Jun 272016

BRUSSELS: Spurned EU leaders will press Britain to waste no time triggering its divorce from the bloc at a tense summit on Tuesday, while trying to plot a future course through a crisis that has rocked global markets. Germany, France and Italy agreed on the eve of the summit in Brussels that there could be no talks on Britain’s relations with the group until after it has formally notified the European Union of its intention to leave by invoking Article 50. Pound tumbles, most markets extend losses on Brexit woe But Prime Minister David Cameron — who announced his plan to resign in the wake of the shock referendum vote — has insisted Britain will not pull the trigger until his successor is in place in September. With England’s disgraced football team returning from France after being dumped out of Euro 2016 by Iceland, Cameron heads to Brussels for an awkward encounter with his 27 counterparts. A British government source said ahead of the meeting that Cameron will reiterate his position that beginning Britain’s extraction from the EU is a job for his successor. “He will want to encourage people to think about how both the UK and the EU needs to work now to make the best of the decision that the British people have taken,” the source added. ‘Brexit’ could mean disintegration of EU or UK, says economist Cameron will first sit down with EU President Donald Tusk, before the European Council meets later in the day. Later, the [Read More…]

Jun 252016

LONDON: Britain’s vote to leave the EU could open a period of turbulence for the country’s airline industry, which has soared under the EU’s Single European Sky system over the last two decades. Among the mass of agreements that Britain will have to renegotiate with Brussels are those governing flights between Britain and the rest of the EU. “They are not long, the days of wine and roses,” whether for airlines, airports or British air travellers, said Peter Morris, chief economist at Ascend Flightglobal Consultancy. Post-Brexit: What it means for the Pakistani economy The single sky system lifted trade restrictions on airlines controlled by EU member states or their nationals, and whose headquarters are located within the EU. Unless British negotiators manage to secure preferential conditions, British airlines will lose this status. This will mean they no longer enjoy rights including being able to freely set airfares, and to launch any route in Europe without getting authorisation in advance. In concrete terms, passengers leaving or arriving in the United Kingdom will face new taxes, while British airlines will be slower to develop new routes. On the frontline are Britain’s two main actors, EasyJet and the International Airlines Group (IAG): their shares plummeted Friday on news of the shock Brexit vote, losing 14.35 percent and 22.54 respectively on the London market. Low-cost airline Ryanair, which campaigned vocally for Britain to remain in the EU, is a little less exposed because it is based in Ireland, even if it has a large presence [Read More…]

Jun 242016

LONDON: A British vote to leave the European Union sent sterling plunging on Friday and hammered equities across the world as turmoil swept through global markets. Such a body blow to global confidence could well prevent the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates as planned this year, and might even provoke a new round of emergency policy easing from all the major central banks. KSE-100 index falls 2% in early trade on Brexit volatility Risk assets were scorched as investors fled to the traditional safe-harbours of top-rated government debt, Japanese yen and gold. Billions were wiped from share values as FTSE futures fell 7 per cent FFIc1, EMINI S&P 500 futures ESc1 5 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei .N225 7.6 per cent. European stock markets were set to open more than 10 per cent lower STXEc1. The British pound collapsed no less than 18 US cents, easily the biggest fall in living memory, to hit its lowest since 1985. The euro in turn slid 3.2 per cent to $1.1012 EUR= as investors feared for its very future. Nearly complete results showed a 51.8/48.2 per cent split for leaving, setting the UK on an uncertain path and dealing the largest setback to European efforts to forge greater unity since World War Two. Sterling sank a staggering 10.1 per cent at one point and was slumped at $1.3582 GBP=, having carved out a range of $1.3228 to $1.5022. The fall was even larger than during the global financial crisis and the currency was [Read More…]

