in the densely populated Gaza Strip, a technical delegation from Turkey’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources is visiting Gaza to assess its energy needs and to solve Gaza’s ongoing energy crisis. A number of Turkish companies are interested in building electricity infrastructure projects. Last week, a Turkish ship delivered more than 11,000 tons of cargo including clothes, toys and medicine to the Israeli port of Ashdod. The aid was inspected and brought into Gaza by truck.
Daily Telegraph 12-Jul-16
The leaders of Nato’s 28 member-states met in Warsaw last week against a background of security crises on all sides. As the summit declaration put it, there is “an arc of insecurity and instability along Nato’s periphery”.
One concrete and encouraging response to the varied challenges was a joint declaration by the NATO Secretary General and the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission on giving new impetus and substance to the partnership between the EU and Nato. The two organisations agreed to co-operate in a number of areas, from countering hybrid warfare to improving maritime security.
The EU and NATO have both realised that the crises they face do not fit neatly into institutional boxes. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine demanded both sanctions, imposed by the EU, and military reassurance from Nato for allies in Central and Eastern Europe. Both organisations have something to contribute to solving the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean; to improving resilience in the face of cyber threats; and to making European defence industries more efficient. The joint declaration showed new pragmatism on the part of the EU, recognising that it is not in a competition for influence, but that “a stronger EU means a stronger NATO, and a stronger Nato means a stronger EU”, as Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker put it.
But the joint declaration was also a response to a challenge that it did not mention, but that hovered in the background of every discussion in Warsaw: the possible consequences for European security of the departure of the UK, one of the most pro-NATO countries, from the EU. Thoughtful officials in many EU countries, and in Brussels itself, know that the loss of the UK’s influence will damage the EU’s ability to mount operations in its neighbourhood.
In decades past, some US officials would have thought that keeping Europe dependent on America for its security was a useful way to guarantee Washington’s influence. But most US officials these days would like to see Europeans doing more for their own defence and security. For the US, there are advantages in having an EU willing and able to carry out operations (as in Mali) in which the US (and therefore NATO) does not wish to get involved. But an EU minus the UK will be less capable of operating in distant theatres, and more reliant on the US for help.
At the same time, after Brexit the UK itself will struggle to increase its defence efforts (in spite of agreeing to station 650 troops in Estonia and Poland as part of NATO’s deterrent force in Central Europe). The suggestion by former Nato Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis that a significant number of British forces would be released from EU duties and available to Nato is mistaken: the UK has generally contributed small numbers of specialists to EU missions, rather than large units. Rather, there is a risk that Brexit leaves the European contribution to NATO even more inadequate, while the UK itself becomes more isolationist.
PM: Britain is not going to play a lesser role in the world Play! 01:01
In Warsaw, David Cameron did his best to project the message that leaving the EU has not diminished Britain’s role as a major power, stressing that “while Britain may be leaving the European Union, we are not withdrawing from the world”. But whoever succeeds Cameron as Conservative Party leader and prime minister will have to contend with a party and a country that is less interested in other countries’ problems. If Brexit hits the UK economy as badly as forecast by the IMF and other experts, defence and overseas assistance would be among the budgets vulnerable to cuts. And if Scotland at some point votes in favour of independence, the UK would lose a significant part of its defence infrastructure, including the Trident submarine base at Faslane.
Against that background, both the EU and Nato will have an interest in showing that Brexit will not undermine either the capability or the resolve of the two organisations. European countries will need to put more forces in the field, reversing past cuts and compensating for the UK’s absence, if they are to show the US that they are making a serious effort to share the burden of defending Europe and European interests. The EU-Nato joint declaration was a clear message that regardless of Brexit, the two organisations are committed to co-operating rather than competing to provide security and defence in and for Europe.
Traditionally, the UK has acted as a bridge between Nato (and especially the US) and the EU. Once outside the EU, it will no longer be able to do that. But Brexit or not, if in future the United Kingdom chooses or is obliged to use force it will almost always find itself working in coalition with other Europeans. Nato, the EU and Britain itself all have an interest in ensuring that co-operation is as smooth as possible.
EUObserver 12-Jul-16 [opportunity for Britain! Don.]
The EU still hopes to reach one of the biggest bilateral trade deals in history before US president Barack Obama leaves the White House in January.
But they still have find common ground on a number of issues and swing public opinion, and the bloc is about to lose a major free trade defender – the UK, which could be less focused on working for a EU deal while it would have to negotiate its own trade agreements after Brexit is effective.
More than a hundred officials are involved in the 14th round of negotiations on the EU-US Transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP), taking place in Brussels all week.
This time around, talks will cover all aspects of the deal, which aims to bring together the world’s two largest economic blocs by addressing all kinds of trade barriers.
If all goes well, a first draft of the text will emerge by the end of the summer, an EU source said on Friday (8 July).
But the Commission had hoped to reach end-game negotiations already with the previous round, in April. The talks initially aimed to conclude under the previous EU Commission in 2014 and also failed to respect the second deadline of December 2015.
Frustrated EU leaders have laid the blame on the American side, which they accuse of not really running with the ball.
EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstroem has claimed, however, that the main stumbling block at this stage is ”populism”.
Almost 3.5 million people have signed a petition to stop TTIP and CETA, a similar EU trade deal with Canada. Almost 1,900 cities, municipalities, and regions across Europe have declared themselves TTIP-free zones .
Last week, anti-TTIP activists sprayed graffiti on the European Commission buildings, walls and pavements in the European quarters, and the office of Businesseurope, the European business federation. They promised to disrupt negotiations by ”massive” civil disobedience, including a casserole concert.
Fault has been found with Jose Manuel Barroso, the previous leader of the European Commission, who launched TTIP negotiations a year before his term ended and also set out to sign them off.
The Portuguese considered that the best way to achieve a quick deal would be by keeping almost everyone in the dark. The strategy unravelled though, unleashing fears that the deal would undermine EU standards in the field of consumer protection, environmental legislation and workers’ rights.
The next commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker has enhanced transparency by setting up a citizens’ forum where chief negotiators report back to stakeholders during every round. The Commission also established a new unit that publishes negotiation texts and answers public concerns.
”The Juncker commission has tried to narrow the gap between political elites and citizens,” said Eugenia da Conceicao-Heldt, a professor of European and Global Governance at the Bavarian School of Public Policy. ”But people are not really reading the texts, which are very complex and technical.”
She added the deal wouldn’t be acceptable to either side unless it brought overall benefits – but didn’t rule out there would be losers of increased competition, notably in agriculture, an area where almost no progress has been achieved.
Trade has turned political
”It’s the first time in EU history that a trade deal has turned political,” da Conceicao-Heldt said. ”It’s very good to have a combination of business representatives and civil society representatives to talk about what’s on the negotiation table.”
But constructive talks are difficult in the context of wide-spread distrust, and the deal are mainly carried by EU institutions, already under pressure. Some member states, such as France, with a presidential election coming up, have been publicly distancing themselves from the deal while voting to endorse the Commission’s mandate, which was last renewed in June. Britain’s vote to leave the EU sidelines one of the staunchest champions of free trade.
