Merkel, Macron Meet As Germany Takes On High-Stakes EU Presidency

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a news conference following talks on European Union integration, defense and migration at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau.

 

Chancellor Angela Merkel hosts French President Emmanuel Macron for talks on Monday, just days before Germany takes on the rotating presidency of the European Union with an economy mired in the worst crisis since World War II.

Berlin’s chairing of the 27-member bloc will be its last with Merkel in charge, and could be the one that defines the legacy of the leader dubbed the “eternal chancellor”.

With the future of the bloc’s relationship with Britain still to be determined, a crucial shift to a lower carbon world in the balance and crises from Libya to Syria all jostling for attention, there is no shortage of burning issues to tackle.

But it is the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic devastation it has wrought which will dominate and concentrate minds.

READ ALSO: EU Trade Chief Hogan Drops Out Of WTO Race

“This crisis that we’re currently experiencing is different compared to any other we have experienced since the founding of Europe,” Merkel, in power since 2005, told parliament in an address laying out Berlin’s priorities for the EU presidency.

“Alone in Europe, it has claimed more than 100,000 lives. A few weeks of economic standstill was enough to endanger what we have built up over years.”

With all to play for, member states are anxiously looking to Europe’s biggest economy to take charge.

In an interview published Saturday, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said it was “very fortunate that Germany is taking over the presidency at this time of a major crisis.”

Merkel’s long experience and credibility “helps enormously,” she told the Handelsblatt newspaper.

– German ‘bulldozer’ –

Besides its geopolitical weight and economic heft, Germany takes on custodianship of the bloc with a strong hand as it has so far withstood the health emergency better than most other member states.

Compared to the debt crisis that threatened to sink the single currency zone in 2009-2010, Germany looks very different today — it’s out with Scrooge and in with Lady Bountiful.

Once an obstinate champion of budgetary rigour, Merkel’s government has ditched its no-new-debt dogma to throw resources at the crisis.

Its programme to shore up the economy totals more than a trillion euros in spending, loans and guarantees.

Together with Macron, Merkel sketched out the backbone of the 750 million-euro ($840-million) fund proposed by von der Leyen to bolster the bloc’s economy.

The fund would offer grants — with no repayment obligation — to countries hardest hit by the pandemic, a major policy U-turn for Berlin.

With an eye on the devastating blow taken by the worst-hit countries like Spain or Italy, Merkel explained that it was “imperative that Germany not only thinks of itself but is prepared for an extraordinary act of solidarity”.

“In such a crisis, everyone is expected to do what is necessary. And what is necessary in this case is rather extraordinary,” she told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

“Of course it’s good that things are moving forward finally. But it’s regrettable that without a jolt from crisis, this chancellor has usually lacked the drive to make changes,” complained weekly Der Spiegel of veteran firefighter Merkel — set to retire after elections late this year.

The recovery fund is likely to be among the key points raised when Merkel and Macron meet at German government retreat Meseberg on Monday.

Despite opposition from fiscal hardliners such as Austria and the Netherlaands, observers believe that the EU’s paymaster Berlin will ram through an accord.

“When the Germans are certain they are right, it’s very bulldozer, there is no margin for discussion,” a high-ranking EU official said.

– ‘Swan song’ –

An EU diplomat agreed, saying: “On the recovery fund, I expect Germany to dictate the whole process. Merkel is holding all the cards and (EU Council chief) Charles Michel will follow that.

“She also wants to get Brexit out of the way and she will always go for the deal as she wants to keep the West together. The third leg will be restoring ties with US after the election there.”

Merkel, who has ruled out running for a fifth term next year, won’t have much time.

Brexit talks will have to be done by the end of the year, while in November, the focus will be on whether US President Donald Trump, whose relationship with Merkel has been frosty at best, manages to hold on to his job.

What is clear is that Merkel’s fingerprints will be all over the EU’s roadmap through the next six months.

“This will be a very Merkel presidency, her swan song,” said the EU diplomat, adding that she would be using it “to craft her legacy”.

AFP

Merkel, Macron Urge EU To Prepare For Next Pandemic

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a news conference following talks on European Union integration, defense and migration at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

France, Germany and four other EU countries on Tuesday urged the European Union to take a greater role in preparing for any future pandemic, conceding that coronavirus responses had fallen short.

There should be a “common European approach” to such challenges in future, wrote France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel along with the leaders of Spain, Poland, Belgium and Denmark.

They addressed their letter and policy paper to European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, in the strongest attempt yet by the bloc’s most powerful leaders to spur the EU executive to fix the disunity displayed during the crisis, especially in its earliest days.

