Germany and France have agreed to forge further integration within the eurozone without altering or reopening EU treaties, in what is being seen as a setback for Prime Minister David Cameron. Germany’s Chancellor Merkel and France’s President Hollande agreed to push for tighter political union among single-currency nations within the confines of existing EU treaties. Merkel and Hollande’s proposals will be put forward at an EU summit in Brussels next month – the same summit where the Prime Minister intends to unveil his required changes in order to keep Britain in the EU. The Prime Minister has repeatedly called for a reopening of the Lisbon treaty, in order to allow Britain to reclaim certain powers from Brussels while allowing other members nations to integrate further. Monday’s meeting between Hollande and Merkel came on the same day as the Prime Minister’s meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, a meeting in which the Prime Minister called for reforming the EU and renegotiating Britain’s place in the EU.
Scottish National Party (SNP) Leader Nicola Sturgeon has attacked government spending cuts in her first speech on the economy since the general election. Addressing business leaders in Edinburgh, Sturgeon argued that the government’s proposed spending cuts would damage economic recovery and make it more difficult to reduce Britain’s deficit. Sturgeon called on businesses, the government and workers to work together to create prosperity, and announced the launch of a new Scottish Business Pledge, where member businesses pay the Living Wage to all employees over 18. Sturgeon also used her speech to pledge that the SNP would campaign for Britain to remain in the EU in a future EU membership referendum. Furthermore, an EU exit could only be acceptable if voted for by a majority of voters in all four member states of the United Kingdom, Sturgeon said.
Japan will join a major US-Australian military exercise for the first time in early July, amid growing military tensions between the US and China in the South China Sea. Japan, Australia and the US have all expressed fears for freedom of movement in the South China Sea, with a military alliance in the Western Pacific likely to stoke concerns of a ‘containment’ policy against Beijing. The announcement comes only a few days after a US Navy spy plane flew over disputed reefs in the South China Sea, with the flight prompting an official complaint from China. China on Tuesday outlined its strategy to boost its naval reach, and held a ceremony to mark the ground-breaking for construction of two lighthouses in the South China Sea, a move likely to worry neighbouring countries.
Health and care are some of the topics making the headlines today. The Daily Telegraph leads with news that noise from nearby roads or passing jet planes is fuelling an “obesity epidemic”. According to a Swedish study, scientists believe that the stress from continuous noise causes the human body to store more fat. The Times writes in its headline that Britain’s “Obesity strategy ‘is failing’”, according to a “top child doctor”. Attempts to tackle obesity in adolescence and adulthood fail because obesity problems begin “before birth”, the paper writes. The Independent leads with news that Labour Party leadership candidate Yvette Cooper hopes to ‘woo’ female voters with “Calls for revolutionary Scandinavian-style system of universal childcare”. Cooper has said that free childcare should become a central party policy, and would offer 30 hours of free childcare per week for all children. The Guardian, meanwhile, leads with news that Germany and France have ‘tightened their grip’ on Europe with a “Pact for closer political union”. The two countries’ pact is a “major blow” to the Prime Minister’s hopes of reforming the EU, the paper writes, as it includes no mention of altering EU treaties. The Financial Times leads with news that financial regulators in the City of London are “in line for greater powers” after a series of “scandals” involving market manipulation. A review into City regulations is likely to “call for punitive action across wide range of trading areas”, the paper reports.
British Media on China
On the South China Sea: rising tensions in the South China Sea have received coverage from most UK media outlets in recent days. The BBC reports that China’s navy will “focus on ‘open seas’”, with a “focus on projecting its military presence beyond its borders at sea”. The Independent reports that Chinese media “to stop meddling or ‘war will be inevitable’”. The warning came from China’s Global Times newspaper, The Independent writes, adding that the warning comes as the Philippines asked the US for a “stronger commitment” to the country’s protection. The Guardian’s agency piece reports that Taiwan has proposed a “South China Sea peace plan to avert ‘major conflict’”. The plan, announced by Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou, calls for nations to “temporarily shelve their disagreements to enable negotiations on sharing resources”, the paper reports.