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Your questions to David Cameron on the EU Referendum revealed

We asked you if you had questions for Prime Minister David Cameron about the forthcoming EU Referendum – and you didn’t disappoint.

We had scores of replies and it proved a difficult process in whittling them down to just eight, as requested by 10 Downing Street.

Even after out High Noon deadline today, they kept coming in, so sorry to disappoint those who sent their questions in after that time and to those whose questions didn’t make the cut.

For the record, here are the ones that did. How will he do, and will he need to phone a friend? Time will tell.

1: What does David Cameron think are the main reasons for eight consecutive prime ministers of the UK (every prime minister since the UK joined in January 1973, from across all parties) supporting EU Membership?

2: As the UK has absolutely no influence or power in the EU at the moment, why would anyone in their right mind want to vote to Remain? I personally do not want to be ruled by Germany. My father and grandfather must be turning in their graves, after the sacrifices they made to keep this country free.

3: If, as the Government would have us believe, exit from the EU would effectively see us ‘falling of the cliff’, in economic terms, why did he say he would recommend exit if we couldn’t get the deal he wanted around relatively minor demands on issues not directly related to the economic prosperity of Britain? Furthermore, why did he ever promise a referendum on the issue, knowing full well the dangers of an exit on our future prosperity – surely a risk not worth taking given the catastrophic consequences of exit that the Remain camp is now trying to scare everybody to death with?

David Cameron David Cameron

4: I would like to ask the PM one single straight question… I would like him to tell me why we send millions of pounds weekly to Brussels when we have record numbers of kids using food banks. He says we will be £4300 per house worse off if we leave…. Does that mean even more kids using food banks…. Can these kids be any worse off?

5: Given your experience of negotiating trade deals, do you think that it is realistic that the UK would be able to get trade deals in place with other EU countries and the USA within two years of a Leave vote?

6: On a scale of one to 10, how realistic does David Cameron think Michael Gove’s claim he could negotiate European Free Trade Association membership without the UK being subject to any EU law, any of the fundamental principles set out in the founding treaty of the EU and free from any other market regulation designed to ensure consistency of quality?

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7: Rather than both camps arguing about economic details and tit for tat comments on other subjects, don’t you think that the important issue is the right to determine our own laws and legislation through a democratically elected, and, if necessary, deselected parliament…Rather than an unelected “ politburo” of bureaucrats, which will treat us with even more contempt if we vote “Remain “. There may be some difficulties at times if we leave, but they will be ours to solve as an independent and free democratic country.

8: My wife and step daughter are Portuguese and have lived in England for 10 years now, what I want to know is that if we leave the EU are my wife and step daughter’s rights going to be affected? Will they still be able to visit family back in Portugal and return back home to England without problem or restriction? This is a great concern to myself and my family, the referendum is a huge decision and for many people it has different meanings and importance, we are very close to making one of the biggest decisions of our lives yet the vast majority of public do not have the correct information to make such an important vote.

The European Union debate

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It took Barack Obama to crush the Brexit fantasy | Jonathan Freedland

The US president destroyed one of the Vote Leave campaign’s core arguments, ending a week that may define the referendum debate

Illustration for Barack Obama and EU referendum

‘The president spelled out that America has no intention of forming some new, closer relationship with a Brexited Britain … it would be at ‘the back of the queue’ if it sought to agree a new treaty with the US.’
Illustration: Nate Kitch

No wonder they were desperate that he keep his mouth shut. At his podium in Downing Street Barack Obama flattered his hosts, paid lip service to the notion that the referendum on British membership of the European Union on 23 June is a matter for the British people – and then calmly ripped apart the case for Brexit.

It was the Vote Leavers’ worst nightmare. For years – no, decades – the anti-EU camp has suggested that Britain’s natural habitat is not among its continental neighbours but in “the Anglosphere”, that solar system of English-speaking planets which revolves around the United States. Break free from Brussels and we could embrace our kindred spirits in Sydney, Toronto and especially New York, Washington and Los Angeles. The Brexit camp has long been like the man who dreams of leaving his wife for another woman, one who really understands him.