As the global outbreak first took hold, member states privileged national responses by shutting borders, hoarding medical supplies and waving through major spending plans regardless of EU rules.

READ ALSO: Elevated Extreme Poverty To Persist Through 2021 – World Bank

The letter put a special emphasis on the shortages of desperately needed medical supplies that were felt unevenly across the EU as the virus made its way across the continent.

“Understanding the shortcomings is essential,” the leaders wrote.

“These include a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), medical devices, critical medicines, and vaccines.”

The leaders also pressed Brussels to streamline data across the bloc so that rates of infection and other key figures matched from one country to the other.

They also urged the commission to provide a “strengthened mandate” for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, an EU agency.

Common procurement and better cooperation on maintaining critical stocks was another field the leaders urged the commission to study.

The leaders also called on Europe to work towards “diversifying supply lines”, in a veiled call to stop EU countries from relying too heavily on China or India.

“This includes identifying new trading partners with the aim to decrease the dependency of EU countries on single suppliers,” the paper said.

The 27 leaders of the European Union will be holding virtual talks on June 19 to discuss the fallout of the crisis.

AFP

 

Up To 70% Of Germany Could Become Infected With Coronavirus – Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a press conference on March 11, 2020, in Berlin to comment on the situation of the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country./ AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that up to 60% – 70% of the country’s population could contract the coronavirus.

She made this disclosure at a news conference on Wednesday alongside Health Minister Jens Spahn.

She vowed to do everything it takes to tame the coronavirus crisis, signalling she is even ready to suspend the cherished dogma of keeping Germany’s budget balanced.

READ ALSO: Lufthansa To Cancel 23,000 Flights In April Over Coronavirus

“It is an extraordinary situation, we will do what’s necessary and luckily Germany is relatively robust… we will do what we can to get through this situation well, and we will see at the end of that where our budget stands,” she said, stressing that ending the virus crisis “comes first”.

Maintaining a balanced or “black zero” budget has been a key selling point of Merkel‘s government, which believes that it would be irresponsible for the fast aging nation to incur more debt that would ultimately be left to a shrinking workforce to pay off.

But with the coronavirus outbreak forcing some countries to shut borders, companies to keep workforces home and foreign orders to collapse, calls have grown for Merkel‘s government to help prop up Germany’s economy.

“An economy like Germany’s, which is extremely export-dependent, is of course harder hit by global challenges” than one that is very concentrated on domestic demand, Merkel acknowledged, saying the government will announce liquidity help for firms this week.

The leader of Europe’s biggest economy said she was also prepared to look the other way if severely hit EU nations such as Italy were to flout the EU’s rules on limiting budget deficits as it fights the virus.

Her remarks came as Italy entered its second day of a national lockdown.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the closure of schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues across the country, which on Wednesday passed 10,000 confirmed infections.

Stressing why it was important to do whatever it takes to battle the virus, Merkel quoted experts saying that “60-70 percent of the population will be infected if the situation” continues without a vaccine in sight.

Macron, Merkel Call For End To Turkish Offensive In Syria

 

The leaders of France and Germany called Sunday for an end to Turkey’s offensive against Kurds in northern Syria, warning of dire humanitarian consequences and a boost for the Islamic State group.

Emmanuel Macron hosted Angela Merkel in Paris for a working dinner amid turmoil stirred up by Ankara’s attack and Britain’s pending exit from the European Union, both issues on the leaders’ agenda.

Macron told reporters the pair had spoken separately Sunday with US President Donald Trump and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan to deliver a single, clear message: “Our common wish is that the offensive must cease.”

“Our conviction… is that this offensive risks, and we see it already on the ground, to create unbearable humanitarian situations on one hand and on the other help IS re-emerge in the region,” he said at a joint press conference with the chancellor.

Merkel said she had spoken to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan for an hour and told him: “We must put an end to this Turkish invasion.

“There are humanitarian reasons for this,” she said, adding: “We can no longer accept this situation against the Kurds. Another solution must absolutely be found.”

Fighting has engulfed northern Syria since Wednesday when Ankara launched a long-threatened offensive against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which it considers “terrorists” linked to insurgents in Turkey.

Trump has been accused of abandoning a loyal ally in the fight against IS after ordering American troops to pull back from the border region.

At least 60 civilians have been killed in raids by Turkey and its proxies — Syrian ex-rebels, according to observers.

The UN says the violence has forced 130,000 people to flee their homes.

