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Week Ahead (14 February)

Tuesday, 15 February - CSO to release December goods imports and exports data

Ireland’s Central Statistics Office will release data on Tuesday showing imports and exports in December. Data from November show that year on year seasonally adjusted imports had increased by 4% to €9.109 billion while exports had decreased by 3% to €14.567 billion, resulting in a decrease in Ireland's trade surplus of 13%.

Of interest in this week's data will be details on trade with the UK, particularly after recent data suggested that despite an increase in the overall tonnage of goods passing through Irish ports in Q2 last year, Dublin Port - by some distance the largest in the state - has said that full year figures for 2021 show that the so-called British "landbridge" transit route, which used the UK mainland as a bridge to transport goods to and from Ireland, has collapsed.

Wednesday, 16 February - ECJ decision on Poland/Hungary rule of law case due

On Wednesday the ECJ will deliver its final verdict on the legality of a mechanism which allows the EU to withhold recovery and resilience funds from member states who breach rule of law standards. On 2 December, Advocate General Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona advised the European Court of Justice that the EU’s rule of law conditionality mechanism is legal under EU law.  While the Advocate General’s opinion is non-binding on the ECJ, the AG’s opinion is usually followed by the Court.  

The opinion of AG Campos Sánchez-Bordona was a set-back for Poland and Hungary, who claimed that the mechanism breaches Article 7 TEU and the principle of legal certainty.  If the European Court of Justice decides to agree with the Advocate General’s opinion, this would pave the way for the Commission to begin formal proceedings under the rule of law conditionality mechanism.  Poland has requested €36 billion under the RRF (€23.9 billion in grants and €12.1 billion in loans), while Hungary has requested €7.2 billion, entirely in grants, from the RRF.  Under the mechanism, Poland and Hungary would be prevented from receiving their requested funds while they fail to comply with the EU’s rule of law conditions. 

Friday, 18 February - Fabio Panetta to take part in discussion on CBDCs at US Monetary Policy Forum

Fabio Panetta, the member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank in charge of developing the framework for a digital euro, will speak at the US Monetary Policy Forum on Friday. He will discuss Central Bank Digital Currencies with Lael Brainard, a member of the Board of Governors of the US Federal Reserve, and Jackie Reses of Post House Capital.

While any initiatives on a digital euro were notably missing from the European Commission's work programme for 2022, it was announced last week that a bill for a digital euro will be launched early next year. The bill will serve as the legal foundation for the European Central Bank’s ongoing technical work on the virtual version of a euro banknote or coin. The ECB currently envisages a operational digital euro being introduced from 2025. A public consultation on how the digital euro could be used is likely to be launched in the coming weeks in advance of the proposals for a bill.

Friday, 18 February - Flash consumer confidence indicator data to be released

The latest flash consumer confidence data will be released on Friday, which will give an insight into how EU citizens are processing the loosening of Covid-19 restrictions but also increased energy prices and price inflation across the board.

Projected growth rates will continue to be affected by pressures associated with the rise in prices for gas and other fuels. The trend towards higher energy prices would almost certainly continue should Russia invade Ukraine, a move which would have serious consequences for the security of Europe's gas supply. The German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, is travelling to Kiev and Moscow today in what has been called a "last-ditch" effort to avoid war in the region – the prospect of which has already had a negative effect on European markets.

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