Category Archives: European Union

(SkyNews) Jean-Claude Juncker: ‘We can have a deal’ and ‘Brexit will happen’

(SkyNews) The European Commission President said a no-deal Brexit would be “catastrophic” and he was doing “everything to get a deal”.

Jean-Claude Juncker thinks a Brexit deal is possible
‘I don’t have erotic relation to backstop’

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has told Sky News that “we can have a deal” on Brexit.

Mr Juncker said a no-deal Brexit would have “catastrophic consequences” and said he was doing “everything to get a deal”.Sponsored link

And he said he did not have “an erotic relation” to the so-called backstop, which he said he was prepared to remove from a withdrawal agreement, so long as “alternative arrangements [are put in place] allowing us and Britain to achieve the main objectives of the backstop. All of them”.

Sophy Ridge and Jean-Claude Juncker
Image:Sky’s Sophy Ridge meeting Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels

Sky News@SkyNews

EC President @JunckerEU said he thinks a #Brexit deal can be reached by 31 October.

Speaking exclusively to @RidgeOnSunday, he also warned that a no-deal #Brexit would be “catastrophic” for Britain and for the EU.

Check out the full interview on #Ridge from 8.30am this Sunday.2116:08 PM – Sep 19, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy363 people are talking about this

In a UK exclusive interview with Sky’s Sophy Ridge, Mr Juncker confirmed that he had been sent documents by Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlining draft ideas for a new Brexit deal.

Mr Juncker, however, said they had arrived late on Wednesday night, and he had yet to read them.

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The 64-year-old, who spent nearly two decades as the prime minister of Luxembourg, became president of the commission five years ago. His term finishes on 31 October, the same day that the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union.

Earlier this week, he met the PM in Luxembourg – the first time the two men had met since Mr Johnson took over in Number 10. They spoke for two hours over a working lunch before Mr Johnson went off for his ill-fated meeting with Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.

Jean-Claude Juncker tells Sky News a deal can be done on Brexit
Backstop could be scrapped, says EU’s Juncker

“I had a meeting with Boris Johnson that was rather positive,” Mr Juncker said.

“I think we can have a deal. I am doing everything to have a deal because I don’t like the idea of a no-deal because I think this would have catastrophic consequences for at least one year.

“We are prepared for no-deal, and I hope Britain is prepared as well – but I’m not so sure.”

Asked if he had received the proposals from the British government, he said they had arrived “yesterday night” but he’d had no opportunity to read them yet. But he added that he had spoken to Mr Johnson on the phone “without knowing the content of the British proposals”.

But Mr Juncker did confirm to Sky News that he was now prepared to get rid of the controversial backstop plan, designed to prevent the return of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, but only on condition that “alternative arrangements [are put in place] allowing us and Britain to achieve the main objectives of the backstop.”

The backstop has been widely criticised as having the potential to tie Britain to European Union rules for an indefinite amount of time.

Jean-Claude Juncker speaks exclusively to Sky News
Jean-Claude Juncker:’Brexit will happen’

Mr Juncker agreed that a deal would revolve around the idea that Northern Ireland would follow EU rules on food and agriculture, with other checks being done away from the border.

“It is the basis of a deal. It is the starting and the arrival point,” he said. “The internal market has to be preserved in its entirety.”

Britain’s new proposals are believed to revolve around a collection of ideas, known as the alternative arrangements, designed to offer a suite of separate guarantees that would satisfy politicians in Brussels and London, while avoiding the need for infrastructure on the border.

Mr Juncker said: “I was asking the prime minister the other day to make concrete proposals as far as so-called alternative arrangements are concerned, allowing us and Britain to achieve the main objectives of the backstop. I don’t have an erotic relation to the backstop. If the results are there, I don’t care about it.”Brexit: Has Britain left the EU yet?Follow the updates including key stories, video and quotes from each day in the countdown to Brexit

Asked if that meant that the backstop could go, he answered: “If the objectives are met – all of them – then we don’t need the backstop. It was a guarantee, not an aim by itself.”

He remains hopeful that a deal can be done before he leaves office.

“Brexit will happen,” said Mr Juncker.

(EUobserver) Nobel economist: Ireland ‘not good EU citizen’ on taxes

(EUobserver)

Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz criticised Ireland on Thursday over taxation of multinational companies. “In the area of taxes, Ireland has not behaved well, either globally or for their own citizens, or as an EU citizen,” he said, arguing that Ireland kept revenue that would have gone to other EU countries, and did unfair tax deals for “pittance”. An EU court case is ongoing over Ireland’s tax deal with Apple.

(EUobserver) Juncker: No-deal Brexit ‘palpable’

(EUobserver)

  • Brexit MEPs during EU negotiator Michel Barnier’s speech: isolated (Photo: European Parliament)

EU top officials on Wednesday (18 September) warned that the UK is heading for a no-deal break with the EU, unless the London government provides written proposals on the controversial Irish border issue.

“There is very little time left. […] The risk of a no-deal is very real,” EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told MEPs in Strasbourg.

M.P.O. Da falta de transparência de uns políticos e da ignorância de outros

M.P.O.

