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Brussels Edition: Trump's other mess

Brussels Edition
Bloomberg

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

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo will today participate in his last meeting of NATO foreign ministers, with European allies as frustrated by Donald Trump's administration at its end as they were at its start. The video conference comes on the heels of the president's unilateral decision to cut U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan to 2,500 by Jan. 15, a move that has forced partners to scramble to protect the alliance's assistance mission in the war-torn country. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg took the rare step of admonishing Washington by saying that withdrawing forces prematurely risks a resurgence of international terrorism. While NATO officials insist enough key U.S. soldiers will remain in Afghanistan to allow the international mission there to continue, its future may depend on a meeting of the alliance's defense ministers in February, just weeks after the Biden administration takes office

Jonathan Stearns and Nikos Chrysoloras

What's Happening

Brexit Drama | Politicians from the EU and the U.K. say a post-Brexit trade deal could be struck this week, even as they put the onus on each other to make the final concessions. We'll believe it when we see it.

Deadlocked Stimulus | Hungary and Poland are headed for the gravest clash with their EU peers since they joined the bloc, reiterating yesterday their opposition to the strings attached to a landmark stimulus package. If a compromise solution isn't miraculously found by tomorrow, the issue of the blocked EU budget will likely dominate the leaders' summit next week. 

Banking Talks | EU finance ministers will today hold their monthly chat to check in on key areas of their joint work. Chief among them: efforts to complete the banking union with common deposit insurance, a project stalled for years. Question is, will the momentum from a deal yesterday on overhauling the euro-area bailout fund finally help push this over the line? 

Virus Update | The EU may seek an international treaty to fight future pandemics, according to an informal policy paper circulated ahead of next week's summit, which we've seen. Meanwhile, Moderna applied for conditional marketing authorization for its vaccine in Europe. Sweden warns though that inoculations won't make the illness go away anytime soon.

In Case You Missed It

Battery Standards | The EU plans to impose stricter environmental requirements for batteries, Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius told us in an interview. To make batteries greener, the bloc will require more responsible sourcing of raw materials, using clean energy in production, cutting the share of hazardous substances and boosting energy efficiency, according to Sinkevicius.

Amazon Fight | Amazon faced the prospect of an escalating conflict with the EU last month when the bloc's competition chief set out evidence that the company may have unfairly used sales data from smaller retailers. While the dispute could be a repeat of the EU's bruising fight against Google, Margrethe Vestager has struck a surprisingly conciliatory note.

French Protests | Emmanuel Macron is backing away from plans to make it harder to film French police after footage of officers attacking a Black man prompted outrage at mass protests across the country over the weekend. His government has decided to rewrite the controversial section of a new security law following the demonstrations.

Sarkozy's Trial | Nicolas Sarkozy denied allegations that he abused his power to woo a senior court official into giving him a helping hand in a legal dispute. The 65-year-old is only the second former French president to go on trial in modern times and the first over corruption accusations.

Scottish Independence | Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called on voters to unite behind her party and strengthen her mandate for an independence referendum that the British government is refusing to sanction. Polls in Scotland show that there's now clear majority support for independence from the U.K.

Chart of the Day

Just over half of businesses globally expect to have returned to pre-Covid levels of profitability by the end of next year, according to a poll of about 10,400 companies in 39 markets. That still leaves about nine out of 20 that don't expect to make the mark until 2022 or later, the survey by Kantar on behalf of HSBC found.

Today's Agenda

All times CET.

  • 10 a.m. Webinar with ESMA Chair Steven Maijoor
  • 11 a.m. Eurostat to release October inflation flash estimate
  • 11 a.m. OECD publishes latest economic forecasts
  • 1:25 p.m. EU Tech Chief Margrethe Vestager speaks at the virtual FT Live conference about tech, trade and Transatlantic relations
  • European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee will discuss the latest developments on procedures on LGBTI rights in Hungary and Poland
  • MEPs will quiz Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri over allegations that the agency's staff were involved in pushbacks of asylum-seekers by Greek border guards
  • EU finance ministers video conference to discuss strengthening the bloc's capital-markets union, international taxation
  • European Health Summit. Top speakers include Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders and Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke
  • Video conference of NATO's foreign affairs ministers
  • EU climate chief Frans Timmermans delivers a speech at the FT Energy Transition Strategies Summit and another speech at the first plenary session of the EU-Russia Climate Change Conference  

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