FirstFT: Europe predicts risk of Russia cutting off gas

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Europe is drawing up contingency plans in the event of a complete halt to Russian gas imports, the EU energy commissioner has said, warning that any country risks being cut off by Moscow.

Kadri Simson said the EU was rushing to store as much gas as possible and could replace most supplies from Russia this year, but would have to do more if there was a “complete disruption” to supplies.

Plans being drawn up by the European Commission would include measures to ration gas supplies to industry while sparing households, according to people familiar with the proposals.

Russian state gas supplier Gazprom has already cut off gas supplies to Poland, Bulgaria and Finland for refusing to comply with a Kremlin decree to pay their bills in rubles instead of euros or euros. dollars.

“We are facing a situation where any Member State could be the next [to be cut off]”, Simson said in an interview. “This year, if there is a total disruption, we prepare contingency plans.

Thank you for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa. Here is the rest of the news from the day.

The news of the war in Ukraine

  • Military briefing: Ukrainian forces proved to be nimble, leaving room for company and platoon commanders to shape tactics on the ground.

  • Russian Economy: Russia’s central bank cut its main key rate to 11% from 14%. The rise of the ruble not only belies a struggling economy, but lowers the local currency value of dollar-denominated oil and gas revenues.

  • Opinion: The use of seized Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine is generating exciting rhetoric – and causing private angst among many Davos business and financial elites, writes Gillian Tett.

  • The FT view: A ban on Russian imports should remain the priority, but a stopgap measure to stem Moscow’s profiteering from energy sales – a punitive European tariff on Russian oil, proposed by the United States and others – deserves consideration. be examined.

1. Sunak engages in ‘serious redistribution’ to help the UK’s poorest Stung by criticism of his spring statement, Rishi Sunak has committed to “serious redistribution from rich to poor” in his latest moves to tackle the cost of living crisis, analysts say. The Financial Times looks at how the new support will help different households.

2. North Sea operators warn of cuts in investment and production Oil and gas operators have reacted in dismay after the UK announced a multi-year profit raid, with a warning that they will review their commitments to the North Sea after the government announced a windfall tax that could remain in place until the end of 2025.

3. JD Sports reassures investors after longtime boss’ sudden exit The unexpected departure of executive chairman Peter Cowgill from JD Sports was due to disagreements over governance and succession and was unrelated to the delay in publishing its annual results, the British retailer told investors yesterday, adding that there was no suggestion of impropriety.

4. EY plans global audit spin-off EY is working on a spin-off of its global audit and advisory operations in the biggest overhaul of a Big Four accountancy firm in two decades, according to people familiar with the plans. This audit-focused firm would retain experts in areas such as taxation to support business audits.

5. The United States Says China Is the Biggest Threat to the International Order Despite Russia’s war in Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China was the most serious threat to global stability, accusing Beijing of becoming “more repressive at home and more aggressive abroad”. . Washington plans to counter China but “does not seek . . . a new cold war”.

  • Learn more about China: Beijing promotes its Global Security Initiative, an alternative security order based on principles such as non-interference and holding grudges against US “hegemony”.

The day ahead

Economic data France will release preliminary employment figures for the first quarter and final gross domestic product data for the same period.

NATO The spring session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly begins today in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Events The MCM London Comic Con opens its doors at the ExCeL conference center in London.

What else we read

A generation locked in the UK savings crisis Many young Britons have a looming sense of financial malaise as the cost of living crisis makes it harder to manage money from month to month, let alone save for the future. Goals that previous generations took for granted – a home and a secure retirement – ​​seem out of reach.

Africa’s fastest growing companies Technology, fintech and agricultural commodities are where some of Africa’s fastest growing companies operate and investors are taking notice. In its first ranking of African businesses, the FT worked with data firm Statista to provide a snapshot of the business landscape on the continent.

Geetanjali Shree and Daisy Rockwell win historic Booker Geetanjali Shree has been announced as the winner of the 2022 International Booker Prize for her sprawling and multi-faceted novel sand tomb. The book, translated from Hindi by Daisy Rockwell, which wins an equal share of the £50,000 prize, is the first in an Indian language to win the prize.

Daisy Rockwell, left, and Geetanjali Shree

Daisy Rockwell, left, and Geetanjali Shree celebrate their victory © Andrew Fosker/Seconds Left

Apple Raises Salaries Due to Rising Inflation and Labor Competitiveness The iPhone maker will raise wages to cope with organizing efforts, inflationary pressures and an increasingly tight labor market. The new minimum of $22 an hour for retail workers in the United States is up 45% from 2018. Apple also plans to raise wages for employees outside the United States.

Crypto and sports are betting on a winning combination to woo fans When Crypto.com stamped its name on the main sports arena in Los Angeles, exchange boss Kris Marszalek said the $700 million deal marked cryptocurrencies’ move into the mainstream. Six months later, the exuberance around virtual assets has died down, but the love affair between sports and crypto seems like a perfect match.

Film

What Tom Cruise’s New Movie Says About American Power Top Gun: Maverick arrived in theaters this week with impeccable geopolitical timing, just as US President Joe Biden reassured Asia-Pacific partners of Washington’s commitment. What better time for a display of vulgar American soft power, offering a clear vision of American military prowess?

  • Review: Tom Cruise is back in the cockpit 36 ​​years later Superior gun burst onto the cinema screens. ” Narration. . . reminds you of the best version of old Hollywood,” writes FT film critic Danny Leigh.

Tom Cruise as Pete Mitchell

Tom Cruise’s Pete Mitchell is called back to coach young pilots in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ © Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures

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Mary I. Bruner