Nunca ninguém explicou aos Europeus, e neste caso, o Chanceler Kholl, nunca explicou aos Alemães, que adotar o euro faria da Alemanha o de longe o seu  maior beneficiário  e que isso daria à Alemanha responsabilidades especiais em momentos de crise, para a sobrevivência da União Europeia.

Tenho sempre a impressão que a maior parte dos políticos europeus da época não eram suficiente qualificados, porque não faziam nem ideia do que estavam a falar.


Opunham se a um sistema e transferências automáticas, mas elas vieram a ser criadas pelo Senhor Draghi.


Que salvou a UE e o euro.


Mais uma vez a maioria dos polícias europeus, que criticaram as medidas, não faziam a mais pálida ideia do que estavam a falar quando criticaram as ditas.


É confrangedor ouvir os Dirigentes da UE não saberem

Um exemplo disso é não terem a mais pequena ideia do que taxas de inflação diferentes entre os Estados da UE, teriam como consequências com uma moeda única.

Também há que relembrar que os Alemães não queriam o euro, de que vieram a ser os maiores beneficiários.


Mais um sinal da ignorância, ou falte de transparência dos políticos.
Mas o cumulo são os Franceses, que vieram a ser um dos maiores prejudicados, e que impuseram à Alemanha uma moeda que eles não queriam.


Também nunca ninguém explicou aos Europeus, particularmente aos Alemães, que uma Federação ou União, implica necessariamente um sistema de transferências automáticas entre os Estados mais ricos e que fossem  beneficiários da moeda única e os Estados mais prejudicados.


O Senhor Juncker, então Primeiro Ministro do Luxemburgo, disse numa entrevista uma frase que ficou para a História:
 “Todos nós sabemos o que tem que ser feito.


Nunca ninguém nos explicou é como seriamos outra vez eleitos depois da introdução dessas medidas.

Assim vai o Mundo

Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

(Economist) Mario Draghi and the ECB confront a slowing euro zone

(Economist) As the risk of recession in Europe rises, the ECB must act

If mario draghi had been hoping for a quiet few months before he retires from the European Central Bank (ecb) at the end of October, he has been disappointed. He has been in charge for eight high-wire years. In 2012 he quelled panic about the break-up of the euro zone by pledging to do “whatever it takes” to save the single currency. In 2015 he introduced quantitative easing (qe, creating money to buy bonds) in the face of fierce opposition from northern member states. Now the euro zone is flirting with recession and governments are not helping by being slow to loosen fiscal policy. At the central bank’s meeting on September 12th, Mr Draghi must dust himself down one last time.

Investors’ jitters about a recession and the impact of the trade war have sent bond yields tumbling. The ecb’s hawks—such as Jens Weidmann, the head of the Bundesbank, and Klaas Knot, of the Dutch central bank—caution against overreacting with a large stimulus. But the economic data are dreadful. Output in Germany shrank in the second quarter, and some economists are pencilling in another contraction in the third. Italy is stagnating. According to a survey of purchasing managers released on September 2nd, Europe’s manufacturing decline shows no sign of abating. The deeper it is and the longer it lasts, the more likely that trouble brims over into the rest of the economy. In Germany retail sales are already slipping and firms are planning to hire fewer workers.PUBLICIDADE

Inflation is dangerously low. Both the headline figure and the “core” measure—which strips away volatile food and energy prices—are stuck at around 1%, below the ecb’s target of inflation below, but close to, 2%. Investors’ medium-term expectations, as measured by swap rates, have drifted down to 1.2%, well below levels in 2014-15, when the bank prepared to launch qe. The views of professional forecasters surveyed by the ecb have fallen to their bleakest since polling began in 1999. In an attempt to bolster its credibility, the bank has tweaked its language to emphasise that it does not want to undershoot the target of 2% consistently. But without action, those words count for little.

Some economists, among them Larry Summers of Harvard University, argue that, with little ammunition left, central banks should refrain from action so as to force governments to step into the breach with fiscal policy. They are right that the root cause of the economic woe is a shortfall of demand. Sovereign borrowing costs in much of the euro area are near zero or below it. In an ideal world governments would leap at the chance to borrow so cheaply in order to invest. And it is also true that monetary policy is likely to be less effective because rates are so low. The ecb’s deposit rate is already -0.4%. At some point the benefits of further cuts will be offset by their costs, for example if customers begin to withdraw funds from banks and thus destabilise them. With financial conditions already much looser, qe will not be as effective as it was in 2015.

But for the ecb to stand back and do nothing would be irresponsible. It is legally obliged to achieve price stability. Germany’s government shows little appetite to borrow to spend, even if its entire bond yield-curve is submerged below zero. There is even less sign of co-ordinated regional fiscal stimulus in the offing. Until governments loosen the purse-strings, the ecb has no choice but to act. It is the only game in town.

Mr Draghi must therefore be bold on September 12th. Although the scope for interest-rate cuts is limited, it still exists. The important thing is to mitigate the impact on financial stability by, say, “tiering” deposit rates—giving banks a rebate on some of the interest they would otherwise have to pay to park spare cash with the central bank. This would signal that the ecb can cut rates further without blowing up the banking system.

