Posts Tagged ‘Norway’

UN says Trump slur on ‘shithole’ countries is ‘shocking’ and ‘racist’

January 12, 2018

Spokesman Rupert Colville says US president’s comments open the door to ‘humanity’s worst side,’ ‘go against universal values’

From agencies
The Times of Israel

The United Nations on Friday slammed US President Donald Trump’s reported description of African nations and Haiti as “shithole” countries as “shocking and shameful,” and “racist.”

Trump on Thursday questioned why the US would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “shithole countries” in Africa rather than places like Norway in rejecting a bipartisan immigration deal.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that “you cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes.’”

Colville said that the comments, if confirmed, were “shocking and shameful” and “I’m sorry, but there’s no other word one can use but racist.”

Image may contain: 1 person, suit

US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on prison reform in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, January 11, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)

He also took issue with Trump’s reported suggestion that the United States should welcome immigrants from places like Norway, whose population is overwhelmingly white, instead of from African countries and Haiti.

“The positive comment on Norway makes the underlying sentiment very clear,” Colville said.

He said Trump’s reported comment could endanger lives by potentially fanning xenophobia.

“Like the earlier comments made vilifying Mexicans and Muslims, the policy proposals targeting entire groups on grounds of nationality or religion, and the reluctance to clearly condemn the anti-Semitic and racist actions of the white supremacists in Charlottesville — all of these go against the universal values the world has been striving so hard to establish since World War II and the Holocaust,” he said.

“This is not just a story about vulgar language. It’s about opening the door wider to humanity’s worst side, about validating and encouraging racism and xenophobia that will potentially disrupt and destroy the lives of many people.

“This is perhaps the single most damaging and dangerous consequence of this type of comment by a major political figure,” he added.


Immigration Talks Muddled Amid Trump’s Vulgar Comments About “Shithole Countries”

January 12, 2018

Trump uses term ‘shithole’ to describe countries of some would-be immigrants, according to two people briefed on meeting

President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy on Tuesday in the White House.
President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy on Tuesday in the White House. PHOTO: EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump questioned why the U.S. would admit people from “shithole countries” Thursday, roiling discussions over a bipartisan Senate deal to protect young undocumented immigrants.

Mr. Trump made the comments at a private White House immigration meeting that included a bipartisan group of lawmakers, asking why the U.S. would want to admit people from Africa, the source of many diversity lottery applicants, according to two people briefed on the meeting.

“Why do we want all these people from these shithole countries here? We should have people from places like Norway,” the president said, according to these two people. Mr. Trump also expressed dismay with granting a legal status, in particular, to people from Haiti. One person said he asked, “What do we want Haitians here for?”

White House spokesman Raj Shah didn’t confirm or deny those comments, which were reported earlier by the Washington Post. “Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” he said. “President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.”

A big question in Washington: What is going to happen next for the Dreamers? The legal reprieve for these young undocumented immigrants starts to run out in March. WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib explains the likely scenarios. Photo: Getty

The back-and-forth came as a bipartisan group of senators reached an agreement to give a path to citizenship for the so-called Dreamers and make other immigration policy changes. They presented their plan at the White House, but it was met with opposition from conservative lawmakers who also attended the meeting. And Marc Short, the White House legislative-affairs director, said more work was needed. “There’s a long way to go,” he told reporters.

The White House and lawmakers in both parties say they want to reach an agreement, but many conservative Republicans are demanding a long list of immigration-policy changes that Democrats oppose. It was unclear whether Mr. Trump would be willing to sign something into law over their objections.

Democrats have some leverage as their votes are needed to keep the government running past next Friday. It was unclear whether they would be willing to force a partial shutdown over the immigration dispute.

The agreement reached in the Senate gives Mr. Trump much but not all of what he has requested, according to Senate aides. It allocates $1.6 billion toward a border fence, which he asked for in 2018. It ends the diversity lottery that he has slammed. And it imposes some modest new limits on the ability of citizens and green-card holders to sponsor relatives.

It also gives Dreamers a 10-to-12-year path to citizenship, gives their parents three-year work permits and gives green cards to people who have been living in the U.S. for years under Temporary Protected Status programs that Mr. Trump is ending. One of those TPS program benefits Haitians, which is what prompted Mr. Trump’s comment about Haiti.

Mr. Trump’s optimism about reaching an agreement and flexibility about what should be in it has drawn fire from immigration hard-liners. They fear he is too willing to sign legislation aiding the young people who had been protected by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that he ended in September.

Conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham voiced the views of many of them on Wednesday when she said, “I don’t want to use the word ‘betrayal’ yet, because we haven’t reached the end of the line here…. But I am extremely concerned.”

On Thursday, Mr. Trump told The Wall Street Journal he isn’t worried about the pressure, saying, “my base is with me.” He also said he is motivated by desire to help the affected young people, not politics.

“I’m doing it from the standpoint of heart, I’m doing it from the standpoint of common sense,” he said. He added that the Dreamers were hard workers with jobs. “We need workers in this country.”

He also said that he would pursue payment for his border wall from Mexico, as he promised, but as part of broader negotiations over the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico has repeatedly said it won’t pay for the project.

DACA offers safe harbor from deportation and work permits for some 690,000 young people. Mr. Trump announced in September he was ending the Obama-era program, and protections for young immigrants start to expire in large numbers in March.

The six senators in the bipartisan group said they had reached an agreement after four months of effort. But their work came under immediate fire from more conservative members of Congress. Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) complained that it fell short of the $18 billion that the administration requested last week for a 10-year plan for a wall along the southern border.

Mr. Cotton and two other conservative Republicans issued a statement saying the bipartisan accord “isn’t serious” and saying there is no urgency to reach agreement by next week. “It is disingenuous to discuss providing status to, potentially, millions of individuals without taking credible steps to truly protect our borders and secure the interior,” said Sens. Cotton, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and David Perdue (R-Ga.).

Two people familiar with the day’s events said that Sens. Dick Durbin (D. Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) had expected they would be the only lawmakers meeting with the president and were surprised to see several other more hawkish lawmakers in the room. A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on who invited the others.

The Senate negotiators also included Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, as well as GOP Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Cory Gardner of Colorado.

“I’m hopeful—I think we can get there. We’ve just got to keep working,” Mr. Graham said earlier as he and Mr. Durbin arrived at the Capitol after the meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House.

Mr. Short, the White House legislative-affairs director, said the White House preferred that the negotiations be run by a different bipartisan group consisting of the No. 2 lawmakers in each party, in each house of Congress. That would have the effect of tilting the orientation in a more conservative direction.

Republicans have cautioned that any deal reached by the bipartisan group may not be able to win support from the rest of the party. The hope among the group is that Mr. Trump would be willing and able to sell it Republicans.

That will be a challenge. Mr. Cotton, who takes a tough line on immigration, called the deal presented to the White House a “pine needle of a proposal” and said he wouldn’t support it.

Mr. Trump has demanded that a DACA agreement include security improvements, including some version of his promised border wall; new limits on the rights of U.S. citizens and green card holders to sponsor family members for immigration here; and limits on the visa lottery, which randomly awards 50,000 green cards each year to people from countries that are underrepresented in the immigration system.

At the White House earlier in the week, a large group of lawmakers and Mr. Trump agreed to negotiate legislation including those three areas, plus help for the so-called Dreamers.

Write to Laura Meckler at and Siobhan Hughes at

Appeared in the January 12, 2018, print edition as ‘Trump Vulgarity Roils DACA Deal.’


An image from the “NBC Nightly News” broadcast on Thursday.

Lester Holt opened the “NBC Nightly News” on Thursday with a parental warning: “This may not be appropriate for some of our younger viewers.”

His counterpart at “ABC World News Tonight,” David Muir, described President Trump “using a profanity we won’t repeat.”

And Jim Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, stammered as he delivered a report from Washington. “I noticed, Wolf, you hesitated to use that word,” he told the network’s anchor, Wolf Blitzer. “I hesitate to use it myself.”

Media outlets on Thursday took the unusual step of allowing the word “shithole” to be used in print and on air, after a report that Mr. Trump had used the term to describe African nations and Haiti during a White House meeting with lawmakers on immigration.

The unexpurgated expletive appeared, in capital letters, on the graphics known as chyrons that dominate the lower portion of the screen on CNN and MSNBC. (Fox News spelled the word with asterisks.) It showed up on smartphone push alerts sent by The Washington Post, which broke the story, and The Associated Press.

Mr. Acosta, on CNN, the first network to broadcast the term without asterisks, said the word several times on-air, even as Mr. Blitzer opted for the more chaste “S-hole.”

It is exceedingly rare for the country’s biggest news organizations to publish a quote that includes an expletive; usually, they employ a censored or blanked-out version. On Thursday’s network evening newscasts, NBC News was the only organization that quoted Mr. Trump in full. Anchors at ABC and CBS used the word “blank” instead.

