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Good morning. Ursula von der Leyen laid out an unabashedly pro-business message in her huge parliamentary speech yesterday, in what we interpreted as an unsubtle pitch to her centre-right celebration for a second time period because the EU’s strongest official. She made a lot of guarantees to trade, resurrected Mario Draghi and threw in a competition probe against Chinese carmakers for good measure.
Immediately, our Madrid staff clarify why Spain’s finance minister desires to make use of tomorrow’s assembly of finance ministers to speak Latin America (and her profession aspirations), whereas our man within the Balkans has a dim view of the most recent spherical of Serbia-Kosovo talks this morning.
Context: Spain at present holds the rotating EU presidency and is utilizing it to advertise stronger EU relations with Latin America, the place it has ties as a former colonial energy. Western international locations have been rising uneasy over China’s elevated presence on the continent.
“The EU is the largest investor in South America, 20 occasions larger than China,” mentioned Nadia Calviño, Spain’s deputy prime minister. However she added that “the information prevents us from seeing the truth on the bottom”.
She was addressing a Madrid convention yesterday that paves the best way for a gathering of EU finance ministers starting tomorrow, the place Spain desires to place financial ties with Latin America centre stage.
Calviño mentioned the assembly in Santiago de Compostela was “the primary time in historical past” that financial system and finance ministers from Europe and Latin America — round 50 folks — would get collectively.
Noting that commerce between the EU and Latin America had expanded by 40 per cent previously decade, she mentioned it was not time to “shut in on ourselves” commercially.
“Spain has a key position to play as a door between these two continents,” she added.
Nonetheless, some huge European corporations comparable to Telefónica and Enel have divested from Latin America lately, both to scale back their borrowing or to pare again political danger. Chinese language companies are amongst these stepping in as consumers.
Calviño’s speech at a convention organised by the Improvement Financial institution of Latin America (CAF) must also be seen as a pitch for her subsequent job, as she is a leading contender to be the new head of the European Funding Financial institution. Count on a lot gossip across the assembly on that entrance.
She mentioned Latin America and the Caribbean had been pure companions for Europe in a “new worldwide order primarily based on multilateralism, democratic values . . . and social growth and sustainable progress.”
Chart du jour: Misfiring engine
Disruptions, labour shortages, excessive vitality costs and elevated forms are spreading a heavy sense of gloom by way of Germany’s once-mighty manufacturing sector.
Count on no breakthrough when Kosovo premier Albin Kurti and Serb president Aleksandar Vučić sit down for a brand new spherical of talks this morning to normalise relations below the tutelage of the EU.
Context: Serbia has refused to recognise Kosovo after the previous Serbian province fought a short battle of independence in 1999, supported by Nato, and broke off unilaterally in 2008. The battle has simmered since.
Relations suffered a setback earlier this yr following a fallout over regional elections, regardless of excessive hopes of a settlement during negotiations in March. The edges have met a handful of occasions since, doing little greater than repeating their positions.
As he ready for as we speak’s assembly, Vučić advised the FT he once more anticipated little greater than a dedication to keep away from violence. “I imagine we can ship a message of peace. However do I imagine [there will be progress]? I don’t,” Vučić mentioned.
He mentioned Belgrade would transfer solely as soon as Kosovo offers additional rights to the ethnic Serb group in Kosovo, particularly the so-called Affiliation of Serb Majority Municipalities (ASM) within the north of the nation.
“We have to see lastly the deliverance on ASM, after which we can ship all the pieces from our aspect that we’ve mentioned to this point,” Vučić mentioned. That features Serbia not objecting to Kosovo’s membership in worldwide organisations.
Negotiations additionally stay caught as a result of the massive image is just not altering.
“For me it’s one nation,” Serb premier Ana Brnabić mentioned final month. “There are not any two international locations, no each international locations. Kosovo is just not an internationally recognised nation, not a member of the UN.”
Kurti, sitting stone-faced on the identical panel of regional leaders, shot again, saying that a big majority of western states do recognise Kosovo.
As we mentioned, anticipate no breakthrough.
What to look at as we speak
European Central Financial institution makes a decision on interest rates.
EU finance ministers arrive in Santiago de Compostela forward of their two-day meeting.
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