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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—EU’s new budget, Moscow’s anti-fracking push, AbbVie shops, electric Harleys

What to watch for today

The EU plans what to spend next year… Finance ministers meet in Luxembourg to discuss the EU’s draft budget for 2015 and specifically projects to boost the European economy.

…While the euro area reports less skepticism. The European Commission’s consumer confidence index for the euro zone ranks is expected to come in at -6.5 for June, a boost from -7.1 in May. The index has been climbing steadily over the past year.

A quiet day in English workplaces. A survey by betting chain Ladbrokes found that one in 10 workers was contemplating taking a sick day if England lost its World Cup game against Uruguay. It lost 2-1, effectively knocking England out of the tournament.

Microsoft takes on the tablet market. The Surface Pro 3, “the tablet that can replace your laptop” will be released. The marketing ploy has backfired though, because, as many tech reviewers have pointed out, it can’t.

World Cupdate. Italy v Costa Rica (5pm BST), Switzerland v France (8pm), and Honduras v Equador (11pm).

While you were sleeping

NATO claimed Moscow was funding anti-fracking groups. European environmental groups campaigning against fracking have been infiltrated and funded by Russian intelligence groups, as Moscow wishes to keep Europe dependent on Russian energy, NATO’s general secretary said.

America is sending Iraq men but not missiles. Some 300 special-forces troops will serve as military advisers to help the army fight Sunni insurgents, but the US won’t meet Iraq’s request for airstrikes. US officials believe that it’s time (paywall) for prime minister Nuri al-Maliki to go.

75 scientists may have been exposed to anthrax. Scientists working in US federal government laboratories in Atlanta may have been exposed to live anthrax bacteria, according to the Center for Disease Congrol. Researchers failed to inactivate the bacteria before bringing it to a lab unequipped to handle live anthrax.

Westfield Group will go ahead with a $65 billion de-merger. The global shopping center empire will be split (paywall) into two companies. The company’s Australian and New Zealand portfolio will be combined with Australia’s Westfield Retail Trust, while its US and UK portfolio will remain with Westfield Group.

Sprint secured $40 billion for its takeover of T-Mobile US. The merger of the third- and fourth-largest US mobile operators edged closer after Sprint said it had gathered eight banks to finance the move, according to Reuters. The companies will finalize the details of a merger over the coming month, and may announce a tie-up in August.

AbbVie talked takeovers with Shire. Not to be left out of the pharmaceutical world’s mega mergers, US-based AbbVie, valued at $86 billion, approached London-listed Shire, which is worth around $38 billion—to discuss a potential takeover, Reuters reports.

Apple will begin watch production. Taiwanese company Quanta Computer will begin mass production in July. Nicknamed the “iWatch,” this is Apple’s first venture into a niche market many remain skeptical about. The launch could be as early as October.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on the burgeoning financial industry that’s based on $20 cellphones. “Where the West has the web, the poor world has Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD)—a simple, text-based data-transfer protocol used on mobile networks. And it is being used for everything from day-to-day transactions to tax payments, and from insurance to savings.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

La Roja needs a major rebirth. The Spanish football team, former world champions, has “tired players and tired tactics.”

College professors shouldn’t call their students “kids.” It belittles them and cultivates childish behavior in the very place they’re meant to be figuring out adult life.

Prince Charles should abdicate. An unpopular king could ruin Britain’s tourism industry, as well as the monarchy’s place in the Commonwealth countries.

American Apparel’s ousting of Charney was way overdue. After a decade of accusations, what on earth took so long?

Republicans claims of “irrelevant” Muslims are ironic. A recent claim that moderate Muslims are irrelevant because of the extremists among them is an interesting view, given the GOP’s problem with the Tea Party.

Laziness, not totalitarian governments, will bring down the internet. Too few people are willing to make the effort to sneak around censorship.

The global economy needs Saudi Arabia. Its oil is all the more important in light of tensions in Iraq.

Surprising discoveries

Americans are finally catching on to the European mindset. They’re working less and sleeping more.

There are spiders that catch and eat fish. These “widespread” arachnids use poison to sedate their large prey.

Spain and Portugal could survive on their own geothermal energy. Forget wind and solar—all the power they need is bubbling away underground.

Harley-Davidson is testing an electric motorcycle. The silent two-wheeler will spend the year traveling down Route 66.

A sugar substitute kills fruit flies. Flies fed on other sweeteners lived longer than a month—those on Truvia, just six days.

South Korea is the global leader of R&D spending. Private sector spending on R&D has more than doubled in the last 10 years.

Two things that can help your job prospects. Mentioning high school sports on your résumé, and—in the American South—being Jewish, can increase your chances.

Switzerland is the greenest country in the World Cup. Brazil would make it to the environmental quarter-finals.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, high school mascots, and electric Harley gear to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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