EIB finances 21 new wind farms in Spain

-
epa05517478 The sun sets over the wind turbine farm of El Perdon in Navarra, Spain, 31 August 2016. EPA/JESUS DIGES

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing €385 million in financing to wind energy company Alfanar to support its plans to construct 21 new wind farms in six autonomous regions in Spain.

According to the European Commission, the Juncker Plan’s European Fund for Strategic Investments guarantees the financing, allowing the EIB Group to invest in more and often higher risk operations.

The new wind farms will generate 1,491 GWh of energy per year, which is equivalent to the consumption of 360,000 homes.

Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said the Commission “is proud to support this important renewable energy project in Spain, financed under the Juncker Plan.”

According to the Commissioner, Spain has the potential to become a leader in renewable energy, creating sustainable, long-term jobs. “The clean energy generated by these 21 new wind farms in six autonomous regions is equivalent to the energy consumption of 360,000 homes, which is a significant step in the right direction,” Cañete said.

As of July 2019, the Juncker Plan has mobilised €424 billion of additional investment, including €44.8 billion in Spain.

Trade disruption is a symptom of a deeper malaise

-
epaselect epa07757963 Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, New York, USA, on 05 August 2019. Global markets are continuing to react to the unresolved trade dispute between the United States and China. EPA-EFE/JUSTIN LANE

It’s only a matter of time until the escalating tensions between China and the United States prompt many more economists to warn of an impending global economic recession coupled with financial instability. On 5 August, Bloomberg News said that the yield curve, a closely watched market metric, “Blares Loudest US Recession Warning Since 2007.” And Larry Summers, a former US Treasury Secretary who was also closely involved in crisis-management efforts in 2008-09, recently tweeted that “we may well be at the most dangerous financial moment … since 2009.”

Many economists argue that resolving US-China trade tensions is the best way to avoid significant global economic and financial disruption. Yet, while necessary, this would be far from sufficient.

Don’t get me wrong: the focus on the deteriorating relations between China and America is entirely understandable. After all, their worsening dispute increases the risk of a trade war which, coupled with a currency war, would lead to “beggar-thy-neighbour” (that is, lose-lose) outcomes cascading throughout the global economy. As growth prospects deteriorated, debt and leverage issues would come to the fore in certain countries, adding financial instability to an already damaging economic cocktail. And with the US-China row now extending beyond economics to include national-security and domestic political issues, the best-case scenario on trade is a series of ceasefires; the more likely outcome is escalating tensions.

Yet, when viewed in the broader context of the past decade, trade tensions turn out to be a symptom rather than a cause of the world’s underlying economic and financial malaise. In fact, an excessive focus on trade risks is deflecting policymakers’ attention from other measures needed to ensure faster and more inclusive growth in a genuinely stable financial environment.

Policymakers must also contend with growing political pressure on central banks, the backlash against the inequality trifecta (of income, wealth, and opportunity), the politics of anger, the growth of anti-establishment movements, the loss of trust in governments and expert opinion, regional economic and geopolitical tensions, the growing risk of financial instability, threats to long-term financial protection products, and a general sense of economic insecurity.

As I argued in The Only Game in Town, all of these recent developments – and also, of course, the growing US-China tensions – are related in a meaningful way to two basic and persistent features of the global economy since the 2008 financial crisis.

The first is the prolonged period in which economic growth has been not only too low but also insufficiently inclusive. As a result, growing segments of the population have felt marginalized, alienated, and angry – leading to unexpected election outcomes, the rise of populist and nationalist movements, and, in a few cases, social unrest.

The second post-crisis feature is the persistent over-reliance on the pain-numbing but distortionary medicine of central-bank liquidity, rather than a more balanced policy mix that seeks to ease the (mainly structural, but also cyclical) impediments to faster, more inclusive growth. Monetary policy has not been very effective in boosting sustainable growth, but it has lifted asset prices significantly. This has further fueled complaints that the system favours the already-rich and privileged rather than serving the broader population – let alone helping more disadvantaged groups.

If both these features persist, the global economy will soon enough come to an uncomfortable binary prospect on the road ahead. At this “T-junction,” the current, increasingly unsustainable path will give way either to a much worse outcome involving recessions, financial instability, and rising political and social tensions, or, more optimistically, to a pick-up in inclusive growth and genuine financial stability as the governance system finally responds to popular pressure.

Moreover, the journey to the neck of this T-junction is itself increasingly uncertain. In particular, the protracted use of unconventional monetary policies has entailed costs and risks that have intensified over time. These include attacks on the operational autonomy of central banks, the excessive decoupling of asset prices from their underlying economic and corporate fundamentals, and systemic overpromising of liquidity to end-users (particularly in the non-bank sector). Today, a policy mistake or a market accident could make the journey much faster and a lot bumpier.

To avoid a nasty outcome for the global economy and financial system, China and America need to resolve their differences in the context of a more comprehensive policy compact that also involves other leading economies (especially Europe).

Efforts to revitalize free but fairer trade should start by addressing the genuine US and European grievances vis-à-vis China regarding intellectual-property theft forced transfer of technology, excessive subsidization, and other unfair trade and investment practices. And this, in turn, should serve as the foundation for a comprehensive multilateral effort to remove constraints on actual and potential growth.

Such an initiative would include infrastructure rehabilitation and modernization in Europe and the US, more balanced fiscal policies in Europe and a stronger regional economic architecture, stronger social safety nets around the world, and targeted liberalization and deregulation in China and Europe.

With concerted global action of this type, the world economy could navigate the upcoming T-junction favourably. Without it, current complaints about economic and financial instability and insecurity could pale in comparison to what comes next.

Britain’s Rail Delivery Group to stay in EUrail and Interrail scheme after U-turn

-
epa04521261 A staff member stands next to the first direct freight train between China and Spain parked at the Mendez Alvaro logistic station in Madrid, Spain, 09 December 2014. The train, operated by InterRail Services (IRS), arrived to Madrid 21 days after departing from Yinwu city in the east of China on 18 November 2014. Considered the longest train of the world and carrying some 40 containers, it travelled across Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France covering a total of 13,000 km. After completing the test period, the IRS and DB Schenker Rail will consider establishing a regular train line between Spain and China from spring 2015. EPA/PACO CAMPOS

UK’s Rail Delivery Group (RDG) train company has decided to reverse exit from the EUrail and Interrail scheme, after public affairs backlash

The company has decided to reverse Wednesday’s decision, according to which the arrangement would end in January following a dispute with EUrail Group which manages the scheme.

But newly-appointed Transport Secretary Grant Shapps called the move “counterproductive” and urged the RDG to to “reverse their decision.” The U-Turn announcement, writes that “Britain’s train companies never wanted to leave Interrail,” the RDG said just before announcing a deal had been reached. “Following the strong reaction to news of our departure we and EUrail, the company which runs Interrail, renewed talks.

