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Brussels Edition: Brexit’s moment of truth

Brussels Edition

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

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, will brief ambassadors of the 27 member states first thing this morning about the final few hours of trade negotiations with the U.K. In the evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will speak with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, by which time the two sides hope things might be wrapped up. That's unlikely, EU officials say. But even with pessimism abounding, there are some signs that a deal might still be attainable. A compromise is now in sight on access to British fishing waters, a longstanding obstacle. The matter of the level playing field for business, however, is still proving tricky. Negotiators will spend today in Brussels trying to find a solution. Sit tight.

Viktoria Dendrinou and Ian Wishart

What's Happening

External Relations | EU foreign ministers meeting today are due to streamline the bloc's legislation for sanctioning human-rights abuses abroad. They'll also declare their unequivocal commitment to the transatlantic alliance, while continuing deliberations on the EU's push for strategic autonomy. "Calls for autonomy cannot simply be a front for unilateralism or anti-Americanism," the U.S. said in a policy paper before the meeting.

Turkish Sanctions | Also at the foreign ministers meeting, Greece will test the waters on its ambitious demands for punitive measures against Turkey ahead of Thursday's leaders summit. Greece's wish list, which we've seen, includes the potential prohibition of transactions between European companies and Turkish banks and businesses and a full arms embargo.

How Much Money? | EU economic policymakers face a defining moment. Leaders convene for a summit on Dec. 10, seeking to end a row with Poland and Hungary over the terms of the historic 1.8 trillion-euro stimulus package. Only if they succeed, can the ECB have confidence that the stimulus it's poised to unveil the same day will have the requisite potency.

Virus Update | The U.K. will start vaccinations tomorrow amid plans for a celebrity-led advertising campaign to boost uptake, which will reportedly even feature the Queen. Inoculations could also begin as early as Friday in the U.S., while most EU countries are preparing their national strategies with vaccinations expected to start in January. Here's the latest.

In Case You Missed It

Romanian Results | Romania's ruling party remains confident of leading the next government, despite coming a surprise second in elections yesterday. It's an important result: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban's liberals steered Romania away from the course plotted by his Social Democrat predecessors, who'd flirted with the policies that set Hungary and Poland on a collision course with the EU.

Mink Fallout | For breeders of European mink, the pandemic has been more than just a threat to their health. The past weeks wiped out their business and spawned a political crisis in Denmark that's turned into a cautionary tale of the coronavirus's potential to endure as a menace. 

French Protests | Thousands of people have taken to French streets over the past three years to express anger over rising social and economic inequalities. Here's what triggered the most recent protests and why the outrage has pivoted on tougher new security laws and police abuses.

Spy Capital | Vienna has long been a smuggling hub for the heavily sanctioned North Korean regime and a gateway to Europe for the small number of spies it has based on the continent. But the city could grow in importance if Joe Biden convinces Kim Jong Un to consider rolling back his weapons program, with the UN's top nuclear watchdog based there.

Chart of the Day

It's becoming increasingly costly to pollute in the EU. The price of a permit to emit the equivalent of a metric ton of carbon dioxide topped 30 euros ($36) for the second time in a week on Friday, crossing a level it's exceeded this year only on two other occasions. In coming days, the bloc will consider whether to impose tighter restrictions on emissions than already planned, a decision that might push prices beyond the record high of 31 euros a ton set in April 2006. 

Today's Agenda

All times CET.

  • 7:30 a.m. EU Brexit negotiator Barnier to brief government envoys on state of play of EU-UK talks
  • 9:30 a.m. EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels to discuss transatlantic relations, Turkey, Hong Kong, EU's strategic autonomy 
  • 9 a.m. Video conference of EU telecommunications ministers
  • 11 a.m. European Investment Bank President Werner Hoyer speaks at EPC event
  • 12:20 p.m. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will take part in Politico online event
  • 1 p.m. EU's Margrethe Vestager speaks at OECD competition conference 
  • Commission President Von der Leyen to hold call with U.K. Prime Minister Johnson on Brexit negotiations 
  • Commissioner Didier Reynders holds a videoconference discussion on the rule of law with the European affairs committee of the French parliament
  • Commission Vice President Vera Jourova holds video-call with Google CEO Sundar Pichai 
  • Internal market bill expected back in British House of Commons
  • G-7 finance ministers and central bank governors video meeting

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