FirstFT: US-Germany truce over Nord Stream 2 pipeline

The US and Germany have reached a deal to resolve their longstanding dispute over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, including a promise by Berlin to impose sanctions against Moscow if it threatens its neighbours’ energy security.

But Ukrainian officials and several US lawmakers said Germany’s promises did not provide sufficient protection to American allies from potential Russian efforts to disrupt energy security.

US officials consider the pipeline a geopolitical project by Vladimir Putin to keep Europe dependent on Russian energy supplies while jeopardising the security of countries such as Poland and Ukraine.

Under the agreement announced yesterday, Berlin will set up a billion-dollar fund to promote Ukraine’s clean energy transition and appoint a special envoy to help Kyiv negotiate an extension of its gas transit agreements with Russia beyond 2024.

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Five more stories in the news

1. EU rejects UK plan to rip up Brexit deal Brussels has insisted it will not renegotiate the Brexit deal with the UK after London launched a bold push to overhaul trading rules for Northern Ireland. The proposal would replace most checks at Irish Sea ports with a system largely based on traders’ honesty, with spot checks behind the border. Here are five takeaways. Sign up to Brexit Briefing, every Thursday, here.

  • Opinion: Britain is signalling that its signature on international treaties is just about worthless, writes Philip Stephens.

2. Elon Musk: SpaceX holds bitcoin Cryptocurrencies edged higher yesterday after Musk disclosed that his private rocket company held bitcoin and that Tesla would “most likely” resume accepting it as payment. The electric carmaker also agreed to buy nickel for its batteries from BHP, as it looks for metal sourcing beyond China.

Musk said he personally held bitcoin, ethereum and the more niche dogecoin, while two of his companies, SpaceX and Tesla, were bitcoin investors — and would remain that way
Musk said he personally held bitcoin, ethereum and the more niche dogecoin, while two of his companies, SpaceX and Tesla, were bitcoin investors — and would remain that way © FT montage; Getty Images

3. Bridgepoint shares soar on London debut Shares in Bridgepoint Advisers soared 29 per cent as investors raced to back a rare London listing of a buyout group. Private equity firms struck more than $500bn of deals in the first half, a record pace powered by low interest rates and depressed valuations.

4. Republicans block Biden’s $1tn infrastructure plan Senate Republicans blocked Joe Biden’s $1tn bipartisan infrastructure package as it faced its first procedural vote in the upper chamber of Congress, a setback for the president and his fellow Democrats.

5. Australia rejects Great Barrier Reef ‘in danger’ listing Canberra, a laggard on climate policies that has yet to commit to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, warned that Unesco risked denting its own credibility if it puts the Great Barrier Reef on its “in danger” list.

Coronavirus digest

  • NHS workers will be awarded a 3 per cent pay rise, triple the amount the UK government first proposed.

  • Italian football club Inter Milan announced it would not travel to Florida to take part in an exhibition football tournament because of Covid-19 risks.

  • Tunisia’s president put the military in charge of managing the country’s pandemic response.

  • Global stock markets rose yesterday as strong earnings figures diverted investor attention away from the rapid spread of the Delta variant.

  • The pandemic has shaved 1.5 years off US life expectancy, according to the CDC. (FT, BBC)

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The day ahead

ECB meeting The European Central Bank’s interest rate-setters meet today for their first discussion since unanimously agreeing on a new monetary policy strategy. But the consensus, which includes a 2 per cent inflation goal, could dissolve as policymakers discuss changing its guidance on raising interest rates.

Climate change G20 environment ministers meet in Naples, where US climate envoy John Kerry intends to press for deeper emissions cuts.

  • Opinion: The G20 must focus on five climate change priorities, including a US carbon tax position and collaborative technology research, writes Gillian Tett.

Earnings AT&T releases second-quarter results after announcing plans to offload its media assets in May and chart a new chapter in the telecoms sector. Unilever, Union Pacific, Workspace Group, Capital One Financial, ABB and Marsh McLennan also report.

  • Other company reports: Blackstone and Danaher Corporation report before the bell. Twitter, Intel and Snap report after the market closes. Volkswagen holds its annual meeting.

Utoya anniversary Today marks 10 years since the deadliest violence in Norway in the post-second world war era.

What else we’re reading

The consequences of hitting Peak Johnson Is it possible that the UK will see the past few months as when we reached Peak Boris Johnson? The Conservatives are ahead in the polls and the prime minister’s rating is far higher than that of Labour leader Keir Starmer. Yet looming challenges mean it is probably only downhill from here, writes Robert Shrimsley.

Robert Shrimsley: ‘A slide in support will see the UK prime minister avoiding difficult decisions on green taxes and spending’
Robert Shrimsley: ‘A slide in support will see the UK prime minister avoiding difficult decisions on green taxes and spending’ © Ellie Foreman-Peck

Adam Peaty’s plan to be the greatest If all goes well, the 26-year-old swimmer will become one of the first Team GB athletes to collect a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games. But don’t mistake this for hype or hubris. Peaty’s discipline, the 100m breaststroke, is like a sprint through water.

How Michael Rees turned the tables on Wall Street As with other successful financiers, Rees works in private equity. But unlike most of his peers, he makes money by buying a piece of the industry itself. The Dyal Capital financier won the trust of dozens of executives by acquiring stakes at high prices — until he gained enemies by selling a slice of his own.

The argument for vaccinating teens Vaccinating children will always be an emotive and complex argument. The FT View is that a UK advisory committee’s caution — excluding all but clinically vulnerable children and those living with at-risk adults from Covid-19 inoculation — jars with the government’s lack of it.

The Trump investigation Nicholas Gravante has landed in the middle of one of the era’s biggest cases: defending the next target in Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance’s sprawling investigation of former president Donald Trump and the Trump Organization. How will he tackle it?

Motoring

Classic cars, trending trucks and a fleet of Silver Surfers. How To Spend It’s summer series on motoring is now available.

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