Brussels Edition: Green standards

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

Behind the EU’s plan to become climate neutral by 2050 lie a host of complex technicalities. There’s the taxonomy that as unveiled earlier this year, which identifies what qualifies as green — everything from cars to houses. Now, we’ve seen the draft documents for the bloc’s “green bond standard,” which aims to set global criteria for environmentally-friendly debt. Crucially, the rules won’t be mandatory for countries and companies selling bonds with an eco label, but the bloc hopes the allure of the badge will be enough to entice borrowers to take them up. And with the EU set to become the dominant player in green bonds over the next five years — 30% of the 800-billion-euro recovery plan will come from such instruments — it has the potential market power to transform one of the fastest-growing areas of finance.

What’s Happening
Demanding Grace |
The U.K. asked the EU to prolong a trade grace period relating to Northern Ireland to Sept. 30, a government spokesperson told us. Under Brexit terms, chilled meats and fresh sausages would be barred from entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K from July 1. An extension would allow trade to continue while the two sides seek a longer-term solution.

German Borrowing | Germany aims to borrow about 100 billion euros in additional funds next year — roughly a quarter more than its previous target — to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz is set to propose suspending constitutional borrowing limits for a third straight year when he presents a draft 2022 budget to the cabinet on Wednesday, we were told.

Travel Revival | EU finance ministers are expected to formally sign off today to an expanded “white list” of countries from which quarantine-free leisure travel to the bloc will be allowed. The list includes the U.S. (and you read about it here first), even though EU diplomats are irritated that Joe Biden’s administration hasn’t reciprocated. In other good news for tourism, the U.K may lift quarantine requirements for vaccinated travelers.

Tax Lobbying | French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire will hold talks with officials from Poland, Russia, India and China in the coming weeks as France races to secure a deal on international taxation in time for a Group of 20 meeting in July, he told reporters. About 140 countries in total have to sign off on the details, and some have been uneasy over how changes could impact their economies and largest companies. 

Far Right Hopes | Thierry Mariani, former transport minister and now member of the European Parliament for the French far right, may win the elections in Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur. Gaining control of a region for the first time may boost Marine Le Pen’s chances in the French presidential elections next year. We talked to Mariani.

In Case You Missed It
Why the Urgency? |
Philip Lane signaled that September may be too soon to start discussing a shift away from current ultra-loose monetary policy. In an interview with Bloomberg TV, the ECB chief economist pushed back against the perception that the central bank will be ready to consider unwinding its emergency bond-buying program at that point.

Laschet’s Demands | Armin Laschet, the man with the best chances to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor, calls for a return of the EU’s budget rules once the pandemic is over. In an exclusive Bloomberg interview, he rejected a push by the Greens — his most likely coalition partner — to loosen the rules to allow more federal borrowing.

Upholding Norms | The Commission sent a draft of its guidelines to member states this week, outlining how it will use its new power to withhold budget outlays due to rule-of-law breaches. Here’s how countries such as Poland and Hungary could lose billions in funds over their Democratic backsliding

Vaccines Delivered | Approximately 389 million doses in total will have been delivered to EU member states by Sunday, according to a document circulated to diplomats in Brussels and seen by us. The figures come after the bloc confirmed that it’s affected by J&J’s delivery issues.  

Chart of the Day

Italy was hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with gross domestic product plunging almost 9% last year. But now, things are starting to look brighter: The country’s economy could grow well above 5% this year —  faster than the latest predictions by the central bank, the OECD and the Commission — two government officials told us. Higher global growth and the end of pandemic lockdowns are fueling a stronger-than-expected recovery, they said. 

Today’s Agenda
All times CET.

  • 6:30 p.m. German Chancellor Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron give news conference before talks in Berlin
  • EU finance ministers meet in Luxembourg and will discuss a Commission proposal to exempt goods and services from Value Added Tax during crises
  • Commission President Ursula von der Leyen travels to Luxembourg in relation to recovery and resilience facility 
John Ainger and Katharina Rosskopf