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Italy, France to deepen ties as Merkel’s exit tests European diplomacy

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The leaders of Italy and France will sign a treaty on Friday to strengthen bilateral ties at a time when European diplomacy is being tested by the departure of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Quirinale Treaty is aimed at enhancing cooperation between Paris and Rome in areas including defence, migration, the economy, culture and trade.

The signing ceremony comes shortly after a new coalition pact was agreed in Germany, ending 16 years of rule by Merkel, who was the undisputed leader of Europe and forged especially close ties with successive French leaders.

The new Berlin administration is expected to be more inward looking, especially at the start of its mandate, and both Paris and Rome are keen to deepen relations in a period clouded by economic uncertainty, the pandemic, a more assertive Russia, a rising China and a more disengaged United States.

“Macron’s intention is to create a new axis with Italy, while it is in Italy’s interest to hook up with the France-Germany duo,” said a senior Italian diplomatic source, who declined to be named.

RENAISSANCE

Originally envisaged in 2017, negotiations on the new treaty ground to a halt in 2018 when a populist government took office in Rome and clashed with Macron over immigration.

Relations hit a low in 2019 when Macron briefly recalled France’s ambassador to Italy, but there has been a renaissance this year following the appointment of former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi to lead an Italian unity government.

A French diplomatic source rejected suggestions that the new axis between the European Union’s second and third largest economies represented any re-alignment of Paris’s diplomatic priorities.

“We have never played a jealousy triangle with European partners. These bilateral relations, when they are strong … complement each other,” the source said.

The Quirinale Treaty, named after the Italian president’s residence and loosely modelled on a 1963 Franco-German pact, is expected to lead to Paris and Rome seeking common ground ahead of EU summits, just as France already coordinates key European policy moves with Germany.

Full details of the pact have not been released but there will be special interest in sections covering economic ties and cooperation in strategic sectors.

French companies have invested heavily in Italy in recent years, but Italian politicians have accused Paris of being less forthcoming when Italian businesses seek cross-border deals.

Earlier this year, state-owned shipmaker Fincantieri’s bid to take over its French peer Chantiers de l’Atlantique collapsed, thwarted by EU competition issues.

Italian officials suspected Paris actively sought to undermine the deal behind the scenes.

 

(Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Politics Podcast: Most Americans Don’t Blame God For All The Bad Stuff That Keeps Happening – FiveThirtyEight

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FiveThirtyEight

 

On today’s Politics Podcast, the crew gets into God, COVID-19, and the midterms. So, the usual. They discuss a new poll about whom Americans blame for misfortune — is it a higher power, or the unending, uncontrollable, unyielding chaos of the universe? Then they pivot to what causes so much of our misfortune these days: COVID-19. Namely, the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, how concerned Americans are and should be, and what it might mean for politics in the coming months.

And then finally it’s time for the horse race stuff: Who’s running in 2022, who’s not, and what that tells us about how politicians are sizing up their chances in the midterms and beyond. As part of that discussion, they discuss how running on a lark might be different for women than it is for men, and mention FiveThirtyEight’s “When Women Run” project, which features an interview with Stacey Abrams.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

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Brazil Politics: Impasse Over Bill That Eases Fiscal Rule – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — The lower house and the senate reached an impasse over the so-called precatorio bill, which eases austerity laws and makes room in the budget for President Jair Bolsonaro’s new social program. 

The constitutional amendment was approved by both houses of congress in two rounds of voting, and the senate made changes to the text, forcing it to return to the lower house. But senators didn’t receive well a proposal made by house Speaker Arthur Lira, who would like to speed up the process by enacting only the consensual part of proposal — leaving changes to be voted on a separate bill at a later date. 

Another idea would be to take the full text of the bill, including changes introduced by the senate, directly to a vote on the floor of the lower house, skipping its committees. The issue will be debated on Monday during a meeting of senate leaders. 

Tighter Deficit

The economy ministry cut to 0.4% from from 0.99% of gross domestic product its estimate for next year’s primary budget deficit, considering the approval of the precatorio bill, according to newspapers.

Petrobras’s Prices

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the Brazilian state-owned oil giant, will announce a reduction in the price of fuel in the next few weeks, Poder360 reported, citing an interview with President Jair Bolsonaro. 

The report provided no details. The president’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

2022 Election

Room for a so-called third-way presidential candidate running as an alternative to leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and President Jair Bolsonaro depends on the incumbent losing popularity and not making it to the runoff, Christopher Garman, director of the Eurasia Americas division, said in an interview with Valor Economico. 

