Brussels - Slo­va­kia’s knife-edge elec­tion to de­ter­mine stance on Ukraine

Brussels, the capital city of Belgium, is located in the central part of the country and serves as the de facto capital of the European Union (EU). The city has a population of approximately 1.2 million people, making it the largest urban area in Belgium. Brussels is a bilingual city, with French and Dutch being the official languages. However, English is also widely spoken due to the city’s status as a hub of international politics.


The origins of Brussels date back to the 10th century, when a small village developed around a castle named ‘Castrum Bruxellense’. The first Duke of Brabant, John III, made Brussels his capital in the 13th century, leading to a period of growth and development. The city played a crucial role in the development of the European economy during the Middle Ages, thanks to its strategic location and trade links.

In the 19th century, Brussels became the capital of an independent Belgium after the country gained its independence from the Netherlands. The city became a beacon of industrialization and economic growth during this period. In the 20th century, Brussels played a pivotal role in the development of the European Union, hosting the headquarters of several of its institutions.


Brussels has a rich cultural heritage, with numerous museums, art galleries, and historical landmarks. The city has a vibrant arts scene with many festivals and events taking place throughout the year. The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium is home to an impressive collection of art, including works by Flemish painters such as Bruegel and Rubens.

The Grand Place, located in the heart of Brussels, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the most beautiful city squares in the world. It is surrounded by stunning Gothic and Baroque architecture and is home to the annual Flower Carpet, a vibrant display of flowers arranged in intricate patterns.

Brussels is also known for its culinary traditions, with a wide variety of restaurants serving Belgian cuisine, including the famous moules-frites (mussels and fries). The city is also famous for its chocolate, with numerous chocolatiers offering handmade treats.


Brussels is the political heart of the European Union and is home to numerous institutions, including the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the European Parliament. The presence of these institutions has led to Brussels being dubbed the ‘Capital of Europe’.

As the seat of the European Union, Brussels plays a crucial role in shaping the politics of the continent. The city is also home to a multitude of international organizations, such as NATO and Eurocontrol, which give it further significance in the global political arena.


Brussels is well connected with the rest of Europe and the world, thanks to its extensive transportation network. The city has two major airports, Brussels Airport and Brussels South Charleroi Airport, which serve several international destinations. The Eurostar train service connects Brussels to other major European cities such as London and Paris.

The city also has a well-developed public transportation system, including a metro, tram, and bus network, which make getting around the city easy and convenient.


Brussels is a cosmopolitan city with a rich history and culture. The city’s position as a hub of international politics and trade has led to its development into a truly global city. Whether you are interested in history, art, culture, or politics, Brussels has something to offer everyone.

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Brussels tariffs are endangering net zero, carmakers warn


23-05-17 19:11

European automakers, including Jaguar Land Rover and Ford, are calling for a delay in the introduction of post-Brexit tariffs on electric vehicles due to concerns that it threatens the move to net zero. The new rules, which will come into effect from January 2022, will impose a 10% tax on vehicles shipped to the EU from the UK if they fail to contain sufficient components - equal to at least 45% of the value of an electric vehicle - manufactured in either the UK or the EU. The rules are part of an initiative to prevent Chinese-controlled minerals from entering the EU through the UK and maintain production standards. Industry leaders suggest that the fast implementation of the rules poses a threat to the industry's transition to clean mobility as few gigafactories, which produce batteries, currently exist outside China and Stellantis, the owner of Vauxhall, has said that the proposals could force it to end production in the UK.
France holds up EU energy agreement over nuclear power

Financial Times

23-05-17 18:19

France is resisting EU targets regarding renewable energy out of concern that “low-carbon” hydrogen generated with electricity from atomic power plants will not be included. On Wednesday the EU’s 27 member states were due to agree on an overall target of 42.5% of renewable power in the bloc’s energy mix by 2030. Paris is promoting its nuclear industry, despite missing EU targets for the integration of renewables. Six pro-nuclear countries, including the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Hungary, backed France’s stance on Wednesday and other member states have raised concerns that behavioural precedents may be damaging to overall EU emission targets.
Wednesday evening news briefing: Harry and Meghan in 'near catastrophic car chase'


