Merkel Ready for Brexit Talks, Assumes May Is Also

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday she assumed Britain would stick to its plan for leaving the European Union after the country’s election upset, and that she wanted to work quickly on talks over Brexit.

British voters failed to deliver a widely expected parliamentary majority for the Conservative party in Thursday’s general election, dealing a major blow to Prime Minister Theresa May just days ahead of difficult Brexit talks with the EU.

Speaking during a visit to Mexico City, Merkel said Germany was ready for the Brexit talks, which May said would begin June 19 as scheduled, although she now risks more opposition to her EU departure plans from inside and outside her party.

“I assume that Britain, from what I heard from the prime minister today, wants to stick to its negotiating plan,” Merkel told a news conference alongside President Enrique Pena Nieto.

“We want to negotiate quickly, we want to stick to the time plan, and so at this point I don’t think there is anything to suggest these negotiations cannot start as was agreed.”

May, who had called a snap election confident her Conservative Party would increase its majority and strengthen her hand in the Brexit talks, Friday said she would lead a minority government backed by a small Northern Irish party.

British politicians differ widely on what they want from the Brexit negotiating process, seeing it as a way to shift Britain either to the right or left. Some parliamentarians in both the Conservative and Labour parties want to remain in the EU.

EU leaders expressed concern that May’s loss of her majority would raise the risk of negotiations failing, resulting in a legal limbo for people and business.

Merkel said Britain was part of Europe regardless of Brexit, and that she wanted the country to remain a good partner.

“Britain is a member of NATO, so we have a lot of shared challenges to deal with, and that’s the spirit we want to carry out these negotiations in. But obviously while also asserting the interests of the 27 member states that will make up the European Union in future,” she added.


Major Headaches Await Winner of Kosovo Election

Kosovars vote Sunday to choose the new 120-seat parliament that will face some seemingly intractable problems.

 

There is the thorny issue of the border demarcation deal with Montenegro that brought down the previous government; the continuation of fraught talks with Serbia, which denies Kosovo’s existence as a state; and potential war crimes trials of some senior political leaders.

 

Nineteen political parties, five coalitions and two citizens’ initiatives, all promising to break the isolation and secure growth, have nominated candidates.

 

Border dispute, war crimes court

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. The new state has been recognized by 114 countries, including the United States and most of the EU members, but not by Belgrade.

 

Kosovo is the only western Balkan country whose citizens need visas to enter the European Union’s Schengen zone. To join, Brussels insists Kosovo must first approve the border demarcation deal.

 

That deal with Montenegro was signed in 2015 but opposition parties say it meant a loss of territory, over 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres), or less than 1 percent of Kosovo’s land. The former Cabinet, international experts and the country’s Western backers dispute that claim.

 

Another looming issue is the prospect of former ethnic Albanian senior rebel commanders facing prosecution in the newly established international war crimes court in The Hague that is expected to shortly issue indictments for crimes committed against civilians during and after the 1998-1999 war with Serbia.

 

Who’s who in the election

​Former rebels

 

Three major parties run by former rebel commanders have joined forces to back Ramush Haradinaj for prime minister. Haradinaj briefly served as a prime minister in 2005 but was forced to resign after a U.N. war crimes court put him on trial for crimes allegedly committed during Kosovo’s 1998-99 war with Serbia. He was acquitted twice.

 

Serbia still regards Haradinaj as a war criminal. Kosovo suspended EU-sponsored talks with Serbia earlier this year after Haradinaj was arrested in France on a warrant from Serbia. A French court refused to extradite him.

 

Haradinaj claims his coalition is “a new beginning “ and has pledged he will persuade the EU to admit Kosovars to the visa-free regime within 90 days, and also bring fast improvements in the country’s ailing economy.

Peacenicks

 

The party of Prime Minister Isa Mustafa has joined forces with billionaire Behxhet Pacolli and Mimoza Kusari-Lila, a former deputy prime minister and trade minister from the Alternativa party. They have proposed the former finance minister, Avdullah Hoti, as a future prime minister. 