”The EU doesn’t need another crisis,” Conceicao-Heldt said. If member states used the EU executive as a scapegoat, rather than helped it to explain the benefits of trade, trade negotiations were likely to get stuck
New Europe 08-Jul-16
Pierre Moscovici, the EU Commissioner responsible for economic and financial affairs, taxation and customs, had announced in Strasbourg on July 5 that a decision on Spain and Portugal would be taken soon. On July 7, the Commission announced that Portugal did not correct its excessive deficit by the 2015 deadline and that Spain is unlikely to correct its excessive deficit by the 2016 deadline. Both countries are in violation of the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact.
As regards Spain, the country’s deficit stood at 11% in 2009, falling to 10.4% of GDP in 2012 and 5.1% in 2015. However, the recommended target for 2015 was 4.2% of GDP. As for the cumulative structural fiscal effort, Spain is again off target. For instance, the GDP during the period 2013-2015 was estimated at 0.6%,, below the 2.7% of GDP recommended by the EU Council. On public debt, it has been relatively stable at 99.3% of GDP in 2014 and 99.2% in 2015.
As for Portugal, the deficit fell from 11.2% of GDP in 2010 to 4.4% in 2015, while the recommended target for 2015 was 2.5% of GDP. The cumulative structural fiscal effort during the period 2013-2015 is estimated at 1.1% of GDP, significantly below the 2.5% of GDP recommended by the EU Council. The level of public debt also remains high, reaching a 130.2% of GDP in 2014, before dropping at 129.0% of GDP in 2015.
Having missed the Stability and Growth Pact deadlines, both Spain and Portugal are now expecting to receive new deadlines and a new fiscal path. This was announced by EU Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis during a press conference in Brussels Berlaymont headquarters.
All the decisions are now to be taken by the EU Council’s ECOFIN, which activates Article 126.8 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Then, Spain and Portugal will be expected to propose measures in order to avoid a fine of up to 0.2% of GDP that would be applicable, as well as a freeze of 0.5% of GDP on Structural Funds. The fines to 0.2% of GDP that may be imposed, have never been applied since the Stability and Growth Pact was put into effect in 2013.
“I want to underline that both Spain and Portugal have emerged from a very deep economic crisis which had a heavy impact on the functioning of the real economy and also the wellbeing of their citizens,” said Moscovici, acknowledging that many sacrifices were made during the crisis and difficult steps were taken to rein in budget deficits, particularly in 2012 and 2013. He also said “important and challenging reforms were adopted”.
“Today’s assessment in no way undermines these facts. On the contrary, we welcome these improvements,” said Moscovici. He also stressed that it is now up to EU finance ministers to confirm the assessment and that the Commission will continue to act within the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact.
“These are complex but intelligent rules that must be applied in an intelligent way,” Moscovici underlined, opposing the automatic activation of any sanctions, and asking from everyone in the room to not speculate on decisions about sanctions. “We look at the Pact respectively – but yes the rules are smart, we are not automatically applying the rule [but] you can’t live forever with high deficit s and high debt.”
What happens next?
Moscovici now expects the Council to “take the ball”. Spain and Portugal will have 10 days from the Council’s endorsement of the EU Commission decision. One EU source told NE that “letters from both countries are to be expected.”
If the member states act quickly, then the EU Commission can reconsider the fines and even reduce them to zero, according to Dombrovskis. The EU Commission will take into account the present situation and the efforts made by both Portugal and Spain.
Moscovici said there is no need to speculate about the fines and that the European Commission will stick to the rules, but denied that some months ago he said that the EU Commission would wait for Spain to form a government after the new elections.
But the biggest problem for Spain remains the Structural Funds, as the procedure is different. Also, as noted by another EU expert, it could take place on different dates, but still with the formation of the Spanish government until the date that the Commission expects the government’s proposals. Then the Structural Funds are expected to freeze for at least until the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Spanish sources say there is concern that the decision could be harmful, since eurosceptic voices have grown stronger after Brexit. This could make the decisions at a ministerial level painful for both countries, pointing to Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who will make things difficult for Iberico.
UK-EU-EGE:160711:(16-JUN-16):Brexit: Angela Merkel’s popularity grows in Germany after UK votes to leave EU
The Independent 11-Jul-16
‘Nobody wants to put themselves in the kind of mess the British have’, says Professor Marlene Wind
Angela Merkel is enjoying a 10-month high in popularity since Britain decided to leave the EU.
The German Chancellor, a firm supporter of the European project, has enjoyed a nine-point increase in backing since June, according to a poll by the German broadcaster ARD.
It found 59 per cent of 1,500 survey respondents said they were “satisfied” with Ms Merkel’s leadership, her best showing since September last year.
Another poll released on Saturday by Die Welt and Stern magazine found Ms Merkel has 48 per cent of the public’s support.
Her approval ratings are recovering after they dipped because of her handling of the refugee crisis. The Chancellor has welcomed more than a million refugees into the country, which has provoked crticism among many right-wing Germans and been used by opponents to attack her. The CSU, the Bavarian affiliate of Merkel’s ruling CDU party, was highly critical of the decision.
However, it is now thought around three-quarters of the CSU party back Ms Merkel.
The enthusiasm for Ms Merkel mirrors growth in appreciation for the EU across Europe since the Brexit decision.
Support for the union has swollen across the continent, despite warnings Brexit would cause a chain of collapse.
In Denmark, before Brexit, 41 per cent of Danes wanted to hold their own referendum. Since the UK voted to leave, the figure has fallen to 32 per cent, according to polling.
The vote has been a “wake-up call across Europe”, Marlene Wind has said, a professor of political science at the University of Copenhagen.
UK:160711:(16-JUN-16):U.K.: 1 Candidate Remains As Energy Minister Drops Bid For Conservative Party Leadership
Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom dropped out of the competition to become the next leader of the British Conservative Party and the United Kingdom’s prime minister, leaving Home Secretary Theresa May as the sole remaining candidate, BBC reported July 11. The news follows controversial comments by Leadsom in which she appeared to suggest that, as a mother, she was better equipped to lead the country than her rival May, who is childless. With Leadsom out, it appears it is just a matter of time before May is confirmed as the party’s next leader. It will be up to the party’s powerful 1922 committee to set out a timetable about when May will take over as party leader and when she will step in to David Cameron’s role as prime minister. Once she secures the position officially, the duty of orchestrating the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union will fall on May.
Meanwhile, Angela Eagle formally launched her bid to replace Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has refused to resign despite losing the backing of most Labour lawmakers. It is not exactly clear what will come of Eagle’s challenge, and complex legal arguments have been put forth both by proponents of Corbyn stepping down and those who say that he should be able to hold on to his position. Corbyn quickly lost the support of many lawmakers in his party in the fallout after the Brexit referendum.
The United States will deploy 560 more troops to Iraq to aid in the campaign against the Islamic State, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said July 11, AP reported. Most of the new troops will help Iraqi forces create an operations hub at the strategic Qayara air base, which they recaptured from militants July 9. The base will play a key role in the offensive to retake the northern city of Mosul from the group, Carter said. A group of U.S. troops reportedly inspected the base on July 10. Carter also said that U.S. advisers could accompany Iraqi troops as they move toward Mosul, if necessary, though he did not provide details as to when those operations would occur. The fight to retake Mosul — by far the Islamic State’s biggest stronghold in the country — has long been billed as the major battle in the fight against the group in Iraq.