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Clashes break out near South Sudan capital in truce violation

January 5, 2018

In this file photo taken on Dec. 21, 2017, African Union chairman Moussa Faki (2nd L-top) sits with members of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) as they attend a signing ceremony for the cease-fire agreement among South Sudanese parties in Addis Ababa. (AFP)

JUBA: Clashes have broken out near South Sudan’s capital Juba between government troops and rebels, officials said on Friday, the latest violation of a cease-fire signed last month.

The deal reached in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa between the government of President Salva Kiir and a myriad of opposition groups had aimed to end a four-year-old war in which tens of thousands of people have been killed.
But several violations have since taken place, for which all sides have been blamed.
On Friday, the army’s spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said several people were killed after rebel troops attempted to seize a military outpost west of Juba held by Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army.
“At about 10:30 p.m. last night, bandits under the direct command of Lt. Col. Chan Garang attacked the SPLA’s position at the north of Kapur,” he told a news conference, referring to a high-ranking officer who defected from the government last year.
Koang did not give details on how many had died, but said fighting was going on.
Rebels under former vice president Riek Machar, whose sacking in mid-2013 amid a power struggle triggered the civil war months later, denied the charges.
“That was not us, we never attack Juba,” said Lam Paul Gabriel, the group’s deputy spokesperson. “It is government propaganda (meant) to accuse us of violations.”
The conflict in the world’s youngest country has been fought largely along ethnic lines, pitting forces loyal to Kiir — an ethnic Dinka — and Machar, who is Nuer.
The war has forced a third of South Sudan’s 12 million-strong population to flee their homes.
The cease-fire is intended to revive a 2015 peace deal that collapsed in 2016 after heavy fighting erupted in Juba, with talks on a new power-sharing arrangement and a new date for polls scheduled to follow.
It is also designed to allow humanitarian groups access to civilians caught in the fighting.
Neighbouring countries who brokered that agreement have warned the warring sides that they would back punitive measures if violations persisted.
The United States, Britain and Norway, who form a group that supported a 2005 accord that led to South Sudan’s independence from Sudan, have also threatened to impose individual or group sanctions for those violating the cease-fire.

Big Oil Investors Rethink Their Bets

January 3, 2018

The industry is challenged by oil demand, regulation and technology

Some big investors and banks are rethinking investments in an oil and gas industry wrestling with uncertain oil demand, government regulation and disruptive technology like electric vehicles.

The biggest is in Norway, where the government says it will decide this year whether to wind down its $1 trillion sovereign-wealth fund’s investments in the oil and gas sector. Its assets include multibillion-dollar stakes in Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Chevron Corp. and BP PLC.

Top U.S. Marine general: ‘There’s a war coming’

December 22, 2017


The Hill
December 22, 2017
11:16 AM EST
The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, told troops Thursday that “there’s a war coming” and urged them to be prepared.

“I hope I’m wrong, but there’s a war coming,” Neller told Marines stationed in Norway, during a visit there, according to “You’re in a fight here, an informational fight, a political fight, by your presence,” he added. 

Related image

Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller

The commandant pointed to Russia and the Pacific theater as the next major areas of conflict, predicting a “big-ass fight” in the future.

“Just remember why you’re here,” he said. “They’re watching. Just like you watch them, they watch you. We’ve got 300 Marines up here; we could go from 300 to 3,000 overnight. We could raise the bar.”

Neller’s visit comes amid tensions between Russia and NATO allies. Russia warned neighboring Norway that the presence of American troops could hurt relations, after Norway decision to host a new unit of U.S. soldiers through the end of 2018.

The administration says the Marines are there to enhance ties with European NATO allies and train in cold-weather combat.

In a question-and-answer session with the troops, Neller said the U.S. could shift its focus after years of fighting in the Middle East to Eastern Europe, citing Russia’s conflicts with Ukraine and Georgia.

On Monday, President Trump unveiled a new national security strategy that focused on the threats posed by Russia and China to U.S. interests.


Norwegian citizen charged with espionage in Russia — Cold War Replay?

December 19, 2017
Frode Berg from Kirkenes. Photo: Atle Staalesen
Former border inspector on Norway’s border to Russia, now pensioner, Frode Berg is reportedly detained and charged by FSB.
December 19, 2017

News agency Rosbalt reports about the accusations, citing a law enforcement source. Frode Berg was detained by FSB two weeks ago.