 

Hoti boasts that he was successful in fighting corruption and bringing the customs and financial department in line with European standards. He earned a Ph.D. in economics at Staffordshire University in Britain and is a professor at the Pristina University.

Nationalists

 

The Self-Determination Movement, an aggressively disruptive force in the previous parliament, is the biggest opposition party to shun pre-election coalitions. Self-Determination Movement members and supporters released tear gas inside parliament and threw petrol bombs outside it to protest the contentious deals with Montenegro and Serbia.

 

The party has nominated its former leader, 42-year-old Albin Kurti, as a candidate for prime minister. Since the 2014 election, Kurti has been at the forefront of opposition forces.


US Commerce Chief Seen Imposing Mexico Sugar Deal Over Industry Objections

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is likely to impose a new sugar trade deal with Mexico even if final revisions to it fail to win support from the U.S. industry, trade lawyers and experts say.

After announcing a deal this week that would dramatically cut the amount of refined sugar that Mexico ships to the United States, officials from the two countries are working with their industries on final language that would govern its operation.

At issue is a new right of first refusal granted to Mexico to supply all U.S. sugar needs not met by domestic suppliers or other foreign quota holders.

A coalition of American sugar cane and beet farmers and a major refiner want a more explicit guarantee that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, not Mexican producers, will dictate what type of sugar fills that gap. They are worried that a flood of refined sugar will pour in, rather than the raw sugar needed to keep U.S. mills running.

Sugar, lumber issues

The final sticking point stands in the way of resolving a years-long dispute over Mexican access to the highly regulated U.S. sugar market, which is protected by a complex web of subsidies and rationed quotas for foreign producers.

The sugar industry is known for its sway in Washington. But its point of view on Mexican imports is not shared by sugar users such as confectioners and soda makers.

The Trump administration wants to clear away the sugar dispute and a lumber trade row with Canada before starting full-scale negotiations to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement.

An industry rarely objects to a government-negotiated settlement of its anti-dumping case, and U.S. sugar producers could do little to stop the Commerce Department from implementing a final deal after a two-week comment period, said Seattle-based trade lawyer William Perry, who previously worked at Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission.

‘Never entirely happy’

While the industry could ask the International Trade Commission to overturn the settlement that suspends anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duty orders issued in 2014, chances for success look slim. The panel in 2015 rejected a challenge by two sugar refiners to the previous U.S.-Mexico pact.

“Petitioners are never entirely happy with suspension agreements like this,” Perry said. “They would rather have anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders with rates high enough to shut out imports.”

A Commerce spokesman said that Ross hoped the U.S. sugar industry would ultimately endorse the final agreement.

Willing to compromise

Gary Hufbauer, a trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said the administration was probably willing to compromise on some industry-specific concerns to help reach its larger NAFTA goals of reducing U.S. trade deficits.

The U.S. sugar industry must probably present evidence of new Mexican dumping before going back to Commerce for more changes to the deal, said Daniel Pearson, a senior fellow of the libertarian Cato Institute and former International Trade Commission chairman.

“They would do well to take this agreement and run with it and see how it works,” Pearson said, noting that it raises prices and keeps U.S. refiners well-supplied with raw sugar.

Mexico OK with language

Mexico made major concessions to maintain its access to the lucrative U.S. market, agreeing to ship no less than 70 percent of its quota volume as raw sugar to U.S. refineries. It gave ground on nearly all of the U.S. producers’ demands.

American Sugar Alliance spokesman Phillip Hayes said the final hurdle should be easy to address by making clear that the USDA, not Mexico, can dictate the type and purity level of any additional imports.

But Juan Cortina, head of Mexico’s main sugar trade group, said there was no problem with the language because any additional needs would filled with raw sugar, as Mexican producers would have to keep higher inventories of that grade.


МЗС повідомило про робочу групу для допомоги в перший день безвізового режиму

Міністерство закордонних справ України повідомило, що створило робочу групу для допомоги подорожнім у першу добу чинності безвізового режиму з Європейським союзом.

