Global Review – 20th July

D-Day for Italy as Fitch, Moody’s issue warnings

It’s a crucial day for Italy today as Prime Minister Mario Draghi is at the crossroads between government and crisis. The premier yesterday met with President Sergio Mattarella. Later, he met the secretary of the Democratic Party Enrico Letta and, in the evening, with the centre right of government. Executive circles said the meetings “went well”. But analysts said the situation remains uncertain, so much so that for his address to the Senate this morning, Draghi has prepared two versions of the speech: both detailed but with different endings. Letta has expressed optimism: “It will be a beautiful day, I’m sure”. The 5 Star Movement will await Draghi’s speech and then decide how to vote in the Chamber. Meanwhile, credit ratings agencies Fitch and Moody’s have warned that “without Draghi, fiscal consolidation becomes more difficult”. The outcome of todays vote of confidence in the government (at 19:30), “is highly uncertain, and the government could also find it difficult to find an agreement on the 2023 budget, which it will have to present to the European Commission by October”. According to Moody’s, “the decrease in the momentum of investments and reforms this year will weaken the economy while a potential shutdown of gas from Russia poses material risks for Italy’s economic activity”.

Rival Libya military leaders meet in Tripoli

Senior military figures from Libya’s rival eastern and western power bases have held an unprecedented meeting in the capital Tripoli, calling Tuesday for a unified command over their troops. Two rival governments are currently vying for power, one based in Tripoli, the other in the central city of Sirte. General Abdelrazzak al-Nadhouri, second in command of forces loyal to eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar, visited Tripoli on Monday and Tuesday to meet with his counterpart in the country’s west, General Mohammad al-Haddad. “It is necessary to name a single chief of staff for the military institution and begin the reunification of the army,” they said in a joint statement following their encounter. The meeting reportedly enabled work by the so-called 5+5 military commission, made up of military officials from each of the rival camps, to progress, including on the thorny issue of foreign fighters who were supposed to depart following an October 2020 ceasefire.

EU preparing mandatory cut in gas consumption

Mandatory cut in consumption at EU level in the event of a crisis on gas supplies is one of the measures contained in the draft EU plan for the reduction of gas demand, which will be presented today. The recommendation of the European Commission to member countries, reports the Financial Times, is to immediately cut consumption; otherwise, “Europe risks running out of gas this winter while Russia limits supplies”. Europe, in fact, is preparing for an energy rationing and is preparing to do so already now. “We need to save 12 billion cubic metres in the next three months to avoid a ‘gas crunch’ in winter”, is the warning issued by the International Energy Agency, according to which,without immediate action, “Europe could face cuts and much more dramatic contingencies later.”According to the latest draft of the plan, “the industries considered strategic” are those related to health, safety and the environment, defence and refining and food”. The principle of “maximum effort” for energy reduction is introduced: an effort that, in the event of a supply crisis, would become binding at EU level. In Germany, chemical industrialists fear a real cataclysm in production. The flows of Russian gas have gone from 40 to 20% of the total, it is recalled in Brussels (in Italy they have slipped to fifth place among the sources of supply). And in the meantime, it speeds up on alternative suppliers. USA, Algeria, Israel, Qatar, Norway and, most recently, Azerbaijan. von der Leyen flew to Baku to sign a memorandum that will bring natural gas flow from 8 billion cubic metres this year to 12 billion by 2023. The goal is to reach 20 billion cubic metres by 2027.

US police shoot and kill 23-year-old Afro-American

Police in San Bernardino, California, killed a 23-year-old African American who was fleeing. A shocking video shows an officer opening fire seconds after getting out of the car he was in. According to the police, the two officers were part of a specialised unit investigating an illegal gambling establishment. The Afro-American was talking to someone before heading to the unidentified police car when he saw the two officers get out of the car and ran away. A short-lived escape: one of the agents fired and Robert Adams died shortly after. The murdered boy’s family admitted Adams worked at the illegal gambling venue, but accuses the officers of failing to identify themselves. According to police Adams was armed.

UK breaches 40OC for first time

Britain on Tuesday recorded its first-ever temperature exceeding 40OC with the mercury provisionally registering 40.2OC at Heathrow Airport, the country’s meteorological agency the Met Office said.Runways melted, people struggled to sleep and the queen’s guard used desk fans as they sweltered in heavy ceremonial uniforms as Britain hit record temperatures on Tuesday. Normally chilly and often rainy in the summer, Britain this week baked under a fierce heatwave, triggering an unprecedented extreme heat alert and leaving Britons desperate to cool off. Germany saw its hottest day of the year so far as the country experienced its hottest day of 2022. The national weather service recorded 39.3OC in the western city of Duisburg. Meanwhile, the Netherlands saw one of its hottest days on record on Tuesday with 39.5OC in Maastricht. Temperatures in Portugal have decreased significantly. However, more than 1,000 heatwave-related deaths have been recorded since last week. Wildfires have become a common consequence of these extreme temperatures across Europe. Central and north-western Spain has also been ravaged by wildfires. In France, 64 different areas registered record-high temperatures on Monday. In Belgium, a fire broke out in dunes at the Belgian resort of De Haan, setting several vehicles alight. But following the ferocious heat, the country is now bracing itself for thunderstorms that could lead to 20-30mm of rain in some region, Le Soir newspaper reports.

Sunak tops Tory MPs’ latest vote

Britain’s former finance minister Rishi Sunak again topped the latest vote by Conservative MPs to choose a new prime minister, as another candidate was eliminated to leave three contenders in the race. Sunak garnered 118 votes, followed by former defence minister Penny Mordaunt on 92 and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on 86, with longshot candidate Kemi Badenoch trailing on 59 and therefore eliminated from the contest. The vote means that Britain will get either its first British Asian prime minister or the third female leader in the country’s history. Sunak, whose resignation helped to topple outgoing leader Boris Johnson, fell two votes short of the number needed to guarantee a place among the final two, who will battle it out over the summer before party members choose the winner.He is all but guaranteed to make the final cut in Wednesday’s last round of voting by MPs.

Netflix loses million subscribers

Netflix reported Tuesday losing subscribers for the second quarter in a row as the streaming giant battles fierce competition and plateauing demand. The loss of 970,000 paying customers in the most recent quarter, however, was less than expected, leaving the company with just shy of 221 million subscribers. The streaming giant reacted by announcing the arrival of advertising on the service.

England, Spain in tonight’s Euro 2022 quarter-final

England are preparing for their biggest test of the European Women’s Championship when they take on one of the pre-tournament favourites Spain in tonight’s quarter-final (kick-off at 9pm). Just one place separates the teams in world rankings and expectations for both nations are high. Spain have a squad packed full of Champions League winners, while England are on a roll and have home advantage in Brighton. The Lionesses won all three games in the group stages without conceding a single goal. Spain, ranked seventh in the world, have won two of their games and finish second behind a German side who beat them 2-0.