Jun 242016

LONDON: Britain has voted to leave the European Union, results from Thursday’s referendum showed, a stunning repudiation of the nation’s elites that deals the biggest blow to the European project of greater unity since World War Two. Global financial markets plunged as complete results showed a near 52-48 per cent split for leaving, on fears that the decision will hit investment in the world’s 5th largest economy, threaten London’s role as a global financial capital and foment uncertainty in the world’s biggest trading bloc. Britain votes to leave EU in historic divorce The pound suffered its biggest one-day fall in history, falling more than 10 per cent against the dollar to hit levels last seen in 1985, while the euro slumped more than 3 per cent. “It’s a momentous day. It’s an extraordinary event and the it will change the course of British history,” said British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond who had campaigned for a “Remain” vote. The leader of the anti-EU UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage, hailed it as “independence day”. Quitting the EU could cost Britain access to the EU’s trade barrier-free single market and mean it must seek new trade accords with countries around the world. President Barack Obama says it would be at the “back of a queue” for a US pact. The EU for its part will be economically and politically weakened, facing the departure not only of its most free-market proponent but also a member with a UN Security Council veto and powerful army. In [Read More…]

Apr 222016

ISTANBUL: Angela Merkel and top EU officials travel to Turkey on Saturday for a high-stakes visit which will see them walk a diplomatic tightrope between keeping Ankara sweet over a crucial migrant deal and taking a stand on European values. European Council head Donald Tusk, European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans and the German chancellor will visit a refugee camp at 1100 GMT in Gaziantep on the Turkish-Syrian border. Turkey will ditch migrant deal if EU breaks promises: Erdogan They hope to boost a month-old, six-billion-euro ($6.7 billion) deal to return migrants arriving on Greek shores to Turkey which has been slow to get off the ground and plagued by a flurry of moral and legal concerns. Diplomatic relations are strained following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s warning that the deal to curb the migrant flow to Europe would fall through if the EU did not keep up its end of the bargain by allowing visa-free travel for Turkish citizens. The bloc promised to present a visa recommendation next month if Ankara complies with its side of the accord, but there has been growing unease in Europe over fears that security concerns are being fudged to fast-track Turkey’s application. “The trip comes at a critical juncture in the implementation of the deal,” Sinan Ulgen, visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, told AFP, pointing out the EU has not secured the backing of all member states, while Turkey has yet to meet all the criteria. He said the leaders would likely use the visit [Read More…]

Apr 222016

HANOVER, GERMANY: Opponents of a proposed transatlantic trade deal hope to draw tens of thousands onto German streets Saturday, on the eve of a visit by US President Barack Obama. Obama’s trip — to open an industrial technology fair in the northern city of Hanover and hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders — was intended to lend momentum to flagging efforts to see the world’s biggest trade pact finalised this year. But the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has run into major opposition, not least in Europe’s top economy Germany, where its foes have raised the spectre of eroding ecological and labour market standards and condemned the secrecy shrouding the talks. Trade: SBP removes sanctions on Iran A loose coalition of trade unions, environmentalists and consumer protection groups will join the colourful march, where activists from the anti-globalisation organisation Attac say they will dress up as “hippie” Merkel and Obama characters, hoisting banners reading “Free Love Instead of Free Trade!” “We are not demonstrating against Obama but against TTIP,” said the head of another campaign group, Campact, Christoph Bautz, who expected around 50,000 people to attend the rally in Hanover. “TTIP is deeply un-American and anti-European because it endangers our shared value: democracy.” A similar protest in October in Berlin drew up to 250,000 people, according to organisers, signalling an uphill battle for the deal’s passage. Mutual interest: British high commissioner seeks improved trade links “TTIP was never going to be an easy undertaking, but it [Read More…]

Apr 182016

LONDON: The “In” campaign has retained its seven percentage point lead ahead of Britain’s June 23 referendum on whether Britain should stay in the European Union although more voters were undecided, according to a ComRes poll for the Sun newspaper on Monday. The telephone survey of 1,002 people carried out last week found support for staying in the bloc was on 45 percent with 38 percent of voters backing a Brexit. That meant the “In” camp’s lead was unchanged from a similar ComRes poll last month although the number of undecided voters had risen significantly to 17 percent. Last month, 11 percent said they did not know how they would vote. “It is clear there is still considerable confusion about the referendum, which suggests a lack of clarity from both campaigns,” Tom Mludzinski from ComRes told the Sun. Phone surveys have generally indicated support for remaining in the EU firmly ahead of the “Out” campaign, while online polls have the two sides running neck and neck. The post “In” camp maintain lead, but more undecided ahead of UK’s EU vote-poll appeared first on The Express Tribune. Click for detailed story

