Week Ahead (13 June)
Monday, 13 June - UK government to introduce legislation overriding Northern Ireland protocol
The UK government is expected to introduce legislation overriding parts of the Northern Ireland protocol later today. The bill is expected to contain a proposal for a ‘’dual regulatory regime’’ that will remove checks on goods produced in Great Britain and imported to Northern Ireland and vice versa. Clause 15 of the bill is also expected to enable ministers to scrap almost any aspect of the protocol if it is deemed to cause significant economic or political disruption in Northern Ireland.
This comes in spite of economic data showing the Northern Irish economy performing well under the protocol. Figures from the UK Office of National Statistics released on 1 June showed that Northern Ireland’s gross domestic product grew 1.4 percent in the July-September quarter of 2021, compared to gains of 0.9 percent and 0.6 percent in Scotland and England, respectively.
Furthermore, the UK National Institute of Economic and Social Research issued its quarterly UK economic outlook report on 18 May 2022 which described Northern Ireland’s outperformance of the rest of the UK as an “outcome of the Northern Irish Protocol and its special status in the Brexit arrangements, including better trade and investment conditions as part of the EU’s single market and customs union”.
Thursday, 16 June and Friday, 17 June - European Data Protection Supervisor Conference 2022 to be held
The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) will hold its annual conference on Thursday and Friday in Brussels. Several European Commissioners will address the conference over the two days alongside European Parliamentarians and experts in the field of data protection, as well as prominent privacy activists. Key topics to be discussed will include the enforcement of GDPR and the issue of data transfers between the United States and Europe.
The role of the Irish Data Protection Commission in enforcing GDPR in Europe by virtue of being the location of many of the world's leading tech companies will certainly arise, given the criticisms directed at the DPC from other member state regulators in recent years. Indeed, on day one of the conference Dr Johnny Ryan of the Irish Council of Civil Liberties will address a session entitled "Power to the People: Judicial Remedies and the Enforcement of Data Protection". Dr Ryan has recently launched legal proceedings against the Irish Data Protection Commission for its failure to investigate a complaint against Google's handling of data in a timely manner.
Friday, 17 June – Eurostat HICP inflation data for May
On Friday, Eurostat is expected to confirm flash inflation data for May 2022 which showed Eurozone inflation at 8.1% - up from 7.4% in April. According to the flash estimate, energy is once again the main contributor, rising 39.2% year on year, compared to 37.5% in April. The Baltic states which have been most aggressive in phasing out Russian gas imports experienced the largest annual rises in inflation with Estonia (20.1%), Lithuania (18.5%) and Latvia (16.4%) particularly standing out.
It is against this backdrop that the ECB announced last week that it intends to raise rates by 25 basis points in July with a pre-commitment to raise by 50bp in September unless inflationary pressures ease. The ECB will also need to be mindful of widening spreads in borrowing costs between Eurozone countries, with the spread between Italian BTPs and German Bunds at 222 bps at the time of writing. Balancing these conflicting objectives is likely to prove an onerous task for ECB policymakers in the coming month.
Friday, 17 June - Poland expected to drop opposition to EU approval of global tax deal
On Friday, Poland is expected to drop its opposition to an EU approval of the global tax deal, agreed at the OECD last year.
The country has previously been accused by fellow EU member states of using its opposition as leverage in its dispute with the European Commission over the rule of law and the recovery fund. The Commission’s recent endorsement of the Polish recovery plan will unblock €35.4 billion of EU grants and loans for Poland and could pave the way for Warsaw to lift its opposition to a unanimous EU adoption of the second pillar of the agreement concerning minimum tax rates.