Everyone knew the divorce would be less than amenable. But Britain’s The Sun newspaper has called the European Commission’s decision to appoint Michel Barnier, a conservative Frenchman, to lead Brexit talks a “declaration of war.” Barnier’s has been France’s foreign, European and agriculture ministers, a member of the European Parliament and twice a European Commissioner, when he battled with London banks over financial reforms. If the British are rushing to oppose him, then he’s clearly a good negotiator for the Continent.
This afternoon Germany heard from Chancellor Angela Merkel after a spate of violent attacks last weekend killed 10 people and left citizens questioning her open-door refugee policies. Merkel cut her summer vacation short to return to Berlin, where she stood by her refugee policies but announced a nine-point plan to boost security. Germany isn’t in a fight against Islam, but against Islamic terrorism. The refugee perpetrators, she said, “mock the many other refugees who truly came to us searching for help from violence and war, who want to live peacefully in a world that is foreign to them after they lost everything they had.”
Only four commissioners voted to impose financial sanctions against Spain and Portugal in yesterday’s meeting of E.U. finance chiefs, and shockingly, Germany wasn’t one of them. In fact, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, normally the guardian of austerity, intervened on behalf of the fiscal sinners to ensure no punishment would be meted out. Where oh where has our Wolfgang gone?
The purge of suspected traitors continues in Turkey. As if press freedoms weren’t stomped on enough already, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered the closure of 131 media outlets and dismissed another 1,700 military personnel. It’s the new post-coup Turkey – so close to Europe, yet so far away.
Germany plans to make the global refugee crisis, climate change and energy policy its key priorities next year when it takes over the rotating G20 presidency, Der Tagesspiegel reported. G20 countries make up two-thirds of the world’s population, and Berlin wants to use the one-year stint to focus top minds on complying with the Paris Climate Agreement. With countries like America and China in the club, it will be no easy task.
He notched 43,041 kilometers and 558 hours of flight over 16 months: André Borschberg grounded himself for a chat with Handelsblatt after he and Bertrand Piccard completed a quest of epic proportions this week by flying around the world in a solar-powered plane. He spoke of challenges and opportunities, like battery failure keeping him stuck in Hawaii for nine months. Poor guy.
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