He should also restart qe and commit the bank to buying bonds until underlying inflation shows a meaningful recovery. Mr Draghi has said before that he views asset purchases as particularly helpful in reviving inflation expectations. One constraint is the ecb’s self-imposed limit on the share of a country’s government bonds that the bank can buy. This should be lifted from a third to a half, sending a powerful signal that the ecb means business. The legality of qe is still being questioned in Germany’s constitutional court, but a ruling by the European Court of Justice last year appears to give the ecb room to raise those limits in its quest for price stability. The promise of lower borrowing costs for longer might even prompt national treasuries into issuing more debt.

Last, Mr Draghi must use the bully pulpit to urge governments to exercise their fiscal powers to fend off a recession. You might think that he should avoid taking action at the end of his tenure, so as not to bind the hands of his successor, Christine Lagarde. Not so. A determined response now will save her much work later. Mr Draghi is in a unique position. His stature with investors and governments gives him real clout. And since he departs in a few weeks he can be blunter than he has been in putting across the message that governments, not just the ecb, must act. That would cement his legacy as the man who saved the euro.

(ZH) Since 2014, European Banks Have Paid €23 Billion To The ECB… And Now Face Disaster

(ZH) Earlier this morning, there was an added wobble in European bond prices after an unconfirmed MNI report said the ECB could delay the launch of QE on Thursday and make it data dependent. While skeptics quickly slammed the story, saying it was just a clickbait by MarketNews…

About this MNI story on a possible delay in ECB QE announcement:
1) No substance, including from the ECB “sources”
2) Let’s hope the story is as accurate as the previous ones163:51 PM – Sep 10, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee Frederik Ducrozet’s other Tweets

… it does highlight just how sensitive the bond market is to an announcement of aggressive easing by the ECB when it meets on Thursday, Sept 12, where consensus generally expects a significant easing package, including a -20bp rate cut (followed by -10bp cut later on), coupled with roughly €30 billion in sovereign debt QE for 9-12 months, coupled with enhanced forward guidance.

The three package expectations (small, medium, large) by Goldman analysts are laid out below:

There is just one problem: while it is unclear if any further easing by the ECB will do anything to stimulate the Eurozone economy, one thing is certain – further easing will only cripple Europe’s banks. In fact, as Goldman writes in its ECB preview, “further rate cuts are a very uncomfortable prospect for the [banking] sector” and estimates that a -20bp cut could lead to an aggregate €5.6bn (-6%) profit cut for 32 €-banks under the bank’s coverage; worse, a further -10bp cut, as per GS macro forecasts, increases the hit to -10% (-€8.3 bn). Overall, 19 banks in Goldman’s coverage face a >10% EPS cut, and 8 banks face as much as a 20% EPS hit.

Then there is Europe’s head on collision with a recession: the weakening rate outlook has been accompanied by >20% fall in €-bank shares (SX7E) since 2H18 and -4% cuts to their consensus Net Interest Incomes (for 2020E). According to Goldman, so far ~40% of the share price decline could be explained by NII cuts; the rest falls into the ‘other’ domain, “where political risk features notably.”

Here is the problem in one sentence, and chart: since negative rates were intorduced in 2014, European Banks have paid €23BN to the ECB!

So to avoid a further banking sector, deterioration Goldman warns that “it’s critical that tiering accompanies further rate cuts if a large profit hit for the sector is to be avoided. A -20bp cut could lower €-banks EPS by ~6%. A tiering with efficiency on par with SNB scheme could offset ~30% of the hit.”

So the big question for Thursday is whether the ECB will also introduce rate tiering at the same time as it eases more.

On this topic, Goldman economists note that the implementation of the ECB’s new scheme is likely to be structured based on a multiple of minimum reserves held by individual banks (SNB model) or on a fraction of their actual excess reserve holdings (BOJ). Their baseline assumption is a two-tiered system, with one tier remunerated at the MRO (currently 0%), similar to minimum reserves, and a second tier charged at the prevailing DFR. They expect c. 50% of excess reserves to be priced at the DFR level.

In Goldman’s view, tiering is a critical part of any incremental easing package. As we have argued before, without it, an extremely challenging operating environment becomes worse, and may push an increased number of banks towards breakeven, or even loss-making territory. However, not all tiering is the same, and the schemes currently in use vary greatly in the extent of the offset/relief they provide to banks.

Key questions for bank investors ahead of the ECB meeting revolve around these following issues:

1. Could ECB’s tiering efficiency be on par with the Swiss or Japanese approach? The Swiss-like approach to tiering is Goldman’s baseline scenario (where c. 60% of deposit balances are exempt from negative rate), but it offers less relief for banks compared to the Japanese approach (>90%).

2. Would tiering be applied to the incremental cut (-20bp) only, or the full -60bp? In other words, would the tiered rate be set at the level of the MRO (0%) or lower. In our view, an offset for the entire -60bp is key. Goldman estimates that a scheme with efficiency on par with a ‘Swiss model’ with a relief applied retrospectively to a full negative rate (-60bps) has scope to shield ~⅓ of a fully-loaded impact of a 20bp rate cut for the Euro area banks under our coverage.