Obama is that other woman. And today he told the outers their fantasies were no more than that. First in print and then, more explicitly, in person he spelled out that America has no intention of forming some new, closer relationship with a Brexited Britain. On the contrary, a post-EU Britain would be at “the back of the queue” if it sought to agree its own, new trade treaty with the US.

America, he told his British audience – hence his use of “queue”, not “line” – likes the fact that Britain is already married: it works out really well for all three parties involved. His message was unambiguous. Don’t rush into a hasty divorce because you think we’re waiting for you with open arms. We’re not.

At a stroke, he had crushed not only a core part of the leavers’ economic argument – that it’ll be a breeze for Britain to exit the EU and trade just as prosperously as a solo nation – but something bigger: the notion that a brighter, non-European future beckons. Obama burst that bubble.

He also explained that of course he had the right to speak, despite Brexiteer Liam Fox’s letter signed by 100 MPs urging him to stay out of the EU debate. As Obama put it, since the leavers are offering “an opinion about what the US is going to do, I thought you might want to hear an opinion from the president of the United States on what the US is going to do”. And the opinion he gave was devastating.

Obama: UK would be ‘back of queue’ for trade talks if it left EU – video

That he had every right to speak is obvious, by the leavers’ own logic. He and the country he leads have been invoked as central to the alternative utopia that awaits us on Brexit. If he wants to tell us that utopia is an illusion, we need to hear it.

Hence the Brexiteers’ fury. They know how badly Obama’s words undermine their case, especially after what has been a week from hell for the out campaign. One that ended in the absurdity of a Ukip MEP, Mike Hookem, lurching into full-bore anti-Americanism, winding the clock back to 1939 to argue that the US had it in for us even then, seeing the second world war as a way of “smashing the UK’s influence in the world”. When a party defined by its loathing of the EU finds itself attacking the US, you know things have gone awry.

The same is true of Boris Johnson’s Sun screed, which dipped into Donald Trump’s Bumper Book of Political Wisdom to suggest that the “half-Kenyan” president cannot be trusted because he is filled with “ancestral” loathing of Britain.

What an interesting choice of word that “ancestral” was. Not “post-colonial”, which would have located this supposed antipathy in the 20th century, but “ancestral” to be run alongside “half-Kenyan”. It was a reminder of the brilliant slapdown Obama once issued to Trump, when the tycoon was demanding to see Obama’s birth certificate. From the podium at the 2011 White House correspondents’ dinner, Obama said he could go one better and show his birth video. He promptly played a clip from the Lion King, of Simba the newborn cub held aloft – as graceful a way of calling out a racist as one can imagine.

This, incidentally, is where the contortions of Brexit have left Johnson. It may still be true that the London mayor’s decision to back Vote Leave – when his elastic relationship with principle could just as easily have sprung the other way – was politically smart, all but guaranteeing the backing of the Eurosceptic Tory selectorate when they choose a successor to David Cameron. But it’s extracting a price.

Once Johnson promised to be the face of metropolitan inclusivity, a Tory able to reach non-Tories by carrying less of their nasty party baggage. Yet this campaign is stripping away that gloss, reminding us that it was always a fake. Recall that Johnson once spoke of “piccaninnies” and wrote of African men with “watermelon smiles”. In the Spectator in 2002, he declared of Africa: “The problem is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more.”

Every day he spends tag-teaming with Nigel Farage – who repeated the mayor’s “half-Kenyan” line – risks trashing the Boris brand, defining Johnson as less a future prime minister than a figure of the fringes, less a lovable maverick than a rather unpleasant oddball.

But it’s the wider Vote Leave campaign that has found itself in the wrong place. An anti-EU movement can’t also be anti-US, not without looking as if it hates everyone. Nor is it good to pit yourself against an American president who, whatever his domestic standing, remains in high esteem in Britain and Europe. It’s just too irresistibly tweetable to ask: if Obama’s for remain, and Trump and Le Pen are for leave, whose side are you on?