“We are pleased to be able to tell passengers that we have reached agreement and will be remaining part of both the Interrail and Eurail passes,” said Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions.

British companies wanted out of the EU and international rail schemes, aiming to “secure a competitive position for their BritRail Pass,” which offers travellers tickets for the U.K. network, according to Eurail’s General Manager Carlo Boselli. RDG claimed it had been pushed out by EUrail. EU rail’s version of facts, claims that RDG had pulled out after failing to “secure a competitive position” for British rail.

UK economy shrinks in second quarter, first since 2012 and ahead of Brexit deadline

-
epa03860813 A sample Polymer five and ten pound British banknotes are held for an arranged photograph during a news conference at the Bank of England in London, Britain, 10 September 2013. Bank of England Deputy Governor Charlie Bean, said: "Polymer banknotes are cleaner, more secure and more durable than paper notes. However, the Bank of England would print notes on polymer only if we were persuaded that the public would continue to have confidence in, and be comfortable with our notes." EPA/Chris Ratcliffe / POOL

The UK’s economy shrank for the first time since 2012 in the second quarter according to fiscal data made available by Britain’s Office for National Statistics.

With Boris Johnson’s British government committed to exit the EU on October 31, regardless of whether a deal passes from the House of Commons or not, allowing the UK to exit with a transition period so as to avoid trade disruption, the outlook for the last quarter of 2019 seems uncertain.

Taking into consideration the slowdown of the global economy, due to a trade dispute between the United States and China, the UK’s year-on-year economic growth is down to 1.2% from 1.8% in the first quarter of 2019.

The Bank of England last week predicted that growth will only stage a limited pick-up to a quarterly rate of 0.3% during the current quarter, concluding 2019 at 1.3%. However, the trend seems to be much greater., with the UK’s central bank also warinnig of a 1-in-3 chance that output in annual terms will contract in the coming quarters.

UK’s economy shrank in the three months to June, with the British GDP dropping by 0.2pc on the quarter, marking a sharp reversal from the strong growth of 0.5pc in the first three months of the year after a boost to the market by stockpiling of goods and materials. June’s manufacturing data was also unexpectedly poor and output for the quarter contracted at the fastest rate since early 2009, when Britain was mired in recession.

Since the UK’s vote to exit the EU in June 2016’s annual growth rates have dropped from more than 2% before the referendum to expand by 1.4% in Friday’s data showed business investment contracted 0.5% in the second quarter of the year versus economists’ expectations of a 0.3% fall.

Theft ring selling stolen car parts busted in Europol-led operation

-
epa02804675 An exterior view of the new Europol headquarters, the alliance of the European Union police and a multinational research organization, in The Hague, The Netherlands 01 July 2011. The headquarters were officially opened 01 July. EPA/Lex van Lieshout

With the support of Europol, the Belgian and Lithuanian authorities, an organised crime network originating from Lithuania and specialised in the theft of car parts has been dismantled in recent days.

279 criminal cases for a total damage of €1.35 million have been attributed to this Lithuanian criminal group.

Europol provided analytical support to prepare for the actions, and deployed a mobile office on-the-spot in Lithuania to extract and analyse mobile phone data on the action day itself.

EP president urges immediate solution for 121 stranded migrants

-
epa07755726 (FILE) - A handout photo made available by German civil sea rescue organisation sea-eye shows the Alan Kurdi vessel, off the Libyan coast, 05 July 2019 (reissued 04 August 2019). According to Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Twitter, Malta will take in the 40 migrants from the rescue ship until people are distributed to other EU countries. The German government and the EU Commission had agreed on the distribution of all persons to the member states. EPA-EFE/FABIAN HEINZ / SEA-EYE HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

The European Parliament has called on the Commission to find a solution for 121 migrants stranded between Malta and Italy, after being denied entry in Malta.

In an open letter on 8 August, EP president David Sassoli urged the European Commission president Jean-Claude Junker to intervene by arranging for the “fair distribution of the migrants”.

“If the European Union were to remain indifferent to their fate, it would be piling suffering on top of suffering, and I am sure that this is not what the guardians of the European Treaties believe in their hearts to be right.”, the letter reads.

The Open Arms ship has been in international waters for eight days. Among those on board are 32 children, including nine-month-old twins.

Europe marks World’s Indigenous Peoples Day

-
epa07763363 A Manobo indigenous person participates in a rally held by human rights advocates and representatives from Filipino indigenous tribes outside the Armed Forces of the Philippines camp in Quezon City, Philippines, 09 August 2019. The rally marked International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. The protesters called for an end to the harassment of indigenous groups by government security forces and an end to the damage done to indigenous lands by private firms. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

The European Union issued on 9 August a declaration on the occasion of the day of the world’s indigenous peoples.

Indigenous, or native peoples, are defined as ethnic groups who are the original settlers of a region, that was later colonized. Their communities are characterized by having a distinct culture and beliefs, and strong link to territories. The survival of their ancestral languages is among the key concerns across the world.

The Union’s foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, on behalf of the EU, said:
“This year, as we mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, we also honour the International Year of Indigenous Languages by celebrating the contributions of indigenous peoples to the world’s linguistic diversity.”

“The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states that the EU shall respect the cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, and prohibitions discrimination based on language”, the declaration reads.

EU’s Copernicus satellite maps to assist Turkey’s Civil Protection Services after 5.7 earthquake

-
epa06103037 A crack in the damaged promenade, following an earthquake on the island of Kos, Greece, 22 July 2017. Two earthquake-related fatalities were reported on the island of Kos in the early morning hours of 21 July, while several others were injured from a strong 6.7 magnitude earthquake that shook the island and much of the southeast Aegean region and southwestern Turkey. A 39-year-old Turk and a 27-year-old Swede are reportedly dead, according to sources. Five seriously injured persons were transferred to the Heraklion University Hospital in Crete. Some buildings have suffered serious damage. The island's port has sustained damage while the airport is operating normally. EPA/YANNIS KOLESIDIS

Following a request by Turkey after the 5.7 magnitude earthquake, the European Commission is providing Turkey with Copernicus emergency satellite maps, according to the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.

The earthquake hit western Turkey on Thursday, damaging homes and causing injuries to some 20 people. With an epicentre on the town of Bozkurt, in Denizli province, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, AFAD, the quake struck at 2.25pm local. Istanbul-based Kandilli seismology center measuring it at 5.7 magnitude.

Bozkurt’s mayor, Birsen Celik, said the quake knocked down two houses in the town and that residents escaped with slight injuries. Several other homes were damaged.

