Reuters blog archive
A two-day summit of EU leaders is supposed to focus on climate and energy policy including efforts to enhance energy security following the threat of interruptions to gas supplies from Russia.
That is no small issue. Russia and Ukraine have failed so far to reach an accord on gas supplies for the coming winter but agreed to meet again in Brussels in a week in the hope of ironing out problems over Kiev's ability to pay.
An agreement was reached on the price Ukraine would pay Russia's Gazprom as long as it paid in advance for the deliveries. But Moscow is still seeking assurances on how Kiev would find the money to pay. It’s likely the EU will have to step in there.
Putin had threatened to cut gas supplies to Europe if Ukraine stole from the transit pipeline to cover its own needs this winter. Any interruption to flows to western Europe, via Ukraine from Russia, would deal another blow to already struggling EU economies.
Russian and Ukrainian energy ministers are due to meet European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger in Brussels after presidents Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin said they had agreed on the "basic parameters" of a deal to get gas flowing to Ukraine again this winter.
Russia cut off gas supply to Ukraine in mid-June following more than two years of dispute on the price and said Kiev had to pay off large debts for previously-supplied gas before it would resume supply.
The European Court of Justice holds a first hearing on the legality of the European Central Bank's Outright Monetary Transactions programme. There won’t be anything definitive today but it serves to rekindle debate about the limits of the ECB’s powers.
In February, the German Constitutional Court asked the European Court to rule on the legality of OMT, the mechanism that drew a line under the euro zone crisis when it was unveiled in 2012. The court may give guidance about how best to make a final ruling which is expected in late spring next year.
from The Great Debate:
ISTANBUL -- Mayhem and civil war in Syria has become a grim spectator sport on the Turkish side of the border. Turkish Kurds gather on the hilltops overlooking the smoldering Syrian town of Kobani, under siege from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. They cheer and sing patriotic songs, certain that the town’s defenders, Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units, hear them and take heart.
But they are not just there to watch. It is all part of a well-organized effort to stop the Islamic State from gaining reinforcements and new fighters from the Turkish side of the border. The simple truth is that Turkey’s Kurds do not believe their government is impartial in the fight. Many believe Turkey is actively conspiring to bring about the destruction of a “free zone” of Kurdish aspirations.
By this time tomorrow, the anti-EU United Kingdom Independence Party is likely to be celebrating its first member of the Westminster parliament. Polls have just opened in the deprived seaside town of Clacton where the sitting Conservative lawmaker switched to UKIP and called a vote.
A second member of the ruling Conservative party has now defected to UKIP and will force another by-election before long leaving the party on tenterhooks over who might be next. Many fear they will lose their seats at the May 2015 general election as UKIP splits their vote.
After a stunning fall in German industrial orders for August – the 5.7 percent monthly drop was the largest since the global financial crisis raged in 2009 – industrial output for the same month has just plunged by 4.0 percent, also the biggest fall in five years.
After Europe’s largest economy shrank in the second quarter there had been hope of a pick-up in the following three months but the thrust of recent data suggests it will be lucky to achieve any expansion at all.
Turkey's parliament has voted to give the government a green light to order military action against Islamic State as the insurgents tightened their grip on a Syrian border town, sending thousands more Kurdish refugees into Turkey.
There is little sign of it being put into imminent use but the vote gives the government powers to order incursions into Syria and Iraq to counter the threat of attack "from all terrorist groups". By common consent, western air strikes alone are unlikely to vanquish IS and there is a great deal of doubt that Syrian and Iraqi forces can best them on the ground.
from The Great Debate:
Since few nations can go it alone militarily, alliances are now crucial for ensuring security. To mount a common defense, allies need weapon systems that can operate together. In military parlance, the ability to work with other systems and share data with them as if they were one system is known as “interoperability.”
Poland and Turkey, both members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, are shopping for an air- and missile-defense system, and interoperability should be front and center in their impending procurement decisions (7.5B Euro and 2.9B Euro, respectively).
from Photographers' Blog:
By Murad Sezer
A new crossing point was set up along the Turkish-Syrian border last week by the government of Turkey, where humanitarian agencies and the Red Crescent offered first aid and registered the new arrivals.
The frontier was normally a hive of activity, with wailing children and families desperately trying to carry whatever they could manage across the dusty terrain. Heavily armed security officers patrolled the border and police would search bags before the refugees passed into Turkey.