Brussels Edition: Building goodwill

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

The EU and the U.S. will take a big step in turning the page on the turbulent Trump era that saw the allies place tariffs on $18 billion of each other’s exports. When President Joe Biden meets with the EU’s institutional chiefs today, they’ll likely agree on a time frame to resolve two massive trade disputes, according to a draft of the summit’s conclusions we’ve seen. The first will be to settle a fight over illegal government aid provided to aircraft manufacturers, where a deal is all but done and will likely be announced today. The second will be to unwind duties related to a dispute over metals exports. This one is trickier and there has been a lot of back and forth over the exact language in the drafts of the joint communique, but both sides seem to agree on pushing for a deadline by the end of the year. While this won’t clear up all the sticking points in the relationship it will go a long way to building goodwill.

What’s Happening
Europe’s Fauci |
In its first report on the lessons learned from the pandemic, the European Commission will today propose — among other things — the appointment of a chief epidemiologist, and a framework for the activation of an EU Pandemic State of Emergency, according to drafts of the plans. Meanwhile, health ministers gather in Luxembourg to discuss the latest troubling news coming out of the U.K. about the delta variant.

Lockdown Extension | EU health ministers will be warned that the delta mutation lowers the protective shield of vaccines, especially before both doses have been administered, making it crucial to fully inoculate as many people as quickly as possible. Because of the variant, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushed back his plan to lift England’s coronavirus restrictions for at least another four weeks to try to prevent “thousands” more deaths and a surge in hospitalizations.

Recovery Bonds | The EU is testing investors’ appetite to fund up to 800 billion euros of debt over five years as it seeks to finance its recovery from the pandemic. The bloc opened books on debut 10-year bonds as part of its NextGenerationEU program, which are likely to price today.

Facebook Ruling |  A dispute between Belgium’s data protection watchdog and Facebook over the social media giant’s use of tracking cookies will culminate in a ruling at the EU’s top court today. The decision will help clarify the powers of EU data supervisors not considered “lead” for a given tech giant. At issue is the scope of the so-called one-stop-shop system under the EU’s data rules, which for Facebook puts the data authority in Ireland, its main EU hub, in charge of supervising it.

Trade Pact | The U.K. is set to announce the broad terms of a free-trade deal with Australia today, its latest post-Brexit accord as the nation seeks to expand commerce beyond the EU. The agreement is expected to cut tariffs on products like Scotch whisky, clothing and cars and would reduce levies on agricultural products, a point of controversy that had sparked a backlash from Britain’s farming sector.

American Tourists | The Portuguese presidency proposed adding the U.S to a “white list” of countries for non-essential travel. Unless member states object to the proposal by this afternoon, the new list, which includes Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia, will be adopted tomorrow, paving the way for tourists from these countries to visit the EU without quarantine requirements.

In Case You Missed It
China Threat | China warned NATO that it won’t “sit back” in the face of challenges, illustrating the potential for tensions to escalate while the U.S. tries to convince its allies to take a tougher approach to the Asian nation. Beijing doesn’t pose a “systemic challenge” to any countries and NATO shouldn’t exaggerate China’s military power, according to its EU mission, which also urged the alliance to focus on dialogue and cooperation and to work to safeguard international stability.

ECB Spat | European Central Bank tensions over how and when to discuss ending its emergency bond-buying program are starting to spill  over into the public domain. Little more than an hour after President   Christine Lagarde said in an interview with Politico that it’s “far too early” to debate when to end the stimulus, Austrian Central Bank Governor Robert Holzmann said the program will end in March.

Reining In | Italy’s state-backed lender is in for a sweeping overhaul that will raise questions about the future of its investment-banking talent, after Prime Minister Mario Draghi replaced its freewheeling chief executive with a long-time ally from the European Investment Bank.

Digital Nomads | As more firms offer remote work as a perk, employees are going country hopping. But they’ll face myriad complications when it’s time to file their tax returns. Read here why dreams of working from a beach risk turning into a tax nightmare.

Triumphal Arch | The late artist Christo, who died last year at the age of 84, had intended to wrap the Arc de Triomphe in Paris in 25,000 square meters of fabric in September 2020. Delayed because of Covid, the project’s future has been uncertain. It has now been confirmed that the installation is going ahead. Take a look.

Chart of the Day

The French economy will return to pre-pandemic output at the start of 2022 as the lifting of restrictions and the acceleration of vaccinations fuel a stronger than previously expected rebound in the second half of this year.​​

Today’s Agenda
All times CET.

  • 9 a.m. EU health ministers meet in Luxembourg to discuss pandemic
  • 9:30 a.m. Press conference by EU Commission President von der Leyen, EU Council President Michel, Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau
  • 9:30 a.m. The EU’s top court rules in a case involving Facebook and the rights of European national data watchdogs to bring cases against the company
  • 11 a.m. EU economy chief Gentiloni gives press conference on sustainable development goals
  • 11 a.m. Eurostat to release international trade reading for April, report on progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in an EU context, report on EU-U.S trade
  • 12:15 p.m. U.S. President Biden holds summit with chiefs of EU institutions in Brussels
  • 2:35 p.m. U.S. VP Harris speaks at the GMF Brussels Forum
  • 3 p.m. EU Commission Vice President Dombrovskis, U.S. Trade Representative Tai give press conference
  • 6 p.m. EU foreign policy chief Borrell speaks at the Brussels Forum
  • Serbia president and Kosovo prime minister resume talks in Brussels to try to normalize ties a key requirement in the Balkan neighbors' EU accession process
  • EU antitrust chief Vestager participates in the virtual ‘European Competition Day 2021'
  • Ex-French President Sarkozy is set to make his first appearance at a trial where he is accused of having deliberately exceeded campaign-finance limits in his failed 2012 re-election bid
  • EU Commission unveils report on early lessons learned from the pandemic
Nikos Chrysoloras and Richard Bravo