BICOM (Britain Israel Communication & Research Centre 11-Jul-16
Egypt’s Foreign Minister made a surprise visit to Israel yesterday, becoming the first senior Egyptian minister to visit the country in nine years.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas two weeks ago, met Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for two hours in Jerusalem, prior to a dinner at Netanyahu’s official residence.
Netanyahu said: “I welcome President al-Sisi’s recent offer of Egyptian leadership in efforts to advance peace with the Palestinians and a broader peace in our region.”
He added: “Today I call again on the Palestinians to follow the courageous example of Egypt and Jordan and join us for direct negotiations. This is the only way we can address all the outstanding problems between us.”
Shoukry described his visit to Jerusalem as “a continuation of Egypt’s longstanding sense of responsibility towards peace for itself and all the people of the region, particularly the Palestinians and the Israeli people”. He said that the current state of affairs “is neither stable nor sustainable” and declared that “the vision of the two-state solution is not far-fetched”.
Shoukry added that a peace settlement would be “a monumental achievement” with “far-reaching, dramatic and positive impact on the overall conditions in the Middle East region”.
In addition to peace prospects, it is thought that Netanyahu raised the issue of returning the bodies of two Israeli soldiers and two Israeli citizens thought to be alive, currently in the hands of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, there is also speculation that Netanyahu may be planning a trip to Egypt’s capital Cairo.
Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979 and although relations have been typically cold since then, under the leadership of Egyptian President al-Sisi, bilateral relations have strengthened significantly. In May, al-Sisi made a surprising public plea for Israel and the Palestinians to renew peace talks in the context of brokering a wider regional peace. Netanyahu immediately endorsed al-Sisi’s initiative.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said he will resign July 13, paving the way for Home Secretary Theresa May to become the country’s next prime minister, the Independent reported July 11. Cameron said he will chair his last Cabinet meeting July 12, then step down July 13 after fielding questions in parliament early that day. He added that he expects May to be in place as the new prime minister that same evening. The task of negotiating the country’s exit from the European Union now falls to May.
*We Arabs managed our relationship with Israel atrociously, but the worst of all is the ongoing situation of the Palestinians. Our worst mistake was in not accepting the United Nations partition plan of 1947.
*Perhaps one should not launch wars if one is not prepared for the results of possibly losing them.
*The Jews are not keeping the Arabs in camps, we are.
*Jordan integrated some refugees, but not all. We could have proven that we Arabs are a great and noble people, but instead we showed the world, as we continue to do, that our hatred towards each other and towards Jews is far greater than any concept of purported Arab solidarity.
This is part one of a two-part series. The second part will examine what we Arabs can do differently today.
In the current state of the relationship between the Arab world and Israel, we see a patchwork of hostility, tense peace, limited cooperation, calm, and violence. We Arabs managed our relationship with Israel atrociously, but the worst of all is the ongoing situation of the Palestinians.
The Original Mistake
Our first mistake lasted centuries, and occurred well before Israel’s declaration of independence in May 1948. It consisted of not recognizing Jews as equals. As documented by a leading American scholar of Jewish history in the Muslim world, Mark R. Cohen, during that era, “Jews shared with other non-Muslims the status of dhimmis [non-Muslims who have to pay protection money and follow separate debasing laws to be tolerated in Muslim-controlled areas] … New houses of worship were not to be built and old ones could not be repaired. They were to act humbly in the presence of Muslims. In their liturgical practice they had to honor the preeminence of Islam. They were further required to differentiate themselves from Muslims by their clothing and by eschewing symbols of honor. Other restrictions excluded them from positions of authority in Muslim government”. On March 1, 1944, while the Nazis were massacring six million Jews, and well before Israel declared independence, Haj Amin al-Husseini, then Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, declared on Radio Berlin, “Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you.”
If we had not made this mistake, we might have benefited in two ways. Jews would likely have remained in the Muslim Middle East in greater numbers, and they would have advanced the Middle Eastern civilization rather than the civilizations of the places to which they fled, most notably Europe and later the United States. Secondly, if Jews felt secure and accepted in the Middle East among Arabs, they may not have felt the need to create an independent state, which would have saved us from our subsequent mistakes.
The Worst Mistake
Our second and worst mistake was in not accepting the United Nations partition plan of 1947. UN resolution 181 provided the legal basis for a Jewish state and an Arab state sharing what used to be British-controlled Mandatory Palestine. As reported by the BBC, that resolution provided for: “A Jewish State covering 56.47% of Mandatory Palestine (excluding Jerusalem) with a population of 498,000 Jews and 325,000 Arabs; An Arab State covering 43.53% of Mandatory Palestine (excluding Jerusalem), with 807,000 Arab inhabitants and 10,000 Jewish inhabitants; An international trusteeship regime in Jerusalem, where the population was 100,000 Jews and 105,000 Arabs.” Although the land allocated to the Jewish state was slightly larger than the land allocated to the Arab state, much of the Jewish part was total desert, the Negev and Arava, with the fertile land allocated to the Arabs. The plan was also to the Arabs’ advantage for two other reasons:
*The Jewish state had only a bare majority of Jews, which would have given the Arabs almost as much influence as the Jews in running the Jewish state, but the Arab state was almost purely Arab, providing no political advantage to Jews within it.
*Each proposed state consisted of three more-or-less disconnected pieces, resulting in strong geographic interdependence between the two states. If the two states were on friendly terms, they would likely have worked in many ways as a single federation. In that federation, Arabs would have had a strong majority. Instead of accepting that gift of a plan when we still could, we Arabs decided that we could not accept a Jewish state, period. In May 1948, Azzam Pasha, the General Secretary of the Arab League, announced, regarding the proposed new Jewish part of the partition: that, “This will be a war of extermination, a momentous massacre, which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.” We initiated a war intended to eradicate the new state in its infancy, but we lost, and the result of our mistake was a much stronger Jewish state:
*The Jewish majority of the Jewish state grew dramatically due to the exchange of populations that occurred, with many Arabs fleeing the war in Israel and many Jews fleeing a hostile Arab world to join the new state.
*The Jews acquired additional land during the war we launched, resulting in armistice lines (today called the green lines or pre-1967 lines), which gave Israel a portion of the land previously allocated to the Arab state. The Jewish state also acquired much better contiguity, while the Arab portions became divided into two parts (Gaza and the West Bank) separated by almost 50 kilometers. Perhaps one should not launch wars if one is not prepared for the results of possibly losing them.
More Wars and More Mistakes
After the War of Independence (the name that the Jews give to the war of 1947/1948), Israel was for all practical purposes confined to the land within the green lines. Israel had no authority or claim over Gaza and the West Bank. We Arabs had two options if we had chosen to make peace with Israel at that time:
*We could have incorporated Gaza into Egypt, and the West Bank into Jordan, providing the Palestinians with citizenship in one of two relatively strong Arab countries, both numerically and geographically stronger than Israel.
*We could have created a new state in Gaza and the West Bank.
