Daily briefing: Macron’s ‘protective Europe’, Qatar-US jet deal, Norway’s electric dreams

French president heads for clash with EU over free trade

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France’s newly-installed president is heading for a clash with the European Union over free trade. Emmanuel Macron was elected in May on a campaign championing a “protective Europe” that included demands for a mechanism against unwanted foreign takeovers in strategically important sectors. At a Brussels summit next week EU leaders will discuss just that, putting France’s youngest ever president, along with leaders from Germany and Italy, on a collision course with pro-free trade member states. They are hoping to curb takeovers by Chinese state-backed groups of prized technology companies in Europe and the lack of equivalent opportunities in China’s market for European companies. (FT)

In the news

Turnbull pokes fun at the Donald
Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull — who famously had a difficult phone call with Donald Trump soon after his inauguration — has poked fun at the US president at a press dinner. A video shows him comparing himself to Mr Trump, saying: “We are winning so much, we are winning, we are winning like never before.” (Guardian)

Qatar-US jet deal
Doha says the finalisation of a new $12bn deal to buy F-15 fighter jets from the US is a sign that the tiny Gulf state has strong relations with Washington, despite its rift with its neighbours, led by Saudi Arabia. The FT’s David Gardner says the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar risks spiralling out of control. (Reuters, FT)

Europe’s Fed reaction
European markets have been sanguine — so far — about the US Federal Reserve’s decision to defy a string of weak inflation figures and lift short-term rates for the second time in 2017. The Fed also set out detailed plans for paring back the size of its balance sheet later this year. (FT)

London’s inferno
The death toll from the deadly blaze at a 24-storey public housing block in the UK capital has risen to 17, but the authorities say it is likely to rise far higher. Recriminations are already flying about who was to blame for the fire’s rapid spread through the building, as it emerged that residents had repeatedly complained about fire safety. Here’s Edwin Heathcote on how the tower block’s refurbishment raises fire safety questions. (FT, BBC, Guardian)

Singapore family feud gets political
A dispute between members of Singapore’s first family has intensified, with the prime minister’s sister saying it was less a quarrel between siblings and more an indication of repression in the city-state. Her intervention illustrates a fight for control of the narrative between rival wings of Singapore’s first family, analysts say. (FT)

Britain’s Brexit olive branch
The UK is planning to extend a Brexit olive branch to the EU. Brexit negotiations start next week in Brussels and Britain’s Brexit secretary David Davis is planning to guarantee the 3m EU citizens living in the UK the same rights they currently have. Earlier this year Theresa May warned that the EU would have to guarantee UK citizens’ rights first. (FT, Express)

The day ahead

A Greek compromise
Eurozone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund meet in Brussels to try and strike a deal on Greece, paving the way for new loans for Athens but leaving the contentious debt relief issue for later. (Reuters)

BoE decision
The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will deliver its latest decision on interest rates. Despite headline and core inflation both being above its 2 per cent target in April, a rise in rates remains a distant prospect.

Europe roams free
Mobile phone roaming charges in the EU end today. But dozens of telecoms operators have already applied to be exempt from the roaming rates to avoid a financial hit, according to industry sources. (FT)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.

What we’re reading

​Inside Formula One’s race for global domination​
​It is mindblowingly expensive, fiercely competitive and almost impossible to break into. Can the sport’s new owners broaden its appeal? (FT)

Norway’s electric dreams
Norway has become the world leader in electric cars. About 35 per cent of new vehicles sold have a plug and the country has a target of zero emissions for all new cars by 2025. But as electric cars in this country of 5.2m people move from the early adopter phase into the mass market, problems are cropping up for policymakers. (FT)

China’s vulnerable tycoons​
Wu Xiaohui, the billionaire chairman of Anbang Group, is the latest business leader to fall foul of the Chinese authorities in recent years. Here are the five best known businessmen to fall from grace. Some put the targeting of high-fliers with strong ties to the children of Communist Party grandees as a sign of an apparent power struggle within the party. (FT, NAR) ​

Russia’s hope
Nationwide anti-corruption protests in Russia this week, mostly in open defiance of the Russian authorities, resulted in 1,700 arrests — a large number but not unusual. What was new was the youth of the protesters, many of whom were young teenagers. These young, yet-to-be-cowed Russians are the best hope for bringing an end to the Putin regime, according to a widely-shared Facebook post by a 69-year-old former presidential adviser. (NY Review of Books)

The Froth comes off
The volume of alcoholic drinks consumed globally is falling and it is mainly caused by the world drinking less beer. Here is how both economics and changing tastes play a part in the decline of beer consumption in the world’s biggest markets. (Economist)

Video of the day

Hard times for short-selling funds
Short-selling hedge funds have recently had a difficult time getting their bets right against companies they target. The FT’s Miles Johnson explains why these bears might eventually have their day. (FT)

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