The EU unveils its Brexit guidelines, South Africa’s risky reshuffle and poverty politics in Italy

Brussels sets out its plan for negotiations and pulls no punches

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And so the Brexit process begins. The day after the British government tabled its Great Repeal Bill, transferring EU legislation into the UK’s law books, the EU has set out its guidelines for negotiations. It pulls no punches, prioritising the terms of withdrawal and explicitly stating that Britain must accept the bloc’s existing laws, court and budget fees if it seeks a gradual transition out of the single market. As the FT’s Philip Stephens writes, “Brussels has taken back control”. An annotated version of the EU guidelines can be found here.

Back in London, the challenges of Brexit are emerging. The government has acknowledged that a new computer system to collect customs duties and clear imports into the UK may not be able to handle the huge upsurge in workload expected once Britain leaves the EU. Undercover economist Tim Harford warns the government against “the ostrich effect”: avoiding bad news and engaging in wishful thinking. (FT)

In the news

Zuma’s risky reshuffle South African president Jacob Zuma has dismissed Pravin Gordhan, his respected finance minister, in a late night reshuffle aimed at purging the government of his critics. The sacking of Mr Gordhan, who has been leading efforts to restore investor confidence in the country, was widely condemned. The rand immediately dropped 2 per cent, taking the currency’s decline over the past week to 7 per cent. (FT)

Park Geun-hye arrested Ousted South Korean president Park Geun-hye has been arrested and is awaiting trial in jail. The former president is facing at least 13 charges in connection with the corruption and abuse-of-power scandal that ended her presidency. Ms Park was taken to a detention centre outside the country’s capital and she can be held for up to 20 days while investigations continue. (NYT)

Congressional Russia inquiry under scrutiny The independence of Devin Nunes, the Republican congressman tasked with investigating allegations of links between the Trump campaign and Russia, is coming under further scrutiny amid reports that White House staffers played a role in providing him with intelligence. Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn has suggested he might be willing to testify about potential links between the campaign and Russia in return for immunity, and Vladimir Putin agrees with Mr Trump that there’s nothing to see here. (WaPo, NYT, Guardian, AP)

Maduro tightens grip Venezuela’s Supreme Court, which is controlled by President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist government, has taken over the opposition-dominated National Assembly, sparking fears that the crisis-riven country has moved towards full-blown dictatorship. The Organisation of American States called on the Maduro administration to respect democracy but there is little. (FT)

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Trump’s tourism trough Markets may have soared since Donald Trump took office but the travel industry has taken a hit as tourists stay away, deterred by travel bans and perceived anti-immigrant sentiment in the White House. Hotels and airlines are cutting prices to try and bring them back. (FT)

Test your knowledge with the week in news quiz. Which accounting firm has been retained by the Oscars after an embarrassing Best Picture blunder?

It’s a big day for

Ecuador The country will hold a run-off presidential election on Saturday which will decide who will replace leftwing president Rafael Correa, who has led the country for 10 years. The results could determine the fate of Julian Assange, who is holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. (Newsweek)

Food for thought

The end of the trucker Driverless vehicles are coming, and they may decimate an industry that employs — directly or indirectly — more than 7m people. On the road with the denizens of a dying way of life in America. (FT)

Poverty politics in Italy The populist movement’s €17bn income plan for residents leaves it well-placed to woo voters in struggling regions. (FT)

Missing in Washington The US capital has been hit by an “epidemic” of missing girls, most of them African American or from other minorities. A social media campaign, #MissingDCGirls, has gone viral, has drawn attention to their plight — and highlighted the poverty and violence of at-risk youth in the shadow of the White House. (NYT)

Do attractive analysts make better stock calls? It is commonly thought that physically attractive people always get the best deals in life. China’s financial markets operate under a similar dynamic, with the attractiveness of financial analysts positively associated with the accuracy of their earnings forecasts and the value of their stock recommendations. (NAR)

Jane Austen mystery canvas How a painting bought at a provincial art auction plunged Anjana Ahuja into one of the longest-running and most highly charged disputes ever waged in the art world. (FT)

Video of the day

Wolf and Sandbu on the Brexit countdown Theresa May has triggered Article 50, officially starting the two-year process of the UK leaving the EU. The FT’s chief economics commentator Martin Wolf and economics editorial writer Martin Sandbu discuss what kind of deal can be agreed in those two years. (FT)

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