Television footage showed the earthquake interrupting a group of teenagers playing table tennis, with the youths rushing under the ping-pong tables for safety. Another video showed a couple in Denizli being caught up in the quake in the middle of their wedding ceremony.

The quake was felt in the neighbouring provinces of Antalya, Mugla, Isparta and Burdur, where people also ran out of their homes.

Turkey’s 7.4 magnitude earthquake in 1999, killed more than 17,000 people in northwestern part of the country.

Sweden’s Johansson tapped as ninth woman nominated for EU College of Commissioners

-
epa07761907 Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Loefven (R) introduces Sweden's nominee for Commissioner in the next European Commission, current Labour minister Ylva Johansson (L), at a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, 08 August 2019 EPA-EFE/Maja Suslin/TT SWEDEN OUT

The Swedish government has decided to nominate its Labour Minister Ylva Johansson as the country’s candidate to be a part of European Commission President-elect Ursula von Der Leyen’s incoming College of Commissioners.

Johansson is one of Sweden’s most experienced ministers having served as Minister of Labour and Employment where she was responsible for one of the government’s top priorities.

Johansson is the ninth woman to be nominated for the new Commission, which will take office on 1 November. Johansson said she anticipates that the EU will focus on four core areas – the rule of law, increasing employment and safeguarding jobs, formulating a trade policy that creates new jobs as well and a functioning internal market, transitioning to a climate-smart society, and fighting against terrorism.

Government future at stake as Italian PM Conte visits President Mattarella

-
epa07619968 (L-R) Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte, Senate Speaker Elisabetta Casellati and President Sergio Mattarella during the Republic Day 'Festa della Repubblica' celebrations in Rome, Italy, 02 June 2019. The anniversary marks the founding of the Italian Republic in 1946. EPA-EFE/ANGELO CARCONI

The Italian premier Giuzeppe Conte had a 30-minute face-to-face meeting with the Italian Head of State Sergio Mattarella, to take stock of the tensions between the 5 Stelle and the Lega.

The meeting became a clear necessity, after the very high tensions in the majority of the government between the Five Star Movement and the Lega, Prime minister Conte had already had a meeting with vice prime minister Matteo Salvini at Palazzo Chigi on Wednesday. The meeting was held shortly after the defeat of the 5 Stelle on the Italian Senate. Prime Minister Conte in front of Palazzo Chigi did not answer the reporters.

The meeting between the Prime Minister and the Head of State would have lasted about 30 minutes, with Conte wanting to avoid statements on the face-to-face meeting with President Mattarella.

Meanwhile, Mattarella has signed the government’s new security law, while raising two issues about the package in a letter to the speakers of the Lower House and the Senate, according to sources. The controversial package is drafted by Salvini and got voted on Monday after passing the test of a confidence vote in the Senate.

The aim of the legislation is to build on the security and migrantion decree that was approved last year and was also drafted Salvini, who has spearheaded the government’s tough stance of denying NGO-run migrant-rescue ships access to Italian ports. Under the new decree, the commanders of ships who rescue people at sea and take them into Italian waters without permission face fines of up to one million euros and the impoundment of the vessel.

NATO chief visits New Zealand

-
epa07760066 Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg speaks at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, 07 August 2019. Jens Stoltenberg is in Australia for two days following a visit to New Zealand for security talks. EPA-EFE/BIANCA DE MARCHI AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg concluded his official visit to Australia and New Zealand on 8 August.

During the visit of Christchurch, he met with mayor Lianne Dalziel and first responders involved in stopping the mosque attacks in March. He then visited the Al Noor mosque, where he laid a floral tribute in memory of the victims.

In Wellington, New Zealand, he met the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and thanked him for New Zealand’s important contributions in the fight against terrorism. He also talked with deputy prime minister and foreign minister Winston Peters and defence minister Ron Mark.

In Sydney, he met with prime minister Scott Morrison, foreign minister Marise Payne and defence minister Linda Reynolds, and signed a renewed partnership agreement between NATO and Australia with Minister Reynolds on board the HMAS Hobart.

Mogherini concludes bilateral visit to the Maldives

-
epa07306082 European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini gives a press briefing during European foreign affairs council in Brussels, Belgium, 21 January 2019. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini visited the Maldives on 8 August for a bilateral visit.

Her visit follows the recent decision of the Council of the EU to revoke the framework for restrictive measures against the Maldives as a response to the peaceful and democratic parliamentary elections in April, and the improvement of the general political situation.

During the visit she met with the president of the Maldives, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the foreign minister, Abdulla Shahid, and the defence minister, Mariya Didi. They reviewed existing bilateral cooperation programmes between the Maldives and the European Union and discussed global matters of mutual interest.

Both sides reiterated the importance of intensifying the ongoing cooperation between the Maldives and the European Union and confirmed the decision to enhance bilateral ties.

Tokayev calls for calm in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan

-
epaselect epa07761255 An injured person is seen as supporters of Kyrgyz former President Almazbek Atambayev guard his house during an operation of state security forces to detain Atambayev, who was accused of corruption, in the village of Koy - Tash near Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 07 August 2019. According to media reports one person was killed and 46 people were injured in the unsucessfull raid to detain ex-president Atambayev. EPA-EFE/IGOR KOVALENKO

Following a second failed attempt by the security services of Kyrgyzstan to arrest former President Almazbek Atambayev ended in a shootout that left one member of a special forces unit dead and dozens of other combatants wounded, the President of neighbouring Kazakhstan, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, said through a spokesperson that he wants to see the rule-of-law take precedence in order to resolve the situation calmly.

“The head of state (Tokayev) believes that the events that are taking place in Kyrgyzstan are an internal affair. President Tokayev hopes for a normalisation of the situation on the basis of the law,” a spokesman for the Kazakh president said.

Atambayev, who served as Kyrgyzstan’s president from 2011-2017, has been accused by his former ally and current President Sooronbay Jeenbekov of promoting widespread corruption in the government while in office.

EU to support innovation in Romania’s regions and cities

-
epaselect epa06335834 A Romanian man jumps over a puddle after crossing the street full of cars waiting at the red light, in Bucharest, Romania, 17 November 2017. Bucharest is the fifth busiest city in the world in terms of car traffic, and the most congested city in Europe, according to Eurostat. EPA-EFE/ROBERT GHEMENT

The European Commission launched two projects on 8 August to provide expertise to Romania’s regions and cities, in cooperation with the Romanian government and the World Bank.

In the first project, experts will help Romanian county capitals strengthen their links with the peripheries and use European funds for projects that will benefit the entire urban area.

In the second project, a group of experts will help the eight Romanian regions to increase their capacity to innovation and to strengthen cooperation between research centers and companies.

The project is a part of the initiative “Catching up Regions”, which boosts low-income regions to get to the same level as the rest of the Union.