Instead, we chose to continue the hostilities with Israel. In the spring of 1967, we formed a coalition to attack Israel. On May 20, 1967, Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad stated, “The time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.” On May 27, 1967, Egypt’s President Abdul Nasser declared, “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel”. In June, it took Israel only six days to defeat us and humiliate us in front of the world. In that war, we lost much more land, including Gaza and the West Bank. After the war of 1967 (which Jews call the Six-Day War), Israel offered us land for peace, thereby offering us a chance to recover from the mistake of the Six-Day War. We responded with the Khartoum Resolutions, stating, “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel”. Not having learned from 1967, we formed yet another coalition in October 1973 and tried again to destroy Israel. We achieved some gains, but then the tide turned and we lost again. After this third humiliating defeat, our coalition against Israel broke up, and Egypt and Jordan even decided to make peace with Israel. The rest of us remained stubbornly opposed to Israel’s very existence, even Syria which, like Egypt and Jordan, had lost land to Israel during the Six-Day War. Today Israel still holds that territory, and there is no real prospect for that land ever going back to Syria; Israel’s Prime Minister recently declared that, “Israel will never leave the Golan Heights”.
The Tragedy of the Palestinians
The most reprehensible and the most tragic of our mistakes is the way that we Arabs have treated Palestinians since Israel’s declaration of independence. The Jews of Israel welcomed Jewish refugees from Arab and other Muslim lands into the Israeli fold, regardless of the cost or the difficulty in integrating people with very different backgrounds. Israel eagerly integrated refugees from far-away lands, including Ethiopia, India, Morocco, Brazil, Iran, Ukraine, and Russia. By doing so, they demonstrated the powerful bond that binds Jews to each other. At the same time, we had the opportunity similarly to show the bond that binds Arabs together, but instead of welcoming Arab refugees from the 1947/48 war, we confined them to camps with severe restrictions on their daily lives. In Lebanon, as reported by Amnesty International, “Palestinians continue to suffer discrimination and marginalization in the labor market which contribute to high levels of unemployment, low wages and poor working conditions. While the Lebanese authorities recently lifted a ban on 50 of the 70 jobs restricted to them, Palestinians continue to face obstacles in actually finding employment in them. The lack of adequate employment prospects leads a high drop-out rate for Palestinian schoolchildren who also have limited access to public secondary education. The resultant poverty is exacerbated by restrictions placed on their access to social services”. Yet, Lebanon and Syria could not integrate refugees that previously lived a few kilometers away from the country’s borders and who shared with the country’s people almost identical cultures, languages, and religions. Jordan integrated some refugees but not all. We could have proven that we Arabs are a great and noble people, but instead we showed the world, as we continue to do, that our hatred towards each other and towards Jews is far greater than any concept of purported Arab solidarity. Shamefully to us, seven decades after the Palestinian refugees fled Israel, their descendants are still considered refugees.
The worst part of the way we have treated Palestinian refugees is that even within the West Bank and Gaza, there remains to this day a distinction between Palestinian refugees and native Palestinians. In those lands, according to the year 2010 numbers provided by Palestinian Refugee ResearchNet at McGill University, 37% of Palestinians within the West Bank and Gaza live in camps! Gaza has eight Palestinian refugee camps, and the West bank has nineteen. The Jews are not keeping the Arabs in camps, we are. Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas claims a state on those lands, but we can hardly expect him to be taken seriously when he leaves the Palestinian refugees under his authority in camps and cannot even integrate them with other Palestinians. The ridiculousness of the situation is rivaled only by its callousness.
Where We Are Now
Because of our own mistakes, our relationship with Israel today is a failure. The only strength in our economies is oil, a perishable resource and, with fracking, diminishing in value. We have not done nearly enough to prepare for the future when we will need inventiveness and productivity. According to Foreign Policy Magazine, “Although Arab governments have long recognized the need to shift away from an excessive dependence on hydrocarbons, they have had little success in doing so. … Even the United Arab Emirates’ economy, one of the most diversified in the Gulf, is highly dependent on oil exports”. Business Insider rated Israel in 2015 as the world’s third most innovative country. Countries from all over the world take advantage of Israel’s creativity, including countries as remote and as advanced as Japan. Yet we snub Israel, an innovation powerhouse that happens to be at our borders. We also fail to take advantage of Israel’s military genius to help us fight new and devastating enemies such as ISIS. Worst of all, one of our own people, the Palestinians, are dispersed — divided, disillusioned, and utterly incapable of reviving the national project that we kidnapped from under their feet in 1948 and that we have since disfigured beyond recognition. To say that we must change our approach towards Israel is an understatement. There are fundamental changes that we ourselves must make, and we must find the courage and moral fortitude to make them.
The Jews are not keeping the Arabs in camps, we are. Fred Maroun, a left-leaning Arab based in Canada, has authored op-eds for New Canadian Media, among other outlets. From 1961-1984, he lived in Lebanon.
Daily Telegraph 12-Jul-16
Europe’s largest industrial combine has vowed to press ahead with investment in Britain despite the vote to leave the EU, backing away deftly from earlier suggestions that Brexit would cause a painful freeze on new activities.
Joe Kaeser, the chief executive of Siemens, said the German engineering and technology giant remains fully committed to the UK whatever happens, but called on Theresa May to clarify Britain’s post-Brexit trade vision as soon as possible and tell the world what kind of country it will become.
“We’re here for the long-term and we don’t let ourselves get jerked up and down. We’re staying because the UK is a good place to do business,” he said.
Mr Kaeser said the company had been misunderstood in the heat of the Brexit campaign when it was widely seen as a cheer-leader for Remain. Corporate damage-control is underway at the highest level.
“We never said the UK is in bad shape if it leaves the EU: we said the EU would miss a massive opportunity. Without the UK, the EU may never be able to stand up against superpowers like China and the US,” he told the Daily Telegraph and three other UK newspapers.
The top management of the 350,000-strong company is converging on the Cotswolds for a retreat to thrash out its post-Brexit strategy. “This is to show that the UK matters with or without it being a member of the EU,” he said.
Siemens employs 14,000 people in Britain, from wind power, to turbo-machinery, transport signals, MRI scanners, and health care diagnostics, mostly in highly-skilled jobs. It is a central pillar of Britain’s manufacturing and hi-tech sector, crucial to a nexus of sub-contractors.
Mr Kaeser said trade barriers for digital products are unthinkable in the internet age and called for common sense to prevail on tariffs, a refrain now heard daily from German exporters and the country’s industry federation (BDI).
He exhorted political leaders to “calm down” and work out a sensible settlement in the common interest. “Don’t go overboard. The UK is still going to be in geographic Europe. This is a balanced scenario of power,” he said.
The company is quietly breathing a sigh of relief that Andrea Leadsom will not be prime minister, both because she has called for a review of the £50bn HS2 high-speed rail project and because Leave’s leaders may have been irritated by Siemens’ tone during the campaign.
Siemens already plays a crucial role in Thameslink and Crossrail. It is angling for a big share of the trains and signalling for HS2 as well, along with other prize contracts in the gift of the British government.
Mr Kaeser said the company would step up investments in UK research and innovation regardless of whether there is any trade deal, and would build a new factory to manufacture railway rolling stock “in a heartbeat” if it won the order. Less clear is whether any trains would be for the export market, and exports are what the UK vitally needs to plug a current account deficit of 7pc of GDP.