23-05-17 17:49

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were involved in a "near catastrophic car chase" involving paparazzi photographers. Kensington Palace has issued a statement condemning the "relentless pursuit”, which lasted over two hours and resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers. The trio were forced to seek refuge in multiple police stations as they tried to lose the photographers. The couple had been attending an event in New York.
Hungary to block EU military aid fund for Ukraine unless Kyiv takes OTP bank off blacklist


23-05-17 17:35

Hungary will block the next tranche of EU military support for Ukraine, as well as any fresh sanctions against its erstwhile ally Russia unless Kiev drops Hungarian bank OTP from its list of war sponsors. Ministers in Brussels are trying to resolve the dispute and ascertain whether Kiev has blacklisted OTP in its entirety or just its Russian branch. Hungary has demanded guarantees that other regions — such as the Balkans and North Africa — will get funding amid a proposal to allocate a further €500m ($550.4m) from the European Peace Facility to military aid for Ukraine.
Brussels agrees to sign regulatory co-operation deal with the UK

Financial Times

23-05-17 17:19

The European Commission is to sign a deal agreeing regulatory co-operation with the UK, signalling improving relations between the two parties since the Northern Ireland trade dispute was settled earlier this year. The draft memorandum of understanding will lay the groundwork for voluntary regulatory co-operation, and will include the creation of a joint EU-UK Financial Regulatory Forum. The MOU is aimed at enhancing the flow of dialogue when making equivalence decisions, increasing co-operation in international regulatory bodies, and sharing regulatory updates and market analysis. The partnership is expected to be built on a shared commitment to preserve market integrity, financial stability, and protect investors and consumers. Despite the agreement, the memorandum “does not deal with the access of UK-based firms to the single market”, a spokesperson for the commission said, adding that this could still lead to the adoption of equivalence decisions.
Conservatives are squandering Brexit


23-05-17 22:00

UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has committed to a closer trading relationship between the UK and EU, if Labour wins an election. Car manufacturer Vauxhall has stated it may close factories in the UK, and the costs of electrical vehicle manufacturing in the UK may become unsustainable without changes to the terms of trade with Brussels. The article argues that fears of such outcomes could be alleviated by a government committed to exploiting the practical benefits of post-Brexit freedoms through reducing energy prices, lowering corporate taxes and reducing the burden of red tape. Instead, senior Conservative politicians are said to be embarrassed about Brexit and the project is blamed for causing political and economic issues, according to former UKIP leader, Nigel Farage. The article questions whether Labour sought clarity on issues around the UK’s exit from the EU, or whether it only questioned how its negative impact could be lessened.
Beyonce fans ‘so lucky’ to have tickets to first date of UK tour

The Independent

23-05-17 21:10

The first date of Beyoncé's UK tour saw thousands of fans gather at Cardiff's Principality Stadium, with some attendees travelling from as far as Gloucestershire to see the singer's first UK tour in seven years. Fans have described the atmosphere as "buzzing," with one attendee saying that Beyoncé was being played "in every bar". The highly anticipated tour comes after Beyoncé toured Europe, with explosive shows that included video projections, animations, and robotic devices. A Forbes estimate predicted that the tour could earn the star upwards of £1.6bn.
Northern Ireland’s local elections overshadowed by Brexit stand-off

Financial Times

23-05-18 03:19

Elections are taking place in Northern Ireland on 2 May 2019 amid Brexit uncertainty and cuts to public services. The local council elections, which will determine 462 seats in the local government of the 11 districts across Northern Ireland, have been overshadowed by Brexit tensions that caused the assembly to be boycotted by unionist Democratic Unionist Party members. Meanwhile, nationalist Sinn Féin is aiming to repeat its success from the 2018 assembly elections in which the party emerged as the largest with 27 seats. Conservative efforts to normalise trading arrangements in the region have not quelled DUP opposition to the “Windsor framework”.
Ukraine tells China envoy it won't cede territory to Russia to achieve peace