Interrail no more – the UK drops membership from 1 January 2020

-
epa04889884 A Eurotunnel train loaded with trucks advanced towards the tunnel entrance in Calais, France, 20 August 2015. French minister of the interior Bernard Cazeneuve and British counterpart Theresa May made an official visit to Calais to inspect security measures around the tunnel and to sign Franco-British initiatives to tackle the migrant crisis. EPA/IAN LANGSDON
The UK Rail Delivery Group announced Wednesday that its membership of the Eurail and Interrail cooperation, allowing unlimited train travel throughout Europe, will end next year.
Following a decision go the Dutch Eurail group, to make EUrail and Interrail passes one, the company has decided to end the UK’s membership from 1 January 2020, despite  the company’s will to remain part of the group. “The Eurail group has decided to end our membership from 1 January 2020, despite us wanting to remain part of the group. This is not linked to our membership of the EU,” the UK Rail Delivery Group announced on Twitter.
The company confirms that “British people can still buy an Interrail pass, get the Eurostar from London and travel across mainland Europe by train.” The company claims that people visiting Britain, can buy a Britrail Pass which can be held on a smartphone and includes more benefits, such as discounts on 200 attractions across the UK, while Interrail and Eurail Passes purchased before 31 December 2019 will still remain valid for travelling on Britain’s rail network until the end of their validity period.
EUrail and Interrail companies’ announcement claims, however that the decision is of the British company, as the Rail Delivery Group’s priority “to secure a competitive position for their BritRail Pas has led them to pull out of Interrail and EUrail.” The company regrets this decision and strongly believes that remaining a member “would be beneficial to both the participating British railways” as well as for the community of travellers.
The withdrawal of membership comes even though negotiations were taking place but the companies have been unable to strike an agreement. “In the remaining months of 2019, we will put all our efforts into informing our EUrail and Interrail community and continue our commitment to our travellers to give them a great travel experience in Europe,” concludes EUrail’s General Manager, Carlo Boselli.

Andy McDonald, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, said the move was “deeply irresponsible,” as the world is “in the middle of a climate crisis and have just 11 years to drastically reduce emissions to avoid catastrophe,” he said. “We should be making it easier for people to travel between countries by rail, not encouraging flying by making rail travel more expensive and difficult.”

Frontex responds to accusations of migrant abuse

-
epa06342100 A View of the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, 21 November 2017. Frontex helps manage the EU's external borders, ensuring their security, and carrying out regular risk analyses and assessments. The agency's budget is to grow from 281 million Euros (349 million US dollars) in 2017 to 322 million Euros (377 million US dollars) in 2020. EPA-EFE/JAKUB KAMINSKI POLAND OUT

According to media reports, the European Union’s border force Frontex has allegedly been turning a blind eye to ill treatment of refugees by guards at EU external borders.

The agency responded to the accusations on 7 August, condemning any form of inhumane treatment and violence and reaffirming its adherence to the European Charter for Fundamental Rights.

“The agency fully abides by the principle of transparency and provides access to its documents, to the general public”, Frontex stated, explaining all the measures that it uses to make sure the appropriate checks and balances are in place.

EU calls for de-escalation of violence in Yemen

-
epa07760700 Armed members of a separatist southern group attend the funeral of security personnel killed in a Houthi attack a week ago in the southern port city of Aden, Yemen, 07 August 2019. According to reports, hundreds of pro-secession southern Yemenis attended the funeral of security soldiers killed in an attack of a ballistic missile fired by the Houthi rebels against a security camp in the government-controlled city of Aden, killing at least 40 security personnel, including a key leader of UAE-backed separatist southern militia Munir Abu Yamamah. EPA-EFE/NAJEEB ALMAHBOOBI EPA-EFE/NAJEEB ALMAHBOOBI

Three people were killed and nine injured when southern separatists clashed on 7 August with presidential guards in Aden, the seat of Yemen’s government, according to local officials and witnesses.

The European Union reaffirmed on 8 August its commitment to the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen and added its voice to the call by the UN Special Envoy for all parties to cease violence and to engage in dialogue.

“The EU expects all parties to maintain their commitment to the UN-led process and engage with the UN Special Envoy in an inclusive and sustainable political process in order to end the conflict.”, the statement reads.

Mogherini speaks to FM of India and Pakistan as tensions intensify

-
epa07760757 An Indian paramilitary soldier stands guard during curfew in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, 07 August 2019. Indian Home Minister Amit Shah moved a resolution in the parliament that repeals Article 370, and said the state will be split into two Union Territories, Kashmir with an Assembly and Ladakh region without one. EPA-EFE/FAROOQ KHAN

After India’s decision to revoke the autonomy of its restive state of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan has announced it will downgrade diplomatic relations and suspend bilateral trade with India.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, spoke on 8 August by telephone with the foreign ministers of India, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and of Pakistan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

In both calls, she underlined the importance of avoiding an escalation of tensions in Kashmir and in the region and enhanced the need for dialogue between India and Pakistan through diplomatic channels.

Pentagon says ISIS is moving to reconstitute itself in Syria

-
epa04924446 Syrian refugees arrive at Jordan Syria border point of Al-Rugban area at the north east of Jordan, 10 September 2015. The Syrian refugees arrive from Raqqa and Deir al Zoor fleeing from ISIS fighters and the Syrian regime attacks. EPA/JAMAL NASRALLAH

ISIS is making a comeback in Syria at a time when the United States is largely drawing down its troop presence in the country, according to a Pentagon report.

“Although it has lost its territory, ISIS has strengthened its rebellious capabilities in Iraq and resumed operations in Syria,” the document reads. The Pentagon has concluded that ISIS has been able to regroup and support operations in both countries, partly because local forces are still unable to sustain long-term operations or effectively hold the territory they fought to liberate from ISIS since 2014.

ISIS’ reconstitution has coincided with a decision by the White House to partially withdraw the American operational forces that have been in Syria since the terrorist organisation first appeared over five years ago.

President Donald J. Trump abruptly announced the withdrawal of the majority of the 2,000 American soldiers deployed in northeastern Syria and declared that ISIS had been completely destroyed. Trump’s sudden proclamation, which had reportedly not been endorsed by his military or security advisors but was largely supported by those in his ideological inner circle, prompted Trump’s widely respected Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, to resign in protest.

Washington’s decision to pull most of its military advisor from Syria was heavily criticised by the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and the Kurdish YPG – the US’ two key allies in the eight-year, multi-sided conflict.