If rates on aggregate fall by -30bp, we calculate that the ‘tiering shield’ would be closer to 25-30% of the aggregate hit. It’s also important to note that even with tiering a 20-30bp rate cut is ultimately profit negative – when fully loaded. The  relief it brings, however, is front-loaded leading to a near-term neutral impact for the aggregate.

In short: with the sellside analysts more focused on what the ECB will do to offset the adverse impact of its additional easing – as Europe inevitably careens to the reversal rate of roughly -1%, beyond which it’s game over for central banks – one wonders: just why is the ECB doing anything at all, if the biggest consideration is what it will do to offset the damage it creates by “fixing” things?

(EN) Team Ursula: European Commission’s president-elect reveals list of nominees for next Commission

(EN)

Team Ursula: European Commission's president-elect reveals list of nominees for next Commission

Ursula von der Leyen revealed on Monday the list of nominees for the next Commission.

The European Commission’s president-elect has been working hard this summer to get the best candidates from member states for her team. She’ll be announcing their portfolios on Tuesday as well as how she intends to organise work in the next European Commission.

One of von der Leyen’s main requests was to get “gender parity”. She wanted to have at least 13 women (including herself), which means four more than the current Juncker Commission.

She asked all EU countries to send two names, one male and one female but only two countries followed her request: Romania and Portugal.

A few countries decided to nominate one woman and some of them are old faces from the Juncker team who will serve a second mandate.

Who’s in the list?

In total, three women and five men from the current Commission will work with von der Leyen including Dutchman Frans Timmermans and Dane Margrethe Vestager.

The other returning members are Valdis Dombrovskis, Mariya Gabriel, Johannes Hahn, Phil Hogan, Vera Jourova, and Maros Sefkovic.

CEPS think tank director Daniel Gros said they should not be seen as a threat to her leadership.

“It is always good to have some people that have been there before and eight is not even one-third of the total, so that should not be a problem. Moreover, these eight have been rather passive in the previous commission, and therefore I do not think that they will dominate the new one”.

However, there will also be new faces in the Commission such as Spain’s minister for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, who’s been nominated to be the next EU high representative overseeing foreign affairs and security policy.

Read More: Spanish socialist Josep Borrell, undiplomatic head of European diplomacy?

Other new faces include Helena Dalli, Malta’s minister for European affairs and equality. Her role in the new Commission is unclear at the moment, Italy’s former prime minister Paolo Gentiloni, France’s former MEP Sylvie Goulard are also in the list.

The President-elect will have a tough job assigning portfolios, especially the important ones like agriculture, digital, economic and financial Affairs, trade, regional development — that have a big political and financial impact.

But the final decision will depend on how the commissioners will perform during the hearings at the European Parliament, taking place in the second half of September.

One piece of advice is that von der Leyen changes management style from the Juncker era.

“The Juncker commission was totally centralised, the individual commissioners did not really count for anything, but that led also much to an organisation that was very much top-down and it lost some of its internal vitality. Von der Leyen could change that; she could say ‘I will allow more discussion in the Commission; I will leave more room for individual commissioners to have their own initiatives’,” Gros said.

Other important portfolios such as migration and climate change could prove controversial since they lead to big policy rifts among EU countries.

What happens next?

After the first hearings mid-September, Ursula von der Leyen will have about one month to present the final list of names to the European Parliament.

The new Commission is due to take office on November 1 but all commissioners have to be confirmed by the European Parliament first.

(EN) Turkey’s Erdogan threatens to ‘open the gates’ for migrants to Europe

(EN)

Turkey's Erdogan threatens to 'open the gates' for migrants to Europe

CopyrightMurat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey will “open the gates” for migrants to Europe if international support for a refugee safe zone in northern Syria fails to materialise.

Turkey’s president said on Thursday (September 5) he plans to resettle one million refugees in northern Syria.

The country hosts more than 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

It controls parts of northern Syria where it is setting up a “safe zone” with the United States. It says 350,000 Syrians have already returned and more could follow.

“Our goal is for at least one million of our Syrian brothers to return to the safe zone we will form along our 450 km border,” Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara.

“We are saying we should form such a safe zone that we, as Turkey, can build towns here in lieu of the tent cities here. Let’s carry them to the safe zones there.

“Give us logistical support and we can go build housing at 30 km (20 miles) depth in northern Syria. This way, we can provide them with humanitarian living conditions.

“This either happens or otherwise we will have to open the gates,” Erdogan said. “Either you will provide support, or excuse us, but we are not going to carry this weight alone. We have not been able to get help from the international community, namely the European Union.”

Turkey agreed to curb the flow of migrants to Europe, under a 2016 deal between Ankara and Brussels, in return for aid amounting to billions of euros.

But renewed fighting in Idlib in recent weeks raised prospects of another wave of refugees at Turkey’s borders.

The Russian-backed Syrian army has gained a lot of ground against rebel forces, some of which are supported by Turkey after a truce failed in early August.

Nicholas Danforth, an Istanbul-based senior visiting fellow at the German Marshall Fund, told Reuters that warning about refugees in the context of the safe zone allows Erdogan to simultaneously pressure Europe and the United States.

“What seems clear is that it would be impossible to settle that many refugees in any zone achieved through negotiations with the United States and the YPG,” he said.

