Finland, Sweden NATO accession
NATO's 30 members sign an accession protocol for Finland and Sweden, taking a further step towards letting the Nordic states into the military alliance. Under the protocol, both countries can take part in the alliance’s meetings and have more access to intelligence. But NATO will not defend them militarily, until their membership is ratified. Speaking at a presser afterwards NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hailed the signing of the protocol as an historic moment, and said the alliance will be stronger and safer with its new members. The two countries requested to join NATO after Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in February. Russia has repeatedly announced its opposition to NATO's enlargement. Last week President Vladimir Putin said it's inevitable that Moscow's relations with Helsinki and Stockholm will sour once they join the US-led alliance.
“UK braces for economic storm”
The cost of living crisis coupled with rising inflation is taking a heavy toll on Britain’s economy. A report now paints a darker picture of the country’s economic situation. The report published by the Bank of England warns that the economic outlook for the UK and the rest of the world has deteriorated materially. It says the UK economy is very uncertain. The International Monetary Fund has already said that Britain is more susceptible to recession and persistently high inflation than other Western countries. British households have been paying more for energy food and fuel in recent months mainly due to the economic fallout of the Ukraine war. Prices in the UK rose at the fastest rate in 40 years in May, with inflation hitting 9.1% on an annual basis. Experts believe the inflation rate in Britain could surpass 11% later this year.
German trade deficit
Germany posts a monthly trade deficit for the first time in three decades as the war in Ukraine takes its toll on European economies. The German Federal Statistics Office says imports exceeded exports by roughly one billion dollars in May, compared with April. The rare deficit is blamed on interrupted supply chains and record energy prices. This is partially triggered by Russia’s move to cut back on natural gas supply to Europe. Germany relies on Russia for 35% of its natural gas needs. Germany’s Federation of Trade Unions has warned that the short supply can lead to the collapse of entire industries if it remains unresolved.