More than 5,000 troops in Kazakhstan for fifth annual International Army Games

-
epaselect epa06127791 Russian tank T-72 open fire during a competition 'Safe route' as a part of Army Games 2017 outside the town of Tyumen, Russia, 06 August 2017. The International Army Games 2017 are held from 29 July to 12 August in the territory of five countries. The programme of the Games consists of 28 contests. EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

Thousands of soldiers from 39 countries have arrived for the Kazakhstan leg of the fifth annual International Army Games, a Moscow-led military sports event organized by Russia’s Ministry of Defence.

“The International Army Games are celebrating their fifth anniversary this year. Over the course of the last five years, they have become large-scale, substantial competitions. This year, over 5,000 soldiers from 39 countries are taking part in the games,” Kazakhstan’s Defence Minister Nurlan Yermekbayev said during the opening ceremony.

The participants will take part in a total of 32 competitions on both the land and water, as well as in the air. The soldiers’ will

Referred to by some of the participants as the “War Olympics”, the Games bring together most of the countries in the world that have a close military, political, or economic relationship with Russia, including Moscow’s key allies Iran, Syria, China, Cuba, Venezuela, Serbia, and Belarus.

The event has been successful in attracting contingents from nations that are traditional enemies – Armenia and Azerbaijan; India and Pakistan; Israel and Iran – a fact that Yermekbayev alluded to prior to the opening of the Games when he referred to the event as a “new format of military diplomacy”.

With the exception of Greece, the West has previously opted out of taking part in the Games. This year, however, the US, France, Turkey, and Slovakia – all NATO members – have sent observer missions to the event for the first time.

The International Army Games are running from 3-17 August.

UK could face food shortages in no-deal Brexit scenario, Britain’s food and drink lobby says

-
epa06857688 Shoppers at a Tesco supermarket in London, Britain, 02 July 2018. Tesco and Carrefour have announced they are to enter into a long-term strategic alliance. EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN

UK to experience shortages of some fresh foods for weeks or even months if a disorderly no-deal Brexit leaves perishable produce rotting in lorries at ports, Britain’s food and drink lobby warned on Wednesday.

Leaving the EU in October 31 on a non-orderly manner, will be problematic as so much fresh produce is imported and warehouses are stocked full ahead of Christmas, according to Britain’s grand retailers.

450,000 people are employed in the doing and food industry, and this will be the first major challenge since the horse meat scandal of 2013 and the mad cow disease outbreaks of the 1980s and 1990s.

According to the Food and Drink Federation’s Chief Operating Officer Tim Rycroft, no-deal Brexit could disrupt food supplies “for months.” “We’re not going to starve but there will be shortages of fresh food and some specialist ingredients. It’s going to be a little bit unpredictable,” Rycroft said.

“Given that food very often is perishable and has a short shelf life, we expect that there will be some selective shortages of food in the weeks and months following no-deal Brexit,” Rycroft added warning on possible price raises.

Ahead of the original Brexit deadline of March 29, supermarkets and retailers spent millions of pounds preparing for Brexit and working with suppliers to increase stocks of dried goods including pasta, bottled water and toilet paper. Today things seem uncertain, as after three years of Brexit negotiations, it is unclear whether the UK will strike a last-minute exit deal or delay to an acrimonious divorce that would knot the sinews of trade. “A lot of money will be spent,” Rycroft said, referring to how the industry prepared for two previous Brexit deadlines in March and April.

UK premier Boris Johnson has repeatedly warned the EU that if no new withdrawal agreement is gradated, he will lead the country out of the bloc without a deal.

A no-deal Brexit looking ahead to 2019-2020 winter, when Britain inevitably becomes more dependent on imported food, a Halloween no-deal Brexit is potentially more disruptive. Around 60 percent of the UK’s food needs are imports in November, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, produces with a short shelf-life of only a few days, that cannot be stored for long, posing problems if long queues form at Calais.

Rycroft said they estimated that the cost of preparing for a no-deal exit, including reserving warehouse space, using alternative distributors and losing orders in congested ports, would cost the industry up to 100 million pounds a week. These numbers come from the UK food and drink industry, which accounts for 19% of the manufacturing sector by turnover and employs over 450,000 people in Britain across 7,000 businesses including Associated British Foods Plc , Nestle and PepsiCo .

“The UK will be leaving the EU on 31 October and our top priority is supporting consumers and businesses in their preparations for Brexit,” said a spokeswoman for the government.

EU provides €50 million to tackle drought in the Horn of Africa

-
epa07742365 A young refugee girl from Somalia buys food at a shop in Kalobeyei settlement, near Kakuma Refugee Camp in Turkana county, northern Kenya, 24 June 2019. Comprised of three villages, Kalobeyei settlement was opened in 2016 following influx of South Sudanese refugees that surpassed the capacity of Kakuma Refugee Camp. EPA-EFE/DAI KUROKAWA

The European Commission announced on 7 August a further €50 million in emergency humanitarian funding to help the people hit by drought in the Horn of Africa.

The funding will support drought-affected communities in Somalia (€25 million), Ethiopia (€20 million), Kenya (€3 million) and Uganda (€2 million). With many in the region relying on livestock herding, the prolonged drought is having devastating consequences on food availability.

Today’s additional funding brings total EU humanitarian aid to the region to €366.5 million since 2018.

EU integrates geographic indication registry for food and alcohol products

-
epa00927464 (FILES) An undated file photo showing a woman who observes a glass od red wine. The greenhouse effect risks making some of Italy's top wines extinct within the next 100 years, according to an article posted on WineNews, 'Italy's pocket wine website'. Based on a 2006 study by the University of Florence, the article said high temperatures will push Tuscany's 'wine belt' much further north and the region will no longer be able to produce such wines as Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino. Recent evidence presented at the World Economic Forum on Climate Change predicted that by 2100 average temperatures on the Earth will rise by between 1.8 and 4°C, after rising by 1.2°C in the 20th century. According to the university study, recent climate changes have actually benefited the quality of Tuscan wines. Since the 1980s, the report observed, the quality of Tucany's top wines has improved significantly thanks above all to higher temperatures. EPA/CLAUDIO ONORATI

The European Commission has launched eAmbrosia, the EU’s Geographical Indication Register, which will give easy access to information on all geographically indicated products regardless of whether they have published or registered.

First launched by the Commission in April, the register will act as a guide for the geographical indications for wine, spirits, and food products produced in the European Union. Each Geographical Indication refers to the specific rules that determine how a product is made while acting as a guarantee of its quality.
By the end of 2019, all GI products will be registered in eAmbrosia, which will enhance access for producers, consumers, and the authorities in each individual country in the EU.

Lima Group meets to discuss Venezuela crisis

-
epa07759770 Foreign Minister of Peru, Nestor Popolizio, speaks during a press conference on the final statements of the International Conference for Democracy in Venezuela, in Lima, Peru, 06 August 2019. The International Conference for Democracy in Venezuela is held by the Lima Group to discuss the Venezuelan crisis. EPA-EFE/Paolo Aguilar

Delegates from some 60 countries met on 6 August in the Peruvian capital of Lima to discuss ways of ending the crisis in the South American nation.