Frode Berg is from Kirkenes in northern Norway and worked for 24 years as inspector with the Norwegian Border Commissioner, a government agency subordinate the Ministry of Justice and Public Service. Its main task is to ensure that the Russian-Norwegian Border Agreement and subsequent regulations are complied with.

Berg became a pensioner in 2014 and has since been engaged voluntarily in Red Cross and Pikene på Broen, a collective of curators producing the local winter festival Barents Spektakel in Kirkenes.

Rosbalt’s law enforcement source says Lefortovo District Court in Moscow has decided to keep Berg in custody as FSB allegedly charges him for espionage under the criminal code’s paragraph 276. Little details are provided on the charges. FSB has not published anything on the case on its portal, and the only information available is through media. Rosbalt writes that FSB allegedly believes Berg has received classified information from a named Russian citizen and transmitted this information to Norwegian special services. This information is, according to the news agency, “documents relating to the Russian navy.”

Press spokesperson with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Frode Overland Andersen says to the Barents Observer that Berg gets consular assistance by the Embassy in Moscow in accordance with guidelines for arrested Norwegian citizens abroad.

“The detained has a lawyer,” Overland Andersen says. He will not elaborate beyond these facts.

Frode Berg. Photo: Atle Staalesen

Theresa May applauded by her European counterparts — EU leaders prepare to move Brexit talks on to trade

December 15, 2017
THE leaders of the remaining 27 European Union members are poised to announce they are pleased that “sufficient progress” has been made in Brexit talks and we can now move on to the second phase.

Juncker: It’s up to the UK public and government if they leave EU

Theresa May has flown back to London after last night’s talks, leaving the EU27 leaders to vote on whether or not to allow Brexit talks to move onto the next stage.The Prime Minister was applauded by her European counterparts at a Brussels dinner last night after German Chancellor Angela Merkel thanked her for her efforts in Brexit talks.

The EU still wants more detail from Britain about her vision for the end state of Brexit talks but trade talks now appear to be on the horizon.

EU leaders have started to arrive at the summit this morning and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was among the first to speak to reports.

Speaking about May’s round of applause last night, he said: “Some of us thought, including me, that she did make big efforts and this has to be recognised.”

Asked about the Austrian Chancellor’s comments that Brexit could never happen, Juncker replied: “That depends on the British Parliament and the British people – it’s not for us to decide what the British have to do.”

Scroll down for live updates from Brussels

eu summit live

EU Summit: Juncker arrives as EU leaders prepare to move Brexit talks on to trade

9.05am Phase two talks will be tougherBoth European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Italian PM Paolo Gentiloni have warned this morning that the next stage of Britain’s path out of the EU will be tougher than the first.

Talks between Brexit Secretary David Davis and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier were at a standstill for months as the pair failed to agree on some of the crucial issues surrounding Britain’s divorce.

The deadlock was only broken last week following a tough we of negotiations for Theresa May as she tried to satisfy the needs of the EU, the Irish government, the DUP and the British Government.

However, if she thought that was tough, things are about to get a whole lot worse, according to some her European counterparts.

Speaking about May’s presentation to EU leaders last night, Gentiloni said they “welcomed with great courtesy her kindness in making herself available.

However, he warned: “We know that phase two will not be more simple than phase one.”

Earlier, Juncker told reporters: “First we have to formalise the withdrawal agreement and put it to the approval of the European Parliament.

“Phase 2 will be more difficult than phase 1.“

8.50am: Varadkar admits differences in opinion about future UK-EU relationship

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who has been closely involved in the final deal agreed between the EU and the UK, has admitted “there does seem to be quite divergent opinions” about the bloc’s future relationship with the UK.

From Ireland’s perspective, Mr Varadkar said he would like it “to look as much as the current relationship as possible.”

8.35am: Ireland demands a timeline

The Irish Europe minister, Helen McEntee, has urged her British counterparts to offer more clarity on the transition period to allay fears of uncertainty on the continent.

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The Telegraph

Theresa May applauded by EU leaders because she ‘made a big effort’ Jean-Claude Juncker says ahead of deal

  • EU leaders are set to give their approval for Brexit talks to move
  • Theresa May applauded by 27 member states
  • PM to continue to drive the process forward despite Commons defeat 
  • Brexit will be delivered ‘very successful and very timely way’
  • Tory rebels have increased the chances of a ‘no deal’ 

European leaders are set to give their approval for Brexit talks to move on to the next phase today after Jean-Claude Juncker said last week’s divorce deal amounted to “sufficient progress”.

