FirstFT: EU rejects British plan to rip up Brexit deal


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Brussels has insisted it will not renegotiate the EU’s Brexit deal with the UK after London inflamed tensions by launching a bold push to overhaul trading rules for Northern Ireland.

The renewed conflict came as it emerged British prime minister Boris Johnson wanted to renegotiate the so-called Northern Ireland protocol agreed with Brussels in 2019, even though it has only been in force since the beginning of the year.

Lord David Frost, Johnson’s Brexit minister, published a paper that proposed dismantling key parts of the protocol, which governs post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland, including stripping the European Court of Justice of its role in policing it.

Most checks at Irish Sea ports on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland would be replaced by a new system largely based on the honesty of traders, with spot checks behind the border.

Maros Sefcovic, European Commission vice-president in charge of relations with the UK, said Brussels “will not agree to a renegotiation of the protocol”. Weeks or months of diplomatic wrangling lie ahead.

Five more stories in the news

1. US and Germany reach truce over Nord Stream 2 pipeline The US and Germany have reached a deal to resolve their longstanding dispute over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, including a promise from Berlin to impose sanctions on Russia if Moscow threatens its neighbours’ energy security. 

2. Senate Republicans block Biden’s $1tn infrastructure plan in first vote Republicans in the US Senate blocked Joe Biden’s $1tn bipartisan infrastructure package as it faced its first vote in the upper chamber of Congress, in a setback for the president and his fellow Democrats.

‘This stunt is set to fail,’ Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican, said ahead of the vote © Getty Images

3. Olympic quarantine orders rile Tokyo athletes and delegates Dozens of self-isolation orders have sparked anxiety among athletes and delegates inside the Tokyo Olympics bubble over concerns they could miss the Games after coming into contact with a Covid-infected person.

4. China flooding kills a dozen people Severe flooding has killed at least a dozen people in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou. Torrential rain submerged streets and stranded passengers in subway cars, in what local weather authorities said was the worst flooding in the city since 1951.

5. Netflix sheds subscribers The streaming group lost 430,000 subscribers in the US and Canada in the second quarter and issued weaker than expected forecasts, rekindling investor doubts about how the market leader will fare after the economic reopening from the pandemic.

Coronavirus digest

  • Italian football club Inter Milan announced it would not travel to Florida to take part in an exhibition football tournament there, because of the coronavirus-related risks involved in international travel.

  • New York City will require workers in city-run hospitals and clinics to either get vaccinated against Covid-19 or take a weekly test.

  • Chicago has expanded the number of states on its travel advisory list and placed new restrictions on unvaccinated travellers from Florida, Louisiana and Nevada.

  • Tunisia’s president put military in charge of managing pandemic response.

  • Global stock markets rose Wednesday as strong earnings figures diverted investor attention away from the rapid spread of the Delta Covid-19 variant.

Follow our live coronavirus blog and sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter for more.

The day ahead

Climate change G20 environment ministers begin meeting today in Naples, Italy. US climate envoy John Kerry intends to press countries for deeper emissions cuts at the meeting, after saying earlier this week that limiting global warming to 1.5C will be a “pipe dream” unless China changes its targets.

  • Opinion: The G20 must focus on five key areas to tackle climate change, including a new US carbon tax position and collaborative technologies research, writes Gillian Tett.

ECB Meeting The European Central Bank’s interest rate-setters meet today for their first discussion since unanimously agreeing on a new monetary policy strategy last week. But the ECB’s consensus on its new inflation target, which includes a new 2 per cent goal, could dissolve as policymakers discuss changing its guidance on raising interest rates, warned the bank’s president Christine Lagarde.

Earnings AT&T releases second-quarter results today, after announcing plans to offload its media assets in May and chart a new chapter in the telecoms sector.

What else we’re reading

Why Trump voters refuse to get vaccinated The pace of vaccinations in US states has become starkly correlated with politics, with Republican voters less likely than Democrats to get a jab. This poses a huge challenge for local health officials in red states, as Nikou Asgari’s reporting from Little Rock, Arkansas shows.

scatterplot correlation between Trump vote share in 2020 and hesitancy to get a vaccine, at the state level. states that Trump won had a higher % of adults say they were 'hesitant' or 'very hesitant' to get a vaccine

Europe’s expensive plan to reach top tier of chipmakers The EU is seeking to launch itself into the global premier league of semiconductor manufacturing, setting a goal of doubling its share of the global chip market by 2030. But will it end up squandering public money chasing geopolitical ambitions that may not be supported by industrial and market logic?

Fiercest billionaire space race is Bezos vs Musk Richard Branson is not Blue Origin’s main rival because Musk’s SpaceX remains streets ahead. SpaceX flew astronauts to the International Space Station last year and is shooting for a trip around the moon in 2023.

How Israel used NSO spyware as diplomatic calling card The Israeli company assailed by rights activists for selling military-grade surveillance software to repressive regimes played a crucial role in its government’s attempts to woo countries such as the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, revealing the tech unicorn’s close ties with the highest echelons of the Israeli state.

Corporate values must go beyond buzzwords Official statements of corporate values are often a maddening mix of hokum and gibberish. Integrity, innovation, respect, responsibility and sustainability topped the list of popular buzzwords over the past two years. Brooke Masters suspects their popularity lies in the fact that they are extremely hard to measure.


Classic cars, trending trucks and a fleet of Silver Surfers. How To Spend It’s summer series on motoring is now available.

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