The International Contact Group reaffirmed the urgent need for a peaceful way out of the crisis that is impacting the region, particularly because of massive migration flows to neighboring countries, and called for a negotiated transition through free presidential elections:

“The International Contact Group will continue its work to support such a peaceful electoral path as a way out of the crisis in close cooperation with all the relevant actors in the region and the international community”, the statement reads.

The Lima Group is a multilateral body that was established following the Lima Declaration in 2017, to establish a peaceful exit to the crisis in Venezuela.

EU reacts as Israel advances plans for illegal settlement projects

-
epa07732866 An Israeli army excavator machine demolishes a building in the Palestinian village of Sur Baher, in East Jerusalem, 22 July 2019. Israeli authorities decided to demolish at least six Palestinian residential buildings housing hundreds of Palestinian families, because they are located near the Israeli separation wall. EPA-EFE/ABED AL HASHLAMOUN

The approval of the advancement of over 2.000 housing units in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank by Israeli authorities has provoked the reaction of the European Union on 6 August.

The Union underlined its unchanged position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory: “all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.”

“The EU expects the Israeli authorities to fully meet their obligations as an occupying power under International Humanitarian Law, and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive Israeli use, and of denying Palestinian development”, the statement reads.

NATO deepens cooperation with Australia

-
epa07675294 NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks at the start of a North Atlantic council meeting during NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium, 26 June 2019. NATO Defense ministers gather in Brussels on 26-27 June 2019. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg praised Australia’s contributions to international security in a visit to Sydney on 7 August.

During the visit, he met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, and signed a renewed partnership agreement between NATO and Australia with Minister Reynolds aboard the HMAS Hobart.

Kazakhstan to welcome foreign graduate students

-
epaselect epa07635040 A general view on buildings in the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan (formerly known as Astana), Kazakhstan, 08 June 2019. The city, known earlier as Tselinograd, was an agricultural province in the steppe where the former Soviet Union government tried to grow record grain harvests. The former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan chose former Tselinograd as the place for its capital, named it Astana and rebuilt it in an ultra-modern style. In 2019 Astana was renamed in honor of the first President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. EPA-EFE/IGOR KOVALENKO
Kazakhstan has plans to attract graduate students from around the world, the Chairman of the Agency for Public Service of Kazakhstan, Anar Zhailganova, told reporters on Tuesday.
“Today we are witnessing transformations in all spheres of life in Kazakhstan. The civil service system, being the conductor of these transformations, is an area where changes must move at a vigorous pace,” Zhailganova said.

UN concerned over Italy’s new law to fine migrant rescue ships up to €1m

-
epa07699398 The Italian NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans' Alex migrant rescue ship carrying 41 migrants rescued off Libya Thursday enters the port of Lampedusa, Sicily island, Italy, 06 July 2019. The boat carrying 41 migrants has docked in the Italian port despite a ban by Matteo Salvini, Italy's interior minister, who had vowed to block them. EPA-EFE/ELIO DESIDERIO

The United Nations warned Italian lawmakers on 6 August that the new measure to impose fines of up to €1 million on organizations carrying out rescue operations off the country’s coastline, will endanger lifesaving efforts in the Mediterranean.

According to the spokesperson of the UN Refugee Agency, Charlie Yaxley, so far this year, nearly 4.000 people have made the dangerous crossing to Europe via the so-called Central Mediterranean Route from North Africa to Italy.

“The extremely volatile security situation, ongoing conflict, widespread reports of human rights violations and routine use of arbitrary detention underline the fact that it is not a viable place of safety”, said Yaxley.

The UN Migration Agency reported that “several tragedies” had occurred in the Mediterranean area in recent days.

EU expects from Turkey to prevent forced Syria returns against non-refoulement principle

-
epa07753811 Members of some Turkish NGOs gather to protest against the Turkish government's recent refugee action, during a demonstration in Istanbul, Turkey, 02 August 2019. Reports state that Turkey's Interior Ministry has launched a crackdown on unregistered refugees in Istanbul, with more than 6,000 arrested over the past two weeks, according to reports. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that there are over 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey. EPA-EFE/SEDAT SUNA

The European Commission appeared “confident” on Tuesday, that Turkey will “take any appropriate action” if allegations are true that Syrian refugees had been sent back to the war-torn country.

Amid reports in EU media that Syrian refugees have been deported from Turkey back to Syria, a European Commission spokesman commented on the reports that “refugees and asylum seekers must not and cannot be forced to return to any part of Syria, as long as the conditions are not met for safe and voluntary returns, as expressed by UNHCR.”

“The Commission is confident that Turkey will verify the veracity of these allegations and take any appropriate action at the appropriate level. Turkey’s legislation explicitly states that no-one shall be treated contrary to the principle of non-refoulement. Both the EU and Turkey reaffirm in the Statement of 18 March 2016 to respect this principle,” added the spokesperson.

“We have seen the reports and our channels of communications are open,”reiterated the EU executive spokesperson.On Tuesday, the commission announced it would spend an additional €127m to help Syrian refugees in Turkey, a proof on behalf of the EU that the EU-Turkey Statement is being implemented on behalf of Brussels.

EU provides further $11.15 million in humanitarian aid in Zimbabwe

-
epa07758195 Women carry buckets of water from a borehole in Mabvuku, Harare, Zimbabwe, 05 August 2019. Zimbabwe did not receive enough rain in the past rainy season and as a result the water levels have gone dry. Many people have to wake up early to fetch water for drinking purposes. EPA-EFE/AARON UFUMELI

The European Union has announced on 6 August that it is providing an additional €10 million ($11.15 million) in funding to help address humanitarian needs in Zimbabwe, after the climatic shocks and the economic crisis led to critical food shortages.

When tropical cyclone Idai hit Zimbabwe in March, over 4.500 hectares of crops were swept away, and food prices became beyond reach for many families. People also lost their livestock to different disease outbreaks, and water scarcity is increasing the risk of human disease outbreaks.

Since 2014, the Union has supported the Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region with over €125 million (about $ 140 million) for disaster preparedness, emergency relief response, and food assistance.

Mozambique rivals sign historic peace agreement

-
epa07751774 Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi (L) and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade (R) display the documents after both signed an agreement to cease hostilities in order to formally end fighting between government forces and the armed wing of the main opposition party, Maputo, Mozambique, 01 August 2019. The understanding between the two leaders comes after the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration of the members of the armed arm of the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) and the handing over by the party of the officers who will join the country's police force began on 01 August. EPA-EFE/ANDRE CATUEIRA

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, visited Maputo, Mozambique on 6 August, to participate in the signing ceremony of the historic peace agreement between the Mozambican government and the opposition party RENAMO, to formally end military hostilities, 27 years after the end of the first civil war.