Juergen Maier, head of Siemens UK, said the company is not calling for a Norway-style trade deal within the European Economic Area, or for any specific formula that would safeguard UK access to the EU single market. “Obviously, the closer we can get to free trade, the better it will be,” he said.
The company warned before the referendum that plans to expand its wind turbine plant in Hull might be frozen if there was a vote to leave, but Mr Kaeser was careful to stress that it was far too early to reach any conclusion. “The Hull investment is not in trouble at all. It was built for the projects we have and for those we anticipate getting,” he said.
The problem could arise later with the Phase II expansion of the plant intended to serve the export market and create a manufacturing hub large enough to serve a 70 gigawatt capacity of renewable energy, and to drive down costs by 30pc to 40pc.
Blades would still be built in the UK for the local market but it might no longer be worth trying to ship them to Denmark and Germany. “If there were trade barriers, it would lead straight to higher costs. We would lose economies of scale,” he said.
Mr Kaeser had a gentle word of warning for Theresa May after she unveiled ideas for workers councils on company boards, an established practice in Germany known as ‘codetermination’ but a radical change for Anglo-Saxons. “I have seen cases where they try to co-manage a bit too much,” he said.
In Theresa May, the British home secretary who is set to become the next prime minister of the UK on Wednesday (13 July), the EU will get a pragmatic, meticulous and tough negotiator, who is unlikely to rush into Brexit talks.
The 59-year-old is likely to use the summer to hammer out a negotiating position for Britain to leave the EU.
May, who was a quiet supporter of the Remain camp, ruled out a second referendum in her leadership campaign and vowed to honour the British voters’ choice of leaving the EU.
“Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a success of it,” she said when she launched her leadership bid for the Conservative Party.
“There will be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it by the back door, and no second referendum.”
May is unlikely to bow to pressure from EU leaders to start negotiations by triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty any time soon. Until the procedure is officially launched, the UK remains in control of timing and can still be at the table of the EU as a full member.
She might use the time to feel out what other leaders are ready to give to the UK, and build alliances among the remaining 27 members.
The EU 27 will meet in September without the UK to discuss the EU’s future, and May will be ushered into her first EU summit in late October.
EU leaders are likely to want to hear how she envisages the British exit and future relationships with the block.
May needs to navigate between more pragmatic states like Germany, Sweden, Ireland and the Netherlands that would want to maintain strong trading ties with the UK, and others like Belgium and France that are likely to want to make an example out of Britain.
Central and Eastern European states could be sympathetic to May, as they share the UK’s view of the EU as a loose cooperation, not a federal state, but rights and benefits of their citizens living and working in the UK could mean trouble for the talks.
France’s presidential election in May, and Germany’s general election next autumn could complicate matters, as their leaders are likely to be grounded by election campaigns and would be less flexible in the negotiations.
May might want to delay launching Article 50 further into next year, not to have Brexit negotiations held hostage by the various campaigns.
British media reported that May could appoint Liam Fox, a previous contender for the Tory leadership, or David Davis, another senior Tory MP, both Brexiteers as lead negotiatiors for the talks with the EU.
Davis suggested in a blog post that triggering Article 50 should happen before or by the beginning of next year.
Similarly, Fox earlier said the UK should leave the EU on 1 January 2019, meaning Article 50, that triggers a two-year negotiating process should be launched by the end of this year or early next year.
Having served as UK’s home secretary for six years, May is a familiar face in Brussels.
She has already dropped her previous support for Britain to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Tory MP Ken Clarke described her as a “bloody difficult woman”. May used this in her leadership campaign, saying Britain needs bloody difficult women. Negotiators in Brussels and EU national capitals can brace themselves.
The Nato summit was “no so pleasant” for “Mr Putin”, Dalia Grybauskaite, the Lithuanian leader, told media on Saturday (9 July) with her steely, blue-eyed glare.
She said the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, had failed to split the Western alliance, which is sending 4,000 American, British, Canadian, French, German and Italian soldiers to stand guard against Russian aggression in the Baltic states and in Poland.
The numbers are tiny compared to Russian troops in the region.
But the Nato battalions make the Baltic states comparable to West Berlin during the Cold War. Soviet conventional forces also outnumbered Nato forces in Germany, but Moscow never crossed the line because the nuclear-armed Western alliance made clear that it would respond en bloc.
The new Nato battalions made a Russian incursion “unthinkable” Latvian defence minister Raimonds Bergmanis said.
French president Francois Hollande gave Putin some cheer on Friday, saying that Russia was a “partner” and that Nato had no say on EU policy on Russia.
Germany and Italy also gave cheer in the run-up to the summit. German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier criticised Nato “warmongering”, while Italian leader Matteo Renzi questioned EU sanctions on Russia.
Come Saturday, Hollande had changed his tone, however.
He pledged to send up to 250 French soldiers to Estonia next year. He also said there was a need “to be firm with Russia” and to show “unity” at a time when Baltic states felt “threatened”.
German chancellor Angela Merkel said little, but her actions spoke louder than words. With Germany to lead a force of some 1,000 soldiers in Lithuania, Grybauskaite said there had been a “change of mindset” in Berlin on Germany’s role in European defence.
Renzi also pledged 150 Italian troops.
The Nato decision was prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago. The simmering conflict saw Russian-led forces kill three more Ukrainian soldiers at the weekend.
Barack Obama, the US leader, sent a further message of Nato unity by posing for photos side by side with Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, and their British, French, German and Italian counterparts on Saturday.
“Prime minister Cameron, president Hollande, chancellor Merkel, prime minister Renzi and I met with president Poroshenko, and we reaffirmed our strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”, Obama said.
Cameron said that when the 28 Nato leaders discussed Russia sanctions at a dinner on Friday he was “struck by the unity of purpose” on maintaining a tough line.
Nato ambassadors will meet Russia’s Nato envoy in Brussels on Wednesday.
But the new “dialogue” was primarily intended to avoid accidental exchange of fire and did not mean a return to “business as usual”, Nato said in its summit communique.
Most Nato states are also EU states. But the Nato communique described Russia’s role in Ukraine in much balder terms than previous EU summit conclusions.
“Russia continues to provide weapons, equipment, and personnel, as well as financial and other assistance to militant groups, and to intervene militarily in the conflict,” Nato said.
Some Nato officials were even more strident.
A reporter for Russia’s state-run Ria Novosti news service asked one senior official at an off-the-record briefing on Friday if Nato was concerned by Russia’s build-up of anti-air and anti-ship missiles in the Baltic and Black Sea regions.
“I’ll try to put this diplomatically, carefully: Such a capability can be addressed and tackled”, the Nato official said.
The Polish government reined in its anti-Russian views.
Top members of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party believe that Putin assassinated the late Polish president Lech Kaczynski in the Smolensk air crash in 2010.
But the main proponents of the conspiracy theory – Jaroslaw Kaczynski (the PiS chairman and Lech’s twin brother) and Antoni Macierewicz (the Polish defence minister) – either stayed out of sight or did not mention Smolensk in public.
Their choice of summit venues and festivities was telling, however.
