Brussels Edition: Trade spillover

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

Thanks to French lobbying, the EU is considering rejigging its agenda for upcoming trade talks with the U.S. and Australia. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he supports France’s call for a short postponement of a meeting with the U.S. in Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, while the EU’s internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton, said the EU-U.S. relationship is due for a “pause and reset.” The crisis over a canceled submarine contract has grown well beyond what President Joe Biden anticipated but, even so, any hiccup is likely to be short-term, as most EU nations want to maintain strong relations with Washington. The issue goes before envoys to the EU on Friday. We’ve seen the draft communique for the Pittsburgh meeting, which aims to rein in China. It will take much, much longer for the bloc to work out whether the new U.S.-led defense pact with the U.K. and Australia will galvanize long-stalled efforts to boost the EU defense project.  

— John Follain

What’s Happening
Energy Crunch | The EU’s ambitious plan to reach climate neutrality risks falling victim to the unprecedented spike in natural gas and power prices, Spain has warned in a document sent to Brussels and seen by Bloomberg. Madrid wants the Commission to design procedures that will allow members states to react immediately to price surges, and to adopt measures to prevent financial speculation in its carbon market.

Disputed Account | Mark Rutte pushed back against Boris Johnson’s claim that the Dutch prime minister broke EU protocol and privately offered to mediate between the EU and U.K. in their post-Brexit dispute. “I do not agree with what he has said,” Rutte told reporters yesterday. “I have not used the word ‘mediation’ but I offered to try to foster understanding at both sides. What he said went way beyond what I have told him.”

Green Scholz | German election front-runner Olaf Scholz used a campaign stop in Volkswagen’s home town to send a signal that the transition to a less-polluting and more advanced economy must happen swiftly even if it puts jobs in jeopardy — a stance that puts him in line with the Green Party, whose support he would almost certainly need to form a coalition. Read our take on how the SPD candidate and his Green rival are already aligning themselves for a possible partnership.

Issuance Cut | Germany cut planned debt sales in the fourth quarter by 4 billion euros, suggesting the surge in borrowing triggered by the coronavirus pandemic is receding. The pandemic brought years of German frugality to an abrupt end, with tens of billions distributed to offset the impact on the economy and borrowing climbing to a record in 2020.

Climate Buffers | The European Banking Authority is drawing up templates that will guide the industry through a new era of financial rules designed to reflect environmental and social risks. The watchdog says it expects that banks will start adding to their capital buffers in anticipation of stricter regulatory demands triggered by climate change.

In Case You Missed It
Inflation Spike |
Central banks need to set clear strategies for coping with inflation risks as the world economy experiences faster-than-expected cost increases amid an uneven recovery from the pandemic, the OECD said. Supply-chain difficulties and surging commodities prompted the organization to raise its forecast for consumer-price gains this year and next in every Group of Seven country aside from Japan.

Nuclear Talks | Iran said talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal are likely to resume within the next few weeks. That’s after months of delays that raised tensions in the Persian Gulf and left oil traders wondering when the Islamic Republic’s crude might return to markets.  

Googlers Protest | Google employees have joined the slew of politicians and activists blasting the internet giant for pulling a voting app from Russia’s opposition leader, a move critics say showed the company was caving in to the Kremlin. The internal frustrations are the latest blow to Alphabet’s Google operations in Russia, where the company is facing political pressure, fines and demands to police its internet services.

Whisky Buy | French distiller Pernod Ricard agreed to buy the Whisky Exchange in a move that vaults the maker of Absolut vodka and Havana Club rum into one of the liquor industry’s largest online retailers. It’s the “most profitable platform in Europe,” Alexandre Ricard, Pernod Ricard’s chief executive officer, told us. 

Chart of the Day
Gazprom has more than doubled its natural gas supplies to Turkey this year, with year-to-date fuel shipments headed for a record, data from the Russian exporter show. By contrast, supplies to Europe remain capped, a factor contributing to a looming winter energy crisis that’s roiled gas and power markets. The disparity may bolster Russia’s critics after a group of lawmakers called on the European Commission to investigate Gazprom’s role in record-high gas prices.

Today’s Agenda
All times CET.

  • 10 a.m. EU transport and energy ministers start two-day informal meeting in Brdo, Slovenia, followed by press conference
  • 1 p.m. weekly meeting of European Commission college, followed by news conference