Brussels Edition: France objects

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

A pivotal EU-U.S. trade meeting this week may be a bit narrower in scope than originally planned. During a meeting of EU ambassadors yesterday, France wasn’t ready to agree to the draft conclusions for the trade and technology council meeting with the U.S. planned for tomorrow in Pittsburgh, according to officials familiar with the talks. France had earlier pushed to postpone the meeting after its spat with the U.S. over the supply of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. One EU diplomat said several countries sought changes to the draft document, including ones aimed at protecting the EU’s regulatory autonomy from U.S. influence. The main topics for the meeting — aimed at closing the chapter on four years of transatlantic conflict with former President Donald Trump — include foreign investments, export controls, semiconductor supply chains and artificial intelligence. The latest version of the draft seen by Bloomberg waters down the scope of the discussion on semiconductors, focusing only on short-term supply issues. - Kevin Whitelaw

What’s Happening

Tech Standards | The EU and the U.S. aim to defend the role American and European firms will play in setting global standards as they push back against China’s recent efforts on industry benchmarks, according to a draft statement for a Pittsburgh meeting tomorrow. The two sides would swap information and work together on standards for critical and emerging technologies, the document says. 

Messy Aftermath | Despite losing by a narrow margin in Germany’s election, former front-runner Armin Laschet said he still would try to form a government. Fellow conservative and arch rival Markus Soeder stuck in the knife, saying you don’t get to a run a government when you come in second. That gives Social Democrat Olaf Scholz a clearer path, and he appealed to potential partners to join him in a ruling coalition.

Slovenia Agenda | An informal EU leaders’ dinner that will take place around a Western Balkans summit in Slovenia next week will cover Afghanistan, according to an EU official. The session will provide the 27 leaders with their first opportunity to talk about the U.S. withdrawal from the country as well as China and U.S.-EU trade relations.

‘Shut Its Eyes’ | Google took on the EU in court yesterday, lashing out at regulators who levied a $5 billion fine against it and imposed a punishing antitrust order. “The commission shut its eyes to the real competitive dynamic in this industry — that between Apple Inc. and Android,” Meredith Pickford, a lawyer for Google, told a five-judge panel on the first of what is expected to be a week-long hearing.

In Case You Missed It

Gas Lines | With U.K. gas stations running dry amid panic buying, Prime Minister Boris Johnson may deploy military drivers to help deliver key supplies. The government also plans to issue visas for truckers but may have trouble persuading many to return from eastern Europe. A shortage exacerbated by Brexit and driven to crisis point by the pandemic has raised the prospect of disruption to food and fuel deliveries for weeks to come.

Blame Brexit | The man in pole position to become German chancellor was asked if the country could help the U.K. with its current driver shortage. The question to Scholz by a British reporter yesterday was met with laughter, before the Social Democrat noted that the troubles are a consequence of Brexit — and also probably low wages.

Carbon Spike | The cost of polluting in Europe hit a new record as a shortage of natural gas is prompting electricity producers to burn coal. The higher production expenses helped send German power prices for next year, a European benchmark, up almost 6.7% to a record 114.70 euros a megawatt-hour yesterday.

Bolstering Bucharest | The EU approved Romania’s resilience and recovery fund plan, and the country may get its first disbursement of 3.6 billion euros by early December. Overall, the country has been allotted 29 billion euros.

Correction: In yesterday’s newsletter, an item about the Icelandic election contained outdated information. The country retracted its claim of electing Europe’s first female-majority legislature after authorities said they miscounted. 

Chart of the Day

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Social Democrat Olaf Scholz appealed to the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats to back a three-way coalition following his narrow victory in Sunday’s election. But the negotiations could take months. With three parties needed for a majority, the FDP will demand the tight fiscal policy that was the hallmark of Angela Merkel’s years in power and, within that framework, Scholz will have to find a way to deliver the energy transition that is the core of the Greens’ plans. 

Today’s Agenda (All times CET.)

  • 4 p.m.  Mark Gitenstein, nominee for U.S. ambassador to the EU, testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  • Two-day virtual European Central Bank forum begins with bank chief Christine Lagarde and others.
  • EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell holds a video conference with Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister
  • Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visits Albania and North Macedonia
  • EU Competitiveness Council research ministers meet in Slovenia


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