The protestors have violently opposed Macron’s policy
initiatives, often forcing difficult compromises.
Di Maio’s remarks in France were in line with a declaration
from Matteo Salvini, the other deputy prime minister and leader
of the euro-skeptic League, who said last month, "I hope the
French will soon be able to free themselves from a terrible
"The wind of change has crossed the Alps," the Five-Star
Movement’s Di Maio said via social media, referring to the
anti-establishment sentiment that put the Conte government in
power and the mountain range that dominates the border between
Italy and France.
Di Maio’s statements of support for the movement ended
France’s months-long attempt to keep the problems at an arm’s
Within hours of Di Maio’s remarks, France recalled ambassador
Christian Masset from Rome.
It was the first time France withdrew its ambassador in Italy
since 1940, just after the country declared war on France in the
early days of World War II.
That comparison was not lost on France’s Ministry for Foreign
Affairs, which issued a statement this week saying relations
between the two countries were now worse off than at any point
since they were at war with each other more than 75 years ago.
"Italian relations with France have been worsening since
2011, when they had different positions on the future of Libya
during the civil war there," Marchetti told Xinhua.
"But since the Conte government came into power the situation
"Both sides are scoring political points opposing the other."
According to Oliviero Fiorini, a political analyst with ABS
Securities, the crumbling relationship between Italy and France
could have wide-ranging implications.
"There is turmoil all over the European Union with Brexit,
slow economic growth, rising populism, terrorism," Fiorini said
in an interview.
"If Italy and France continue their shoving match, it could
shake the foundations of the European Union.
"In the current context I would worry about whether the
European Union could even survive in its current form."
Key questions remain
unresolved for business when Brexit approaching
LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) --
With less than 50 days to Brexit, critical
questions remain unanswered for business, the British Chambers
of Commerce (BCC) said on Tuesday night.
The BCC highlighted 20 key issues that are still unclear for
business in a "no deal" scenario on March 29, including what
trade agreements will be in place, how firms can move skilled
staff, and which regulations they will need to follow.
According to BCC, the business group which represents 75,000
firms and employing nearly 6 million people, while firms
understand that negotiations are still ongoing, they are hugely
concerned that the UK is not prepared for all eventualities.
Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, said: "in less
than 50 days, UK firms could face the biggest change to their
terms of trade in over a generation, without the information and
clarity they need to navigate their forward course."
The BCC also warned that the absence of clarity and precision
has already stifled investment and growth.
"The lack of clear, precise answers is now causing real
damage to many businesses, and to the wider economy," Marshall
Earlier this week, official figures showed that Britain’s
gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018 increased by 1.4 percent,
hitting its weakest level since 2009.
Many economists believed that the uncertainty over Brexit has
taken its toll on the economy.
British FM asks EU leaders
for Brexit compromise to protect Irish peace
LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) --
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday
asked Europe Union (EU) leaders to compromise on Brexit in order
to secure "friendly relations" between Britain and its
neighboring Republic of Ireland and to protect peace in Northern
The foreign secretary made the remarks before traveling to
France and Poland for talks with ministers, raising the threat
of a no-deal Brexit or "Brexit paralysis" if the EU and Britain
were unable to strike a deal.
The EU was steadfastly refusing to budge on the Northern
Ireland "backstop," and the Democratic Unionist Party, which
props up the current British government, was adamant that it
must be axed or changed, or else they will not back the
"No one who grew up with bombs every week in Northern Ireland
but also in Harrods, Hyde Park and throughout the UK could ever
countenance taking a risk with peace, and nor will we," Hunt
"But the best way to secure that peace is to do a Brexit deal
that secures friendly relations between the UK and its neighbors,"
"And that means sensible compromise on all sides."
Hunt’s remarks echoed statements in recent weeks by several
high-profile political figures, including former British Prime
Minister Tony Blair, who have warned of a potential return to
violence in Northern Ireland if a hard border is installed in
the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Also on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May pleaded
with members of parliament to give her more time to secure a
revised Brexit deal amid warnings from Brussels that the EU is
still waiting for her to come up with a viable plan.
She promised to update members of parliament again on Feb. 26
and, if she had not got a new deal by then, to give them a say
on the next steps in non-binding votes.
The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, on Monday insisted
there was no question of Brussels giving in to Downing Street’s
demands on the Irish "backstop."
"We’re waiting for clarity and movement from the United
Kingdom," Barnier told reporters after talks in Luxembourg with
the country’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel.
Theresa May said in Parliament that she was discussing a
number of options with the EU to secure legally-binding changes
to the "backstop": replacing it with "alternative arrangements;"
putting a time limit on how long it can stay in place; or a
unilateral exit clause so the UK can leave at a time of its
The backstop" arrangement is the "insurance" policy in May’s
deal to avoid a return to border checks on the island of
Britain secures continued
Free Trade with Switzerland after Brexit
LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) --
Britain clutched a trade agreement with
Switzerland on Monday, allowing businesses to continue trading
freely after Britain leaves the European Union (EU).
The trade continuity agreement, replicating existing
EU-Switzerland arrangements as far as possible, will come into
effect in January 2021 as soon as the transition period ends as
stipulated in the Brexit withdraw agreement, or on March 29 this
year if the Britain leaves the EU without a deal.
As an EU member, Britain benefits from around 40 existing EU
trade agreements that cover more than 70 countries.
In the run-up to Brexit, Britain has raced against the clock
to replicate such deals to prepare for its departure from the
Its continuity agreement with Switzerland is considered to be
the biggest one so far as Switzerland is Britain’s third largest
The agreement simplifies trade and allows businesses to
continue trading freely, without any additional tariffs.
It continues the elimination of duties on the vast majority
of goods traded between Britain and Switzerland, according to a
statement from the British Department of International Trade.
The British vehicles sector could avoid up to 8 million
pounds a year in tariff charges on their exports, while
aluminium exporters could avoid up to 4 million pounds and
precious stones and metals exporters could also avoid up to 4
million pounds, the statement said.
Consumers in Britain will continue to benefit from more
choice and lower prices on goods imported from Switzerland, such
as clocks, watches and pharmaceutical products, it said.
Switzerland is one of the most valuable trading partners that
Britain is seeking continuity for, accounting for more than 32
billion pounds’ worth of trade a year, Britain’s International
Trade Secretary Liam Fox said, describing the deal "of huge
economic importance to UK businesses." (1 pound = 1.29 U.S.
No-deal Brexit would
affect more than 100,000 German jobs: study
BERLIN Germany (Xinhua) --
A no-deal Brexit would hit German labour
market particularly hard and more than 100,000 jobs in Germany
could be affected, a study showed on Monday.
A hard Brexit would have consequences for international trade
and labour markets in many countries, including outside Europe.
More than 600,000 jobs may be affected worldwide, according to
the study by the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
"A hard Brexit would disrupt global value chains," stated
study author Oliver Holtemoeller, vice president and head of the
macroeconomics department at IWH.
"This is why Britain’s disorderly withdrawal from the EU has
the potential to cause a significant loss of wealth.
"From an economic perspective it is crucial that a deal can
still be reached," Holtemoeller added.
In addition, a hard Brexit would particularly affect German
A total of 15,000 employees in the German automotive industry
could be affected by the decline in sales.
sends mixed signals in historic spat with
As France withdraws ambassador from Rome, European
jealousies might break EU
United Kingdom inflation falls to two-year low, offering
households help before Brexit