23-05-18 06:58

China's special envoy to Europe, Li Hui, has visited Ukraine in an effort to ease the country's conflict with Russia. The visit followed a discussion between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in the first contact between the two heads of state since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Ukraine has warned China not to tacitly approve of Moscow's action by refusing to call it an invasion or war and saying that it will only accept a peace agreement respecting Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Li will also visit Russia, Poland, France and Germany.
Live Markets Deutsche Bank to pay £60m to settle lawsuit by Epstein accusers - latest updates


23-05-18 06:42

BT is planning to cut up to 42% of its workforce over the next seven years as it seeks to reduce costs and boost profit growth, according to CEO Philip Jansen. Total workers, including employees and contractors, will fall from around 130,000 to between 75,000 and 90,000 by 2030. The telecommunications company has aimed for annual savings of £3bn ($4.1bn) by the end of 2025. The firm has been reducing its workforce for the past five years, though more drastic cuts have been considered since 2019. Jansen’s planned reductions, which will come into effect over several years, reflect in part the shift towards automation and digitalisation in the telecoms industry, as well as the firm’s drive to improve its responsiveness to customers.
How a Brexit stitch-up and battery failures left Britain’s car industry on the brink


23-05-18 06:00

New car import rules which come into force in January may pose a threat to the UK's struggling car manufacturers. As of next year, all cars exported from the UK into the European Union must contain 45% of their components by value from either the UK or the EU. Vehicles that do not meet this threshold will face a 10% duty when heading for the Continent. The rules were designed to encourage firms to establish supply chains nearer home, however, the UK has failed to establish a battery industry, meaning car executives fear that the deadline will be an "existential threat". Industry experts have warned that the new regulations could cause the closure of such sites as Stellantis's Vauxhall van factory at Ellesmere Port. The rules will also make industry-based technologies, such as professional wireless communication devices, more important when conducting automotive research and development.
VistaJet: get rich or fly trying

Financial Times

23-05-18 05:19

Private airline VistaJet has a $4.4bn debt pile, according to Dan McCrum's deep dive, which looks at the firm's unusual relationship with Bombardier and its founder's aircraft trading activity. Thomas Flohr has spent 19 years building VistaJet into an exclusive club for the wealthy traveller, selling "Jet Cards" that enable passengers to travel in one of its 18 silver Global 7500 business jets. This compares with market leader NetJets which sells fractional ownership. Despite being loss-making, VistaJet's strategy has been supported by leasing firms, bond markets, and the Canadian government as lenders. In addition, the firm was handed a payday by its owner, Flohr. In 2015, he acted as a middleman between Bombardier and VistaJet, ordering 18 Global 7500 jets from his own company, and effectively earning a fee for broker services. Bondholders' documents reveal the group paid $1.1bn to Bombardier and about $224m to Flohr. Despite being warned in EY's opinion on the 2022 accounts, that "there may exist a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt on the group's ability to continue as a going concern", Flohr told the FT that his stakeholders were happy with VistaJet's financial performance.
China is elephant in the room as leaders head to G7 summit

Financial Times

23-05-18 05:18

Leaders from the EU, Germany, France and Italy are set to join the G7 summit in Hiroshima, where tensions surrounding China are expected to dominate. While the thread linking the issues of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific tensions and the promotion of free market policies on trade is Beijing, negotiations are likely to be tricky; European officials are wary of directly anti-Chinese language, believing engagement with China is the smarter way to address the issue and cautious of creating more of a “west vs rest” global picture. Developing and emerging countries have also reportedly expressed concern that the G7 is focused too heavily on Ukraine and not enough on their needs and priorities.

