Brussels Edition: Seeking a Way Forward in Libya

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

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

EU foreign ministers meeting today in Brussels have their work cut out. A gathering of leaders in Berlin yesterday aiming to produce a more durable ceasefire agreement for the proxy war raging in Libya instead agreed to set up a committee to work toward a deal to halt hostilities. As for the vows repeated by everyone to respect an arms embargo, Berlin’s meeting produced no enforcement mechanism. Libya is a key piece of several puzzles troubling EU governments — from migration to energy to terrorism. And while muddling through is what Europe does best, there are some cans that can’t be kicked down the road forever.

What’s Happening
Arrested Development | After an underwhelming end to the year where euro-area finance ministers failed to make significant progress on completing the bloc’s banking union or reforming its bailout fund, they’ll meet again today to discuss progress in shoring up the euro. But there’s not a lot to expect as talks continue to be held back by domestic politics and deeply entrenched differences.

Google’s Boss | One of the world’s biggest developers of artificial intelligence and machine-learning wants its message heard as the EU puts finishing touches on a paper outlining various policy options for governing the technology. Google CEO Sundar Pichai is giving a rare speech in Brussels today about the responsible development of AI and the opportunities it brings.

Battle Lines | If the past three years of Brexit have been difficult and intense, the next 11 months threaten to be even more so. The U.K. and EU are already at odds before they even start thrashing out the terms of their future relationship. These are their battle lines.

ECB 2.0 | Christine Lagarde is poised to make her mark as president of the ECB by firing the starter gun on its biggest-ever strategy review. She will ask her colleagues on Thursday to sign off on a yearlong rethink. With a broad palette and bold goals, some observers worry about how much such a review can achieve.

Peak Decade | Amid the Alpine peaks of the Swiss resort of Davos this week, politicians, investors and executives will be busy debating whether we are witnessing peaks in key drivers of the world economy. From oil demand and car production to less-measurable themes like globalization and inequality, there’s an argument each will ebb in the 2020’s. Here’s why.

In Case You Missed It
Orban’s Reprieve | The EU’s biggest group is leaning toward delaying a vote on whether to expel Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party from its ranks. Playing for time would further drag out the intra-party drama after the European People’s Party endured years of criticism for shielding the illiberal leader.

Privacy Fines | EU privacy regulators are gearing up to make full use of expanded powers under new data protection rules, according to a report. The bloc has levied 114 million euros in fines so far for data violations, with even higher penalties expected. Regulators in France, Germany and Austria imposed the biggest penalties.

Danish Experiment | In the country that’s had negative interest rates longer than anywhere else, economists are going through a bit of a rough patch. Trying to explain the incomprehensible — a world in which savers are punished, borrowers are rewarded and the basic laws of risk-return feel like ancient mythology — is becoming increasingly difficult in Denmark. 

Albanian Architecture | It looks like a fantastical skate park or an abandoned modernist shopping mall. This bizarre decaying edifice is one of Europe’s most important surviving monuments to communism, and it’s about to undergo a transformation. 

Chart of the Day
Germany took first place in the 2020 Bloomberg Innovation Index, breaking South Korea’s six-year winning streak. The annual ranking analyzes dozens of criteria using seven metrics, including research-and-development spending, manufacturing capability and concentration of high-tech public companies. See which are the world’s most innovative economies. 

Today’s Agenda
All times CET.

  • 9:30 a.m. EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels to discuss situation in Bolivia, India, Libya and Venezuela, the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Sahel, and climate diplomacy 
  • 12:45 p.m. Google CEO Sundar Pichai gives a rare on-record speech at an event organized by the Bruegel think tank; Pichai also meets Commission Vice Presidents Frans Timmermans and Margrethe Vestager
  • 3 p.m. Euro-area finance ministers meet in Brussels to discuss economic policy, including IMF recommendations, stalled reform of the currency bloc’s structures
  • 5:35 p.m. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers an opening speech at the World Economic Forum
  • 6:30 p.m. ECB President Christine Lagarde takes part in New Year’s reception of the representation of the German State of Baden-Wuerttemberg in Brussels 
  • Von der Leyen and Commissioner Johannes Hahn meet Simonetta Sommaruga, president of the Swiss Confederation
  • Trade chief Phil Hogan meets with Lagarde and delivers remarks at an event at BusinessEurope in Brussels
  • Poland’s lower house of parliament expected to override Senate changes made to a controversial bill aimed at muzzling judges
  • Bulgarian opposition Socialists expected to file a no-confidence motion over the water crisis in a regional city
Nikos Chrysoloras