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The European Union is still divided over coronavirus assistance. That can separate them



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On Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will unveil his proposal to dig Europe out of a historic recession along with the European Union’s long-term budget plan. But deep divisions between member states still need to be bridged, increasing the risk that much needed assistance can be delayed.

This rift complicates efforts to get money quickly to the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, such as Spain and Italy, where anti-EU sentiment is increasing. The leaders warned that the future of the European Union could depend on what happened next.

The uneven recovery “will tear off our single market and establish significant political and financial tensions in the euro area and the European Union,” Mário Centeno, president of the European finance minister’s body, recently warned in an interview with the Greek political newspaper. “We will walk in a financial crisis. There is a lot at stake.”

Grants versus loans

The euro survived the debt crisis between 2010 and 2012, saved by massive EU bailout loans to countries such as Greece, Portugal and Ireland, and pledges by the European Central Bank to do “anything” to defend the currency.

Now, Europe as a whole is facing the worst economic shock since the 1930s, only a few countries will suffer more pain than others. The European Commission estimates that GDP in 19 countries using the euro will contract of 7.75% this year, record. The Italian economy could shrink by more than 9%, making it more difficult to repay debts of € 2.4 trillion ($ 2.6 trillion). The country’s debt to GDP ratio is 135% at the end of 2019.

As EU leaders struggle to provide more aid money, the big question is whether pandemic recovery funds should offer loans or grants to member countries. Using grants will require net contributors to the EU budget, including “Frugal Four,” to pay more. Relying on loans, meanwhile, will mean burdening heavily indebted countries like Italy with more obligations.

The breakthrough came last week when Germany and France propose creation from a € 500 billion ($ 549 billion) recovery fund. Under the proposal, the European Commission will borrow money to improve the economy and distribute grants to the hardest hit regions and sectors through the EU budget. Debts incurred to raise funds must be paid off over time, “but not by beneficiaries,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.

The Pitch marked a major change in Berlin’s position, underlining the severity of the crisis and changing the tenor of the discussion, according to Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, senior colleague at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

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“This is Germany realizing that Italy is not Greece,” Kirkegaard said, referring to the importance of avoiding the debt crisis in the bloc’s third largest economy. “If we have another asymmetrical recovery, then that will be very bad for the European Union and very bad for the German economy itself.”

Trade within the European Union accounts for nearly 60% of German exports.

The proposal still needs to be formalized by the European Commission, and not all 27 member countries. Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark seem united against the Franco-German plan.

But without Germany, their opposition seems thin, said Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for Europe at the Eurasia consultancy group.

“There is a big movement in most European capitals in recognition of the scale of the challenge,” Rahman said. “Obviously that’s what you don’t get from ‘Frugal Four.’ This effectively restated the old position. “

‘Very difficult negotiations’

Negotiations will begin in earnest after the European Commission reveals its framework this week.

Rahman expects the Commission to call for recovery funds worth € 600 billion ($ 654 billion) to € 700 billion ($ 763 billion), although the amount of key information can be reduced during talks. He thinks the proposal will include a mix of cheap loans and direct grants to try to bring more conservative Northern countries.

However, this is not the only problem that needs to be hammered with a budget of around € 1 trillion ($ 1.1 trillion).

Determining the European Union budget, which runs from 2021 to 2027, has been compounded by the fact that Brexit has blown up huge holes in financial block over the next seven years, said Guntram Wolff, director of Bruegel, a think tank based in Brussels. . Britain has become the second largest contributor to the European Union.

Member countries also need to understand how much money they will put in, whether rich countries will still get discounts, and importantly, the types of programs that the bloc will support. The pandemic complicates this issue, which has been debated.

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The timeline is tight. Getting aid to Europe in the second half of this year will require agreement between EU leaders in June or July, according to Rahman, followed by a strengthening vote in the European Parliament in early September. The lack of a busy summer tourism season is expected to hit Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece hard in the coming months.

Centeno, who also serves as Portugal’s finance minister, highlighted the urgency over the weekend.

“It would be better if we found an agreement on the main features of the Recovery Fund before the summer, to provide guarantees to our citizens, companies and markets, and increase the credibility of the EU response,” he tweeted. “That will be a very difficult negotiation.”

Political storm brewing

In recent days, political leaders have not shied away from overcoming the potential consequences of failure.

“We must show that what is not at stake is a national contribution from one or the other for the European budget,” said French Secretary of State for European Affairs Amélie de Montchalin in an interview Monday with Le Point magazine. “This is the vitality of an economic project that makes us prosperous.”

Many Italians feel that they are left alone to face the consequences of the pandemic, reinforcing the hatred that has accumulated after the 2015-16 migrant crisis, Enrico Letta, the former prime minister of Italy, said Friday.

“This is why, I think, it is very important to have a very comprehensive, fast and effective European response,” he told CNN Business, Richard Quest.

People walk through shopping marches in Milan on May 18.

If Italy and other southern countries experience a slower recovery than their northern neighbors, it will feed euroskeptic powers and political instability in the region, Kirkegaard said.

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In Germany, troubled companies have received substantial credit guarantees from the state, which means more will survive. In Italy, however, the risk of corporate defaults is increasing – underscoring the need for a more coordinated strategy.

“Unless you get a level playing field here, that will be a real problem,” Kirkegaard said.

And while Germany has come to provide grants, the country has not agreed to include capital guarantees needed to get aid funds before 2021, Rahman said. Such delays can be destructive.

The question of time, he said, was “the single biggest risk.”

– Pierre-Eliott Buet contributed reporting.

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.



Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.



Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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