Before the EU elections next June, Brussels lawmakers are bracing themselves for the mountain of legislation they have to get through, which includes around 200 files still open for approval by MEPs and member states, as well as proposals yet to be presented. With just over a year to go until the European Parliament votes again, including on rules relating to the digital euro and transparency requirements for NGOs, Brussels’ consensus on the new laws’ priority runs the risk of limiting progress on key environmental legislation. Proposals such as the new rules on healthy soils and genomic techniques for plants have already been been delayed or dropped from the commission agenda, to the alarm of EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen, who has warned the EU would struggle to absorb more environmental laws.

China’s envoy says Ukraine, Russia must ‘start with themselves’ to end war

South China Morning Post

23-05-18 10:00

China's Special Envoy Li Hui has urged Ukraine and Russia to stop the war and resume talks as part of his own initiative to push for a ceasefire between the two countries. He was appointed as a peace envoy to Ukraine after a phone call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky three weeks ago. Li met with senior Ukrainian officials to discuss a political solution to the crisis and their views on China-Ukraine relations. However, it is not known whether Beijing's peace proposal was received favourably by Kyiv.
EU car firms ‘back’ Sunak’s call to delay Brexit rules threat to jobs

The Independent

23-05-18 09:46

European car manufacturers have supported calls from Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak for the EU to delay the implementation of a tariff scheduled to be imposed from January on post-Brexit car parts for electric vehicles. The UK would be affected by a ruling applying a tariff when less than 45% of the value of an EV and under 60% of its battery is made within the EU. Stellantis, which owns Citroen, Fiat, Peugeot and Vauxhall, said the changes could lead to it quitting the UK. Sunak said battery-making potential was inadequate in both the UK and the EU.
German carmakers call for post-Brexit rules to be postponed


23-05-18 09:23

Germany's auto industry association, the VDA, has called for the post-Brexit rules agreed in which 45% of an electric vehicle's value must come from the EU or UK from 2024 to be postponed. A battery pack can account for up to half the cost of a new EV and Europe currently does not have a big enough battery industry to satisfy these requirements. The VDA said tariffs would be "a significant competitive disadvantage for the European car industry in relation to its Asian competitors in the so important UK market", and also warned of the danger to the development of e-mobility.
Starmer sees Brexit deal as ‘starting point’ with ‘gaps to fill’, McMahon says

The Independent

23-05-18 09:07

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer sees the current Brexit deal as a "starting point" with "gaps that we need to fill," according to shadow environment secretary Jim McMahon. McMahon stated that Keir had not suggested that he would get rid of the current agreement, and that a Labour government would seek to "reduce red tape and allow us to trade on a competitive basis." McMahon ruled out a return to free movement, and said that Keir had ruled out rejoining the bloc under a Labour government while emphasising a need for a closer trading relationship with the EU.
As the U.S. Attends the G7, China Hosts a Summit of Its Own

NY Times

23-05-18 08:09

President Xi Jinping is hosting a two-day summit in Xi'an for the inaugural China-Central Asia summit, inviting leaders from five Central Asian countries to offset US “crusade” against them “with a new model of regional cooperation”. The move is part of China's broader aim to strengthen economic and political partnerships with like-minded countries to counter what it sees as a US-dominated world order, which is trying to contain and suppress China. The summit is also an opportunity for China to fill in the void left by Russia, which has seen its influence in the region decrease due to its war with Ukraine. The move is seen as symbolic, as the summit is taking place in Xi'an, the central Chinese city that was a key stop on the ancient Silk Road trade route that linked China with Central Asia and the Middle East for centuries.
Ukraine: The Latest - 'Putin's nuclear arsenal is null and void'


23-05-18 16:16

Overnight missile strikes against Ukraine by Russia failed, with the Ukrainian military stating it had shot down 29 Russian cruise missiles out of 30. The strikes targeted areas including Kyiv and the southern city of Odessa. The National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine has described Kyiv as "Putin's relentless and unachievable target". The council also claimed that the fact the hypersonic missiles have been neutralised so easily served "to burst the nuclear bubble."