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Brussels Edition: All against all

Brussels Edition
Bloomberg

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

There's still a week to go before the next summit of EU leaders, and we've almost lost count of the veto threats. Germany told member-state envoys last night that there's no progress in persuading Hungary and Poland to allow the bloc's budget and stimulus plan to proceed. Earlier in the day, France noted that unanimity is needed to approve a potential post-Brexit accord, a less-than-subtle signal it may block whatever deal chief negotiator Michel Barnier brings from London. Eastern European governments have warned they won't approve a proposed communique that commits the bloc to a transformational cut in carbon emissions without more details on funding. And we're told that Greece won't accept any planned statement on Turkey if it doesn't pave the way for punitive measures. Last July's agreement on a jointly financed recovery fund was hailed as a true triumph. The way things are going that could be matched by next week's monumental failure.

Nikos Chrysoloras and John Ainger

What's Happening

Touch and Go | As the two Brexit negotiating teams plow on in London today, Barnier said the three big outstanding issues in trade talks with the U.K. are still unresolved. The two sides are trying for a deal before next week, but some member states, notably France and the Netherlands, are worried he's giving too much away.

Airplane Dispute | We are told the U.S. and EU's top trade officials have stepped up work to settle a long-running dispute over aircraft subsidies before President Donald Trump leaves office in January. An agreement on the case involving Boeing and Airbus would mark a surprise turn of events after months of tension and stalemate. Officials in Europe are cautious about the likelihood of an imminent breakthrough.

Digital Detox | The Commission will today publish plans to better tackle disinformation online, likely increasing pressure on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Meanwhile, the EU's highly anticipated Digital Acts — which seek to rein in the power of big tech firms and curb illegal content online —  have been delayed until Dec. 15.

Hounding Hungary | From a fierce dispute over the EU budget to a rule-breaking pandemic party in Brussels, Hungary is on a wild ride in EU-related matters. The bloc's top court will today give a non-binding opinion on Hungary's challenge to a 2018 European Parliament vote that triggered a formal rule-of-law probe against the nation.

State Aid | The EU court will also give a non-binding opinion on the bloc's challenge to Belgium's successful appeal of an EU state-aid order to recoup some 800 million euros in unpaid taxes from at least 35 companies. It follows a stinging defeat for EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager when in July Apple successfully annulled a record tax-back order of 13 billion euros.

In Case You Missed It

Deflation Alarm | When the coronavirus first hit Europe, Manuel Vegas asked his Spanish association of hotel owners to avoid cutting room costs by more than 25%. Instead, they plunged as much as 60%. It's just one example of how southern European economies reliant on tourism and services are facing the prospect of a deflationary trap

Vatican Finances | Bureaucrats are pushing back against Pope Francis's drive for transparency and accountability, refusing to give up the privileges that the control of money grants them. Here's our story on the inner workings of the Vatican's sprawling finances

Travel Guidance | EU regulators offered a fresh set of safe-travel recommendations. The goals is to make it easier for people to cross borders within the bloc while guarding against another resurgence of the coronavirus. Take a look here.

Hey Joe | EU foreign ministers will on Monday swear an oath of allegiance to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, according to a draft of their joint statement that we've seen. "Cherishing the past while embracing the future," says the loaded communique, which includes a thinly veiled swipe at China. 

ECB Calls | ECB Chief Economist Philip Lane — whose calls to banks and investors renewed unease over the institutions communication's strategy — said he will continue making them. The central bank is expected to boost its crisis-fighting bond package by 500 billion euros next week.

Listen Up | In this week's episode of the Brussels Edition podcast, we look at Brexit trade talks as negotiations enter extra time. Could a single phone call between French President Emmanuel Macron and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson be all that's needed to break the deadlock?

Chart of the Day

The pandemic is depressing wages, with International Labour Organization data showing the brunt is being borne by women and the lowest paid. Average pay in Japan, South Korea and the U.K. came under pressure in the first half of the year. Wages in Brazil, Canada, France, Italy and the U.S. rose on balance, but chiefly because job losses were concentrated among the least well-paid, according to the ILO's Global Wage Report 2020-21.

Today's Agenda

All times CET.

  • 9:30 a.m. The EU's top court gives a non-binding opinion in a challenge by Hungary against the European Parliament's vote to trigger a probe against the country
  • 10:30 a.m. EESC Plenary Session debate on a Europe Fit for the Digital Age with Commission Executive Vice-President Vestager
  • 11 a.m. Eurostat to release October retail trade reading
  • 12:30 a.m. Commission unveils European Democracy Action Plan and a new Strategy on the Charter of Fundamental Rights
  • 1:30 p.m. Fireside chat with Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President of the Commission
  • 7:25 p.m. Fireside chat with research Commissioner Mariya Gabriel and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel
  • The EU's top court gives a non-binding opinion in a challenge by a passenger seeking compensation over a flight delay 
  • The EU's top court gives a non-binding opinion in a challenge by the Commission against Belgium and companies that were ordered to pay back taxes

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