“This looks like an attempt to build pressure for more U.S. concessions on the safe zone, where some refugees could then be resettled for purposes of domestic (Turkish) public relations.”

(ZH) EU Bank Bosses Warn Of “Grave Consequences” If ECB Keeps Cutting Rates

(ZH)

The ECB’s imposition of negative interest rates have created an “absurd situation” in which banks don’t want to hold deposits, rages UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti, arguing that this policy is hurting social systems and savings rates.

Ermotti is not alone. As European bank bosses cast their eyes at their share prices, they are fighting back, some have said – biting the hand that feeds, in their attack on ECB policies, warning of severe consequences to asset prices and the broader economy.

As Bloomberg reports, Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing warned that more monetary easing by the ECB, as widely expected next week, will have “grave side effects” for a region that has already lived with negative interest rates for half a decade.

“In the long run, negative rates ruin the financial system,” Sewing said at the event, organized by the Handelsblatt newspaper.

Another cut “may make refinancing cheaper for states, but has grave side effects.”

While incoming ECB head Christine Lagarde has claimed that the benefits of deeply negative rates outweigh the costs (stating just this week that “a highly accommodative policy is warranted for a prolonged period of time;” few economists believe another cut at this level would actually help the economy. According to Sewing, all it would achieve is to further divide society by lifting asset prices while punishing Europe’s savers who are already paying 160 billion euros ($176 billion) a year because of negative interest rates.

“What’s really worrisome: central banks have hardly any tools left to effectively mitigate a real economic crisis,” Sewing said.

“They have already cranked open the money tap – most of all the European Central Bank.”

Who can blame Sewing, as the EU yield curve has collapsed, so has his share price…

Source: Bloomberg

“Banks’ interest margins are under pressure in this environment and that’s not going to change,” Commerzbank CEO Martin Zielke said at the same conference.

I don’t think it is a particularly sustainable or responsible policy. But we have to recognize the facts and the facts are that winning clients in this environment helps work against that pressure.

Bloomberg also notes that Yngve Slyngstad, the chief executive officer of Norges Bank Investment Management, Norway’s $1 trillion wealth fund, has separately said that negative rates are the main worry at the world’s largest wealth fund right now.

So, with Draghi facing push back from an increasingly hawkish group of ECB members, the question is, will he just push off the decision? Starting October 31, how the Eurozone will be destroyed – whether with hyperinflation fire and deflationary ice – will no longer be Draghi’s decision, but instead the final destruction of the Eurozone will be delegated to arguably the most clueless person (see Argentina) in the room.

(Reuters) Iran gives Europe two more months to save nuclear deal

(Reuters) DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani gave European powers another two months to save a 2015 nuclear deal on Wednesday, but warned that Tehran was still preparing for further significant breaches of the pact that would have “extraordinary effects”.

His statement came as Iranian officials gave mixed signals in response to a French proposal to save the agreement by offering Iran about $15 billion in credit lines until year-end if Tehran comes fully back into compliance.

Once senior Iranian official said it would comply if it got that amount in credit lines or oil sales, while state-run Press TV said Iran had rejected a proposal for an EU loan of that amount.

Iran emerged from years of economic isolation after agreeing a deal with world powers in 2015 to curb its nuclear development program in exchange for sanctions relief. However, U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the deal last year and reimposed sanctions.

Tehran responded with two separate moves that breached some of the terms of the deal, although it says it still aims to save the pact.

Rouhani had threatened to take further measures by Sept. 5 unless France and the other European signatories of the pact did more to protect Iran from the impact of the U.S. penalties.

“I think it is unlikely that we will reach a result with Europe by today or tomorrow … Europe will have another two-months to fulfil its commitments,” Rouhani said, according to state TV.

Iran would continue with plans to breach the pact further and accelerate its nuclear activity, he added.

“The third step (in reducing Iran’s commitments) will be the most important one and it will have extraordinary effects,” state TV reported him as saying.

Iranian officials initially said they were considering the French plan when news of it emerged on Tuesday. On Wednesday Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi appeared to back its main terms.

“Our return to the full implementation of the nuclear accord is subject to the receipt of $15 billion over a four-month period, otherwise the process of reducing Iran’s commitments will continue,” the semi-official news agency Fars quoted Araqchi as saying.

“Either Europe has to buy oil from Iran or provide Iran with the equivalent of selling oil as a credit line guaranteed by Iran’s oil revenues, which in some sense means a pre-sale of oil,” Araqchi added.

Soon after, Iran’s English-language Press TV issued a short report stating: “Iran has rejected a $15 billion loan offered by EU,” without giving further details. Western and Iranian sources had described the French plan as the offer of a credit line, not a loan, although the precise details have not been made public.

Iran’s vital crude oil sales have plummeted by more than 80% under the U.S. sanctions.Slideshow (2 Images)

The remaining signatories of the deal have been working to save an agreement that they say will bring Iran back into the international fold and prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb.

Iran has repeatedly said its nuclear program is for electricity generation and other peaceful purposes.

(EUobserver) EU split on migration widens

(EUobserver)

  • Migration to Europe is an extended emergency (Photo: Alessandro Rota/Oxfam)

Illegal immigration poses an ongoing political crisis for the European bloc and politicians’ failure to act has left Europeans reportedly more concerned about immigration than climate change.