He forecast that Bolsonaro’s popularity will recover in the coming months with an increase in the minimum wage, cash handouts and an expected deceleration of inflation. Garman doesn’t expect such moves to make Bolsonaro the front-runner ahead of Lula, but sees former judge Sergio Moro coming third in the race. Chances of a runoff between Lula and Bolsonaro is 80% and the leftist leader is more likely to win then, the newspaper quoted Garman as saying.

  • Guedes wants Bolsonaro to support the liberal agenda during the 2022 election campaign: Folha de S.Paulo
  • Moro says he believes in the leadership of his electoral project and puts the polarization Lula-Bolsonaro in check : Estado
  • Moro met wit Rio Grande do Sul Governor Eduardo Leite

Coronavirus

Brazil reported 4,844 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, according to data published by the Ministry of Health. The death toll reached 615,636, with 66 in the past 24 hours.

Newspapers’ Top Stories

  • O Estado de S. Paulo
    • Mayors fail to use 15 billion reais ($2.6 billion) of the budget for education
  • Folha de S.Paulo
    • GSI allows mining in preserved areas of the Amazon
  • O Globo
    • Use of revolving credit card lines hits record
  • Valor Economico
    • Even with weak GDP, BC is likely to maintain a high interest rate policy

Original Story:

Promulgação da PEC gera embate no Congresso: Radar Político

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Don’t exploit migrants for politics, pope says on Lesbos visit – Aljazeera.com

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Pope Francis has denounced Europe’s fear and indifference to migrants on his second visit to the Greek island of Lesbos.

Pope Francis has blasted Europe’s indifference to the plight of migrants as the “shipwreck of civilisation” during a visit to a refugee camp in the Greek island of Lesbos.

On Sunday, the leader of the Catholic Church arrived at the Mavrovouni camp, where nearly 2,200 asylum seekers currently reside. He is on the second day of a five-day-long visit to Greece and Cyprus dominated by the issue of migration.

“I ask every man and woman, all of us, to overcome the paralysis of fear, the indifference that kills, the cynical disregard that nonchalantly condemns to death those on the fringes,” he said. “Please, let us stop this shipwreck of civilisation.”

Using latin terms, he called for the Mediterranean Sea to remain a bridge between cultures.

“Let us not let our sea (mare nostrum) be transformed into a desolate sea of death (mare mortuum),” he said.

He also condemned the exploitation of migrants for political purposes, lamenting that Europe had entered “an era of walls and barbed wire”.

Pope Francis has criticised the indifference and self-interest shown by Europe towards migrants [Alessandra Tarantino/AP]

The pope last visited Lesbos in 2016, when more than one million people crossed from Turkey into Greece and the island became one of the busiest crossing points. On that occasion, Francis brought 12 Syrian Muslim refugees home with him aboard the papal plane.

No such transfers were announced this time around, but the visit to the camp nonetheless raised hopes among its residents, some of whom have given birth to children while waiting for their asylum claims to be processed.

Enice Kiaku, from Congo, gave birth to Guiliain two years ago. He was born on the Greek island but has no identity documents.

“The arrival of the pope here makes us feel blessed,” Kiaku told The Associated Press. “We have a lot of problems here as refugees, a lot of suffering.”

Francis was greeted upon arrival by a group of African women who sung for him. He patted the heads of children and babies as he toured the camp and posed for selfies.

Pope Francis greeted children in Mavrovouni camp on the Greek island on Lesbos. [Vatican Media/­Handout via Reuters]

He was accompanied by Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas.

Greece has recently built a steel wall along a section of its border with Turkey and is intercepting boats transporting migrants from the Turkish side.

It denies allegations that it is carrying out summary deportations of migrants reaching Greek territory but human rights groups say numerous such pushbacks have occurred.

Francis also listened to the camp’s residents, among whom was Christian Tango Mukaya, a Congolese father of three, who thanked the pope for his show of solidarity and for his appeal to Europe.

The refugee said he lost track of his wife and their third child in their journey and was hoping his visibility with the pope might reunite them.

Mavrovouni is a temporary holding centre pending the construction on the island of a “closed controlled facility”.

These new closed camps, which are funded by the European Union, are already running on three other Greek islands, Samos, Leros and Kos.

Amnesty International has said that new EU-funded detention camps on Greek islands are in violation of Athens’ commitments to provide international protection to those in need.

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