The European Union is providing €50 million to support the peace process with local economic development, decentralisation, disarmament and reintegration of former combatants.

Mogherini will also hold bilateral meetings with the foreign minister José Pacheco, the president of Mozambique Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, and the president of RENAMO Ossufo Momade.

EU to finance urban projects in 20 cities with €82 million

-
epa07748383 A security officer advices drivers to pass on other directions at the Mainkai, the northern side of Main river in Frankfurt Main, Germany, 30 July 2019. According to the City Authorities, certain sections of the Main Quay and Lower Main Quay between Lower Main Bridge (Untermainbrücke) and Old Bridge (Alte Brücke) will be closed off to traffic from 29 July 2019. The closure will initially be in effect for approximately a year, until the Museum Embankment Festival 2020. During this time, urban planners will analyse to what degree the closure has affected traffic in the city centre. No major construction will take place along the northern bank during this trial period. EPA-EFE/ARMANDO BABANI

The European Regional Development Fund will finance 20 urban projects with €82 million.

In particular, Piraeus in Greece, Tampere in Finland and Turin in Italy will receive grants for projects that will protect and reduce the vulnerability of public spaces, in line with the 2017 Action Plan under the Security Union.

The EU funding will also support innovative solutions in digital transition, in responsible urban land use and in the fight against poverty in 17 other cities.

The Urban Innovative Actions provide EU cities with funding to finance innovative projects, with a total budget of €372 million from the ERDF. The Commission works in partnership with French region Hauts-de-France in implementing the programme.

The description of the winning projects can be found here.

EU steps up support for refugees in Turkey

-
epa07080405 Refugees arrive in Turkey along a route to the west, in Erzurum, Turkey, 23 April 2017. The Turkish government has deported at least 7,000 Afghan refugees back to Kabul recently, according to the Interior Ministry's General Directorate of Migration Management. Nearly 20,000 refugees fleeing Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh have arrived in Turkey through illegal means over the past three months, as the country is a transit country for migrants to reach Europe. EPA-EFE/ERDEM SAHIN

The European Union has announced on 6 August an additional €127 million to the Emergency Social Safety Net programme via the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey.

The programme provides refugees with monthly financial assistance through a special debit card which can only be used within Turkey and whose use is strictly monitored. The goal of the project is for refugees to integrate in society and pay for basic needs themselves.

The new funding brings the total EU contribution to the programme to €1.125 billion. In addition, development projects under the EU Facility for refugees in Turkey focus on education, migration management, health, municipal infrastructure, and socio-economic support.

Bosnia’s authorities draw cautious praise from Brussels after agreeing to form Council of Ministers

-
epa07679522 The Latin Bridge in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 28 June 2019 where on 28 June 1914, Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip killed the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the successor of the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie, the Duchess of Hohenberg. It is believed that the assassination initiated the proclamation of the war of Austro-Hungary against Serbia and the beginning of the First World War. In Versailles, 28 June 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, for the end of the First World War. During the First World War according to official statistics, cost more than 37 million military and civilian victims in the period from 1914 to 1918. EPA-EFE/FEHIM DEMIR

Nearly 10 months after Bosnia and Herzegovina’s last round of elections, the leaders of country’s three main ethnoreligious groups finally reached an agreement to form a central government on 4 August, news that the European Union welcomed which prompted Brussels to called for Bosnia’s often fractious government institutions to begin functioning normally, without any further delays, to ensure that EU standard reforms continue to be implemented.

“The agreement by the political party leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina to form a new Council of Ministers – facilitated by EU Special Representative Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark – is an important step forward for the country and its citizens,” the bloc’s statement said.

According to an EU Spokesperson, the formation of a government is also crucial for the country’s advancement in its stalled European integration process.

“The political parties have firmly committed to establish functioning authorities and to continue with the implementation of necessary legislative and socio-economic reforms as well as with concrete steps in the key area of fighting corruption and organised crime.”

The agreement lays out the principles for the formation of the new Council of Ministers. It was signed by the heads of the three largest parties in the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina – Bakir Izetbegović, representing the majority Muslim Bosniaks; Dragan Čović from the Croat Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina; and the Moscow-backed Serb ultranationalist Milorad Dodik from the Republika Srpska-based Alliance of Independent Social Democrats.

Under the terms of the agreement, the new Council of Ministers will consist of three Bosniak, three Croatian, and three Serbian ministers, plus one minister representing those who do not belong to the three main national-religious groups.

A representative from Dodik’s party will take over Chairman of the Council of Ministers, whose role is to act as de facto state prime minister. The Serbs will also be in control of the ministries that oversee communications, transport, foreign trade, economic relations, and refugees.

Izetbegović’s Party of Democratic Action will control the foreign, security, and defence ministries, leaving Čović’s Croatian faction to chair the finance, justice, and civil affairs ministries.

If the three parties are unable to form a government within 30 days, the new agreement will be invalidated. The most divisive issue that has kept the three leading parties from signing a deal for nearly a year has been over whether to activate Bosnia’s NATO Membership Action Plan, MAP, an essential first step toward full accession to NATO.

The Western-aligned Bosniaks and Croats are in favour of immediately activating the MAP, but Bosnia’s Serbs, who are heavily backed by Russia’s political and military support, are vehemently against joining NATO and have vowed to reaffirm the Republika Srpska’s military neutrality, which would effectively block moves by the government to continue with any further integration or enhanced cooperation with NATO.

The 1992-95 Bosnian War killed more than 100,000 people and left two million displaced by the conflict. The war became known for its brutality and the nearly four-year-long Siege of Sarajevo, the longest of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. Bosnia’s war was also noted for multiple acts of ethnic cleansing and genocide that culminated in the massacre in Srebrenica in July 1995 that saw the Army of the Republika Srpska of convicted war criminal Ratko Mladić execute more than 8,000 Bosniak men and boys in Europe’s worst act of genocide since World War II.

Under the terms of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, the country was split into two separate entities – the Bosniak-Croat Federation and the Republika Srpska – both of which are overarched by a relatively weak federal government and a rotating presidency.

The presidency rotates every eight months between a Bosniak, a Serb, and a Croat and focuses on carrying out responsibilities tied to international affairs. In addition, the Bosniak-Croat entity and the Republika Srpska each have their own presidents.