They held the Nato summit in Praga, a Warsaw district on the east side of the Vistula river, where the Soviet army stood and watched as Nazi forces levelled the city in the Warsaw uprising in 1944.
They held Friday’s dinner in the same room where Soviet and Soviet-controlled states in 1955 signed the Warsaw Pact, an anti-Nato alliance.
They also projected Nato’s blue, black and silver livery on to the Palace of Culture, a beetling skyscraper built by Stalin in central Warsaw as a stamp of Soviet rule.
Sense of humour
The summit itself went off without a hitch.
There were two small anti-US protests in the city, one by Iraqi expats and one by an anti-Nato group, but both took place without incident amid a massive police presence.
Shops and restaurants lost income due to security restrictions, but locals reacted with a sense of humour.
Pedestrians trying to cross Aleje Jerozolimskie, a main thoroughfare in the city, on Friday evening had to wait over 45 minutes until Obama’s 20-car motorcade drove by.
“Just tell us how much longer: minutes, hours?”, a Dutch tourist asked police at one point. “Days?”, a young Polish man added, prompting ripples of laughter in the crowd.
It is too early to say how Russia might react to the developments.
Kremlin media and the foreign ministry mocked the Nato event as Europe’s attempt to deflect attention from Brexit and the migration crisis by talk of Russia’s “wonderland” threat. The Kremlin itself said nothing.
If Putin did have anything to smile about, it was the spectacle of Poland, Nato’s largest eastern ally, being embarrassed by the US, however.
The moment came on Friday when Obama told Polish president Andrzej Duda in front of hundreds of journalists that he was “deeply disturbed” by Poland’s judicial crisis.
He was referring to the fact that PiS has stuffed the country’s highest court with loyalists and weakened its ability to vet new laws in what the EU and the Council of Europe have called a menace to rule of law.
Putin might have also smiled as Poland laid bare its political divisions and institutional dysfunctions.
Critical media, such as the Gazeta Wyborcza daily, mocked Duda’s cowardice for refusing to take press questions on Obama’s censure.
But PiS-run public media did not report Obama’s words. TV news bulletins said in a voiceover that the US leader had praised Polish democracy.
The day after
The issues were on show again on Sunday.
Kaczynski has no official function. But the day after Nato leaders went home, he assumed the role of Polish leader by giving a speech outside the presidential palace.
He dropped hints that he would like to replace Duda with Macierewicz.
He also said that he would build a monument to Smolensk in the square, as well as “many others” in “all of Poland”.
Down the road, in Warsaw’s Old Town, another group held a protest against the Smolensk monuments.
Kaczynski has claimed many times that the Polish opposition party, Civic Platform (PO), including Donald Tusk, a former PO prime minister who is now the EU Council chief, were complicit in the Russian plot.
The Old Town protest said the Smolensk project is designed to strengthen Kaczynski’s grip on power by demonising his adversaries and spreading paranoia.
The Nato summit prompted debate in Polish cafes, households, and on street corners.
Olgierd, a businessman in the pharmaceutical sector, told EUobserver: “It’s not just the Baltic states that feel threatened. There’s a real war going on in Ukraine, with tanks, artillery, and that’s just 700km from here. That’s a bordering country”.
Zygmunt, a retired biologist, said: “We shouldn’t poke the Russian bear like this.”
“I have many Russian friends. They’re good people who just want to do business in Europe. We should leave Russia alone and things should go back to the way they were,” he said.
But the debate on Kaczynski was more bitter.
“Who does he think he is? Lech was the smart twin,” said Andrzej, a taxi driver.
“Kaczynski is a maniac who’s jealous of normal people that have wives and children … he’s turning Poland into a banana republic”, he said. Kaczynski is a confirmed bachelor who lived with his mother, now deceased, and his cats.
Jagoda, a retired engineer, told EUobserver: “I hate him. I wish he was struck down with a stroke or blindness or something … When I see his face on TV, I use the kind of words I’d never normally use.”
But Rafal, a newspaper and cigarette kiosk owner, defended the PiS leader.
“People in Brussels, you foreign journalists – you have no idea what’s going on in Poland because all you know is the lies that you read in Gazeta Wyborcza,” he said.
“Civic Platform robbed the country. There was [corruption] scandal after scandal. They tried to make a coup d’etat by putting their own people in the constitutional court before the elections and it failed,” he said.
After three weeks of political storms comes relative calm. Theresa May will become prime minister on Wednesday (13 July) bringing an end to a frenzied period of blood-letting without parallel.
What May offers is stability – a safe pair of hands.
That instant barometer of opinion – the financial markets – were encouraged by May’s coronation, and by her insistence that there is no need to hold a general election.
However, given that Labour’s own leadership contest will begin on Tuesday (12 July), after Angela Eagle formally challenged Jeremy Corbyn, and threatens to plunge the party into civil war, the Conservatives should expect an easy victory if they did go to the country.
Andrea Leadsom’s withdrawal – after a clumsy interview in which she suggested she was a better choice as prime minister because, unlike Mrs May, she had children, prompted a weekend of hostile press coverage – meant a sudden conclusion to a contest that was scheduled to last until September.
In a short speech outside Parliament on Monday (11 July) May emphasised “the need, of course, to negotiate the best deal for Britain in leaving the EU, and to forge a new role for ourselves in the world.”
“There will be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it by the back door, and no second referendum,” she stated.
Speaking on Sunday (10 July), before Leadsom’s withdrawal, May’s campaign manager Chris Grayling said that the starting gun on Article 50 will be fired before the end of the year, adding that “there is then a two-year time frame and the next general election is 2020. So I can’t see any circumstances in which we wouldn’t have [left the EU] by 2020.”
What the ‘new role’ will look like is unclear, but at least the process will now start. Under a May government, the UK is far more likely to broker a Norway-style agreement with single market access, something very close to freedom of movement, and an EU budget contribution.
The government will now have the summer to begin to draw up a mandate.
Ken Clarke, the pro-European Tory grandee, described May as “a bloody difficult woman” which only served to strengthen her position.
The comparisons to German chancellor Angela Merkel are inevitable. Like Merkel, May is a survivor and has shown little interest thus far in ideology. She has no charisma to speak of and has never sought to build up a personal following in the Tory party.
In a bid to balance the party, May has promised to set up a government department for Brexit, headed by a Leave campaigner, alongside the Foreign Office. The decision on who will lead the Brexit talks with EU leaders is probably the most important one May will take.
Grayling, a Leave campaigner who rallied May’s campaign among the Conservative MPs, is best placed to head the Brexit department.
No top Brexiter in cabinet
Elsewhere, while May will have to balance Remain and Leave campaigners across government, her stroll to victory reduces the need to make concessions.
In the meantime, it is worth considering the unexpected demise of the leading Brexiters. In less than three weeks since their shock referendum victory, the three leading Conservative Leavers have either been assassinated or self-destructed.
It is now hard to imagine that any of Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Andrea Leadsom will be part of the top Brexit negotiating team, which is good news for the rest of Europe, not to mention the UK. None of them is likely to get a top ministerial job. At least one of them will probably miss out altogether.
Their relative weakness will increase the pressure on May from the right-wing press to ensure that there is no back-sliding on Brexit.
