The EU faces a “big risk” of abuses in its €800bn post-pandemic recovery fund because some countries refuse to sign up to a common transactions database, the bloc’s anti-fraud chief has warned.
The gap in central oversight could make it harder to monitor the record financial flows even as Brussels builds up other parts of its anti-corruption armoury, Ville Itala, director-general of European Commission agency Olaf, told the Financial Times.
His comments highlighted the EU’s anxiety over potential misuse of the landmark funding bonanza to help the 27-member bloc repair the economic damage wrought by the pandemic.
“It’s such a huge amount of money — prevention is important,” Itala said. He said he regretted the decision of some member states to block attempts to require use of an EU-wide financial oversight and risk-assessment mechanism.
1. Treasury lands £1bn furlough windfall UK companies have returned more than £1bn of furlough cash as investors pressure managements to repay taxpayer funds before paying big bonuses. Shevaun Haviland, head of the British Chambers of Commerce, called on the government to further support companies through the extended lockdown announced this week.
2. Biden warns Putin of fallout if Alexei Navalny dies The US president warned that there would be “devastating” consequences if the Russian opposition activist died in prison. In the leaders’ first face-to-face meeting, they agreed to begin bilateral talks on preventing cyber attacks, arms control, restoring their respective ambassadors and exploring potential prisoner exchanges, Putin said.
3. Fed signals first rate rise will come in 2023 Federal Reserve officials said they expect to start raising interest rates a year earlier than forecast, according to economic projections that predicted faster growth and sharply higher inflation this year. But they held the main rate at the rock-bottom range of 0-0.25 per cent where it has been since the start of Covid-19.
4. Israeli air strikes in Gaza resume Naftali Bennett ordered air strikes in the Gaza Strip after incendiary balloons launched by Palestinian militant group Hamas provided an early test for Israel’s new premier. Bennett’s government allowed rightwing settlers to march to the Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem on Tuesday.
5. UK meat industry cuts production Labour shortages are causing the industry to slash production and warn that it will be unable to meet orders unless the government relaxes post-Brexit immigration rules. The British Poultry Council said weekly production of about 20m birds had fallen 10 per cent since Easter.
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Chesham and Amersham by-election The constituency seat has historically voted Conservative, but the Liberal Democrats are fast closing in as voters head to the polls today. (CityAM)
Ryanair to sue UK over border policy The budget airline and the owner of three airports will seek a judicial review over the transparency of the government’s traffic-light system for international travel.
A reminder . . . join our Future of Europe live webinar today to examine how European institutions can deliver on climate targets and learn what needs to be done to drive future sustainable global trade. Register here.
AT&T: back to basics The costly and humiliating decision to turn its back on Hollywood and shed its media assets was the fourth time AT&T has “reinvented” itself and returned to its roots — plain old-fashioned telecoms services. Its challenge is that it has fallen far behind telecoms rivals in 5G.
Boris Johnson is a risk to his future self For the Conservatives, perhaps the most consequential fissure is the gulf between the prime minister’s lofty visions and his short-term gambits, writes Robert Shrimsley. This faultline has been obvious in the row with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol.
A trip across the US energy divide Democrats say Joe Biden’s climate plan can fight global warming and create a bounty of jobs — but some Americans face being left behind. Derek Brower embarked on a 3,000-mile journey through fossil-fuel dependent communities fighting to delay the energy transition.
Don’t shame staff back to work In our Lex newsletter, Sujeet Indap says chief executives should lead staff back to offices in a spirit of camaraderie rather than recrimination — and listen to those lower down the corporate ladder, who are exposed to high living costs, long commutes and childcare problems.
Africa’s youth vs ageing rulers A clash of youth against gerontocrats is playing out in the world’s youngest continent, where three in every five people are under 25 and tech-savvy urban populations are mounting a stiff challenge to regimes unwilling to cede power.
Robert Armstrong is the FT’s US financial editor and writes the Unhedged newsletter on markets (sign up here to get in your inbox every weekday). Before becoming a journalist, he worked in finance and studied philosophy.
What is a story you are particularly interested in right now? The story that everyone in markets is trying to figure out: is the shift in US economic policy (with monetary and fiscal policy working together and the Fed changing its approach to inflation) a “regime change” that will change old relationships in the market and pass market leadership to new groups of assets?
What are your other favourite newsletters? I always make sure to read Martin Sandbu’s Free Lunch — agree or disagree, he makes a good case for his unique economic point of view (sign up here.)
You also have a style column. What is a trend that fascinates you? Are men going to dress like slobs forever? The answer seems to be yes.
What’s an interesting fact about you? For six months when I was young, I worked as a cowboy in Wyoming. It is safe to say I was the least competent cowboy in the history of that profession.