«Інформуємо, що з метою оперативного реагування та створення сприятливих умов громадянам України для безвізового в’їзду до держав-членів ЄС у МЗС створено робочу групу, яка працюватиме цілодобово з 00 год. 00 хв. 11 червня 2017 року до 00 год. 00 хв. 12 червня ц. р. (за київським часом) за номерами телефонів: 044-238-16-37, 044-238-18-54 та 044-238-17-49», – повідомив Департамент консульської служби міністерства.

У разі виникнення проблемних ситуацій, пов’язаних зі в’їздом до країн ЄС у безвізовому режимі, МЗС просить контактувати з робочою групою за цими телефонами.

Рішення про лібералізацію візового режиму для громадян України, тобто про запровадження можливості відвідувати країни Євросоюзу і «шенгену» без віз за певних умов, набуває чинності в ніч на неділю, 11 червня, опівночі – щоразу за місцевим часом. Таким чином, найсхідніші члени ЄС, що лежать із Україною в одному часовому поясі, відкриють безвізовий в’їзд опівночі за Києвом; далі на захід зі зміною часових поясів цей режим набуватиме чинності пізніше.

Угода про лібералізацію візового режиму поширюватиметься на всі країни ЄС, окрім Великої Британії та Ірландії, а також діятиме в країнах шенгенського простору, що не входять у ЄС: Норвегії, Ісландії, Ліхтенштейні та Швейцарії. Для безвізових поїздок громадянам України (і дітям) необхідно мати біометричний паспорт.

Безвізовий режим дозволить перебувати на території ЄС і «шенгену» до 90 днів протягом кожних 180 днів без права працевлаштування. Від подорожніх можуть просити доказів платоспроможності, намірів вчасно повернутися тощо.


L’Oreal Set to Sell The Body Shop to Brazil’s Natura in $1.1B Deal

French cosmetics and luxury goods group L’Oreal has started exclusive talks to sell The Body Shop business to Brazilian makeup company Natura Cosmeticos in a possible 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) deal.

Earlier this year, L’Oreal had announced it was reviewing its strategy for The Body Shop, which it bought for 652 million pounds in 2006, and the sale of the business had attracted a wide range of bidders.

L’Oreal said on Friday it had received a firm offer from Natura Cosmeticos, and the proposed deal put an enterprise value (equity plus debt) of 1 billion euros on the four-decades-old beauty brand — an innovator in the mass marketing of cosmetics made without animal testing and with natural ingredients.

Founded in 1976 by British entrepreneur Anita Roddick, The Body Shop was a pioneer in its field but had since fallen victim to increased competition from newcomers offering similar products based on natural ingredients with no animal testing.

L’Oreal shares were up 0.7 percent in late session trading, as investors welcomed progress toward a deal and the price tag.

“It’s a good move, given that The Body Shop had been one of the least profitable parts of the L’Oreal business,” said Roche Brune Asset Management fund manager Gregoire Laverne.

Keren Finance fund manager Gregory Moore said the price tag had pleased L’Oreal investors, since earlier reports had stated it could be sold for around 800 million euros.

“The stock has reacted well to the news, because there were some people who thought it could be sold for less,” said Moore, whose firm owns L’Oreal shares in its portfolio.

Shares in Natura fell 2.4 percent on the Brazil stock exchange, with Natura saying it would take on loans to finance the deal.

Natura chief executive Joao Paulo Ferreira said The Body Shop would fit in well with Natura’s similar businesses, such as its Aesop brand.

L’Oreal shares are up around 10 percent so far in 2017, broadly in line with the CAC-40, with the stock having touched a record high earlier this month.


Next Step for France’s New President: Consolidating Power

Winning the French presidency was step one for Emmanuel Macron. Step two is nailing down the parliamentary majority France’s youngest-ever president needs to be effective. That happens in legislative elections that promise a monumental shake-up of the National Assembly and the consolidation of Macron’s grip on France’s levers of power.