Honeymoon won’t last long
Having unleashed political, constitutional and economic turmoil, the Brexiteers’ mess will have to be cleaned up by other people.
For the moment, Theresa May has united the Conservative Party and its media cheerleaders. But the honeymoon won’t last long.
David Cameron is the third Conservative prime minister in a row to be toppled or undermined as a result of internal party divisions on the EU. Despite the British people voting for Brexit, it will take years to finalise the divorce and broker a new deal with the EU.
Like her predecessor, the EU will dominate May’s premiership and, if history is any judge, is likely to break it.
BICOM (Britain Israel Communication & Research Centre 12-Jul-16
The UK is set to have a new prime minister from tomorrow evening, as the Conservative Party leadership race ended prematurely yesterday.
Following the withdrawal of Andrea Leadsom’s candidacy to head the Conservative Party, it was confirmed that Home Secretary Theresa May will move into Downing Street tomorrow.
Although there has been no official response to Prime Minister-designate May’s appointment by Israel’s government, Daniel Taub, who served as Israeli ambassador to London from 2011 until last year, told the Jerusalem Post that she “has been a long-standing friend of Israel and the Jewish community”.
He added that as Home Secretary, she has been very supportive of “our efforts to deepen British- Israel ties in the area of homeland security”.
Eric Pickles MP, chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel said: “As a politician not known for hollow platitudes, Israel can rest assured that a UK led by Theresa May will be there in its moments of need.”
Notably, the Prime Minister-designate told Conservative Friends of Israel two years ago “it is worth re-stating the threats faced by Israel because they are considerable,” going on to list Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and Iran. She said that “no democratic government could, in the face of such danger, do anything but maintain a strong defence and security capability and be prepared to deploy it if necessary”. At the same time, she said that “there will be no lasting peace or justice in the region until the Palestinian people are able to enjoy full civil rights themselves”.
May visited Israel in summer 2014, during a difficult period in which the kidnapping of three Israeli teenage boys led to extremely high tensions. She has been a regular speaker at Jewish communal events, most notably delivering a keynote address at the Bnei Akiva youth organisation to mark Israel’s Independence Day last year. She made an impassioned speech expressing solidarity at a Board of Deputies event last year in the wake of the Paris terror attack at a kosher supermarket.
There has been a dramatic role reversal in the EU-UK relationship of late.
In the past, UK ministers would often coolly, condescendingly watch high drama here such as during the Greek euro crisis, or at the peak of the migrant crisis, observing – with raised eyebrow – the threats, tensions and expansive hand-waving amongst their EU colleagues.
But in the days and weeks since the Brexit vote the tables have been turned.
The rest of the EU has gazed open-mouthed at the apparent political chaos in Britain – and yes, we’ve been compared to Greece but without the glorious weather.
So when I’m now asked about the immediate European reaction to Theresa May being named Britain’s next Prime Minister, I can only tell you that EU leaders have largely decided to watch, to wait and only then to react.
A high level source said to me on Monday evening: “We will react to Theresa May when she actually does something.”
Mrs May insists she will honour the UK referendum result – Brexit it is – but today Germany’s Angela Merkel urged Britain to move quickly to explain how it sees its future relationship with the EU.
She and other EU leaders want to know if Theresa May wants full or close access to the European Single Market, for example.
If so, they insist that would mean accepting the free movement of people – access to the UK labour market for all EU citizens.
That of course, would go against the wishes of a loud number of Brexiteers and Theresa May is already seen in Brussels as something of an immigration hardliner from her many meetings here as British home secretary.
But EU sources also describe her to me as a pragmatist as well as a hard negotiator.
The Italian paper Il Sole 24 Ore calls her Britain’s answer to Germany’s Angela Merkel: “cold, competent and determined”.
No quick negotiations
Grudgingly, Brussels recognises that Theresa May (who is said always to have come to ministerial meetings here well-briefed) is unlikely to bow to EU pressure to start formal Brexit negotiations before holding extensive consultations.
They will take place at home, in Brussels with Britain’s team of hugely experienced civil servants and with European counterparts across the continent – perhaps with a tour of European capitals.
The European Commission is not thrilled with the idea.
Its post-referendum message to the UK had been “No negotiation without notification (of the UK’s formal intention to leave the EU)” but it realises it cannot do much to stop informal consultations.
Frustrated EU leaders take comfort from their conviction that once the formal Brexit process is finally underway, the EU – not the UK under Theresa May – will be in the driving seat.
New Europe 12-Jul-16
From its former role as a “reliable partner” in international military missions, Germany today is gearing up to take on greater military leadership. According to plans for the country’s first overhaul of security policy in a decade, there will be a sustained increase in defence spending and building troops.
A draft document by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government obtained by Bloomberg warns there is an increasing “risk of violent conflict between states, including in Europe and its neighbourhood, as the example of Russia’s actions in Ukraine demonstrate”.
Merkel’s cabinet is expected to discuss the so-called white paper at its weekly meeting on July 13, just days after she and fellow Nato leaders including US President Barack Obama met at the alliance’s summit in Poland.
As reported by Bloomberg, Germany spends about 1.2% of GDP on defence. Merkel said last week that “much remains to be done” to reach Nato’s goal of 2%. In fact, defence spending is set to rise almost 7% to €36.6bn in 2017, with further increases down the road.
In a separate report, The Local noted that the white paper presents a paradigm shift for a country often lampooned as a “Bigger Switzerland” – prosperous and seeking to stay neutral – in the words of French economist Alain Minc.
With Britain out of the picture, Germany and France will forge deeper defence cooperation in the European Union.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, Germany’s Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said on July 13 that Britain had “paralysed” such initiatives in the past.
“I can tell you from experience that in the past Britain has said it will not do these things,” she told a news conference. “This paralysed the European Union on the issues of foreign and security policy. This cannot mean that the rest of Europe remains inactive, but rather we need to move forward on these big issues.”
In related news, Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, noted that Germany’s new planning report about defence and security policies.
The 2016 White Paper marks a major shift for Germany, which has long refrained from sending troops abroad in international conflicts.
According to DW, Germany now deploys troops to conflict zones, from the Balkans to Afghanistan and Mali, but kept out of the Nato intervention in Libya. In a non-combat role, Germany is part of the international alliance against Islamic State.
Germany’s opposition Left Party, however, was quick to criticise the defence ministry’s plan. In a statement, the party said: “The ‘white paper’ is nothing but a written demand for more money for more soldiers, for more military operations and more military equipment. It’s a ‘white paper’ for armaments and war”.
Theresa May fires Gove and other rivals from top jobs; appoints anti-EU figure David Davis to negotiate Brexit
British Prime Minister Theresa May filled out her cabinet posts Thursday, assembling a government that sweeps away many of her predecessor’s supporters and places strongly anti-EU figures in key international roles.
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After filling half a dozen of the top jobs Wednesday — including surprise choice Boris Johnson as foreign secretary — May made new appointments Thursday, including Justice Secretary Liz Truss and Education Secretary Justine Greening.
She also cleared out rivals, firing stalwarts of David Cameron’s outgoing government including Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and — most significantly — Justice Secretary Michael Gove, her onetime competitor for the job of Conservative leader.
