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Good morning. We begin the week with a preview of a critical EU meeting today, where Ukraine is expected to demand more aid from the bloc’s foreign and defence ministers.

Kyiv this month made an urgent plea to western allies for seven additional air defence systems, such as US-made Patriots or Soviet-developed S-300s, as Russia steps up an air and missile campaign against the country’s cities and power infrastructure.

Greece and Spain in particular are facing intense pressure from their EU and Nato allies. European leaders personally urged Spanish and Greek prime ministers Pedro Sánchez and Kyriakos Mitsotakis at a summit in Brussels last week to donate air defence systems to Ukraine, according to people briefed on the discussions. 

The two leaders, whose armed forces possess between them more than a dozen Patriot systems plus others such as S-300s, were told that their needs were not as great as Ukraine’s and that they did not face any imminent threats. Here’s what to expect at today’s meeting.

  • Race against time: Ukraine faces tough weeks ahead to stem Russian battlefield advances despite this weekend’s passage of a long-awaited US funding bill.

  • Opinion: Ukraine is the frontline of a much larger conflict, writes Gideon Rachman, with the US vote to provide extra money to Kyiv and others showing how America now sees the world.

And here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:

  • Christine Lagarde: The European Central Bank president will speak at Yale University on the importance of ideas in driving economic growth.

  • Rwanda bill: The African nation is taking steps to host asylum seekers sent from Britain, after UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak vowed to get the legislation though parliament today.

  • ‘Hush money’ case: Opening arguments begin in the criminal trial of Donald Trump. The former US president has spent more than a quarter of his campaign donations — or about $76mn — on his legal fees since last January.

  • Results: SAP and Ten Lifestyle Group report.

  • Passover: The Jewish festival commemorating the Israelites’ liberation from slavery in Egypt begins this evening.

  • Earth Day: The annual event raising awareness about environmental protection will be marked around the world today. This year’s theme is “Planet vs Plastics”.

Five more top stories

1. Exclusive: The global banking regulator is sounding out investors on the suitability of additional tier 1 bonds, a form of debt that was wiped out when Credit Suisse collapsed last year. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision held a series of high-level meetings with bank executives, investors and credit rating agencies at the European Banking Authority in recent weeks, according to people with knowledge of the talks. Read the full story.

2. The UK’s top financial regulator is facing a fierce backlash over its plan to “name and shame” companies under investigation more frequently and at a much earlier stage. The move by the Financial Conduct Authority has caused anger in ministerial circles and among City executives, with a senior government figure saying “they have got to stop”.

3. Exclusive: The New York Stock Exchange is polling market participants on a 24/7 bourse, highlighting the growing interest in overnight trading in the likes of Nvidia or Apple. The issue has become a hot topic in recent years, prompted in part by the 24-seven operation of cryptocurrency trading and the rise in retail investor activity. Jennifer Hughes has more details

4. Tesla shareholders are bracing themselves for its worst performance in seven years in its quarterly results tomorrow, as the carmaker faces slowing demand and a brutal price war. Investors will also be looking for changes in focus at Elon Musk’s company after reports it was slowing plans for a cheaper electric car in favour of self-driving “robotaxis”. Here’s what to know ahead of Tesla’s earnings.

5. The US is set to blacklist an Israeli military unit for alleged human rights abuses against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, in what would be its first sanctions against the Israel Defense Forces. The sanctions would ban the transfer of American arms and other forms of assistance to the Netzah Yehuda battalion, an all-male infantry unit made up of ultra-Orthodox and religious nationalist Jewish recruits.

  • Hizbollah: The Lebanese militant group’s limited participation in hostilities between Iran and Israel last week has been viewed as a signal of restraint.

  • Iran: Who pulls the strings of power in Tehran? Our explainer breaks down the regime’s intricate, multi-layered and opaque power structure.

News in-depth

Fulop Illes, the managing director of a speciality importer of Hungarian foods based in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire
Fulop Illes, the managing director of a speciality importer of Hungarian foods, says his customs agent has estimated the border inspection fees will cost him £8,880 a month © Andrew Fox/FT

Small and medium-sized importers of food and plants from the EU will face punitive monthly charges running into tens of thousands of pounds when post-Brexit border checks come into force at the end of this month, industry bodies have warned. Fees on EU goods arriving at Dover and Eurotunnel, which handle the bulk of UK food imports, have been capped at £145 per product type, but trade groups said the charges would quickly add up, leaving smaller operators facing crippling cost levels.

We’re also reading . . . 

  • Proxy advisers: Companies should stop attacking the firms that play a vital role in building a well-functioning shareholder democracy, writes Andrew Hill.

  • EU economy: The bloc is still punching below its weight economically, writes Martin Sandbu, and needs the political boldness to achieve it.

  • Overstimulated US: One overlooked reason for America’s economic resilience is stimulus still coursing through the economy, but it cannot sustain such aggressive spending indefinitely, writes Ruchir Sharma.

  • Professional services: With the number of staff leaving of their own accord at historic lows, bosses of consulting and accounting firms have been desperate to increase attrition.

Chart of the day

Scientists and health services are monitoring the upcoming European summer for signs of another season of extreme heat, after finding that deaths linked to hot weather on the continent have risen 30 per cent over the past two decades.

Europe reported a record number of days with ‘extreme heat stress’ in 2023. Chart showing the Area of southern Europe affected by ‘strong’, ‘very strong’ or ‘extreme heat stress’ as a % of the total area of Europe 13% of the continent, and 41% of southern Europe, experienced heat stress on July 23

Take a break from the news

If you still find it hard not to stare at yourself when you’re on a Zoom meeting, you are not alone. Elaine Moore explains why the rise in video calls has birthed a whole new set of problems for tech companies — and us.

Illustration of a screen of video call with many mini screens showing face parts
© Ben Hickey

Additional reporting from Benjamin Wilhelm

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