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Week Ahead (16 January)

Monday, 16 January – EU and UK officials meet following significant progress in negotiations this week

James Cleverly, UK foreign secretary, and Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission vice-president will meet today amid cautious optimism that both sides will agree to enter a final negotiating “tunnel” to resolve significant outstanding issues with the Northern Ireland protocol. This could include a ‘’mini deal’’ on a long-standing dispute over Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs), which has forced Northern Ireland to pay extra tariffs on imports of products such as steel.

Last Monday, the two sides agreed on a deal on data sharing on trade with Northern Ireland. This means that Brussels will start having access to British IT data for trading across. Last Thursday, HMG published legislation which would set up agrifood border posts in Northern Irish ports for goods entering the region from Britain. Should a deal be reached, these border posts could be used to separate and process goods destined for the Republic and Ireland from those which will remain in Northern Ireland.

Despite this recent breakthrough, there are still thorny issues to be resolved – most notably the role of the European Court of Justice in trade disputes. Irish Foreign Minister Michéal Martin acknowledged last Thursday that resolving these differences could be a lengthy process, due to their complexity.

Monday, 16 January – Ireland’s CSO to publish import and export data for goods

Today, Ireland’s Central Statistics Office will release import and export data for goods for November 2022. According to the CSO, for the first 10 months of 2022, compared with the same period in 2021, exports of goods increased by 29%, and the value of imports increased by 42%.  From January to October 2022, exports were more than €176 billion – already exceeding total exports for the year 2021 of €165 billion.

Import data shows the importance of the British market for Ireland, with imports from Great Britain (GB) up 88% to €2.8 billion in October 2022 when compared with October 2021 – Mineral Fuels and Chemicals and related products account for the bulk of this. Exports to GB were also up significantly – up 52% to €1.6 billion when compared with October 2021.

Tuesday, 17 January – EU Finance Ministers to discuss impact of war in Ukraine and RRF

Tomorrow, EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council will be held for the first time in 2023. EU Finance Ministers are expected to discuss the economic and financial impact of the war in Ukraine, following the approval of an €18 billion aid package to Ukraine and the adoption of the ninth package of sanctions against Russia last month.

Furthermore, the Council will discuss the progress of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). In 2023, member states are expected to amend their national recovery plans at least once, in order to access additional funds under REPowerEU, request available loans, or incorporate the updated RRF allocation calculated in June 2022.

Last month, the Council reached a provisional agreement with the European Parliament on REPowerEU. A new REPowerEU chapter can be added by member states to their already adopted national recovery and resilience plans (NRRPs) in order to finance key investments and reforms for the diversification of their energy supplies. The REPowerEU will not replace the current RRF Regulation but will lead to a series of amendments, further boosting the green component of NRRPs.

Thursday, 19 January – Bank of England to publish Credit Conditions Survey for Q4 2022

On Thursday, the Bank of England (BoE) will publish its Credit Conditions Survey for Q4 2022. This quarterly survey of banks aims to improve BoE’s understanding of trends and developments in credit conditions.

The previous survey for Q3 2022 revealed that British lenders expected less credit to be available. The survey was conducted between 30 August and 16 September, before the announcement of the ‘’mini-budget’’ by former finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng which caused market turmoil.

Higher prices, recession risks, and increasingly tighter financing conditions are expected to make it even harder for households and businesses to repay or refinance debt, and this will be reflected in the upcoming publication.

Thursday, 19 January – CJEU to hear Volkswagen appeal of fine for misinforming car buyers about diesel emissions results

In August 2016, the Italian competition authority fined Volkswagen €5 million due to its malpractice during the diesel emissions scandal. Volkswagen Italia appealed the ruling but before the appeal was heard, the public prosecutor’s office in Brunswick, Germany imposed a penalty of €1 billion for a breach of its obligation to supervise activities and undertakings.

That penalty related, inter alia, to the global marketing (including on the Italian market) of vehicles equipped with systems designed to alter the measurement of pollutant emissions for the purposes of type-approval, and to the dissemination of advertisements that, notwithstanding the alteration of the measurements of emissions, showed that those vehicles were particularly environmentally friendly. The substance of this appeal relates inter alia to whether two criminal sanctions can be handed down in two separate EU Member States for the same criminal offence.

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