Will November’s change of leadership in the European Commission help improve its track record on the humanitarian emergency?

Large numbers of migrants continued to arrive on European shores this summer and hundreds of people died en route so far this year.

But while immigration dominates the headlines, Europe is divided on how to respond, meaning that the issue tops the to-do list for incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Pressure is rising on Europe to take a firm stance on the extended emergency.

In August, Greece underscored its calls for the EU to share the burden of new arrivals amid a sharp increase in migrants landing on Greek islands in recent weeks.

Deputy minister for citizen protection Giorgios Koumoutsakos even warned that the country had “exhausted its capacity” to cope with the newcomers – and called on the rest of Europe for help.

And as well as loud complaints from the front-line nations, Europe is struggling to bridge increasingly polarised political positions on immigration.

European member states are far from on the same page when it comes to their willingness to accept and accommodate migrants.

Illustrating the cleft between political responses to the crises, the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s  SGI’s 2018 survey on integration, probed the question: How effectively do policies support the integration of migrants into society?

Its findings are telling.

In total, 11 countries from the bloc are said to pursue cultural, education and social policies which “do not focus on integrating migrants into society,” and five Eastern European nations – Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Croatia and Bulgaria – even scored just three out of a possible 10 points. 

Among the better performers, 17 European countries scored between six and eight points, but while seeking to integrate newcomers, they still “failed to do so effectively”, according to the survey.

Reforming Dublin

Ahead of taking the reins of the European Commission in November, von der Leyen has said she supports reforming the EU’s Dublin regulation, which rules that state asylum-seekers must file their applications in the first EU country they reach, more often than not, Greece, Italy and Spain.

In an interview with the German daily the Bild and other European newspapers, von der Leyen said it was time to reform the EU’s Dublin regulation, which was last amended in 2013: “Migration takes place by land or sea. We can only have stability on our external borders if we provide sufficient help to member states that are exposed to a lot of migration pressure because of their position on the map,” she said. 

A reshuffle in the European corridors of power – including the arrival of newly elected and re-elected members of parliament this summer – will also refocus Brussel’s attention on the humanitarian emergency.

But this summer the rifts within the bloc have been made painfully clear, for example, with private rescue missions being refused safe entry by Italy and Malta as well as protracted wrangling over where to send each migrant on board.

Europeans increasingly worried

A number of EU countries, including Germany, have outlined that they aim to introduce some changes to the bloc’s migration policy.

But lawmakers have had mixed success in hammering out changes.

In June 2018 member states talked through a raft of measures to ease the burden, but despite their agreements, many of their plans are yet to see the light of day.

Increasing the size and range of power of the EU’s external border agency Frontex was one of the goals.

But without a clear time frame, progress towards this goal has spluttered.

While the EU commission has voiced plans to add another 8,500 personnel to Frontex by 2020, von der Leyen has mooted reaching this target by 2024 at the latest. 

But as inaction and division plagues the bloc, immigration has risen to the top of Europeans’ list of concerns, according to the European Commission’s biannual Eurobarometer public opinion survey published in early August, showing the issue now provokes more fear among a sample of European citizens than climate change.

Meanwhile, polarisation between European nation’s stances on immigration appears to be growing, suggesting that von der Leyen will have her work cut out to steer the European Commission towards compromise.

According to information gathered as part of SGI’s 2019 survey, due for publication in autumn 2019, there is an uptick in the number of the countries who failed to focus on the integration of immigrants.

But at the same time countries such as Germany, Spain and Portugal managed to improve their treatment of newcomers.

This sends a worrying signal that Europe is moving in contrasting directions when it comes to this key test of its unity.

And those in Brussels (and beyond) know that the political stakes are high.

After all, failure to reform the bloc’s asylum system and to manage the crisis, will likely push increasingly numbers of voters towards far-right and populist parties. 

(EUobserver) EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact

(EUobserver)

  • Moscow military parade: Russian revanchism under president Vladimir Putin has reopened old wounds (Photo: Dmitriy Fomin)

Five EU states have issued a statement condemning a World War 2-era German-Russian treaty which divided Europe, but Russia has defended the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

The treaty, signed between Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and his Nazi German counterpart, Joachim von Ribbentrop, on 23 August 1939 “sparked World War 2 and doomed half of Europe to decades of misery” the foreign ministries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania said on Friday (23 August), the day of its 80th anniversary.

(EN) UK officials will stop attending most EU meetings from September

(EN)

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay signs the commencement agreement to leave the EU

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay signs the commencement agreement to leave the EU -CopyrightSTEVE BARCLAY/via REUTERS

UK officials will stop attending most EU meetings from September 1 in order to “unshackle” officials from meetings that concern the EU after the UK’s planned exit in October.

UK officials will only attend EU meetings that are of “significant national interest” to the UK, the Department for Exiting the European Union said in a statement.

The UK will “only go to the meetings that really matter, reducing attendance by over half and saving hundreds of hours,” said Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay about the announcement.

“This will free up time for Ministers and their officials to get on with preparing for our departure on October 31 and seizing the opportunities that lie ahead,” Barclay continued.

