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Zelenskyy wooed the G7 summit with a little help from his friends

Good morning. Greece’s ruling New Democracy party has smashed expectations by winning over 40 per cent of the vote in yesterday’s election. But the blockbuster performance still leaves prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis just short of a parliamentary majority under the country’s voting rules. A second ballot looms.

Today, I assess Europe’s achievements at this past weekend’s G7 summit, and our energy correspondent hears that a plan to help Europe’s solar industry could do more harm than good.

Job well done?

Europe’s G7 leaders flew out of Japan last night feeling quietly accomplished about a summit well-executed, with satisfying outcomes on their two biggest topics: support for Ukraine and the approach to China.

Context: The G7 leaders’ summit in Hiroshima concluded yesterday with a surprise visit by Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who joined an expanded discussion with major developing countries.

Zelenskyy left Hiroshima with ironclad assurances of ongoing support from his western allies. He got a green light from US president Joe Biden to allow countries to supply Kyiv with F-16 fighter jets. And he had the chance to make an in-person plea to India’s Narendra Modi and Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to back his peace plan and demand that Russia withdraw its troops.

All three are positive outcomes from a trip that was a secret until the event began — and one that European leaders had encouraged.

On China, Europe succeeded in mollifying US demands for a more hawkish G7 stance towards Beijing.

The Group called for China “de-risking” — a term first proposed by European commission president Ursula von der Leyen — rather than a “decoupling” that some US officials had previously been pushing for.

And there was no consensus to impose concrete economic measures against China — something the EU is not fully behind — only to increase information sharing to detect examples of Beijing’s potentially nefarious activities.

One European commission official who participated said they were struck by how well the summit captured the feeling of “how linked the security theatres of Europe and Asia are”.

It had captured “a changing of the tides” in terms of shared co-operation, they added.

Though time will tell whether the most lofty aim of the summit — convincing India and Brazil to shift their view on the war and condemn Russia — was achieved.

“In order to be successful you need to lay the groundwork,” said one European G7 official. “We were able to make the case.”

Chart du jour: Empty basket

Food prices in Europe have risen more than headline inflation. To shield vulnerable consumers, countries like Hungary and Croatia have moved to cap the cost of essentials, while others like Spain are scrapping taxes.

Blocking the sun

The European solar industry says the EU is putting too many sticks and not enough carrots in its new rules to boost clean tech industries, writes Alice Hancock.

Context: In March, the EU commission set out plans to increase production of clean technologies like solar and wind power in Europe. As the EU is heavily reliant on China for the cheap production of solar panels, policymakers proposed relocating at least 30GW of Europe’s solar power supply chain to the continent by 2030.

But many in the industry fear that the measures, which are due to be discussed by ministers meeting in Brussels tomorrow, could be counter-productive.

In a letter sent to the EU commission and seen by the Financial Times, the industry body SolarPower Europe says the provisions to reshore the supply chain to Europe and a lack of dedicated money for renewables projects will “negatively impact the speedy and cost-effective deployment of solar PV in Europe”.

The solar industry argues that the proposals do not address higher energy costs in Europe compared to the US and China. They also do not account for the fact that solar is one of the industries most reliant on China, and thus needs dedicated financial support to help it wean itself off the cheaper imports, according to the letter.

Earlier this month, Europe’s largest solar developer Lightsource bp had voiced similar concerns.

“We must not choke well-performing solar global supply chains with a misplaced effort to artificially prop up a domestic manufacturing value chain. Especially when that value chain would take years to build,” Europe and Asia-Pacific chief executive Kareen Boutonnat wrote in an opinion article.

What to watch today

  1. EU chiefs are in Seoul for a summit with South Korea’s president Yoon Suk Yeol.

  2. EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels.

  3. EU industry and trade ministers meet as well.

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