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The EU has been attempting to take action against member states that seem to have an imperfect understanding of free societies — democracy and the rule of law, for example. But the victory of Viktor Orban in Hungary’s election at the weekend is another reminder of how hard it is becoming to deal with the fringes of Europe. Gideon Rachman writes that the authoritarian rot threatens the bloc’s claim to be a community of values.

Hungary is joined in Gideon’s list of worrisome governments or states undermined by corruption by Poland, Malta, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania. Meanwhile Austria and Italy have far-right parties sharing power or within grasping distance of it, and Spain may succumb to the temptation of jailing non-violent, elected politicians — never a good look.

This is no covert argument for abandoning the EU, Gideon explains, but rather a plea to notice that these authoritarian instincts and corrupt tendencies need determined curbing before the rot really sets in.

Building on the Belfast peace deal:
Janan Ganash argues that the guile and “earthly political craft” displayed during the Good Friday Agreement are sorely needed to strike a Brexit deal. Today’s negotiators should make a study of the messiness and evasions necessary to satisfy all sides during those high stakes talks 20 years ago.

Making Facebook pay:
Brittany Kaiser writes that “Facebookistan” is so large and powerful as to resemble a nation ruled by a kleptocratic regime — the former director at Cambridge Analytica believes the company should start to recognise its users as owners of their data and pay them for it.

Trump is right to hit out at China:
Peter Navarro offers a staunch defence of Donald Trump’s embrace of a trade war. The director of trade and industrial policy for the president believes the US economic future is at risk from protectionist “China’s assault on American technology and IP”.

Best of the rest

The tragedy of James Comey — David Leonhardt in the New York Times

We don’t need a new centre party — Momentum should split off — Jane Merrick in the i paper

The logic of Assad’s brutality — Thanassis Cambanis in the Atlantic

The Ethiopian treasures in the V&A may have to return home — Martin Kettle in the Guardian

What you’ve been saying

Conflicts have constrained intra-African trade— letter from Ejeviome Eloho Otobo

There are several reasons for the rather low level of intra-Africa trade, compared with other regions of the world . . . Many African countries are trapped in primary commodities extraction, lack economies of scale in their fragmented markets, and are marked by absence of specialisation. But another important explanatory factor . . . is the prevalence of conflicts, which has constrained and might continue to hinder intra-African trade. Although conflicts in Africa have declined over the past two decades, they have, nonetheless, blighted the development prospects of several countries. For example, conflicts have not only destroyed the limited productive capacities in afflicted countries, thus limiting their export potentials, but also reduced the benefits from their myriad natural resources.

Comment from Philip Verleger on US truck driver shortage points to bigger problems

The United States is paying the price of monopoly and monopsony. For most of this century the very large companies such as United Airlines and Walmart have squeezed their suppliers. United and the other large airlines offered minimal payments little to the regional airlines such as Skywest. The regional airlines had no choice but to offer peanuts to new pilots. It was no surprise that the regional airlines have been warning of a pilot shortage. Few capable individuals were willing to work for peanuts. It is no different with truckers. Walmart, General Mills and other large shippers squeezed trucking companies and independent truck drivers. The trucking companies were forced to cut wages or go bankrupt. Guess what? Many drivers retired and few chose to enter. Is it any surprise that there are no truck drivers now.

Amazon is the vampire squid for this decade— letter from Peter van Marken

In the prior decade, Goldman Sachs was infamously referred to as a vampire squid. Today that title arguably belongs to Amazon. Its business model hinges on regulatory arbitrage at the expense of the taxpayer and society. Take for example the environmental and infrastructure externalities of home delivery which are not efficiently accounted for through taxation. Also look at the reverse auction process it employs when deciding where to establish a new headquarters, exploiting the fundamental weaknesses of regional government structures. The issues run deeper to include social concerns in light of the ongoing transformation of the high street and its workers. Much as more questions ought to have been asked of banks in the era of peak finance, consideration ought to be given to the consequences and role of Amazon in upending hubs of social capital, all in the name of consumerism, before permanent damage is done.

Today’s opinion

FT View: The distracting lure of manufacturing fetishism
IMF economists caution against an obsession with industrial policy

China-US trade war: can it be stopped?
Global markets tumble following duelling tariff announcements

Brexit brokers should embrace Belfast-style messiness
Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Agreement was built on guile, evasion and ideals

Authoritarians on the rotten fringes imperil European values
Viktor Orban’s victory in Hungary is the latest threat to the EU’s rule of law

Instant Insight: Paul Achleitner’s position at Deutsche is becoming untenable
Investors’ patience with corporate Germany’s great survivor will soon wear thin

Instant Insight: UK crime problem shows how Tories have lost the reform debate
Opposition Labour party highlights fall in police numbers and cuts to public services

Facebook should pay its 2bn users for their personal data
The big tech companies are evolving into digital kleptocracies

California proves to be hub for legal action over failed IPOs
A US Supreme Court ruling could open the door to more shareholders suing

FT View

FT View: The distracting lure of manufacturing fetishism
IMF economists caution against an obsession with industrial policy

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