Meeting attendance will be decided on a “case-by-case basis”, but officials will continue to attend meetings on Brexit, international relations, and security.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will also continue to attend European Council meetings.

Johnson said in July he wanted to start “unshackling” British officials from attending EU meetings so they can focus on preparing for Brexit and working on new trade deals.

“Today there are very many brilliant officials, UK officials, trapped in meeting after meeting in Brussels and Luxembourg when they could be better…deploying their talents in preparing to pioneer new free trade deals or promoting a truly Global Britain,” Johnson said in his first address in the House of Commons in July.

Labour MP Martin Whitfield called the Tuesday announcement a “pitiful retreat” from the UK’s position “at the heart of European decision making”.

Catherine Bearder, leader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs, tweeted that the announcement constituted “a pointless gesture driven by domestic politics which devalues our membership of the EU and shows nothing but contempt for our influence in Brussels”.

“How do you know if important things are discussed if you are not there?” she said.

The UK has recently ramped up preparations to potentially leave the EU without a deal as Johnson has repeatedly said the UK will leave the bloc on October 31 “no matter what”.

(EUobserver) New EU anti-money laundering blacklist in October

(EUobserver) Vera Jourova, EU’s commissioner for justice, announced that she is undertaking a new attempt to create an EU blacklist of countries that are open to fraud and money laundering in October, before the end of the current European Commission’s mandate, according to the Financial Times. The former list was torpedoed in February by several EU member states after pressure from Saudi Arabia and the United States.

(EUobserver) EU mulls naval mission to Persian Gulf

(EUobserver) According to a German advisory note, the EU should send a European naval mission to the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, writes the Belgian newspaper De Morgen. The German government would launch the idea at one of the informal European meetings in Helsinki at the end of August. According to the note, the mission would need five frigates, two corvettes and protection teams with planes and logistical ships.

(RTP) Portugal cresceu 1,8% e situa-se acima da média europeia

(RTP) Portugal resiste ao abrandamento económico europeu e cresceu 1,8 por cento no segundo trimestre na comparação com o mesmo período do ano passado. Está também assim da média europeia.

O turismo e a diminuição das importações ajudaram o país a resistir à conjuntura internacional.

Já a economia da Alemanha recuou, seguindo a tendência de abrandamento iniciada em 2017.

(JN) Portugal foi uma das cinco economias do euro que não travaram

(JN)Portugal foi uma das apenas cinco economias da Zona Euro que não travaram no segundo trimestre. As maiores economias do euro desaceleraram e a Alemanha até contraiu.

As nuvens negras chegaram à Zona Euro, mas Portugal parece, para já, escapar. Tal como a Holanda, a Finlândia, o Chipre e a Letónia, a economia portuguesa escapou à desaceleração no segundo trimestre de 2019, período em que a economia alemã contraiu. 

De acordo com os dados publicados esta quarta-feira, 14 de agosto, pelo Eurostat, houve dois países da Zona Euro a acelerar de abril a junho, três a estabilizar e sete países a desacelerar. Ainda há vários países para os quais não há dados: a Estónia, Irlanda, Grécia, Luxemburgo, Eslovénia e Eslováquia. Ao todo há 19 países na Zona Euro.

No seu conjunto, o PIB da Zona Euro cresceu 0,2% em cadeia (do primeiro trimestre para o segundo trimestre) e 1,1% em termos homólogos (em comparação com o segundo trimestre de 2018). No primeiro trimestre de 2019, o PIB tinha crescido 0,4%, em cadeia, e 1,2%, em termos homólogos.

A maior travagem na Zona Euro foi protagonizada pela Alemanha cuja economia desacelerou 0,5 pontos percentuais face ao primeiro trimestre, contraindo 0,1% em cadeia. Também Itália, França e Espanha – as outras três maiores economias do euro – desaceleraram, levando o PIB da Zona Euro inevitavelmente a perder ritmo como previam os economistas. 

Contudo, também houve algumas surpresas pela positiva. Desde logo, foi esse o caso de Portugal onde o PIB cresceu 0,5% em cadeia, mantendo o ritmo registado no arranque do ano. Com este resultado, Portugal continuou a registar um crescimento acima da média da Zona Euro. Neste trimestre foram as exportações que suportaram o PIB dado que o investimento – que tinha sido a “estrela” do primeiro trimestre – perdeu dinamismo, segundo a informação do Instituto Nacional de Estatística (INE).

Dentro da Zona Euro, também a Holanda (0,5%) e Chipre (0,7%) conseguiram manter o ritmo de crescimento registado no primeiro trimestre.

A contrariar a travagem económica estiveram a Finlândia e a Letónia onde a economia acelerou. O PIB da Finlândia avançou 0,3 pontos percentuais, crescendo 0,9% em cadeia, e o PIB da Letónia avançou 0,9 pontos percentuais, crescendo 0,8% em cadeia (-0,1% no primeiro trimestre).

Fora da União Europeia, apenas a República Checa e a Dinamarca escaparam à desaceleração. O PIB checo manteve o ritmo de crescimento ao passo que o PIB dinamarquês acelerou para um crescimento de 0,8% em cadeia. 

Entre as maiores travagens fora da Zona Euro estiveram a Bulgária, a Polónia e ainda a Suécia e o Reino Unido onde o PIB contraiu.

