Brussels Edition: Vaccine push

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

Vaccinations will be mandatory for health care personnel and those working with vulnerable people in France, while so-called “health passes” — showing proof of testing or immunization — will be needed in the country’s restaurants and cafes. Turning up pressure on the French to get inoculated as the fast-spreading delta variant becomes the dominant strain in the country, President Emmanuel Macron said that “the vaccination of all French people is the only way to return to normal life.” While he raised the country’s growth outlook in a televised address last night, Macron warned that the economic recovery depends on the success of the inoculation program. About half the French population has had at least one shot, though as in other EU nations, including Germany, there are signs that the campaign is slowing down, with some wary of potential side effects. - Samy Adghirni and Richard Bravo

What’s Happening

Recovery Plans | EU finance ministers will meet today to discuss the bloc’s stimulus efforts and to adopt the first batch of member states’ recovery plans. Ministers may discuss Hungary’s blueprint, which was not approved by the European Commission by Monday as scheduled.

Digital Delay | The EU postponed its push for a controversial digital levy to focus on negotiations over a broader global tax deal. The decision brings the bloc into line with the U.S., which had been lobbying the EU strongly to ditch the plan.

Climate Blowback | France is pushing back against an ambitious EU climate plan to effectively phase out combustion-engine car sales by 2035, advocating for a more lenient target that would allow hybrids to remain on the market longer. The French position could be a preview of bigger battles brewing within the EU over new climate targets and how they will affect the auto industry.

Gas Warning | Europe will ensure that gas continues to flow through Ukraine after the construction of the disputed Nord Stream 2 pipeline linking Germany with Russia, Chancellor Angela Merkel said, three days before she holds talks with U.S. President Joe Biden, who has criticized the project. The pledge is a warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin not to use the pipeline as a political weapon.

ECB Caution | The European Central Bank could take steps to ensure that lenders avoid paying excessive dividends later this year, when it will “most likely” lift a cap on payouts, a top official told us. Margarita Delgado, a member of the bank’s supervisory board, said that the ECB will call on lenders to remain “cautious,” remarks that dampen the possibility of a surge in payouts as the European economy shakes off the worst of the pandemic.

In Case You Missed It

ECB Shift | ECB President Christine Lagarde told investors to prepare for new guidance on monetary stimulus in 10 days. Lagarde said the July 22 Governing Council session — previously expected to be relatively uneventful — will now have “some interesting variations and changes.”

Transatlantic Ties | U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made a new push to repair American ties with the EU, urging the bloc to help confront China and Russia. Speaking in Brussels, she called on Europe to work with the U.S. to resist China’s unfair economic practices, malign behavior from Russia and abuses perpetrated in Belarus.

Bulgarian Vote | A pop star’s party won Bulgaria’s do-over elections by a razor-thin margin, ending more than a decade of dominance under former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. But Stanislav Trifonov, who hosts Bulgaria’s most popular late-night show, still fell short of garnering a clear path to a majority-backed ruling coalition.

Media Tussle | Discovery Inc. pledged to defend its Polish unit from a draft law that would force the U.S. company to give up control of the country’s largest private broadcaster and could tighten the government’s grip on the media.

Chart of the Day

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When the ECB announced the results of its long-running strategy review last week, officials in Frankfurt said their simpler approach “may also imply a transitory period in which inflation is moderately above target.” Officials decided to move away from their old goal of “below, but close to, 2%” inflation, which was seen as vague and was drafted at a time when excessive price pressure was the main concern, not the opposite. ECB President Lagarde told Bloomberg TV that the new inflation target “might take a little longer” to reach.

Today’s Agenda (All times CET)

  • 10:00 a.m. EU finance ministers meet in Brussels
  • EU Competition Commissioner Vestager meets with U.S. Treasury Secretary Yellen
 
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