Arms Sales Stopped

France and Germany on Saturday suspended weapons exports to Turkey, amid international condemnation that had already seen Finland, Norway and The Netherlands stopping arms sales to Ankara.

A meeting in Luxembourg Monday of the European Union’s foreign affairs committee will discuss a coordinated European approach to the issue.

Macron has also called a French defence council meeting, involving Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and the ministers of justice, foreign affairs, defence and the interior, for Sunday night.

The French president called for a stronger, more unified Europe in what he described as “difficult and sometimes worrying” times for the continent and the world.

One reason for this is Brexit — Britain’s exit from the European Union by a 31 October deadline with so far no “divorce deal” in place.

“We are about to lose a member and we will see how the discussions, which have advanced this weekend, will be finalised,” said Macron.

“In this context, it is very clear to me that we can allow ourselves neither division nor self-deception nor weakness.”

Rebuff

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday played down hopes of a breakthrough in his last-ditch bid to strike an exit deal with Europe.

On Monday, Macron will host European Council President Donald Tusk for a working lunch at the Elysee presidential residence, before heading to Toulouse in the south of France to lead a French-German ministers meeting with Merkel on issues of defence, security, and climate change.

On Wednesday evening, they will meet the EU’s incoming president Ursula von der Leyen, followed on Thursday and Friday by an EU leaders’ summit in Brussels.

One issue likely to come up is the rejection by European MEPs of Sylvie Goulard, Macron’s chosen candidate for the European Commission portfolio of industrial policy, defence spending, high-tech and space — a rebuff considered a major political blow to the French president.

“I believe very deeply that in this moment in particular, Europe cannot allow itself the luxury of vengeance, of small disputes, or to add internal crises to the tensions of the world already affecting us,” he said Sunday.

“Our strength is in our unity.”

Merkel ‘Healthy’ After Recent Trembling, Says German Govt

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a meeting with US President Donald Trump during the G20 Osaka Summit in Osaka on June 28, 2019. /AFP

 

The German government insisted Friday that Chancellor Angela Merkel was in robust health, after a second episode of uncontrolled shaking sparked concerns about the wellbeing of the EU’s longest-serving leader.

Asked about how Merkel, who is in Japan for a G20 summit, was faring after her second trembling spell in as many weeks, government spokeswoman Martina Fietz said she was fine.

“The images you can see from Osaka show that the chancellor is very active and healthy — doing her job and keeping her planned appointments,” Fietz told reporters.

The long-serving leader, who turns 65 next month, sparked renewed fears for her health Thursday when she began to tremble at a ceremony with the German president at his Berlin palace.

A previous, more severe bout of uncontrollable shaking last week was blamed on dehydration at an outdoor event on a hot summer’s day.

READ ALSO: Fresh Concerns Over Merkel’s Health In New Trembling Spell

Officials sought to play down the fears over her health.

Her spokesman Steffen Seibert said she would not cancel any of her engagements in the coming days, which promise to be gruelling.

Merkel, who has been in power for nearly 14 years, is to participate in the two-day G20 gathering and is holding a number of bilateral meetings including with US President Donald Trump.

She flies from Osaka straight to a crunch EU summit on Sunday where leaders will seek to break a post-election deadlock on who will lead the bloc’s institutions.

Merkel has said she will leave politics at the end of her term in 2021.

‘I Feel Badly For Theresa’ – World Reacts To May Resignation

 

Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation looks likely to make Britain’s looming departure from the EU even more difficult, with some suggesting a hard or “no-deal” Brexit is now almost inevitable.

Here are the main reactions to the announcement she will step down as leader of the Conservative Party, and hence also as Prime Minister, on June 7.

No change

The European Union said the resignation does nothing to change its position on the Brexit withdrawal deal agreed with Britain.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker noted May’s decision “without personal joy”, a spokeswoman said, adding that the council of EU leaders has “set out its position” on the Brexit deal.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, tweeted that he “would like to express my full respect for @theresa_may and for her determination, as Prime Minister, in working towards the #UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU”.

‘I feel badly for Theresa’: Trump

US President Donald Trump said he felt sorry for May, though he has criticised the British PM repeatedly in recent months over her handling of Brexit even as she tried to establish good relations with him.

“I feel badly for Theresa. I like her very much. She is a good woman,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn. “She worked very hard. She’s very strong.”

The US leader is scheduled to make a state visit to Britain next month and will meet with May just days before she formally resigns on June 7.