Not only is the two-round vote, this Sunday and next, expected to install hundreds of new faces in the 577-seat lower house, but many will likely be first-time lawmakers, making good on Macron’s campaign promises to take a broom to established, old-style politics.

Half of the candidates for Macron’s fledgling Republic on the Move! party have, like him, never previously held elected office. They include an award-winning mathematician, a former female bullfighter and the ex-head of an elite French police unit that took down an Islamic State cell, among others.

With pollsters projecting a possibly dominant majority for Macron’s camp, the election could add real clout to the measured and studied air of authority the 39-year-old has cultivated in his presidential role since the very first minutes of his May 7 victory.

Much of Macron’s early muscle-flexing has been symbolic, most notably his knuckle-whitening handshake with U.S. President Donald Trump — aimed, the French leader later said, at showing that he is no pushover.

But a large, compliant majority in parliament would arm Macron with the actual power to quickly start legislating and launch his promised program of remedies for the persistent, chronic unemployment and other economic difficulties that have sapped France’s weight in Europe. He intends to speedily reform France’s labor codes, aiming to create work by injecting greater flexibility into the labor market and by boosting job-training.

Battered by the electorate that gave Macron a comfortable winning margin over far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the presidential vote, his weakened political rivals fear that another surge of support for the president’s candidates in the legislative ballot could make him almost untouchable and limit their tools and abilities to keep his ambitions and legislative program in check.

Political scientist Dominique Moisi says the legislative election is a “decisive piece” in the consolidation of Macron’s presidency. When the former banker and economy minister launched his wild-card bid for the presidential Elysee Palace in 2016, challenging the monopoly on power of France’s established parties on the left and right, his chances of winning the succession of presidential and legislative votes looked remote-to-nil. Now, Macron’s gamble is close to paying out in full, and the mainstream parties are in disarray.

“He’s on course to be a new De Gaulle if he makes the reforms he wants to,” Moisi said, referring to the hugely respected founding father of modern France, wartime hero Gen. Charles de Gaulle. “There is a risk that he will have too much authority given the fact that he has some sort of authoritarian personality in him. But that is what France needs right now.”

For Macron’s rivals, the election is their last best chance to clip his wings for the next five years until the next electoral cycle. Le Pen is hoping the record support for her National Front in the presidential vote will translate into more seats in parliament than the two held by the party in the last legislature. Similarly, far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon also is banking that his strong fourth place in the presidential ballot will help secure legislative seats for himself and his candidates.

The left and right mainstream parties, the Socialists and conservative Republicans, are hoping to limit their losses, having been spectacularly sanctioned by voters in the presidential vote. For the first time, neither of them made the decisive May runoff vote that was contested between Macron and Le Pen.

To win in the first round Sunday, candidates must win an absolute majority of votes cast and the support of at least 25 percent of registered voters in their constituency. Otherwise, the contest moves to the second-round vote the following Sunday.


Britain Again Faces Comparative Novelty of Minority Rule

European countries are used to hung parliaments and forming coalition governments — or being governed by minority ones. But they are more unusual in Britain, partly because of Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system.

However, several elections resulted in minority governments in the early part of the 20th century and, more recently, some governments have begun with outright majorities which then were lost because of resignations, by-elections and defections.

The Labour Party had a three-seat majority after the 1974 general election but, by 1977, it lost its majority status and remained in power because of a pact it formed with the Liberal Party.

And John Major’s Conservative government started out with a 21-seat majority in 1992 but, by the 1997 general election, it became a minority.

Here is a list:

1910-1915: Liberal minority governments under H.H. Asquith seen as among the most decisive and creative in British history, managing to pass major legislation.

1924: Labour minority under Ramsay MacDonald lasted 10 months and achieved modest success in domestic policy.

1929-1931: Labour minority government, again under Ramsay MacDonald, was blown off course by the Great Depression.

February-October 1974: Harold Wilson’s Labour Party formed a minority government for seven months until a second election gave it a three-seat majority.