Dodik has long sought Russia’s support in helping to unify with neighbouring Serbia and who regularly honours Mladić and fellow convicted war criminal Radovan Karadžić – the leader of the Serbs in Bosnia during the war – has regularly threatened to unilaterally secede from the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but has thus far received little support from his Kremlin allies or from the Serbian government in Belgrade, the latter of which has shown no inclination that it wants to see Bosnia’s current borders redrawn.

China’s Yuan plunge worries global markets

-
epa07758536 A pedestrian walks past a stock markets indicator board in Tokyo, Japan, 06 August 2019. Following growing economic tensions between the USA and China and an overnight plunge on Wall Street, the Nikkei 225 Stock Average hit its lowest figure since January 2019 during the morning trading session. EPA-EFE/JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/ NO ARCHIVES

European shares fell to two-month lows on Monday amid U.S.-China trade frictions and worries that drove the bloc’s investors shifting towards government bonds and other traditional market products.

Following growing economic tensions between the USA and China and an overnight plunge on Wall Street, the Nikkei 225 Stock Average hit its lowest figure since January 2019 during the morning trading session.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 1% adding to a 2.5% fall on Friday, its worst day so far in 2019, after U.S. President Donald Trump upped the ante on China by slapping 10% tariffs on another €267 billion in imports.

Stocks in Asia were down across the board for a second day on Tuesday, keeping up with the sell-off that began on Monday when the Chinese government let the yuan fall below its 7-to-1 ratio with the US dollar for the first time in a decade. The yuan’s daily reference rate Tuesday of 6.9683 to the US dollar is the currency’s lowest since May 2008, during the global financial crisis.

As a consequence, US markets suffered some of their biggest drops of the year, leading Trump administration to later label China a “currency manipulator.” China’s official Communist Party newspaper said on Tuesday that the United States was “deliberately destroying international order,” rapidly escalating trade dispute.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI), Japan’s Nikkei, mainland China’s Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) and Taiwan’s Taiex fell more than 2% in early trading Tuesday after the People’s Bank of China allowed the yuan to drop to its lowest level in 11 years. The central bank’s cut to the yuan’s reference rate — a “band” it sets every day to curb how far up or down the yuan’s value can move — was also the deepest in more than a year.

Yi Gang, Governor of the Chinese central bank, said in a statement Monday night that China would “not engage in competitive devaluation, and not use the exchange rate for competitive purposes and not use the exchange rate as a tool to deal with external disturbances such as trade disputes.”

Furthermore, HSBC (HBCYF) shares that are listed in Hong Kong continued dropping, down 1.5% on Tuesday, after falling 1.9% on Monday after the announcement that John Flint will step down as chief executive hit the wires.

EU diplomats hint no-deal Brexit as Johnson’s central scenario

-
epa05896756 (FILE) - A file photograph showing British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, arriving in 10 Downing Street for a cabinet meeting in central London, Britain, 29 March 2017. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has issued a statement on 08 April 2017 stating the he has decided not to visit Moscow as planned on 10 April 2017. Johnson said, 'Developments in Syria have changed the situation fundamentally. My priority is now to continue contact with the US and others in the run up to the G7 meeting on 10-11 April - to build coordinated international support for a ceasefire on the ground and an intensified political process. I will be working to arrange for other like-minded partners to meet and explore next steps soon too.' 'I discussed these plans in detail with Secretary Tillerson. He will visit Moscow as planned and, following the G7 meeting, will be able to deliver that clear and co-ordinated message to the Russians.' EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s central scenario is a no-deal Brexit, meaning that he has no intention of renegotiating the Withdrawal Agreement, according to EU diplomats.

“It was clear UK does not have another plan,” the Guardian quoted a senior EU diplomat after a meeting between David Frost, the government’s new chief Europe adviser and EU diplomats.

“No intention to negotiate, which would require a plan,” the diplomat was quoted as saying. “A no-deal now appears to be the UK government’s central scenario.”

Even while London insists that the UK government is “ready to negotiate in good faith,” it is clear from their side that Johnson would only agree to a deal without a backstop, that he keeps referring to as “undemocratic,” meaning that such a deal would end up with the island of Ireland having a hard border.

“Even if EU gave up the backstop there is no alternative,” an EU diplomat said on the subject, amid the UK’s failure to come to the table with any alternatives on how to deal with the controversial Irish backstop.

Frost was said to have told the officials last week in Brussels that a “technological solution” to the Irish border was the UK’s preferred option before admitting that “it would not be ready now for Brexit”.

But with no EU-UK talks ahead, and Johnson preparing for a no-deal Brexit, elections are off his menu. Johnson prepares to fight against his own party MPs that have vowed to join powers with the opposition to prevent a no-deal exit for Britain.

Johnson said on Monday that an election was the “last thing” he wanted. But his official spokesman stressed at his regular briefing for journalists that Brexit would take place on 31 October “whatever the circumstances”, even in the case House of Commons has voted against a no-deal exit or a confidence motion against Johnson passes.

UK seeks to boost post-Brexit trade ties with the Americas

-
epa06874898 Dominic Raab leaves the British Prime Minister's London residence, 10 Downing Street, Central London, 09 July 2018. Housing minister Dominic Raab has been appointed Brexit Secretary by Theresa May replacing David Davis who resigned the post on 08 July 2018. EPA-EFE/RICK FINDLER

Plans of British foreign minister Dominic Raab will travel to Canada, the United States and Mexico this week to seek to boost ties with non-European countries ahead of Brexit, were made public on Tuesday

Ex-Brexit chief negotiator of the UK, Raab was appointed last month by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has promised to take Britain out of the EU at 31 October with or without a withdrawal deal.

“I’m determined that we fire up our economic relationships with non-European partners,” Raab said in a statement ahead of his trip to Toronto, Washington and Mexico City. “That means working with them now to ensure a smooth transition of our trading arrangements after Brexit and means quickly moving to wide ranging trade deals that boost business, lower prices for consumers and respect our high standards.”

Raab will also use the visits to discuss global collaboration on key international issues, according to the announcement, with Raab wanting to build “a stronger alliance to uphold international rule of law and tackle the issues that threaten our security whether that’s Iran’s menacing behaviour or Russia’s destabilising actions in Europe, or the threat from terrorism and climate change,” he said.

This announcement comes after Raab’s last week trips to  Bangkok, where he met 20 foreign ministers from around the Asia-Pacific region to discuss trade opportunities and strengthening diplomatic ties.

This way, the UK keeps waning to forger how the country’s greatest trade partner remains the EU, with 289 billion pounds of exports in 2018 andimports from the EU reaching 345 billion pounds.

According to pro-Brexit campaigners say leaving the bloc will allow Britain to pursue its own new bilateral trade deals around the world. Ut the UK administration insists that Canada, the United States and Mexico collectively represent around 225 billion pounds of annual bilateral UK trade, according to figures released by the British government.