‘Deliver Brexit’

One of the leading contenders to succeed May, Britain’s former foreign minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “A very dignified statement from @theresa_may. Thank you for your stoical service to our country and the Conservative Party. It is now time to follow her urgings: to come together and deliver Brexit.”

‘Rapid clarification’

French President Emmanuel Macron hailed May for her “courageous work” in seeking to implement Brexit in the interests of her country while showing respect for Britain’s European partners.

But the Elysee statement added: “The principles of the EU will continue to apply, with the priority on the smooth functioning of the EU, and this requires a rapid clarification.

“At a time of an important choice, votes of rejection that do not offer an alternative project will lead to an impasse.”

Merkel’s ‘respect’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted May’s decision “with respect”, saying they shared a “good and trusting” working relationship, according to her spokeswoman.

Pledging to keep working with May in the same spirit as long as she is in office, Merkel noted Berlin “wishes to maintain close cooperation and a close relationship with the British government”, spokeswoman Martina Fietz said.

Fietz declined to comment on how the resignation could affect Brexit, as “the development depends essentially on domestic political developments in Britain”.

‘Very difficult period’

In Moscow, the Kremlin said that May’s premiership has been a very difficult time for Russia’s relations with Britain.

“Mrs May’s stint as prime minister has come during a very difficult period in our bilateral relations,” said President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

No Brexit renegotiation

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the EU would never reopen negotiations on the Brexit divorce deal, regardless of who succeeds Theresa May.

“The withdrawal agreement is not up for renegotiation,” Rutte told a news conference.

‘Dangerous’ time for Ireland

May’s resignation is fraught with dangers for Ireland because her successor could take Britain out of the EU without a deal, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar warned.

“British politics is consumed by Brexit and will be consumed by Brexit for a very long time. It means that we now enter a new phase when it comes to Brexit, and a phase that may be a very dangerous one for Ireland,” Varadkar said while casting his ballot in the European Parliament election.

No-deal exit almost inevitable

Madrid warned that a no-deal Brexit appeared almost inevitable.

“Under these circumstances, a hard Brexit appears to be a reality that is near impossible to stop,” Spanish government spokeswoman Isabel Celaa told reporters, adding that the British government and parliament would be “solely responsible for a no-deal exit (from the EU) and its consequences”.

Pound wobbles

On the financial markets, sterling sank below $1.27 but did not reach the four-month lows that were plumbed a day earlier and was still higher compared to late Thursday, as dealers argued that the resignation news had already been priced in.

Merkel Pledges Support To Ukraine After Zelensky Win

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel 
JOHN THYS / AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday congratulated comedian Volodymyr Zelensky on his landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential election, saying she hopes the vote will help stabilise the troubled country.

“I congratulate you on your election,” Merkel said.

“The stabilisation of Ukraine and a peaceful conflict resolution are as close to my heart as the implementation of central reforms of the judiciary, decentralisation and the fight against corruption,” her statement said.

“The Federal government will continue to actively assist Ukraine in its right to sovereignty and territorial integrity in the future.”

Merkel, who met incumbent Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko earlier this month in Berlin, added that she would welcome receiving Zelensky soon.

Germany has been a key broker in the conflict between Kiev and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine since Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014, negotiating with France the now moribund Minsk peace accords.

The war in eastern Ukraine between government forces and rebels backed by Moscow has claimed some 13,000 lives and rumbles on despite a series of periodic truce deals.

READ ALSO: Ukraine Comedian Zelensky Wins Presidency

The EU also has sanctions in force against Russia over its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas praised Poroshenko for his “great contribution to his country over the last five years” and echoed Merkel’s offer of support to Zelensky.

“Volodymyr Zelensky became known during the election campaign for further reforms and the fight against corruption,” said Maas in a statement.

“Germany will continue to stand at the side of Ukraine and offer support on this path.”

Merkel Warns ‘No Military Solution’ To Ukraine Conflict

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday there is “no military solution” to the Ukraine conflict after President Petro Poroshenko asked for NATO naval support in his country’s standoff with Russia.

Blaming Russia for the tensions, Merkel said: “We ask the Ukrainian side too to be sensible because we know that we can only solve things through being reasonable and through dialogue because there is no military solution to these disputes”.

Russia fired on and then seized three Ukrainian ships on Sunday, accusing them of illegally entering its waters in the Sea of Azov and detaining their crew, in a dramatic spike in tensions that raises fears of a wider escalation.

Kiev accused Russia, which annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, of launching “a new phase of aggression”.

Poroshenko asked Germany and other NATO countries in comments to Bild newspaper on Thursday to “relocate naval ships to the Sea of Azov in order to assist Ukraine and provide security”.

