In blow to Eurogroup head, EU Commission criticises Portugal’s budget

In blow to Eurogroup head, EU Commission criticises Portugal’s budget

The European Commission said on Wednesday (15 January) that Portugal’s draft budget for 2020 was at risk of breaking European Union fiscal rules because of insufficient progress in reducing its structural deficit. The opinion is a blow to Portuguese Finance Minister Mario Centeno, who chairs the powerful Eurogroup of finance ministers – a body that participates in the oversight of fiscal policies in the 19 states of the euro zone. In his first opinion on the budget of a euro zone government since he took office in December, EU economics…

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The US and China intend to conclude a major procurement deal, weakening the trade war

The US and China intend to conclude a major procurement deal, weakening the trade war

The US-China trade war is set to enter a new, quieter phase on Wednesday (15 January) as US President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier sign an initial trade deal that aims to vastly increase Chinese purchases of US manufactured products, agricultural goods, energy and services. The Phase 1 agreement caps 18 months of tariff conflict between the world’s two largest economies that has hit hundreds of billions of dollars in goods, roiling financial markets, uprooting supply chains and slowing global growth. Trump and Liu He are scheduled to sign…

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Investors will receive £ 260 million per year with proposed changes in interest rates

Investors will receive £ 260 million per year with proposed changes in interest rates

Banks will be banned from quietly cutting interest rates on cash savings accounts as part of proposals meant to help consumers pocket an extra £260m a year. The Financial Conduct Authority’s changes would still allow banks to offer a range of introductory interest rates to attract new customers. However, lenders would then have to offer a single rate for all easy-access cash savings accounts after 12 months. That rate would be openly published twice a year. The rules, which will now go out for consultation, are meant to increase transparency…

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Travelex forced to takes offline websites after cyber attack

Travelex forced to takes offline websites after cyber attack

The foreign currency specialist Travelex has been forced to take its websites offline following a cyber-attack. The group said it immediately took down its online systems to protect data and prevent the software virus spreading after discovering the attack on New Year’s Eve. It added that its investigations so far suggested no personal or customer data had been compromised. The incident comes just as many people are preparing to head off for an early new-year getaway. Some observers pointed out on Twitter that, prior to news of the virus emerging,…

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Italy delays presentation of Monte Paschi stake sale plan

Italy delays presentation of Monte Paschi stake sale plan

Italy will delay to early 2020 the presentation of a plan to sell its stake in Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the Treasury said on Sunday (29 December), as the bank struggles to shed bad loans. The plan for the state to offload its 68% stake in the world’s oldest bank by the end of 2021 was supposed to be submitted to the EU executive by the end of this year. The Treasury said in statement it had asked Brussels for the postponement “in the light of, and in line…

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Amazon’s deal with Deliveroo facing deep investigation

Amazon’s deal with Deliveroo facing deep investigation

Amazon’s UK ambitions have been checked by the competition watchdog after it launched an in-depth investigation into the online retailer’s purchase of a stake in food delivery company Deliveroo. The Competition and Markets Authority announced the probe on Friday after Amazon and Deliveroo declined to offer concessions in response to the CMA’s initial raising of concerns earlier this month. Amazon was the lead investor in a $575m (£442m) funding round, announced in May, which reportedly gave it a 16% stake in Deliveroo. Deliveroo has been seeking investment to boost its…

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How U.S. Sanctions May Affect Nord Stream 2 Russian Gas Project

How U.S. Sanctions May Affect Nord Stream 2 Russian Gas Project

US President Donald Trump imposed sanctions last week on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline designed by Moscow to bypass Ukraine and increase gas supplies via the Baltic Sea to Germany, Russia’s biggest energy customer. The United States wants to sell more of its gas to Europe and has said the pipeline would make the continent too reliant on Russia, which is at loggerheads with Washington over a series of issues, including Moscow’s interference in Ukraine. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, however, said on Monday (23 December) that the pipeline would…

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US Senate approves $ 738 billion defense bill

US Senate approves $ 738 billion defense bill

Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems’ seven-year battle against Facebook reaches a crucial point tomorrow (19 December) when an adviser to Europe’s top court will issue his view on whether tools used by companies to transfer data abroad are legal or not. At stake are standard contractual clauses used by Facebook and hundreds of thousands of companies, ranging from banks to industrial giants to carmakers, to transfer personal data to the United States and other parts of the world. Another issue is whether the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, which came into existence…

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Leading-edge researchers will benefit from new Horizon 2020 despite pending budget cuts

Leading-edge researchers will benefit from new Horizon 2020 despite pending budget cuts

As member states are locked into negotiations over the next EU budget, research has become an easy target for cuts. Meanwhile, EU-funded scientists urge that frontier research is becoming more important than ever with new challenges ahead. Before EU leaders met to discuss the EU’s long-term budget in Brussels last week, new European Council President, Charles Michel, said that the EU’s new climate ambitions mean the bloc needs to “invest massively in research.” Under the EU’s New Green Deal, the European Commission’s objective is to dedicate at least 35% of…

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The UK economy has fallen to the lowest point since 2009

The UK economy has fallen to the lowest point since 2009

The British economy had its worst quarter since 2009, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported on Tuesday. The economy flatlined month-on-month in October, after two months of decline. Services expanded by 0.2% from August-to-October, offsetting a 0.7% contraction in manufacturing and 0.3% in construction. Reflecting a drop in manufacturing exports, Britain’s goods trade deficit widened to £14.5bn in October, up from £11.5bn in September. The pound shrugged off the low growth, gaining both against the dollar and the Euro. The pound broke over €1.19 on Monday, for the first…

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