Brussels Edition: Health Boost

Brussels Edition

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

The climbing of health policy up the EU political agenda continues today with a push to bolster two of the bloc's agencies. After early stumbles in curbing the coronavirus pandemic, the draft legislation aims to give more clout to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency. The Stockholm-based ECDC would gain more leeway to collect data and issue recommendations, while the EMA, now headquartered in Amsterdam, would see current ad-hoc arrangements with member states put on a firmer footing through, for example, regular monitoring of medicine shortages. But with health policy still very much the responsibility of national governments, the big question is how much ground the bloc's capitals will be willing to cede.                  

Viktoria Dendrinou and Jonathan Stearns

What's Happening

Anti-Terror Strategy | The latest draft of the joint communique on terrorism circulated ahead of this Friday's virtual meeting of home affairs ministers removes most references to Islam and Islamism. The climb-down is probably intended to reassure Muslims that the bloc's fight against terrorism won't stigmatize them. But the issue isn't going to go away on Friday, judging from Emmanuel Macron's latest comments.

Transatlantic Trade | Less than 48 hours after President-elect Joe Biden pledged to "make America respected around the world again," the EU reminded him that trans-Atlantic trade relations might be a good place to start, slapping tariffs on $4 billion worth of U.S. imports over illegal subsidies to Boeing. Besides the dogfight over airplane manufacturers, here's a rundown of the main U.S.-EU trade-related disagreements.

ECB Talks | The ECB should target higher average inflation and governments must spend their way out of recession, according to economists attending the institution's annual forum that starts today. The discussions come as monetary stimulus is boosted to unprecedented levels to counter the latest lockdown blow, while central bankers also grapple with longer-term economic challenges. Here's a rundown.

Money Progress | The EU's battered economies are a step closer to receiving vital funds to aid their recovery after negotiators struck a deal on the bloc's long-term spending plan. Still, the 1.8 trillion-euro budget and stimulus package could face yet more hurdles in the months ahead if countries unhappy with links between funds and the rule of law see through with threats to block it.

Surveillance Question | An EU development fund has financed biometric identity systems in Senegal and Cote d'Ivoire, in some cases to identify undocumented individuals living in Europe and to organize their return, according to a report by Privacy International. While such technologies can help establish someone's legal identity, civil rights advocates warn they can also facilitate discrimination.

In Case You Missed It

Biden Calling| The U.S. President-elect picked up the phone for a series of conversations with key European allies and the order his team ranked them in terms of importance in their readout was revealing: France, Germany, Ireland and the U.K. And for Boris Johnson, there was a warning too: He told the British leader not to compromise peace in Northern Ireland in his pursuit of Brexit.

Tech Target | Amazon became the EU's latest Big Tech target as regulators escalated a case over how it uses rivals' sales data on its platform and added a probe into whether it unfairly favors its own products. The move comes as antitrust authorities wrestle with how to act against online giants when setting rules for platforms that also host competitors.

Strong Bonds | The EU's second social bond sale is proving to be another hit. The five- and 30-year debt offering attracted an order book in excess of 140 billion euros, following the bloc's record debut offering last month. The sale, which will help pay for a regional employment program, is a boost to a small but fast-growing market for socially conscious bonds. 

Climate Risks | The ECB has a warning for investors: deal with the financial risks from climate change soon or we'll do it for you. On Monday, President Lagarde gave her bluntest warning yet that she's not happy with the status quo, saying that "climate risks are not adequately priced." 

Green Light | Frank Elderson overcame EU lawmakers' concerns over gender balance to clinch their backing to join the ECB's Executive Board. While Green and Socialist parliament members aired frustration over the lack of a female candidate, the majority in the economic affairs committee were swayed by the Dutchman's qualifications and experience with climate topics.

Virus Update | The resurgent virus continued its spread across Europe, with the Paris region expected to cross the threshold of more than 99% of initial ICU capacity taken by Covid-19 patients. Meanwhile, Denmark's government submitted a bill that would ban mink farming until 2022 as it seeks to address concerns that the animals may spread mutated variants of coronavirus to humans. Here's the latest.

Chart of the Day

Euro-area consumers have dedicated a greater share of spending to food since the start of the pandemic, and less to recreation, but the shift isn't accounted for in the region's official inflation measurements. According to research from the European Central Bank, price growth would have been some 0.2 percentage point higher from April to August if one accounted for changing consumption.

Today's Agenda

All times CET.

  • EU Parliament discusses U.S. election outcome
  • MEPs vote on plan to transition to a carbon-neutral EU by 2050
  • EU lawmakers debate ways to fight terrorism and safeguard freedom of expression and education
  • EU Commission unveils proposals for overhauling bloc's health-crisis management
  • ECB's Lagarde speaks at Sintra forum 

  • German government's panel of economic advisers publishes updated forecasts

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