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Week Ahead (13 September)

W/C Monday, 13 September - Campaigning in German Federal Election contest to continue following second debate

Olaf Scholz, Armin Laschet and Annalena Baerbock are facing into a crucial week of campaigning ahead of the 26 September federal election in Germany. The candidates from the three largest parties took part in the second of three televised debates on Sunday evening, with most polls following the debate indicating that the SPD's Scholz was the victor. The most recent nationwide poll shows that the SPD is the most popular party in the country with 26%, ahead of the CDU on 20% and the Green Party on 15%. The final televised debate will take place next Sunday.

Based on current polling, it is probable that three parties will be needed to form the next German government.  It is thought likely that this will consist of two of the CDU, the SPD and the Greens, in coalition with the centrist FPD, which is currently polling at 13%. 

Wednesday, 15 September - Ursula von der Leyen to deliver "State of the Union" address

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will deliver the annual "State of the Union" address at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, outlining the areas of focus for the Commission for the coming year.  Among the items von der Leyen will discuss are the continuing efforts to combat the pandemic and the associated social and economic recovery, including flagship programmes such as the European Green Deal and the Digital Strategy.   

It is likely that von der Leyen will also take the opportunity to discuss rule of law issues in Europe.  This will be interesting in the context of the Commission's request to the ECJ last week that it impose daily fines on Poland for failing to act on the court's order of 15 July to suspend provisions of Polish law affecting judicial independence. 

The Commission's request marked a change in approach to the rule of law issue; while there have long been concerns, earlier efforts to bring Warsaw and Budapest to heel have focused on the use of Article 7 procedures which theoretically could remove voting rights at European level from Poland and Hungary, but which, due to unanimity requirements, have little chance of taking effect.   

Thursday, 16 September - ECJ to rule on Belgian "excess profit" tax case 

The ECJ will deliver its final verdict on the Belgian "excess profit" tax case on Thursday.  An Advocate General in The Commission v. Belgium and Magnetrol International MV (C-337/19) last year recommended the setting aside of an EU General Court judgment overturning a European Commission decision which found that Belgian tax authorities had created a system which provided multinationals with a means to reduce corporate taxes.  

Juliane Kokott, the ECJ's Advocate General, advised that the EU's main court dismiss the February 2019 finding of the General Court, "on the ground that the Commission has … sufficiently demonstrated in its decision that the Belgian practice … meets the conditions for the existence of an aid scheme".  While non-binding, the opinion of the Advocate General is commonly regarded as influential on the presiding judges of the ECJ.   

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