Ukraine is not a NATO member but has established close ties with the US-led military alliance, especially since the 2014 Crimea annexation.

Merkel, speaking at a German-Ukrainian business forum, said she would discuss the conflict with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a G20 summit in Argentina this weekend.

She said a bridge from the Russian mainland to Crimea that Putin opened in May had already restricted shipping access to the Sea of Azov and therefore to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol.

“The full blame for this goes to the Russian president,” she said.

“Now what I want is that the facts of what happened are put on the table, that the (crew) are released, and that no confessions are coerced as we have seen on television.”

“I would also support keeping things calm, but we must also ensure that a city like Mariupol that relies on access to the sea … is not simply cut off so that large parts of Ukraine can no longer be easily reached.”

AFP

Favoured Merkel Successor Vows To Pursue Chancellor’s Path

Secretary-General of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer delivers a press conference on her candidacy to lead the CDU party in Berlin, on November 7, 2018. John MACDOUGALL / AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s favoured successor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Wednesday presented herself as a moderate continuity candidate, refraining from criticism or bold new vision statements.

The 56-year-old usually dubbed “AKK” — or “mini-Merkel” — is running in December to take over as head of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) while Merkel hopes to serve out her government term as chancellor through to 2021.

While two other top candidates have criticised Merkel’s liberal immigration policy of years past and vowed to return the CDU to its conservative roots, AKK has signalled she will stick with a centrist stance.

At a press conference in Berlin, the former state premier of tiny Saarland said that new leaders “stand on the shoulders of those who came before them”.

She said “an era is ending and a new chapter is beginning” but was careful to refrain from signalling any bold policy changes.

A poll published on Monday showed more than 60 percent of CDU members favour sticking to Merkel’s centrist line.

Sounding much like the incumbent, AKK said her priorities were to maintain “prosperity and the good life”, to safeguard public security, and to boost social inclusion so that all citizens can “feel at home”.

She also refrained from challenging the other top candidates — corporate lawyer Friedrich Merz and Health Minister Jens Spahn — saying: “I am not campaigning but rather presenting an offer” and pledging to include them in her team if she wins.

The biggest change AKK, currently the CDU’s general secretary, promised was to improve the internal dynamics of a party that has been mocked for its lack of debate and internal democracy under “Mutti” (Mummy) Merkel.

At the height of Merkel’s power, when she regularly won support in the high 90 percent range at party congresses, the CDU was sometimes mocked as “the association for the reelection of the chancellor”.

Kramp-Karrenbauer promised that in future the CDU’s big decisions would trickle up from the party base via its block of lawmakers and into the government, rather than the other way around.

AFP

Europe Must Prepare For ‘No-Deal Brexit’, Says Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel photo: DEBBIE HILL / POOL / AFP

 

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Wednesday that Europe must be prepared for a no-deal Brexit, as EU leaders sought to unblock stalled divorce talks with Britain.

Prime Minister Theresa May was due in Brussels to present her take on how to save the talks on Britain’s scheduled exit from the union on March 29.

Negotiations are at an impasse over the issue of a legal backstop to keep open the border between British Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, an EU member.

Before setting off to join her colleagues, Merkel said that while there is “still a chance” for an accord, Berlin had already “begun to prepare appropriately” for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

Her warning comes after European Council President Donald Tusk, the summit host, said he would ask May to offer new “concrete ideas on how to break the impasse” when she arrives in Brussels.

And he added that he had “no grounds for optimism” based on a report from EU negotiator Michel Barnier and on May’s appearance in the British parliament on Monday, where she stood her ground.

Neither side has shown much sign of flexibility, but Barnier is willing to add a year to the 21-month post Brexit transition period — taking it to the end of 2021, two diplomats said on condition of anonymity.

“The aim is to gain more time to negotiate the agreement on the future relationship and thus further reduce the probability of having to resort to the backstop,” one of the diplomats said.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told the BBC that Barnier is proposing an extension, but did not say for how long, and another diplomat warned that the idea “was not really on the table and poses a political problem for the UK.”

In any case, a longer transition would not in itself resolve the backstop issue which must be included in the withdrawal treaty and ratified before the end of March to avoid the damaging “no deal” scenario.

 Tricky divorce

Even the choreography of Wednesday’s summit opening highlights British isolation.

May will meet one-on-one with Tusk in Brussels at 5:45 pm (1545 GMT) before briefing her 27 European colleagues, but then the rest of the EU leaders will leave to discuss Brexit over dinner without her.

