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Brussels Edition: Rounding the final corner

Brussels Edition
Bloomberg

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

Just when you thought a trade deal with the U.K. was in sight — all this week people close to the talks were suggesting it could come as early as today — up pops a spanner in the works. British officials briefed last night the EU had suddenly turned up with a new set of demands, sending the talks backward. They didn't say what the demands were and EU officials denied they'd put anything new on the table. It's not surprising that, so close to the end, it's descended into a row between Britain and France. It's probably not terminal and officials still speak of being hopeful of a deal soon. But that Dec. 31 post-Brexit transition period expiration is getting ever closer.

— Ian Wishart and Alexander Weber

What's Happening

Surreal Talks | Negotiations over next year's EU budget may conclude today. The situation is bordering on the surreal, as Germany (on behalf of member states) and lawmakers seek an accord on how to spend money that's blocked by Hungary and Poland. Still, there are some positive noises from Warsaw that there may be a solution to the deadlock.

More Stimulus | The European Central Bank will extend two key stimulus programs through the end of next year to support the economy until vaccines are widely enough available to entrench the recovery, according to economists. Read our survey ahead of next week's policy meeting here.

Derivatives Muddle | The EU's top markets regulator delivered a fresh warning that big European banks will face difficulties trading derivatives when they are locked out of London's dominant trading platforms at the end of the Brexit transition. Steven Maijoor, who heads the Paris-based ESMA, said the troubles faced by some EU firms are for the Commission to resolve — if it wishes to do so.

Bad Timing | To convince crisis-wary voters ahead of a September general election that they must tackle another expensive emergency — climate change — won't be an easy task for Germany's Greens. With its proposal for a 500 billion-euro investment plan, the party performing well in opinion polls may end up having the right message at the wrong time.

Week-Ahead | The fallout from next week's potential showdown of EU leaders over the bloc's budget and stimulus plan, climate targets, Brexit, and Turkey will be tempered by another round of stimulus by the ECB. On Monday, EU foreign ministers will reaffirm their allegiance to the transatlantic alliance now that Joe Biden prepares to assume the leadership of the free world.

In Case You Missed It

On Track | Google is set to win conditional EU approval for its $2.1 billion takeover of health tracker Fitbit this month, people familiar with the discussions said. The deal could be approved as soon as next week after national competition authorities give their opinion. 

Climate Divide | A brewing spat over the EU's plan to tighten its 2030 climate goal is adding to a list of conflicts that the bloc's leaders will have to address at a meeting next week. Old fault lines between eastern and western member states are resurfacing over the costs of an ambitious economic clean-up.

Battling Lies | The EU is weighing up how to sanction the perpetrators of online disinformation amid suspicions of Chinese and Russian involvement in lies spewed out about Covid-19. As part of its Democracy Action Plan, the Commission said it's considering "publicly identifying commonly used techniques to render them operationally unusable" or imposing sanctions following repeated offences.

Longer Weekends | Spain's government is analyzing shortening working hours as well as cutting the working week to four days. The idea of a shorter working week has been around for years across the world, but the pandemic and its impact on work, well-being and inequality has led to a new thinking about economies and social structures.

Chart of the Day

Europe's biggest beer-drinking nation is experimenting with wine. Sales to private households in Germany have increased every month since March, when restrictions on socializing in public were introduced, according to Deutsches Weininstitut. While the country's 1,500 brewers face one of the toughest years in history, German wine makers now offer online tastings, which have become a hit, the industry association said.

Today's Agenda

All times CET.

  • 7 a.m. ESM Chief Economist, Rolf Strauch, speaks at the First Eurasian Congress
  • 9 a.m. Press conference by European Council President Charles Michel on "Taking stock of the past year and looking forward to future challenges"
  • 1 p.m. EU Tech Czar Margrethe Vestager speaks at the virtual Web Summit conference

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