Above all, the core case advanced by the leavers on the US is flawed. Fox and others say Obama is a hypocrite because the US would never accept for itself the limitations on sovereignty demanded of Britain by the EU. But the comparison is silly. Britain is strong and rich, but it is also a relatively small country adjacent to a continent. The US virtually is a continent.

What makes sense for one would not make sense for the other. Besides, as Obama explained in Downing Street, the US does trim its sovereignty when it suits its purposes: it agrees to be bound by the trade rulings of the World Trade Organisation and Nafta, even if that means Congress is forced to back down on its own decisions.

All told, the Obama visit has been one of those episodes that say rather more than was ever intended. It says that this president retains a lustre even now, eight years on – one that only grows as you contemplate the contest to take his place. It says that, for all of the remain campaign’s problems, Leave now has to rebuild – after a dreadful seven days that began with Treasury numbers showing Brexit will make Britons poorer, and ended with a surgical evisceration from the world’s most powerful man.

And it said something about Britain’s relationship with the US. Ever needy to hear that we’re still special to the Americans, to hear that their president loves our queen and loves our talisman, Winston Churchill, we still listen to them – even when they tell us there’s no future for just the two of us together, that we need to stay in the marriage we’re in, even if sometimes it feels a little loveless.

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Les vraies causes de l'exode La crise des migrants occupe toujours une large place dans la presse. Les journaux dénoncent notamment une possible coopération de l'Union européenne avec des États africains peu recommandables.

Bruxelles semblerait envisager de coopérer avec l’Erithrée, le Soudan, l’Éthiopie ou encore la Somalie pour y renvoyer des migrants. Selon les informations du magazine d’investigation “Monitor” de la chaîne de télévision publique ARD, relayées notamment par la Berliner Zeitung, la Commission européenne et le service des Affaires étrangères de l’Union européenne auraient proposé concrètement à ces pays de reprendre leurs ressortissants en échange d’aides économiques et d’exemption de visas pour leurs diplomates…

Selon les diplomates européens, la situation en Éthiopie est catastrophique... ce qui n'empêche pas de proposer à Addis Abeba de coopérer sur le retour des migrants

Selon les diplomates européens, la situation en Éthiopie est catastrophique… ce qui n’empêche pas de proposer à Addis Abeba de coopérer sur le retour des migrants

Le protocole confidentiel, qui ne devait “en aucun cas être publié” mais qui a manifestement fuité, comporte également un état des lieux des droits de l’Homme dans les pays concernés, poursuit le quotidien. Il y est par exemple suggéré de rayer le Soudan de la liste des “États soutenant le terrorisme”, mais déconseillé de trop s’engager dans le pays d’Omar el-Béchir pour – je cite – “ne pas nuire à la réputation de l’UE”, étant donné que le président soudanais est sous le coup d’un mandat d’arrêt international émis par la CPI.

Ce sont “les droits de l’Homme à l’européenne”, commente le journal Neues Deutschland, qui pointe la logique cynique de l’Union européenne d’empêcher à tout prix les demandes d’asile. Depuis de nombreuses années, l’UE soutient les États nord-africains – y compris la Libye du temps de Mouammar Kadhafi – par des aides financières, des livraisons de matériel de surveillance ou de patrouille, afin de limiter les départs via la Méditerranée. Et le renvoi des migrants vers des États où les droits de l’Homme ne comptent pas permet une coopération particulièrement efficace. L’Union européenne, lauréate du Prix Nobel de la Paix, renforce la misère et entretient des conflits qui entraînent les populations à fuir, dénonce Neues Deutschland.

La “crise des migrants” n’est pas finie

Des milliers de migrants continuent à tenter de rejoindre l’Union européenne et nombre d’entre eux y perdent la vie. Un nouveau naufrage entre l’Égypte et l’Italie a coûté la vie à au moins 400 personnes dont une majorité de Somaliens, selon des témoignages de rescapés relayés par la presse allemande. Le flou a d’ailleurs régné pendant plusieurs jours sur les chiffres mais aussi sur les circonstances de ce nouveau drame en Méditerranée.

