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Tuesday, June 27


Tuesday, June 27



Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

The chief legal officers of the “Five Eyes” —an intelligence sharing consortium consisting of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US—will bid their farewells today after two-days of talks in the Canadian capital. The Quintet, as they’re known, work to coordinate legal frameworks for crime-fighting and security; this year’s summit focuses on targeting radicalisation in cyberspace.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been pushing for a more stringent legal regime to prevent malicious groups from using digital and communication technologies to recruit, radicalise and coordinate terrorist attacks. ISIS, in particular, has shown itself adept at using encrypted apps to communicate with its forces on the battlefield and to offer encouragement and advice to terrorists in the wider Middle East. Mr Turnbull’s words could find favour with Donald Trump, who pledged to “shut down” parts of the internet used by extremists during last year’s campaign.

A substantive agreement between the five AG’s could lead to expanded legal discretion to examine digital records and restrict access to suspect websites. This concerns privacy advocates, who worry new legal regimes could undermine legal protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Delve deeper: Apps, YouTube, Twitter: ISIS and the internet



Photo: Jason Alden/Getty
Photo: Jason Alden/Getty

The Association of British Insurers meets today to discuss how Brexit will impact their business. Conference speakers include the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, a senior Treasury minister and top British insurance executives.

Britain’s decision to leave the EU presents a risk to its insurance industry, which contributes roughly $32 billion annually to Britain’s GDP and employs 334,000. Leaving the single market would force British firms to set up subsidiaries across Europe in order to continue doing business with the Continent, significantly increasing costs. Difficulties could also ensue if British and EU financial regulation diverges, increasing the compliance burden for firms dealing with both foreign and domestic contracts.

While Britain’s insurance industry is not under short-term threat—it is the largest in Europe and the third-largest globally after the US and China—spiralling costs of doing business with Europe could slowly erode London’s financial dominance. Today’s ABI conference will no doubt focus on how to preserve Britain’s insurance dominance and how to best deal with the challenges posed by European cities—like Paris, Frankfurt and Dublin—attempting to capitalise on any competitive advantage they can derive from continued EU membership.



Photo: WDU
Photo: WDU

Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politician Armin Laschet will be confirmed as premier of North Rhine-Westphalia today. Mr Laschet’s impending election follows a coalition deal between his party and the Free Democrats (FDP).

With Merkel seeking a fourth term in September, ousting the Social Democrats from power in their stronghold, which is also Germany’s most populous state, is a good sign. The SPD, conversely, lost by promoting austerity and cutting the budget in NRW, which resulted in increased poverty and the deterioration of social infrastructure. These measures contradicted the party’s traditional social democratic platform.

Nationally, the SPD campaign was derailed by replacement political appointments, triggered by the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state minister’s resignation. Meanwhile, as party leader Martin Schulz criticises Merkel’s hesitation to debate issues, he has stopped benefitting from her unpopular decision to admit refugees.

The CDU has additionally formed a coalition with the Greens and FDP in Schleswig-Holstein, indicating its willingness to explore different coalition options. Ultimately, Germany’s majority government will depend on CDU’s negotiations with other victorious parties as the general election draws closer.

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After 52 years, Colombia’s FARC rebels will formally disarm today at a ceremony in Mesetas, a former FARC stronghold. Considering the length of the conflict and subsequent negotiations, the disarmament process has been relatively quick; it is merely 10 months since the final peace deal was signed. The group will now transition to a legal political party that’s expected to participate in elections next March.

France’s new-look parliament will sit for the first time today and will be dominated by Emmanuel Macron’s LREM movement, which clinched 350 seats (60.6% of the chamber) in legislative elections earlier this month. The new government is expected to move to hold a vote on making certain security powers permanent, introducing a bill to stamp out corruption in French politics and—most controversially—begin discussions on business-friendly labour reforms. The latter is expected to bring protests and strikes in the coming months.

Tech-giant Google is facing a huge fine from the European Union’s competition watchdog for manipulating search results to favour its own services. The firm could be liable to pay up a record $1.1 billion fine for its misdeeds. After seven years of investigation, a final decision is expected either today or Wednesday.

The World Economic Forum’s annual June meeting—sometimes referred to as Summer Davos, after the Swiss all-star affair—begins today in Dalian, China. Chinese leaders have dominated both iterations of the elite-dominated summits this year; President Xi gave a rousing defence of globalisation in January while his economic tsar, Li Keqiang, will headline today’s event. The two-day summit will focus on “achieving inclusive growth in the Fourth Industrial Revolution’—a term that refers to the economic impact of breakthrough technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing and nanotechnology.

The African Union Ordinary Session (talks without heads of states) begins today, with a leader’s summit expected on July 3. Notably, this meeting will be the first since AU Commission head and President Jacob Zuma’s wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma stepped down in January. Ms Zuma is reportedly vying for the leadership of South Africa’s embattled ruling party, which is holding its national policy conference in Johannesburg on Friday.

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