Cameron on EU Charm Offensive

By Rowan Williams
  • – PM to conclude EU tour in Germany
  • – FIFA delegates to vote for new President
  • – Chinese shoppers boost London’s West End


Prime Minister David Cameron will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, as he seeks to lobby support for his proposed reforms of Britain’s relationship with the European Union. Germany is the final stop on the Prime Minister’s two-day tour to four European nations: on Friday morning the Prime Minister held a breakfast meeting with Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz. The Prime Minister seeks EU reforms ahead of a UK referendum on EU membership, which could be held as early as 2016. Securing the support of Chancellor Merkel, leader of Europe’s largest economy, will be crucial in enacting the Prime Minister’s reforms. However, Cameron and Merkel have clashed in the past over issues such as freedom of movement within Europe, with Merkel a staunch supporter of the policy. Cameron’s plans have already suffered a setback, after the French Foreign Minister called Cameron’s plans “dangerous” and said that France would block policies giving “special status” to the UK.

The 209 delegates of football body FIFA are to vote for their new President on Friday, in the wake of the worst corruption scandal to hit the organisation in its 111-year history. Swiss and American authorities swooped in to arrest seven delegates in Zurich on Wednesday ahead of FIFA’s annual congress, after the US announced corruption charges spanning 24 years against nine FIFA officials and five others. Those indicted include the head of American football body CONCACAF. In his opening address on Friday, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he would stand for re-election as FIFA President, despite calls for his resignation. Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan has also announced his intention to run for the FIFA presidency. Blatter is the favourite to win in the election, enjoying wide support from American, African, and Asian representatives. Michel Platini, President of European football body UEFA, has suggested a possible European boycott of the 2018 World Cup should Blatter remain as FIFA President.

Spending in London has been buoyed by Chinese shoppers, Global Blue has reported. According to the tax-free payment service company, foreign tourists to London’s West End spent four percent more from January-April than during the same period in 2014. Chinese shoppers were reported to have spent nine percent more over the period, with an average transaction value of £1,450, Global Blue announced. Chinese spending on Regent Street grew by 129 percent on 2014, while tourists from Hong Kong were also seen to be big spenders – spending £1,280 per average transaction. The report has led to renewed calls for the government to follow through on commitments to relaxing visa rules for Chinese tourists. Currently, France attracts eight times as many Chinese tourists as the UK.

The Papers

Photos relating to the ongoing corruption scandal at football body FIFA make most front pages today, while the story also takes the headline slot in several papers. The Guardian uses a quote from FIFA President Sepp Blatter as its headline: “We cannot allow the shame to go on any longer… so, I’ll stay”. Blatter has refused to quit over the scandal, the paper writes, despite the ‘looming’ threat to upcoming World Cups. The Times writes of the “risk of World Cup boycott” in its headline should the “Defiant” Blatter remain FIFA President. Blatter has dismissed calls for his resignation in the wake of the scandal, the paper reports. The Independent leads with a message from European football body UEFA: “quit – or we boycott World Cup”. According to UEFA chief Michel Platini, European national football teams may pull out of the 2018 World Cup should Blatter be re-elected. The Daily Telegraph, meanwhile, writes of a “Second-class NHS for over-70s” in its headline. Senior doctors have warned that UN health targets to cut premature death rates in younger people “will leave the elderly fighting for proper care”. The Financial Times writes that two electronic chip manufacturers have agreed “the biggest tech deal since dotcom boom”. Singapore-based Avago is to pay US$37 billion for rival US firm Broadcom. The acquisition is the biggest in the sector since the late-1990s dotcom bubble.

British Media on China

15 Chinese nationals were charged for their role in a university entrance exam cheating operation in the US, with the story receiving coverage from the BBC, the Daily Telegraph and The Guardian. The BBC reports that those charged “could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted”. The Guardian writes that the charges reveal “increasing pressure on Asian students to obtain visas to attend prestigious western schools”. The Daily Telegraph’s agency piece writes of fears that “there may be more students – foreign and domestic – who may be cheating their way into college”.

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