Depuis le début de l'année 2016, 23.000 personnes ont tenté de rejoindre l'UE par la mer

Depuis le début de l’année 2016, 23.000 personnes ont tenté de rejoindre l’UE par la mer

Ce qui est sûr en revanche, c’est ce que le naufrage survient un an jour pour jour après celui qui avait emporté 800 personnes le 18 avril 2015, souligne le Tagesspiegel. À l’automne 2013, ils étaient environ 400 à avoir été envoyés à la mort par des passeurs sans scrupule. Et pourtant, des milliers de personnes entreprennent toujours le voyage par la Méditerranée. Cette année, quelque 23.000 migrants ont tenté la traversée.

Depuis l’accord entre la Turquie et l’Union européenne, le nombre d’arrivées de réfugiés en Grèce a diminué. En revanche, celui des migrants qui embarquent en Libye dans des bateaux plus ou moins aptes à la navigation ne cesse d’augmenter, renchérit l’hebdomadaire Die Zeit. Ils sont interceptés par les gardes-côtes italiens et transportés vers Lampedusa ou la Sicile. Au cours des premières semaines d’avril, l’Italie a vu débarquer jusqu’à 1800 personnes par jour. Et selon plusieurs responsables politiques européens, près de 800.000 personnes attendraient en Libye de pouvoir embarquer. Au vu de ces chiffres mais aussi des événements de l’année passée, une évidence s’impose : ni une petite mer ni un désert ne peut arrêter ceux qui sont prêts à tout pour fuir la violence ou la pauvreté.

Le pillage de l’Afrique

Un bon milliard de personnes vivent au sud du Sahara et on en prévoit le double d’ici la moitié du siècle, écrit le journal. Ces personnes, et c’est le propre de l’humanité, sont en quête d’une existence digne, de la perspective de mener leur vie comme elles l’entendent. Mais il y a des freins à ce développement. L’exploitation des ressources, la corruption, la défaillance des États sont autant de phénomènes qui prennent une dimension plus concrète au vu des révélations des Panama Papers.

Caricature de Godfrey Mwampembwa aka Gado

“Mais pourquoi vont-ils tous à Panama? On peut créer des compagnies pétrolières sans pour autant payer des impôts chez nous”

Les dossiers du cabinet de conseil panaméen Mossack Fonseca illustrent comment des élites locales et des hommes d’affaires étrangers font sortir des pays les recettes générées par les industries extractives en passant par des sociétés écrans, ne laissant que des États faibles et incapables de fonctionner, et des peuples assujettis. Tous les ans, poursuit le quotidien de Munich, au moins 53 milliards d’euros sortent illégalement d’Afrique, et selon des estimations cela pourrait même être le double. C’est en tout cas bien plus que le montant de l’aide au développement. Serait-il possible, demande la Süddeutsche, que la communauté internationale se soit trompée dans ses priorités quand elle affirme lutter contre la pauvreté ou, comme on le dit aujourd’hui, contre les “causes de l’exode”?

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EU Heads of Mission: 'Subsidised Europe' image at odds with reality

European agriculture’s transformation should be recognised, write EU Heads of Mission.

The EU is now the world's largest agricultural exporter -- despite the ban on imports into Russia. Photo / iStock
The EU is now the world’s largest agricultural exporter — despite the ban on imports into Russia. Photo / iStock

Something “strange” appears to have happened at December’s World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Nairobi, according to NZ media. As Prime Minister John Key observed in a parliamentary debate last month, the European Union “actually agreed” to a multilateral agreement to eliminate subsidies for agricultural exports.

We thank the Prime Minister for acknowledging the EU’s contribution to the Nairobi outcome. But we remain concerned with the apparent astonishment of other New Zealand stakeholders at it.

Key’s words point to persistent stereotypes in New Zealand public life and media about “subsidised European agriculture”. This stereotype ignores the profound transformation Europe’s agriculture has undergone in the past two-and-a-half decades. It also exaggerates differences and underplays common interests between the EU and New Zealand.