Theresa May was in Brussels on Thursday night for the start of a two-day European Council summit at which she was applauded by leaders of the other 27 member states for her speech over dinner.

She told them over dinner that she wanted to approach the remaining stages of EU withdrawal with ambition, creativity and perseverance.

Mrs May insisted that she wanted to move onto the next phase of negotiations…

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Norway first country to switch off FM radio

December 13, 2017


© NTB Scanpix/AFP | Authorities say the transition to digital allows for better sound quality and more channels


Norway on Wednesday completed its transition to digital radio, becoming the first country in the world to shut down national broadcasts of its FM radio network despite some grumblings.

As scheduled, the country’s most northern regions and the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic switched to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) in the late morning, said Digitalradio Norge (DRN) which groups Norway’s public and commercial radio.

The transition, which began on January 11, allows for better sound quality, a greater number of channels and more functions, all at a cost eight times lower than FM radio, according to authorities.

The move has however been met with some criticism linked to technical incidents and claims that there is not sufficient DAB coverage across the country.

In addition, radio users have complained about the cost of having to buy new receivers or adapters, usually priced around 100 to 200 euros ($117 to $235).

Currently, fewer than half of motorists (49 percent) are able to listen to DAB in their cars, according to DRN figures.

According to a study cited by local media, the share of Norwegians who listen to the radio on a daily basis has dropped by 10 percent in one year, and public broadcaster NRK has lost 21 percent of its audience.

“It’s a big change and we have to give listeners time to adapt to digital radio,” the head of DRN, Ole Jorgen Torvmark, said in a statement.

“After each shutdown (in a region), we noticed that the audience first dropped but then rose again,” he added.

The transition concerns only national radio channels. Most local stations continue to broadcast in FM.

Other countries like Switzerland, Britain and Denmark are due to follow suit in the coming years.

EU Prepares to Discuss a Long-Delayed Trade Deal With Britain

December 12, 2017

Following a Brexit divorce accord, European leaders may finally authorize negotiations on the outlines of a future trade deal

By Emre Peker in Brussels and Jason Douglas and Stephen Fidler in London
The Wall Street Journal
Updated Dec. 12, 2017 12:59 p.m. ET

The biggest economic question posed by Brexit—trade—hangs unresolved almost 18 months after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

At the EU’s insistence, negotiations have until now focused on the terms of separation. But the two sides progressed on that last week.

At a summit this week, EU leaders may finally authorize negotiations on the next steps: a temporary transitional arrangement that will immediately follow Brexit in March 2019 and the outlines of a future trade deal.

That remains a crucial unknown for exporters across the U.K. and the European Union, the destination for almost half of British trade.

Mind the Gap

The U.K.-EU Trade Challenge

The delay has allowed the British government to sidestep its own divisions between those who want to hug the EU close and those who want to push it away to allow the U.K. to forge stronger ties with the rest of the world. In the coming week, Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet will formally hold its first in-depth discussions on the “end state,” her spokesman said.

Mrs. May has said the U.K. will leave the EU’s single market—its common zone of regulation—and its customs union, which sets uniform external tariffs for imports to the bloc.

Membership of both allows trade between EU members to carry on almost free of border checks. If the U.K. leaves either one without replicating the same arrangements from outside the EU, the likelihood is that a whole new raft of border bureaucracy will be required, creating delays at ports and disrupting international supply chains.

For the EU, Mrs. May’s vision has raised as many questions as they answer. “We need more clarity on how the U.K. sees our future relations, after it has left the single market and customs union,” European Council President Donald Tusk said after meeting Mrs. May last week.

Mrs. May has also said she wants trade with the EU to be free of tariffs and “as frictionless as possible.”

She has ruled out as insufficient a preferential-trade deal on the lines the EU struck with Canada in 2016. That eliminates tariffs on most goods. But it still leaves the need for significant border checks on goods imports to ensure they meet the required standards and provides only limited access to trade in services—hugely important to the British economy.

She has also rejected the so-called Norway model. For most purposes, Norway is part of the EU’s single—or internal—market. But the price is big financial contributions to the EU, acceptance of EU rules without a say in the legislation and swallowing the judgments of the EU courts, all of which Mrs. May has ruled out. Even with all this, Norway has a customs border with neighboring Sweden, an EU member, because Norway isn’t part of the EU’s customs union.