1977-1979: Labour under James Callaghan governed for nearly two years as a minority administration until it lost a vote of confidence that was carried by a single vote. It was buffeted by economic crisis and strikes.

2010-2015: Labour’s Gordon Brown waived his right to form a minority government, giving way to the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to enter into a coalition government. Arguably, it was the most successful coalition government in British modern history. It ended in 2015 when David Cameron Conservatives won enough seats to govern outright.


Польща готова до «безвізу» з Україною – прикордонна служба

Польська прикордонна служба готова до початку безвізового режиму з Україною. Про це, як передає «Польське радіо», повідомив директор прикордонного управління Головного комісаріату Прикордонної служби Польщі Ґжеґож Опалінський.

«Ми готові до обслуговування руху, який відбуватиметься після 11 червня, коли для громадян України, які подорожують до країн ЄС, буде скасовано обов’язок мати візи», – сказав Опалінський.

Він припустив, що прикордонний рух з боку України після 11 червня може зрости на 10%.

Раніше в МЗС України повідомили, що 11 червня, у день вступу в силу «безвізу» для громадян України, які мають намір в’їжджати до Євросоюзу з туристичною, приватною чи діловою метою, консули України у Польщі будуть здійснювати моніторинг процедури перетину кордону.

Із 11 червня для громадян України запроваджується безвізовий режим з ЄС. Це стало можливим після того, як Рада міністрів Євросоюзу 11 травня ухвалила остаточне рішення про надання Україні безвізового режиму. Угода про лібералізацію візового режиму поширюватиметься на всі країни ЄС, окрім Великої Британії та Ірландії, а також діятиме в країнах шенгенського простору, що не входять у ЄС: Норвегії, Ісландії, Ліхтенштейні та Швейцарії. Для безвізових поїздок громадянам України необхідно отримати біометричний паспорт.


У Запоріжжі посилили охорону «Хортиці» через підозру у підпалах – директор заповідника

Кількість працівників поліції охорони порядку на острові Хортиця у Запоріжжі збільшили через численні пожежі за останній тиждень, повідомив генеральний директор Національного заповідника «Хортиця» Максим Остапенко.

«Голова облдержадміністрації допоміг і дав розпорядження обласній поліції. Вони підсилили чергування на Хортиці. Ми, зі свого боку, підготували звернення до Національної гвардії, тому що вона не підпорядкована голові облдержадміністрації. Але область допомогла саме підсиленням нарядів поліції. На сьогоднішній день вже підсилено працюють поліцейські патрулі, плюс долучиться кінна поліція», – розповів Остапенко.

За його словами, необхідність ретельної охорони території заповідника виникла через підозри про зумисні підпали.

«Підпалюють у різних місцях ділянками широкими, тобто намагаючись заподіяти максимальну шкоду рослинному світу і об’єктам заповідника. Це триває вже тиждень. Але вчорашній підпал нас вчергове впевнив, що це свідомі дії», – додав Максим Остапенко.

Остання велика пожежа на території острова Хортиця сталася 8 червня біля історико-культурного комплексу «Запорізька Січ». Також пожежа на території комплексу була 8 травня, тоді зайнялася стріха одного з куренів. Ніхто не постраждав.

Запорізькі активісти у соцмережах оголосили про готовність виплатити винагороду у 1 тисячу гривень тим, хто спіймає паліїв.

Територія Національного заповіднику «Хортиця» складає близько 2,5 тисяч гектарів.


Britain Thrown Into Political Uncertainty; May Battles to Lead Minority Government

Britain was thrown into political uncertainty Friday after Labour, the main opposition party, made an extraordinary electoral comeback, denying Prime Minister Theresa May and the ruling Conservatives a majority in the House of Commons, largely due to a surge in youth voters.

In what will rank as one of the most remarkable elections in modern British history, May’s gamble to expand her party’s parliamentary majority failed spectacularly, raising doubts that she will be able to lead a minority government with the support of Northern Ireland’s Unionists.

Calls mounted from the Labour Party, the leaders of third parties and some Conservatives for the prime minister to step down.

