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Week Ahead (17 August)

W/C Monday, 17 August - Next round of Brexit talks to take place

The next round of UK-EU trade talks will begin in Brussels this week. This will be the seventh round of negotiations towards a post-2020 trade deal between the two blocs. After the most recent talks in July, Michel Barnier, the lead negotiator for the EU, reported progress, in the areas of social security coordination and EU programmes, policing and judicial co-operation. However, no breakthrough has yet been reached on the EU's level-playing field requirements for state aid or fisheries.

Despite the ongoing disputes, there may be some cause for optimism for this week's talks. The EU's Trade Commissioner, Phil Hogan, stated recently that the UK's negotiators had started to engage with the most contentious issues and that there had been a change of attitude on the part of the UK government as the transition period draws to a close.

Thursday, 20 August - Minutes of ECB's July monetary policy meeting to be released

The minutes of the European Central Bank's July monetary policy meeting will be released on Thursday. The minutes of July's meeting provide clues around the future approach of the ECB towards monetary policy.

While EU GDP data for Q2 declined by 12.1%, beating the ECB's expectations of a 13% decline, Philip Lane, the ECB's chief economist, said in early August that the data from Q2 should be "jointly assessed" with data from Q3 before monetary policy is further changed. Lane noted that there is an expectation that economic activity will pick up substantially in Q3, although this quarter will also make clear the scale of the damage done to EU economies in terms of job losses.

Friday, 21 August - Eurostat flash composite PMI to be released

The latest flash Eurozone composite PMI will be released on Friday. The results are likely to show a further improvement in conditions in the European economy in the early part of August, as economies continued to reopen. The most recent data, released on 5 August, saw the index rise above the 50 mark for the first time since February, signifying growth. A composite score of 54.9 for July represented the fastest period of growth since June 2018.

However, companies across the bloc are still operating with a high degree of spare capacity, with backlogs of work falling through July, and with reduced staff numbers.

Friday, 21 August - Central Statistics Office to release Ireland trade statistics

The CSO will release new trade statistics for the month of June on Friday. The results will be interesting in the light of a recent Eurostat industrial production statistical release for June which showed that European production was down by 12.3% in the eurozone and 11.6% across the EU when compared to the same period in 2019. Ireland, however, aided by the strong presence of pharmaceuticals and chemical manufacturing, bucked the trend and was the only EU country to record a year-on-year increase in production, registering 4.5% growth.

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