Brussels Edition: Brexit Talks Enter the Danger Zone

Brussels Edition

Welcome to the Brussels Edition, Bloomberg's daily briefing on what matters most in the heart of the European Union.

Talks between the EU and the U.K. are on a knife-edge, with only two days of negotiations left before Prime Minister Boris Johnson decides whether he's seen enough to keep going. Major differences remain between the two sides, as the bloc's chief negotiator Michel Barnier will outline today when he addresses European affairs ministers in Luxembourg. With France digging in over access to British fishing waters, EU governments are getting nervous about the prospects of no deal and want to step up preparations. That's likely to be a focus of discussions when leaders meet this week.

Viktoria Dendrinou and Ian Wishart

What's Happening

Travel Curbs | Ministers meeting today will also formally sign off on a common threshold for imposing travel restrictions. While the non-binding recommendation lacks ambition compared with the European Commission's original proposal, it may provide some welcome clarity to the continent's battered airlines and travelers confused by the patchwork of country-by-country measures and abrupt announcements.

Recovery Tussle | Ministers will also discuss the tedious process of finalizing a deal over the bloc's 1.8 trillion-euro budget and recovery package. The jointly-backed debt will probably make the EU the world's largest social and green debt issuer and one of the biggest overall with a stellar credit rating. Here's what the EU's budget chief Johannes Hahn told us in an interview about the Commission's issuance plans.

Climate Showdown? | Finally, ministers will also seek agreement over the joint communique for this week's summit. The latest wording circulated to diplomats yesterday (which we saw) still doesn't explicitly commit leaders to a 55% cut in carbon emissions by 2030, while being stronger than the previous version of the text. We're told some member states aren't comfortable with the increased goal, so don't exclude a showdown.

Tax Delays | Global tech giants will have to wait until mid-2021 to find out if they'll be hit by a tax on their revenues, after the OECD said talks won't conclude this year. Negotiators will present blueprints for the tax overhaul to a G-20 meeting tomorrow, as the delay risks straining a fragile truce in a transatlantic trade dispute sparked by this issue. 

Virus Update | The coronavirus continued its unrelenting spread, with resurgences across Europe spurring containment efforts, even as leaders express concerns that new restraints will decimate the region's already fragile economy. Here's the latest.

In Case You Missed It

Mediterranean Tensions | A Turkish survey ship returned to the contested waters of the eastern Mediterranean yesterday as deepening frictions with Greece challenge international efforts to defuse the showdown there. While the two countries agreed last month to resume talks to resolve territorial disputes, any headway has already been undermined by an exchange of barbs and lingering tensions over planned naval drills.

Belarus Sanctions | The EU moved toward sanctioning Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko after he disregarded calls to work toward new free and fair elections, a decision that follows the blacklisting of 40 Belarusian officials this month. The bloc also pledged to take up a proposal to blacklist individuals in Russia over the attempted murder of opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

ECB Warning | Top ECB officials amplified their call on governments to keep supporting euro-area economies as they recover from the coronavirus slump. Their appeal comes as countries impose new restrictions to curb a surge in infections that may scupper the region's nascent recovery and raise the need for more stimulus. 

French Business | Emmanuel Macron is leaning on a former cabbie to fine tune his economic policies in this time of crisis. An entrepreneur who failed his high-school diploma, Alain Griset talked to us about how he'll help the French president save the country's economic backbone of mom-and-pop firms.

Chart of the Day

Central banks' iron-clad independence appears to be waning due to attacks from politicians, according to a European Central Bank paper. That's based on a study that looked at 13 monetary authorities, accounting for 75% of global economic output, in the 2018-2019 period. The authors found nearly half experienced a de-facto deterioration of autonomy.

Today's Agenda

All times CET.

  • 9 a.m. European Committee of the Regions debates Green Deal with European Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans
  • 10:30 a.m. German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at European Committee of the Regions assembly
  • EU's European affairs ministers meet in Luxembourg to prepare this week's summit, discuss Covid-19 measures and EU budget
  • Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel gives speech on the state of the nation

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