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Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (L) shakes hands with the President of the United States Donald Trump on the first day of the G7 Summit.

 Leon Neal | Getty Images

Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (L) shakes hands with the President of the United States Donald Trump on the first day of the G7 Summit.

There could be fresh tensions over NATO contributions with Italy’s defense minister suggesting the rules should be changed on how countries contribute to the military alliance.

Members are obliged to spend the equivalent of 2 percent of their own gross domestic product (GDP) on NATO. These payments are used “to meet the needs of its armed forces, those of allies or of the alliance,” to pay pensions to retired military, to contribute to NATO-managed trust funds as well as research and development.

However, Elisabetta Trenta, the defense minister of the southern European nation, said in an interview that this rule should be broadened out.

“There are parts of our spending that are related to defense but are not in the defense budget,” she told the Financial Times in an interview published Monday, suggesting that areas such as cybersecurity should feature in the target. A spokesperson for Italy’s defense ministry was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC. A NATO spokesperson did not want to comment on the interview.

Contributions to NATO are a highly sensitive topic. President Donald Trump has often criticized other NATO members for not respecting the spending rule. Speaking at a NATO summit in 2017, Trump said: “Over the last eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all NATO countries combined. If all NATO members had spent just 2 percent of GDP on defense last year, we would have had another $119 billion for our collective defense.”

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China says US is trying to block tech development by stoking cybersecurity fears

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China’s government on Monday accused the United States of trying to block its industrial development by alleging that Chinese mobile network gear poses a cybersecurity threat to countries rolling out new internet systems.

And in a potential blow to the U.S.’s effort to rally its allies on the issue, British media reported that the country’s intelligence agencies have found it’s possible to limit the security risks of using Chinese equipment in so-called 5G networks.

The U.S. argues that Beijing might use Chinese tech companies to gather intelligence about foreign countries. The Trump administration has been putting pressure on allies to shun networks supplied by Huawei Technologies, threatening the company’s access to markets for next-generation wireless gear.

The company, the biggest global maker of switching gear for phone and internet companies, denies accusations it facilitates Chinese spying and said it would reject any government demands to disclose confidential information about foreign customers.

The U.S. government is trying to “fabricate an excuse for suppressing the legitimate development” of Chinese enterprises, said the spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, Geng Shuang. He accused the United States of using “political means” to interfere in economic activity, “which is hypocritical, immoral and unfair bullying.”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, speaking this weekend in Germany, urged European allies to take seriously “the threat” he said was posed by Huawei as they look for partners to build the new 5G mobile networks.

The 5G technology is meant to vastly expand the reach of networks to support internet-linked medical equipment, factory machines, self-driving cars and other devices. That makes it more politically sensitive and raises the potential cost of security failures.

Pence said Huawei and other Chinese telecom equipment makers provide Beijing with “access to any data that touches their network or equipment.” He appealed to European governments to “reject any enterprise that would compromise the integrity of our communications technology or our national security systems.”

In what could amount to a turning point for the U.S. effort to isolate Huawei, Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre has found that the risk of using its networks is manageable, according to the Financial Times and several other British media outlets.

The reports cited anonymous sources as saying that there are ways to limit cybersecurity risks, and that the U.K.’s decision would carry weight with European allies who are also evaluating the safety of their networks.

The British government is due to finish a review of its policies on the safety of 5G in March or April. The office of British Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday that “no decisions have been taken.”

European officials, including a vice president of the European Union, have expressed concern about Chinese regulations issued last year that require companies to cooperate with intelligence agencies. No country in Europe, however, has issued a blanket veto on using Huawei technology in the way the U.S. has urged.

The U.S. Justice Department last month unsealed charges against Huawei, its chief financial officer — who had been arrested in Canada — and several of the companies’ subsidiaries, alleging not only violation of trade sanctions but also the theft of trade secrets.

The United States has not, however, released evidence to support its accusations that Huawei and other Chinese tech companies allow the Chinese government to spy through their systems. That has prompted some industry analysts to suggest Washington is trying to use security concerns to handicap Chinese competitors.

“China has not and will not require companies or individuals to collect or provide foreign countries’ information for the Chinese government by installing backdoors or other actions that violate local laws,” said Geng.

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre admitted last summer that it had concerns about the engineering and security of Huawei’s networks. While not commenting Monday on the media reports, it added: “We have set out the improvements we expect the company to make.”

Huawei said in a statement Monday that it’s open to dialogue and that “cybersecurity is an issue which needs to be addressed across the whole industry.”

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Germany’s Bafin bans Wirecard short positions, cites negative reports

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Germany’s financial watchdog Bafin on Monday issued a ban against establishing or increasing short positions in Wirecard AG stock, citing market uncertainties due to the German payments company’s weak share performance.

“There is a risk that an impact exerted on the share price of Wirecard AG as a result of net short positions being entered into or existing net short positions being increased will cause excessive price movements in the share price of Wirecard AG, given this company’s importance for the economy,” Bafin added.

“Short attacks” followed and facilitated by negative reporting in the media had targeted the company between 2008 and 2016, Bafin said, adding, “through which short-sellers profited from entering into certain positions, resulting in corresponding decreases in the share price of Wirecard AG.”

Following a series of investigative reports in the Financial Times alleging fraud and creative accounting, a constituent of Germany’s blue-chip DAX index shed $10 billion in value since the Financial Times ran the first of a series of three investigative reports at the end of January.

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EU’s Juncker expects Trump to refrain from imposing higher tariffs on cars

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The European Union wants to improve trade relations with the United States, but will react swiftly if U.S. President Donald Trump decides to hit EU car imports with tariffs, the European Commission said on Monday.

“The European Union will stick to its word as long as the U.S. does the same,” Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a news conference.

“The European Commission is aware of the conclusion of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Commerce on whether car imports represent a threat to U.S. national security. Where this report translates into actions detrimental to European exports, the European Commission would react in a swift and adequate manner,” he said.

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