Like New Zealand, the EU was a leader at Nairobi – not a reluctant follower – of efforts to ban subsidies on exports.

Indeed, the EU advocated more comprehensive liberalisation of global agricultural trade at Nairobi. It has taken a similar position in negotiations with the US for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

These positions reflect decades of reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy that have made Europe’s agricultural sector both more sustainable and more competitive. It may be surprising for many New Zealanders to learn that they trade almost as much with the EU as they do with China. It may be even more surprising to learn that the EU is now the world’s largest agricultural exporter – despite the ban on imports of its products into Russia.

The transformation that has made European agriculture market-oriented and competitive has been omitted from many recent commentaries on falling dairy prices. Declining dairy prices have had a wrenching impact on New Zealand and European farmers, especially those who have recently invested in new production capacity or land and are carrying high debts.

Sliding prices have coincided with the EU’s elimination of its 30-year-old regime of internal production quotas. In April 2015 the restrictions on EU internal milk production were finally removed (something originally agreed upon in 2003) as a last step towards market orientation in the milk sector. This was seen as providing a pathway away from market-distorting policies of the 1970s and 1980s towards more environmentally and economically sustainable dairy production. In the five years before their 2015 removal (a period corresponding to the global dairy boom), production caps within the EU grew only 1 per cent annually.

Continued below.

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In the midst of crisis, the complexity of global dairy markets and the underlying transformation of European agriculture have been lost in explanations of events, while “subsidised European agriculture” continues to receive blame.

Removal of EU production caps opened up competition for a share of the world’s largest single market, but also to meet demand among growing middle classes in the world’s emerging markets.

Internal European developments have also coincided with Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine, including annexation of Crimea, Western imposition of sanctions on Russia and Russia’s retaliatory ban on food imports, including dairy, from the EU, US, Australia and others. Russia has removed its demand for dairy from global markets at the same time that production has increased in China, North America, New Zealand and Europe.

Coming together as they have, these developments have produced a dramatic and sustained downturn from the historic highs dairy prices reached in early 2014.

This “perfect storm” is driving structural change in global dairy markets. In future New Zealand and European producers will be among the world’s most competitive players. This development aligns EU and New Zealand interests in the international trading system.

In the midst of crisis, the complexity of global dairy markets and the underlying transformation of European agriculture have been lost in explanations of events, while “subsidised European agriculture” continues to receive blame. These simplistic explanations exaggerate differences between the EU and NZ and obscure the areas where they share trading and political interests.

Last year, the EU and New Zealand recognised the strength of their shared values and common interests in a treaty-level agreement, the Partnership Agreement on Relations and Cooperation.

In October, EU and New Zealand leaders announced their intentions to negotiate a free trade agreement. New Zealand, the EU and its member states now co-operate to meet common global challenges such as security, combating climate change and generating sustainable economic and employment growth. We suggest that the first steps in deepening bilateral relations must include a healthy and open contemplation of how much both sides have changed over four decades.

EU Heads of Mission

Anne-Marie Schleich,

Ambassador of Germany

Jonathan Sinclair,

High Commissioner of the UK

Robert Zaagman,

Ambassador of The Netherlands

Zbigniew Gniatkowski,

Ambassador of Poland

Carmelo Barbarello,

Ambassador of Italy

Florence Jeanblanc-Risler,

Ambassador of France

Manuel Pradas Romani,

Ambassador of Spain

Michalis Rokas,

Charge d’Affaires a.i. of the European Union

NZ Herald

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Africa in the news: IMF suspends lending to Mozambique, Ethiopia mourns, and Earth Day highlights Africa’s environmental progress

A giraffe stands under a tree at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in the Amboseli national park, southern Kenya, November 12, 2006.