The embattled prime minister announced from the steps of Downing Street after seeing the queen that she would start forming a government. The speech – with just a mention of the Unionists and the support they would provide her minority government – offered little recognition of the rebuff she had hours earlier received at the polls. It was a speech May could have given had she scored a big win.

“What the country needs more than ever is certainty,” she said. May claimed that as the biggest party in the House of Commons, Conservatives could provide that certainty. May said she would form a government that will take Britain out of the EU. She said her government would crack down on Islamic extremism.

May will likely face a vote of confidence in the House of Commons next week.

Despite their anger at her decision to call a snap post-Brexit referendum election and her conduct of the party’s campaign, Conservative lawmakers appeared ready in the short term to back her.

If May were to lose the Commons confidence vote, it would give Labour a chance to form a coalition of its own, or seek to govern as a minority government, although it is unclear if Labour would be able to do so.

​Calls for May to step down

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was all but written off at the start of the election campaign seven weeks ago, called on the prime minister to resign, saying she should “go and make way for a government that is truly representative of this country.” He said Labour had denied her a hard Brexit’ mandate.

“We are ready to do everything we can to put our program into operation,” he added.

Former Conservative finance minister George Osborne, removed from the Cabinet by May and now editor of the Evening Standard newspaper, told ITV, “I doubt she will survive in the long term as Conservative party leader.”

Former Conservative minister Anna Soubry said May should take responsibility for a “dreadful” campaign.

Among Conservatives there was clear fury at the result, a seismic political shock that could trigger a second election within months. Few commentators appeared to believe that a minority Conservative government is sustainable for more than a few months. “Does she really think she can blunder on?” said Lord Ashcroft, a former Liberal Democrat leader.

​Brexit not the only issue

Exit polls late Thursday, suggesting Britain was heading for a hung parliament, prompted gasps at Conservative Party headquarters in London.

May focused her party’s election campaign on Brexit, saying she would be able to bring the strength necessary to get the best deal for Britain with the European Union.

At the start of the campaign it looked as if she might pull off a landslide victory, but opinion polls showed the race tightening, and May came under criticism for running an aloof campaign that took voters for granted.

A turning point appeared to come when the parties unveiled their election manifestos. The Conservatives had to backtrack on plans to make the elderly pay more for residential and social care.

May spent more than half of the election campaign in Labour-held seats, demonstrating how confident she was of making gains from a Labour Party led by the most left-wing leader in its history, a man the press sees as a throwback to the militant 1970’s.

With more than a week to go before Brexit negotiations, it remains unclear whether Britain will have a government in place to take on the formal talks — or whether the government that starts the talks will be the one that finalizes them.

European officials and lawmakers warn that a hung parliament could be a “disaster” that hugely increases the chance of Brexit talks failing. They said political uncertainty would likely delay talks, with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, questioning whether he would have someone to really negotiate with about Brexit.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s Brexit representative, described the result as “yet another own goal” for Britain.

Some analysts compared the political situation to 1923, when Conservative Stanley Baldwin failed to win a parliamentary majority, struggled on for a few months as prime minister and then lost a confidence vote in the House of Commons. The king then had to ask Labour to form a minority government.

The election result also throws into doubt whether Britain will now seek the hard Brexit that May and the right-wing of her party have been advocating. There is now likely a majority across the parties in the new House of Commons for a softer Brexit, one that might see Britain remain in the single market.

“What it means is we will have pressure in the House of Commons for a soft Brexit,” said Jack Straw, a former Labour foreign minister. “The math and chemistry in the Commons will be pushing away from a hard Brexit,” he added.

Leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage complained about the election result in a tweet, saying May’s failure had put Brexit in jeopardy. Some commentators argued the election could be seen as a second referendum on Brexit, a vote about a hard’ or soft Brexit,’ certainly when it came to the youth vote.

Hundreds of thousands of people ages 18 to 34 registered to vote before last month’s closing date, including more than 450,000 on the final day. Voters ages 18 to 24 appear to have voted heavily in favor of Labour.