Tusk has made it clear that if May and Barnier do not signal concrete progress towards a draft deal he will not call a November summit to sign it.

Instead, the matter could either be pushed back to December or — more dramatically — the EU could use the November weekend to meet on preparations for a “no-deal” Brexit.

Previously, both sides had agreed that Britain crashing out of the Union on March 29 next year with neither a divorce agreement nor a road-map to future ties would be an economic and diplomatic disaster.

“There are still several weeks of space left, according to what the British are telling us, and they are the ones with calendar problems,” said a senior EU diplomat.

But with the row over the Irish border, fears of a debacle are mounting.

At a three-hour British cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning, which included ministers with reservations about her strategy, May said a deal was possible if they all stood together.

 No deal plans

Addressing MPs in the House of Commons on Monday, May had said a deal was “achievable” while sticking to her principles on the Irish border issue.

But a senior European official said the speech had only underscored for Barnier the uphill struggle he faces to get an agreement.

To solve the Irish question, Britain has proposed staying aligned to the EU’s customs rules until a wider trade deal can be signed that avoids the need for any frontier checks.

But her own eurosceptic Conservative MPs are demanding this “backstop” arrangement be time-limited, something the EU will not accept.

May said the EU was also insisting on its own “backstop” in case the London proposal did not work, which would see Northern Ireland alone stay aligned to the customs union and single market.

She says this would threaten the integrity of the United Kingdom — and it is strongly opposed by her Northern Irish allies from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Economists fear “no deal” Brexit would greatly disrupt trade, travel and manufacturers’ supply chains in Europe, push Britain into recession and even have global consequences.

Europe’s biggest auto firms on Wednesday warned that a no-deal Brexit would “threaten their very business model” by disrupting component distribution.

AFP

Germany Has ‘Everlasting Responsibility’ To Combat Anti-Semitism – Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks after signing the guest book of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, on October 4, 2018. Merkel visited Israel’s Holocaust memorial and spoke of her country’s “everlasting responsibility” to remember the tragedy and oppose anti-Semitism.
DEBBIE HILL / POOL / AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Israel’s Holocaust memorial on Thursday and spoke of her country’s “everlasting responsibility” to remember the tragedy and oppose anti-Semitism.

Merkel visited the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem after arriving on Wednesday night along with members of her cabinet for a one-day visit.

“Nearly 80 years ago, on the pogrom night of November 9, the Jewish people in Germany faced unprecedented hate and violence,” she said after her visit, reading out the message she wrote in the memorial’s guest book.

Merkel was referring to the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht) pogroms on November 9, 1938.

“But what followed were the unprecedented crimes of the Shoah and its break with civilization,” Merkel added.

“From this comes the everlasting responsibility of Germany to remember this crime and to oppose anti-Semitism, xenophobia, hatred, and violence.”

The visit by Merkel and members of her cabinet comes as part of German-Israeli government consultations held regularly.

Fears of a resurgence in anti-Semitism in Germany are expected to be discussed in the joint government meeting on Thursday afternoon.

Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will set aside their list of differences for the talks to showcase cooperation between their two countries.

Netanyahu has harshly criticized European countries over Iran, Israel’s main enemy, and their efforts to keep alive the nuclear deal with Tehran.

Germany and other European countries have repeatedly hit out at Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank and warned over threats to remaining prospects for a two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians.

 

AFP

Merkel Warns Trump Against ‘Destroying’ UN

Photo released on Twitter by the German Government’s spokesman Steffen Seibert on June 9, 2018 and taken by the German government’s photographer Jesco Denzel shows US President Donald Trump (R) talking with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) and surrounded by other G7 leaders during a meeting of the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada.  Jesco DENZEL / Bundesregierung / AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday warned US President Donald Trump against “destroying” the United Nations.

“I believe that destroying something without having developed something new is extremely dangerous,” Merkel said at a regional election campaign event in Bavaria.

The veteran leader — a close ally of Trump’s bugbear Barack Obama while he was president — added that she believed multilateralism was the solution to many of the world’s problems.

Trump failed to see the possibility for win-win solutions, she said, instead of seeing only one winner from any international negotiation.

In his second appearance before the UN’s annual gathering last week, Trump told the General Assembly that he and his administration “reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism”.

“Global governance” is a form of “coercion and domination” that “responsible nations must defend against”, he charged.

Merkel’s opposing view to the US leader puts her in the same camp as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who warned before Trump took the podium in New York Tuesday that “today, world order is increasingly chaotic”.

AFP