Week Ahead (13 December)
W/C Monday, 13 December - Recovery and Resilience Facility roll-out to be assessed at European Parliament
The Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee will meet this evening for a dialogue on the Recovery and Resilience Facility roll-out. Both Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commission's Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People, and the Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, will make presentations to the Committee. The European Parliament session will also debate the latest developments around the recovery and resilience facility on Wednesday in plenary.
While Spain and Italy, the two largest beneficiaries of the recovery fund, are on track to meet reform targets, this week’s discussions are likely to focus on those countries making less progress in implementing their recovery plans. Poland, Hungary, Sweden, Bulgaria and the Netherlands are the member states which, for a variety of reasons, are yet to receive permission from the Commission to progress their plans to the final stage of European Council approval.
W/C Monday, 13 December - French politicians to begin campaigns ahead of April's Presidential elections
The race for the French presidency has begun in earnest, with several major parties having selected candidates and prominent independent politicians declaring their intentions to run for the post. Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce his bid for re-election imminently, while the candidate he defeated in the 2017 election run-off, Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Assembly, has confirmed her candidacy. Other strong contenders for the role include Valérie Pécresse, who won the nomination of Les Republicains, and Eric Zemmour, a television personality and vocal critic of France's immigration and integration policies.
Pécresse in particular is performing well at the polls; Les Republicains could see a revival in their electoral fortunes on foot of her candidacy. The most recent polls show that she is currently running in second place, behind Macron, on 16% to his 25%. The far-right vote is split between Le Pen and Zemmour, on 16% and 14% respectively.
Tuesday, 14 December - European Parliament to debate Digital Markets Act
The European Parliament will debate and vote on amendments to the Digital Markets Act this week. MEPs will hold a debate on Tuesday morning before voting on amendments in the evening. A final vote will take place on Wednesday evening.
Two committees have submitted amendments to the Parliament's draft of the Act in the last week, namely the Economic and Finance Committee (ECON) and the Industry Committee (ITRE). Members of the ECON committee have submitted several amendments dealing with inter alia killer acquisitions and tougher rules on default settings. The Industry Committee, meanwhile, has submitted two amendments, one of which focuses on forcing big tech platforms to allow organizations’ data to be transferred to competitors, and another which asks the Commission to produce an annual report on the state of the digital economy.
The proposed rules were criticised by the US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo last week, who said that the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act would have a disproportionate impact on U.S. tech companies.
Wednesday, 15 December - Šefčovič and Frost to meet in attempt to break impasse on Northern Ireland Protocol
Maroš Šefčovič said on Friday that he would meet with lead UK negotiator David Frost twice in the coming week. Meetings will be held on Wednesday and Friday. The meetings follow reports from Irish media last week that the UK has conceded that the European Court of Justice will have a role to play in the administration of the Northern Ireland protocol, hitherto a key sticking point for both sides. Šefčovič tweeted on Friday that negotiators had last week discussed access to European medicines for Northern Irish citizens, stating that it was "ready to amend EU legislation" to resolve the issue.
Negotiations have been ongoing for several months and it is not expected that a final agreement on amending the protocol will be reached before the new year. The Democratic Unionist Party has also reiterated its threat to collapse the Northern Ireland political institutions over its anger at the perceived lack of action on the part of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Thursday, 16 December –ECB Governing Council and Bank of England Monetary Policy Council to hold final meetings of 2021
The ECB Governing Council will meet on Thursday to discuss monetary policy. Among the topics to be discussed will be whether to end its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) in March and how much debt it should buy after this with the aim of stabilising eurozone inflation at 2%.
In late November, ECB President Christine Lagarde said that the PEPP scheme is likely to end in March 2022, but the ECB will consider using its existing regular Asset Purchase Programme (APP) after March to continue its supportive monetary policy. It is understood that the emergence of the Omicron variant has, however, has led some members of governing council to consider halting any decision on the future of PEPP until its policy meeting on 3 February, when more will be known about the impact of the variant and inflation trends.
On the same day the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee will meet to discuss its approach to the inflationary pressures on the UK's economy. While it had been widely expected to raise rates from 0.1% to 0.25% in November, low economic growth and uncertainty caused by the latest pandemic developments may see a decision on an increase in rates deferred.