Gove led the “leave” side in Britain’s EU referendum battle alongside former London Mayor Boris Johnson, then betrayed him by making a bid for Conservative leadership — a job Johnson had long sought.
May won the leadership battle and quickly sacked Gove, who is now seen as treacherous by many Conservatives. She rewarded Johnson with the plum job of foreign secretary.
He is a surprising choice to be Britain’s top diplomat. The former mayor of London is internationally famous — but for rumpled eccentricity and distinctly undiplomatic gaffes, rather than statesmanlike behavior.
In April, Johnson suggested that US President Barack Obama had an “ancestral dislike” of Britain because he is part Kenyan.
Johnson said he was “very excited” to be part of the government. Asked whom he would apologize to first, he said “the United States of America will be at the front of the queue.”
New Treasury chief Philip Hammond reassured a startled world that Johnson — whose responsibilities include oversight of the MI6 spy agency — would be a team player
“The cabinet works collectively and we have got a range of different characters and a range of different styles and a range of different talent,” he told BBC radio. “The lead and the tone will be set by the prime minister.”
Less known than Johnson but at least as important to Britain’s future is David Davis, with the new cumbersome title of secretary of state for exiting the European Union. Davis, a veteran lawmaker who has twice run for the Conservative leadership, is one of the staunchest euroskeptics in British politics.
He is also a formidable battler, as May knows. For years the libertarian Davis has sparred with May over the powers of Britain’s spy agencies. He is currently suing the British government in the European courts against surveillance laws May introduced as home secretary.
Davis has previously said that Britain should take a “brisk but measured” approach to exit talks with the EU. He has said that Article 50 of the EU constitution — the formal trigger for two years of negotiations — should be invoked by the start of 2017.
Other EU leaders are already pressuring Britain to open formal talks — and warning that the UK cannot have access to the single European market without accepting free movement of EU citizens, a sticking point for many pro-Brexit Britons.
The foreign policy spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party in Parliament said Thursday that many British suggestions on the country’s future relationship with the European Union are “unworkable.”
Juergen Hardt said that “free access to the common market means, among other things, accepting other fundamental freedoms such as the freedom of movement.”
New British Treasury chief Hammond tried to sound a reassuring note Thursday, pledging that he would not introduce an emergency national budget — even though there are question marks hanging over the economy following the country’s decision to leave the EU.
Hammond offered calming tones to the markets and the public in a series of interviews the morning after taking office.
“The number one challenge is to stabilize the economy, send signals of confidence about the future, the plans we have for the future, to the markets, to businesses, to international investors,” Hammond told Sky News. “Britain is open for business. We are not turning our back on the world.”
Hammond will meet with the head of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, on Thursday to “assess where we are.”
The comments came before the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee voted not to cut interest rates in a bid to stimulate the economy.
In a surprise move, it kept the bank’s benchmark interest rate at the current record low of 0.5 percent, where it has stood since the depths of the financial crisis in March 2009. It also decided against a new bout of quantitative easing, under which it effectively pumps money into the economy through the purchase of government bonds from financial institutions.
But the committee hinted it would loosen policy in August, when it will have fresh forecasts about the state of the British economy.
Carney has indicated that some sort of stimulus will be offered over the summer as his pre-vote warnings about the impact on the economy had begun to crystallize.
Hammond acknowledged that investment in Britain had been shaken since the referendum result.
“There has been a chilling effect,” he told the BBC. “We have seen an effect in markets, we have seen business investment decisions being paused because businesses now want to take stock, want to understand how we will take forward our renegotiation with the EU, what our aspirations are for the future trading relationship between Britain and the European Union.”
The Guardian 16-Jul-16
Canadian minister in talks about how it secured Ceta trade deal with Brussels, which took seven years to finalise
The UK has sought advice from Canada on how to secure a trade agreement with the EU following the Brexit vote, the Canadian trade minister has said.
Chrystia Freeland told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that her team had been having “technical exchanges” with Britain about Canada’s recently finalised deal with the EU.
She was speaking before a meeting with Liam Fox, the UK’s secretary of state for international trade.
“As members of the Commonwealth they agreed to build a stronger, closer relationship in a number of areas including trade and prosperity,” a spokesperson for the new department said. “The ministers expressed a wish to work together better to promote the opportunities and benefits of globalisation and to think about how to get more SMEs exporting.”
On Thursday, David Davis, the minister for Brexit, said his preferred model for the UK’s continuing relationship with the EU is Canada’s comprehensive and economic trade agreement (Ceta).
Speaking on Friday, Freeland said: “We have been sharing, at a technical level, details of how Ceta works.”
However, she said securing such deals was “very, very complicated. There are 300 trade negotiators in Canada. It takes a big expert team to negotiate trade agreements.”
The UK does not have the expertise to negotiate trade deals, as for decades agreements have been conducted at EU level. Whitehall is scouring business, the European commission, and friendly countries including Canada for trade specialists to help lead talks.
The government has said it plans to hire up to 300 staff to try to address a shortage of trade negotiators capable of forging closer economic ties to dozens of other countries. Oliver Letwin, who was going to run the Brexit unit before losing his role in Theresa May’s cabinet overhaul, told the BBC: “We don’t have trade negotiators because the trade negotiation has been going on in the EU so we are going to have to hire a whole – David Davis is going to have to hire – group to deal with the EU negotiations, and Liam Fox, of course, in what I think is an excellent plan of Theresa’s to create a new Department of International Trade.”
Gregor Irwin, chief economist at the Global Counsel consultancy and a former chief economist at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said the government had people who understood trade policy, but did not have negotiators.
“No doubt people will have to be brought in from outside. They will look to get people wherever they can find them, and Canada and New Zealand would be good places to look. This is a huge agenda and it’s a long process.”
Davis has said that article 50, the formal process for negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU, should not be triggered until the end of the year, from when Britain would have two years to negotiate its trading terms with the 27-nation bloc.
Canada took seven years to finalise its deal with the EU and it is not expected to be implemented until 2017.
A top US trade official said on Thursday that he had held preliminary discussions with British officials about how the two countries could pursue bilateral trade relations post Brexit.
Freeland said Canada had secured a “gold standard” deal with the EU. However, she made clear that while it had secured “ambitious services agreements”, it would not enjoy the same level of “passporting” that the UK currently has as a member state – a status that enables banks and financial services businesses to trade freely.
The Canadian deal also does not offer the same level of freedom of movement for professionals as that within EU member states. While the control of borders and worker movement is something Brexiters have argued for, Freeland said: “Canada’s position is to be ambitious in mobility. We think that facilitates trade.”
Greek authorities arrested eight men aboard a Turkish military helicopter which landed in the northern city of Alexandroupolis at midday on July 16, according to Greece’s country’s police ministry, Greek state television reported. The men, who are believed to have taken part in the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey, are seeking asylum in Greece, according to the report. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has reportedly demanded their return.
Around 104 coup plotters were killed during and after the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey, acting army chief Umit Dundar said July 16, AFP reported. Another 90 people, including police and civilians, were also killed. Meanwhile, Erdogan called on his supporters via Twitter to continue protesting the coup in the streets, as a new flare-up could take place at any moment. This coup attempt was the product of an Islamist division within the military – and divisions within divisions do not spell success for a coup.
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