IMF suspends lending to Mozambique, and Moody’s downgrades its rating

This week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced it has suspended lending to Mozambique after the country failed to disclose it received $1 billion in loans from other parties, such as Credit Suisse Group AG and VTB Group of Russia. Last October, the IMF approved a $283 million loan for Mozambique, and one of the conditions was the disclosure of all borrowings. In December, the IMF disbursed $117.9 million to Mozambique, but now will be suspending the remaining $165 million. With a widening fiscal deficit and a weakening currency, Mozambique currently depends on external donors to fund a quarter of its budget. Antoinette Sayeh, director of the Africa Department at the IMF, stated that in order to assess the next steps in the fund’s loaning relationship with Mozambique, they will have to hear from Mozambican officials about the nature and the use of the loans. Mozambique’s prime minister is currently visiting Washington, D.C., where he will meet IMF officials in order to discuss the status of IMF lending to Mozambique.

In addition, credit rating agency Moody’s downgraded Mozambique’s rating from B3 to Caa1. The rating agency states that the downgrade is driven by the recent handling of the EMATUM—Mozambique’s Tune Company—bonds. In 2013, an $850 million bond was sold to investors under the pretense of buying a tuna fishing fleet. The funds were, however, redirected towards purchasing ships for the army. Last month, Mozambique proposed a restructuring of the debt, asking investors to exchange the EMATUM bonds, which would mature in 2020 for sovereign bonds due to mature in January 2023. While the sovereign bond has a higher interest rate—the investor would receive higher returns, albeit it will be over a longer period of time. Moody’s sees the debt exchange as equivalent to a default.

Ethiopia mourns murdered civilians after attack in the Gabella region

Last Friday, April 15, cattle raiders from South Sudan entered the Gambella region of Ethiopia, killing 208 people of the Neur ethnic group and abducting over 100 children. Witnesses have stated that the attackers were well-organized, dressed in military or green uniforms, and armed with machine guns. They also took 2000 livestock. On Wednesday, Addis Ababa declared two days of national mourning for the victims.

The government has stated that the attackers, who raided 13 villages in the region, were Murle tribesman. According to Al-Jazeera, the Murle “often stage raids to steal cattle and abduct children but very rarely on such a large or deadly scale.” Indeed, witnesses have noted that this raid seemed greatly unusual, noting that the attacks didn’t stop once all the livestock were taken.  However, the attackers are not believed to be involved in the South Sudan civil war, which began in 2013, though the war has significantly impacted its eastern neighbor. Ethiopia’s Gambella region itself hosts 284,000 South Sudanese refugees from the war.

On Thursday, the Ethiopian government, which quickly crossed South Sudan’s border with its permission and cooperation, announced that its troops have surrounded the area where it believes the abducted children are held. As of this writing, no further updates have been announced.

For more on security in Ethiopia and its ramifications for the region, you can attend the upcoming Brookings Africa Security Initiative event, The security situation in Ethiopia and how it relates to the broader region, on Monday, April 25 at 10am.

On Earth Day, Africa takes additional climate mitigation and adaptation measures

In recognition of International Mother Earth Day, more than 150 countries met today, April 22, at the United Nations to sign into effect the landmark Paris climate agreement, which aims to limit the rise in global average temperatures to within 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of pre-industrial levels. As 2015 marked the world’s hottest year in recorded history—and Africa specifically experienced extreme drought across parts of the continent due to an intense El Niño phenomenon—many African countries are among the signatories who agree that reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adopting clean energy technologies is a priority for the continent.

Efforts to cut carbon emissions and promote clean energy projects are already under way across the continent. For example, the New Development Bank—formerly known as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) Development Bank due to its membership—announced this week that it will provide $811 million in a first round of loans for clean energy projects, including $180 million to South Africa’s public power firm Eskom to link renewable energy sources to the national power grid. Other multilateral lenders, including the African Development Bank and World Bank have also recently provided funds to assist in a shift toward renewable energy in several African countries and to bolster climate resilience among the coastal regions of West Africa.

For more analysis on Africa’s plans to mitigate and adapt to climate change, please see Amadou Sy’s brief: Africa: Financing Adaptation and Mitigation in the World’s Most Vulnerable Region.

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