Mar 192016

BRUSSELS: The East-West standoff over the Ukraine crisis has brought the threat of nuclear war in Europe closer than at any time since the 1980s, a former Russian foreign minister warned on Saturday. “The risk of confrontation with the use of nuclear weapons in Europe is higher than in the 1980s,” said Igor Ivanov, Russia’s foreign minister from 1998 to 2004 and now head of a Moscow-based think-tank founded by the Russian government. UNHCR to ask world to take in 400,000 Syrians While Russia and the United States have cut their nuclear arsenals, the pace is slowing. As of January 2015, they had just over 7,000 nuclear warheads each, about 90 percent of world stocks, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. “We have less nuclear warheads, but the risk of them being used is growing,” Ivanov said at a Brussels event with the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Poland and a US lawmaker. NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg has warned Russia of intimidating its neighbours with talk about nuclear weapons, publicly voicing concerns among Western officials. Missile defence Ivanov blamed a missile defence shield that the United States is setting up in Europe for raising the stakes. EU, Turkey strike ‘historic’ deal to send back migrants Part of that shield involves a site in Poland that is due to be operational in 2018. This is particularly sensitive for Moscow because it brings U.S. capabilities close to its border. However, the United States and NATO say the shield is designed [Read More…]

Nov 232015

ISLAMABAD: The European Union official in charge of migration was in Islamabad on Monday for talks after the country last week suspended an accord to accept deportations from mainland Europe.The suspension of deportation accord comes at a time when European leaders facing an influx of migration are desperate to streamline procedures for repatriations.European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos met foreign policy chief and interior minister on Monday, EU spokesperson Ayesha Babar said in Islamabad.Pakistan suspends deportation accordsShe added that the one-day visit was planned in advance.“He’s not coming just because of the statements” by officials that the country would no longer accept deportees from Europe,” she said.EU nations signed a deal with Pakistan in 2009 allowing them to repatriate illegal immigrants and other nationalities who transited through Pakistan on their way to Europe.But last week, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said airlines returning deportees without country’s permission would be penalised.Pakistan would not accept any deportees accused of militant links without clear evidence of guilt, Nisar added.A spokesperson for the ministry later confirmed the EU repatriation agreement was “temporarily suspended”.Pakistan may review deportation accord suspensionThe EU has not officially commented on the decision, though Avramopoulos was scheduled to speak later on Monday.Globally, about 90,000 people were deported back to Pakistan last year for a variety of offences, but in some cases they had been sent back without proper determination they were Pakistan nationals, the interior ministry spokesperson said.It was not immediately clear exactly how many came from Europe, although the figure is in the thousands.Europe [Read More…]

Jan 182014
Car registration in EU takes a slight hit


Registrations for new cars in the European Union slid 1.7% in 2013, manufacturer data showed Thursday, although country figures were varied, with Britain showing a big increase while sales in Italy and France slumped.

A total of 11.8 million new cars were sold across the bloc last year (not including Malta), according to the data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

The 1.7% decline compared with 2012 confirmed a lingering morosity in the European Union (EU), which is still struggling after four years of a Eurozone debt crisis.

However, the decline was markedly less than the 8.2% dive recorded in 2012 – which was the worst result for 18 years – suggesting the overall market could be stabilising. In the last four months of 2013, registrations actually climbed, and December recorded a 13.3% increase.

The situation was brightest in Britain, an EU country that is not a member of the Eurozone, with a 10.8% increase in new car registrations in 2013.

Beleaguered Eurozone members Italy and France had a far worse year, with registrations plummeting 7.1% and 5.7%, respectively.

The EU’s biggest economy Germany saw registrations slide by 4.2%.

Japanese carmaker Mazda performed the best in EU-wide car sales, lifting registrations of its brand 16.1% across the bloc.

Jaguar Land Rover also did well, up 9.7%, while France’s Renault managed a 4.4 percent hike.

Those left with smaller slices of the market were French group PSA Peugeot Citroen – which US auto giant General Motors is selling out of – after an 8.4% plummet in registration, and Italy’s Fiat – which this month took over US number three carmaker Chrysler – after a 7.1% slump.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2014.

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