In last week’s deal, both sides agreed that to avoid the re-creation of a customs border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland—which is part of the U.K.—the U.K. would, if necessary, “maintain full alignment with those rules of the internal market and the customs union.”

To explain the apparent contradiction with Mrs. May’s statements, Brexit Secretary David Davis said on Sunday that full alignment doesn’t mean the U.K. plans to accept EU regulation post-Brexit. Instead, it aims to create its own regulation that will meet equivalent standards to the EU’s.

“We’ll meet the outcomes, but not do it by just copying or doing what the European Union does,” he told the British Broadcasting Corp.

But trade experts say the EU isn’t ready to accept such a halfway house, except perhaps in some limited areas—particularly since the U.K. has also said a central aim of leaving the bloc is to diverge from EU regulations. From the EU standpoint, frictionless trade is only possible if the U.K. becomes, like Norway, a regulatory satellite of the bloc.

“We want as much as possible [from a trade deal], but there needs to be a balance,” an EU official said. “The U.K. cannot have the rights of Norway but only the obligations of Canada.”


European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said last week that even with a comprehensive trade deal, EU trade with the U.K. will suffer from Brexit. “It cannot be totally frictionless because they are not in the internal market,” she said.

Fredrik Erixon, director of Brussels-based European Centre for International Political Economy, said there won’t be a big debate in Europe about cutting tariffs. “It’s the other part about regulations that will be difficult,” he said.

Mr. Erixon said the U.K. could achieve a closer deal than Canada—one that will look more like the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that the EU and the U.S. were negotiating until President Donald Trump halted talks. That agreement would have gone further than Canada’s by allowing some limited EU recognition of U.S. regulation, and vice versa.

Such an outcome would mean highly restricted access for U.K. financial-services firms to the EU market and a lot more bureaucracy for exporters. It also would leave unresolved the question of how to avoid a new customs border in Ireland.

Write to Emre Peker at, Jason Douglas at and Stephen Fidler at

Explosion at major Austrian gas hub, one dead, 18 injured

December 12, 2017

Steam rises after an explosion occurred at a gas station near Baumgarten an der March, Austria, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. (AP)
BAUMGARTEN AN DER MARCH, Austria: A large explosion rocked one of Europe’s biggest gas pipeline hubs in Austria on Tuesday, leaving one person dead and 18 injured, emergency services said.
Photos showed a huge tower of orange flame visible for miles around roaring out of the Baumgarten facility some 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of Vienna near the Slovak border.
“An explosion occurred at 8:45 am (0745 GMT), followed by a fire,” police spokesman Edmund Tragschitz told AFP.
He later put the number of people hurt, including one seriously as well as those with minor injuries, at around 60.
But Red Cross spokeswoman Sonja Kellner told the Austria Press Agency that one person had been killed and 18 were injured, one of them seriously who has since been airlifted to the hospital in Vienna.
“I heard a huge explosion and thought at first it was a plane crash,” photographer Thomas Hulik, a resident of a nearby village in Slovakia, told AFP.
“Then I saw an immense ball of flame,” he said.
Armin Teichert, a spokesman for the site’s operator Gas Connect Austria, said that the site had been evacuated and that the facility had been put into “security mode.”
The material damage is “major,” Teichert told AFP.
Police said on social media that people should avoid the area.
Media reports said that more than 200 fire fighters from several brigades in the surrounding area were called in to help, as well as a number of air ambulances.
Lower Austria state police said on Twitter that the situation was “under control.”
“Fire services are currently engaged in putting out the fire following the explosion. Emergency services are treating the wounded,” the statement said.
An AFP journalist nearby said that by late morning the flames had been extinguished but there was still a huge cloud of smoke over the site.
Other photos showed the heat from the blast was so extreme that cars parked at the site partially melted.
Police added that the cause of the incident was a “technical” one and the local authorities had begun an investigation.
The Baumgarten site is Austria’s largest reception point for gas, the end-point for a number of pipelines bringing it in from Russia, Norway and elsewhere.
It receives some 40 billion cubic meters of gas annually and redistributes it elsewhere in Europe including to Germany and northern Italy.
Teichert, the Gas Connect Austria spokesman, said that there could be interruptions in supply to Italy and Croatia, but not to elsewhere.
Russian gas giant Gazprom, which relies on the Baumgarten site to send gas to clients around Europe said in a statement that it was aware of the incident.
“Currently the company is working on redistribution of gas flows and (doing) its best to secure uninterrupted gas supplies to the clients on this transport direction,” Gazprom said.