Esta análise é feita com os valores em cadeia, ou seja, a evolução do PIB entre trimestre, a qual permite aferir a tendência da economia. Na análise homóloga, onde se compara o trimestre com o mesmo do ano anterior, todas as economias cresceram à exceção de Itália que estagnou.

(BBG) Boris Johnson’s Belfast Brexit Message Leaves Dublin and EU Cold

(BBG)

  •  Premier reiterates U.K. could leave bloc without a deal
  •  Promise to leave border open puts Ireland in potential bind
Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Boris Johnson went a long way toward cementing his working majority in the U.K. Parliament with a visit to Northern Ireland on Wednesday, but did little to break the Brexit impasse with Dublin and Brussels.

The new prime minister met with the region’s main political parties in Belfast on the latest leg of a nationwide tour after taking office last week. He reiterated his plan to leave the European Union on Oct. 31 with or without a deal, while promising not to add infrastructure at the Irish border — the U.K.’s land frontier with the bloc — in any Brexit scenario.

Only the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up the government in Westminster, came out unequivocally in support of Johnson’s strategy. Leader Arlene Foster called it “sensible” and echoed his demand for a Brexit deal that both removes the backstop — a fallback provision in the agreement designed to keep the border with Ireland free of checks — and doesn’t “break up the United Kingdom.”

Johnson’s rejection of the backstop, a key element of the divorce deal his predecessor Theresa May negotiated with Brussels, has put the U.K. on a collision course with the EU and made a no-deal Brexit — the scenario most feared by businesses — more likely. The U.K. is due to leave the bloc in just three months’ time.

What ‘No-Deal Brexit’ Means and Why It’s a Big Risk: QuickTake

Border Problem

Johnson’s pledge not to add physical infrastructure on the Irish border, without offering a solution for how customs checks can be done, is particularly challenging to the Republic of Ireland and the EU. It puts the onus on them to find a solution to what will become an external frontier for the bloc’s single market, while likely souring any talks on a future trade deal.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Ireland “isn’t going to be bullied” on the backstop and needs to stand firm. There is “total support” from the EU on the issue, he said in an interview with the Irish Mirror newspaper.

Johnson’s unwillingness to pursue a compromise on the backstop also triggered anger from his opponents in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald said Brexit is changing minds on the issue of a united Ireland, and called on the U.K. government to lay out what it sees as the threshold for a referendum on unification.

“If you are democratically intent on it, who are we to stop you?” McDonald said of Brexit on BBC Radio. “But you can’t wreck Ireland in the process.”

The Ulster Unionist Party, even though it opposes the backstop, also used a meeting with Johnson to raise its opposition to leaving the EU without a deal, the Belfast Telegraph reported, citing leader Robin Swann.

Reassuring Allies

The opposition of some of Northern Ireland’s parties won’t worry Johnson because he’s gained the approval for his “do or die” Brexit stance from the only one that matters in terms of votes in the Westminster Parliament — the DUP. Even a plunge in the pound hasn’t derailed that in the past few days.

“We are stepping up a gear and increasing the pace of our preparations as we get ready to leave the EU” on Oct. 31, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said in a statement after meeting executives from companies including General Electric, BAE Systems and Tate and Lyle Sugars in London.

Nevertheless, Johnson’s tour of the four U.K. nations — which he dubbed the “awesome foursome” — has not yielded wholly positive headlines. From boos in Edinburgh to a backlash from sheep farmers in Wales and calls for a united Ireland in Belfast, his promise to use Brexit to boost British unity looks a difficult challenge.

(CNBC) The EU is reportedly stripping 5 countries of some market access rights — that may impact the UK after Brexit

(CNBC)

  • The move will see the European Commission blocking Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Singapore from accessing parts of the European Union’s financial market, according to the Financial Times.
  • The five countries are deemed as no longer regulating credit rating agencies as rigorously as the bloc — thereby removing them from a position which made it possible for European banks to rely on those ratings, reported the Financial Times,
Houses of Parliament 190329 EU

A general view of the Houses of Parliament on March 28, 2019 in London, England.Leon Neal | Getty Images

The European Commission will be blocking five countries from accessing parts of the European Union’s financial markets — in a move that could hit the United Kingdom after it leaves the bloc, according to a Financial Times reporton Sunday.

The decision will see the Commission removing certain market access rights from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Singapore, the FT reported.

The bloc grants financial-market access to non-EU lenders, investment firms, clearing houses or credit rating agencies in its so-called “equivalence” system, as long as it considers their home rules to be in line with the EU’s.

The five countries are deemed as no longer regulating credit rating agencies as rigorously as the bloc — thereby removing them from a position which made it possible for European banks to rely on those ratings, reported the Financial Times, citing a document the newspaper had seen.

This will be the first time such rights are withdrawn.

It is a system that the UK will likely have to subscribe to after it leaves the European trading bloc. The EU has stipulated that Britain must rely on the equivalence provisions for access to the single market after Brexit, according to the FT.

The move is seen by some as a warning to Britain that it needs to be aligned with EU rules if it wants its trading platforms and financial firms to continue having direct access to customers in the bloc.